Monthly Archives: February 2011

I Would Like to Thank…..


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about………more 83rd Annual Academy Awards!!! Amanda and I were in the city early in the day, stopping by Wildfire on our way home to pick up dinner for our very own Governor’s Ball (I had the Chicken Club and it was amazing). With a glass of wine in hand, I settled in for my favorite night of the year….the Oscar’s!

 

It stared off kind of slow for me, Dawg, but how do you not love Kirk Douglas? The man is 94 years old and he’s still got it; amazing and inspiring. Mr. Douglas presented the award for Best Supporting Actress to Melissa Leo in The Fighter. She was incredible as Alice Ward, mother and manager of Boston boxers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. While she made an incredible transformation to her real life glamorous self, my favorite part of her speech was when she dropped the “F” bomb.

Who is more adorable than Reece Witherspoon to present the award for Best Supporting Actor? While you know I was completely taken with Geoffrey Rush in The Kings Speech and thought he was the only possible upset, my vote still went to winner Christian Bale as crack addicted boxer Dicky Eklund in The Fighter. Rarely does an actor completely transform himself for a role and succeed so amazingly. I’m not sure what was up with the Grizzly Adams beard, but for someone who has been kind of volatile in real life, he gave a very touching and heartfelt acceptance speech.

 

I’m not high brow enough to have seen any of the Foreign Films, but I was captivated by its presenters; the charming and delightful Russell Brand and the classy and elegant Dame Helen Mirren. I can’t wait to see them together on screen in both The Tempest, and Russell Brand, particularly, in a role that was made for him in the movie Arthur.

Blah, blah, blah. The next hour or so was extremely boring save for a visit from 8 time Academy Award host, Billy Crystal. His brilliance, along with the musical styling’s of one of our personal favorites, lyricist and composer Marc Shaiman, were sorely missed. Always a sucker for nostalgia, I loved the old clips of Bob Hope. We are huge fans of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s Road To….pictures. They sure don’t make them the way the used too; charmingly corny and entertaining.

While Celine Dion makes me want to poke myself in the eye or step on a rake, she was lovely as she sang Smile (the old Charlie Chaplin classic), honoring all of the talented people that we lost this year; Lena Horne, Lynn Redgrave, Jill Clayburgh, Blake Edwards (I always loved the Pink Panther), Dennis Hopper, Robert Culp (of I Spy fame, with America’s most beloved dad, Bill Cosby), Tony Curtis and one of my all time fav’s, Leslie Nielson (and please stop calling me Shirley).   

 

I think that Jeff Bridges believes he is either Rooster Cogburn or The Dude with his crazy hair and beard, but for decades he’s been consistently pretty darn cool (I think never better than in Tucker; A Man And His Dream). Mr. Bridges presented the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture. It was a real nail biter, with Annette Bening as a potential upset, but ultimately the night belonged to Natalie Portman, otherwise known as Queen Amidala. Saturday night Chuck was a saint for accompanying me to the movies to see The Black Swan. I had to know what all the buzz was about! Even though I didn’t love the movie, Natalie Portman also made an amazing transformation as the prima ballerina that slowly lost her grip on reality. I knew she had it in her because we loved her in her first movie; The Professional.

 

Sandra Bullock, America’s Sweetheart, presented the award for Best Actor. While the other nominees were great, the night belonged to the very talented, humble and handsome Colin Firth. His performance was truly mesmerizing and inspiring. Rarely do I believe that there was one “best”, but I do believe that this year there was in Colin Firth.

The Best Picture was directed by the Best Director (which, unexplainably, is not always the case), The Kings Speech by Tom Hooper.

I must say, that even though the 83rd Annual Academy Awards was extraordinarily dull (PLEASE bring back Hugh Jackman), I’m still swept away by the magic of the movies.

More movies, more inspirational stories, more memorable performances…..

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And the Oscar Goes to……Red Carpet Appetizers!


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more Oscar worthy appetizers! What better way to celebrate the best movies and performances of the year than with your very own Red Carpet cocktails and appetizer party?

I absolutely adore going to the movies. When Chuck and I were first married we lived in Chicago, in the South Loop. Our apartment building was the home to 5 movie theaters (practically a mini Cineplex). We would just stroll downstairs and take in a movie, spur of the moment. Chuck would pop over to the concession stand just to buy popcorn on his way home from work. It was Heaven! Even now, whenever we have a rare window of opportunity, we race over to the movie theater. Frequently, the only time we’re not on the clock with work or the kids is on Saturday mornings. We’ve been know to sneak in a double feature at 10am. They’re going to love us at the retirement center. We’ll absolutely be ready for our cocktail and dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon!

