Make Your Own Cookie Butter

Homemade Cookie Butter via A Beautiful Mess

What’s better than cookies and butter? How about cookie butter? And what’s better than cookie butter? How about homemade cookie butter. That’s right, this decadent treat is super simple to make with your favorite cookies and a few simple ingredients. It also makes an absolutely thoughtful gift. We discovered this helpful tutorial on A Beautiful Mess and give it a standing ovation. Here’s what you need to know:

Cookie Butter
adapted from A Beautiful Mess

2 cups cookie crumbs
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup evaporated milk
water as needed

Directions
Prepare cookie crumbs by pulsing cookies in a food processor. (If using sandwich cookies with a cream filling, remove the cream filling first.) Keep pulsing until you have two cups of fine powder. Transfer crumbs to a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over low heat until melted, and then stir in the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk and continue stirring until completely combined. Pour 1/2 cup of the liquid into the cookie crumbs and mix together with a spoon. Keep adding small amounts of the liquid until the cookie butter is just wet enough to stay together. Depending on how dry the cookie is to begin with, you’ll need more or less liquid. Buttery cookies (like the sugar cookies) won’t require nearly as much as the drier cookies.

Once the cookie butter is blended, allow it to cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Remove from fridge and stir very small amounts of water (start with 1/8 teaspoon) into the mixture. Continue blending and stirring until you reach a smooth, butter-like consistency, adding butter as necessary. Once desired consistency is reached, cover butter and transfer to the refrigerator. It will keep up to two weeks!

Great Tips for Your Holiday Leftovers

The holidays are officially over, but you’ve still got a fridge and pantry full of decadent food and treats. We’ve gathered up some great ideas to put all that food to good use.

Meats and Cheeses
Reinvent your leftover ham, turkey or roast and bits of cheese in a delicious frittata served for breakfast or brunch. Add in fresh veggies, eggs, even pasta or rice, and the flavors come together in a delicious new way.

Fruit
A fruit basket makes a great gift, but it can be overwhelming to eat it all before it goes bad. We recommend transforming it into a fresh fruit pizza or a pitcher of delicious winter sangria.

Cakes
If you’ve got cakes that are starting to get dry, transform them into delicious cake pops. The bite-sized treats are perfectly portioned for your New Year’s goals.

Cookies
If you’ve got an overload of cookies, place a scoop of ice cream between two of them and transform them into a fresh stock of ice cream sandwiches in your freezer.

Breads, Rolls and Crackers
Stale bread makes delicious homemade croutons. Stale rolls and crackers can be turned into bread crumbs in your food processor. Pulse them and then place the crumbs in a freezer-safe bag and store them in the freezer until needed.

Unopened Perishables
Most food banks and shelters get a lot of support during the holidays, but very little afterward. Box up your unopened perishables and deliver them to those in need. Better yet, invite your neighbors to do the same.

Do you have a favorite idea for holiday leftovers? Let us know!

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6 Christmas Morning Casseroles

Mrs. Fields Secrets Breakfast Casseroles

After working up an appetite from an unwrapping frenzy, you’ll need some sustenance on Christmas morning. We’ve gathered six mouth-watering make-ahead casseroles that will feel like a gift themselves: three savory recipes and three sweet for a decadent, delicious meal. Prepare your favorite the night before, and pop it in the oven Christmas morning. Breakfast practically takes care of itself!

1. California Breakfast Casserole
2. Eggs Benedict Casserole
3. Breakfast Enchiladas
4. Baked Oatmeal Casserole
5. Blushing Blueberry Croissant Casserole
6. Cinnamon Roll French Toast

Follow the links to the recipes.

5 Can’t-Go-Wrong Hostess Gifts

If you’re staying with friends or family for the holidays, or simply headed to a holiday party, we’ve got a list of home-run hostess gift ideas to express your gratitude and keep those invitations coming for years to come. A hostess gift doesn’t have to be lavish or complicated, but it should be thoughtful. Here are five gifts that every host will appreciate.

1. Take out containers for doggy bags. Stock up on a range of to-go containers from a restaurant supply store and gift them to your host. When the party is over, she can send guests home with easy, attractive doggy bags without raiding her own supply of dishes.

 

2. A fresh, new apron. Immediately useful and appreciated, an apron is an ideal hostess gift. And if you offer to put it on and help in the kitchen, even better!

