New Year’s Resolutions for Your Kitchen

Want to start your new year off with some great resolutions for your kitchen? Improve and organize the most important room in your home by incorporating twelve simple resolutions. Try a new one each week or even each month and reap the benefits of a better kitchen (and a better you, too)!

1. Keep the kitchen sink clean. Instead of using the sink as a holding cell for dirty dishes for hours (or days), commit to washing dishes immediately or loading them into the dishwasher. It takes barely a few seconds more to move the dishes along, and now your sink is always ready for food preparation.

2. Clean the garbage disposal. Eliminate odd smells coming from your disposal with this simple remedy. It’s worth doing once a month, or whenever you notice odor Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain immediately followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Allow it to bubble and fizz. Once it’s quiet, turn on hot water and allow it to run for 3-5 minutes. While the water is running, cut a lemon into quarters and turn on the garbage disposal. Put the lemon pieces down the disposal, one piece at a time until it is gone. Enjoy a fresh, clean scent.

3. Switch to reusable grocery bags. If you’re not already in the habit, start now. Clear out your old grocery bags, take them to a local recycling collection site, and invest in some durable grocery bags. You’ll save money, clutter, and the planet! Plus, the heavy duty reusable bags come in handy for much more than groceries! Another hint: after unloading your groceries, store your reusable bags in the car. That way you never forget them.

4. Replace baking soda boxes. If you use baking soda to keep your fridge, freezer, and cupboards smelling fresh, it’s probably time to replace them. When you buy replacements, pick up an extra set and set a reminder in your email or smart phone to replace them in 3-6 months.

5. Clean your appliances. When is the last time your stand mixer, toaster, or coffee maker was cleaned? Never? Ouch. Grab some disinfectant wipes and give it a thorough wipe down. Use toothpicks or Q-tips to get gunk out of hard to reach places.

6. Toss out old spices. How old is that paprika? Take inventory of your spice rack and toss anything Jurassic. Use this helpful guide to know how long spices last.

7. Defrost your freezer. If you have a deep freezer, take time to defrost it at least once per year. It will help it last longer and will also keep your frozen foods better preserved with even temperatures.

8. Wash cupboards and baseboards. You’ll be surprised at the fresh gleam in your kitchen after taking a warm, soapy rag to cupboard doors, handles, and especially baseboards. This is an especially good idea during cold and flu season!

9. Clean your oven. No need to dread this task. Most modern ovens have a self-cleaning function, but if not, there is no need to buy dangerous chemical cleansers. A spray bottle of water and a box of baking soda will do wonders.

10. Clean your dishwasher. If you’ve never done it, it’s time to give your dishwasher a break and a special clean cycle. Think of it as a spa treatment for your hard working machine.

11. Toss old plastic containers. They seem to breed in the dark cupboards and drawers, and soon they are falling out and overtaking everything. Find matching pairs and keep no more than two or three containers and lids of each size. Donate or recycle extras.

12. Use menus and shopping lists. This simple habit will save you time, money and space in your fridge and pantry. If you need help getting started, download a menu-planning app and commit to using it for a month. You’re likely to notice that you spend less, eat healthier, and have a more organized fridge and pantry because everything that goes in and out has a purpose.

May your new year and your kitchen be clean and bright!

Homemade Heating Pads

Here’s a cozy DIY idea that’s perfect for a cold, winter night. It keeps you warm and smells great and can be reused again and again. With just some simple sewing (use old fabric scraps or clothing) and ingredients you might have in your kitchen, you can create homemade heating pads. Here’s what you’ll need:

Homemade Heating Pads
1/2 yard of fabric
7 cups dried cherry pits, buckwheat, flax seed, or rice
1 sprig dried lavender or peppermint

Directions
Cut a piece of fabric to 20 x 14 inches, then fold in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew one short side and one long side together with 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Turn the fabric right side out and push corners out. Fill the bag just less than half full with your dried ingredient and dried herb. Close the open end of the bag with a top stitch.

To use: Heat in the microwave about two minutes, then apply to cold fingers or toes for up to a half hour of warmth!

 

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There’s a lot of gift giving going on right now and it would be an absolute shame if somehow you got left out. So, we got you something really special, something you can use right away:

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So shop now and enjoy a little upgrade on us! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

10 Creative Gift Wrap Ideas

There’s something about a creatively wrapped gift that just brings a smile. If you’re looking for some inspiration with your holiday wrapping, check out these fun ideas:

A tea towel is a gift in itself, so why not use it as wrapping? Use the Japanese method of furoshiki to tie it just right.

I love the idea of using old maps and atlases to wrap gifts, especially for your favorite globe trotter. Some simple red string and a colorful button top it off perfectly.

There are so many fun patterned tapes on the market, which means that it’s easy to dress up the otherwise boring packages you have to ship during the holidays.

