Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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March 9, 2014

Smarty Cooking School: Coconut Crème Date Bars

“MOM MOM, Can I have a snack?”Wendy Lara Final

How many times do you hear that in your house?  It is a constant echo around mine.  I just want my girls to have something healthy. They would love to walk around with Cheeto stained fingers if I let them.  I don’t want them to glow in the dark when they go to bed so I often opt for a healthy snack instead.

Ok kids just go have a date bar.  Date bars you ask?  Who eats dates?  Aren’t dates just the more glamorous cousin to the dreaded old lady prune?  Dates just haven’t quite committed to the Centrum silver and reverse mortgage yet.  Dates should be cool again because they are TASTY.

My friend Lucy Williams (super smarty, healthy cooking and once tried out for Martha Stewart’s Apprentice) dropped a few of these off the other day and I couldn’t believe what I was eating.  They tasted just like Larabars.  You have seen these in the protein bar section of every health food market and grocery store. They aren’t cheap.  But they are good.  Their slogan is “Just fruit and Nuts”

But the homemade version that I made was WAY better.  I could not stop eating them.  They have the most wonderful flavor.  You will love these. Read More →

February 20, 2014

Smarty Cooking School: BBQ Shrimp Enchiladas

Final Shrimp Enchiladas

I am about to blow your mind. Yes I am. Nothing I am about to tell you is going to make any sense. You will think I am crazy, but once you taste these you are going to FLIP OUT!

I have been making these enchiladas for company ever since I went to grad school in Southwest Texas and a restaurant out there called The Reata served these. They aren’t on the menu any more and I have no idea why. I never got the recipe but played around with what I thought was in them. Here is what I came up with.

I always get such amazing feedback from this dish and I almost feel guilty because it is so easy to make. Seriously, it takes just a couple of minutes to put together. You will look like a hero. Once baked it is very difficult to figure out what you are actually eating. The sauce has such a smoky sweet flavor and paired with the shrimp it is out of this world.

Ok, here are the players. See? Shrimp, BBQ sauce, cream, Greek seasoning, and Honey? What? There is no way this can work.

Wendy's BBQ Shrimp Enchiladas Ingredients

First take your Shrimp 1 lb (You can either buy already cooked ones or fresh. Really it doesn’t matter). For this I used fresh because they were wild caught and they looked nice. Read More →

February 2, 2014

Smarty Cooking School: Soups and Stews

What is not to love about a heaping warm bowl of delicious soup?  It is like getting a hug from the inside out warming the soul.  Hands down these are my favorite things to cook.  One pot wonders with so many possibilities.

And like most good things they take time and shouldn’t be rushed.  But these two soups do not take all day and can easily be made on a weeknight.  Think of making soup like building a house.  You can’t do it by just tossing all the nails, wood and shingles together.  You need to build the flavors in stages, seasoning all along the way so the end product is well rounded and fantastic.

Buffalo Chicken Corn Chowder

I was so intrigued by this first soup when I saw a similar recipe on Pinterest that Smarty Cheryl sent to me.  It had a good amount of bacon and cream in it making it something I would only want to make on a very special occasion.  I am not a huge fan of fat laden soups anyway. They make me feel terrible after I eat them.  So I lightened this one up.Wendy Buffalo

The end product was pretty darn amazing.  It is hearty yet light.  The potatoes and corn add great texture.  Make sure you add some of the blue cheese crumbles on top. Read More →

January 5, 2014

Smarty Cooking School: It’s Time to Get Healthy

Keep Calm Get Healthy

Well January is here and it’s time to pay up for all the indulgence you took part in back in November and December. No more tins of cookies are going to be passed around, no more office parties with heavy cheese-filled appetizers and no more EXCUSES.

Now before you run off to the fat doctor or order some ridiculously expensive juice cleanse that will leave you handcuffed to your bathroom for the next week (come on people you like yourself more than that), you can just stop the madness and choose to eat like a normal healthy adult.

I am NOT a nutritionist or a fitness trainer but I do know what common sense eating looks like. It is a simple math equation.

Your body is the machine, fill it with junk and leave it parked in the garage and it won’t move very far or fast. On the other hand, if you fill it with healthy food it will be easier to move around and perform like you want it to.

The first thing I do when wanting to get my family back on track (because we ate like pigs over Christmas break too) is to fill my fridge with some go to snacks that are all prepped at ready to go. I make a giant fruit salad, cut up a bunch of veggies (peppers, cucumbers, carrots and celery) and then poach some nice lean chicken breasts and shred them).

