Tag Archives: DMV

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Sandwiches That is….)

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more birthday dinners! Last week, after our successful trip to the DMV, Amanda scooted out the door, with a set of car keys firmly in hand, to pal around with her best girlfriends. What a great way to celebrate turning 16! By the time she was pulling into the driveway, we were ready for 22 family members to join us for dinner. At Amanda’s request, I made homemade meatballs (my people are addicted to meatballs sandwiches. They claim mine are even better than they make at Potbelly’s), sauce and baked mostaccoli. All I can say is, “Dinner was umm, umm good!”


Because more of everything is always better, I made a triple batch of everything!


Marinara Sauce

Yields approximately 12 cups


3 Tbsp olive oil

3 cups of chopped onion (usually 1 large onion. I especially like white onions)

12 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ Tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil

1 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 cups chicken broth

3 – 280z cans crushed tomatoes

Sprinkle of garlic salt



In a large stock pot, heat oil, and add;


Cook approximately 4 minutes








Cook for about a minute

Stir in vinegar





Garlic salt

Bring to a simmer

Reduce to low and cook for nearly an hour, stirring from time to time


Homemade Meatballs:

Yields approximately 36 – 2” meatballs


2 cups bread crumbs

½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

4 eggs, beaten

4 Tbsp milk

1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Sprinkles of salt and pepper

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

Olive oil


In a large bowl, mix together;





Bread crumbs

Once well combined, add;

Ground beef

Ground pork

Knead together until well mixed


Put a large chopping board on the counter

Take a small amount of meat into your hand and roll meatballs about 2” in diameter

Place the meatballs on the board while you prepare the remainder of the meat


Prepare 13 x 9 baking dishes

In a large skillet, coat the pan with oil and heat over medium-high flame

Add meatballs and brown on all sides


Remove from the skillet and place in baking dishes


Pour prepared sauce over meatballs, cover and refrigerate overnight



Baked Mostaccoli:

Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish


1 – 16 oz box of tubular pasta (I prefer Barilla brand)

1 stick of butter

Shredded mozzarella



Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil

Cook pasta for 15 minutes or so, until nice and soft

Drain and coat with butter

Add a few cups of cheese, to desired cheesi-ness

Add marinara sauce until generously coated (so the pasta doesn’t get too dry)


Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook


Pre-heat oven to 350°

Cook meatballs and mostaccoli for approximately an hour


The meatballs can certainly be served on the side, but my family loves meatball sandwiches

I like sub rolls for their sandwiches

Pre-heat oven to broil

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil

Open sandwich rolls and toast for a few minutes, until lightly browned


Add meatballs and sauce to rolls, serve with a generous side of mostaccoli and enjoy!


More homemade dinners, more family celebrations, more favorite meals, more meatball sandwiches…..


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Baby You Can Drive My Car…..

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……….more new drivers! While it’s exciting enough that Nick and I have both been pulled over for moving violations, now Amanda is anxious for her turn to get behind the wheel. Younger siblings just know the drill. Amanda was all over me to sign her up for Driver’s Ed in the fall, four months before she even turned 15! Every Sunday, for 16 weeks, she sat through the interminably boring driving class. At 8am on her 15th birthday, we were at the DMV so she could take the written exam for her learners permit; the first time she was excited for a test!

Now, every time we leave the house, she asks, “Can I drive?” I’m sorry, so far, in my 18 ½ years of parenting, there is absolutely nothing as terrifying as sitting in the passenger seat while your child is behind the wheel of the car. I guess it’s because you are keenly aware of the fact that they don’t know how to drive and you’re taking your life into your own hands. Besides, I never allow enough time to get anywhere, and teaching someone how to drive is extremely time consuming. On the other hand she’s really excited and I want her to have as much experience as possible, so as often as I can, I answer, “Yes.”   

So far, I have to say that Amanda is an extremely conscientious driver. Before she even starts the car she adjusts the seat and her mirrors, turns off the radio and puts on her seatbelt. We discuss what route she’s going take, where she’s going to park and which way she’s going to turn the wheel as she backs out of the driveway.

She’s a gamer too. In the aftermath of the great snow storm of 2011, when we could barely get two cars down our side street at the same time, her driving instructor called to ask if she was still up for her regularly scheduled driving lesson. She couldn’t slip her Ugg’s on fast enough. So, last weekend when she asked if she could drive to meet my parents for the ballet in downtown Chicago, how could I say no?

