Monthly Archives: August 2011

Perfectly Pan Seared Chicken with Grape Tomatoes!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……more mouth watering family dinners! While I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, keeping the menu fresh and interesting can pose some challenges, particularly with everyone’s ever changing busy schedules and picky palettes. It’s only natural that chicken is a total go to; sear it, roast it, bake it, grill it, smother it with barbeque sauce, everybody’s happy.

I have made my new favorite Pan Seared Chicken with Grape Tomatoes several times and it’s always a winner. It’s simple and flavorful. What’s not to like?


Pan Seared Chicken with Grape Tomatoes

Serves 4


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 cups grape tomatoes

2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

8 cloves of garlic

1 -2 tsp salt

1 stick of butter, softened

1 ½ Tbsp fresh oregano chopped

1 tsp paprika


Cracked black pepper


Herbed Butter;

Make the butter earlier in the day or even the week. When it’s time to cook the chicken you’ll be finished in a snap!


Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic cloves with the salt until a nice paste forms


In a small bowl, combine;

Garlic paste





Salt and pepper to taste

Refrigerate until ready to use


In a large skillet, melt half the herbed butter over medium heat

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper

Place chicken breasts in skillet, covering while cooking for approximately 10 minutes

Flip over the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes, just to be sure the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center

Remove chicken and place on a platter, tenting the chicken to keep it warm


In the nice pan juices, cook the tomatoes for about 5 minutes

Add the remaining herbed butter and continue to cook for about 1 more minute, crushing the tomatoes as you stir

Season with salt and pepper to taste


Smother chicken with tomato mixture and sprinkle with parsley

I paired our dinner with corn on the cob and mashed potatoes. It was perfect!


More family dinners, more simple recipes, more easy chicken, more mouth watering goodness……

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And Then There Were Two……

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more adjustments! I don’t know where the time has gone; 11,520 minutes have passed since we dropped Nick off at college (but who’s counting?). Our home, usually bursting at the seams with Nick’s energy, is suddenly so quiet. We always know when he’s home, not only because of the trail of keys, his wallet, golf tees and markers, scorecards, shoes, clothes, socks and snacks, but because he just buzzes with excitement. Nick is the first to share an anecdote, a new song, an article he’s read (and re-read and repeated umpteen times) and he always lies on the floor to give Wrigley a good quality belly rub.


Of course, the night before he left was totally Nick-centric. Although we had a going away dinner earlier in the week, my mom, his Nana, came out to share a little more Nicky time. We dined on one of his all time favorite meals; Lou Malnati’s pizza. At bedtime, we all piled into his room to watch one of his all time favorite movies; Caddyshack (a real Cinderella story). Amanda even dragged a mattress in from our guest room so she could have one more sleep over, just like they used to when Nick still had his bunk beds. Needless to say, this has been a sobering week.


With all of the madness and commotion behind us, we’re settling into new routines. I’m sure Amanda is super pumped about having us all to herself; no more flying under the radar. Now I can pester her, and her alone, about the merits of wearing her retainer (complete with nightly retainer checks). We’re also much more available for quizzing her on all test materials, looking over any homework assignments and dropping in to chat it up with her in her bedroom. She never knew how much she was going to miss her brother until now.  


 In Nick’s absence, the laundry chute is no longer over flowing, the domed cake plate I keep on our kitchen counter has more than a few lingering fresh baked treats and we haven’t consumed a drop of orange juice (eliminating his three gallon a week habit). While Nick is a night owl, Amanda is early to bed and early to rise. We haven’t seen 11pm all week.   


On the other hand, Nick is going to be equally surprised when he returns. While we wouldn’t let her take over his bedroom, the body’s not even cold for Heaven’s sake, Amanda does have free run of the big screen in the basement. Several mornings a week, Amanda and I run over to the health club at 5:30am and our dinner hour revolves around Amanda’s schedule. Oh, and Wrigley? He’s now expecting Amanda to rub his belly after school.


