Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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November 5, 2017

From the Smarty Cooking School: Easy Apple Butter

Easy Apple Butter CSP

I almost feel guilty offering up this Apple Butter recipe. It’s so ridiculously easy. It has two ingredients. And (in my not-so-humble opinion), it tastes just as good as the butters that take weeks to harvest, cook, mash and season.

I suggest using apples that have multi-colored skins, like the Gala or McIntosh varieties. Granny Smith tend to be too tart and Red Delicious tend to be too gritty.

I’ve also been experimenting with ways to use this Apple Butter. May I suggest: Read More →

October 22, 2017

From the Smarty Cooking School: Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Apple Cider Donut CSP

This weekend, we are in the throes of deciding on Halloween costumes. Typically, we attend a Halloween party that requires all of us to dress up. And our gracious hosts go all out. They LOVE Halloween. Their house is decorated from top to bottom. Their lawn is transformed into a spooky graveyard, their front porch is covered in cobwebs laced with creepy spiders. An animated witch stands guard at the door. As such, one cannot simply wrap themselves in a sheet and claim to be a ghost or a Grecian goddess. Much thought goes into our costumes and they sometimes require several weekends of planning and execution to complete.

Of course, our son chooses to be a character from his latest TV show or video game craze. This year it’s Minecraft.

As for my costume, I search Pinterest and pick something that requires minimal crafting abilities (I can bake, my friends, but gluing and sewing are another matter).

My husband always chooses something that will garner the most laughs. Last year, he put himself in a box. It was hilarious. This year – he proclaims – his costume is a surprise. I can hardly wait.

My daughter, on the other hand, wrestles with this decision every. single. year. She’s not much of a screen watcher, so she doesn’t get inspiration from a show or movie. When I suggest a literary character, she scoffs. I let her scour the (thousands) of magazines that arrive in the mail to get ideas. Nothing ever strikes her fancy. I call out every “standard” costume under the sun: a witch, a ghost, a pumpkin, a mummy, a piece of candy. “No!” is her response every time. Typically, on the morning of Halloween, she’ll decide on something we have on hand. Last year, she dressed as her mother. I’m not kidding.

Naturally, the stress of all this sends me to the kitchen. And because (despite the weather), I am in a Fall mood, I made these baked Apple Cider Donuts. They are so simple to make, they taste of the season and they are seriously good! They make me forget all about our costume woes! Read More →

October 8, 2017

Smarty Cooking School: Pumpkin Bread with Oat Streusel

Pumpkins.CSP

As I write this it’s 91 degrees in Charlotte, so it hardly feels like Fall. But, I saw pumpkins at the grocery store, Starbucks brought back the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Halloween catalogs are in my mailbox, so the season is upon us!

I grew up in Southern California where the seasons simply don’t change. It can be chilly and cloudy in June and hot and sunny in February. Leaves don’t turn colors and fall from the trees. The weather doesn’t gradually change from hot to warm to cool then cold. It could be all four in one day sometimes! Your sweaters hang next to your sundresses in California because you could wear them both in the same week. I didn’t own a winter coat or boots until we moved to Charlotte. I even had to invest in socks because we never wore them in California!

But, Fall has become my favorite season. I love to drive down Colville Road under a canopy of red and yellow leaves. The humidity (finally) chills out and the air feels so refreshing. I can open my windows at night and fall asleep to the sound of crickets and wake to the sound of birds. I can get back in the garden and plant Fall colors and we can play outside without coating ourselves in bug spray!

Fall also has a significant impact on my kitchen. I can get the Crockpot out for soups and stews and chili. And bread. I bake lots of bread when the temperature drops. Of course, pumpkin bread is a Fall favorite and so I offer you this recipe in celebration of the season. I hope you enjoy it with the windows open, a nice view and a warm cup of coffee!

Just look at these spices! And your kitchen will smell soooo good while this is baking! Read More →

September 24, 2017

Smarty Cooking School: Emergency Chocolate Cake

CSP Team Note: Meet our newest Smarty, Molly Bollier. Molly will be sharing some yummy recipes in our Smarty Cooking School! If the rest of her recipes are anything like this, we’re all in for a treat! :-)

Moms, I know you can relate. Sometimes, you just need chocolate cake. And, if you’re like me, you don’t want to bother with the grocery store (again) this week. So, I have your solution.

I’ve been making this cake for years. I used to call it my “Unexpected Guest Cake,” because it can be made with ingredients I already have in my pantry, it comes together in about 5 minutes and leaves your house smelling of decadent chocolate as it bakes. And though it may look basic, I assure you it isn’t!

Emergency Chocolate Cake CSP

The other wonderful thing about this cake is the easy clean-up. Use one bowl in which to mix everything and one pan in which to bake it. Then, put them both in the dishwasher. Done!

The fabled history of this cake dates to the Depression. During that time, it was difficult to procure fresh foods like milk and eggs – two ingredients common in most cake recipes. So, women got creative and made chocolate cake out of what was readily available (talk about lemonade from lemons!). The recipe that emerged was called “Depression Cake.” But, who is going to make that without some context? Surely, that recipe was passed down and circulated a thousand times over. In the years I have been making it, I have altered the ingredients and proportions until the consistency, texture and flavor is juuuust right. I hope you’ll agree. Read More →

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