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Apple Cinnamon Crisp

Do you ever have people coming over for breakfast, have no idea what you want to bake, then just stare into the fridge for a while until an idea comes to mind?

almond breeze vanilla almondmilkThat happened to me this morning. I knew I wanted to use the Almondmilk Hint of Honey Vanilla that Almond Breeze had sent me, but that was as far as I’d gotten. So I stared into the fridge. I did some expert rummaging about. Opened the cheese drawer, then the produce drawers. Moved stuff around a bit on the shelves in case … what … a fully cooked recipe jumped out? In any case, I finally noticed that I had a bag of apples in the crisper, so my brain went, “apples and almondmilk. Gotta be a breakfast recipe in there somewhere.”

And my brain was right. I ended up baking a super delicious apple cinnamon crumble. My brain even figured out a way to call it health food, as it also had oats. My brain is quite flexible in its decisions prior to breakfast. Or any meal.

What do you think of my twist on the basic crumble?

Apple Cinnamon Crumble

6-8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup Almond Breeze Almondmilk Hint of Honey Vanilla
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup rolled oats
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
7 Tbls softened butter

Put the peeled, cored and sliced apples into a shallow pan or dish and spread them out. Pour the almondmilk over the apples, and let them soak in it for about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375?

Blend the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender (or rub in with your fingers), add in the butter until your mixture is crumbly.

Pour out any remaining liquid from the soaking apples, then spread them evenly into a lightly buttered 8 X 13-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the apples, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

apple cinnamon crisp with apples soaked in honey vanilla almond milkServe the crumble warm, with a glass of cold almondmilk.

Don’t forget to put apples on the shopping list in case you just used up the whole bag (as I did).

by Alexandra Williams, MA

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.


Bunny-Shaped Dinner Rolls Recipe

Alexandra Williams, MA

cinnamon sugar bunny dinner rollsSpringtime is a time for baking, which includes bunnies. Not real ones; dinner rolls! You knew that of course. At about the same time Blue Diamond sent me Honey Cinnamon almonds (and Honey Dijon almonds), a friend sent me a picture of rabbit rolls, knowing my love of “creative” baking. Voila! I created Cinnamon Sugar Bunny Rolls.

These rolls are a great place to start if you’re new to using yeast. Or scissors!

I adapted a recipe found in “New Complete Book of Breads.”

1 egg, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ cup mashed potato or reconstituted potato flour
¾ cup milk, room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ oz (1 pkg) yeast
1 can Blue Diamond Honey Cinnamon Almonds
3 Tbs melted butter
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top

In a mixer, blend the egg and sugar. Add the potato, milk, softened butter, and salt. Mix together. Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast, and mix for one minute. Gradually add the rest of the flour, using the dough hook (if you have one; otherwise by hand).
When the dough comes clean off the sides of the bowl (add flour if necessary) and forms a ball around the dough hook (about 5 minutes), cover the bowl and put in a warm place to rise until it’s doubled in size (45-90 minutes).

dinner roll dough log
Once the dough has doubled, cut it in half and form into two 12-inch logs. Cut each log into 12 pieces, rolling each piece into an oval. Using kitchen shears, cut two ears into each roll. As you probably don’t want your bunnies to look like goblins, I recommend you blunt the pointy tips of the ears. Brush the rolls with the melted butter, cover with wax paper and leave them for a second rising until they’ve doubled (about 30 minutes).
rising bunny rolls with Blue Diamond almond tails
While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 400º, then turn it down to 350º after you put the rolls in. Just before you put them into the oven, stick one almond into each bunny as a tail, then sprinkle the rolls with cinnamon sugar. Stick the almond tails in deep enough that they don’t come out during baking. A few of mine kind of squeezed partway out, which caused my boys to make quite a few NSFW jokes about the bunny butts. Bake 10-12 minutes. Makes 24 rolls.baked bunny roll with Blue Diamond Honey Cinnamon almond tails
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds, which is a partnership I’m proud of.


