Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WDW- Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

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I think I've already pledged my love to bananas on my blog. They are just the perfect food. The funny thing is, no one in my family likes them, but me. Last week, I found myself with too many bananas, again, and I also needed a dessert for a meal I was bringing to a new mom. I remembered that my sister always makes these chocolate dipped bananas and that they are SO delicious, so I decided to make some. They are so easy, quite fun to make, and great for summer. This is one you can do with young kids, too. I know my kids loved doing stuff like this when they were little. I have gotten "official" permission from my sister to feature these bananas here on my blog. Because up until now, no one has ever made them at home but her. It's true - do you know anyone?

You want to use perfectly ripe bananas here - not over-ripe ones. Just cut them in half width-wise, so you have two halves. Run a popsicle stick into each cut side and place on a jelly roll pan in the freezer. Wait about an hour or so, and you're ready to roll.

Just melt 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp. oil. I used extra light olive oil but later thought that I should have used coconut oil - yum. Just heat in microwave in 1-minute increments, stirring after each minute, until melted.

Dip each frozen banana half into the chocolate, using a spoon to spread evenly up the banana. Work quickly, as the cold from the frozen banana causes the chocolate to harden fast. Then, quickly roll in or sprinkle with desired topping, and place on a waxed paper-lined jelly roll pan. I used chopped mixed nuts, finely chopped Girl Scout peanut butter cookies, and nonpareils. By the way, have you ever wondered where nonpareils got their name? What a silly little word. The translation from the French literally means "without equal". Pretty cool that you know that now, huh? Anyways, when you are done with all the dipping, place the jelly roll back in the freezer for an hour so, and they will be ready. After they freeze, transfer them to a Ziploc freezer bag for storage.

By the way, here are some other ideas for toppings:

- chopped nuts mixed with cinnamon-sugar
- finely crushed Butterfinger bars
- finely crushed Heath or Skor candy bars
- crushed cookies
- jimmies or any kind of sprinkles
- toasted shredded coconut

People flip over these. Serve some for dessert sometime soon!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WDW - Four Berry Pie

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We had a family celebration last Friday for Drew's graduation, inviting my dad and the DeShongs. When I asked Drew what he wanted for dinner, he said Cobb salad and a pie. That boy is easy to please, I tell you! I also made some yummy barbecue tri tip sandwiches to round out the meal a bit. We sat on the back patio, eating and watching the kids swim. The weather was so delightful - it was a very pleasant evening!

Like my son, pie is my hands-down favorite dessert. And I really can make a mean crust...but, believe it or not, I have only ONE prized pie recipe! It is for my Vanilla Peach Pie (to die for). And get this: I have never, ever, in my whole 43 years of life, made a good apple pie. Not that I haven't tried valliantly - so many different recipes. The apples are always rubbery, it's runny...help someone! I'd love to get my hands on a foolproof double-crust apple pie recipe. And hurry...I have about three thousand apples on my tree right now!

So, all that said, I decided I needed to have a good berry pie in my pathetic little repertoire. I didn't want a goopy, bland, thick pie, but one where the fruit was just lightly sweetened and fresh tasting. I found this recipe online for Mixed Berry Pie, and tweaked it a bit. Fresh berries are so expensive, so I just substituted frozen, from Trader Joe's. It turned out AMAZING. But, I will also say, half of its amazing-ness is the homemade crust. Don't be afraid...just remember not to handle the dough too much. When adding the ice water, add slowly and just enough to make the dough stick together but NOT be sticky. If you need to cheat and use store bought crust, the pie will still be really good!

Four Berry Pie

2-pie crust (recipe below)
2 1 lb. bags (Trader Joe’s) frozen 4-berry mix, thawed (or 4 ½ cups fresh mixed berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. butter
1 beaten egg
Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)

Drain berries. Cut strawberries into smaller pieces so they are uniform with the other berries. In a large mixing bowl, combine berries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and vanilla. Let stand 30 minutes.

Line a pie pan with one crust. Fill crust with berries. Dot with butter.
Cover with second crust. Crimp edges. Brush with 1 beaten egg (a trick my grandma taught me) and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if desired. Cut 3-4 air vents.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil. Place pie on pan. Bake, at 375 degrees, covered with foil for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 30-40 min. more, until browned. Let pie stand 2 hours before serving.

