Monthly Archives: December 2010

Ring in the New Year with Family, Friends and Tasty Appetizers…

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about….more ringing in the New Year! It’s a night for nibbling, noshing, toasting, remembering and celebrating. The best part for me, however, is for us to be together as a family. It’s funny, when the kids were little, they would try so hard to make it ‘til midnight. Now, Chuck and I are nodding off, trying desperately to keep our eyeballs open. One way to stay awake is to look forward to a delicious appetizer buffet. I made two of my tastiest treats to share with you today. They are always a hit with my family and friends and will sure to become a favorite of yours as well.

Bite Size Crab Cakes:

You know my motto is more of everything is always better, which totally applies to appetizers. I made a double batch because if 24 are good, 48 must be better! The measurements listed are for a single batch.


8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature

¾ grated Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup for the filling, ½ cup for the crust

1 large egg

¼ cup sour cream

1 tsp orange peel, grated

½ tsp lemon peel, grated

6 tsp chopped chives for the filling, another 2 Tbsp for the crust

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

8 ounces fresh lump crab meat (I love the 16 oz container from CostCo)

1 cup panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs

½ stick butter, melted

Plus extra butter for greasing the mini muffin tins

The filling can be prepared the day before. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Grease mini muffin tins generously with butter

For the filling:

With an electric mixer, beat;


Cream cheese

Mix until creamy and smooth


Parmesan cheese



Sour cream

Orange peel

Lemon peel

Chopped chives


Cayenne pepper

Beat until well blended and smooth

Gently stir in crabmeat



Set aside

For the crust:

Mix together;

Panko breadcrumbs

Parmesan cheese


Melted butter

Toss until evenly moistened


Press one tablespoon of panko mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup to form the crust



1 tsp crab mixture for each cup

Top each cup with a teaspoon of panko mixture

Bake the mini crab cakes for approximately 30 minutes, until they are a nice, golden brown


Cool for 5 minutes

To remove, slide a knife around the edge of each cup and remove carefully from the pan

Plate and serve

Everybody’s Loves ‘Em BLT Cups

One batch makes about 36 appetizers. Feel free to double and triple…. I like to make this the night before my event. I go so far as to get the dough in the tin and fill it with the bacon mixture. All that’ll be left is to pop them into the oven.

8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped (approximately ¾ cup)

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped (approximately ¾ cup)

½ small onion, chopped (approximately 2/3 cup)

1 ¼ cup grated Swiss cheese

½ cup mayonnaise

1 ½ Tbsp fresh chopped basil

2 cans of flaky biscuits, such as Hungry Jack

Pre-heat oven to 375°


In a mixing bowl, combine;





Swiss cheese




Stir until well mixed


Separate each flaky biscuit into two

Press a disc into the bottom of the each muffin cup

Fill each cup with a heaping teaspoon of bacon filling

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until a nice warm golden brown


Plate and serve

Your guests will be delighted to ring in the New Year in style!

More tasty morsels, more time together, more celebrations…..

Mini Crab Cake and Blt Cup Appetizers


Filed under Entertaining, Friendship, More is More Mom, Recipes

When You’re……15

Amanda, 1 year old

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more teenage milestones! This week, my Amanda turns 15. How could that have possibly happened? She’s the little one; our baby sister. That’s why we call her Sister, or Sissy or Sis. Turning 15 is not something that’s supposed to happen to the littlest one in your family. In fact, for the longest time, every Birthday Eve she would have tears in her eyes as she would tell me that she didn’t want to turn another year older. She really just liked being her age.


Amanda and Wrigley

Amanda has always enjoyed being the youngest, except on those occasions when she feels left out and misunderstood in her own household. I’m an oldest. Chuck’s an oldest. Nick’s an oldest. And even though Wrigley is technically the youngest, even he has always taken it upon himself to look out for Amanda. He never tries to wrestle her to the ground (like he does to Nick). He never barks at her (like he does to Nick). He never tries to beat her in a race (like he does to Nick). Wherever she goes he watches her. Still, when she leaves the yard, Wrigley walks to the farthest possible end, craning his neck until she is out of his sight. When she rides her bike, he runs along side. I don’t think she would have fared quite so well as a middle child. Once, my cousin Terri brought my littlest cousin, Junebug, over to visit while we were having a garage sale. Amanda’s only comment was, “You know, little kids just try to steal your stuff.”