Coffee Brownies

Alexandra Williams, MA

Are you one of the kabillion people who likes coffee and chocolate? If so, you will want to bake this coffee brownie recipe (or at least lick the computer screen).

pic of coffee brownie

My life for the past month has been highly stressful due to family medical issues, so one of the ways I de-stress is to bake (which would explain last week’s post about vanilla sugar cinnamon rolls).

A few of the commenters for that post noted that cinnamon rolls didn’t seem like a health food, so I will address that issue while I’m here a’bakin’. For some people, sugar or butter might be an issue. For others, the calories. And there are many people who cannot have flour. For those people it’s true that cinnamon rolls might not be a healthy choice. I am lucky because I have no food allergies, and can eat anything I want (I do not EVER want Marmite or Bovril). I am also realistic about knowing that most people do better with a variety of foods that include items such as rolls or brownies. By “better” I mean they will have a healthier overall diet if they approach food from a “choice” rather than “restrictive” perspective. We never want anything more than the one thing we’re told not to have. As we teach and preach, most foods are okay for most people most of the time in moderation.

I say this not in defense or to persuade you to eat fake food made of nasty ingredients (calling your name Twinkies); just to explain why I think my homemade, organic ingredient cinnamon rolls are so super delicious and belong on our healthy aging blog.

Sadly, the rolls are all gone. And my son brought his new girlfriend over for the first time. And he and she both love chocolate. Beloved son + new girlfriend + chocolate + need to de-stress = coffee brownies. I tweaked a recipe from “Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.”

recipe for coffee browniesCoffee Brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter (I use Organic Valley)
3 large eggs (we raise chickens, so we have a direct supplier)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (I use Fair Trade Nielsen Massey)
½ tsp almond extract (I squeeze unsuspecting almonds till they sweat, then gather it)
1/8 tsp salt
4 tsp dry instant espresso powder (I use King Arthur – don’t use granular instant coffee unless you like crunchy blobs of coffee stuck to your teeth)
2 ¾ cups granulated sugar (I use Wholesome Organic Raw Cane)
½ cup all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur or Hodgson Mill Organic Naturally White Unbleached)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (King Arthur or Hodgson Mill)

pic of chocolate-coffee browniePreheat oven to 425°. Line an 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper (or just butter a glass pan).
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside when melted.
Beat the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt, coffee, and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes (no, it’s not a typo). On low speed add the chocolate mixture and beat just till mixed. Then add the flours and beat again just till mixed.
Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The crust will be crispy, while a toothpick inserted into the center will come out a little wet, but these babies are DONE. Let them stand (or sit in the fridge) for 6-8 hours before serving. Of course, I didn’t follow that advice. I served them an hour after baking and no-one died or complained. But waiting patiently does make them easier to cut. Whatever.

P.S. The whole wheat flour makes them magically extra healthy. And if you break one in two, half the calories fall out. This is due to sciencey science. Sort of like truthiness, but more fat-free.

While on the topic of health, we have a giveaway that ends soon. Five people will win all of these prizes from Garden of Life. They are leaders in being USDA Organic Certified and Non-GMO, so we extra-special like them, and so will you.

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Vanilla Sugar Cinnamon Rolls

Alexandra Williams, MA

Nielsen Massey sent me some vanilla sugar so I decided to make cinnamon rolls. They were delectable. I tweaked a King Arthur Flour recipe to create these. One person is going to win some N-M vanilla sugar along with a 2 ounce bottle of vanilla, so you can recreate this recipe to your heart’s tongue’s content.
picture of Nielsen Massey vanillas


½ cup sourdough starter

¾ cups lukewarm water

1 tsp instant yeast

1 ½ tsp sugar

1 ¼ tsp salt

2 ½ cups unbleached flour

Combine all the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough. Cover and let rise till doubled in size.


¼ cup (2 oz) soft butter (I use Organic Valley)

¾ cup vanilla sugar mixed with 1 Tbl cinnamon

After the dough has doubled, roll it out to an 11 X 16 rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over it, leaving the sides and long edge away from you free of the mix so it doesn’t all squish out when you roll up the dough. Roll up the dough into a long log, starting with the long edge near you.

