Tag Archives: Whole FOods

Let’s Get Cookin’! Join Me at Whole Foods, Naperville, Sponsored by the Triblocal…..

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more fun food events! I hope you can join me, Thursday, March 24, as I demonstrate how to make one of my favorite pasta dishes at a great event sponsored by the Triblocal at Whole Foods in Naperville. While I love to cook and experiment with new recipes, I wasn’t always such a food aficionado. In fact, when Chuck and I were first married we had a sign on our refrigerator that read, “Dinner will be served at the sound of the smoke alarm.” Ha, ha.

One day, I had an epiphany. Nick was just a second grader and Amanda, a pre-schooler. In our customary more-of-everything-is-always-better mode, I picked my pals up from school in a mad dash to take Nicholas for extra special training on the hockey treadmill. In retrospect, though it was super cool, it might have been an excessive exercise. We would drive 35 minutes from home to an accelerated sports training facility (please note that we are not on the fast track to the Olympics or the major leagues, hence the “excessive” perspective. He’ll be an awesome skater as he referee’s games, plays club hockey and, eventually, men’s league.), where Nick would slip into a harness that was attached to a cable, that ran on a track, attached to the ceiling with a pulley system. He would skate on a treadmill made of simulated ice, in an effort to improve his stride and efficiency. The pulley system was in place to save him from being mutilated in the mechanism of the treadmill should he fall. It was a total Mission Impossible deal, where, like Tom Cruise, Nick would be suspended in the air from the cable, inches away from imminent danger.

Anyway, after school, on our way to the hockey treadmill the kids were starving, so I took them through the fast food drive thru for a quick snack. As soon as Nick was finished, he slipped into his uniform so we could go directly to his baseball game. By the time we got off the highway, the kids were starving again, so, we did the unthinkable…..we went through the fast food drive thru for a second time in one day. How gross! We had hit an all time low; bad for your health and bad for your wallet.

Since that moment of clarity, I have been obsessed with cooking for my family and being prepared. If we were out for the day, I would pack a cooler full of sandwiches, fruit, snacks and beverages. Why waste money on bad food and eating out? Over the years, I have learned how to make beautiful meals that frequently rival those that we once enjoyed while eating out. And besides, as our kids got older and much busier with school and athletics, they never wanted to go out to eat anyhow. They just wanted to be at home, enjoying our house and our time together. It makes them feel special when I make them some of their very favorite recipes.

I’m all about making more memories for my family and friends, and what better way to do that than over a great meal? I’m excited to demonstrate how to make my fabulous shrimp pasta dish, which is so delicious that you may never feel the need to eat out again. Also on the panel is Johanna Cook, of Momma Cuisine, and Jim Higley, the Bobblehead Dad. So, if you get a chance, swing by Whole Foods in Naperville (2607 W. 75th Street), Thursday, March 24th at 7pm to learn how to make some of our family favorites. Attendees also can enter a raffle to win a $50 Whole Foods gift card and a bag of Whole Foods Market groceries.

More family, more cooking, more meals, more memories……


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Memories of Childhood……Licking the Brownie Batter Bowl!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about………more lickin’ the brownie batter bowl! When we were married, Chuck and I received a lovely cake plate and dome as a wedding gift. For nearly 21 years, it has found a home in our kitchen; on the island, the table or the counter, and I always keep it filled with tasty and delicious baked goods. Over the years, our family has so enjoyed the memories made from sharing these treats that I now frequently present newlyweds with a cake plate and dome of their very own.

Amanda has always been a wonderful mother’s helper. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s perfectly capable of running this place with her eyes closed. My Nick on the other hand, not so much. Maybe it’s a mother-daughter thing, but Amanda had always been eager to help in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking. There’s nothing like licking the beaters from the hand mixer, and of course, licking the bowl.  

We are total chocoholics! One of my family’s all time favorite desserts is homemade Triple Chocolate Brownies. However, I do most of my baking during the day when the kids are at school, so they’re not here to lick the bowl. Where’s the fun in that? For years I have been putting aside a little batter for each of them to enjoy as an after school treat. In fact, Nick will call on his way home from school and say, “I’m feeling brownie batter today.” They’re always delighted to find their bowl and a cold glass of milk waiting for them at the kitchen counter.


