Recipe: Russian Blinis

Mrs. Fields Secrets Russian Blinis
One of the best parts of the Olympic Games is learning about different countries and cultures around the world. Since Russia is playing host this year, we’re putting together some great Russian recipes for you to try at home. Today’s recipe, the blini, has been a staple in Russian culture for generations. Similar to a crepe, but with a bit more chew and substance. This recipe is authentic and delicious, perfect for pairing with sweet toppings for a breakfast, brunch or dessert. Of course, you could also skip the sugar and wrap up savory fillings. The batter is very versatile! Try a batch and go for the gold!

Russian Blinis
adapted from Olga’s Flavor Factory

1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 cups flour
2 3/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Butter and sugar (optional)

Directions
Whisk the buttermilk, egg, salt and baking soda together in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until mixture heats until about 120 degrees, or very warm, but not burning to the touch. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and whisk flour in to create a thick batter. Pour in boiling water and quickly whisk to incorporate without getting too many lumps. Finally, stir in oil. Batter should be slightly runny, similar to pancake batter. Add more water if necessary.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium-high heat and pour about 1/2 cup of batter in the middle and turn pan to spread out as evenly and thin as possible. Allow to cook until top looks dry and full of tiny holes. Flip over and cook an additional couple of minutes. Remove from heat and immediately melt a thin layer of butter over blin and then sprinkle generously with sugar. Then, roll the blin up and serve with your favorite toppings: jam, jelly, berries, honey, syrup, peanut butter, Nutella, fresh fruit and/or cream.

Fun Facts on Olympic Eating

If you’re caught up with the rest of the world in the Olympics, here are some fun facts about what’s on the menu in Sochi for athletes and guests of the 2014 Winter Games:

  • The US Olympic team has a private chef to prepare familiar, healthy food for the athletes. Chef Allen Tran says the US athletes prefer spicy ethnic foods.
  • Mexican food is the favorite among US skiers.
  • The US brought maple syrup and Sriracha hot sauce with them for fear that it couldn’t be found locally in Sochi.
  • Inside the Olympic Park, the most popular food items are pizza, hot dogs and baked potatoes.
  • Favorite local foods in the Olympic Park are blini (buckwheat pancakes served with sour cream) and grilled shashlik (lamb kebabs).
  • Sochi is famous for a spiced meat dumpling called khinkali.
  • Craving  a Big Mac? There’s a huge McDonald’s right in central Sochi and another right on site in the Olympic Village for the athletes.
  • A favorite drink in Sochi is cha-cha, a grape vodka from Georgia that is usually illegally imported.
  • The concession stands at Olympic events sell Russian staples like cabbage coulibiac, meat coulibiac (a stuffed puffed pastry) or salmon and cream cheese bagels.
  • Snowboarder Sean White says he always eats a big steak the night before a competition.
  • After a big competition, some of the favorite “recovery foods” of Olympians are chocolate milk, pickle juice, sweet tart cherries, and beet juice.
  • The daily calorie intake for athletes varies greatly by sport. Downhill skiers need around 4000 calories per day, compared to half pipe athletes who need around 2000 calories.
  • Almonds are always on hand for snacking since they provide quick energy and protein.
  • Greek yogurt is a go-to ingredient in the Olympic diet. It’s perfect for breakfast or a snack, plus it’s a protein-rich substitute for mayo and sour cream.
  • Although sugar and candy are not a big part of Olympic diets, Chef Tran says that a box of oatmeal cookies has gone missing from his kitchen. Good to know our athletes have their cookie priorities straight!

The Best Homemade Valentine Ideas

Mrs. Fields Secrets Homemade Valentines

A homemade valentine is extra special, but doesn’t have to be extra hard. We’ve rounded up the best homemade valentine ideas on the Internet for you to try with your kids. Make them together and create some fun memories along the way!

(Clockwise from top left)
Homemade heart puzzle
 - Pretty paper, glue and scissors are all you need to get started. Try using old wallpaper sample books for interesting patterns and textures.
Handprint valentines - Super simple, but oh-so-cute, these sign language “I Love You” hands traced from your little one say so much.
Robot valentines
 - A little more time intensive, but ridiculously cute, these mini candy bars-turned-robots are a ton of fun.
iPod valentines - If you’ve got a little music lover, this valentine is perfect. Wrapped candy heart boxes with silver kisses for earbuds!
Illustrated valentines - Have your little one draw a heart design, then turn it into a coloring activity with this sweet idea.
Scratch-and-win valentines - This clever idea could be used in so many creative ways! Share a valentine wish or reveal a secret prize.
Homemade crayon hearts - Recycle your old crayon pieces in heart-shaped silicone molds, a perfectly useful valentine.
Paint strip bookmarks - A simple heart-shaped hole punch and some ribbon turns paint swatches into a sweet valentine bookmark.