Use a serrated knife to gently cut the dough into 12 pieces, and place them into a lightly greased 9 X 13 pan. Cover and let rise for 30 – 45 minutes (longer and in the fridge for part of the time if you want the sourdough flavor). While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the rolls for 20 – 25 minutes. If you want icing, mix 3 Tbl heavy cream with 1 cup powdered sugar and pour over warm (not hot) rolls.

I used sourdough for this recipe simply because I had a lot of starters in my fridge, and I knew the strong flavor wouldn’t come out, as I didn’t let the dough rise very long. If you want the sourdough flavor to come through, let the dough sit longer.

picture of vanilla sugar cinnamon rolls

If you want to enter for a chance to win a bottle of Nielsen Massey vanilla sugar (you must have a U.S. mailing address  – no P.O. boxes), plus a 2 ounce bottle of vanilla, follow the entry instructions below.

As I’m taking a photography class, you get the benefit of my food photo attempts.

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Blue Diamond is my Golden Egg, or How I Made an Easter Coffeecake Using Coffee Almonds

Alexandra Williams, MA

Disclosure:I have been a long-time fan of Blue Diamond almonds. Because of this, I was asked to write a sponsored post for them. My opinions are all my own, as are my recipe fails & successes. You are welcome to both!

Golden Beehive Bread

Golden Beehive Basket with Golden Eggs (Bacon Buns)

Two baking events occurred recently. One: my brother-in-law gave me a bread cookbook that had been my older sister’s. Two: Blue Diamond sent me a package of almonds and crackers.

To honor my sister’s love of baking, I decided to use some of the recipes for our family’s Easter get-together. My way of choosing recipes seems to follow a specific pattern of questions I ask myself:

* what recipe looks potentially tasty for whomever the bread is intended
* what ingredients do I have in the house (or am I trying to use up), and
* do I have the skills (or time) for that recipe?

Easter Bake-A-Thon Time

Since I had lots of ingredients in the house, and a variety of people coming, I chose the most time-consuming, foolish, logical path and decided to make five different items in one day!

pic of Onion-Nut, and Multi-Grain bread

Top: Onion Bread
Bottom: Multi-Grain Whole Wheat


Lithuanian Ausytes: Bacon, and Jam filled

Ausytes: Lithuanian Jam Buns


Bacon Buns

Ausytes: Lithuanian Bacon Buns



Easter bread basket, also known as golden beehive

Beehive Bread – Turn it upside down – Voila: Easter Basket

Blue Diamond Coffee Almonds

Add to Brown Sugar & Cinnamon and Chop to Make Coffeecake Topping


















I’ll focus on the coffeecake, as that’s the one where I felt super relatively creative when I switched out some of the chopped plain almonds for the Blue Diamond coffee almonds in the topping. If you like coffee or mocha, you might try this idea in some of your recipes.

Even though it was more work than I anticipated (it always is), I am so glad I went to the trouble of baking so many things from my sister’s cookbook. She died 8 years ago, and I think and hope it made my brother-in-law happy to see her love of baking passed along through her book. Blue Diamond’s theme for the Spring is “Get Your Good Going,” and my way of doing that was to show love to my family through my baking creations.

My sister would have especially enjoyed the beehive basket. Even more so, she would have enjoyed watching my boys hunt for their Easter baskets. When we were kids, she’d bribe us to find her basket for her. For her, the thrill was definitely NOT in the hunt. She just wanted the candy.

P.S. The golden egg in this story is the cookbook, as every single thing I made turned out perfectly. There is no goose or moral, except the one that comes right… about… now…
However you show love, do that today.

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How Duff Goldman, Pompeian Oil and I Teamed Up To Donate $5000 to the Foodbank

Alexandra Williams, MA
Tweet from Duff Goldman re: Bake4Better contest

The tweet Duff Wrote Just for Me!

The Santa Barbara Foodbank is $5000 richer, thanks to a contest I won that was sponsored by Pompeian Oil, and judged by celebrity chef Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes fame.

I’m not a professional baker, and definitely not a pro photographer, so how did I beat out everyone else for the chance to donate $5000 to the foodbank of my choice?

1. I followed the rules. Really, that counts. I saw some of the other entries, and they didn’t follow the rules (Create and post an original photograph that features the Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray bottle using the #Bake4Better hashtag and tagging @Pompeian). There were other criteria, such as ownership of the photo, using other brands in the photo, inappropriate themes, and so on, but nothing difficult.