Two-pie crust

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups cold shortening (I use Crisco in the blue can)
Ice water


Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender. Slowly add ice water, mixing with a fork or hands, until dough holds together in a ball. Divide dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. The larger one will be the top crust.

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I had to take this photo quick, as everyone was waiting for pie!


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Not Me! Monday returns



Now that MckMama is back home with baby Stellan, and he is doing well, Not Me! Mondays have been reinstated!

It's time to reveal once again all the things I did did not do.

This past week, for example, I DID NOT:

-order a suit for Drew from Lands' End, with the pants in one color and the jacket in another. I would never be so careless as to not check my shopping cart carefully before pressing the 'place order' button. Nope, NOT ME!

-also order pillows for the front porch furniture in the WRONG size. Like I said above, I always check my shopping cart carefully before submitting my order. I DID NOT order 4 of one size (the right size) and 2 of another size (wrong). I DID NOT take said wrong pillows to the post office to return them and find out that due to their size, the return shipping cost would be $50 (UPS said the same). So, I DID NOT end up keeping pillows that are too large and making do even though they look ridiculous. Nope, NOT ME!

-decide to take up running at my age. I DID NOT happily jump on the treadmill at the gym excited for the challenge, only to find out that I could only run for 3 minutes without passing out. I DID NOT have to resign myself to intervals of walking for 5 minutes and running for only 3. Nope, NOT ME!

-receive a 25% off coupon from the Gap in the mail, 2 days after I went in and bought new summer clothes for the family. I DID NOT then have a mini-tantrum on the way back to the house from the mailbox that I got ripped off. Nope, NOT ME!

-stalk the blog of this adorable lady. I would never spend ridiculous amounts of time reading about people I don't even know. Nope, NOT ME!

-eat massive amounts of Couscous, just because MckMama posted the recipe. Nope, NOT ME!

-worst of all, I DID NOT graduate my first student from our home school. I DID NOT also foolishly agree that this child could live on campus, away from home and his mother, in his freshman year, either. Nope, NOT ME!

How about YOU? What did you NOT do this week? Use my comments section if you feel like confessing sharing!

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

22 years of marriage!

Family Photos-8

We both knew on our first date that we wanted to marry each other.

It was just one of those things.

How I adore this man, who loves Christ, and loves me.

Blessing beyond measure.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Drew's graduation

We have homeschooled Drew all his life...it went by so quickly! It seems like only yesterday a little pre-schooler who was ready for kindergarten but his mother didn't realize it trying to read was bringing me a Frog and Toad are friends book, and asking me what certain words were. Now, he is a high school graduate!

Since we have never been in a homeschool group, grammar school and junior high graduations were always pretty much just a pat on the back, a "good job, kid" and that was about it. No gift, no party, no hoopla. But this being high school graduation, I wanted to make it BIG.

Drew didn't want your standard party so we brainstormed a bit about what might be fun and memorable. We finally decided on a two-day celebration and invited two friends to join.

We invited dear family friends Lindsay and Stephanie Tubbs. Lindsay is also graduating this year! The event kicked off with the four of them getting all gussied up for dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pasadena. We surprised the girls with corsages and Drew got a boutonnierre.

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Drew getting his boutonnierre pinned on by his mommy.

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The girls putting on their corsages

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This was a WOW mom-moment.

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Don't they look great? When I saw this pic, it made me wish Brady was there. Poor Drew, with all those girls...

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Wait a minute...'poor Drew' with all these girls? I don't think so.

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The pictures they took at dinner came out a bit dark, so I didn't post them. After dinner, they walked around Old Towne Pasadena for awhile and then went to the Melting Pot for dessert...



....mmm chocolate fondue!

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The next morning, it was off to Disneyland. We got the girls coordinating Disney shirts and Drew designed himself a shirt, too...see next pic for a close up!

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They think his shirt is so funny! I guess it's because he's a guy with three girls...but when one of them is your sister, I'm not sure if it really works. HA!

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I love this pic of them in their new hats - Drew and Lindsay have graduation cap ones!

