Making Pasta

Let us try to sweep past the fact that it took me almost 2 hours to get to work this morning (traffic fail), that I’m operating on roughly 4.3 hours of sleep (sleeping fail), and that even with all my exhausted stumbling around the kitchen this morning, all I managed to bring to work to eat today is a Luna bar and a container of leftover Edible Arrangement fruit (bringing food to work fail). Let us instead focus on happier thoughts. Foodier thoughts. Thoughts that bring us back to yesterday, when I spent the day making fresh pasta for the first time with my family!

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I gave my sister a pasta making attachment for her KitchenAid and a pasta drying rack for Christmas a couple of years ago, but she had never even opened them before last night, haha. We figured it was finally time to put it to use, so my parents and I drove up to Columbia and promptly proceeded to destroy Jenny’s kitchen.

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Admittedly, for the first few rounds with the pasta roller, I was starting to feel about making pasta the same way I feel about cake balls: great if you have the patience, but not worth it. It’s a lot of work!

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You put chunks of pasta dough (generally a combination of flour, egg, water, and salt/seasonings) into the pasta roller, fold it in half, then feed it through over and over again, adjusting the settings so the pasta sheets gets thinner and more uniform each time. Then you have to switch attachment heads if you want to cut the pasta sheets into actual noodles (the set I gave Jenny had a fettuccine and spaghetti attachments). We did two kinds of pasta and two sauces to go with!

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My mom and sister found the recipes for a whole wheat pasta and a basil (!) pasta, and they mixed up the dough while I watched clips of Daniel Radcliffe‘s episode of SNL (teehee). Then I came into assist with the pasta rolling/cutting, general cooking, and sauce-making. We made a garlic cream sauce that was so delicious that my arteries are re-clogging just thinking about it, and a rose sauce with tomato sauce, white wine, and a ton of herbs. Delicious!

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Pasta creeper.

So as I mentioned before, I was a little skeptical at first that the end result would be worth all the effort we were putting into the pasta. Well, I’m delighted to announce that I was so, so wrong. Freshly made pasta is amazing. It cooked in like .085 seconds and was chewy, flavorful, and delicious!

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Oh carbs. How I love you.

Along with the pasta itself, there was the loaf of jalapeno-cheddar bread you see above, and we also did up some chicken, mushrooms, and these incredibly gourmet salads that included spinach, vanilla poached pears, glazed walnuts (I die), and herb goat cheese.

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So, uh, yeah, I’d say it was a pretty successful dinner. I think that you could easily spend hundreds of dollars on a meal like this for 5 people in a restaurant!

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And as if all of that food wasn’t enough (there was tons leftover), my mom brought Crepes Suzette to make for dessert. Whoosh.

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So much amazingness. So making pasta isn’t something that I would do regularly, not only because it is a lot of work (and I don’t own the pasta attachments myself anyway), but because I have a very hard time with portion control when it comes to pasta — especially with this degree of deliciousness! That said, I think that it really is an awesome thing to be able to do if you are entertaining or cooking for a special occasion. It just tastes SO much better than the dried, boxed stuff. And you have infinite possibilities, too! We tried to keep the doughs fairly simple for our first time, but we were spinning off tons of ideas for pastas made with pumpkin, butternut squash, spinach, sundried tomatoes… the list goes on.

Have you ever made/do you make your own fresh pasta?

The Timing of Eating

Another day of successful eating (complete with almost complete calorie counting) was had yesterday, huzzah! I had voiced some slight concern that getting back into the groove with work would mess with my eating habits. See, when at work, I tend to push off eating even if I’m hungry because I’m busy or, occasionally, because I’m just too lazy to get up from my desk (I’m awesome, I know). This lends itself to my willpower faltering due to hunger and the odds of me getting that steak & cheese from the deli downstairs increasing exponentially. Because of this, I actively tried to pay attention to my hunger cues yesterday. This led to a mildly strange distribution of my eats throughout the day. Observe:

7:45 AM: Chicken sausage link (100 calories).

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In case you were wondering, there really is no good way to take a picture of a plain sausage link.

I know, I know, a random sausage for breakfast isn’t really breakfast. But I was busy putting together an actual lunch to bring, and I kinda let the b-fast thing slide. At least I ate something at all, right? I’m working on it, I’m working on it. At least all that protein kept me full!

10:30 AM: Salad with mixed greens, onion, grapes, grape tomatoes, craisins, blue cheese crumbles and balsamic dressing (~250 calories).

