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Holiday Baking Means Family Memories (and a Spode Giveaway)

Alexandra Williams, MA
My sister Stephanie

My sister Stephanie

My older sister Stephanie loved to bake. That’s written in the past tense, not because she quit baking, but because she died seven years ago. During my 20s and then in my 30s when my boys were small, she’d host Christmas dinner at her house.

She was proud of several things during the holidays – her baking skills, her auntie skills (she was very loving to my boys), and her extensive collection of Spode Christmas china. She was easy to shop for – whatever was new that year in the collection!!

One thing she baked that I requested regularly was her sun-dried tomato rolls with garlic treatment. That’s what she called them, but I don’t know if that was the official recipe title or her own description.

All the ingredients for something delicious.

All the ingredients for something delicious.

Of five kids, Stephanie and I are the only two who became fond of baking. We actually enjoyed talking about ingredients and recipes, which always amused our other siblings. Since she died, I haven’t had her rolls because making them myself wouldn’t be the same as having the ones she made particularly for me. Besides, mine wouldn’t turn out as well. Happy memories always taste best!

Sun-Dried Tomato Rolls with Garlic Recipe

I want to share a recipe I found online that looks to be very close to my memory of the rolls. For all I know, it’s the exact same recipe. It’s from Epicurious, and the baker is erobertson11746.


1 envelope dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup tomato juice room temperature
6 tablespoons olive oil or oil from sun dried tomatoes
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped oil packed sun dried tomatoes
Garlic oil:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic pressed


Sprinkle yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar over warm water in small bowl. Stir to disslove. Let yeast mixture stand until foamy about 10 minutes.
Combine remaining sugar tomato juice oil eggs and slat in a large bowl. Add 1 cup flour and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes. Add yeast mixture, basil and tomatoes. Mix in enough flour 1/2 cup at a time to form soft dough. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary about 5 minutes. (dough will be slightly sticky)
Put dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap Let dough rise in warm area until doubled about 1 hour.
For garlic oil:
Lightly grease muffin cups. Gently punch dough down. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into balls pulling edges under to create smooth top. Place rolls rounded side up in prepared cups. Using floured scissors snip 1/2 inch deep X into top of each roll. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm draft free area until doubled in size about 20 minutes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Gently brush rolls with garlic oil. bake until golden brown about 20 minutes. Remove rolls from oven and brush again with garlic oil. Transfer rolls to rack and cool slightly before serving.

Makes 12 rolls

Spode Nesting Christmas Cake Tins by Portmeirion Group Giveaway

You Can Win One of These!

You Can Win One of These!

Also, in the spirit of passing along the happiness that comes with family traditions, we are sharing 3 sets of the Spode (by Portmeirion Group) Nesting Cake tins. You can give them away full of holiday treats or keep them for yourself – up to you! I’ve been known to put potpourri in them, which is about as craft-creative as I get!

Since my sister Stephanie was the only person I knew who collected Christmas Spode, I like being able to share these; it feels like I’m sending little memories of her. And the winners can start their own memories of holiday happiness and family!

We’ll randomly choose three winners, who will each get a set of the 3 Spode nesting tins. Winner must have a United States mailing address. We will notify the winners via email or social media. If any winner doesn’t claim the prize within 48 hours, we will randomly draw a new winner. The giveaway ends at midnight December 09 so enter  below. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photo credits:, the author, Portmeirion Group.

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About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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24 Responses to Holiday Baking Means Family Memories (and a Spode Giveaway)

  1. Jody - Fit at 56 November 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    I send you HUGS!!!!!!!!! It is really so hard losing loved ones!!!! Those rolls sound amazing!

    Just being together for us was the thing. My parents were such great cooks – I miss them & alll of the family fun we had!
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted..Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Happy ThanksgivukkahMy Profile

  2. Melissa November 29, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    I’m very sorry about your loss.
    My favorite family recipe is my grandmother’s pumpkin bread. It’s perfectly sweet and savory at the same time, and I always try my hardest to recreate it for Thanksgiving. I did get a little closer this year!

  3. Pati R November 30, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    I was very touched by your story about Stephanie, the loss of a sibling and keeping her memory alive. I remember her baking, and in her tradition, I’m making pumpkin walnut muffins this morning. Your story is another reminder to appreciate, show kindness and love to those we care for in our lives. OK, and to be kind to those who cross our paths! OX Pati
    Pati R recently posted..Can Walking Really Get You to Your (Fit) Destination?My Profile

  4. Connie November 30, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    What a fun post and a touching tribute to Stephanie. I too love to bake and I’ll have to give these sun dried tomato rolls with garlic treatment a try.

    Connie :)
    Connie recently posted..Be Inspired to Age Actively: Deborah Szekely at 91My Profile

  5. Cathie November 30, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Anything Pumpkin!!

  6. Tamara November 30, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Beautiful tribute to your sister! I’m sad that Alexandra lost her baking buddy :(
    The recipe looks delish! I will enter your giveaway and use YOUR address as my US address (since I’ll be seeing you soon)
    Tamara recently posted..The Lifestyle Accountability Show | healthy living podcasts you can cook and clean toMy Profile

  7. April Durrett November 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    I loved reading about your special baking bond with your sister. We always made snowball cookies.

  8. GiGi Eats Celebrities November 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxo!!!!! I completely understand what you mean when you say you cannot recreate her recipes – While my father is still alive (and I cherish every moment with him), he has a few recipes that I myself cannot remake when I am in Los Angeles and not with him. I know I would never be able to make them as good, and I would almost feel like a disappointment, LOL!

    That being said, I do really LOVE the memories that cooking and family gathers bring and create! Happy Holidays :)
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..A Thanksgiving TaleMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit December 1, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

      I totally agree with you GiGi. My Dad remarried when I was already an adult, and I now have a step-sister who loves to bake. We now have “our” holiday traditions together – we bake & cook up certain items every year, then go for a walk together. I love establishing family traditions with food.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Baking and Cooking in Seattle with MieleMy Profile

  9. mysweetiepiepie November 30, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Baking and decorating cookies is my favorite holiday tradition.

    But I had no idea that I was a Boom-Chicka-Boomer until today.

    Good to know… no matter how much recognizing high school photos such as your’s makes me cringe at the thought of my own (very similar) high school photos :+)

  10. Risa December 1, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Just a week ago, I was looking through my Thanksgiving recipes and found one in my friend Carol’s handwriting. Herb rolls. Delicious. She died two years ago, but slipped away from Alzheimer’s several years before. Your post reminded me that recipes and their association with the person who gave it to us are forever linked.
    Risa recently posted..OK, December: Bring it!My Profile

  11. Arpi Nalbandian December 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    I lost my mother nearly 13 years ago. I was blessed to find her hand-written recipes from the old country, which I now use to cook with and be inspired by for my family.

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story!

  12. Vunda V December 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    i ALWAYS make a raspberry chocolate cheesecake for the holidays

  13. Vera K December 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    My daughter and I make a gingerbread house.

  14. Carla S December 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    My favorite family recipes are southern style macaroni and cheese and gingerbread.

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