Safe Eggs

Keeping my family safe is always a huge priority to me. The raw eggs in the batter definitely pose cause for concern, so I choose to use Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Shell Eggs. Not only do they taste good, but they’re good for you. It would be an enormous drag to cut our after school snack short with an emergency trip to the doctor! Life is short enough, eat Safe Eggs™!

I cook A LOT and have found that using the very best ingredients produces the very best results. High quality chocolate makes an especially big difference, which is why I stopped by Whole Foods. Their Callebaut bittersweet chocolate is simply gorgeous. My recipe also calls for white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I chose their 365 Everyday brand because it offers great taste, quality and value.

Homemade Triple Chocolate Brownies:

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Generously grease a 13 x 9 baking pan

You’ll need:

3 sticks and 2 Tbsp of butter

20 ounces of Whole Foods Callebaut bittersweet chocolate, rough chopped for easier melting

6 Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Shell Eggs

1 ¾ cups sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla

1 ½ cups flour

1 tsp salt

½ cup white chocolate chips, Whole Foods 365 Everyday

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, Whole Foods 365 Everyday

To melt the chocolate and butter:

Over a wide mouth pan of shallow boiling water, place a large heat safe mixing bowl with;


Bittersweet chocolate


While the butter and chocolate are melting, whisk together;





When the mixing bowl that was used to melt the butter and chocolate is cool enough to handle, add;

Egg mixture

Mix with a hand mixer on medium





Mix with hand mixer until creamy and well blended

Fold in;

White chocolate chips

Semi-sweet chocolate chips



Put aside batter for your kids to enjoy (if you have more than two kids, you might want to make a double batch!).


Pour batter into baking dish

Cook for 25 minutes

Be sure not to over cook the brownies….they’re best served warm and slightly gooey!

After the brownies cool, I like to sprinkle them with a generous dusting of confectioners sugar


When the kids get home from school, I have their brownie batter and a great big cold glass of milk waiting for them. Now that’s what I call an after school treat!

More thoughtfulness, more childhood memories, more chocolate, more delicious desserts…..

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. 

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


Homemade Triple Chocolate Brownies


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Be Prepared: Party Essentials (Scouts Honor)

As the More is More Mom, I am all about….. more stocking up on party essentials! There is nothing worse than being like Old Mother Hubbard and finding your cupboards bare.  You never know when an impromptu celebration will break out this time of year. It’s best to be prepared……

What could be more fun than chatting outside with your neighbors and inviting them in for a cocktail? or friends just popping in because they are in the neighborhood? Spur of the moment get togethers can be a blast, as long as you are ready for them. While you won’t have time to whip up your favorite home made specialties, you can certainly have a few provisions on hand.

The most important element to consider when stocking your pantry and refrigerator is shelf life. Typically dry goods will last a little bit longer than those that must remain cold. Unless you are planning to consume these savory treats immediately, check the expiration date.


Snacks, Keep your cool:

  • Frozen Shrimp: I prefer the Jumbo because they make for a very generous presentation. What I love about the shrimp is that they’re elegant and can be defrosted in a flash. If you happen to have any left over, you can grill or saute them for dinner the following day. Please click on the link below for a great recipe:


  • Cocktail Sauce: If you’ve got the shrimp, you won’t want to forget the tangy sauce. Be sure to keep a jar chilling in the fridge. You never know when you’re going to need it.
  • Assorted Cheeses: There are such a beautiful variety of cheeses. Select a few of your favorites to keep on hand. It’s so easy pull put a serving tray and lay out a nice selection of cheeses for your guests to enjoy. The following day you can make gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches with any of the leftovers for a special treat.
  • Hard Salami: Meat is a nice addition to a cheese platter. The nice thing about salami is that it lasts for a very long time unopened. Of course, it’s unlikely that there will be any left at the end of the night.
  • Dips and spreads: While my preference is to make my own, there are quite a few delicious, pre-made offerings from your local markets such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco. I am partial to tapenades and hummus. Archer Farms, from the Target super stores, has an awesome Red Pepper and Feta dip, as well as a Parmesan Bacon. They are great to keep on hand when guests arrive unexpectedly.
  • Lemons and Limes: Squeeze the lemon on your shrimp, slice them both for cocktails or place them in a bowl as a quickie centerpiece.
  • Eggs and Bacon: What could be easier than scrambling some eggs and frying some bacon for a Sunday breakfast or an evening treat?
  • Smoked Salmon: Served on crackers, in a dip or with a bagel, smoked salmon packs a flavorful punch!