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I got a little peckish around 10:30, and because I hadn’t dropped my lunch off in the fridge yet (again, out of laziness) the salad was nice and ready for me already. My lunch was a two-parter, just like yesterday’s. No, literally just like yesterday’s: an exact repeat.

1:00 PM: Turkey chili (~300 calories).

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I started to feel a little bit hungry again around 1-ish, so I ate the rest of my lunch then. It tided me over until I got home from work, which is when my mind started to mess with the whole hunger-cues-listening game (yep, now all I can think of is the Hunger Games. #obsessed) a bit.

See, I was due at my parents’ house for our weekly family dinner wherein we would have a repeat of homemade pizza night because the ‘rents were really anxious to see my new pizza stone in action. And even homemade pizza makes calorie counting kind of hard, so I wanted to have a nice big buffer zone. But because of my brother‘s teaching schedule, we wouldn’t be eating until 7:45 PM. Soooo, my mind started messing with my body, and eventually I got so fed up with trying to decide whether to eat or not, that I just gave up and went to Starbucks.

4:45 PM: Grande skinny peppermint mocha (130 calories).

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Amazingly, it did the trick! It staved off hunger for a little while and for a mere 130 cals. Thank GOODNESS I didn’t succumb to the lure of the eggnog latte instead (let alone that thick slice of iced lemon poundcake… sigh…) because something big was about to go down.

7:30 PM: Coke Zero (0 calories).

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No, not the Coke Zero, though it was delicious (and, in combination with the coffee, probably contributed to my incredibly poor sleep last night, hahaha.)

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7:45 PM: PIZZA AND WINGS, YO. (Calories unknown. Heh.)

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Yeeeeah. Good thing I did count all those itsy bitsy calories up until then, eh? Dinner was epic. I only had 3 squares of ‘za, but I had 3 chicken wings, plus all the noshing I did while I was prepping the pizza, haha. All in all, it probably wasn’t too bad since I only had ~780 up to that point, but we shall never know because again, and I can’t stress this enough, I am just too lazy. 😉

I guess the point of this post is to ask you guys: how do you handle the timing of eating? Do you follow the traditional breakfast, lunch, dinner schedule? Or eat every 2 hours? Or eat when you’re hungry? I feel like I definitely do best with small meals throughout the day, but I’m not sure even how I should be managing those. Sigh, it feels like I’m starting over. All the my holiday overindulging has made me forget how to eat normally, haha.

K-BBQ (or, That Time I Ate All the Meat)

Abby & John-Paul’s wedding was absolutely beautiful, but the recap will have to wait due to me having to edit roughly twenty zillion photos of the amazingness. Good thing I have today off from work to get through them all, eh? [/brag]

In the meantime, let’s talk about last night’s family dinner!

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Sorry sis, I just couldn’t NOT post this pic.

The whole gang got together, minus Steve, but including my unpictured brother who served as co-photog for the night (I’d say the photo cred split goes about 50/50 for this post.)

Famiry

My uncle, aunt, and cousin (different relatives than last week, haha) were visiting from Boston, and my mom picked out Korean as the cuisine du jour.

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Hi Aunt Martha, Uncle Tommy, and Tomas!

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Oe Gad Gib is in Annandale, VA, and offers an All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ special that my mom had seen advertised in the Chinese Newspaper. So what did we do, friends?

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We All-You-Can-Ate, of course! Boy, oh boy, did we eat.

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Thin strips of beef, marinated tenderloin, and pork belly – whoosh! I’m pretty sure I ate all the meat there ever was, ever.

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With some salad and kimchi in between, of course! Korean food is notorious for being especially spicy, so even with my spice-lovin’ tastebuds I was, er, a little hesitant at first:

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Phew, not that spicy after all!

With so much red meat in one sitting, my stomach certainly wasn’t thanking me, um, later on (tmi?), but in the moment it was delicious. Sometimes we (non-vegetarian, non-vegan people) just need to be a little carnivorous, y’know?

Again, stay tuned for a full wedding weekend recap to come tomorrow, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with this little nugget from the big day:

Photog at Large

What, you don’t go to weddings toting thousands of dollars worth of your brother’s camera equipment? Bahaha.

Are you working for The Man this glorious Columbus Day, or do you have the day off?

Birthdays in India

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Last night, the fam got together to celebrate birthdays a deux: my lovely and amazing sister, Jen, and her lovely and amazing hubby, Dan! Their birthdays are a mere 5 days apart (well, 5 days and a year) so we banged out both celebrations in one big family dinner at Haandi, a local Falls Church (what else?) Indian restaurant.