Amanda, in her Winnie the Pooh suit, with Nick

The one thing Amanda has never liked was being left out. When Nick took swimming lessons, she would always wear her favorite Winnie the Pooh swimsuit. She would lift up her shirt and ask the instructor, “My turn?” When Nick was in Kindergarten and brought home homework, she wanted to do homework too. I would make a photo copy of his work for her, and she would sit next to him at our Kitchen counter and complete her homework sheets. She was insistent that Nick bring it back to school and turn it in for her. Nick’s Kindergarten teacher was warm and wonderful. She would grade Amanda’s papers and send home stickers and gold stars. Amanda would beam with pride.


Amanda was desperate to wear a school uniform like her brother. She had a little yellow smock dress that she would wear everyday when we took Nick to school. She would even have me pack her a lunch box. One day, the most amazing thing happened; we inherited an Our Lady of Perpetual Donation’s girls uniform! Amanda wore it everywhere! She thought it was smashing with a long sleeve denim shirt, blue argyle tights and her gold sparkle shoes. She wore that ensemble almost everyday of 3 year old Pre-School. As a 9th grader at St. Feels Right for Her, she only has 7 semesters left in a plaid uniform. Hope she’s not tired of it yet.

As a High School freshman with an older brother, Amanda was keenly aware of the importance of taking Driver’s Ed, as soon as humanly possibly. She was not about to miss out on getting her permit on her 15th birthday. Due to her gymnastics training schedule, she only has Wednesday’s and Sunday’s off. The planets must have been in alignment because we were lucky to have found a Sunday’s only class that started in September. It lasts for 4 months and ends 11 days after her 15 birthday. Secretary of State’s office here we come!

More being the baby of the family, more getting older, more milestones, more grabbing onto the arm rest, more slamming down on the imaginary brake….

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Filed under Family Life, More is More Mom

An Egg-ceptional Start To The New Year!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about….a more meaningful start to the New Year! Whether you ring in the New Year in Times Square or in the privacy of your own home, why not kick off January 1st with a gorgeous and delicious meal? There is nothing better than lounging around in your pajamas, enjoying the day with your family. I like to make our time together special; setting the table with linens and cloth napkins, candles, stemware and china. Rather than serve something ordinary, I like to take it up a few notches, serving a beautiful brunch.

I am a huge fan of the Egg Casserole; in fact, I just made my husband, Chuck’s, favorite one on Christmas morning. To welcome in the New Year however, I love a hearty meal that can be served for breakfast (who could possibly be up that early?), brunch or dinner; the Croque-Madame. Doesn’t that sound impressive? In essence, it’s a very fancy-schmancy grilled cheese sandwich, topped with a very tasty fried egg.

This is the most amazing recipe and the sandwich is going to absolutely melt in your mouth. While I’m all about a fabulous meal, my first consideration is for the safety of my family. This recipe calls for the fried egg to be just set, still a little bit runny. It tastes amazing, but I’d hate to run the risk of exposing my family to salmonella. Who wants a run to the Emergency Room when there is more fun to be had? That is why I used Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Shell Eggs.

Safest Choice Pasteurized Shell Eggs



Serves 4

Sauce ingredients


1 stick of butter

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 cups of whole milk

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

1/3 cup of shredded cheese, something that melts nicely. I used a sharp cheddar



Sandwich Ingredients


8 slices of sandwich bread

5 tsp Dijon Mustard

10 slices of cooked Canadian bacon (or ham)

4 large eggs


The sauce becomes luscious and thick. It’s so good; you could eat it with a spoon!