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I think this means "09" in sign language? Yay, class of 2009!

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And, for the grand finale...reservations for dinner at the Blue Bayou!

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They said that eating there was a real treat (and that the food was really good!)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My recipe got published!

I just found out that my recipe got posted on the Trader Joe's Fan website! I entered it in the Springtime Recipe Challenge because I wanted to win the $25 Amazon gift certificate just for fun, and was so surprised when they informed me that my recipe was chosen for their site.

click here to go to the site; the recipe is featured on the left column - under "what's new." It's #2 - Tuscan Pasta Salad.

Just remember you saw it here FIRST on Way Delicious Wednesdays!!


And speaking of WDW's, scroll down to see today's...

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WDW - Chicken Marsala

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I could take a bath in exist on Chicken Marsala. It is just one of my favorites. I think it's because I enjoy mushrooms so much. And wine sauces.

Bit of trivia on me: Did you know I gave up drinking alcohol before I was of legal age to even drink it? You can let that mean whatever you think it means.

But, I do put wine in my cooking, and even beer sometimes. No one ever cards me when I buy it, which is kind of sad. Maybe because they realize I'm cooking with it. Who would drink a $2 bottle of wine?

Anyways, I always order the Chicken Marsala at my favorite restaurant, and it is served butterflied and boneless with the skin ON (the way it should be). I think they give you 1/4 of a chicken - it is huge. It seems they roast the chicken in some unique way, as it is crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. I can barely handle washing bodies of raw chicken, much less attempting to de-bone and butterfly them. So, I never even dreamed of attempting this. And duplicating their amazing sauce seemed as elusive as having straight hair for me.

However, I have found a shortcut way of making Chicken Marsala, that is perfectly acceptable, thanks to my friend Patti -not the same Patti from last week's lasagna. I guess people named Patti (spelled with an "i") really know their way around food! You should get some friends named Patti.

For this rendition, Patti uses boneless, skinless breast tenderloins, pounded thin. The sauce is a snap, and I was surprised at how easy the dish came together. It is totally do-able on a weeknight.

I like to serve this dish with some kind of starchy side dish to help mop up all the yummy sauce. Some of my faves are: mashed potatoes, acini de pepe pasta, orzo pasta, or polenta. Patti served this with some righteous scalloped potatoes. They worked beautifully, but obviously a bit more time-consuming than the other options. But, then again, her name is Patti, and mine is not.

Patti's Chicken Marsala
Serves 4

1 ½ lbs. boneless chicken breast tenderloin
½ cup flour
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup Marsala wine
Chopped fresh parsley

Pound chicken until very thin between two sheets of waxed paper.

Combine flour, parmesan cheese, and salt in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in mixture.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Brown half the chicken on both sides. Transfer chicken to serving platter and cover to keep warm. Repeat with 2 Tbsp. more butter and remaining chicken. Transfer chicken to serving platter and re-cover.

Add last 2 Tbsp. butter to empty pan. Add mushrooms, and turn heat to high. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add broth, lemon juice, and wine to the pot and bring to a boil. Add chicken, lower to simmer, and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (if sauce is not thickening enough, remove chicken and boil the sauce a few minutes more).

Transfer sauce and chicken to serving dish, and top with chopped fresh parsley
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Monday, May 11, 2009

20 years ago today, on May 11th...

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Brady at age 4

...I became the mother of a beautiful baby boy.

We named him Brady. He had big blue eyes and was one sharp little cookie.

For almost 15 years, I had the privilege and joy of taking care of him, as God loaned him to me.

Now, God is taking care of him.

Praise Jesus.

I think of him many times a day, marveling that my boy has seen our Lord and Savior
face to face.

I look forward to seeing him someday...I know it won't be too long. "Life is but a vapor," the bible promises. It will be soon.

But for now, I am thanking God for this special day, May 11, to remember Brady's birth-day, which was one of the happiest days of my life.

And I am happy today, too, even though he isn't with me.

Because I know my sweet Brady is free from sin and suffering, and is safe in the arms of God. And that is the best thought of all.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy things


God makes so many happy things.

Today, I enjoyed the following at the 'ole Harasick homestead:

Tomatoes that Rich planted today!

