How to Speak Southern

Guest Post from Paige of Champagne In My Boots

March 21, 2014

My dear readers: I am so pleased to introduce you to my first guest contributor, Paige Grimball of … With Champagne In My Boots, a fabulous foodie blog based in Charleston that I have come to rely on for healthy and easy recipes. Paige kindly agreed to do a series of guest posts for SST to give us an expert’s guide on saving money grocery shopping and budget-conscious recipes, among other necessities. While her food is totally tricked-out in all of its gourmet goodness, Paige’s recipes are simple enough for any baking butthole to master. This particular baking butthole plans on flabbergasting my family with this recipe this weekend. I hope you enjoy! — Anna

From Paige:

My propensity for the expensive became apparent at a fairly young age, and it is likely that my parents spent the better part of my adolescence wondering exactly when and how I would bankrupt them. In fact, I am not entirely convinced that this fear has fully subsided since I have made the transition to adulthood.

When my brother and I were ten and six, respectively, we had the good fortune of enjoying the amenities of a Ritz Carlton for the first time. While I do not recall the specifics of the vacation, I have come to understand that I enjoyed my stay immensely. Because this was the early 90s and the helicopter parent had not yet emerged on the scene, my parents decided to enjoy a dinner out without the kids in tow one night, leaving instructions (and likely a tip) with the concierge to make sure we made it to and from dinner in the hotel restaurant without any major catastrophes. The whole affair went smoothly, except that my brother ordered an appetizer of shrimp cocktail after mistakenly judging its $20 price tag to indicate an entrée portion, and I simply refused to order anything at all other than a Shirley Temple. {Apparently I was a renegade in the liquid diet fad.}

Needless to say, my parents returned to our hotel suite to find two very hungry children. Being the resourceful people that they are, they called down to order up some room service grilled cheeses and fries. I might be mistaken, but I am pretty sure that when my father reflects on his life, he views this moment as where he went wrong…because apparently when the room service arrived, I said:

“So let me get this straight. You just press a button on the phone and they bring whatever you want to your room?” When I received confirmation, I leaned back on the pillows—one hand behind my head, the other holding out a grilled cheese half—and dramatically proclaimed, “Ahhh! This is the life!”

To this day the inability to order room service at certain hotels induces an irrational level of rage in me.

As I have gotten older and “matured” a bit, I have had the displeasure of reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that I simply do not yet possess the means to maintain the lifestyle to which I became accustomed growing up. However, it is often difficult, at least for me, to relinquish many of my tastes/preferences/material desires and resign myself to accepting a second-rate, less fabulous version. So I have learned to become creative in stretching my husband’s and my budget as far as I can—to make shrewd investments, shop smart, buy vintage and dabble in DIY projects. Naturally, the whole concept of Silver Spoon Taste resonated with me on a rather profound level, and I was thrilled when Anna agreed to collaborate with me on doing a series of guest posts!

One of the most difficult areas for me with our budget has been on groceries. I love to cook so my husband and I eat all of our meals at home, with the exception of the occasional date night or weekend brunch. But I am very health conscious, and the more I learn about both nutrition and the American food industry, the more trouble I have buying food that is not of the highest quality possible. {Once you read something, it is nearly impossible to un-read it. At least in my experience}.

This has only been amplified since my husband Heyward and I found out we are expecting our first child because I want to make sure I am eating the most nutrient rich foods possible. But as most of you know, some of the most healthful foods—like wild caught fish, organic dairy/meats/produce, seeds, etc—can be a bit pricey, especially if you are young and a bit inexperienced. Then take into account the large amount of different ingredients many recipes call for and the whole thing is enough to make even the most resolute shopper want to sit on the floor in their underwear and cry into their Ramen.

But eating well and preparing fresh, wholesome meals does not have to come at an exorbitant cost. Hell, you can probably still pay all of your bills this month. There are quite a few “hacks” I have learned along the way that can help save money, and my goal is to share a few of those with you through a series of guest posts.

