Recipe: Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread with Dipping Sauce

Mrs. Fields Secrets Cheesy Pull-Apart BreadFebruary is all about love and this recipe will make you fall hard and fast! And even though true love can be a bit cheesy, in this case cheesy never tasted so good! This pull-apart bread fresh from the oven is so delicious, you’ll want to write it love poems, shout it from the rooftops, and whisk it away for a long evening. Enjoy it yourself or share it with someone you love. Go ahead, embrace the cheesy!

Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread with Dipping Sauce

3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups flour
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons marjoram
2 teaspoons parsley
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 bottle marinara sauce

Directions
In a large mixing bowl with a dough hook, combine brown sugar and yeast. Pour warm water on top and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until top is foamy and thick. Add salt, oil and flour, then mix until a ball of dough forms. Knead on low speed for three minutes, then transfer dough to a large cutting board and roll out into a rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into two-inch squares and allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, combine the parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, basil, marjoram and parsley. Liberally spray a bundt cake pan with non-stick spray, then drop a layer of dough squares along the bottom. Next, sprinkle two liberal spoonfuls of the parmesan mixture onto the dough, followed by a layer of shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat with additional layers of dough, parmesan mixture and cheddar cheese until the dough is used. (You should have about half of your parmesan mixture leftover.) Drizzle the warm, melted butter over the top then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. While bread is cooking, combine marinara sauce and remaining parmesan mixture in a saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally and allow the sauce to thicken and reduce while the bread bakes.

Once the bread is out of the oven, allow it to sit for a few minutes before transferring to a serving plate. Serve warm with warm dipping sauce.

 

Giveaway: Your Worst Date in Three Words

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, there is much talk about hearts a-flutter and eternal flames, but what about the sometimes hilarious heartaches it takes to get there? Today’s giveaway is your chance to share your favorite stories from your worst dates, but here’s the challenge: you’ve got to do it in three words. So, whether it was “spandex, dandruff, halitosis” or “sneezer, geezer, teaser” or “mother came with,” we want to hear all about it!

And it won’t be for nothing! We’re awarding three great prizes to ease the pain of three unlucky-in-love blog readers:

Sweet Heart Box

Valentine Keepsake Box

Valentine’s Tin

Here’s how you play: Leave a comment describing your worst date ever in only three words, no more, no less! We’ll select three of our favorites and award them with the prizes, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

And now, we have three words for you: Enter to win!

Fine print: Must be 18 years old to enter and a resident of the continental United States. Entries accepted until midnight, Sunday, February 9, 2014. Winners will be chosen and notified via email.

{Image via theQuestionable}

Valentine’s Catalog Preview + Early Bird Discount

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Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day is only a couple of weeks away. If one of your new year’s resolutions was to be more organized, why not take a moment to browse our amazing Valentine gift ideas and get your gift ordered today? With Mrs. Fields, you select the delivery date, so you can order early, have it delivered exactly when you want it, and forget about it. Plus, we’ve got an early bird discount to sweeten the deal! (See below) But first, here are some of my favorite picks from our current Valentine’s Day catalog:

Sweet Heart Box

The variety in our Sweet Heart Box is unbelievable! Bite-sized cookies and brownies along with frosted cookies and our delicious new raspberry bark. This is a gift for those who like to mix it up a little!

Little Bits of Love Box

Our Little Bits of Love Box is a perfect offering for new love, true love, or even a secret admirer. It’s just the right size and full of our favorite flavors!

Love Monkey

Sweethearts tend to share pet names, but now you can share our Love Monkey with your own Love Monkey. He shows up with an armful of our favorite cookies!

Valentine’s Combo Tins

Few things make someone’s heart swell like the sight of a Mrs. Fields tin. We’ve got Valentine’s Combo Tins in a variety of sizes and contents, so that you can give your special valentine exactly what she wants!

Valentine’s Heart Big Cookie Cake

Our Big Cookie Cakes are a favorite for special occasions, but our heart-shaped Valentine Big Cookie Cake is a perfect for this special occasion. Plus, you can have your own personal message written on the cake, up to 20 characters.

“Owl” Always Love You Box

With moving wings, our “Owl” Always Love You Box is a fun and thoughtful gift, for a valentine or even for your kids. The box can become a special decoration for years to come.

You can shop all of our valentine gifts online and request your own catalog too. As mentioned, blog readers enjoy a 15% discount off their entire order by using code 14AEL at checkout. (Offer good until February 12, 2014.)

Recipe: Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Mrs. Fields Secrets Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Looking for the perfect salsa for the Big Game? This salsa is my absolute favorite, go-to pick for game days. This salsa has big, bold flavors,  great texture and scores big with every crowd! Put it together a couple hours before and let the flavors marry, and serve with a fresh bag of chips. No matter the final score, you’ll be the winner.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

1 lime
honey (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon spicy season salt
1 red onion
3 fresh corn cobs or 2 cans of sweet corn
2 cans black beans
3 tomatoes, diced
2-3 avocados, diced
1 bunch cilantro

Directions
Juice the lime and add equal part honey. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and season salt, then whisk until well combined. Pour into a large serving bowl. Dice red onion and add to the dressing, letting it marinate a bit while you prepare the other ingredients. (This will help take any sharp flavor our of the onion.) Cut the corn off the cobs and add to the serving bowl. Rinse and drain black beans before adding to the bowl, followed by diced tomatoes and avocados. Finally, take a large handful of cleaned, fresh cilantro, and chop it up before adding it to the bowl. Stir everything together and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve with chips.

