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Emmy’s Schmemmy’s!


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more Emmy Award’s! I am absolutely in love with the fantasy of going to the movies, which is why my favorite show of the entire year is the Oscar’s. However, what sustains me throughout our ordinary daily lives is…..television.

 

The Emmy’s is like a gigantic kick-off to the fall season. However, before we celebrate this past year of entertainment (and look forward to the coming weeks. Yay!), we must acknowledge those who have been here for us, supporting us, for the past 90 days; our friends at Bravo! A great big hat’s off to Bravo for making our summer bearable. While ABC, NBC and CBS have been showing ho-hum, boring reruns, Bravo has had the decency to entertain us with new programming. Housewives after Housewives, Millionaire Matchmaker, Top Chef, reunion shows with cutie pie Andy Cohen (Mazel!) and my all time favorite human being on television; Jeff Lewis of Flipping Out. I love him because he is a total ball buster who happens to have a big heart and exquisite taste.

 

This year, the Emmy’s were hosted by the fabulous Jane Lynch, otherwise known as both Sue Sylvester on Glee and Charlie Sheen’s therapist on 2 ½ Men. She’s amazing, and while I love, love, love, her, she just wasn’t as funny as Jimmy Fallon last year (whom I also love, love, love and isn’t as funny as Craig Ferguson. Maybe Craig Ferguson should host the Emmy’s!).

 

We are such total Modern Family maniacs at our house that I refuse to allow anyone to erase the second season we have recorded on our DVR until someone buys me the DVD compilation for Christmas. With all the awesome new TV coming in the next 24 hours, it’s a good thing we have 2 DVR’s. Julie Bowen, Claire on Modern Family is very, very good, but I wonder how she edged out Jane Lynch? I really thought that she and Gloria (Sofia Vergara) would have cancelled each other out. Ty Burrell was fabulous this season as the fumbling Phil Dunphy. Thankfully the Emmy voters got that one right.

 

Unfortunately, this Emmy show was a complete dud! It was about as boring as the Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway and James Franco. The first funny moment happened 45 minutes into the telecast when Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara introduced the nominees for Lead Actress in a Comedy. Amy Poehler was a riot! When her name was announced as a nominee, she sauntered up to the stage as if she were the winner. The other nominees; Melissa McCarthy, Martha Plimpton, Eddie Falco (who was rockin a hard body like she was Madonna), Tina Fey and Laura Linney, all followed suit. They held hands on stage like they were contestants in a beauty pageant, just waiting for Miss America to be announced. Melissa McCarthy won for Mike & Molly and she was crowned with a tiara and awarded with a beautiful spray of roses. She’s from Plainfield, you know.

 

As insane as Charlie Sheen had been when he fell off the deep end in the spring, I was kind of hoping for a little tiger blood fighting warrior, but he must have been on his meds, darn it. He wasn’t humorous in the least as he announced Jim Parsons, from the Big Bang Theory, as Lead Actor in a Comedy. Clearly I am not smart enough to get it; how did he beat both Steve Carell and the amazing Alec Baldwin?

 

After another 30 interminably boring minutes, was the second amusing moment of the evening; the “epic” musical event starring Andy Samberg and Michael Bolton. Apparently Michael Bolton hadn’t been embarrassed enough with his dismal performance on Dancing with the Stars, because now he agreed to dress up as a singing Captain Jack Sparrow. I must admit, we did get a little chuckle when Ed Helms, John Stamos and Maya Rudolph dressed up as Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg and Lady Gaga, singing, “It’s not gay if it’s in a three way,” (the SNL rerun episode aired last night).

 

Margo Martindale won for Supporting Actress in a Drama in Justified (I’d never even heard of that show). Peter Dinklage was your Supporting Actor Drama for Game of Thrones (clearly too high brow for me). Julianna Margulies (who will always be Nurse Hathaway on ER ) was Best Actress in a Drama for The Good Wife. Since she is married to Mr. Big, I might consider checking that one out. Kyle Chandler was the Best Actor for Friday Night Lights. I haven’t seen the TV show, but the movie was excellent! Apparently, we don’t do dramas.

 

While they looked amazing, the boys from Entourage were as boring as their final season, though they kicked off the awards for the best in mini series; Supporting Actress, Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall of Harry Potter fame), Supporting Actor, Guy Pearce (?), Lead Actor, Barry Pepper (he was awesome as Roger Maris in *61 and Saving Private Ryan), and of course, Lead Actress, the beautiful Kate Winslet.