One of the things that has made a substantial difference for our grocery budget and reduces our food waste is using what we have (and using up what we have). Doing so often includes substituting ingredients in recipes. Not only does this save money, but it also minimizes frequent grocery runs for that one random item you do not have in your fridge/pantry. It can also help you keep order in your kitchen by avoiding cluttering your shelves with obscure items you may or may not find another way to use.

When Anna and I first discussed the possibility of me doing a guest post on “using what you have,” I had no intention of sharing a baking recipe. I much prefer cooking to baking, and 9 times out of ten I will choose savory foods over sweet. However, my pregnancy has brought on an unexpected sweet tooth so I have been experimenting with some recipes for baked goods recently. While I am no stranger to food cravings, I have not yet acclimated to my newly developed sweet tooth and frequently find that I have forgotten to restock basic ingredients like flour, sugar, butter and the like. Because of this, I have developed a pretty comprehensive list of easy substitutions, which even includes some baking “hacks” to compensate for lacking many of the fundamental kitchen gadgets used in preparing baked goods.

Baking is precise and generally requires careful adherence to both ingredients and preparation techniques, which can make it a challenge if you are less than diligent about stocking your pantry the way that I am. I do not claim to understand the chemistry behind it in the slightest, but through trial and (a lot of) error, I have learned a bit about when and how you can substitute ingredients. This is obviously great news for your wallet, as well as your schedule.

My recipe for Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, which I adapted (pretty much to the point of being unrecognizable) from Sally’s Baking Addiction, is a perfect example for using what you have and substituting ingredients. My version has been lightened-up and healthed-up quite a bit, and I made a few adjustments based on what I had on hand. And these cupcakes are seriously the bomb, y’all. The first time I made them Heyward and I ate all 12 in two days. I even caved and let Heyward eat one for breakfast with Greek yogurt cream cheese.

I hope you enjoy the recipe! And for ideas for “using what you have” to help you make recipes for baked goods on your own, check out the list I’ve included following the recipe. And be sure to leave some comments with your own favorite ingredient substitutions and baking hacks.




  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup + ½ cup raw sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp + 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup almond/coconut milk

For the Cinnamon-Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar (or to preference)


Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, coconut oil & 1/3 cup sugar (aka stir until well combined). Add eggs, vanilla, Greek yogurt & applesauce and stir until just combined.*

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together flour,** baking powder, baking soda, salt & 1 tsp cinnamon. Gently fold in wet ingredients then whisk in milk until combined. Try to get rid of any large clumps, but do not over-beat or the cupcakes will not rise properly.


Whisk together remaining ½ cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon.***

Line cupcake tin with muffin liners or grease the cups with coconut oil, butter or safflower oil to prevent sticking. Fill each cup 1/3 of the way full, followed by a scant ½ tsp of cinnamon-sugar mixture.



Fill cups with remainder of the batter until about ¾ of the way full. If using cupcake liners, they should be filled almost to the top (without spilling over).


Distribute remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture between cupcakes, swirling it into the top of the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan 180° halfway through to ensure even cooking. The cupcakes are ready when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with only a few crumbs. You might want to check the cupcakes after about 20 minutes to make sure the tops are not browning too quickly. If it looks like the cupcakes are going to burn, you can tent them with aluminum foil.

When cupcakes are ready, remove from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.



To make cinnamon-spiced cream cheese frosting, beat cream cheese until smooth (either with your hand or with an electric mixer). Whisk in cinnamon and vanilla extract then whisk in confectioners sugar until desired consistency. Put in the refrigerator until set. *Note: to thicken frosting, add more sugar. To thin, add milk.


Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost them with the cinnamon-spiced cream cheese frosting. Easy baking hack: Use a Ziploc plastic bag to pipe your frosting onto the cupcakes instead of a traditional piping bag. Just spoon the frosting into the bag using a spatula and zip the baggie. Then gently push all of the frosting to the bottom of the baggie and cut a tiny bit of the corner off with scissors. The larger the hole that you cut, the more frosting will come out.