More family time, more college experiences, more life on the home front, more adjusting to change…..


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The College Drop-Off….

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more bittersweet milestones. Nearly 19 years ago, I could never have fathomed that the day would come when we would be dropping Nick off at college. Seriously, I never even let this kid ride the school bus. But low and behold, our summer came to a screeching halt and there we were; loading up the truck.

I must admit, while Nick was somewhat apathetic, I had great fun treasure hunting; gathering each and every little necessary item (and completely unnecessary items) for life in the dorms. We were tripping over the stuff as it was spilling out of our guestroom, into the hall. I guess I thought if I made his surroundings as comfortable as possible, his room would feel like home; a comfortable bed, a cozy chair, a throw blanket made with love from Amanda, his favorite snacks, even posters duplicated from his bedroom in the form of movies classics like Slap Shot and Caddyshack.

The day we left was complete and total chaos. Before we raced out the door, Nick visited Rick the Barber for a haircut and he set up Skype with my mom, his Nana. While he was out and about, Chuck and I stacked our Yukon XL to the rafters. We had so much stuff, there was scarcely room for our student! Finally, Chuck, Nick and I piled into the car and hit the road. Thankfully, school is only 3 hours away.

On our way, we made a detour so Nick could spend a little time hitting a bucket of balls, chipping and putting. When we finally pulled into the Inn, we were ravenous and ready for our Last Supper; just the three of us. As we settled in for the night, we decided to watch a movie. I wanted to watch Toy Story 3, but Nick said, “There’s no reason for Mom to start crying right now when she has all day tomorrow.” I suppose he had a point. Wedding Crasher’s it was!

Drop off day was an absolute blur with so much to do and so little time. Thankfully, the university had it down to a science; you pulled up, 15 volunteers helped unload your car and brought everything up to Nick’s room. By the time Chuck parked the car, we were unpacking. Thankfully we were alone in Nick’s triple, allowing us time to loft and bunk the beds and get totally organized.

 The rest of our day went by in a flash; unpacking, settling in, meeting the roommates, ID’s, laptop support, checking the mail box, signing up for the work-study program, meeting his mentor group, the convocation ceremony. Suddenly, it was time for Chuck and I to say good bye. Elton John says, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Clearly he’s never said good bye to a beloved child, because that is truly the hardest word. I tried to be brave, but as I held my boy, I wept. Not only do I love Nick, but I really and truly adore him. While I know I should be so excited for all the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead for him, I can’t help but mourn the loss of having this bright, funny, talented, amazing kid in our life each and every day.

What surprised me the most was the abruptness of the entire situation. Thursday morning was life as we knew it; I shagged Nick out of bed so he could get to the caddyshack on time, I toasted him a breakfast pastry (breakfast of champions), and laid out a fresh caddy shirt. Friday morning, we packed up the car and by Saturday, we had him moved into his new home away from home. By Sunday….crickets.

I just got off the phone with my Nick and I can’t even begin to tell you how good it was to hear his voice again. Fall break won’t get here soon enough!

More milestones, more dorm living, more new experiences, more absence making the heart grow stronger……

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Rockin’ It Out With Katy Perry!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more Teenage Dreams! What a way to end the summer; Katy Perry, live in concert! We were sooooo disappointed when she canceled her concert due to “food poisoning” in July, but I must admit, she was totally worth the wait. In our second annual pop music pilgrimage, Amanda and I joined our cousins, hosted by Nurse Terri (who is like my sister), for an evening of wild fun and entertainment. Rendezvousing at the Giordano’s for pizza and Pino Grigio was the perfect start.


The party atmosphere extended all the way to the parking lot. Girls dressed in glitter, sparkles and candy confections. Never have I seen so many blue haired ladies (and I’m not talking about your grandmother and her girlfriends)! The bright blue wigs were all in homage to Miss Katy (Snoop’s lady) and her outrageous personal style. Little girls, teen-age girls, girl friends, mothers, daughters, grandmothers; dressed to the nine’s and ready to rock it out!