3. Fresh flowers. You can never go wrong with a beautiful, neutral bouquet. (Be sure to provide a vase so that your host doesn’t have to figure out or arrange the display.)

 

4. Coasters. Easy and thoughtful, coasters are a great hostess gift because they can be put to use right away to protect the host’s furniture. Cork coasters are safe and absorbent and affordable. Add a personalized touch with some simple paint.

5. Relaxation. Nobody needs moments of relaxation like a host after the party. Whether it’s a spa certificate (if you’re staying a week in somebody’s house), a jar of bath salts, or a lavender-scented candle, your host will appreciate a few moments zen when the party is over.

Ultimate Gift Guide for Brownie Lovers

Mrs. Fields Secrets Brownie Lover 1 Mrs. Fields Brownie Lovers 2

The Brownie Lover. Who can blame their devotion to rich, fudge-y chocolate? Nobody. So, for the holidays, indulge it. Embrace it. Give those brownie lovers what they really, really want: all things brownies. And just in case you need a head start, we’ve put together the ultimate guide:

1. Two Dozen Classic Brownies
2. Edge Brownie Pan
3. Extreme Brownie Recipe Book
4. Brownie Batter Candle
5. Brookie Pan

Inspiring Turkey Trays

Part centerpiece, part meal, these “turkey” trays are a fun way to add some special oomph to your Thanksgiving table. Check them out and get inspired.

The Fruit Trays…

The Veggie Trays…

And our favorite, the Dessert Trays…

The countdown is on! Are you ready for Turkey Day?

Give Your Oven a Holiday Tune-Up

The last thing you need during the holidays is an oven failure, so we’re getting you ready for holiday kitchen overdrive with a simple oven tune-up to keep you running smoothly from Thanksgiving appetizers to New Years desserts.

1. Clean the 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.

2. Check the thermostat. The thermostat is the mechanism that helps measure and regulate the temperature in the oven. They can go bad or become unreliable, but are replaced easily. The most common indicator of a bad thermostat is an oven that overheats. You should be able to identify the thermostat in your oven by looking inside for a long tube near one of the side walls. To replace it, be sure to disconnect the electricity to the oven before starting and consult the owner’s manual for any specific instructions. It is most often a process of disconnecting the wires on the old thermostat, removing it, and installing the new one in the reverse order.

3. Check the heating elements. If you’ve noticed things baking unevenly in the oven, or taking much longer to cook, the heating element could be going bad. Replacement is quite simple. Be sure to disconnect electricity before beginning, then follow the instructions in this simple video.

4. Inspect the flames. For gas ovens, ports for the flames can easily be blocked by debris. Turn the oven on and check to see if flame levels are even in both size and disbursement. Clean away any debris or blockage. If the flame seems too low, consult your owner’s manual to find where adjustments can be made. The manual should also indicate the recommended size of the flame for your particular unit.

5. Clean or replace the bulb. The oven light is one of the most underutilized tools, since it allows you to check on foods without opening the door and letting hot air escape. If the bulb is dirty or failing, replace it before the busy season.

Simple as that, your oven is ready for whatever your holiday schedule brings!

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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

 

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.

No-Sew Closet Sachets

Mrs. Fields Secrets Closet Sachet
It’s that time of year to box up the tank tops and shorts and transition your closet into cool weather wear, and we’ve got a great little trick to keep your clothes fresh and smelling great all season through. This no-sew sachet will cost pennies compared to store-bought alternatives and is easy to refresh every time you transition your closet. Make a handful of these sachets and tuck them into drawers and closet shelves. Your clothes will smell amazing, and you’ll keep pesky moths away too.

No-Sew Closet Sachet

9 x 9 inch piece of fabric
10 inch strip of ribbon
1/3 cup dried lavender flowers

Directions
Place the lavender flowers in the center of the wrong side of your fabric. Pull the corners in and tie the ribbon around tightly to secure. Place in dresser drawers or closet shelves for up to 6 months of freshness. After 6 months, untie the ribbon and replace the lavender flowers.

HINT: Use cloth napkins, scraps of fabric, or old clothing to up-cycle for this project.
HINT: Cedar chips, rosemary and pine needles are other great sachet-fillers that will give a lasting scent and deter moths.

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