Recipe: Homemade Bread Bowls

Mrs. Fields Secrets Homemade Bread Bowls
Soup season is finally here and nothing pairs better with a steamy bowl of broth or stew or chili than a crusty, chewy bread bowl. This fun serving idea is a classic, and easier than you think to pull off! We’ve taken our favorite artisan bread recipe and transformed it into these personal-size loafs that serve as both serving dish and side dish. Try it yourself with your next favorite pot of comfort food. (Note: this recipe requires a dutch oven. If you don’t have one already, it’s time to invest. You’ll love it!)

Homemade Bread Bowls

3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups very warm water

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, stir flour, yeast, and salt together. Add the warm water and using a large spoon, stir until dough is wet and shaggy in texture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 12-18 hours. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put a dutch oven in the preheated oven and allow to heat for 30 minutes. While dutch oven is heating, scoop dough onto a floured surface and divide into three or four equal pieces, depending on the size you prefer your bread bowl. (Think four for cup-size servings and three for bowl-size.) With floured hands, shape each piece of dough into a ball, tucking any rough edges underneath.  Place plastic wrap on top and allow to sit until dutch oven is ready. Remove preheated dutch oven and, with floured hands, arrange the dough balls inside, barely touching. (Careful not to burn yourself!) Place the lid on top and put it back in the oven to bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack. Before serving, use a serrated knife to cut a cone shape into the bread. Remove the top and fill the bowl with your favorite soup and serve.

Family Costume Ideas

Dressing up for Halloween this year? Why not make it a family affair? We’ve gathered up the best of the best for family costume fun, so grab your loved ones and dress up for some unforgettable ensembles.

SHARK ATTACK: For the family who lives every week like it’s Shark Week.

STICK FIGURE FAMILY: Your favorite group from the rear window of the minivan brought to life!

SUNDAY DINNER: This super simple costume is a lot of bang for the buck.

BLT: Another food theme, this adorable family is cute enough to eat!

GILLIGAN’S ISLAND: You can’t go wrong with a classic like Gilligan’s Island, especially if you’ve been invited to a three-hour Halloween party.

101 DALMATIONS: You’ll have everyone seeing spots with this adorable crew in costumes that are surprisingly simple to pull off!

COPS & ROBBERS: The money is in the bag and it’s anybody’s guess who wins in this cops and robbers battle. (Our bet is on the cops!)

Do you have a favorite family costume idea? Share it with us on our Facebook Page!

Fall Catalog Preview + Discount

Mrs. Fields Secrets Fall 2014

Our fall catalog is hitting mailboxes, and oh what tricky treats it entails! As usual, we’ve gathered a few of our favorites from this year’s lineup to make you drool, but check out the entire catalog and order your own copy if you don’t get it already. And don’t forget to check out the exclusive discount for blog readers at the bottom of this post!

Autumn Splendor Box

The Autumn Splendor Box is an incredible combination of our original cookies, brownies, and frosted cookies. It makes an ideal hostess gift for any fall occasion!

Savor the Season Box

Our bestselling box full of bite-sized treats is dressed up in fall colors for any of your gift-giving needs. It’s an ideal thank you, even if the person who needs thanks is yourself!

Festive Fall Basket

How do we keep topping our world-famous gift baskets? With gifts like our Festive Fall Basket, that’s how! You’ll love every bite of our freshly baked cookies, and the sturdy, keepsake basket can find use after use around the house.

 

Candy Corn Caryalls

For your favorite trick-or-treater, nothing beats our Candy Corn Carryalls. They arrived filled with our favorite bite-sized cookies, and the carryall is ready for Halloween night!

 

Book of Spells

Sure to sell out, our Book of Spells is an enchanting treat and perfect party favor for your annual costume contest. Loaded with our favorite brownies and cookies, it’s bound to have everybody under its spell.

Check out the entire catalog to find your own favorites, and use code 14GTD at checkout for an exclusive discount:
10% off your purchase of $50
20% off your purchase of $75
30% off your purchase of $100.

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?

Glow in the Dark Party Ideas

Looking for a great party idea? A glow in the dark party is fun, creative, and easy to put together for kids or adults. It’s also a great alternative to a traditional Halloween costume party. The key to a glow in the dark party is a dark space, so arrange your party to start after dark or, if you need an earlier start time, opt for a basement space and darken the windows with black paper. And, of course, you’ll need to exchange regular lightbulbs with black lights (available at most box and home improvement stores). Invite guests to wear white or neon colors. Everything from the decorations to the food itself can be absolutely glowing, with these simple ideas…

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Glow rings underneath plastic plates and cups make a brilliant display for a dining table, and great ambient light during a meal.

Glow sticks inside of helium balloons make impromptu lighting. A bouquet of balloons makes a great party chandelier.

Wrap cotton candy around glow sticks for perfect party fair.

Use non-toxic neon paints and allow guests to decorate themselves and each other.

Prepare your favorite drink mix with tonic water for a delicious glowing concoction. (The quinine in the tonic water is what makes it glow – perfectly safe!)

Speaking of tonic water, use it to make glow in the dark frosting for your favorite cupcakes.

Glow in the dark duct tape (available at most craft stores) is not only great for decoration, but a good idea for outlining doors or stairs.

Make a glow in the dark Twister mat, or check out other glowing party games here.

Do you have a great glow in the dark party idea? Let us know!