Now, I just love, love, love Russell Brand, so I was hoping to feel the same way about his bride. Katy Perry is absolutely adorable; a mix between a squeaky and sexy Betty Boop, a lovely and soft spoken Glenda, the Witch of the North and a bawdy Bette Midler all rolled into one.  


Surrounded by Willie Wonka-esque candy land confections, she totally delivered! Up on our feet, we danced and sang along as she belted out hit after hit after hit. This wasn’t just a concert; it was an extravaganza of costumes, dancers, fireworks, bubbles, glitter. Florenz Ziegfeld would have been proud!



After two rock solid hours of rip roaring entertainment, we made a pit stop at the B96 party van. Why sit in parking lot gridlock when you can continue to dance? While we didn’t make it home until 1 in the morning (on a school night no less), this night was totally worth it……a Teenage Dream!


More screaming teenagers, more singing, more dancing, more family fun and memories…..


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Back to School Inspired Home Decor….

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……..more back to school home décor! I have always been in love with the rituals of starting a new school year. Perhaps it’s my obsession with footwear, but to me, the very best part of back to school shopping is the quest for the perfect shoe. When I was a little girl, my mom would take me to Chicago’s Kotz Shoe Store at Lincoln and Belmont. I was like a kid in a candy shop; shiny cordovan penny loafers, topsiders, saddle shoes (I like retro), clogs (it was the 70’s) and sparkly white tennis shoes.


The next best thing to shoe shopping is finding the perfect school supplies; designed to help you stay organized and motivated in style! While Nick has always been perfectly happy with boring solid colored notebooks and folders and those standard orangey-yellow Ticonderoga #2 pencils, Amanda is much more like her mother in her desire for flights of fancy; patterned, colorful, glittery, hip and happening.


But why should the kids have all of the fun? With reading, writing and arithmetic as my inspiration, I was scouring the aisles of my favorite haunts for ideas for bringing the back to school experience to our home décor.


I think a globe is a great addition to any home. It’s perfect on a shelf, a counter or an end table. Easy accessibility is the key so the kiddies can become geographically literate. Maybe I should have spent more time at the library rather than at the shoe store!  


Reading is, of course, fundamental. As an Interior Designer, I’m always surprised when clients ask me what they should put on their book shelves. The answer is obvious; BOOKS! However, we can make our displays more interesting by intermingling treasured photographs, objects and bookends. I am a huge fan of elephants, which is why I was immediately drawn to these bookends in particular, but there are so many different options allowing us to express our individual personalities.


For the math and strategy minded, why not a little game of Tic-Tac-Toe? Even though pencil and paper is simple, a statement game goes a long way. Why not keep it on the kitchen counter or on the coffee table in the family room?


It’s always a good idea to get on your teacher’s good side by bringing her an apple (or to sweeten the deal, a caramel apple!). I came across this fabulous three tiered basket, which would be perfect for storing apples, amongst other things. If you are a fan of going big or going home, why not snag this apple sculpture and perch it on your kitchen island or counter to bring in a little flavor of the season?


Pretty fabric desk accessories will keep you organized, yet stylish. Rather than stick all of your family’s artwork and important notes on the refrigerator, why not pin them on a fabulously framed cork board or French memo board? So much more beautiful! While you’re at it, replacing ho-hum yellow legal pads with decorative and ornate paper makes all of our prose, be it a laundry list or a love letter, a little bit more important.


What better way to shed some light on your reading, writing and arithmetic than with sassy new table lamps? Bright colors, bold stripes and striking silhouettes make a powerful statement in any nook or cranny.


The most memorable addition to our back to school home décor preserves those treasure moments in time. Capture those memories with candid shots, displayed in frames on an end table, shelf or artfully arranged on the wall.


More reminiscing, more re-living our innocent youth, more back to school shopping, more home décor……


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