Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

What's the ingredient that makes any recipe more moist, 
flavorful, and all-around more delicious? .....cream cheese!

This recipe has that delectable ingredient in the dough.
So, enjoy this fabulous sugar cookie recipe everyone will rave over.
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie w/ Almond Butter icing

Sugar Cookies:
       8 oz. cream cheese, softened
       1 1/2 c. white sugar
       1 c. unsalted butter, softened
       1 egg
       1 tsp. vanilla
       1/2 tsp. almond extract
       1/2 tsp. salt
       1 tsp. baking powder
       3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 
*Dough must chill for 8 hours or overnight- essential step! 
*I doubled this recipe for Valentine's Day and it made ~ 40 large cookies

Almond Butter Icing:
       4 Tbsp. butter, softened       
       1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
       1 tsp. almond extract
       1-2 Tbsp. milk
       3 drops of food coloring
*Combine ingredients until smooth (add additional milk for desired spreading consistency)

Step 1: Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth

Step 2: Add egg, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract- beat until smooth  

Step 3: Add salt, baking powder, and flour (1 cup at a time)- beat until smooth 

STEP 4: Chill dough for 8 hours or overnight!

Step 5: Roll-out dough on parchment paper and cut-out desired shapes 1/2 in. apart
*Keep dough you're not working with in the fridge
 *It will be very sticky and hard to work with once softened

Step 6: Before baking, brush dough with egg white and sprinkle with colored sugar (optional)

Step 7: Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until sides are slightly golden brown

Step 8: Cool completely and top with Almond Butter Icing 
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes

The Tolman Baker    


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday PAR-TAY! 
We had a blast celebrating Mardi Gras with some of our best friends.
I made a King's Cake with a hidden baby Jesus, we ate Cajun Gumbo, and 
played balloon volleyball with our heads.
a.k.a.... FUN!

My first King Cake!
It's a nutmeg bread filled with brown sugar, cinnamon, cream cheese filling, and then
topped with a vanilla icing and colored sugar... sinfully delicious!
There is a baby Jesus "doll" hidden inside the cake for one lucky winner! 
recipe is here

The lucky finder of the baby Jesus!
"Guys, guys!" (Blake's announcement)

The Mardi Gras Queen
She wanted to wear every bead-necklace we had!

Just a little history...
Mardi Gras:
Also know as "Fat Tuesday, is the last day of feasting before Lent begin on Ash Wednesday. The full season actually begins on January 6th, the day the wise men are believed to have come bearing gifts to the Christ Child. Mardi Gras Day is always 47 days before Easter Sunday.  
The King Cake:
As part of the celebration, it is now traditional to bake a cake in honor of the three kings. Medieval Christians used up their eggs, butter, and milk on Mardi Gras day to make delicious baked items and pastries, since all of these items were forbidden during Lent.

Cake Symbolism
       *Oval-shaped- symbolizes the unity of faiths
       *Purple- justice
       *Green- faith
       *Gold- power

Inside every cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved through time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is believed to have "good luck" all year and is responsible for hosting the next King Cake party. (Blake was the lucky winner!)
find more history here

Balloon Volleyball w/our Heads! 

This game was hilarious!
Britt & Devin taught us this game on President's Day
(video to come on baby-balloon volleyball!)

Brittany Tolman  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Travis and I have tried over 15 different bowls of gumbo
from various country restaurants to true southerner's secret recipes.
But THIS RECIPE tops 'em all with its bold flavor from homemade Roux and Cajun spices! 

       1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
       4 c. onion, chopped 
       2 c. celery, chopped
       1 c. green bell pepper, chopped
       8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
       4 Tbsp. oil (use more if needed)
       6-8 Sausage links, thinly sliced (Cajun andouille, spicy, smoked, or hot sausage)
       4-6 chicken breasts, shredded
       8 c. water
       6 c. chicken broth
       4 tsp. salt
       1 tsp. pepper
       1 tsp. cayenne pepper
       Top with: Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

Step 1: In a deep saucepan, brown the flour until its the color of chocolate milk
(stir constantly to avoid scorching... burning will ruin the entire flavor!)
(Brown on low-medium heat and be patient, this step can take awhile)

Step 2: Saute onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in oil until tender

Step 3 & 4: Brown sausage and shred chicken
(Add the sausage drippings to the pot; it helps create the Roux)

Step 5: Combine browned flour, tender vegetables, sausage, and chicken in a gumbo pot
Step 6: Add all remaining ingredients: water, chicken broth, and seasonings
Step 7: Allow mixture to simmer for at least 1 hour
Step 8: Serve over steamed rice w/ a dash of Tony's... Enjoy!
Tip: Double this recipe and freeze up to 5 gallon-sized Ziploc for quick & easy meals 
       (the gumbo is more flavorful after 3 months in the freezer... tip from a Louisiana Cajun!)