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Thanks for taking the pic, Taylor! It was a veritable smorgasbord of spicy, saucy, Indian goodness. Nommm.

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We started with an appetizer sampler plate (the samosas were huuuuge!) I always love the green tamarind-chutney-sauce-stuff (no idea what it’s called… help?)

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And the garlic naan was to DIE for. Hopefully the feast to come made for a very happy birthday couple:

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I know that my sister was just happy to receive the Oreo-lookalike (her new puppy) birthday cards!

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My brother was content to let me play the lone photographer for once, while he nursed this behemoth:

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Bahahaha.

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Saffron-ish rice, naturally, served as a base. And then… it began:

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Oh my goodness. There was palak paneer (spinach with cheese cubes), lamb korma (lamb in a creamy sauce), chicken tikka masala, some kind of spicy eggplant coconut curry, and channa (chickpeas) masala that I must have forgotten to photograph in my haste to, you know, eat. Hehe.

My plate:

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Times like a thousand more pieces of naan to soak up all the curry goodness left in the bowls. Hehe. We were all so stuffed by the end of the meal, we couldn’t even bother with dessert. Ah well.

So speaking of Oreo, we’re puppysitting for my sis and her hubs while they go celebrate for REALS in Las Vegas this weekend! I’m so, so jealous. I haven’t been to LV since I was… 13? Not quite the experience I’m sure most of you have had in Sin City, ahahaha. So for me, this weekend will be a fast refresher of what puppy-ownership is like. Even though Daxter is only 1.5 years old, I’ve clearly already blocked some things out, haha! But it’s okay, because he’s so cute it all balances out in the end. I just hope my roommates see it that way, too… hehehe.

Day 182 - Oreo
Photo by Ben Powell

See?

Also, and I tell you this because I am all about full disclosure on this blog, I may or may not but definitely am going to see Harry Potter for a fourth time this afternoon. NO JUDGING. I’m just trying to keep the magic alive! 😀

Sorry, Donald

Donald, you would be ashamed of what I did last night.

Donald the Duck, Scared :(

I’m sorry, buddy, but it’s true.

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I had peking duck last night, and it was incredible. As it always is.

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As you may remember, the Powell clan attempted to go to the Peking Gourmet Inn on Sunday night to kick off our little mini-reunion week. Weeeell, that didn’t turn out so well, since the restaurant had lost power! Sad. But as you can see, thankfully we got to work it into our schedule after all! I wasn’t feeling well earlier in the day too, so I’m glad that by the time we went out to dinner things had settled and I could partake in the deliciousness.

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(In case you’re wondering, my Chinese zodiac sign is the Dragon. So pretty much the best one. Boo-yah. ;))

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Peking duck, it’s a style of cooking duck so that the meat is tender and moist, the skin is crispy, and it’s served with little pancakes, spring onions, hoisin sauce, and sometime cucumbers to make wraps with!

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The ducks are cooked whole, so they cut up and serve the meat right at the table!

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Dinner and a show!

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Deeeeelicious! I had three. Heeheehee. My mom ordered a few other dishes for dinner as well, but the duck was clearly the star, for both the Peking veterans…

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… and newbies alike!

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And to top off what was already an excellent evening, look what was waiting for me when I got home:

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My Fitbloggin’ Popchips arrived! You guys have seen me consume these 100-calorie-bags-of-deliciousness numerous times on the blog, and I am super excited to have received a GINORMOUS box of them (actually two, since Ben got one too!) from the very generous Popchips peeps that represented at the Fitbloggin’ conference.

I really believe they are a great way to satisfy those pesky chips cravings without going overboard with your calories (I used to be able to put away an entire bag (yep, full-sized) of Ruffles by myself! Yech.) And while yes, they are still a processed food, you have to admit that it’s nice to have a healthier (or at least, lighter!) substitute for when the craving hits. I think this pic that Ben took tonight pretty much sums it up:

Day 163 - Death by Pop Chips
Death by Popchips. At least Daxter looks sad to see me go! And as you can tell by my expression, I’m okay with it. 🙂

If you have tried Popchips, what’s your favorite flavor? Mine is a three-way tie between Salt & Vinegar, Barbeque, and Salt & Pepper. Do you have a favorite healthier/lighter substitute for your snackfood achilles heel? Have I asked this question before? Oh well, even if I have, I want to know again! Hahahaha. I hear a lot of talk about Arctic Zero as a low calorie substitute for ice cream, though I’ve never tried it. I do love my frozen desserts, so maybe I need to give it a go!