 

I’m totally a theme girl. When I throw a party, I’m completely committed to authenticity, which is why I rolled out the red carpet; this weekend, we enjoyed a pre-Oscars feast! Tasty appetizers paired with a little something sparkly……..

  • Chopped BLT Salad Spears
  • Pigs in a Blanket
  • Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
  • Hot Crab Dip and Crackers
  • Chicken Chili Wontons

 

To find my first three appetizers, please visit me at my website:

http://moreismoremom.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/amazing-academy-award-winning-appetizers/

Hot Crab Dip and Crackers

1 – 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

3 green onions chopped

1 Tbsp milk

2 heaping tsp Dijon mustard

1 heaping tsp of horseradish

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp lemon juice

3-4 drops of hot pepper sauce

1 ½ cups fresh crab meat (I like Costco’s fresh crab meat  in a can, no mess!)

Pre-heat oven to 350°

With a hand mixer, in a large bowl, combine;

Cream cheese

Green onion

Milk

Dijon mustard

Horseradish

Lemon juice

Hot sauce

Crab meat

 

 Place in a shallow baking dish and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Can be prepared up to this point a day in advance

Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes

Serve with crackers

Chicken Chili Wontons

I always enjoy these at the home of my friend Mrs. Lilly. They remind me of a single serving nacho (and we like nachos!).

2 cups of cooked, chopped chicken (I used 1 package of 14oz chicken tenders and that was perfect)

½ tsp salt

1.2 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp chili powder (or less if you don’t like it hot)

3 cups of cheese (I used 2 Monterey Jack, 1 sharp cheddar)

1 can of diced green chilies

1 cup of ranch dressing

1 package of wonton wrappers (found in your local grocery stores produce department)

 

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together, except for the wonton wrappers

All of this can be done the day before, just refrigerate until you are ready to use the filling

Pre-heat the oven to 350°

 

Coat a mini-muffin tin with non-stick spray. Place one wonton wrapper in each cup

Cook for 5 minutes and remove from the oven

Spoon chicken filling into each cup

Cook for another 10 minutes or so

Remove, cool and serve

 

More awards, more great performances, more stars, more amazing appetizers…..
Hot and Spicy Crab Dip on FoodistaHot and Spicy Crab Dip

Chicken Chili Wontons

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Amazing, Academy Award Winning, Appetizers……


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…….more Academy Award celebrations! The Oscar’s are seriously my very favorite television program of the entire year. I can only imagine one event that might possibly rival this experience and that would be watching my Cubbies play in the World Series (a girl can dream). What I love about the Academy Awards is the fantasy of it all, the old fashioned Hollywood glamour. I can’t wait for the red carpet interviews with gorgeous starlets in beautiful gowns, fabulous jewelry, fancy up-do’s and the handsome and dashing leading men (such as my favorite; the charming, fast talking, Ryan Reynolds!).

Mine is a movie loving family. In fact, my parents were so taken with Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot, that I was named for her. My Nick is actually named for Nick Charles, the lead character in the 1934 classic; The Thin Man (based on a Dashiell Hammett novel). My earliest Oscar recollections are of my beloved Johnny Carson hosting, but I’ve absolutely adored Billy Crystal and Hugh Jackman too. I can’t wait to see how Anne Hathaway and James Franco fair hosting this year, the 83rd annual Academy Awards.

This weekend, we enjoyed a pre-Oscars feast! Tasty appetizers paired with a little something sparkly……..

  • Chopped BLT Salad Spears
  • Pigs in a Blanket
  • Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
  • Hot Crab Dip and Crackers
  • Chicken Chili Wontons

 

 

To get the party started I draped my Dining Room table with a red satin topper trimmed with red marabou feathers, a nod to the glamour of the 1940’s. Red roses, mirrored candlesticks with damask patterned pillar candles and a mirrored tray, displaying crystal champagne flutes and a zebra ice bucket, set the tone for our elegant soiree. Adding a bit of whimsy were bouquets of licorice, glass bowls of popcorn and rhinestone studded tea-light candles.

Chopped BLT Salad Spears:

Who doesn’t like bacon? It makes everything better!