  • Almond/coconut milk: I buy a kind that is a combination of the two, but you could use one or the other or replace with non-fat or soy milk or whatever milk you like
  • For this recipe, vanilla Greek yogurt would be fine (in which case, omit ½ Tbsp vanilla extract)
  • In place of the 1 cup Greek yogurt and 1 cup milk, you could use 2 cups plain kefir (perfect with those who have trouble digesting bovine dairy, as it is only 1% lactose)


Substitutions for all-purpose flour:

  • half all-purpose, half whole wheat
  • replace half with almond flour, coconut flour or other
  • gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • replace 1/3 with whole wheat flour and 1/3 with almond or coconut flour
  • replace 1/3 with whole wheat flour and 2/3 with gluten-free all-purpose flour

Substitutions for eggs:

  • For each egg, use 1 Tbsp milled flax seed or flax seed oil + 3 Tbsp water
  • *Note: In baking, egg whites do not make great substitutes for whole eggs, as the batter will not rise with egg whites. In certain recipes, such as banana bread and pumpkin bread, I have tested replacing half of the number of whole eggs with 2 egg whites each (e.g. in a recipe calling for 2 eggs, I used 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites) and the result has been fine, just not quite as fluffy.
  • For more egg substitutions, see here.

Substitutions for sugar:

  • light brown sugar
  • honey
  • replace half with 2x unsweetened applesauce (natural sugar that also helps keep your baked goods moist!)

Substitutions for butter:

  • replace half with sour cream
  • replace half with Greek yogurt (if using 0% fat, using 2:1 ratio of yogurt to oil, aka replace half the amount of butter with 2x yogurt. If using 2% fat yogurt, you can replace half the butter with equivalent amount of yogurt)
  • replace half with equivalent amount coconut oil

Substitutions for oil:

  • replace up to ½ cup oil with equivalent amount of unsweetened applesauce
  • I have also used Greek yogurt to replace ½ the amount of oil, using about a 2:1 ratio of yogurt to oil
  • Safflower oil, canola oil & coconut oil are the best for baking, at least in my opinion. Please do not use olive oil.

See this post on Food52 for some tips on butter v. oil v. other fats for use in pie crusts.

Substitutions for cream:

  • half & half
  • milk (but be careful if using non-fat milk because the baked good may get dry unless you make sure there is enough fat with oil/butter/sour cream)
  • *Note: non-dairy milks do make the best substitutes for cream in my experience. They do not have the proper thickening effect in soups/chowders. It works a little better in baking, but make sure that you add a little Greek yogurt, extra oil (or other fat) or applesauce to prevent the baked good from drying out. {Since I mentioned soups/chowders, Greek yogurt does not make a good substitute for cream here either, as it will curdle and/or generally look lumpy)

Substitutions for sour cream:

  • plain Greek yogurt (again, 2% fat Greek yogurt will produce more moist baked goods)

Substitutions for cream cheese:

  • replace with Neufchâtel cheese (lower fat)
  • pureed cottage cheese
  • ricotta cheese + a bit of Greek yogurt
  • Greek yogurt cream cheese (though this does not work as well with frostings because it is a thinner consistency than regular cream cheese)

Alternate thickeners for frosting:

  • heaving whipping cream
  • butter
  • corn/tapioca starch
  • cocoa powder (if applicable)
  • confectioners sugar
  • cooling to lower temperature in fridge

Substitutions for buttermilk:

  • Substitute reduced fat buttermilk
  • Replace each unit with equal parts plain Greek yogurt & milk, whisked together (i.e. for 1 cup buttermilk, use ½ cup Greek yogurt and ½ cup milk)
  • *Note: For baking purposes or buttermilk pie, keep in mind that the reduced fat content will impact the texture of the dish. Because of this, it is better to substitute ingredients with some fat content. For example, 2% fat Greek yogurt and 1% milk. For dredging fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, etc., it is less important—I have used 0% fat Greek yogurt whisked with plain unsweetened almond milk, and it worked out perfectly.

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