Do you hate having to keep an inventory of wrapping papers for a whole year of holidays and events? Choose a simple, neutral gift wrap and dress it up with different ribbons and tags for each occasion.

A short nature walk and some gold spray paint can turn into this incredibly elegant gift wrap.

Instead of tossing those old sweaters, cut them up and use them as charming gift wrap.

Explore your artistic side by creating a chalkboard design on your gifts. Simple black paper with white pens is all you need to create one-of-a-kind wrappings.

Wrapping with newspaper is an old idea, but it looks fresh and new with simple baker’s twine and bold tags adorning it.

Ever wonder what to do with all those nice, heavy duty shopping bags from your holiday purchases? They make perfectly nice heavy duty wrapping paper.

And finally, using simple kitchen twine and uncooked bow tie pasta for ribbons and bows is such a charming idea. It’s clever, understated, and really beautiful.

Happy wrapping!

Pomegranate Ice

Mrs. Fields Secrets Pomegranate Ice
Here’s a simple tip to spruce up your holiday fare. Add pomegranate seeds to your ice cube trays before filling them with water to create beautiful pops of color in your holiday drinks. As the ice melts, you’ll have delicious little bites of pomegranate in your drink. One important hint: the hotter the water, the clearer your ice cubes will freeze, showing off the pomegranate seeds. Cold water will create a frosty look. Try them out at your next party!

Tastiest Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

Let’s be honest, the people on your holiday gift list are not the easiest to shop for. Well, until now. This year, treat them with cookies and treats from Mrs. Fields! Think about it, have you ever had someone frown when you give them a cookie? Has anybody ever complained that a cookie didn’t fit right? Or was the wrong color? Cookies are the easiest, most welcome gift, and nobody does it better than Mrs. Fields! Check out some of my favorite gift ideas, something for absolutely everyone on your list!

Holiday Mini Ribbon Box

Our Holiday Mini Ribbon Box is a bestseller year after year. It’s just the right size for a thoughtful, personal gift. Think teachers, co-workers, neighbors and friends.

Twas the Night Teddy

Kids today have every conceivable electronic gadget and tablet and e-whatever, but just imagine their delight at the sight of this cuddly Twas the Night Teddy who arrives with an armload of freshly baked treats!

Holiday Bark Trio

Our Holiday Bark is a customer favorite and this year we’ve got it going in a big way: three delicious flavors (Peppermint Bark, Grasshopper Bark, and Almond Toffee Bark) in one great gift or easily divided into three great gifts! Maybe one for you and two for your in-laws? Two for you and one for your in-laws? We’ll let you figure out the math. (And by the way, individual boxes are available too.)

Red Holiday Personalized Tin

Grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles go gaga over our Personalized Holiday Tins. The cookies are delicious and the tin is an absolute keepsake. (HINT: Use a picture of the cutest family member for ultimate brownie points!)

Smiling Santa Cookie Cake

One of our most popular gifts all year round is dressed up for the holidays. Kids and adults alike will enjoy a slice of the tastiest Big Cookie Cake around! This is perfect as a holiday gift, or a hostess gift for your next holiday party.

Polar Pals Duo

Your BFF will love the charm and flavor of this adorable Polar Pals Duo, loaded with a variety of our holiday best. It makes a darling holiday decoration, too!

Popcorn Tub

Our Popcorn Tubs are family favorites, filled with three delicious flavors: Dark Chocolate, Almond and Cashews, and Milk Chocolate Almond and Cashews. This is also a great gift idea for an office.

Ultimate Snowman Bundle

Sometimes you need a big gift, something really over-the-top spectacular to wow your favorite crowd and nothing does that better than our Ultimate Snowman Bundle. Every layer of this jolly fella reveals more and more of our gourmet goodies: cookies, brownies, candy, popcorn, nuts, cocoa, and peppermint bark. This will keep them happy for weeks on end! This is our favorite pick for families, holiday parties, office gifts, or just that favorite person on your list with a really big sweet tooth!

Mrs. Fields Sto-N-Go

And finally, is there a baker in the house? Because if so, you’re going to want to treat them to a gift from our incredible Mrs. Fields Bakeware Line. These useful gifts can be sent with or without our freshly baked goodies. (We suggest with.)

Of course, you can find even more amazing gifts for literally everyone on your list at Mrs. Fields. Check back frequently for the latest offers and specials all season through, and most of all, have a happy holiday season. From all of us at Mrs. Fields!

10 Tips for a Great Turkey Bowl

Aside from mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, one of the staples of a great Thanksgiving is a Turkey Bowl. Whether you have a rough-and-tumble crowd who play for keeps or a motley crew of people just playing for fun, here are ten great tips to keep things fresh:

1. Establish safety rules. Tackling without helmets is dangerous, especially if you have a wide range of player ages, sizes, and weights. Make sure everybody knows the rules before you begin to avoid any confusion or injuries!