And of course, we’re still partial to this idea we shared a couple of years ago…

Recipe: Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread with Dipping Sauce

Mrs. Fields Secrets Cheesy Pull-Apart BreadFebruary is all about love and this recipe will make you fall hard and fast! And even though true love can be a bit cheesy, in this case cheesy never tasted so good! This pull-apart bread fresh from the oven is so delicious, you’ll want to write it love poems, shout it from the rooftops, and whisk it away for a long evening. Enjoy it yourself or share it with someone you love. Go ahead, embrace the cheesy!

Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread with Dipping Sauce

3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups flour
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons marjoram
2 teaspoons parsley
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 bottle marinara sauce

Directions
In a large mixing bowl with a dough hook, combine brown sugar and yeast. Pour warm water on top and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until top is foamy and thick. Add salt, oil and flour, then mix until a ball of dough forms. Knead on low speed for three minutes, then transfer dough to a large cutting board and roll out into a rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into two-inch squares and allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, combine the parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, basil, marjoram and parsley. Liberally spray a bundt cake pan with non-stick spray, then drop a layer of dough squares along the bottom. Next, sprinkle two liberal spoonfuls of the parmesan mixture onto the dough, followed by a layer of shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat with additional layers of dough, parmesan mixture and cheddar cheese until the dough is used. (You should have about half of your parmesan mixture leftover.) Drizzle the warm, melted butter over the top then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. While bread is cooking, combine marinara sauce and remaining parmesan mixture in a saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally and allow the sauce to thicken and reduce while the bread bakes.

Once the bread is out of the oven, allow it to sit for a few minutes before transferring to a serving plate. Serve warm with warm dipping sauce.

 

Giveaway: Your Worst Date in Three Words

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, there is much talk about hearts a-flutter and eternal flames, but what about the sometimes hilarious heartaches it takes to get there? Today’s giveaway is your chance to share your favorite stories from your worst dates, but here’s the challenge: you’ve got to do it in three words. So, whether it was “spandex, dandruff, halitosis” or “sneezer, geezer, teaser” or “mother came with,” we want to hear all about it!

And it won’t be for nothing! We’re awarding three great prizes to ease the pain of three unlucky-in-love blog readers:

Sweet Heart Box

Valentine Keepsake Box

Valentine’s Tin

Here’s how you play: Leave a comment describing your worst date ever in only three words, no more, no less! We’ll select three of our favorites and award them with the prizes, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

And now, we have three words for you: Enter to win!

Fine print: Must be 18 years old to enter and a resident of the continental United States. Entries accepted until midnight, Sunday, February 9, 2014. Winners will be chosen and notified via email.

{Image via theQuestionable}

Valentine’s Catalog Preview + Early Bird Discount

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 7.24.00 AM

Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day is only a couple of weeks away. If one of your new year’s resolutions was to be more organized, why not take a moment to browse our amazing Valentine gift ideas and get your gift ordered today? With Mrs. Fields, you select the delivery date, so you can order early, have it delivered exactly when you want it, and forget about it. Plus, we’ve got an early bird discount to sweeten the deal! (See below) But first, here are some of my favorite picks from our current Valentine’s Day catalog:

Sweet Heart Box

The variety in our Sweet Heart Box is unbelievable! Bite-sized cookies and brownies along with frosted cookies and our delicious new raspberry bark. This is a gift for those who like to mix it up a little!

Little Bits of Love Box

Our Little Bits of Love Box is a perfect offering for new love, true love, or even a secret admirer. It’s just the right size and full of our favorite flavors!

Love Monkey

Sweethearts tend to share pet names, but now you can share our Love Monkey with your own Love Monkey. He shows up with an armful of our favorite cookies!

Valentine’s Combo Tins

Few things make someone’s heart swell like the sight of a Mrs. Fields tin. We’ve got Valentine’s Combo Tins in a variety of sizes and contents, so that you can give your special valentine exactly what she wants!

Valentine’s Heart Big Cookie Cake

Our Big Cookie Cakes are a favorite for special occasions, but our heart-shaped Valentine Big Cookie Cake is a perfect for this special occasion. Plus, you can have your own personal message written on the cake, up to 20 characters.

“Owl” Always Love You Box

With moving wings, our “Owl” Always Love You Box is a fun and thoughtful gift, for a valentine or even for your kids. The box can become a special decoration for years to come.

You can shop all of our valentine gifts online and request your own catalog too. As mentioned, blog readers enjoy a 15% discount off their entire order by using code 14AEL at checkout. (Offer good until February 12, 2014.)

