25 Genius Uses for Your Kitchen Appliances

Use your slow cooker to bake fresh bread.

You may think you know your kitchen appliances, but you might not know all the amazing things they can do if you just think outside the box. Or the toaster, as the case may be. Check out these ideas and try them yourself!

  1. Your dishwasher is an ideal place to clean and sanitize baby’s toys and teething rings with no harsh chemical residue. A great idea, especially during cold and flu season.
  2. Your steamy dishwasher is also a great place to cook seafood! Wrap fresh fish tightly in aluminum foil with a bit of oil, spices and fresh lemon, then run through a short cycle (no soap!) and you’ll have fresh steamed fish.
  3. Use a pizza cutter to quickly chop fresh herbs. Simply bunch the herbs together and roll the cutter back and forth over them to get a fine chop.
  4. Your coffee grinder is perfect for grinding fresh spices like peppercorns, anise or cumin for big flavor.
  5. Grind rice in a coffee grinder to make fresh, quick rice flour for tempura recipes.
  6. Make a quick garlic paste by using a micro planer.
  7. Need to quickly shred meat? Place your meat into the bowl of your stand mixer with the regular paddle and turn it on. You’ll have evenly shredded meat in about 30 seconds!
  8. An immersion blender or a french press makes great whipped cream without a splattered mess or a tired arm.
  9. Use the hot plate on your coffee machine to toast a bagel or heat a muffin.
  10. Flip your toaster on its side and make quick grilled cheese sandwiches by placing a slice of bread with cheese on top into the slats and allow the toaster to broil the cheese. (HINT: Set it on the highest setting, then attend closely and pull the bread out when cheese is at desired consistency. You don’t want the bread launched out!)
  11. Your food processor can make homemade ice cream in minutes flat. Freeze your ice cream mix in ice cube trays, then pop into the food processor to get a quick, creamy blend.
  12. Your food processor is also an ideal place to make pizza dough, even better than your stand mixer or your hands. You’ll have better, more elastic dough in a shorter amount of time using the food processor.
  13. Preserve fresh herbs by chopping them and putting them in ice cube trays. Fill the trays with olive oil and freeze. Transfer the cubes to a freezer bag and use fresh herbs for your soups and sautés whenever you need!
  14. Use your pepper grinder to make fun, fresh flavors for different dishes. For example, fill it with your favorite cookies to create a fun topping for ice cream or cakes.
  15. Your turkey baster can be used all year long for your pancake batter. It’s less messy than your cup measurer and (bonus!) you can create fun shapes, almost like its a pen.
  16. Use your waffle iron to create crispy hash browns.
  17. Pour brownie or cake batter into your waffle iron for a quick dessert.
  18. Your bundt pan is a perfect roasting dish for your chicken and vegetables. Place the chicken’s cavity over the center ring, then fill the pan with your carrots and potatoes and onions. The bird will cook quickly and evenly and those savory juices will drip into the veggies!
  19. Your microwave is the perfect place to produce a poached egg for your eggs benedict. Crack the egg into a microwave save bowl, then add about 1/2 cup water and a 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar. Place a saucer over the bowl and microwave on high for one minute.
  20. Microwave lemons and limes for 10-15 seconds (depending on size) before juicing. The heat will help release juices.
  21. Use your slow cooker as a towel warmer for your Girl’s Spa Night.
  22. A slow cooker can also bake a fresh loaf of bread while you’re at work.
  23. Use your freezer to help restore stretched out clothing. Place stretched out sweaters or jeans in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. The cold air can help to tighten the fibers and restore shape.
  24. Use your hard-boiled egg slicer to cut strawberries, butter, and mozzarella cheese.
  25. The hot water from your Keurig machine is perfect for cooking a cup of noodles.

Giveaway: Share Your Worst School Photo for Cookies

It’s time to celebrate back to school with a hilarious new giveaway. We’re looking for your worst school photos, the ones you’ve lamented and hidden in the bottom of your closet. Now is your chance to bring them out, dust them off, and turn one of your least favorite school moments into a delicious reward! That’s right, we’re giving away three great Mrs. Fields gifts to three lucky readers. Can you think of a sweeter way to erase a sour memory?

Here’s how to enter:

  • Upload your worst school photo in the comments with a quick description. (Make sure it’s your own!)
  • We’ll select three lucky winners to win one of these amazing gifts from Mrs. Fields:

Cool Caddy Cooler

Nibbler Basket

Classic Crafty Box

  • You must be at least 18 years old to enter and a resident of the continental United States. Entries accepted until midnight, Wednesday September 17. Winners will be chosen and notified via email.

Good luck and say cheese, er, COOKIES!