In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt;

4 Tbsp butter


Whisk in;

3 Tbsp flour

Whisking continually for 3 minutes



2 cups of milk

Whisk and bring to a boil

Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes







Whisk until cheese is thoroughly melted


Remove from the heat and immediately cover with a piece of wax paper


Pre-heat oven to broil

Lay out all 8 slices of bread

On four, spread;

2 Tbsp of sauce

Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese, ¼ cup per slice

On the remaining 4 pieces, spread;

5 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 ¼ tsp on each slice

Top each slice of bread with 2 pieces of Canadian bacon

Flip Dijon mustard and Canadian bacon slice of bread onto the sauce and cheese slice to make a sandwich

In a skillet, melt;

2 Tbsp of butter

Once foamy and melted, place sandwich in skillet for 1-2 minutes


Adding another Tbsp of butter if necessary, flip sandwiches over for another 1-2 minutes

Remove from skillet, and place on a greased pan (I like to line mine with aluminum foil for easier clean up)

Top each sandwich with;

1/3 cup of sauce

Broil sandwich for 3-4 minutes, at least 6 inches form the heat, until the sauce is bubbly and golden


Keep warm

Wipe out skillet


1 tsp of butter for every two eggs fried, over medium heat


Break Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Shell Eggs into skillet

Sprinkle with;



Cook for 3 minutes, or until yolks are just set, and likely still runny


Carefully remove from skillet and place one fried egg on each sandwich

It would be lovely to accompany the egg sandwich with a light, mixed green salad and some fresh fruit

Light Salad Dressing;

Serves 4

In a small bowl, whisk together;

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp oil

Toss onto 4-6 cups of mixed tender greens

Top with a soft crumbled cheese, such as feta or goat cheese

Fresh Fruit;

Mixed berries, such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are lovely



The evening before, I like to set my table. I chose a warm golden hue, with a variety of textures; velvet, basket weave, damask and bamboo. The juxtaposition creates an interesting arrangement.


All that’s left now is to plate, serve and enjoy.

More delicious meals, more family time, more fresh starts…..

I’m so excited to be working with Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Shell Eggs. I’m a Chicago girl and I love that they are a Chicago area company. Their message promotes educating the public on the importance of serving our families safe eggs, and I’m all about making more healthy and safe meals for my family. 

To join in the fun, you should totally consider entering their Eggs Your Way recipe contest

I hope you’ll have an opportunity to try Safest Choice™. Why not get a coupon by liking them on their Facebook page?!/SafeEggs?v=app4949752878

Egg-Ceptional Croque-Madame With Lightly Dressed Greens and Fresh Fruit 


Filed under Entertaining, Family Life, More is More Mom, Recipes

Memories of Christmas….

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……a more relaxing Christmas with my family! Well, we did it; we simplified our Christmas Eve celebration. Gone, this year, was the four course, four star dinner (along with the days of prep and hours of clean up). Gone was the elaborate and gorgeous tablescape (along with the ironing of the linens and the polishing of the silver). Gone were the fancy frocks (along with the dry cleaning bill). This year we ushered in Christmas with casual, comfortable style, with all the pomp and circumstance reserved for Christmas Day.

I thrive on the rat race. I absolutely live for complicated matters, trouble and aggravation, all for the sake of authenticity, but even I must confess, the respite was welcome. The afternoon began with our annual cocktail and appetizer festivities with my friend Judy and her family. Putting our children (one college and three High School students) in charge of arriving at church early enough to secure a pew, while the adults arrived in just enough time for a little socializing before we took our seats.

What a treat! Instead of getting dinner underway after mass, we slipped into our sweats, packed up the car, with Wrigley in tow, and headed to my mom and George’s house in Chicago for our new and improved celebration. On the way, we made a pit stop at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Chicago’s famous Orange Garden. By 7 pm, we were sitting around the dinner table enjoying the most Heavenly and delicious meal. Who needs a beef tenderloin and crab bisque soup when you’ve got the world’s best egg rolls and shrimp fried rice? Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra (you have seen the cult classic; The Christmas Story, with Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun haven’t you?)……and clean up was a snap!


Wrigley and his stuffed Christmas bone


The remains of a Christmas toy...

It was all so relaxing (except for constantly wrestling Wrigley away from the packages, the tree, the Chinese food, the cookies, everything on the coffee table and all of the squeakers he immediately removed from all of his new toys)! We exchanged gifts, had a few laughs and watched Will Ferrell, in one of his finest performances, Elf. The perfect end to the perfect evening.


Cub fans..


Nick, Wrigley and Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks


Wrigley rubbing Wrigley Field for good luck!

