Sunday, March 31, 2013

Recipe Review: Apple Dumplings

So for our Easter potluck, I decided to whip up a batch of country singer, Trisha Yearwood's, Apple Dumplings. This recipe has to be one of the easiest baked goods I have ever made and for someone who is baking-challenged, it came together fantastically! It was a definite hit at our family dinner. The next time I make this I will probably use smaller apples because I found it hard to get enough biscuit to cover each slice. I think this recipe would also be amazing if the apples were subbed out for fresh berries or peaches. You better believe I will be tryin' that when summer produce begins to bud!


  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup of brown sugar (I added this to the recipe!)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 canned buttermilk biscuits
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Pie spice (I added this too!)
  • Directions

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
    Peel, core and slice the apples vertically into 8 slices each. Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water and add the apple slices to keep from turning brown.

    In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup water, 3/4 cup of the sugar, the butter and vanilla. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium heat. (Caution: this will not thicken like a syrup so don't be alarmed if it seems watery after you bring it to a boil!

    Separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Wrap a biscuit layer around a slice of apple, stretching the biscuit slightly to overlap, and seal on the bottom.

    Place the wrapped slices, sealed-side down, in a 9- by 12- by 2-inch casserole dish. 

    Pour the hot sugar mixture over the apple slices. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over the tops of the wrapped apples. 

    Bake until golden brown, 35 minutes.

    This recipe has been adapted from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood (c) Clarkson Potter 2010.

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    Having a Spirit of Excellence

    A few months back, a friend of mine was telling me about a sermon they overheard on television from the infamous southern-accented TV preacher, Joel Osteen. Honestly, I was hesitant to view it because I am at a point in my life where I still find religion to be a bit overwhelming and I really wasn't looking for a preachy pick-me-up. Regardless, I tuned in and found myself captivated with what I was hearing.

    Whether you consider yourself a believer or not, I honestly feel that everyone can take something from the message that Joel Osteen is conveying in this sermon. This time of year, it seems like we all hit the pre-spring slump. For me, I get lazy about keeping my car clean, care a little less about how I present myself in terms of my appearance and in general, I tend to be a little less start-eyed than usual. I have found myself circling back to this message of "having a spirit of excellence" as I trudge through the change of seasons.

    I would encourage you to take a look; hopefully you will find this message useful in the place you find yourself in life right now. This is a pretty long video so I listed the minutes that I found to be the most resonant and friendly for people who do not consider themselves devoutly religious.

    The parts I find the most useful:

    • 4:52- Going beyond the call of duty, especially in the workplace
    • 7:50- Having a constant appetite for growth
    • 15:52- Presenting yourself in a way that you're proud of
    • 18:35- Taking pride in your appearance as a reflection of your excellence (funny!)
    • 19:31- Being a person of excellence in everyday life
    • 21:50- Making small changes

    Just some mid-week food for thought!

    "We are what we repeatedly do.
     Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Spotlight on Shoes

    Amazing shoe selection at the Arlington, VA Goodwill on Columbia Pike
    There is something incredibly enticing about new shoes. Mind you, my definition of "new" varies considerably from the norm. When I say new, I mean simply new to me, not necessarily NWT (new with tags). Thrifting has been the perfect outlet for me to finance my shoe obsession; rarely any of my shoes cost more than $15.00 per pair. At prices like this, you can have a closet full of trendy shoes and never feel that post-shoe binge guilt. I thought I would share with you my recent thrift finds in the shoe department but my intention in putting a "spotlight" on shoes reaches far beyond my personal love of footwear. Read on if I've peaked your interest!

    Here are the products of my recent thrifted footwear frenzy: 

    J Crew Heels 

     $9.99- Thrift Store Center- Alexandria, VA- Patent cheetah print and a peep toe, what more could you want from a shoe? These are definitely my new favorite.

    Aldo Strappy Sandal

    $12.99- Thrift Store Center- Alexandria, VA. Red leather with a dark brown stacked heel. These are perfect day to night shoes and I must say it only looks like they've been worn once or twice! Total steal.

    Cole Haan Black Pump

    $11.98- Goodwill-Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA. These came to me in fantastic shape. They're black basket-woven style leather. Just enough heel to make you feel like a woman but still functional when running around the office.

    Marc Jacobs Flats 

    $9.98 Goodwill Columbia Pike- Arlington, VA. These are black velvet with a pointed toe; absolutely chic for a casual night out. The toe features a delicate bow detail. I bought these for a friend because they were two sizes too small for me; who would pass up Marc Jacobs for $10?

    "Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world" 

                              --Marilyn Monroe

    In my current thrift adventures, I am on the hunt for a pair of size 10+ brightly colored women's heels. An odd request, you might think; but I have a mission for these shoes. Each year the appropriately named organization, "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," provides communities with resources to raise awareness about issues surrounding sexual and domestic violence. The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event team works with community leaders to organize a walk where men of all ages band together and walk a mile in women's high heels. After the men walk their mile, they are joined by the rest of the community of supporters and survivors and together, they walk in support of bringing awareness to an issue that is often swept under the rug. Although I have not yet participated in my first walk, I absolutely love the idea of pairing a fun and inviting event with advocating for community awareness of such a sensitive and pertinent issue. I cannot wait to experience the sense of community that emerges from this walk.

    I will be participating in my first Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event on April 7, 2013 at St. Mary's College. If you are a Southern Maryland reader, I would encourage you to join me in walking for this cause; together, we can begin to foster community discussion about sexual violence and make steps in our area to create a open and comfortable environment to address this issue. If you are not a reader from Southern Maryland, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a nation-wide campaign and their calendar of events can be found here

    Finally, if any readers have a special pair of size 10+ heels that they would like to donate, please send me an email at I would be happy to take your shoes along and gift them to the walkers in my hometown.

    As always, thank you for reading!