2. We were judged in three categories: Originality/Creativity, Use of the Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray in the photograph, and Quality of photograph. I am pretty certain I won based on the first two. What do you think – creative or no?

Alexandra's entry to the Pompeian Contest

The Winning Entry

3. Fewer than 50 people entered. I know. Sad, isn’t it? So few entries for such an amazing prize. And of those 50,  take a look and you’ll see how few actually had the oil in the picture (one of the rules).

Enough about me; let’s talk about the foodbank. I happen to be in Santa Barbara, which is one of the loveliest towns in the U.S. (and most expensive, I think). This means a lot of people might assume we are all rich. Hahahahahahahahahah. Okay, let me stop laughing while I go weep over my property tax bill. I actually think S.B. is like many towns in that hunger is invisible to many.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, food is a basic necessity; without it we cannot grow and develop. This is both metaphorical and literal, especially for children. I think we adults have a moral obligation to ensure that all children get a fair crack at growing and developing.

Purpose of Foodbanks

The mission of the Santa Barbara Foodbank is “to provide nourishment to those in need by acquiring and distributing safe nutritious foods via local agencies and providing education to solve hunger and nutrition problems in Santa Barbara County.” This is probably similar to the mission statement of your local foodbank.

picture of Santa Barbara Foodbank workers

Fresh Food for the Foodbank
Photo credit: S.B. Foodbank

When I saw the contest, I thought, “I probably won’t win because I’m not a good photographer, but I might as well try because I might get lucky.” Not only did I get lucky, it turns out the $5000 has some excellent math behind it. According to the letter I received from the foodbank’s development coordinator, “Every dollar we receive is leveraged into $17 worth of nutritious food to build strong, healthy kids and families in our community. So the $5,000 that Hunter Publication (Pompeian Oil) awarded the Foodbank translates into $85,000 worth of food. Just incredible!”

And incredible is how I feel. If I had donated from my own money, it would have been about $20. For spending about 20 minutes of my time taking pictures, making the collage, and submitting my entry, I got $85,000 worth of “good feeling.”

Giving Improves Your Health

The point of my tale? To encourage you to enter these types of contests. Whether you’re a blogger, baker, Instagrammer, photographer, or even Google+ lover, give it a go. Even if you don’t win, you’ll feel good inside. Altruism has so many benefits, with research indicating that for the donor, “giving help was more significantly associated with better mental health than was receiving help.”

As a friend of mine from church loves to say, “Give till it helps.”

Want to give us some love? Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.



Holiday Food Gift Guide & Giveaway

Alexandra Williams, MA

Disclosure: This is a 100% unsponsored post! Organic, natural and unfiltered, just like our opinions. We made our list, then contacted the various companies. They were generous enough to offer prizes!

Just as with the first 11 months of the year, it’s important what you eat during the holiday season. Maybe even more so, because the amounts tend to increase (yeah, I know about second helpings and cookie swaps)!

brownie mix KAFIf you’ve been following Kymberly and me for a while, especially on our social media accounts, you already know from our pictures which brands we use consistently. But it’s December, and your minds are occupied with all kinds of details, so I’m making a handy little list for you of some of my favorite, recommended food brands.

These companies have ingredients we trust and recognize, good customer service, and they taste good. What more could you ask from your food except for it to bake itself?! Oh, and while we’re at it, we have a bunch of prizes to share. Good food and gifts. Perfect for the time of year, wouldn’t you say?