 

The show was so uneventful that it couldn’t end soon enough, but not before awarding Modern Family and Mad Men as tops in Comedy and Drama.

 

With all that celebrating behind us, we have an entire season of our favorite television to look forward to. Hip, hip, hooray for the idiot box!

 

 More beloved television shows, more favorite characters, more time laughing together as a family……

 

To schedule and Interior Design appointment, a Life Style consultation or a speaking engagement, please email me at moreismoremom@aol.com

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It’s Complicated….


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about……more themed parties! While we are still in summer Outdoor Movie Night mode, I was thrilled to invite my Book Club girlfriends over for movie fun. There was no question; we had to watch It’s Complicated with the amazingly versatile Meryl Streep, the charming and talented (and rather portly) Alec Baldwin and the genuine and hysterical Steve Martin. Brilliant!

 

A party with a theme practically throws itself. In the movie, Meryl owns a smart and trendy bakery, so naturally a dessert buffet was in order. My menu was particularly inspired by two scenes; one where she makes Alec Baldwin a luscious and beautiful chocolate cake, and the other when she takes Steve Martin to her bakery after hours and teaches him how to make chocolate croissants. Are you hungry yet?

 

The It’s Complicated Menu (a diabetic’s nightmare):

  • Buttercream and Berry Topped Vanilla Cake
  • Chocolate Ganache Cake
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  • Chocolate Croissants

 

Buttercream and Berry Topped Vanilla Cake:

This cake is so pretty! I know it’s still cake, but something about fruit just feels like it might be a healthier option. Just don’t think about the Buttercream frosting.

You will need two round cake pans. If you use 7-8” pans, the cake will be thick enough to cut in half horizontally, providing four layers. I was working with 9” pans, so I had just two layers.

Cake:

Pre- heat oven to 350°

Grease the bottom of each cake pan.

Line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper, cut to fit. Grease over the paper and sprinkle lightly with flour.

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

 

2 ½ cups of flour

1/3 cup cornstarch

3 tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp salt

Add:

 

2/3 cup vegetable oil

½ cup milk

1 ½ tsp vanilla (as always, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery)

1 ¼ cups of water (add an additional ½ cup of water if necessary so the batter is smooth, not too sticky and dough-y)

Mix until smooth

In a medium bowl, combine:

 

4 egg whites

¼ tsp cream of tartar

Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks are formed

Gradually add;

1 ¾ cups of sugar

Beat at a high speed until stiff peaks are formed

Add the egg mixture into the batter

Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared pans.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean

Cool for 10 minutes

Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely, removing the wax paper.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE: I would highly recommend not assembling this cake until you are a few hours away from serving. I learned that from my incessant need to be organized and prepared. I discovered that, sometimes, patience is actually a virtue.

Buttercream Frosting:

In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat;

1 ½ cups of butter

Gradually add;

4 ½ cups of powdered sugar (I know it seems like an insane amount, but you’re going to add even more!)

Add;

4 ½ Tbsp milk

3 tsp vanilla (pure…)

Gradually add more powdered sugar, up to 4 additional cups.

Add more milk, a splash at a time, if necessary to make a nice and creamy consistency.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Berries:

 

4 cups fresh, sliced strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries

½ – 1 cup of raspberry jam

To assemble:

If your cake is thick enough to be divided, using a serrated knife, cut the layers in half horizontally. Otherwise we’ll just be working with two layers.

 

On a platter, place on cake layer

Spread generously with Buttercream frosting, but not quite to the edge of the cake

Top with a ¼ cup of jam

Arrange 1 cup of berries on top of the jam

Repeat with remaining layers

Serve to your fruit loving friends!

Chocolate Ganache Cake:

What could be more decadent?

Again, if you have three 7-8” cake pans, use them. I was working with two 9” pans which was really quite fine.

 

Cake:

Pre- heat oven to 350°

Grease the bottom of each cake pan.

Line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper, cut to fit. Grease over the paper and sprinkle lightly with flour.

Whisk together;

¾ cup boiling water

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp instant espresso powder (found in the coffee aisle)

 

In a medium bowl, sift together;

 2 cups all purpose flour

1 ¼ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

In a large mixing bowl, beat together;

 

2 sticks of butter, softened to room temperature

2 cups of brown sugar, packed

Beat until nice and fluffy

Add;

4 large eggs, one at a time

 

Add;

Flour mixture and cocoa mixture in small batches until all blended together.

