Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WDW - Balsamic Spinach Salad with Salmon

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One of my favorite restaurants is the Black Cow in Montrose. They have some awesome menu items, a great walk up coffee bar/ice cream counter, and the place just has a great vibe. They have nice patio dining too, which is my favorite on a nice warm day. I especially love their breakfasts, but there is a Spinach Salad on their menu that is topped with salmon and a wonderful balsamic vinaigrette that I really adore. We went there recently, and I ordered it, and then I thought to myself, "I can make this!" I talked to our server about how it is prepared and I learned that the fish is actually cooked in the vinaigrette. Seemed easy enough, so I decided to try it at home. It's really a simple dish to prepare, but one full of flavor and healthy, too.

When I made it, it was just the two of us, so I sauteed one sliced red bell pepper and one sliced red onion on med-high heat in a little olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. While the veggies cooked I made the vinaigrette in the blender(recipe follows). When still slightly crisp tender, I removed the veggies from the skillet, covered them to stay warm, and set them aside. I seasoned my fish with salt and pepper. I then poured out a scant 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette into the same hot skillet, and sauteed the fish in the vinaigrette, on medium high heat, until cooked but still soft. I had thin filets so it was really quick, about 3-4 minutes per side. You want to have the heat up high enough to brown the fish a little, but don't burn it.

While the fish cooked, I started plating my dish. I put down a nice bed of fresh baby spinach on two dinner plates, then distributed the warm veggies and drizzled some vinaigrette over it all. When the salmon was finished, I topped the salads with a nice piece of hot fish, and drizzled a bit more vinaigrette on top. That's it - super easy and super delish! Enjoy!

Balsamic Vinaigrette

3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced(or a small shallot)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried basil (fresh would be better)
salt and pepper

Process all ingredients together in blender, or whisk in a bowl. Adjust oil or vinegar to your liking (I like more balsamic vinegar than most). If it's too acidic, just add a little more olive oil.


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's going to be a long 83 days

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The day that our family has been both dreading and excited for has finally arrived. As I write, Drew is on a plane bound for Israel to study at the IBEX (Israel Bible Extension) program through the Master's College for the spring semester. He knew from the time he began Master's that he wanted to take advantage of this special opportunity to study abroad. At IBEX, there are no classes offered for your major, just general education credits for Bible and History. Drew carefully planned out his schedule so that he could afford to take some time off from his business/accounting major to go to IBEX at the end of this his sophomore year. He will have such interesting classes such as "the life of Christ," "Jewish thought and culture," and even a weekly hiking class. How fun is that? He will be staying at the "Moshav" which is a kibbutz-type place that includes both his lodging as well as his studies. I believe it is about 20 minutes from Jerusalem.

Each semester the college offers a "family and friends" trip, where parents can go visit their kids and tour Israel. We had been planning all along to go, but for some reason, that trip wasn't being offered this semester. We decided that was an opportunity that we just didn't really want to miss, so... we planned our own "family and friends" trip! The family is Rich, Emma and myself; the "friend" is Stephanie. The four of us are meeting Drew over his spring break (mid April) in Paris and also seeing Italy for a total of 9 days with him! We will then all fly to Israel together when Drew needs to get back to his studies, and the four of us will go on a 3-day tour with a guide from IBEX while he attends classes. We get to stay at the Moshav with him for five nights. And, something exciting is that we will be in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday! Wow! On the way back home, the four of us will stop in London for 3 nights, dropping in just in time for the Royal Wedding! I am so excited (well, not about the wedding part) as I have never been overseas before. I just got my first passport! But, it will be 83 days until we go....such a long time apart.

So, this morning at LAX, we had our tearful goodbyes (well, the girls all cried). Drew was so warm and sweet with us as we repeatedly hugged him goodbye. As I watched that brave, handsome man-child of mine walk away, though there were tears, my heart actually overflowed with joy that he is who he is. God has already done great work in his life, and I pray that this trip will grow him even more in his walk with the Lord. Even though he will be far away from all his loved ones, and the comforts of home, I think it will be good for him. My prayer for him is that, like the Lord Jesus, he will grow in "wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52). I will miss that boy dearly. Thank God for Skype!


If anyone is interested, Drew's travel blog is http://www.drewthetruejew.tumblr.com/. As for the title, I think it speaks to the fact that he is kind of proud of his Jewish heritage! :-)

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WDW - TJ's "shopping day" Dinner

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Do you ever find yourself grocery shopping and want to bring home an easy dinner for that night? I know I do. At Costco, it's usually the standard - a bag of salad mix and a roasted chicken - but when I'm shopping at Trader Joe's I love to bring home this easy dinner for us. And when I say easy - I mean easy! It's not even a recipe, in fact it's hardly cooking at all.