Team Tolman in the Kitchen



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day 2008 & 2012

My Valentine's Rose

Four years ago, Travis and I went on our very first date on Valentine's Day.
It's been amazing ever since and it's fun to look back on that interesting night...

The First Date 2008: 
Travis and I had been "work" friends since Aaron convinced me telemarketing was the coolest job around. Needless to say it's not as glamorous as he made it seem (Aaron's pretty convincing) and I only lasted 8 weeks. However, it was just enough time to meet my future husband! Travis and I hadn't talked since before Christmas when he randomly sent me a text mid-January. We starting talking about New Year's goals and how mine was to attend the Temple more often. Since my parent's had the "no-car-your-first-year-rule" Travis kindly offered to take me. Little known fact: Girls always fall for guys with cars;)

So, our trip to the Temple so happened to fall on Valentine's Day since that was the only day I didn't have school or work. The Truth: I desperately wanted any reason to not attend the Relief Society "girl's night" Valentine's party. That's like waving your arms and shouting "Hey! No one wanted to ask me on a date, I'm single!" Luckily, Trav saved me from the blues of "Single Awareness Day." The Temple was good and then on our way home Travis asked me to go rock climbing with him. His original plan was just to be done after the Temple, but now he says he couldn't send me home because, "Sparks flew. Emotions ran high" (classic Dumb and Dumber)

Rock climbing was a blast except for one minor hiccup-- another girl was going with us! Travis had invited his best "girl-friend" days earlier and so it was a two-on-one. However, after about 45 minutes the other girl got so frustrated that Travis wasn't paying any attention to her that she left and rode the bus home! Sad... actually to be honest I wanted him all to myself! So, we rock climbed for a couple of hours and then joined my roommates at the famous Provo dollar theater to watch, "P.S. I Love You." 
We tried to get close (as close as you can get with an armrest wedged between you) but I sat on my hands because I had a "don't touch me til' our 3rd date expectation." Our first date lasted 10 hours! We started out as just friends but ended with a "hey, I kinda like you." 

I love you sweetheart and Happy Four Years!
P.S. I've forgiven you for the two-on-one:)

Our 1st date picture rock climbing... We look so young!

2012 Valentine's:
We saw "The Vow" with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum. Verdict: fabulous but I cried 3 times! I had tears running down my cheeks as we walked to our car and Travis said, "Ya better stop crying or people will think I broke up with you on Valentine's Day!" 
After the movie, we ate at Gloria's Little Italy. We ordered Fettuccine Alfredo with Tomato Basil Soup and were serenaded by a man playing the accordion and singing Italian love songs! We had a fun night and I'm so glad we kept dating even after our slightly awkward first date.

I love you Travis Orson!

Annabelle earned quite an income from this shirt!

Our Baby Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day,           
Team Tolman    

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Croquet with Friends

Being 1/2 British and all you would think I'd be a natural at Croquet... sadly, not at all!

Friday's date-night was spent with our fabulous friends.
We played croquet at the Provo Beach Resort, grabbed some Blue Bell
ice cream (finally in Utah), then finished the night at Cafe Rio.   

The boys were serious about croquet and after the first round of a sad performance from the girls, we were booted to play our own game so they could carry on like MEN!   


 The MEN

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mexican Chicken

This yummy dish was a staple in the Crossley home growing up.
It's quick, easy, and so delicious!

      1/4 bag of tortilla chips, crushed (my personal favorite is Doritos!) 
      3 chicken breasts, shredded
      1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
      1 can corn, drained
      1 can cream of mushroom
      1 can cream of chicken
      1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles)
      2 cups cheese, shredded
      Toppings: sour cream, salsa, avocado (optional)

Step 1: Crush enough chips to cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish
(about 1/4 of the bag)

Step 2: Layer shredded chicken over chips

Step 3: Evenly layer black beans and corn over shredded chicken

Step 4: In a separate bowl, combine cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, and Rotel
Pour mixture over black beans and corn

Step 5: Cover casserole dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
Step 6: Remove foil, sprinkle cheese, and bake an additional 30 minutes uncovered

Team Tolman in the Kitchen