Recipe: Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Mrs. Fields Secrets Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Looking for the perfect salsa for the Big Game? This salsa is my absolute favorite, go-to pick for game days. This salsa has big, bold flavors,  great texture and scores big with every crowd! Put it together a couple hours before and let the flavors marry, and serve with a fresh bag of chips. No matter the final score, you’ll be the winner.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

1 lime
honey (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon spicy season salt
1 red onion
3 fresh corn cobs or 2 cans of sweet corn
2 cans black beans
3 tomatoes, diced
2-3 avocados, diced
1 bunch cilantro

Directions
Juice the lime and add equal part honey. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and season salt, then whisk until well combined. Pour into a large serving bowl. Dice red onion and add to the dressing, letting it marinate a bit while you prepare the other ingredients. (This will help take any sharp flavor our of the onion.) Cut the corn off the cobs and add to the serving bowl. Rinse and drain black beans before adding to the bowl, followed by diced tomatoes and avocados. Finally, take a large handful of cleaned, fresh cilantro, and chop it up before adding it to the bowl. Stir everything together and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve with chips.

Glow in the Dark Bathwater

Mrs. Fields Secrets Glowing Bathwater
Have you ever heard of glowing bath water? This is such a fun idea that could brighten up bath time for your little ones, or even serve as a romantic surprise for your valentine. This idea is completely safe, non-toxic, non-messy and only requires two simple items to make it happen. Here’s what you’ll need:

Glowing Bath Water
from Growing a Jeweled Rose

1 black light bulb (or more, depending on bathroom lighting)
1 (2 liter) bottle of tonic water

Directions
Replace the bathroom light bulb or lamp with a black bulb (or bring a lamp into the bathroom to use the black bulb). Fill the bathtub with water, adding the bottle of tonic water as you fill. The water will glow a brilliant neon blue!

HINT: Use sponges or brushes to “paint” glowing designs or words on shower walls.

How to Care for Your Winter Wear

A great way to wash away the winter blues is to give your winter wear a good cleaning. Freshening up your coats, jackets and scarves will help everything feel more sunny. Here are some great tips to care for your winter clothing:

Down-filled Coats and Parkas: Always follow the cleaning instructions on the inside labels of your coats. Most down-filled coats can be machine washed. Pop three fresh tennis balls into the dryer with the coat, which will help keep the feathers evenly distributed as they dry. For good measure, give heavy coats two full cycles in the dryer to insure that the inside down is thoroughly dry and fluffy.

Wool Coats: Brush coats with a stiff brush to loosen and remove thin layers of dirt and grime. A lint roller will remove threads and pet hair, and at least once a season, treat your wool coat to a trip to the dry cleaner.

Fleece Jackets and Coats: This fabric absorbs more, so it will need more frequent washings. To keep fleece fabrics from pilling, wash it inside out on a delicate cycle and then line dry.

Leather Coats and Jackets: Leather is durable and shouldn’t need more than one dry cleaning per year (the end of the season is a good idea). Spot clean leather with a rag and leather conditioner. For suede, spot clean with a dry, stiff brush. Avoid using water, which will stain leather that is untreated.

Scarves, Gloves, and Knit Hats: Because these items have the most contact with your face, they are likely the dirtiest of your winter wear. A weekly washing will help keep them fresh, and keep you healthier too by washing away winter germs.

Sweaters: Wool sweaters need very little washing since the fibers naturally repel dirt and water, not to mention that the texture encourages the use of an undershirt. One cleaning per season will suffice. Cotton, cashmere and silk sweaters should only be washed after every three or four uses.

A NOTE ON COATS: One of the easiest ways to keep winter coats smelling fresh is to allow them to “breathe” after a wearing. Don’t shove them in a crowded, dark coat closet. let them air out on the back of a chair or on a coat rack. The natural air flow in the room will help carry away odors and moisture that can otherwise get trapped.

{Image via Pinterest.}

Try New Silk Vanilla Fro-Yo at TCBY

Mrs. Fields Secrets TCBY Silk Vanilla
Very exciting news! Today at TCBY you’ll find the latest in our collaboration with Silk Almond Milk: TCBY Silk Vanilla! Created from popular demand, this rich, delicious treat made with Silk Almond milk sports some incredible stats:

  • Dairy-free
  • 110 calories per serving
  • Made with all natural ingredients
  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Excellent source of fiber
  • Low fat
  • Cholesterol free
  • Low sodium
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Delicious vanilla flavor from real vanilla plant

This is truly a treat for everyone. Stop in at a TCBY today and try something silky!

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