 

6-8 slices of bacon, crisply cooked, and chopped

1/3 cup of mayonnaise

½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3 plum tomatoes, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups of chopped lettuce such as arugula, but baby spinach will work nicely too

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

16-20 endive spears

In a bowl, combine;

 

Mayonnaise

Balsamic vinegar

Mustard

 

Stir in the tomatoes

Season with salt and pepper

In a large bowl, toss;

Arugula

Tomato mixture

Bacon

Cheddar cheese, if you so choose

Spoon the BLT mixture into the endive spears

These can be assembled a few hours prior to serving and refrigerated

Pigs in a Blanket

The thought of the Cubs in the World Series must have subconsciously inspired me to make hot dogs! Though these are elegant little cocktail wieners……

 

3 Tbsp butter

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg

1 Tbsp water

1 package of thawed, but still cold, frozen puff pastry (2 sheets)

1 package of cocktail wieners, or regular hot dogs sliced in half vertically, sliced again into 1 ½ – 2” pieces.

Fancy mustard for dipping

Pre-heat oven to 375°

In a skillet;

Melt butter

Sautee onions until a beautiful golden color

Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Once cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces

 

In a small bowl, whisk together;

Egg

Water

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Working quickly, one sheet at a time, unroll puff pastry

Cut into triangles, 2” wide at the base, 3” high at the point

Place 1 tsp of onion mixture at the base of the triangle

Place hot dog on top of onions

Roll from the base up to the triangle, sealing at the top with a little egg wash

Line up on the baking sheet and repeat with second sheet of puff pastry

Lightly brush each piece with the egg wash

You can prepare the Pigs in a blanket up to this point and refrigerate until ready to cook

Place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden and puffy

Transfer to a platter and serve with your hot mustard

Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta

1 lb cooked and deveined shrimp, if frozen, thawed (I used the smallest, salad size so they were really easy to eat in one bite)

½ cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp red pepper

2 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano

2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

1 loaf French or baguette bread, sliced

In a Zip-loc baggie, combine;

 

½ cup olive oil

Garlic

Oregano

Basil

Add;

1 lb thawed shrimp

Marinade in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight

Pre-heat oven to 250°

Spray a small pan with non-stick spray

Place 1 pint of cut tomatoes

Drizzle with olive oil

Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Roast for one hour

Place the other pint of tomatoes in a mixing bowl

When you remove the roasted tomatoes from the oven, add them to the fresh chopped tomatoes in the bowl

Pre-heat the oven to 350°

Place marinated shrimp in a small oven safe pan

Roast for 20-30 minutes, until golden

Cool slightly and add to the tomato mixture

 

Pre-heat broiler or grill

Slice French bread into 1” pieces

Lightly brush one side with olive oil

Broil or grill until a light golden brown

Top each slice of bread with a generous Tbsp of the shrimp and tomato mixture

Plate and serve

And the Oscar goes to…….the tasty and delicious Academy Awards feast!

See you at the movies……….

For the recipes for my Hot Crab dip and the Chicken Chili Wontons please visit me at my website:

 http://moreismoremom.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/and-the-oscar-goes-to-red-carpet-appetizers/

More movies, more stars, more entertainment, more tasty morsels…..

Chopped BLT Salad Spears

Fancy Pigs In A Blanket

Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta on FoodistaShrimp and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta

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President’s Day: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Leonardo DiCaprio!


 

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about………more days off of school! While a snow day is an unexpected gift, it’s fraught with obligation and work, namely; snow removal. On the other hand, a scheduled day off of school is something to dream about and look forward to. I, for one, am enormously thankful to our forefathers, Presidents Washington, Lincoln and the like, not only for their ground breaking contributions in providing our nation with freedom and liberties, but for being so very fabulous as to merit a national holiday!

There’s nothing like fantasizing about all of the possibilities for celebrating a three day weekend; enjoying an unexpectedly fantastic meal, entertainment, staying up late, sleeping in, shirking your every day responsibilities (one can dream…). Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the kids had a great time catching up with friends, going out to eat, going to the movies and a high school basketball showcase game (way to go Be All and End All Academy!). But Monday was the bonus day. The question was how to spend it?

Even with Monday off of school, Nick still had his weekly 6am hockey practice. The alarm clock going off at 5am is a total fun kill, though ice time is ice time. After a quick shower (thank God. Hockey players STINK!), Nick was back in bed by 7:45am. The kid can be as efficient as a fireman when necessary. Amanda, on the other hand, was blessed with the gift of slumber.