Pour batter into prepared pans, divided evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Cool for about 30 minutes

Remove cakes from pans, placing on wire racks until completely cool. Be sure to remove the wax paper.

Ganache:

This frosting is so simple and delicious you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making it forever.

In a large saucepan, bring;

2 ¾ cups of heavy whipping cream to a simmer

Whisk in;

20 ounces of bittersweet chocolate which has been finely chopped in a food processor (so much quicker than by hand)

 

Stir until smooth

Pour the Ganache into a bowl, cover and chill for 4 hours

Stir occasionally to keep the consistency nice and spreadable

To Assemble:

Place a cake layer on a serving platter

Spread about 2/3 -3/4 cups Ganache over cake

Top with another cake

If you are adding a third layer, add frosting to the second layer and top with third layer

Once you have added your top layer (second or third depending), refrigerate for about an hour to firm up Ganache filling

 

To finish the cake, spread a thin layer of Ganache over the top and sides

Refrigerate for about 30 minutes

Spread the remaining Ganache over the top and sides as evenly as possible.

Duff from the Ace of Cakes, and Buddy the Cake Boss sure do make it look easy!

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Thankfully this can be made a day in advance. It’s the perfect recipe to satisfy my need for control and organization.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries:

Truly, the perfect combination; healthy fruit with decadent chocolate!

Wash desired number of strawberries.

In a narrow, but deep, small mixing bowl melt 1 bag of chocolate chip for about 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.

One by one, take each strawberry and dip into the chocolate

Place the strawberries on wax paper to firm up

After a while, the chocolate gets kind of thick and gooey. There may be some waste, but when that happens, melt another bag of chocolate. The most important thing is that the chocolate appear creamy and smooth.

Refrigerate in a sealed container. Remove from the fridge an hour or so before you are ready to set up your buffet.

 

Serve with champagne for a special treat.

 

Chocolate Croissants:

I had this dream that I was going to have time to tackle croissants from scratch, even though I’ve never made them before. In a rare moment of clarity, I called Panera Bread and ordered a dozen chocolate croissants. They were fabulous!

The Buffet:

Everything always tastes even better when it is beautifully displayed. I am an enormous fan of varying elevations. Visually it creates a more pleasing arrangement by adding layers and dimension, but from a practical standpoint the food items are easier to reach when offered at different heights.

 

I really felt that the Chocolate Croissants were the featured attraction, so I placed them at the highest elevation on this absolutely amazing architectural pediment. Each cake was featured on a pedestal platter in front and to the side. Cut crystal is sophisticated and beautiful, a perfect foil for the elegant strawberries.

 

Fresh flowers are always a treat. I have had a bee in my bonnet all summer to core a pineapple and use it as a vase. If I were smart enough to spend my time curing cancer, I swear I would, but since I am not, I make pineapple vases. I bought two bouquets of yellow daisies and trimmed them down to size. I stuck an empty soup can in each cavern to hold the water. I love that each bouquet of daisies made such an impressive cluster. I believe in both quality and quantity. You can feel sorry for Chuck now. For practical purposes, I opted to place my arrangement on tall pedestal candle holders meant for large pillar candles. The reason was that they had a lip and the pineapples themselves leaked a teensy, little bit.

As a general rule I am morally opposed to paper plates, but when I spotted these in a blue and green floral toile, I was taken. They felt light and summery, which was exactly the feeling I was trying to evoke. I used a small creamy urn as a utensil holder, which was a lovely compliment to my paper products.

 

For additional texture and visual interest, coupled with my desire to fill every nook and cranny, I included in my display two small urns topped with textured, green decorative balls. The green tied in nicely with my paper products and the texture played beautifully against the pineapples. Nature at it’s best! Scatter about some tea light candles and we’re ready for fun with friends.

Of course since this was movie night, I was all set up to go with my refreshment buffet of popcorn, movies theater candy and a variety of thoughtful beverages (beer, wine, champagne and….water).

While our movie might have been called It’s Complicated, and evening with wonderful friends and delicious desserts was anything but. It was…..more simple and more fantastic!

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We Have Got to Get a Hobby…..


