Guide to Gourds

It’s pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere you go right now, but don’t let those beautiful orange orbs overshadow some of the other great gourds and squashes in season right now. Squash is healthy, delicious, and can be prepared in so many different interesting and crave-worthy ways. Here are 5 delicious gourds you should get to know, along with recipe ideas to get you inspired!

1. Acorn Squash
This smallish squash has a mild, buttery flavor and a smooth texture. Try this recipe for Roasted Parmesan Acorn Squash and fall in love.

2. Spaghetti Squash
This incredible squash, when cooked, flakes into spaghetti-like shreds that are savory and delicious and can literally take the place of spaghetti on your plate with a little marinara sauce on top. And the best news? You can cook it easily in the microwave.

3. Banana Squash
This winter squash has an earthy sweetness and when paired with chipotle peppers, makes an incredible Soft Taco Recipe.

4. Patty Pan Squash
You should still be able to find some of these UFO-like summer squashes, and when you do, try this delicious Overstuffed Patty Pan Squash recipe.

5. Muscat Squash
Sometimes called the “Cinderella Squash” or a “Cinderella Pumpin,” this gorgeous, squatty squash is great for cooking (not as great for carving). Try it in this mouthwatering Thai Pumpkin Curry recipe.

Do you have a favorite squash recipe? Share it with us in the comments!

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Recipe: Chewy Oatmeal Maple Cookies

Mrs. Fields Secrets Oatmeal Maple Cookies
What is it about cool, brisk autumn weather that makes us crave flavors like maple, cinnamon, and nutmeg? While somebody else works on the science behind that question, we’ve already worked on the perfect cookie recipe to answer that craving. This chewy oatmeal cookie is loaded with flavor and spice, ideal with a cup of coffee, your favorite chai tea, or even an old-fashioned glass of milk.

Chewy Oatmeal Maple Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup real maple syrup
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour (for extra chewy cookies, use bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups rolled oats

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, maple syrup, and melted butter, stirring until mixture is fully combined and caramel in color. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and vanilla before adding into the sugar/butter mixture. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients together (flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg). Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, followed by the oats. Once combined, allow dough to rest for 5-10 minutes before spooning 1/4 cup mounds onto a prepared baking sheet, six cookies per sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Halloween Home Tour

via Nifty Thrifty & Thriving

With nearly 6.9 billion dollars spent on costumes, decorations, and candy, Halloween is the silly holiday we love to take seriously. Not only do we dress up the kids, ourselves, and the inside of our homes, but many of us are decorating the exterior of our homes as well. And the results are scary awesome! We’ll take you on a tour of some incredibly creative (and spooky) homes.

We love the cob webs and boarded up look of this otherwise adorable home from Between Naps on the Porch.

Talk about an infestation! We love this house crawling with oversized spiders found on The Daily Party Dish.

What looks like an impressive choir of jack-o-lanterns, is a fabulous display from Ash Tree Cottage that has a wow factor in day or night!

The Kenova Pumpkin House in West Virginia features over 3,000 carved pumpkins each year, thanks to volunteer carvers. What a scene!

Green lights and strong silhouettes make an eery display and a haunting glow.

A Los Angeles house-turned-haunted-house called The Forest of Mirrors has a fiery skull pile that is as creepy as it is cool.

Vancouver Science World Halloween Theme

The Vancouver Science World transforms into a fabulous jack-o-lantern, lighting up the BC skyline.

An over-the-top look doesn’t require an over-the-top budget! Big, bold monster shapes cut out from paper with some backlighting will make a huge impact.

This homemade UFO crash is a show-stopper and so creative. (We have to wonder where it gets stored in the off-season!)

Now we want to see your homes! Post your favorite Halloween decorations to the comments section, or on our Facebook page!

Amazing Halloween Makeup You Can Do Yourself

The countdown to Halloween is on, and just in case you need a little inspiration, we’ve gathered some incredible makeup tutorials for you. Everything from vampires to sugar skulls to gory zombies, and you don’t even need to be a Hollywood makeup artist to pull them off. (Although we threw in a couple of crazy cool advanced-level tutorials for the truly adventurous.) Check them out for inspiration and give them a try!

Vampire makeup for kids. Skill level: Easy
Zombie Ghost for kids. Skill level: Easy
Cheek Scar tutorial. Skill level: Easy
Spiderman tutorial. Skill level: Easy
Simple Skull tutorial. Skill level: Easy
Comic Book Face tutorial. Skill level: Moderate
Easy Sugar Skull tutorial. Skill level: Moderate
3D Stretch Lips tutorial. Skill level: Advanced
Missing Eye tutorial. Skill level: Advanced

 

Recipe: Sweet and Savory Cornbread Muffins

Mrs. Fields Secrets Sweet and Savory Cornbread Muffins

Soup season is officially here, and we’ve got the ideal side dish to enjoy with your favorite steaming bowl. This recipe is delicious and easily adapted to be savory or sweet or (our favorite) both! A couple of tablespoons of jalapeño hot sauce in the batter gives the perfect subtle heat and spice to these sweet, soft, cakey muffins. Leave the hot sauce out for a traditional honey sweet corn muffin.

Sweet and Savory Cornbread Muffins

1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup creamed corn
2 tablespoons jalapeño green hot sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a muffin tin with paper liners or nonstick spray. In a bowl, combine: cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and honey and whip until creamy. Slowly add in dry ingredients, then stir in buttermilk, creamed corn and hot sauce until just combined. Spoon equal amounts into muffin tins, filling mostly full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Serve warm with butter, honey and your favorite soup.