{Image source.}

Recipe: Watermelon Orzo Salad

Mrs. Fields Secrets Watermelon Orzo Salad
If you want to eek out the last few drops of summer, this recipe is just the ticket. You’ll fall in love with the fresh, bright flavor that perfectly balances sweet, juicy watermelon with savory, tart feta cheese. Eat it as a side dish or add your favorite protein to turn it into a light entree. Whatever you do, savor each bite as you savor the last few days of summer.

Watermelon Orzo Salad

1 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
2 cups diced watermelon
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt
pepper
1 handful fresh basil, finely chopped

Directions
Heat a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cool water, then allow to drain again for 10-15 minutes to remove as much water as possible. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl and toss with olive oil to coat the pasta. Add the watermelon, cheese, and basil then gently toss to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

25 Favorite Back to School Movies

Bake some cookies and gather the family on the couch for a movie night dedicated to our favorite back-to-school flicks!

1. Dead Poets Society
2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
3. Fame
4. The Breakfast Club
5. Footloose
6. Sixteen Candles
7. Pitch Perfect
8. 10 Things I Hate About You
9. Say Anything
10. October Sky
11. Mean Girls
12. Grease
13. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
14. Lean on Me
15. The Outsiders
16. Napoleon Dynamite
17. Clueless
18. Never Been Kissed
19. Lucas
20. Hoosiers
21. Rushmore
22. The Karate Kid
23. Stand and Deliver
24. Superbad
25. Back to the Future

Did we miss any? What’s your favorite school-themed movie?

{Image source.}

How to Clean Your Outdoor Garbage Cans

After a long hot summer, outdoor garbage cans have spent a lot of time roasting and the smell can knock you out (but not in a good way). We’ve got a great project to clean and refresh those bins while the weather is still pleasant. Try it out and thank yourself every time you breathe freely around your cans.

  • Reserve time on or immediately after garbage collection day, so that you start with an empty can.
  • Technically, one person can perform the job, but it’s much easier with a partner.
  • You’ll need rubber gloves, a non-toxic disinfectant (we recommend Simple Green), a long handled broom, a flashlight, a garden hose with a jet attachment, and a sunny, safe spot like a patch of grass or a driveway to perform the task.
  • A power washer is not necessary, but extremely effective. If you use one, remember to wear safety goggles and be careful to avoid spraying any skin or paint.
  • Turn the can on its side with the lid open.
  • Use the flashlight to inspect the inside of the can and identify any areas that have stuck-on debris. Depending on the size, depth and color of your can, it can be hard to miss problem areas.
  • While wearing your rubber gloves, use the broom to shake loose any debris.
  • Use the jet hose attachment or power washer to spray into the can for an initial rinse. Hold the water on any problem areas for 20 seconds to give them a soak and loosen debris.
  • After rinsing, tip the can upside down to drain.
  • Turn the can upright and pour a thin drizzle of disinfectant all along the edge of the can, allowing it to dribble down and coat all the sides. Use your flashlight to determine if you need more. Once the sides are coated, pour a thin layer over the bottom of the can. Allow the disinfectant to sit for 15 minutes.
  • Tip the can on its side and use the broom to scrub the inside and bottom of the can. This should get sudsy and break down any debris.
  • Use the hose again to give everything a thorough rinse. Tip the can upside down to drain as much moisture as possible.
  • Tip the can upright and shine the flashlight to be sure you haven’t missed anything.
  • Spray and scrub any debris off the outside of the can and lid.
  • If clean, allow to air out (preferably in the sunshine) for an hour or two. The sunshine will help disinfect.
  • Finally, use the hose to thoroughly rinse your broom. Use disinfectant if necessary.
  • Enjoy a fresh, clean garbage can for months to come!

{Image source.}

Recipe: Mexican Street Corn

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mexican Street Corn
At road side stands, farmers markets, and grocery stores, there is fresh corn everywhere right now and you’re going to want a nice supply to make this dish over and over again. Savory, spicy, creamy Mexican Street Corn is a delicious dish that will change the way you feel about corn on the cob. If you loved it before, prepare to be swept off your feet in a totally new way.

Mexican Street Corn

4 ears fresh corn on the cob
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 handful cilantro, finely chopped
2/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese (or goat cheese)
2 limes, cut into wedges

Directions
Shuck and wash corn and set aside. Preheat grill to high heat. In a mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper and cilantro. Stir until well combined then add half of the crumbled cheese and stir again. Set mixture aside. Place corn on the hot grill and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, or until corn deepens in color and has nice char marks. Remove from heat and immediately smear a generous portion of the mixture all over each ear, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese and a dash of chili powder. Serve warm.

Personalized Back-to-School Gear

BTS pic

It’s not only fun to personalize your school supplies, it’s practical! If your supplies are easy to recognize, they are harder to lose. Use some simple craft supplies you might already have and a little inspiration to make your school supplies look great all year through.

