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Mrs. Fields' cookies at homeIf the very...


Mrs. Fields' cookies at home

If the very words "Mrs. Fields' Cookies" on a store window make your mouth water, there's now a way to get that cookie fix without leaving home -- you can bake them yourself, using any of the more than 100 recipes in the new "Mrs. Fields Cookie Book," (Time/Life Books, 1992, $12.95 paperback).

There really is a Mrs. Fields -- Debbi Fields, who was a California housewife when she opened the first Mrs. Fields' shop in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1977. Now she lives in Utah and manages an empire of more than 500 cookie outlets in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Canada, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Besides the recipes, the book includes illustrated tips and an informative introduction. A sample: "I use the touch method to know when my cookies are finished baking. When you open the oven door and pull out the baking sheet, touch the cookie lightly. If it sinks, it's obviously underbaked. If it's hard as a rock, you've overbaked it. But if the cookie has spring to it, and you can move it a bit, the cookie is perfect."

Here's a sample recipe from the book:

Sweetie pies

Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3/4 cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (3 ounces) white chocolate chips

1/4 cup (1.5 ounces) milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with waxed paper.

In a double boiler melt the unsweetened chocolate and the first batch of chocolate chips. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon or wire whisk until creamy and smooth.

Pour melted chocolate into a large bowl. Add butter and beat with electric mixer until thoroughly combined.

Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well-blended. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Add the flour and the three types of chocolate chips. Mix at low speed just until combined. Chips should be equally distributed throughout the dough.

Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place dough balls on paper-lined pans, 2 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, flatten each ball to 1/2 -inch thickness.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

A lot of things have changed in the 20 years since the first National Beef Cookoff was held in 1974 . . . when Gerald Ford was president, women had just begun to enter the labor market in huge numbers and the average fat trim on cuts of beef was 1/2 to 3/4 inches.

Reflecting lifestyle changes that have left families with little time for leisurely meals, this year's beef cook-off features three new categories for entrees: "Beef for Entertaining"; "Fast, Flavorful Beef"; and "Budget-Wise Beef Entrees." Only original, main dish recipes will be considered and the meat ingredient must be exclusively beef. Entries will be judged on taste, ease of preparation, overall appeal and appearance. All entries must be postmarked by Dec. 31, 1992, and received by Jan. 8, 1993. Prizes will be awarded at the cook-off finals in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Sept. 13, 1993.

If you're thinking of entering, here are some tips, based on previous cook-offs:

*Beginners take heart: 90 percent of those who have won or received an honorable mention were first-time cook-off contestants.

*More men are contenders: In the '70s, men made up only about 7 percent of contestants, but in recent years almost 20 percent of the contestants have been men.

*The most popular added ingredient is the onion, which has shown up in 78 percent of award-winning dishes.

*The typical preparation time is one hour from start to finish (20 years ago it was a whopping 2 hours 45 minutes!).

The contest, sponsored by the American National CattleWomen Inc., an industry group, in cooperation with the Beef Industry Council and the Cattlemen's Beef Board, is open to amateur chefs 18 or older living in the United States, a U.S. territory, or with APO/FPO address. For a copy of the entry form with contest rules, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-sized, envelope to: 1993 National Beef Cookoff, 444 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611-9909. Or call (800) 621-7011.

Overlea to provide NFL game food

Overlea Caterers has been chosen by the Maryland Stadium Authority and Capital Center Management to provide all concessions for the National Football League exhibition game next week.

Memorial Stadium, slumbering since the Orioles moved to their new home at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, gets a major wake-up call Aug. 27, when the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints roar into town to play before a sellout crowd. It's the first NFL game in the stadium since the Colts' final season in 1983.

"We're no strangers to large concessions," says Paul Kelley, general manager of the catering division at Overlea. "We're doing their Pier 6 concerts this summer, we've done the symphony concerts at Oregon Ridge, we've done the Timonium fair."

Overlea will be offering most of the usual stadium fare, including hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled Italian sausage, beer, soda and popcorn. "We just want to make sure everything runs smoothly," Kelley says.

"Grazing," "snacking" and "mini-meals" -- quick trips to the fridge or microwave several times a day in lieu of the old-fashioned "three squares" a day -- have earned opprobrium from some in the food community as bad nutrition and bad for the social aspects of the family. But the quick-meal habit has a defender in Seattle nutritionist Hilary Truett, according to a recent press release.

"This modern eating regimen does offer significant nutritional advantages," Ms. Truett, a registered dietitian, says. "First of all, eating smaller meals throughout the day helps maintain higher energy because blood-sugar levels are being kept more steady. Also, when meals are smaller and more frequent, there is less tendency to overeat . . . You're simply not as hungry as when several hours have elapsed since the last meal."

Snacking on suitable foods -- fresh fruits and vegetables, graham crackers, and unbuttered popcorn are among suggested items -- is especially good for children and athletes, Ms. Truett says, because "both need extra energy to fuel their muscles." Studies have shown, she says, "that children get as much as 25 percent of their daily nutrients from snacking."

She suggests that parents make available a wide range of suitable snacks, and let children choose what they'd like to eat.


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