2. Come up with team names. Every great team needs a great team name.

3. Recruit cheerleaders. Every epic game needs some enthusiastic cheerleaders on the sidelines. Invite those who don’t want to play to come up with cheers (and jeers!) for the game.

4. Plan a halftime show. Take a break in the middle to have a silly halftime show. Blast some music and have a dance off or perform your favorite “Stupid Human Tricks.”

5. Assign a referee for tough decisions. Most games don’t need an official ref, but on the off chance that there is disagreement, decide in advance to let someone make the call. The oldest or the youngest person in attendance is a great choice.

6. Try the instant replay rule. Was there a grand moment you want to relish? Invoke the “instant replay rule” where both teams do their best to recreate the play. This always gets a lot of laughs.

7. Try the slow motion replay. Nothing will have everyone in stitches like trying an instant replay in slow motion. Try it, you’ll see.

8. Award extra points for great celebration dances. Forget the rules about over-the-top celebrations. In fact, encourage them! If a player comes up with something truly creative, award an extra point!

9. Don’t outplay the fun. Set a time limit or point limit and stick to it. A never-ending game only sounds fun at the beginning.

10. Have a great trophy. Grab a random item from the garage or fashion something out of an old trophy in the basement, but one way or another, have a trophy to award to the winning team!

Have any other great tips for a Turkey Bowl?

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Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Mrs. Fields Secrets Thanksgiving activities
While you’re busy getting the last details of Thanksgiving dinner together, here are some great ideas to keep little kids entertained and out of the kitchen:

1. Fruit Turkeys will make a perfect quiet activity at the kids’ table, not to mention a great appetizer!
2. Turkey Bowling in a hallway will keep the kids occupied and laughing it up.
3. Oreo Turkeys are almost too cute to eat. Almost. You might even find a few adults taking part in this craft.
4. Decorated Marshmallows with edible ink can be used later in hot cocoa. Kids will love writing on their food.

Do you have any favorite ways to keep the kids busy on Thanksgiving?

Recipe: Mashed Cauliflower

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mashed Cauliflower
This twist on your traditional Thanksgiving potatoes will knock your socks off and probably even fool those who mistake it for mashed potatoes. Mashed cauliflower has all the creamy texture of mashed potatoes, all the robust flavor of mashed potatoes, and almost none of the carbs. Give them a try and see for yourself. They are an amazing vegetable side dish for your Thanksgiving table or your weeknight table too!

Mashed Cauliflower

1 medium head of cauliflower
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon chicken bullion
1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter

Directions
Start a stockpot of water on high and heat until boiling. Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Add cauliflower to boiling water and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until pieces are soft. Drain cauliflower and then pat excess moisture off with paper towels. Place cauliflower in a food processor (or a mixing bowl if using an emulsion blender) and add the remaining ingredients, except for butter. Pulse until ingredients are incorporated and texture is creamy. Salt and pepper to taste. Add three pats of butter to the top before serving.

HINT: One of my favorite ways to serve mashed cauliflower is with a generous topping of cheddar cheese melted on top. Delicious!

HINT: Add roasted garlic for your favorite garlic mashed potato flavor!

5 Tips to Make Houseguests Feel Welcome

If you’re hosting houseguests over the holidays, there are simple things you can do to help their stay go off without a hitch. I’ve got five great tips that will make all the difference:

1. Keep a well-stocked bedroom. Anticipate your guest’s needs by stocking their room or sleeping area with a few essentials: bottled water, tissues, a packaged snack food, and a magazine or book. If there is a TV in the room, leave a channel guide near the remote control. Leave a note with the wi-fi name and password, and extra pillows and blankets are a must. A nightlight is helpful, as is a small flashlight in case they need to find the bathroom in the night and don’t want to turn on lights.

2. Keep a well-stocked bathroom. No guest wants to quietly tap you on the shoulder and ask for a bathroom item, so have your bathroom well-stocked and organized. Have ample toilet paper, fresh towels, fresh soap, cotton balls, Q-tips, feminine products, and even a new toothbrush and toothpaste just in case. My other favorite bathroom item to keep stocked is a bottle of this little gem. It really works!

3. Plan for free time. Both you and your guest will likely need and want some time apart, especially during the busy holidays. Equip them with helpful information like maps and transportation information so that they can get around independently. Pick up free brochures of local attractions ahead of time so they can browse options. Supply them with an extra set of house keys, so they have the freedom to come and go as needed.

4. Have accessible snacks and food. Keep a bowl full of fruit out for snacking and a jar full of cookies out and ready for enjoyment. Make sure they know where to find a drink if they need one, and have easy self-serve breakfast food options in case they wake up earlier or later than you.

5. Let them help out. Nobody likes to feel like a burden as a houseguest. Invite them to help you make dinner or read to the kids while you’re  running a quick errand. If they offer to help, have a short list of tasks in mind that would be easy for them to do: wash the dishes, walk the dog, take out the trash, or even vacuum.

Do you have any other tips? Be sure to share them!

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