25 Favorite Back to School Movies

Bake some cookies and gather the family on the couch for a movie night dedicated to our favorite back-to-school flicks!

1. Dead Poets Society
2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
3. Fame
4. The Breakfast Club
5. Footloose
6. Sixteen Candles
7. Pitch Perfect
8. 10 Things I Hate About You
9. Say Anything
10. October Sky
11. Mean Girls
12. Grease
13. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
14. Lean on Me
15. The Outsiders
16. Napoleon Dynamite
17. Clueless
18. Never Been Kissed
19. Lucas
20. Hoosiers
21. Rushmore
22. The Karate Kid
23. Stand and Deliver
24. Superbad
25. Back to the Future

Did we miss any? What’s your favorite school-themed movie?

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Yard Games for the Whole Family

Labor Day Weekend is the last hurrah of summer, so we’ve put together some great ideas to get your whole family outside for some friendly competition and lots of fun. Fire up the grill, invite some friends, and get everybody out on the lawn to get their game on.

Croquet. The best thing about playing croquet is that you can design your own course, making it as easy or difficult as you please, and perfect for players of a variety of ages and skill levels. Brush up on the rules by watching this helpful video.

Yard Yahtzee. Otherwise known as Lawn Dice Game, this outdoor game is absolutely ideal for a big group of people of all ages. You can play in teams or as individuals. Everyone will love taking a turn tossing the oversized dice and wishing for luck!

Lawn Twister. No need to drag the flimsy Twister mat outside, use a simple cardboard stencil and spray paint to create a Twister board right on the grass. (Don’t worry, it won’t damage the lawn and will only last until the next mowing.) Allow paint at least an hour to dry before playing.

Tailgate Toss. Sometimes called Corn Hole, this game is both easy and fun. A few bean bags (or corn bags, as it were) and two teams for tossing, and a little bit of luck or skill turns this simple game into hours of fun.

Bocce Ball. Despite what you might think, you don’t need an official bocce ball court made with sand or gravel. A clear, flat rectangle of grass will do just fine. All you need is a bucket of balls and a quick review of the rules, and you’re ready to play with any group and all ages.

Ladder Golf. This popular game is gaining in popularity because it is fun, mobile, and easy to play. Read up on the rules, and even make your own set for a DIY project.

Lawn Jenga. If you’ve got leftover lumber, transform it into a an outdoor Jenga tower. Pull out individual “bricks” to build the tower higher until it collapses. (This game is not recommended for small children.)

Do you have a favorite yard game? Share your ideas in the comments!

Campfire Cones

If a campfire is in your weekend plans, then so should this delicious dessert. A simple sugar cone, loaded with flavors and textures that melt and mull together to make an ooey gooey treat to share in the glow of your cozy fire. What could be better on a summer of fall evening with friends? Easy to make at the campground, in the backyard, and even on the grill. Here’s what you need to get started:

Campfire Cones
inspired by Chef Jessica Bright

aluminum foil
sharpie marker
sugar cones
mini marshmallows
mini chocolate chips
salted pretzels
fresh berries
caramel
peanut butter
chopped candy bars
bananas
pineapple chunks
maraschino cherries
chopped cookies
ice cream (optional)

Directions
Let each person fill his or her cone with desired fillings. It’s a good idea to have at least 5 or 6 mini marshmallows in the mix to melt everything together. Once full, wrap the cone completely in foil and write the person’s name on the foil. Place wrapped cone in the outer perimeter of a campfire for about 3-5 minutes, or until marshmallows are completely melted. (These also work great on a hot grill. Cook for about 3 minutes!) Serve immediately as is or with a giant scoop of hard ice cream.

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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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15 Genius Summer Party Ideas

Get your next summer party on the calendar with these genius ideas that will transform you into the host with the most. From decorations, to cooking tips, to thoughtful details that make your guests feel comfortable, these ideas will change the way you par-tay!

Clip flowers from your yard and place them under glasses with votive candles on top.  This will create a gorgeous, colorful display that takes you from daylight to night light.

 

Terra cotta pots lined with foil and filled with hot charcoal make great centerpieces and tiny s’mores stations!

Large leaves make colorful coasters for drinks.

Provide outdoor necessities your guests may have forgotten, like bug spray, sunscreen, extra sun hats or scarves.

Put glow sticks in balloons and scatter them across the yard for an illuminating display.

 

Think outside the box for serving containers. Fill a kiddie pool, wheelbarrow, or bird bath with ice and turn it into a cool drink station.

Fill water balloons and freeze them for colorful, functional ice blocks to keep food and drinks cool.

Keep bugs at bay and out of your cocktail by popping a cupcake liner on top of your cup!

Grilling burgers? Have guests write their meat preference in ketchup on their bun.

Cook kebabs more evenly by using two skewers instead of one. It will keep items from spinning or falling off.

A mini marshmallow in the bottom of an ice cream cone prevents drips!

Use colorful pots or vases to hold utensils and other party necessities. Always inventory your own stuff before buying anything new.

Tea lights inside empty jars transform into summertime lanterns. This is an incredibly simple and affordable way to add ambiance to a party. Place them on tables, along paths, and anywhere you need a little twinkle of light.

Serve summer salads or appetizers in strawberry crates. Cute, recyclable, and a perfect way to control portions.

Transform your hampers into trash and recycling bins at your party. So much prettier than regular garbage cans.

Do you have a favorite outdoor entertaining tip? Share your ideas!

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