Blue Diamond Almond Snack PacksBlue Diamond

Almonds are known to have a beneficial effect on diabetes, weight management, and heart health. Whether you want them as a snack, baked into a stollen, or as milk for a morning smoothie, Blue Diamond has almonds for you. I happen to love almonds in every form (except marzipan), so I’ve made it a habit to grab a handful whenever I need a quick snack, as opposed to grabbing some, er, dare I say it, junk food! To showcase some of the variety, five people will win a set of almond snacks that range from “of course” to “wow, I never thought of THAT flavor!” You could receive the following set:

3- 1.5oz Whole Natural
3- 1.5oz Roasted Salted
1- 1.5oz Blueberry
1- 1.5oz Strawberry
1- 1.5oz Mocha
1- 1.5oz Caramel Macchiato

Organic Valley EggnogOrganic Valley

I bake. A lot. Mostly bread. I love baking AND eating well-made bread. And pancakes, cookies, French toast, cakes, scones, toast. etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (I’m quoting Yul Bryner in “The King and I). You don’t have to be a baker to buy quality dairy ingredients; all supporters of organic, non-GMO food that comes from family-owned farms will want the OV (see how we’re on nickname terms there?) products. And December 24th is eggnog day, so I’ll highlight it. “Organic Valley eggnog is made from fresh organic milk, cream and eggs from family farms, committed to the highest organic standards along with organic and fair-trade sugar, vanilla and nutmeg.” Five of you will win a $10 coupon from Organic Valley to try the eggnog or any other OV product you choose. Did I mention their Organic Prairie division produces bacon to go with that eggnog? Yeah, I’m a vegetarian, but what do you think I buy for my boys?

Peanut Butter Co. Six PackPeanut Butter & Co

Quick, of their ten flavors, which one is my favorite? This question is easy for all my Instagram followers, as I’ve shown the White Chocolate Wonderful enough to make my niece-in-law threaten to rob me! From using The Heat is On in Thai sauces, to baking Peanut Butter Banana and Pumpkin Monkey Bread with Smooth Operator, this stuff is delicious. One of you will win The Big Six case, which contains 1 jar each of Smooth Operator, Crunch Time, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, The Heat Is On, White Chocolate Wonderful, and Dark Chocolate Dreams.

Buckwheat & Hemp and Uncle Sam OriginalAttune Foods

Yummy, healthy cereals with very few ingredients, this company has been non-GMO since 1908! From the supergrain, four ingredient Uncle Sam Rye & Hemp cereal, to the Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice with Mixed Berries, the cereals are tastiness in a healthy package. One person will win a #FitClean cereal package set of the Uncle Sam Original, Uncle Sam Rye & Hemp, and Erewhon Buckwheat and Hemp.


KAF ingredients: Fiore di Sicilia & Callebaut chcoclateKing Arthur Flour

Baking ingredients and mixes to infinity and beyond!! Just for flour they have 63 choices! My all time favorite product is the 25 pound bag of all purpose flour, especially now that it’s cookie-baking season. One person will get a head start on baking with this baker’s gift set:

5lb bag of All Purpose flour OR 1 24oz box Gluten Free Baking mix
1 lb bag Barry Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chunks
-1oz Pure Vanilla
-1oz Fiori Di Sicilia
-1 box Brownie mix OR 1 box Gluten Free Brownie mix

Miele Combi-OvenMiele

Where will you bake and cook all your splendericious, tasterific creations? Maybe on a Miele Combi-Oven! Sadly I don’t own one, but I fell in love with this oven when I went on a blogger trip to the Miele test kitchen in Seattle. As the name implies, it’s a combination steam and convection oven. Everything we made turned out perfectly, possibly because the oven computer program is smarter than the non-cooks in the Seattle group! If you are planning to splurge this season, this oven is splurgerific!

Giveaway Rules

We’ll randomly choose five Blue Diamond Almond winners, five Organic Valley winners, one Peanut Butter & Co. winner, one Attune Foods winner, and one KAF winner. Winners 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 begins now and ends at midnight December 17. Good luck!!
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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!!

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Photo credits: MorgueFile.com, the author, Portmeirion Group.

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Baking and Cooking in Seattle with Miele

Alexandra Williams, MA

First-Class Treatment from a First-Class Company

Miele Combi-Steam OvenLast week I was one of eight bloggers invited to Seattle to learn about the Miele Combi-Steam Oven. But this was not a “come to a demo of our oven” trip, noooooooo. It was a “let’s treat you as an esteemed visitor to the city and our gallery slash showroom slash demo kitchen slash restaurant” kind of trip.

