Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls

Me and my husband are cookie dough fanatics. In fact, when I make chocolate chip cookies, I always reserve some (okay, a lot) of the batter for us. Yes, I know raw eggs can be dangerous. Consider me a rebel. Good thing my micro professor taught me the slim chances of actually becoming ill with salmonella.
And. Oh. My. If you could take perfection, roll it in a ball, and dip it in chocolate, this would be it.
My apologies to the New Years’ resolution people. It may have crossed my mind to hold off a short while to post these, but I just couldn’t do it. Call it a little treat to yourself for doing so well up until this point. While one of these beauties won’t hurt, good luck practicing self-restraint when faced with a cookie sheet full of them. It’s not easy. What is easy is whipping them up. Which I encourage you to go do.

Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls
Makes approx. 3-4 dozen

2 1/2 C. flour
1 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 C. white sugar
3/4 C. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/3 C. milk
1 C. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz dark chocolate 

In a mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.
Cover and chill dough for 1 hour. I know. I know. Good things will come to those who wait.
When dough is firm enough to handle, it may help to lightly flour your hands, form dough into 1 balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Place sheets in freezer and let chill for 30 minutes.
Melt chocolate candy coating in a double boiler or in microwave according to package directions. Using forks, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover. Tap fork on side of pan to remove any excess coating, and return to waxed paper-lined baking sheets. 
Chill until set. Store, chilled, in an airtight container for up to 1 week (though good luck making them last that long).
Happy Baking!
Yours truly, Little Bakin' Blonde

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I realize this holiday post is well overdue. We had a relaxing Thanksgiving with the Crossley clan. I made a White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Pecan-Gingersnap crust. It was heavenly. The thought makes my mouth water. This was my third year to make it and I have no doubt the tradition will continue. I admit, this afterthought photo isn't the prettiest. But it's darn good!
We played plenty of games including a new favorite, Dominoes, and sat around the TV to enjoy some football team play a wild game.
Feeding the most sweetest baby girl while managing to hold off Grammy and other Aunt's and Uncle's. 
A sudden storm drowned the boys who tried to save Nannie's porch chairs from being blown into the lake.
The poor guys were unsuccessful :(
Happy Holidays!!
Yours truly, Me

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ready For Kids?

We all know how special children are, and those of us who wish we had them are often annoyed to hear people complain about their children. However, the following is a nice reminder that every season of life has its blessings:


Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains.
Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.

Obtain a 55 gallon box of Legos (or you may substitute roofing tacks). Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream because this would wake a child at night.

Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.

Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus. Stuff into a small net bag, making sure that all the arms stay inside.

Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from the ceiling with a cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal into the mouth of the jug, while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on the floor.

Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with 8-12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 3:00 p.m. begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00 p.m. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00 p.m. Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these too until 4:00 a.m. Set alarm for 5:00 a.m. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and pot of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet paper tube and turn it into an attractive Christmas candle. Use only scotch tape and a piece of foil. Last, take a milk carton, a ping-pong ball, and an empty box of Cocoa Puffs. Make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Forget the BMW and buy a station wagon. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a dime. Stick it into the cassette player. Take a family size package of chocolate chip cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There, perfect.

Obtain a large bean bag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove 10 of the beans. And try not to notice your closet full of clothes. You won't be wearing them for a while.

Go to the nearest drug store. Set your wallet on the counter. Ask the clerk to help himself. Now proceed to the nearest food store. Go to the head office and arrange for your paycheck to be directly deposited to the store. Purchase a newspaper. Go home and read it quietly for the last time.

Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training and child's table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their children to run wild. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time.
(I laughed my head off while reading through this article. You know, even so, I'd still sign up for it - wouldn't you???)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dickens on the Strand

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! It was decreed that all lords and ladies and children shall come and celebrate the 36th Annual Dickens on The Strand, where bobbies, Beefeaters and the Queen herself would be on hand to recreate the Victorian London of Charles Dickens. 
All of these gorgeous dresses were hand sewn by Cheryl(the hottie in red), whose passion and hobby includes making costumes for this event. 
Lucinda Dickens, Great-great-great grand-daughter of Charles Dickens is on the far left. I humbly admit that she wore my blush-pink dress the night before. We found ourselves graciously nodding and waving to one another the rest of the day. 
We enjoyed mingling with characters from Dickens novels who walked the streets. 
It was most exciting to see the history as a bustling 19th Century city came to life.
The festival included parades, non-stop entertainment on the stages, plus strolling carolers and roving street musicians, bagpipers and entertainers.
While we're on the topic of stages, I was manipulated into entering the costume contest. Cheryl's husband put a $10 bill in my hand and pointed the way to the sign-ups. 
Needless to say, I didn't win. I'm holding up alright.
Aaron enjoyed a tasty Victorian-inspired treat.
Street vendors strolled along with their carts laden with culinary delights including sausages on a stick, deep-fried 3 Musketeers, you know...the 33% fat free candy bar, massive and delicious turkey legs,  all of which are simply to-die-for. 
Christmas tree on stilts. How cool is this?
Her dress lit up in the evening. What a sight she was!
Merry Christmas to all!
Yours truly, Me