Now when they ask “what can I have for a snack?” I point and say THAT! They loved it. The containers were emptied in 4 days. Mission accomplished.

This Celery and Parmesan Salad is absolutely delicious. It is hardy and stays great in the fridge for days (it won’t last that long because you can’t stop eating it). The walnuts and cheese balance it out. You MUST make this. Serve with some simple Halibut or a white fish and you have a fantastic healthy dinner.

Celery & Parmesan Salad

Balsamic Poached Chicken is a family favorite. So easy and paired with some simple veggies you have a healthy dinner under 500 calories.

Balsamic Chicken Read More →

November 30, 2013

Smarty Mom: Holly Graue

Holly Graue 4

After Thursday’s pig out I cannot think of a better time to introduce you to this weeks Smarty Mom. She and her husband are fitness freaks and love to spread their gospel of good health to everyone. They are both certified personal trainers who work magic out of their small but insanely well equipped gym in South Charlotte. Holly is smart, quiet and ridiculously witty and she makes having small children and staying fit look so easy. Their training philosophy is simple “Do the Work”. Make sure you watch Geoff’s “Burn the Bird” Video at the end, it’s hysterical and just might give you the inspiration you need to work off those extra pounds.

Family Life?

Smarty Mom Holly Graue

Married to my partner in crime, Geoff. He’s the “G” in the H&G Personal Training. Proud mom of Aubrey and Larson. Frustrated dog owner to Chief who is “Marley” reincarnated(but I love him)!

Hometown/Years in Charlotte?

Albuquerque, NM is my childhood home. Charlotte has been our home base for 8 years. We love it here…unless I win the lotto, in which case an island is where you’ll find me.

When did you become so passionate about fitness?

I’ll give credit to my parents, who set the example early on in my life. They were great ambassadors of fitness, which is so important to instill in kids. Also, sports were a huge part of my life growing up which naturally created an overall passion for fitness.

What do you like most about being a personal fitness training?

Smarty Mom Holly Graue 2

There are too many things I love about training but the most fulfilling part is watching our clients truly embrace what it means to be fit and healthy. They drop the excuses and the fear and jump head first into a new life. Lots of sweat and soreness is earned but feeling strong is priceless. Read More →

November 24, 2013

Smarty Cooking School: What I have on my Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

My very favorite Holiday is coming up next week. I adore Thanksgiving. I know that must be a shock to you since the entire day is wrapped around everything food. Glutinous portions covered in gravy. DELICIOUS!!

My family gets together every year at my house. Well, I should say who ever can make it. I also love to invite friends as well. I would invite 50 people if I thought I could find a turkey big enough.

Every family has their own versions of these classics and some weird stuff that shows up on the table every year. Do you have an aunt that brings a jello mold covered in cat food like in “Christmas Vacation”? Do you have to serve that can of cranberry sauce because, well, you just have to? I was just at Trader Joe’s today and the check out lady asked me what is the one thing that I can’t live without on Thanksgiving. I told her my mom’s stuffing recipe, which was my grandmother’s as well. Simple and heavenly.

OK. So since my family is a family of cooks and doesn’t really use recipes for the dishes we make (we have been doing it so long we could do it blindfolded but if asked couldn’t write it down to save our lives), I am going to give you recipes as close to ours as possible. You won’t be disappointed.

The Turkey. Oven roasted, and we stuff every orifice with well the stuffing. Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Turkey

Turkey Read More →

November 2, 2013

Smarty Fall Fashion Giveaway #6: A Pair of Nakamol Earrings from The Impeccable Pig!

CSP Fall Fashion Week Giveaway Logo

Let the Fall Fashion Giveaways continue, Smarties! Today we introduce you to one of our favorite local boutiques, The Impeccable Pig in the Shops at Morrison in SouthPark. We are so lucky to have this great little gem of a boutique here in Charlotte! They originally hail from Dallas, TX and now have local shops here and in Charleston, SC.

The Impeccable Pig is a family owned and operated business based out of Dallas, TX. The store was opened in 2002 by sisters Laura and Mona as a home décor shop, but when Laura’s daughter Jenny joined the team as a buyer in 2005 the trio’s focus shifted toward apparel. The Impeccable Pig prides itself on extending a family-like atmosphere to each customer.

Whenever I have an event to go to and want something new that is going to make me feel hip and beautiful, I head to see Haley (adorable store manager) and her staff. They are just fantastic at putting together super fly outfits that will not break your budget.

