How to: Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil

Mrs. Fields Secrets Preserved Herbs
We’ve got a great tip to keep those fresh herbs from your garden or your crisper drawer from wilting and browning before you get a chance to use them. You can preserve them in olive oil for up to three months in your fridge, enjoying the same freshly-picked flavor. This works particularly well with basil and parsley, but try it out with chives, thyme, and your other favorite herbs.

Preserved Herbs

2 bunches of fresh basil or parsley
3-4 teaspoons of coarse salt
olive oil
small jar

Directions
Thoroughly wash herbs and allow to completely dry. Remove the stems and place the leaves in a food processor then sprinkle with the coarse salt. (The salt will help preserve the shiny green color as well as keep the leaves from sticking together.) Use the “pulse” function to chop the herbs into a fine mince. Drizzle olive oil all along the sides and bottom of a mixing bowl and transfer the herbs to it. Whisk the herbs into the olive oil and drizzle more oil in to give the herbs a chance to separate and become coated with oil. Pour the mixture into a small jar, then top with another thin layer of olive oil. Place the lid on top and store in the fridge for up to three months. Use a scoop or two at a time to add fresh flavor to sauce, or as a delicious dip for bread.

HINT: Pair this with a fresh loaf of bread and you’ve got a thoughtful gift!

 

Recipe: Banana Bread French Toast + Other Mother’s Day Meal Ideas

Mrs. Fields Secrets Banana Bread French Toast
Start your Mother’s Day off right with a delicious meal for mom made with love. We’ve got some incredibly delicious meal ideas, including this Banana Bread French Toast drizzled in maple syrup, dappled with fresh blueberries, and topped with a dollop of whipped lemon sour cream, the perfect tang to balance all the decadent sweet. Try it with our delicious banana bread recipe (which you can make ahead of time), or you can cheat with your favorite store-bought loaf. (We won’t tell Mom.)

Banana Bread French Toast

1 loaf banana bread, cut into 2-inch slices (see recipe below)
unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup blueberries
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup sour cream
maple syrup

Directions
In a shallow baking dish, whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg together. In a small mixing bowl, whip the sour cream with the lemon zest until light and fluffy. Set aside. Heat a frying pan or griddle on medium-high heat. Melt a pat of butter in the pan. Dredge each side of each slice of banana bread in the egg mixture, then place on the hot pan and cook until crusty and brown before flipping over to cook the other side. Remove from heat and top with maple syrup, blueberries, and sour cream. Makes approximately 4 servings.

Banana Bread

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups ripe, mashed bananas (about 4 large bananas)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the mashed bananas and scrape the sides to incorporate any butter that sticks to the sides. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg together. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until combined. Finally, stir in the buttermilk until just combined. Prepare two loaf pans with nonstick spray and add the batter. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife dipped into the middle comes out mostly clean. Allow to sit for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Other Favorite Mother’s Day Meal Ideas

Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Menu
Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Stuffed French Toast
German Pancakes
Baked Cake Donuts 
Berry Muesli
Bite-Sized Brunch Menu
Cherry and Sweet Goat Cheese Turnovers

Last Minute Cinco de Mayo Dessert Ideas

Mrs. Fields Secrets Cinco de Mayo Desserts
You’ve got your guacamole ready, plenty of chips and salsa, and an abundance of ice for your margaritas, but what about dessert? Here are a few fun last-minute ideas to give your Cinco de Mayo party a sweet ending! (Follow links for full instructions.)

1. Sombrero Sugar Cookies
2. Crispy “Fried” Ice Cream
3. Churro Truffles
4. Margarita Cupcakes
5. So-Easy Sopapillas
6. Easy Tres Leches Cake
7. Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Chips

Recipe: Six Marinades to See You Through Summer

Mrs. Fields Secrets Summer Marinades
It’s time to break out the grill and get ready for a season of great backyard meals. Say goodbye to dry, flavorless meat with these six simple marinades that will see you through the entire summer. Marinating your meat before grilling allows it to absorb rich flavors and retain moisture, which gives you robust flavors and juicy meat every time. Try them all for a summer your taste buds will remember forever!