We have got to get a hobby…….. Over the past thirteen years we have experienced a flurry of activity with our children, but now we have hit a lull. Not too long ago our days and evenings were consumed with cross country, basketball, track, baseball, golf and of course, hockey. My Nick has been skating since he was 4 ½ years old, and we have spent the better part of his childhood racing him from rink to rink at all hours of the day and night. These were truly some of the best moments in our family life. Now that he has his driver’s license, we only accompany Nicky to his hockey games, which leaves us with a heck of a lot of free time. Before Nick got his driver’s license we were at his beck and call; picking up friends, dropping them off, waiting around, picking them up. Now however, he pretty much just goes. Long gone are the days that he would ask, while I was making dinner mind you, “Can you run me over to the links so I can hit a bucket of balls?” The answer of course was nearly always “yes,” even though it was inconvenient, because I knew it would someday all come to a screeching halt. Since Nick has had his driver’s license for the past year and a half, all we really have to do is know his whereabouts, and manage to stay awake until he gets home by curfew, which is 11 o’clock. I can stay awake forever if I am vertical, but if I sit, I sleep. Thankfully Chuck possesses the gift of staying awake even if he’s sitting. It’s sad really.

While Amanda doesn’t flit from activity to activity, she is on a very strict schedule. She trains for gymnastics 20 hours per week, 52 weeks a year. She heads to the gym five days a week, four hours at a time, and thankfully for us we only live three stoplights away from our gym, so we can be there in a flash! During the school year, when she has practice on the weeknights, Amanda is chomping at the bit for us to leave at 4:10 (even though gym doesn’t start until 4:30. She doesn’t have her mothers “gift” for never arriving anyplace on time. She always says, “Gym starts at 4:30. It doesn’t say get there at 4:30.” You’ve gotta love her tenacity and dedication! When I was her age the only thing I was dedicated to was….nonsense. Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same….). We live so close that we don’t even have to leave to pick her up until 8:28pm. So, now what do we do?

Well, the answer to that apparently is a great, big, whole lot of nothing! By the time I make dinner, serve dinner, place dinner for Amanda in the warming drawer (best invention ever!), and clean up the mess that was dinner, there isn’t a terrible amount of time to do much of anything….other than watch the idiot box, and I think you know why they call it that.

Why isn’t there ever anything to watch on TV? Seriously, we flippity flip through our cable channels only to find features from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s flashing before our eyes. What!?! Why don’t the smart executives at the major networks figure out a way to feature clever, smart, entertaining programming? It’s pretty sad when we are glued to our set to weigh in on what’s happening with Dancing with the Stars……especially without Donny Osmond as a contestant.
Sunday Nights:
When does Entourage return to HBO? There is nothing to watch, thankfully we frequently have hockey games to attend and we are traveling during Amanda’s meet season.
Monday Nights:
Monday night programming has been enormously improved with Rules of Engagement as a mid-season replacement on CBS, though that only accounts for 30 minutes of the night (22 if you DVR….the only way to watch TV). However, Jeff, played by Patrick Warburton, is not featured nearly enough, as he is the very best part of the show. Though to me, he will forever be Putty from Seinfeld.
Chuck loves Two and a Half Men. If he has his way we turn it on at 6pm and 10:30pm on WGN, so Monday is Charlie Harper bonus day. All I have to say is: thank God they finally ditched that Chelsea because she was sooooo boring. We are thrilled to see the egomaniacal, alcoholic, aging lothario back in business!
Tuesday Nights:
I really dislike Jay Leno, as I am David Letterman kind of gal. Cancelling his awful show has opened up the door for the Tuesday night replacement Parenthood on NBC. I was an enormous fan of the movie and the new series certainly does not disappoint. I give it an “A”.
American Idol is really boring this year. We have given up.
Wednesday Nights:
Best show of TV…..ABC’s Modern Family. Why is it only on for half an hour? One character is funnier than the next, but what I love about this show is that while it’s hysterical each episode concludes with a tender moment that brings the family together and re-enforces their connection and commitment to each other. The More is More Mom® gives Modern Family an A++++++
Thursday Nights:
I want to get it, but I just don’t understand the appeal of The Office. On the other hand I can’t get enough of the hip, fast talking 30 Rock on NBC. Tina Fey has amazing vision, Tracy Morgan is a scream, and Alec Baldwin, well, he’s a comedic genius.
What’s not genius…..Bravo’s The Housewives of……fill in the blank. We always look forward to the New York girls, but they’ve become so boring and one dimensional. When we first met the girls from the Big Apple they were interesting, they had careers and they were charitable. Now they are self obsessed mean girls, one cat fight away from being on Jerry Springer.
Friday and Saturday Nights:
The weekend always brings a potpourri of activity between sports and friends. Thank God for the diversion.
I suppose for now a hobby will have to wait until our little chicks leave the nest. Until then it looks like we’re stuck with the idiot box………..

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