Amanda is like Goldilocks and our cars are like the Three Bears; Momma’s sedan is too small, Poppa’s Yukon XL is too big, but Brother’s SUV is just right! Of course Brother’s SUV is disgusting and smells like hockey equipment and left over fast food wrappers, but it would have to do. Buckled in, we set out for our very own Thelma and Louise adventure; driving on the Eisenhower. We made our way over the railroad tracks, through our little downtown and headed to I-88 where she had to enter the highway, in a giant loop and merge into traffic…between semi trucks. Cool as a cucumber, she put on her turn signal, checked her mirrors, looked over her shoulder and made her moves, keeping up with traffic, but not going too fast. She was practically a pro!

We had only one near fatality as Amanda contemplated changing lanes, which was as much my fault as it was hers. Fortunately, with a little defensive driving, the lady behind managed to avoid colliding with us going 60 mph. Yay for defensive driving! Amanda did a great job, managing all of the traffic, lane changes and most impressively exiting the Eisenhower onto Congress Parkway. With 10 months left of practice, I think she is going to be an excellent driver!

More anxiety, more imaginary brakes, more mother-daughter bonding experiences………


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Fasten Your Seatbelts….

As the More is More Mom®, I am all about……more student drivers! I’m sorry, but teaching your child how to drive is the single, most terrifying experience of parenthood. Bar none. And now, Amanda has started Drivers Ed…..


Nick’s done a pretty good job, though he has had two tickets in two years (both incurred within the same 6 ½ month time frame, however). One for speeding (guilty, dead to rights) and the other for an “improper lane change” (a totally trumped up charge. I think he was stopped because he looks like he’s only 12….. a blessing and a curse.). Unfortunately, these things happen to the best of us. When I was 16, I got my first ticket; no left turn, 4-6 p.m., weekdays. That was in the good old days (for me!) when you didn’t have to tell your parents everything. My friend Kathleen accompanied me on my day in court, where we waited for the only judge we knew; Judge Wopner (at 4:30). I was a moron. It’s a miracle I lived to tell the tale. Thankfully, I’m fairly comfortable with Nick driving away now, but, like his mother, he plays the music way too loud. In the beginning, I wouldn’t let him listen to music at all. The sound of my heart rapidly beating out of my chest was loud enough.

One night, when Nick first got his permit, I let him go through the Portillo’s drive-thru and nearly had a heart attack. After we paid, they asked if we could please pull over to the side to wait for the rest of our order. Ha! The drive-thru sits alongside a ravine and if they thought I was going to allow him to pull over and back up in our enormous Yukon XL, then they were crazy. I said, “No, I’m sorry we can’t. Student driver.” We just sat there, holding up traffic, but it completely beat the alternative, which clearly was driving off into the ravine, potentially needing the assistance of the Jaws of Life to escape with our lives.

There were so many scary moments, like driving down a narrow, two lane street in our Yukon. Seriously, this car is like a small airplane, with plenty of room to move about the cabin. Even the side mirrors are huge. It would always feel like we were dangerously close to either the side of the road…or oncoming traffic. I would chant, “Watch the curb. Watch the curb. WATCH THE CURB!” To which Nick would reply, “I know.” Just so you know, you don’t know, but what you should know is that I think this is giving me a brain aneurism.

The day Nicky got his license, the kids made me drive home from the DMV in the back seat; a very strange and surreal perspective. As soon as we pulled into our driveway, these rascals ejected me from the car, practically ala The Jetson’s, and drove off to have breakfast by themselves. It felt kind of lonely. While they were out, the ran into my friend Linda (not like a Pinky Tuscadero/Malachi Brothers Demolition Derby kind of run in, but a catch up with a friend while you’re out) and she said that they were very sweet and wearing seatbelts. Of course Nick came right home and took Wrigley for a spin so Wrigley would no that Nick, too, was now a bye, bye maker.

It’s impossible to believe that my Amanda is ready to learn how to drive. It was only yesterday that she was learning how to rollerblade, ride a bike and write her name in cursive. My daily duties are becoming obsolete, and I am really going to miss the time we spend together in the car. Fortunately, Amanda won’t be 15 and getting her permit for a few more months, not to mention the fact that it will take forever for her to accumulate 50 driving hours. Until then, I will enjoy more yelling about the curb, more use of the imaginary break, more holding onto the arm rest for dear life and more appreciating being in the moment….

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