HINT: The magic minimum marinating time is 30 minutes, but 3-4 hours is even better.

HINT: To speed the process of infusing the flavors into your meats or veggies, place everything in a plastic bag and squeeze out all of the air before sealing.

HINT: Use a food processor or blender to fully emulsify your marinade. This will allow all the ingredients to evenly flavor the meat.

Italian Dressing Marinade
Straight from a bottle or made from a dry mix, Italian salad dressing is an excellent marinade, especially when you are in a pinch for time. Try it with chicken, fish and vegetables for a tangy, flavorful bite.

Balsamic Herb Marinade
Mix 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons basil, 2 tablespoons oregano, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 2 teaspoons salt and two teaspoons pepper. Works great with chicken, beef, pork, and vegetables.

Mango Jalapeño Marinade
Blend 1 very ripe mango with 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 cup oil, 1 shallot, 1 small jalapeño pepper (use or discard seeds, depending on your preferred spice level), 1 tablespoon honey and 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper.

Caribbean Jerk Marinade
Mix 1 small onion (chopped), 1 chili or jalapeño pepper (use or discard seeds depending on your preferred spice level), 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons thyme, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper.

Mayonnaise Marinade
Your simple, full-fat jar of mayonnaise is perfect for marinating chicken that you want to use in salads or sandwiches. Generously coat the chicken with mayonnaise and allow to sit for 30-60 minutes before grilling. Add a little bit of salt and pepper while grilling and you’ll have juicy meat every time.

Classic BBQ Marinade
Mix 1 1/2 cups steak sauce with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/3 cup Italian salad dressing, 1/3 cup honey, 1 minced garlic clove and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.

Casserole Series: Cheesy Pineapple Casserole

Mrs. Fields Secrets Cheesy Pineapple Casserole
We’re rounding out our Casserole Series today with a fabulous sweet and savory casserole that is a southern favorite. It’s got the sweet richness of pineapple with the sharp tang of cheddar cheese with a buttery crumble on top. This is ideal for a picnic or potluck since it is just as tasty at room temperature as it is warm out of the oven next to a slice of ham. You could also take it in a spicy direction by adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to the pineapple mixture and a few more to the crumble top. Try it out and make it your own!

Cheesy Pineapple Casserole

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 (20 oz.) cans pineapple chunks, drained but reserve 6 tablespoons of juice
1 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 cup butter

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish with the butter, then melt the rest of the stick and set aside. In a large bowl, stir the sugar and flour together, then add the drained pineapple and cheese. Stir until well combined and transfer to the prepared casserole dish. In a separate bowl, stir the crushed crackers, melted butter and reserved pineapple juice together to create a crumble. Spread the crumble evenly over the pineapple and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bubbly around the sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe: Bunny Bark

Mrs. Fields Secrets Bunny Bark
We’ve got a bonus recipe for you this week, heading into the holiday weekend. This treat is perfect to prepare and have out all weekend long for your Easter guests. It’s great for snacking or even to soothe your sweet tooth after dinner. Follow our recipe as a guide, but incorporate your own favorite cookies and flavors to make it your own.

Bunny Bark

16 ounces of white chocolate or almond bark
1 1/2 cups crushed Oreo cookies
1 cup pretzels, broken
1 1/2 cups m&m candies (any variety)
1/4 cup sprinkles

Directions
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread the cookies and pretzels evenly. Scatter half of the m&m candies over the cookies and pretzels. On a double-boiler or in the microwave, melt the white chocolate or almond bark over low heat until smooth and runny. Remove from heat and pour evenly over the cookie mixture. Use a spatula to smooth the melted chocolate over the entire sheet. Tap the baking sheet on the counter five or six times to remove any air bubbles and allow the chocolate to get in all the crevices. Next, scatter the remaining m&m candies all over the top, followed by the sprinkles. Allow to cool and solidify at room temperature for 5 hours or overnight before cutting into squares or breaking into bite-sized pieces.

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Casserole Series: Broccoli Water Chestnut Bake

Mrs. Fields Secrets Brocolli Casserole Bake
Our casserole series is back today with the perfect side dish for your Easter feast. This is a delicious recipe that you’ll try once and keep in your repertoire forever. Adults love it, kids love it, and you’d better get a big helping to begin with because people are always going back for seconds with this.

