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?

Thank a Veteran Family Today

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Today we celebrate Veteran’s Day, a special opportunity to honor not only the brave men and women who serve in the armed forces, but their families as well. Military service is an incredible individual sacrifice and a monumental family sacrifice to. So, we invite you today to reach out and thank the veterans and families you know. Tell them what their sacrifice means to you. Share your support. Brighten their day.

As our way of showing gratitude, Mrs. Fields is offering 20% off the entire site today with code 14WBA at checkout. Take advantage of generous savings to offer your own generous thanks. And just in case you need a few ideas, imagine surprising a military family with one of these thoughtful gifts…

Thank You Big Cookie Cake

Basket of Gratitude

Appreciation Box

Large Give Thanks Tin

You can shop our entire line of Thank You gift ideas as well as all of the great gift ideas at Mrs. Fields. And on behalf of all of us here, we offer our sincere thanks to the women, men, and families of military service!

Guide to Gourds

It’s pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere you go right now, but don’t let those beautiful orange orbs overshadow some of the other great gourds and squashes in season right now. Squash is healthy, delicious, and can be prepared in so many different interesting and crave-worthy ways. Here are 5 delicious gourds you should get to know, along with recipe ideas to get you inspired!

1. Acorn Squash
This smallish squash has a mild, buttery flavor and a smooth texture. Try this recipe for Roasted Parmesan Acorn Squash and fall in love.

2. Spaghetti Squash
This incredible squash, when cooked, flakes into spaghetti-like shreds that are savory and delicious and can literally take the place of spaghetti on your plate with a little marinara sauce on top. And the best news? You can cook it easily in the microwave.

3. Banana Squash
This winter squash has an earthy sweetness and when paired with chipotle peppers, makes an incredible Soft Taco Recipe.

4. Patty Pan Squash
You should still be able to find some of these UFO-like summer squashes, and when you do, try this delicious Overstuffed Patty Pan Squash recipe.

5. Muscat Squash
Sometimes called the “Cinderella Squash” or a “Cinderella Pumpin,” this gorgeous, squatty squash is great for cooking (not as great for carving). Try it in this mouthwatering Thai Pumpkin Curry recipe.

Do you have a favorite squash recipe? Share it with us in the comments!

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Halloween Home Tour

via Nifty Thrifty & Thriving

With nearly 6.9 billion dollars spent on costumes, decorations, and candy, Halloween is the silly holiday we love to take seriously. Not only do we dress up the kids, ourselves, and the inside of our homes, but many of us are decorating the exterior of our homes as well. And the results are scary awesome! We’ll take you on a tour of some incredibly creative (and spooky) homes.

We love the cob webs and boarded up look of this otherwise adorable home from Between Naps on the Porch.

Talk about an infestation! We love this house crawling with oversized spiders found on The Daily Party Dish.

What looks like an impressive choir of jack-o-lanterns, is a fabulous display from Ash Tree Cottage that has a wow factor in day or night!

The Kenova Pumpkin House in West Virginia features over 3,000 carved pumpkins each year, thanks to volunteer carvers. What a scene!

Green lights and strong silhouettes make an eery display and a haunting glow.

A Los Angeles house-turned-haunted-house called The Forest of Mirrors has a fiery skull pile that is as creepy as it is cool.

Vancouver Science World Halloween Theme

The Vancouver Science World transforms into a fabulous jack-o-lantern, lighting up the BC skyline.

An over-the-top look doesn’t require an over-the-top budget! Big, bold monster shapes cut out from paper with some backlighting will make a huge impact.

This homemade UFO crash is a show-stopper and so creative. (We have to wonder where it gets stored in the off-season!)

Now we want to see your homes! Post your favorite Halloween decorations to the comments section, or on our Facebook page!

5 Ways to Enjoy Caramel Apples Without the Mess

Mrs. Fields Caramel Apple Hacks
You love caramel apples. You hate the sticky mess. Now you can have your caramel apple and eat it too (without the need for soap and water). Check out these five brilliant caramel apple hacks for the sticky-averse!