Snacks, Pantry Pairings:

  • Cocktail Sauce: Keep a spare on hand for safe keeping.
  • Crackers: Stock up on your favorites; Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Table Water, Flat Bread. The possibilities are endless.
  • Nuts: Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Mixed nuts, honey roasted, macadamia, cashews; scatter them near the bar, on your buffet or on your coffee table as a little nibbler.
  • Party mix; The spice of life. There’s something for everyone.
  • Olives: Stuffed with garlic, pimentos, blue cheese, or whatever you fancy, olives are an easy and tasty gourmet snack.
  • Gourmet cookies & a box of chocolates: It’s always nice to offer your guests something decadent and sweet. How simple is that?


Beverages and Spirits:

  • Bottled water, sparkling water, tonic water, club soda, sodas & fruit juice
  • Vodka and Gin
  • Wine: Why not try something new? I visited the wine department at Whole Foods to learn about some great new wines for under $15.00

Chardonnay: Los Alisos

Sauvignon Blanc: Joel Gott

Pinot Noir: Cycles Gladiator

Sparkling: Presto, Prosecco Brut

More stocking up, more snacks, more beverages, more potential for fun with friends…


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It’s the Apron Before the Apron…We’ve Got Ourselves a Situation!

As the More is More Mom®, I have been all about……..more television magic! It’s not every day that you get to throw a party on TV, much less on Chicago’s very own ABC-7 News at 11AM.

You know my motto; More of Everything is Always Better, which includes over the top party preparations. I was so excited for the chance to share my More is More Mom® philosophy that I couldn’t wait to develop a delectable menu and design a luscious tablescape.  Inspiration is, of course, followed by perspiration……


I shopped my basement (attic, closets, drawers, nooks and crannies) for beautiful serving pieces and accessories. That’s always my favorite part, putting the pieces of the puzzle together to create something memorable. I even made a new table topper to enhance my design. I’m crazy about authenticity and details and once I was happy with my buffet display, I snapped a photo so I wouldn’t forget a single detail. Then I packed, stacked and bubble wrapped.

With my menu in hand, I hit Costco, Dominick’s and Whole Foods, a trifecta of culinary delights. I sliced, diced, washed, chopped, prepped, cooked and stored everything for easy transportation to the studio.


The Apron Before The Apron…


The Apron…

My biggest dilemma? The apron. I always like to coordinate with my theme, so I was on a mad search for the perfect apron. When my pal Judy offered to make one for me to match my table design and menu, I jumped at the chance. She is a beautiful seamstress, while I am a home-made costume sewer. I can insert a zipper if you promise not to look too closely and if you understand that there will be wrestling involved with getting it to go up and down. Maybe even some WD-40.

However, I was nervous about spilling on my new apron while I was prepping before the segment, so I wore another apron while I was getting ready. It was the apron before the apron. I’m like the boys on the Jersey Shore with the shirt before the shirt. We’d practically be twins if I spent my days on GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry….though I am always up to my eyeballs in laundry), instead I CCDB (Cook, Clean, Decorate, Blog). Looks like I’ve got myself….a situation!

It was such an exciting day, but there was so much to be done! I went for a quick run at 5:30AM, and upon my return I realized that I had forgotten to seal the gigantic bag of toasted baguette bread before I went to bed Sunday night. Rats! It was stale. At least I didn’t forget to put away the New York Strip Steaks. Chuck is the world’s greatest husband and ran out to pick up two more loves. While I was getting ready, he sliced and toasted the bread and grilled the pork tenderloin. Our neighbors must have been wondering what kind of crazy party we were having at 6:30 in the morning. I dragged Nick out of bed to help load up the truck. I always maintain that the reason we have sons is to do all of the heavy lifting. We were loaded up and on the road by 7:15, swinging by to pick up my friend Julia along the way.