Broccoli Water Chestnut Bake
from Susan Stewart Vaughn

4-6 cups broccoli tips
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup light sour cream
zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 (8 oz) cans sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
2 cups Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 cup melted butter

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash broccoli and cut into bite-sized pieces. Steam for a few minutes until broccoli is tender, but bright green and still crisp. Then spread into a 9×13 casserole dish. Top with half of the green onions. Stir mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest and pepper together. Spread the mayonnaise and sour cream mixture over the broccoli and top with shredded cheese, then water chestnuts and remaining green onions. Finally, combine the crushed crackers with the melted butter until you have a consistent, moist crumble. Spread the crackers crumble evenly over the entire dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Serve warm.

Casserole Series: Tamale Pie

Mrs. Fields Secrets Tamale Pie
Today we’re starting a new casserole series aimed to give you new twists and big flavors in one dish. Today’s recipe does just that. It has big bold Tex-Mex flavors, a rustic presentation, and is perfect for a weeknight or weekend meal. Top a slice of this Tamale Pie with fresh avocado, sour cream and serve it up, but be ready for applause and several requests for the recipe.

Tamale Pie

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz.) can creamed corn
1 (14 oz.) can medium pitted black olives
1 cup yellow corn meal
2 eggs, beaten

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large, cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add ground beef and cool until just brown, then add chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and cook about two more minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, and olive (juice included!) and stir. Slowly stir in corn meal to avoid lumps. Finally, stir in the beaten eggs, incorporate completely and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Transfer skillet to the preheated oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until browning around the edges and firm in the middle. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Stuffed French Toast

Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Stuffed French Toast
Ditch your Sunday brunch reservation at that fancy bistro and whip up a batch of this delectable dish. It is sweet but not too sweet, rich but not too rich, hearty but not too heavy and it has the capacity to make your entire day. Pick up a fresh loaf of Italian bread (unsliced) at your grocery store, along with a few simple ingredients and you’re on your way to homemade brunch bliss.

Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Stuffed French Toast

1 loaf Italian bread, unsliced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup blueberries
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions
In a small mixing bowl, stir ricotta, lemon zest, sugar, half the blueberries and nutmeg together. Add the juice from half of the lemon and stir to incorporate, then set aside. Slice loaf into two-inch slices, then saw a pocket down the middle of the top of each slice to contain the filling. Whisk the eggs, milk and teaspoon of sugar together and pour into a shallow baking dish. Preheat a griddle to 375 degrees. Add two spoonfuls of ricotta mixture into the pocket of each slice of bread, then dredge the bread in the egg mixture on each side before placing on the hot griddle. (A pat of butter melted first makes it divine.) Cook until crusty and brown on each side, then transfer to a serving dish and top with fresh berries and syrup. Makes approximately 8 servings.

Recipe: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

Mrs. Fields Secrets Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
One of our most popular recipes on the blog has been our Big, Old-Fashioned Snickerdoodles. So, the bar for Snickerdoodle recipes on this site is very high. That means today’s recipe has to be spectacular, and it is. The brown butter in these cookies is the secret ingredient, giving them a rich, nutty depth of flavor that will absolutely wow you. These are grownup Snickerdoodles, friends.

Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
adapted from TastyKitchen

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar (for rolling)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (for rolling)

Directions
Sift flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon and salt together and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir sugars together and set aside. In a small saucepan (preferably without a dark lining), melt the butter over medium heat, stirring frequently. Allow the butter to foam and bubble, then stir constantly as the butter starts to appear more clear and then begins to brown. As soon as the color starts to get darker and you smell a nutty aroma, remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the butter to the mixing bowl with the sugar to halt the cooking process. On low speed, combine the sugar and butter, then add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until completely combined. Chill the dough for a minimum of one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and combine rolling sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Divide dough into 2-tablespoon size balls, roll in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and place on a prepared baking sheet. Press the top of each ball to make a subtle flat top. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until top is crackly and edges are just beginning to brown. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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