After sleeping in, we opened presents from “Santa” and had a huge breakfast. I made egg casserole and bacon, and George made his world famous, special requested, beer waffles. It was divine. For me, the best part of the day was when my Nick and I laced up our running shoes and took Wrigley for our very own, second annual, Reindeer Run. We zig zagged through the city streets to the Friendly Confines, Wrigley Field. I took a picture of my fellas in front of a souvenir shop, the statue of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, and of Wrigley tapping his paw against Wrigley Field for good luck (it was like kissing the Blarney Stone or pulling the sword, Excalibur, out of the stone). Perhaps the curse will be broken in 2011. You heard it hear first.

The evening brought a beautiful dinner with our family and cherished friends. More of everything is always better!

More new traditions, more time with family, more meaningful memories and experiences….

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Filed under Family Life, More is More Mom, my furry son, Wrigley

Time Spent Together, the True Meaning of Christmas….

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more meaningful holiday memories. You know my mantra is more of everything is always better. I love stuff! I adore clothing and jewelry, shoes and handbags, lusciously draped fabrics and passementerie (fancy French word for decorative trim. Oh, so chic.), gallery displayed artwork, gorgeous furniture, whimsical appointments, an eclectic collection of music for my I-Pod, delicious food and great wine (or cheap wine)……just to name a few of my fav’s. However, more than anything, I love my devoted family and cherished friends.  

While stuff is great, and it is (!), the experiences that we share with the people in our lives are so much better! The gift of time is the gift that keeps on giving.

I’m always reminded of the generosity of my only sibling, my brother, Ray. He takes his role as uncle very seriously. Even though he lives out of state, he makes being a part of my Nick and Amanda’s lives a priority. When Nick broke his right ankle 4 days before his 16th birthday (perhaps a sign from the Heaven’s that Nicholas was not quite ready to get his driver’s license) my brother hopped on a plane from Atlanta to bring him Rock Band and make his birthday special. The Rock Band jam sessions haven’t been quite the success without him because each team apparently needs a good drummer and Uncle Ray is quite the percussionist. He flew in for 24 hours to see Amanda walk across the stage as she received her 8th grade diploma from Our Lady of Perpetual Donations Grammar School (unlike Jethro Bodine, who only graduated from the 6th grade, we were pretty sure she’d be a shoe in). He was here as his Godson, my Nick, turned 18. He’s attended more than his fair share of hockey games and has helped Amanda with her science fair project.

That’s what it’s all about; being together, celebrating each other and creating memories. Santa may have a tough time squeezing his big red bag down the chimney for my good little girl and boy, but the real focus is on what’s important; each other.


Our family, Christmas 2009

Last Christmas, Chuck and I got cross country skies. We rented a pair each for Amanda and Nick and had the very best time criss-crossing the grounds at Cantigny and the golf course at Arrowhead. It was so great to be outdoors, laughing at our ineptitude, picking each other up when we fell (some of us more than others. You’d think the one accustomed to daring fetes across a 4” wide balance beam might be able to stand up longer) and being together. We’re totally counting on some more snow so we can do it again this year.    

We love playing games together as a family (Trivial Pursuit, UNO Attack and Spoons top the list), enjoying our times at meals together (though Nick often asks, “Do we have to watch the Food Network while we’re eating food?”), watching the kids at their sports, admiring all of the good (and terrible) things that Wrigley does, and sharing some of our most favorite television programs, like Modern Family (which we DVR each week so all four of us can watch it together).

This year, on Christmas Eve, we’re keeping some of our traditions alive. In the afternoon, we always have snicky-snacks and splishy-splashes with my dear friend Judy (who’s like my sister) and her family. Then the eight of us then head over to attend mass together. I’ve always hosted Christmas Eve dinner, a huge feast; crab bisque soup, strawberry salad with a poppy seed dressing, a peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin and homemade chocolate pudding for dessert. Chuck had an amazing and completely innovative suggestion; instead of all of the pomp and circumstance, let’s don our pajamas and order in, Chinese food, from our very favorite restaurant! My mom and George were totally on board. Who knows, maybe a new tradition will be born.

More time together, more family memories, more meaningful experiences, more Merry Christmas’s……

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