... ten different kinds!

'Brandy' rose

Mounding pale pink Impatiens

'Paradise' rose

'Double Delight' rose

'Santa Rosa' plums

Fuzzy baby peaches

Blushing apples

Cheery red Petunias

'Double Delight' again...just love these!

My kitchen herb garden - onions, basil, mint, parsley & rosemary

'Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow' bush

All my hard work in the garden always pays off in May!

Note: I didn't do the pics on Flickr today, so they are not big...but you can supersize them by clicking the picture.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Martino's

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One of my favorite places of culinary delight is Martino's Bakery in Burbank. Their tea cakes are legendary. They've been cranking them out since the 1940's and that's a pretty long time. They know what they're doing. These little beauties are tender, moist, and super delicious. And so cheap...only $.89 each (or $9 a dozen)!

I purposed to go to happened to be driving by Martino's today, so I decided to pick up some of those tea cakes up for breakfast tomorrow. This has been the "week of a million dreams" for Drew, as he has been celebrating his high school graduation in many interesting and unconventional ways (more on that later, including photos of my graduate and his ladies friends.) Breakfast tomorrow morning will be the end of the dream, and I thought Martino's would be a great way to blow it out.

Martino's makes all kinds of lovely pastries, pies, and cakes. Forget them all. The tea cakes are all that matter (well, their puff pastries and bear claws are pretty special, too). All I can say about Martino's tea cakes is GET SOME. Pardon me, GET SOME SOON. If you are ever even remotely close to Burbank, you should stop in and treat yourself and your family. Be sure to get at least a dozen, or you'll be very sorry. They come in regular flavor (iced), cranberry streusel, and blueberry streusel. They're all good. My standard order is 6 plain, 3 cranberry, and 3 blueberry.

Well, time for me to go eat the other half of the tea cake that I left in the kitchen. I was hoping I wouldn't eat it. Oh well.

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Martino's Bakery
335 N. Victory in Burbank

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WDW - Lasagna

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When I got married, I had one recipe. That's right, ONE. Lasagna.

It was a pretty good lasagna, too. My mom used to make it and she would put little circles of pepperoni on top. They would get all crispy when they baked, and we used to pick them off and eat them before she would be able to get the lasagna to the table!

But, somewhere down the road, I acquired this recipe from my friend, Patti. And this is the one I've been making ever since. I really like the way the sauce is on the top, keeping everything moist, flavorful, and ooey-gooey inside.

This lasagna is ridiculously simple to make, even if it does dirty the kitchen a bit. It can satisfy a real Italian craving faster than you can say Parmigiano Reggiano. Be sure to serve it with some nice crusty bread, or better yet - garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Lasagna

1 lb. mild or spicy Italian sausage (I use chicken sausage),
casings removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 can (12 ozs.) tomato paste
1 can (15 ozs.) diced tomatoes in juice, undrained

2 eggs
3 cups small curd cottage cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. pepper

1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
6 lasagna noodles, cooked slightly underdone

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spray with Pam and add the sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into bite sized pieces with the back of a large spoon. When sausage is cooked through, add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the basil, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes and mix well. Mixture will be chunky. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the cheese filling, in a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cottage cheese, parmesan, parsley, and pepper, and stir well to combine.

In a greased 9 x 13 pan, begin by putting a small amount of sauce on the bottom. Layer half the noodles (3), then half the cheese filling, then half the mozzarella cheese. Add half the remaining sauce for the next layer. Then repeat with the remaining noodles, cheese filling, and mozzarella cheese. Spread remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese if desired. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes, covered, before serving (very important).

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Remember this?


Our family still remembers this from Sesame Street. Rich and I used to think it was the most clever thing ever on that show. In fact, we still sing, "air, air, air" sometimes whenever someone uses the word air. Last night, I was assisting Emma in making pie crust, and I was describing to her why a pie crust can come out either flaky or tough. I must have used the word air, and Emma chimed in "air, air, air." That immediately prompted me run to my computer and see if this great segment was on youtube. It was, and I am pleased to feature it on my blog today!

P.S. I just noticed the barber's chair...how does someone get a haircut in a chair like that?

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