Glow in the Dark Bathwater

Mrs. Fields Secrets Glowing Bathwater
Have you ever heard of glowing bath water? This is such a fun idea that could brighten up bath time for your little ones, or even serve as a romantic surprise for your valentine. This idea is completely safe, non-toxic, non-messy and only requires two simple items to make it happen. Here’s what you’ll need:

Glowing Bath Water
from Growing a Jeweled Rose

1 black light bulb (or more, depending on bathroom lighting)
1 (2 liter) bottle of tonic water

Directions
Replace the bathroom light bulb or lamp with a black bulb (or bring a lamp into the bathroom to use the black bulb). Fill the bathtub with water, adding the bottle of tonic water as you fill. The water will glow a brilliant neon blue!

HINT: Use sponges or brushes to “paint” glowing designs or words on shower walls.

How to Care for Your Winter Wear

A great way to wash away the winter blues is to give your winter wear a good cleaning. Freshening up your coats, jackets and scarves will help everything feel more sunny. Here are some great tips to care for your winter clothing:

Down-filled Coats and Parkas: Always follow the cleaning instructions on the inside labels of your coats. Most down-filled coats can be machine washed. Pop three fresh tennis balls into the dryer with the coat, which will help keep the feathers evenly distributed as they dry. For good measure, give heavy coats two full cycles in the dryer to insure that the inside down is thoroughly dry and fluffy.

Wool Coats: Brush coats with a stiff brush to loosen and remove thin layers of dirt and grime. A lint roller will remove threads and pet hair, and at least once a season, treat your wool coat to a trip to the dry cleaner.

Fleece Jackets and Coats: This fabric absorbs more, so it will need more frequent washings. To keep fleece fabrics from pilling, wash it inside out on a delicate cycle and then line dry.

Leather Coats and Jackets: Leather is durable and shouldn’t need more than one dry cleaning per year (the end of the season is a good idea). Spot clean leather with a rag and leather conditioner. For suede, spot clean with a dry, stiff brush. Avoid using water, which will stain leather that is untreated.

Scarves, Gloves, and Knit Hats: Because these items have the most contact with your face, they are likely the dirtiest of your winter wear. A weekly washing will help keep them fresh, and keep you healthier too by washing away winter germs.

Sweaters: Wool sweaters need very little washing since the fibers naturally repel dirt and water, not to mention that the texture encourages the use of an undershirt. One cleaning per season will suffice. Cotton, cashmere and silk sweaters should only be washed after every three or four uses.

A NOTE ON COATS: One of the easiest ways to keep winter coats smelling fresh is to allow them to “breathe” after a wearing. Don’t shove them in a crowded, dark coat closet. let them air out on the back of a chair or on a coat rack. The natural air flow in the room will help carry away odors and moisture that can otherwise get trapped.

{Image via Pinterest.}

Try New Silk Vanilla Fro-Yo at TCBY

Mrs. Fields Secrets TCBY Silk Vanilla
Very exciting news! Today at TCBY you’ll find the latest in our collaboration with Silk Almond Milk: TCBY Silk Vanilla! Created from popular demand, this rich, delicious treat made with Silk Almond milk sports some incredible stats:

  • Dairy-free
  • 110 calories per serving
  • Made with all natural ingredients
  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Excellent source of fiber
  • Low fat
  • Cholesterol free
  • Low sodium
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Delicious vanilla flavor from real vanilla plant

This is truly a treat for everyone. Stop in at a TCBY today and try something silky!

Recipe: Peppermint Marshmallows + Other Ideas to Spice Up Your Hot Cocoa

Mrs. Fields Secrets Peppermint Marshmallows

Keep warm from the inside out with these delicious ideas for spicing up your hot cocoa. Homemade marshmallows are a fun indulgence, especially with peppermint flavoring to add a little kick to your hot cocoa. Plus, try out our favorite recipes for Mayan-style Hot Cocoa and a Hot Cocoa cocktail for adults.

Peppermint Marshmallows

vegetable shortening (for preparing foil)
1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons (3 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Directions
Prepare a 9×13 inch pan as follows. Invert the pan. Cut a piece of aluminum foil long enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the foil over the inverted pan and fold down the sides and corners just to shape. Remove the foil and turn the pan right side up. Place the foil in the pan and press it gently into place. With a pastry brush or crumpled wax paper coat the foil thoroughly but lightly with vegetable shortening. Set aside.

Place 1/2 cup cold water in the large bowl of an electric mixer, Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water and set aside. Place the sugar, corn syrup, salt and the other 1/2 cup water in a heavy 1-1/2 quart or 2 quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Cover for 3 minutes to allow any sugar crystals on the sides of the saucepan to dissolve. Uncover, raise the heat to high, insert a candy thermometer, and let the syrup boil without stirring until the temperature reaches 240 degrees. Do not overcook. Remove from the heat.