Being in a real studio was sooooo exciting! It was like being on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I was waiting for news anchor Ted Baxter to appear at any moment (but my chances for a Sue Ann Nivens sighting were so much better…..because Betty White still happens to be alive). We had a blast! Julia, my Amanda and I had everything unpacked and ready for show time, in no time. Judy Hsu and Ben Bradley were wonderful and the crew was awesome. It was a great experience.

More decorating, more food shopping, more cooking, more transporting, more setting up, more sharing……more fun than I could have ever imagined!


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More Dining Outdoors, A Panzanella Salad Recipe!

As the More is More Mom®, this summer I have been all about….. more Heirloom Tomatoes! I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about trying out a Panzanella Salad recipe and only the freshest, most beautiful tomatoes would do. Over the past few weeks I have been visiting various Farmer’s Markets in my quest. While the search was great fun, it turned up….fruitless. 


Low and behold, as luck would have it, the very best and most reliable place to purchase lovely heirloom tomatoes is at Whole Foods. Hmmm. That’s a puzzler. Happily, I loaded up on tomatoes and headed home to start my dinner.

This salad was so fresh and delicious it felt like a crime not to eat it outside. Thankfully the bugs weren’t biting and we enjoyed it enormously!

Panzanella Salad topped with Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken:

Panzanella Salad is a bread salad, typically made with day old bread. Tomatoes and cucumbers are the heart and soul of the salad, but you can toss in anything to your liking; lettuce, celery, carrots, parsley, hard boiled eggs, bell peppers. Whatever you’ve got or whatever you love.

Serves 6

Herb Marinated Chicken:

In a mixing bowl, whisk together;

1 heaping Tbsp sage, rolled like a cigar and sliced

2 heaping Tbsp rosemary, chopped

2 Tbsp parsley

2 tsp salt

2 tsp cracked, black pepper (that’s always my preference)

1 ½ cups oil (add more to coat if needed)

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced (optional…but why would you opt not to?)

I like to transfer the marinade to a Ziploc Baggie for easier cleanup.


6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Seal the bag and marinade for several hours or over night.


In a bowl, whisk together;

6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (or sherry vinegar. If you like something lighter, try white wine vinegar)

1 cup olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp salt (I love sea salt)

½ tsp cracked, black pepper

Transfer to a container with a lid


In a bowl, combine;

2 seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 small to medium size red onion, peeled and chopped into chunks

1 jar pitted Kalamata olives

NOTE: Here would be a good place to include anything else your heart, or your stomach, desires.

Drizzle with dressing and mix thoroughly. The veggies should be lightly coated, not drowning in dressing.

Set aside

In a separate bowl, place;

4 chopped tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are a treat this time of year)

In another separate bowl, place;

20 basil leaves, torn in to bite size pieces


Pre-heat oven to 350°

I simply took a large loaf of French bread and cut it into thick slices

Place slices on aluminum foil on a cookie sheet

Toast in the oven until they just start to turn a light golden color, approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool until you are able to handle the toasts.

Take a whole garlic clove (you’ll need more than one) and generously rub it all over the front and back side of the toast. It will leave a lovely hint of garlic.

Chop into chunks, about 1”. You’ll want about 6 cups of bread.

Add to the cucumber, onion and olive mixture, stir until well mixed. Add additional dressing as needed to lightly coat the bread as well.

Set aside.

Grilling the Chicken:

Pre-heat the grill to medium.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill racks.

After about 10-12 minutes, turn over.

Cook an additional 10-12 minutes, or until the chicken appears to be cooked to your liking.

Allow to cool slightly, then slice at an angle.


Add the tomatoes and basil to the bread mixture. Mix well.

Spoon a large helping of bread salad to a dinner plate.

Top with a sliced grilled chicken breast.

I served this dish with garlic roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.

I may not have had luck at the Farmers Market, but my salad was more fresh and more delicious than I could have imagined. What a treat!

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