1. Washi tape wrapped in a pattern around your pencils, pens, and glue bottles is a fun, easy way to make supplies easy to identify and hard to misplace.
2. A personalized tote for teacher or student makes a great gift, keepsake, and useful tool.
3. Vinyl lettering for binders and folders helps students stay organized and looking great.
4. Use Modge Podge on backpacks, binders, even pencils to coordinate a fabulous look including monogrammed backpacks and super stylish notebooks and pencils.

Happy back to school!

Yard Games for the Whole Family

Labor Day Weekend is the last hurrah of summer, so we’ve put together some great ideas to get your whole family outside for some friendly competition and lots of fun. Fire up the grill, invite some friends, and get everybody out on the lawn to get their game on.

Croquet. The best thing about playing croquet is that you can design your own course, making it as easy or difficult as you please, and perfect for players of a variety of ages and skill levels. Brush up on the rules by watching this helpful video.

Yard Yahtzee. Otherwise known as Lawn Dice Game, this outdoor game is absolutely ideal for a big group of people of all ages. You can play in teams or as individuals. Everyone will love taking a turn tossing the oversized dice and wishing for luck!

Lawn Twister. No need to drag the flimsy Twister mat outside, use a simple cardboard stencil and spray paint to create a Twister board right on the grass. (Don’t worry, it won’t damage the lawn and will only last until the next mowing.) Allow paint at least an hour to dry before playing.

Tailgate Toss. Sometimes called Corn Hole, this game is both easy and fun. A few bean bags (or corn bags, as it were) and two teams for tossing, and a little bit of luck or skill turns this simple game into hours of fun.

Bocce Ball. Despite what you might think, you don’t need an official bocce ball court made with sand or gravel. A clear, flat rectangle of grass will do just fine. All you need is a bucket of balls and a quick review of the rules, and you’re ready to play with any group and all ages.

Ladder Golf. This popular game is gaining in popularity because it is fun, mobile, and easy to play. Read up on the rules, and even make your own set for a DIY project.

Lawn Jenga. If you’ve got leftover lumber, transform it into a an outdoor Jenga tower. Pull out individual “bricks” to build the tower higher until it collapses. (This game is not recommended for small children.)

Do you have a favorite yard game? Share your ideas in the comments!

Recipe: Stuffed Bread Sandwiches

Mrs. Fields Secrets Stuffed Bread Sandwiches

Getting back into the school routine doesn’t have to mean getting stuck in a boring dinner routine. Today’s recipe is a delicious, family-friendly meal that you’ll want to make again and again, but the best part is that it can be adapted and reinvented with your favorite meats, cheeses, and veggies. It may become routine, but it will never be boring!

Stuffed Bread Sandwiches

1 loaf french bread
2 cups shredded smoked gouda cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. chicken breasts or tenders
1 medium onion, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
salt
pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice loaf in half lengthwise and place on a baking sheet. Use your fingers to dig out the bread in each half to create a large crater, leaving a bit of bread around the perimeter of each side. Place the removed bread pieces into a mixing bowl and set aside. Pound the chicken with a tenderizer, then chop it into thin slices and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan with olive oil to medium-high, then cook the chicken until it is no longer pink. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the worcestershire sauce and tomatoes and reduce heat to medium and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until liquid has somewhat reduced. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Sprinkle the cheese over each half of the bread. Transfer the chicken mixture and all liquid to the mixing bowl and toss it all together with the bread pieces before spooning it into the bread. Press the two halves together and bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove and slice into 2-inch sections and serve warm.

Back to School Buying Tips

Getting the kids back to school doesn’t have to break the bank. A little bit of homework ahead of time can end up in big savings, which we think is worth an A+. Follow these tips and move to the head of the class:

  • Take inventory before shopping. Chances are, the backpack you put in the corner last June has plenty of items that can be re-used in September. And those jeans you put away in May probably still fit. Make a list of everything you need, then do an inventory of what you already have.
  • Never buy anything at full price. August is rich with summer clearance racks and back-to-school sales. Chances are, you’ll be able to find just about everything you need on sale.
  • Always sign up for rewards programs. Extra savings and coupons will come your way to remain loyal. You don’t have to be loyal, but why miss out on extra savings to entice you?
  • Use your smartphone for smart savings. Download apps like Favado to compare in-store prices. That’s less running around and more savings.
  • Ask for a student discount. Many retailers offer student discounts, especially during back-to-school time, but they rarely advertise it. Be sure to ask at checkout if there is a discount for students or educators.
  • Save receipts for price adjustments. If something you bought last week is discounted this week, many retailers will offer you a refund of the price difference, but only if you have a receipt.
  • Always consider used. Sites like Craigslist and ebay, as well as consignment stores, re-sale stores and thrift stores have incredible prices. You’ll often find better quality items than discount stores with lower prices too.

Do you have a favorite back-to-school shopping tip? Share your ideas in the comments!

{Image via Getty.}

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