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dr. Aaron Crossley DDS

Ever since Aaron submitted his dental school application on the first week of May we have been waiting for that acceptance email. Well, last year he managed to throw an application together a few weeks before the October deadline once I decided to turn down my dental hygiene school acceptance. 
Here's Aaron before he took the DAT(Dental Admissions Test.) His anxiety isn't hard to see in his smile.
A weeks worth of good luck notes during his final days of studying and this sugar-laden beauty must have been his lucky charm. He scored a fabulous score! On the day of his exam, I remember working on a patient while at at work and suddenly getting that feeling that someone was staring at me. I looked up and turned back to see Aaron sitting near the toothbrushing station. EEKkk!! He didn't want to tell me his score over the phone and so I had thought I would have to wait until I got home after work. I'm pretty sure I still had my mask on when I jump up onto him and kissed him after he showed me his score. He studied for almost a month, mind you. Goodness. Such fun times.
Of course we prayed and fasted and prayed that we could get in after his first application but we understood that simply not enough effort and preparation had gone in that round, even though his stats looked great. So, we were really excited and confident about this year's application process. But the thing is, you can have all the right grades, service opportunities, contacts, blah blah, and STILL not get in because the competition varies each year AND ultimately, it may not be where Heavenly Father needs you to be that year. By Aaron having a year in between BYU and dental school has given us a LOT of spoiled time together. We drive to work together, have lunch together, and play in the evenings. Honestly, I can't complain with how things have turned out. It's funny how things always end up that way. Roadblocks and train wrecks collide into you with such terrible blows. And it gets really tough. I can't say I'm a fan of things not turning out the way I had planned. But a few things I can be certain of is that my Heavenly Father always has a plan for me. It's designed by someone perfect who loves me more than anything. And it will always entail emotional/spiritual growth, lessons learned, and a deeper love and understanding developed between me and my spouse. Obviously, this growth only happens if I embrace the change and let it sink into my heart. 
It's moments like these when I remember that I'm always taken care of and that I know things are good. Really good. 
No matter what. 
Decemeber 1 is the day the dental schools all over the nation begin sending there acceptances out to students. Aaron applied to all 3 dental schools in Texas. He interviewed at Houston and Baylor. We've been hearing that San Antonio is sort of a cut-throat school. Professors are mostly from the military and classmates aren't super helpful towards each other. It's kind of ironic because his #1 choice was San Antonio prior to everything. He loved the technology available at the Houston branch. They are rebuilding the entire school and it will be completed 2012. It sure is amazing. Baylor students seems to have a really good relationship in the school. It's the cheapest school in Texas by 10-20k. 
Not to mention my family and friends are there, too!
We knew that Baylor sends out there acceptances at 12:00am on Dec. 1, my on-top-of-everything brother, Spencer, told us. Aaron said he didn't want to wake up in the middle of the night. I did. So, I set my alarm at 12:30am, only to reason myself out of the adventure with a fear that I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. In the middle of the night I wake-up to a text message ring tone. EEEkkk!! I turn over to see Aaron sneakily under the covers texting someone. I ripped the covers off of him only to see him grinning. I looked down at the phone and see that someone had sent him a text saying "Any news?"
 MY MOTHER. Then, I quickly turn my eyes to his response that read "BAYLOR!!!"
AaaHHHH! I screamed and was so so so excited. Pinch me pinch me pinch me!
We called my parents to share the excitement and giddiness. But, Spencer had also interviewed with Baylor and he had told me some fears and concerns he had about getting accepted. Natural feelings that always seem to creep in. I asked my parents "Did Spencer get in??!" response. Now, I  know my parents well enough to know they would have said no right away if he hadn't heard from Baylor. We screamed and said "He DID?!?!" I heard my mom or dad slip a snicker-ish laugh and Aaron and I both freaked out again. Aaron and Spencer spent their last year at BYU taking classes and studying together and have really grown to love become tight with each other. It's cute. I know they are so excited for this. 
We hung up the phone with my parents to call Spencer. We joked around with him for a few seconds when Aaron responded to Spencer with "Well, we heard you got some good news", completely implying we hadn't received an acceptance. We were really excited for each others fabulous news. Then, Spencer said "Have you said a prayer together?" Aaron and I looked at each other, still in bed, and said "No."  Spencer immediately hung up on us. Haha, what a great reminder. We had just listened to the talk by President Monson with the subject being "An Attitude of Gratitude". In his talk, he gives the parable of the 10 Lepers. I appreciate the impact of that story. It reveals so much about our Heavenly Father. I love it I love it.
We haven't heard from Houston yet. At this point, I don't mind. We have a lot of positive and comfortable feelings towards moving to Dallas to attend Baylor. A funny and completely ransom note, I may be the only one but does it not sound a little 'off' when wives will say about their husband's accomplishments "We got into or are in medical/dental school..."? Hm. But, as I think about it, husbands will say "We're pregnant!" We all know, the man definitely isn't the pregnant one. 
So, I'm completely comfortable in saying that we're going to dental school. He can keep the diploma ; ) Aaron had a ball giving phone calls to most of his family and friends to share his good news. I'm proud of who he is, the trials he has overcome with the help of his Savior,  the example he is to me with showing a spouse unconditional love. 
Thank you for loving me like the way I want to love myself. 
Congrats Dr. Aaron M. Crossley DDS ;-)

Yours truly, Me

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gorgeous Caramel Apples

Homemade Caramel:
1 C. Butter
1 C. Corn syrup
2 1/2 C. Brown sugar
1 Can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
2 t. Vanilla
1/4 t. Salt
White chocolate
Sugar/cinnamon mixture
Milk chocolate
Heath candy bits
Tips for rockin' caramel apples:
*Wash and scrub the waxy film off the apples before you begin. If you don't, the hot caramel will melt the nasty, waxy layer off and your caramel layer will drip off into a goopy mess. Baking soda works great. Scrub scrub scrub!
*You want cold apples! This will help the caramel to not slip off. Dry the apples really well and leave them in the fridge until your caramel is ready.
*This makes enough caramel to coat 6-8 large apples. I removed the stem from each apple and inserted lollipop sticks. You can even use a heavy bowl to hammer them if you've been completely slacking on your Pilates like I have.
Let's get dipping!
In a large saucepan, melt butter over med-high. Add syrup and sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil and then slowly add condensed milk while stirring.
Continue to stir while it thickens and darkens for 30 minutes. If you want to use a candy thermometer then you'll cook the caramel until it reaches the "firm ball" stage, which is 245-250 degrees F. I used a thermometer twice and ended up burning it twice. So, my appetite decided to not let me use the thermometer anymore. Essentially, the firm ball stage is reached when you can drop a piece of caramel into cold water, a firm ball forms.