Easy DIY Fall Decorations

Mrs. Fields Secrets DIY Fall Decor

Ready to deck your halls with all things fall? We’ve rounded up some fabulous fall decor that is so simple, you can put them together in a jiffy. How long is a jiffy, you ask? Not long at all! From top left to bottom right:

  • Raking leaves and pruning trees? Save a substantial branch and use a drill to make room for tea lights. Brilliant!
  • Keep that drill out, because this hole-y pumpkin lets of a beautiful glow.
  • Wrap candles with burlap, ribbon, or even colorful leaves to give your everyday decorations a seasonal look.
  • Fill your antique pots and pitchers with tiny bunches of branches and berries. Rustic and ravishing.
  • Use glow in the dark foam to create eyes for your tree trunks. Fun, but not too spooky!
  • Fill a vase with candy corns in a vase and nestle a small candle inside for a darling decoration.
  • Tiny gourds on top of your regular candlesticks give height and presence to a little decoration.
  • Stark branches and small orange pumpkins fill a large vase and a large space.

Cold Weather Pantry Staples

When the weather changes, so should our pantries. A well-stocked seasonal pantry makes it easy to make homemade meals, even at the end of a long day. Stock up on these essentials and stay cozy and full all through the winter.

  • onions, carrots, and celery: these three are known as the trinity in cooking and are absolute staples for your pantry. Together, they are the foundation of soups and sauces, not to mention the ideal accompaniment to roasted meats.
  • potatoes: bake them, boil them, mash them or smash them, potatoes are hearty and delicious and strong enough to stand alone as the main course.
  • sweet potatoes: not yams, but actual sweet potatoes are delicious diced into soups, hash, even paired with spicy seasoning for tacos.
  • canned pumpkin: our favorite gourd that can be used in a savory or sweet manner for sauces, soups, pies, and cookies.
  • chicken broth: whether you make your own or buy it in cans, chicken broth can be used in beef, poultry or veggie dishes adding depth of flavor, and an extra can can turn last night’s leftovers into enough for dinner again tonight.
  • pasta: for a side dish or a main course, pasta is a favorite comfort food in cool weather.
  • beans: dry or canned, beans are a hearty ingredient in soups, chills, and wraps.
  • canned or jarred tomatoes: for a sauce, a soup, or a quick salsa, your favorite summer fruit is one that tastes just as good in its preserved form.

Those are our cold weather staples. What are yours?

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It’s Your Chance to Win Cookies For a Year!

October is National Cookie Month, and we’re beyond excited to celebrate with you! In fact, if it were up to us, we’d celebrate cookies all year round. (Wait a minute, WE DO!) But now you can, too, with our amazing new giveaway: one lucky reader will win free cookies for an ENTIRE YEAR!

This prize is valued at over $350 and will be the envy of everyone you know. To enter to win, you must answer one simple question:

What is your favorite secret ingredient in cookies? 

Is it macadamia nuts? An extra teaspoon of baking soda? Toasted coconut? We have our own favorites (fresh butter, eggs, and high quality vanilla), but what makes your batch unique? Share your secrets and enter to win big!

Contest details:
Entrants must be 18 years or older and a resident of the continental United States. One entry per person. Entries accepted until midnight, Tuesday October 8, 2014. Winner will be chosen randomly and notified via email. 

Fall Catalog Preview + Discount

Mrs. Fields Secrets Fall 2014

Our fall catalog is hitting mailboxes, and oh what tricky treats it entails! As usual, we’ve gathered a few of our favorites from this year’s lineup to make you drool, but check out the entire catalog and order your own copy if you don’t get it already. And don’t forget to check out the exclusive discount for blog readers at the bottom of this post!

Autumn Splendor Box

The Autumn Splendor Box is an incredible combination of our original cookies, brownies, and frosted cookies. It makes an ideal hostess gift for any fall occasion!

Savor the Season Box

Our bestselling box full of bite-sized treats is dressed up in fall colors for any of your gift-giving needs. It’s an ideal thank you, even if the person who needs thanks is yourself!

Festive Fall Basket

How do we keep topping our world-famous gift baskets? With gifts like our Festive Fall Basket, that’s how! You’ll love every bite of our freshly baked cookies, and the sturdy, keepsake basket can find use after use around the house.

 

Candy Corn Caryalls

For your favorite trick-or-treater, nothing beats our Candy Corn Carryalls. They arrived filled with our favorite bite-sized cookies, and the carryall is ready for Halloween night!

 

Book of Spells

Sure to sell out, our Book of Spells is an enchanting treat and perfect party favor for your annual costume contest. Loaded with our favorite brownies and cookies, it’s bound to have everybody under its spell.

Check out the entire catalog to find your own favorites, and use code 14GTD at checkout for an exclusive discount:
10% off your purchase of $50
20% off your purchase of $75
30% off your purchase of $100.

5 Ways to Enjoy Caramel Apples Without the Mess

Mrs. Fields Caramel Apple Hacks
You love caramel apples. You hate the sticky mess. Now you can have your caramel apple and eat it too (without the need for soap and water). Check out these five brilliant caramel apple hacks for the sticky-averse!

1. If you love the original, maybe you just need a crash course in how to properly cut and serve caramel apples. Serve individual slices with a toothpick.
2. One-bite mini caramel apples on a stick are great for kids or those who want just a taste.
3. Make an inside-out caramel apple by hollowing an apple half and filling it with caramel sunday syrup. Chill until caramel is firm, then slice into wedges!
4. A caramel apple martini is a delicious, no-stick grownup spin on this favorite treat.
5. Caramel apple trifles are ooey-gooey delicious, but served with a spoon!

Do you have a favorite way to enjoy caramel apples?

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