Indulge me while we start at the start. In January 2013 I was part of the Modenus BlogTour to Cologne. Miele was one of the sponsors, so I learned all about their original steam oven, as well as their super-intelligent coffeemakers. Perhaps when Miele learned I had stowed away inside their booth (they had food, unlimited coffee and wifi), they decided I might be a good candidate for the Seattle junket (come on, who doesn’t want an excuse to say “junket?”). Or perhaps my famous bread-baking skills persuaded them to invite me  (I am taking license with the word “skills”).

Day One with Miele

The TV screen Welcomed me by Name. Gifts from the Hotel and Miele Awaited.

I flew into Sea-Tac airport to find my driver awaiting me. He drove me to the luxury Hotel 1000. Note the word “luxury” there. It permeated the weekend. We met up as a group for dinner at Altura Italian restaurant in Capitol Hill. We had our own menu, plus a few surprises, including the chef’s gift of squash panna cotta with black truffle and popcorn. We toasted to Miele with both red and white wine!!

A menu made just for Miele Seattle. And they added extras, including truffles & a blood orange, cardamon & apple palate cleanser

A menu made just for Miele Seattle. And they added extras, including truffles & a blood orange, cardamon & apple palate cleanser

Day Two with Miele

Color, color, everywhere

Color, color, everywhere

Yes, they really do throw the fish! And that is peanut butter encrusted ham.

Yes, they really do throw the fish! And that is peanut butter encrusted ham.

The day started with a behind the scenes tour of Pike Place Market with Savor Seattle. Our tour guide Brett had even worse puns than I do, so I adopted him. Pastry chef Dianne of Dianne’s Delights joined us, and later taught us how to make jam-filled pastry tarts! Yup, our very own pastry chef. We got to taste test all kinds of delicious Market items, from salmon to donuts to coconut lime balsamic vinegar to cheese to cabernet pepper jelly to, to, to, Infinity and Beyond!! And even though I don’t eat meat, a special shout-out goes to BB Ranch, where owner Bill has gone to great lengths to use every single part of the animal in a way that takes care of the land and animals (humans included).

Fresh Water all Lined Up

Fresh Water all Lined Up

The Combi-Steam Oven Belongs to Whomever Last Touched It

The Combi-Steam Oven Belongs to Whomever Last Touched It

The Main Miele Event took place in the afternoon and evening. The pictures tell the story of the roasting and baking we all did, including my stint rolling out dough when they asked for someone with muscles!!

Roll It & Make It &  Bake it with Some Jam!

Roll It & Make It &
Bake it with Some Jam!

What the pictures don’t tell you is how I broke up with my former boyfriend the Miele Steam Oven once I had this first date with the Combi-Oven. As a bread baker, I went ga-ga (drool included) over the steam and convection combination that makes it possible to cut two-thirds of the proofing time off. We didn’t make bread though; we made galettes, and the crust was perfect – crisp, flaky, golden-brown and melt-in-the-mouth delicious. Okay, Team Galette Girls (my team of three) made the crust, so I might be biased. And we actually had to do some troubleshooting after overwatering our dough, but the combi-steam oven fixed our almost-mistake.

The Galette Girls

The Galette Girls

For people like my sister, this “Immer Besser” oven is “Always Better” (Miele’s slogan), because she is not a cook, and the oven knows that. It is Immer Smarter, so has over 100 automated programs, plus five specialty gourmet programs for turkey, chicken, baby back ribs, salmon and beef tenderloin. If you can work a smartphone, you can follow control panel instructions. Miele cleverly hides something behind the control panel. Can you guess what it is?

We made the chicken, ribs and salmon, as well as two different types of galette, pumpkin pot de crème, roasted fingerling potatoes with carrots, and cookies. This was all after we made the jam tarts. To fortify ourselves for the excruciating chore of cooking all this deliciousness, we drank German coffees all day. A few of the bloggers had wine and champagne too, but I am sworn to secrecy (they posted a lot of pictures on Instagram, in other words).

Top Quality From German firm Miele. I thought they said, "Choose a vacuum on the way out." They Didn't.

Top Quality From German firm Miele. I thought they said, “Choose a vacuum on the way out.” They Didn’t.