Remove caramel from heat and stir in the vanilla. You'll want to have your apples and greased wax paper ready to go.
The fun part! Dip the apples at an angle and rotate in the hot caramel. Then, pull it up and use a knife and slide it under the apple to cut off the extra caramel. Believe me. There will still be a little pool of caramel on the bottom. Which is the best part of the apple once all is said and done!
Place the dipped apples onto greased wax paper. If you want to roll the mix-ins directly onto the caramel then this is the time to roll while it's still soft and warm! Or let the caramel set for an hour or so if you want to dip them into chocolate. 
This is such a fun activity to do with the family!
And the result? Wow. The caramel is heavenly. Double dipping is completely accepted here and heavily done, let me tell you. Paired with the sweet and tart apples?
You make my taste buds dance
Yours truly, Little Bakin' Blonde

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

President Hinckley's Stacked "BE" Blocks

I saw an idea similar to these blocks floating around online and in a scrapbook magazine thanks to the subscription from my sweet mother-in-law. I fell in love with this craft. Money was tight and I was really hoping to make a cute Christmas gift for Momma Moon and Momma Kimbo. 
I found a gal online that could make these letters using her Cricut using President Hinckley's "Be" attitudes. I swung by Home Depot and had them cut wood beams into 4x4 blocks. TONS and tons of sanding. Paint. Distress. I loved the look of jumbling the letters together with a super cute font. Sealer.
These darling blocks made a fabulous gift. Or, if you're like me, you'll save 5 sheets of letters. Just in case.
Yours truly, Me

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Love the Holidays

Dear Autumn,
I love you...
I get to turn these gorgeous pumpkins into glowing spooky scenes
I get to wear my plethora of scarves. Almost daily.
You make the best apples. Oh, and do I love to dip and dress them up.
You also give me a reason to drink apple cider all the time.
I now have a beautiful and precious niece.
Annabelle Kay Tolman
I love the holidays.
Yours truly,  Me

Friday, October 22, 2010

Making A Girly Fondant Cake

Nearly 2 years ago I started to get this craving to make and decorate a fondant cake. The Food Channel was deadly for this craving and the new Cupcake Wars episodes didn't help either. But, let's face it, fondant is gross. I always peel it off at weddings and parties. Not to mention it's physical form of pasty diabetes due to the sugar overload you'll acquire if you are bold enough to swallow it with your cake. Yuk! So, I kicked Wilton's expensive trash and made a homemade marshmallow fondant. 
Of course, with the help of my super cute sou chef ; )
Since this was my first cake and I honestly didn't know what the heck I was doing, I only did a two-tiered cake. I decided on a red velvet cake for the base and a triple chocolate chip cake for the topper with both slathered with cream cheese filling. 
Mouth watering yet? Ummm mine sure is.
I crumb coated the cakes and put them in the freezer. I made the marshmallow fondant, rolled it out, and had then Aaron help me decide on what colors to do. For some reason, he didn't like my original teal/blue, black, and white color scheme. 
Can I just say that forming this fondant to the cake is NOT easy. At all.
But i did it! And i'm sure I strategically placed the cake in this position for a snapshot to cover any...imperfections. 
Phew! The hard part was over and now I could breathe and decorate.
I used a pizza cutter to get the stripes and bottle caps and glass rims to get the polka dots.
I was really happy with the outcome and how great it turned out! I'm realizing that I like to be alone in the kitchen when I bake. It was so hard to think clearly because there were tons of people, haha. I had one meltdown that i'll shamelessly admit to. Definitely a favorite hobby that i'll continue.

Yours truly, Little Bakin' Blonde