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Have you ever tried this Sun Dried Tomato & Pesto torta? This little gem is found in the refrigerator section with the hummus and other ready-to-go dips. It has 3 layers: the bottom layer is chopped sun-dried tomatoes, the middle layer is pesto, and the top layer is like thick cream cheese. You can invert it out onto a plate and serve it with crackers for an easy and delicious appetizer, or... you can do my little trick and turn it into dinner! All you need to do is boil up some pasta, any kind you like - about 1/2-3/4 lb. depending on how saucy you like your pasta (we like it saucy, so I do closer to 1/2 lb. pasta) Then, when the pasta is done, drain it and immediately toss it with the whole contents of the torta. As you stir the torta into the hot pasta, it becomes this delicious, creamy pesto sauce with bits of sun-dried tomatoes! If it needs moistening you can stir in a little half and half or milk. I like to round out the meal with some of TJ's chicken Italian sausages, which I just brown in a skillet while the pasta cooks. This pasta dish would also be great with a grilled chicken breast sliced on top in the summertime. Add some nice crusty bread and you have yourself one delicious and easy dinner. And, IF there are any leftovers, chill them and you'll have a yummy pasta salad for lunch the next day. :-)


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Thursday, January 6, 2011

7 years closer to that day

A friend sent me an encouraging message yesterday on the 7th anniversary of Brady's homegoing. She wrote: "Just thinking of you and remembering where we were 7 years ago, and still thinking of the impact for His Savior that your precious Brady had in his life and in his death. Reunion in heaven will be oh so sweet, and we are all 7 years closer to that day." It's hard to believe 7 years have passed since Brady left his cancer behind and entered into glory. And yes, we are 7 years closer now than we were the day Brady left us on that January 5, 2004. How that lifts my heart!

Since that day, we have continued to celebrate Brady each year on January 5th. It has become sort of a Harasick family "holiday" you might say. Rich always takes the day off, and we usually do something as a family that reminds us of Brady. It might be a visit to a restaurant he liked, or even playing a game together that he enjoyed, like Clue Master Detective. It is usually simple and nice, and whatever we choose seems to be just the right way to remember him.

This year we started off with a visit to the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar. The Nethercutt is one family's personal collection of vintage vehicles. We had a great time perusing all the amazing cars and the train they have. The Nethercutt is a great place to visit - it's free and such a unique place. If you want the full experience, you can make a reservation for the tour, also free.


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Here's the early prototype of Dr. Wizzelmo (Drew's Mercury Sable)!

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This was really cool - a vintage 1936 trailer!

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You could even go inside - so neat!

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Early prototype for the VW Bug - a 1946 sedan designed by a man with the last name Porsche.

In the late afternoon, Stephanie joined us, and we went to Tony's Bella Vista in Burbank for dinner. Brady used to love an Italian restaurant in La Crescenta called Dominick's, but since then we have discovered Tony's and like it a lot better. Tony's is the classic Italian restaurant that's been there forever - with the red vinyl booths, cheesy decor complete with fake grapes, and real robust Italians running the place. They have amazing pizza and giant house-made cheese ravioli. We always order the same thing: a large antipasto, an XL half sausage/half pepperoni pizza, an order of spaghetti and meatballs, and an order of cheese ravioli. That way you get to take home leftovers. :-) Their pizza is my favorite in L.A.

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After filling up at Tony's, we went across the street to a great little Italian deli called Pinocchio's, and picked up some gelato to go for dessert later back at the house. The rest of the evening was spent talking near the fireplace, eating that wonderful gelato, and listening to the music from Brady's memorial service (Dave & Erin Hoffman singing "It is well with my soul"; Leticia Johnson singing "Amazing Grace"; and Jubilant Sykes singing an amazing song about waking up in heaven - "Just stepping on shore".) It was a wonderful day.

My dear husband is always so sweet and thoughtful on this day. Beautiful flowers and a card were delivered the day before. They came with all their blooms still shut and burst open on the next morning. I thought that was kind of like Brady's life - a dark day before he died and then blooming in heaven that next morning.

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Rich also framed a copy of our favorite hymn "It is well with my soul." I asked him where he got the music and he answered "I ripped it out of our hymnal." I thought that was cute.

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He also gave the family a framed photo of our little sponsored child, Isaac, that we have through Compassion International. We chose Isaac last year because he had the same birthday as Brady. I think in a strange way, he even kind of looks like Brady.


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Brady, around age 8

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