Beating constantly at medium speed, pour the syrup slowly into the gelatin mixture. After all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and beat for 15 minutes until the mixture is lukewarm, snowy white, and the consistency of whipped marshmallow, adding the vanilla a few minutes before the end of the beating. (During the beating, occasionally scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. The marshmallow will thicken and become sticky — if the mixture crawls up on the beaters as it thickens, carefully wipe it down with a rubber spatula.)Pour the slightly warm and thick marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and, with your forefinger, scrape all the mixture off the beaters. Smooth the top of the marshmallow. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours or longer if it is more convenient.

Then sift or strain confectioners sugar generously onto a large cutting board to cover a surface larger then your pan. Invert the marshmallow over the sugared surface. Remove the pan and peel off the foil. Strain confectioners sugar generously over the top of the marshmallow. To cut into even 1 inch strips use a ruler and toothpicks to mark it every 1 inch.

Prepare a long, heavy, sharp knife by brushing the blade lightly with vegetable shortening. Cutting down firmly with the full length of the blade, cut the marshmallow into 1 inch strips. (After cutting the first slice, just keep the blade sugared to keep it from sticking.) Dip the cut sides of each strip into confectioners sugar to coat them thoroughly — you should have enough excess sugar on the board to do this. Now cut each strip into 1 inch squares. (You may place three strips together and cut through them all at once.) Roll the marshmallows in the sugar to coat the remaining sides. Shake off excess sugar. Store in a plastic box or any airtight container — or plastic bag.

Mayan Style Hot Cocoa
from Allrecipes

1 cup milk, warmed
3 tablespoons hot cocoa mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Directions
Mix the dry ingredients together in a mug, then pour hot milk in and whisk until combined.
RumChata Hot Chocolate

8 ounces hot chocolate
1.5 ounces RumChata rum

Directions
Stir hot chocolate and rum together and sip.

Bake This Not That

Around here, we like to adopt a sensible approach to sweets. Life is short and we think it should be savored. It seems that finding the right balance when it comes to indulgence is a key to happiness. If you’re trying to recalibrate after a particularly indulgent holiday season, here are some choose-this-not-that ideas for your favorite baked goods.

Craving cookies? Bake Cranberry Oatmeal  instead of Triple Chocolate Chip. You’ll save about 35-50 calories per cookie! You can also make half-size cookies by cutting each ball of cookie dough in half. (Remember to monitor baking times, which will be 3-4 minus less for smaller cookies.) A half-size cookie means half the calories. (Our Nibblers bite-sized cookies are a perfect way to indulge with balance.)

Craving brownies? Try our Reduced-Fat Chocolate Brownie recipe. Or, if you’re using a mix, swap applesauce for vegetable oil in your recipe. You’ll save calories and fat, but won’t notice a difference in taste!

Craving cake? Our No Frosting Chocolate Bundt Cake is so rich and moist, it does not need frosting (which saves a ton of calories).

Craving bread? The darker the bread, the better for your body. If you’re not a fan of whole wheat or multigrain, try using half and half (white flour and whole wheat) to ease into the flavor. If you’re used to buying artisan breads, ask the baker to pre-slice it for you extra thin. You’ll save half the calories.

Craving donuts? Our Baked Cake Donuts recipe is still one of our most popular. You’ll get the great flavor of a cake donut, with nearly half the calories.

Craving a sugary breakfast or snack? Try our Healthy Breakfast Cookies, Homemade Granola or these No-Bake Energy Bites instead of a pastry in the morning. They will satisfy your sweet tooth, but keep you from having a sugar crash. These are also great for an afternoon snack.

Cutting back on gluten? Our Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is so good, you won’t believe that gluten didn’t get invited to the party.

Do you have other tips for being sensible with your sweet tooth? Share them in the comments!

Hooray for National Popcorn Day!

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Today is National Popcorn Day! Did you know?

  • Americans consume 16 billion quarts of popcorn per year.
  • U.S. popcorn comes primarily from only seven states.
  • Popping popcorn is the number one use for microwave ovens.
  • There are two shapes of popped popcorn: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake is used for movie theater popcorn and mushroom is used in confections because it holds its shape.
  • Kernels can pop up to three feet into the air!

Popcorn is such a fun and versatile ingredient. It’s delicious on its own, sprinkled with a touch of butter and salt, or completely decked out in flavors both savory and sweet! Some of our favorite popcorn recipes are Caramel Sea Salt Popcorn Balls and Popcorn and Peanut Cookies. And did you know that you can bypass all the strange chemicals and pop your own microwave popcorn using a simple brown lunch bag?

And most importantly, did you know that Mrs. Fields has a delicious assortment of gourmet popcorn tubs and tins? If you haven’t tried them before, use code 14AEB at checkout for 20% off any of our incredible popcorn gifts. Because, really, is there a better way to celebrate National Popcorn Day? We think not!

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