Somehow, Monday was my lucky day. Throwing household chores to the wind, I had the unexpected pleasure of having a little time with each of my teenagers. Rather than Amanda and I going to the health club, parting ways and doing our own thing, she suggested that we do one of Nicks favorite work out DVD’s at home; P90X, with crazy Beach Body personal trainer Tony Horton. Of course, as we laced up our gym shoes, Wrigley was under the mistaken impression that the three of us were going for a run. He was sorely disappointed when we were forced to put up the gate, preventing his access to the room. He’s not a great workout companion; jumping around makes him bark incessantly, doing mat work makes him think that you require assistance, necessitating him to wrap his enormous mouth around your arm, trying to help you up, and his subsequent exile behind the gate makes him whimper. Amanda and I had a fine time however, as we panted, push-upped and cursed that darn Tony Horton.

When Nick awoke for round two of his day off, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse; do you want to watch a movie, just the two of us? The paperwork, the laundry and the cleaning be damned! I had a chance for a little extra quality time with my fella. Nick has always been the kind of guy that wants you to enjoy some of his favorite experiences, which includes his obsession with all movies Leonardo DiCaprio; The Departed, Shutter Island, Inception. Inception?!? Yay. It was on my Academy Award list of movies to see by Sunday. As a total bonus, Nick, having seen it two times before, was able to explain to me the very confusing and convoluted plot.

A little rest, a work out and a movie with two of my all time favorite people; what’s not to celebrate? God Bless the United States of America!!

More freedom and liberty, more rest, more P90X, more Leonardo DiCaprio……….

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The Mysterious Case of the Broken Pagoda….


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……….more hidden, broken treasures! Last weekend, in a rare stolen moment, Chuck, Nick, Amanda, Wrigley and I were watching the Grammy’s (and how exactly did Justin Bieber not win New Artist of the Year? He’s cute as a button, and Amanda just informed me that his favorite color is purple…….the favorite color of the Patron Saint of Teen Idols; Donny Osmond. With such a winning combination, how could he lose?). Somehow, as these things tend to happen, our friendly conversation turned to the kids giving me grief about all the things I would never let them do when they were little, like watch Boy Meets World (too racy), say f-a-r-t (I insisted they sat “toot”) or go into the woods at the end of our street. They giggled as they informed me that whenever they had the chance they would watch Boy Meets World, say f-a-r-t and tempt fate by darting into the woods, if even for just a moment.

Suddenly, Amanda had a huge case of the giggles. She was practically hyperventilating as she asked Chuck, “Dad, didn’t you tell her?” Hmmm. “Tell me what?” I asked. “No, no, no,” they insisted they would go to their graves with their big secret. As they continued to laugh, they decided their big secret was too good to keep to themselves, so they spilled the beans.

For some reason, since Nick was in the 5th grade (which would be for the past 7 years), his life’s work has been to increase his vertical jump. Why, you may ask. He’s not a basketball player or a track star. The last time I checked, there was absolutely no need for jumping in golf or hockey. So what is his obsession with improving his vertical maneuvers? There are finger prints all over our house; on our woodwork, walls and ceilings. One time (Nick must have been in 6th grade) I was holding the ladder for Chuck as he made his way up the scuttle hole into our attic and I noticed pencil markings on my wall, marking off one foot increments. As a control freak, I happen to like things “just so” (which excludes writing on my walls). I could have killed him.   

Apparently, a few weeks ago, while I was downtown preparing for my engagement at the Merchandise Mart, a minor accident happened in our home. Chuck was watching the news in our Family Room, Amanda was reading in our Living Room and Nick was running through our Foyer. Never one to miss an opportunity for an imaginary lay up on our light fixture, he jumped up into the air and as he came down, the carpet at our front door slipped out from under his feet. He flew into the air, landing on his back, but not before he managed to karate-chop collide with my treasured red pagoda étagère.

While Amanda tried to stifle her fit of laughter, Chuck went berserk when he heard the commotion and realized what Nick had done. Never mind the potential injury, my family is acutely aware of my obsession for order. This was a Brady Bunch moment if I’ve ever heard of one. You know, Mom always says, “Don’t play ball in the house.” There was no time for glue, the best they could do was spin the red pagoda étagère around and pray that I didn’t notice that the wood work was hanging on by a thread. I didn’t; though I would have been mighty surprised when I got to my dusting.

Truthfully, with three very busy kids in our home (which includes Wrigley), it’s a miracle more things haven’t been broken. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of casualties (a decorative plate, bumble bee sphere, a trompe l’oiel box and the window in our Den are the only items that come to mind. Not too bad for 18 years.). Fortunately, Chuck was able to glue my red pagoda back together, so it’s as good as new. I dare say that when my Nick is off to college in the fall, I am going to miss him jumping around, imaginary slam dunking my light fixtures and getting his finger prints all over my woodwork, walls and ceilings.

More mishaps, more glue, more harmless secrets, more family memories…….

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