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!
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?
Since I had lots of ingredients in the house, and a variety of people coming, I chose the most t
ime-consuming, f oolish, logical path and decided to make five different items in one day!
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.
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.
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!
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
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped oil packed sun dried tomatoes
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
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!!
Photo credits: MorgueFile.com, the author, Portmeirion Group.
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We were so busy celebrating that we didn’t spend much time on the computer. We took our own advice about going for walks to help prevent holiday weight gain. On Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving with part of our large family. On Friday we celebrated my youngest son’s 16th birthday with an even bigger group of people! And today? A four-mile walk in the morning, followed by cleaning!
Please enjoy some photos from the weekend. It was very sunny and hot at the top of mountain, and very cloudy and wet at the beach. Such is the strange Santa Barbara weather!
My favorite part of the holidays was having my eldest son home from university for 4 days. My second favorite part was seeing my youngest son enjoy all the birthday attention. And my third favorite part was baking and cooking for everyone.
What is YOUR favorite thing about Thanksgiving? And for those of you who don’t celebrate it, what is your favorite time of year?
We give thanks every time you subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. And when you follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar. We’ll be ever so grateful!
Perhaps you’ve spent months being diligent about exercising and eating healthfully. And now the holidays are creeping up faster than a heart rate monitor. How do you stay trimmer than a decorated tree and less stuffed than a turkey come Thanksgiving?
1. Drink lots of water and green tea before the feast. You will feel full and less inclined to overeat.
2. Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories later when the “good stuff” arrives. Inevitably you will be so hungry come THE meal that you will overeat or choose whatever is closest.
3. Mentally sort foods into 3 categories:
Planning and paying attention have a definite effect on how much you pile on your plate.
(For more motivation and strategies to keep you on track, click to download our radio episode as a podcast you can listen to while working out – or when avoiding that one weird relative who is coming over Thursday:)
4. Opt for a salad instead of dinner plate. You’ll be inclined to eat less. Most of us are visually triggered, so we stop adding food once our plate looks full, regardless of plate size.
5. Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you calling your name á la “Little Shop of Horrors.” And don’t leave food just sitting out. You can end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. Put it away right after the meal (or at least as soon as is politely possible). Your guests will probably thank you. Ok, maybe thank you.
6. Put your mind over matter. If you’re a person who likes to talk to herself (like Alexandra does), just ask yourself this when you’re filling your plate, “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” We aren’t here to say you “shouldn’t” this or “should” that, but the awareness will help you make a considered decision.
7. Go for a walk. What better way to spend quality time with your favorite rellies or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside?
Readers: What tips do you have to share? We’d love to know them, especially with December almost here!
Fill up with fitness solutions and some fun when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar. We’ll be ever so Thanksgiving grateful!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
1. Focus on the Process, not the Outcome–The process is the road there; the outcome is the final destination. You cannot get from here to there without some sort of journey. In practice, this means take it one step at a time. Set yourself up for success by naming and writing down the steps it will take to get you where you want to be. “Get Super Buff” is a fuzzy outcome, because it’s not defined. What would that look like for you, and how will you get there?
2. Make it More Fun–If you hate running, why promise yourself you’ll start a running program? In this situation, “running” is spelled F.A.I.L.U.R.E. As I mention in our Womensradio radio broadcast on this topic, if you love to dance to Led Zeppelin, that’s what will be fun for you. Who cares if everyone else loves boot camp if your thing is boogie-ing down to disco classics?
3. Allow Yourself Opportunities for Mastery–Find activities you can do that allow you to become good at something. For example, if you hate push-ups, why beat yourself up that you cannot do a flying push-up (maybe I’ll post video of this someday)? Instead, try a wall or knee push-up. Then you can legitimately tell yourself, “I did a push-up.” This is highly motivating and will lead to further successes!
4. Go With a Friend–Whether it’s in person, (a walk or exercise class together), or by check-in (“Hey, did you go to your fitness class today?), being accountable to a friend dramatically increases the chance that you’ll keep to your plan. No-one likes to be the one to let a friend down.
5. Avoid Comparisons–Face it, you will never be the person you were in college or your wedding (unless they were in your very recent past). You are older, and probably have a better ability to pace yourself now anyway! Comparing yourself to your distant past is like asking for a date with disappointment (yes, I know him. He was all hands). And comparing yourself to how you should be in some never-quite-there future doesn’t work either. If you must compare yourself to something, choose yesterday. Then do something that is more than yesterday and you’ll have a good basis for comparison. While you’re at it, don’t compare yourself to others either. They’re all either better-looking (darn your parents for those imperfect genes) or worse-looking (that’s just mean), so stop it right now! (Of course, I have an identical twin, so have a lot of experience with the comparison business – so sad for her!)
Photo credits: Photobucket
Dear Motivated Readers: What little “tricks” do you use to help yourself stay motivated? And why is the word “ate” in “motivate?”