All their clothing (with the exception of their jeans) are made for their own private label. They carry all the latest trends and are constantly getting new fabulous frocks in weekly. Whenever I am near the Shops at Morrison, I swing by and take a look. Just in case I see something that I absolutely need in my life!

I adore the outfit they picked out for me. A silky snakeskin print shirt with some cool leather detail on the collar and pockets ($72). The pants are “Flying Monkey” brand, which I am obsessed with. I have every color. They are so stretchy and flattering and with a price tag of $52, they can’t be beat.

Wendy in The Impeccable PIg Frocks

Read More →

October 27, 2013

Smarty Cooking School: Fall Favorites

Pumpkins aren’t just for pies and Jack O’ Lanterns. They are just begging to be turned into delicious dishes.

Most recipes for pumpkin are sweet and sometimes overly so. I love to play with different combinations of flavors that speak to the season but with a new twist. Think sweet and spicy.

At my local YMCA (The Harris Branch) there is a great little café in there called Flavors. My friends kept talking about this fantastic salad they had with pumpkin in it. I thought it would be a great thing to make for you guys. I kindly looked at all the ingredients and came up with my own version. It is beautiful.

Roasted Pumpkin Salad w/ Arugula, Feta cheese and Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Salad

1 Pie Pumpkin or Cut up Butternut squash
1 package of Arugula
Fresh crumbled Feta
¼ cup of toasted Pumpkin Seeds
½ cup Lemon Vinaigrette

You will need a pie pumpkin. They sell them in the produce department. I will warn you that you will need a chainsaw to cut into one of these things. I actually went into the garage to look for a saw at one point, gave up and just put the entire whole pumpkin into a 350 degree oven for a while to soften up so I could cut it up. Feel free to use the already diced butternut squash they sell instead. You will get the same flavors.

Once you have the pieces cut. You can drizzle them with olive oil, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Just enough to jazz it up a bit. Roast them for at least 30 min or so then let them cool.

To assemble the salad, just toss the fresh peppery Arugula, crumbled feta with the pumpkin. Then dress the salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette and then sprinkle the pumpkin seeds. You can either make your own or just buy them. I prefer the store bought ones for this recipe. I used both and found the ones I roasted to be a bit tougher to chew.

Enjoy. You will love the spicy pepper along side the sweet of the pumpkin and the saltiness of the feta.

Read More →

October 13, 2013

Smarty Cooking School: A Wondrous Box of Veggies and How to Get out of your Recipe Rut

Today’s Smarty Cooking School is sponsored by Simply Fresh Charlotte.

It happened last Friday. I was just washing dishes when I saw a truck pull into my driveway. A very nice man rang my doorbell and was holding two huge boxes of the most gorgeous organic produce I had laid my eyes on. Wow! Chris McSwain from Simply Fresh Charlotte led me through the produce in the boxes. His enthusiasm was contagious. He has a real passion for what he does and it shows. It was like having a farmers market brought to my house. My head started spinning with all the ideas of what I could make that week.

Simply Fresh Box 2

Simply Fresh Box 1

Are you in a rut of what to make? Do you keep circulating the same tired recipes to your family? Well I can tell you, having one of these boxes delivered will cure you of that. I started googling mustard greens, fingerling potatoes, eggplant, squash, long beans, white cucumbers and kale. I made all sorts of different things this week and they were all fantastic, but I had some real winners.

Read More →

October 6, 2013

Smarty Cooking School: The Care and Feeding of Men, The Best Darn Pot Roast Ever

Final Pot Roast

It is so true when they say men and women could not be more different. Women talk all the time and love a salad. The men I know would rather chew the bark off a tree than order a veggie plate for dinner. It is not to say that they don’t like healthy food but if you sear a piece of beef within twenty inches of them they will come running like a shopaholic to Filenes basement sale.

Men are simple. It doesn’t take much to make them happy. Don’t nag them, don’t humiliate them in front of their friends and just feed them yummy manly food.

My favorite time of year to feed men is in the Fall and Winter. I love to cook long braised stews and soups and casseroles with cheesy potatoes on top. Maybe I am really a man, well I talk like one and have the emotional capacity of a teenage boy but that is as close as the comparisons get.

I invited my Dad over for dinner the other night. If there has ever been a man who likes meat and potatoes it is he. He adores them. Nothing fancy just good old home cooking. It’s why I decided to make him the best darn pot roast ever.

Read More →


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