1. If you love the original, maybe you just need a crash course in how to properly cut and serve caramel apples. Serve individual slices with a toothpick.
2. One-bite mini caramel apples on a stick are great for kids or those who want just a taste.
3. Make an inside-out caramel apple by hollowing an apple half and filling it with caramel sunday syrup. Chill until caramel is firm, then slice into wedges!
4. A caramel apple martini is a delicious, no-stick grownup spin on this favorite treat.
5. Caramel apple trifles are ooey-gooey delicious, but served with a spoon!

Do you have a favorite way to enjoy caramel apples?

Food Safety for Outdoor Parties

Outdoor parties are one of the highlights of summer and fall. But did you know? Foodborne illnesses actually increase in warmer months when we dine much more outdoors. Here are some simple guidelines to keep you and your family safe:

  • The most important safety measure is to keep hands clean. Have a hand-washing station available with water, soap and clean towels if possible. If not, anti-bacterial towelettes or hand sanitizer will keep guests’ hands clean and free from spreading contamination to serving spoons, trays and food.
  • Marinate meats in the fridge instead of the countertop or outdoors. Food temperatures are almost impossible to regulate outside of the fridge, freezer, or a cooking device, and raw meats are especially susceptible to bacterial growth. Keep raw meats cool until cooking time.
  • Invest in a meat thermometer and use it while grilling. Hamburger and beef should be cooked to 160 degrees, chicken 165 degrees, and pork 145 degrees. Plus, you’ll avoid dry, overcooked meat! To keep hot foods safe for hours, they should maintain a temperature of 140 degrees. Wrapping them in foil and keeping them stored in an insulated container will give you the best results. (Yes, your insulated cooler will keep hot foods hot!)
  • Cold foods should be kept at about 40 degrees to prevent bacterial growth. Salads containing mayonnaise or raw egg should be kept on ice.
  • Food left out for more than two hours becomes increasingly dangerous to eat, since bacteria reproduces exponentially. If the temperature outside is above 90 degrees, that window is reduced to an hour. It can be difficult at a party to remember, but as soon as people are done eating, it’s best to cover the food and transfer it to a cooler or fridge.
  • Believe it or not, one of the best and easiest ways to prevent food borne illnesses at your outdoor party is to have plenty of plates, napkins, and utensils. A fresh plate and utensils for each course of food drastically reduces contamination and cross-contamination of food and bacteria.
  • A healthy immune system wards off most problems, but pay close attention to those who are susceptible: the very young, the very old, pregnant women and anybody whose system is compromised in any way. Be especially vigilant if you have such guests in attendance.

Do you have any food safety tips or suggestions? Share them in the comments!

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10 Smart New Uses for Balloons

Mrs. Fields Secrets Balloons 1 Mrs. Fields Secrets Balloons 2 Balloons were once relegated to birthday parties and prom backdrops, but these inexpensive and colorful items can be transformed into so much more. Check out these 10 genius ideas!

1. Create delicate, tissue paper lanterns from balloon forms.
2. Make a colorful modern vase for flowers.
3. Add dirt, water, seeds and even a tiny toy or two and create a fun, disposable terrarium.
4. Make homemade drums and rice shakers for an inexpensive band.
5. Instead of a piñata, hang a collection of filled water balloons for a fun party finale.
6. Make your own squish-able  stress balls.
7. Make your own bouncy balls from balloons.
8. Substitute a baseball for a water balloon to cool off on a hot summer day.
9. Turn a balloon into creative gift wrap for cash gifts.
10. Add bright colors to clear jars and glasses with balloons.

Tips and Tools for Capturing Summer

In the blink of an eye, summer is more than halfway over and the only way to make it last forever is to preserve your memories to savor later. A smartphone in your hand is the only tool you need to get started. We’ve gathered tips and tools for you to capture all the special moments of summer and pair them with incredibly easy technology to make them last.