When dinner was over, someone else did the dishes (say, does that feature come with the combi-oven?), then we sort of rolled ourselves into the shuttle van for the ride back to the hotel. On the way out I tried to stuff a dishwasher and orange vacuum into my bag, but it didn’t work. I need a bigger bag! Oh, to demonstrate how quiet their dishwashers are, one of the Miele team members put her phone into the machine. Even though she had music playing on Loud, we heard nothing once the door was shut. I volunteered to put my boys into the machine.

Day Three with Miele

The public relations specialist for Miele invited us to breakfast. I ordered oatmeal. Please don’t hate me because I love oatmeal. It got me all fortified up for the walking and shopping I did before my flight home. And even though all my flights both to and from Seattle were delayed (hey, Miele, next time can you invent a fog-lifter machine?), I was cheery. Skipping and hopping were involved! Why? Because who wouldn’t be grateful for such an adventure with Miele? I got to visit a city I love, make new friends, and learn more about a quality product that I’ve loved since I lived in Berlin in the cough cough 1980s.

A decaf macchiato toast to the public relations team at White Good!! They recognize the value of hard-working ethical bloggers, and went way beyond the expected to make this a truly first-class experience that exemplified the “Immer Besser” Miele slogan.

A perfect decaf Miele Macchiato

A perfect decaf Miele Macchiato

Need some bread baked? Or just some all-around great info?

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

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C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Photo credits: All were taken by Alexandra’s magical skill-improving phone. And I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own. Miele did cover all my expenses in a very generous fashion, yet did not ask for anything in return. They are fully aware of my undying love for their high-quality products. Besides, I like to say, “Immer Besser.” It just sounds cool. 


Stress, Relaxation, Bread & Exercise

Alexandra Williams, MA
Politicians Know How to Create Stress

Politicians Know How to Create Stress

With the looming government shutdown and sequester sending the nation into a tailspin, it’s no surprise our collective stress levels are way up! Not good. High stress = faster aging + weight gain.

Reduce Stress – Relax

While we can write to our elected representatives (and click Like on Facebook political posts that match our positions), it’s also smart to find ways to reduce stress. It’s not physiologically possible to be stressed and relaxed simultaneously, so finding ways to relax can decrease our anxiety AND make us younger! Just a few short weeks ago, a study was released in The Lancet Oncology that found that eating a plant-based diet, moderate exercise and reducing stress might help reverse the aging process on a cellular level. Is that cool or what??!!

Gratuitous “Relax” video from Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It came out (haha, get the double entendre there?) in 1983, the same year I started teaching aerobics in Berlin.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyl5DlrsU90[/youtube] Although I love to read, I know myself well enough to realize that reading in the day also makes me feel guilty. I need to be DOING, not BEING in order to feel relaxed. Exercise is my job and my passion, so I definitely use exercise as a way to decrease stress. Yet my non-exercise relaxation, creative technique is to bake, especially bread. Sourdough, sweet, European, sandwich, herbed, whole wheat, baguettes – I love it all.

Bread Baking Class

I’ll let you decide if these pictures show how enjoyable it is to make bread. They are from a class I took at Le Pain Quotidien a few weeks ago as a special invited guest.


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We made baguettes, epi de blé, dinner rolls and whole wheat hazelnut raisin bread, plus they sent us home with rising dough. Sadly, I left mine in the car overnight and it rose so splendidly that it exploded all over the back seat. Instead of Epi de blé I had Epic de Boom!







Even with my years of baking, including my confidence using sourdough, I got a lot from the Ten Tips for Bread Baking they sent home with me. Every time I read the news about the political mess in D.C., I head to the kitchen for some baking therapy. Today it’s Sourdough Pizza Herb. Luckily for me, baking bread is how I relax, not eating bread, though I do love fresh bread.

Sourdough Pizza Herb Bread

Sourdough Pizza Herb Bread

With the October 17 deadline really close for the Treasury to run out of money to pay our nation’s debts, I think I’ll have to double my exercise and baking efforts, as I feel my stress levels rising.

What about you? How do you reduce stress?




Photo credits: Politicians:  Ephemeral Scraps via CreativeCommons.org. All others: Alexandra


A) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

B) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

C) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

D) Come on over for some delicious bread!