First, the tips:

  • We’re good at snapping photos at family reunions and on vacation, but what about all the special days in between? Take snapshots of your garden, your house in the summer, your favorite park, your regular spot at the pool. Think about all the things you love about summer and take a quick snapshot to document them.
  • Give your kids the camera for the day. You’ll be amazed at what they choose to include, and you’ll get a surprising new perspective on your life from their point of view.
  • Use the video function on your phone to capture small moments. Movement, voices and sound enhance the memories you preserve.
  • Get in front of the camera. Parents (moms especially) tend to take all the photos but are rarely seen in them. Think about it, you don’t want to be a phantom figure in your family’s history, so regularly hand the camera to someone else and smile for the birdie!

Now, the tools:

  • Magisto is a fantastic, free app that accesses your photos and produces short video collages using your own photos, video and music. You can tweak them in a variety of ways, but the app itself does an incredible job of drafting creative videos based on different dates and events in your photo stream. Videos can be easily shared with friends and family on social media.
  • Stellar is another fun, new app that allows you to create micro stories using your own photos and text. The editing tools are simple to use and you can add video as well. It’s a great way to document moments big and small.
  • Chatbooks is an easy, affordable way to transfer your documented Instagram photos into beautiful printed books for–get this–only $6. For the price of a combo meal, you can have a high-quality memento of your favorite summer events.

Now get out there and capture some summer!

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Tips for a Perfect Cheese Plate

As an appetizer at the beginning of a party or as dessert to wind things down, a cheese plate is a beautiful and creative way to feed your guests. Putting together a great cheese plate is both an art and a science, but it’s not hard to pull off once you learn a few tricks. Here’s everything you need to know to do it right:

  • Serving Sizes: Plan on roughly 1-2 ounces of cheese per guest.
  • Variety: Select cheeses that are a variety of different textures (aged, firm, soft, semi-soft, blue) and made from different milks (cow, sheep, goat).
  • How Many: No need to go overboard. Three to five cheeses are plenty for a great platter. Too many options can get overwhelming.
  • Serving Temperature: Room temperature provides the best flavor and texture of each cheese. If you make your platter ahead of time, allow 45 minutes to an hour before serving.
  • Use Labels: Mark each cheese with its name and a simple one or two word description.
  • Knives: Have one knife per cheese.
  • Ask an Expert: If you’re not a cheese connoisseur yourself, no problem! Ask the advice of your local deli manager when putting together your cheese platter. He or she will likely have a lot of great recommendations. Let them know your budget and then allow them to offer advice.
  • Always Have Honey: A drizzle of honey balances and tames the flavor of sharp cheeses that some guests might not enjoy on their own.
  • Use Plain Bread and Crackers: Avoid herb-infused or flavored breads and crackers, which can fight flavors and take away from the experience.
  • Don’t Crowd the Platter: Leave a 1-2 inch gap between items on the platter to avoid getting fingers and knuckles where they don’t belong (and possibly cut!).
  • Fruit and Nuts Are a Must: Break things up with fresh fruit like grapes, figs, apricots and dates as well as small handfuls of your favorite nuts.
  • Sweet and Savory Sides: Jams, chutneys, olives, and thinly sliced salty meats like prosciutto are also great additions to your platter.
  • Platter vs. Individual Plates: If guests are walking around, opt for a large platter from which everyone can serve themselves. If it’s a formal sit-down meal, use an individual plate for each guest.

Do you have a favorite cheese or platter tip? Share your ideas!

Image via Williams Sonoma

Oh Fudge!

Today is National Fudge Day, the day we all gather to celebrate the rich, chocolaty goodness that is known as fudge. But how will you pay homage to this perfect confection? Here are some favorite fudge recipes to inspire your day:

Instead of your morning coffee, how about morning coffee fudge?

Or swap your sandwich for Mini Mint Fudge Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Think you don’t have time for fudge? Think again. This recipe for Easy Chocolate Fudge comes together in only ten minutes!

And happy hour just got happier with fudgy Guinness Brownies.

Heat things up in the evening with a little hot fudge, because everything is better with Hot Fudge Sauce (except, perhaps, spaghetti).

Or, cool things down with some Homemade Fudge Pops, the perfect treat on a summer evening.

Whatever you do, enjoy your day enjoying fudge!

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