This Apple Cider Kentucky Sunrise is made with bourbon, apple cider, and pomegranate simple syrup. This southern twist on the classic Tequila Sunrise is the perfect fall cocktail.

Apple Cider Kentucky Sunrise

This Apple Cider Kentucky Sunrise is made with bourbon, apple cider, and pomegranate simple syrup. This southern twist on the classic Tequila Sunrise is the perfect fall cocktail.

Apple Cider Kentucky Sunrise

This Apple Cider Kentucky Sunrise is made with bourbon, apple cider, and pomegranate simple syrup.  This southern twist on the classic Tequila Sunrise is the perfect fall cocktail.  This post is sponsored by Drizly.

I have exciting news– it’s apple cider season!  I started seeing apple cider in the grocery store about a week ago, and did a giddy little jig– I clapped my hands and everything.  People can stare if they want to– it’s cider season and I don’t care.  Apple cider is probably my favorite fruit drink on the planet– it’s so earthy, so fruity, and such a great way to celebrate fall.  I buy apple cider obsessively from mid-September until it tragically begins to vanish from the market shelves in late November.  You can, of course, drink cider cold, poured straight from the bottle into your juice glass.  And I do.  Don’t stop there, though– heat it up, mull it, or turn it into a cocktail!  This Apple Cider Kentucky Sunrise is a festively fall twist on the classic Tequila Sunrise, and is made with apple cider, bourbon, and pomegranate simple syrup.

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A Week with Sun Basket

A Week with Sun Basket

A Week with Sun Basket

A Week with Sun Basket

Interested in a meal subscription plan and want to try Sun Basket?  I tried it for a week, and here’s what I thought.  Please note: Sun Basket sent me one week’s worth of meals for free in exchange for my honest review.  

Does planning dinner exhaust you?  Do you come home from work, march straight to the fridge, and then stare blankly at everything inside?  Do you want to try new recipes, but you’re a little intimidated by unfamiliar ingredients?  Are you trying to learn how to cook, and want a little help?  If so, there are plenty of meal subscription companies just waiting to send food your way.  Choosing the right one for you, however, can be a little overwhelming, particularly since you don’t get to taste test the food first!  Which should you choose?  Here at Champagne Tastes, I’ve been trying out several different meal services to help you navigate your food delivery choices.  I’ll be your taste tester, and let you know what I thought.  Today, we’ll look at Sun Basket— a meal subscription company that offers organic produce, and a large meal selection for those with vegetarian, pescetarian, paleo, or gluten-free diets.

*Note: Along with a free box, Sun Basket also sent me a coupon for you!  Scroll to the bottom of this post for the coupon link.

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These savory, vegan-friendly stone ground Overnight Grits are cooked in a slow cooker while you sleep. Top them with green onions and diced tomatoes, or cheese and a runny egg.

Overnight Grits

These savory, vegan-friendly stone ground Overnight Grits are cooked in a slow cooker while you sleep. Top them with green onions and diced tomatoes, or cheese and a runny egg.

Overnight Grits

These savory, vegan-friendly stone-ground Overnight Grits are cooked in a slow cooker while you sleep.  Top them with green onions and diced tomatoes, or cheese and a runny egg.  Or all of the above!

Do you love grits?  Personally, I adore grits, and would be happy eating them at any time of day.  I have a special place in my heart, however, for grits that are ready for me to eat when I wake up in the morning.  (Who am I kidding?  I love any food that’s ready for me when I wake up!)  Sometimes this happens when the husband takes pity on my pitiful, sleepy self, and makes breakfast for me.  Other times, however, it happens when I throw (literally– THROW!) food into the slow cooker before bed.  (Okay, you’re on to me.  I’m not nearly coordinated enough to ‘throw’ food… I ‘pour’ it).
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This Pumpkin Tiramisu is a seasonal version of the classic Italian dessert.

Pumpkin Tiramisu

This Pumpkin Tiramisu is a seasonal version of the classic Italian dessert.

Pumpkin Tiramisu

This Pumpkin Tiramisu is a seasonal version of the classic Italian dessert, made with fluffy layers of mascarpone cheese and pumpkin purée between espresso-infused Italian lady fingers.  

Tomorrow is the official start of fall, and I’ve already got full-blown pumpkin fever.  I’ve been scouring my brain, my recipes, and my cabinets, wondering, “What else would be better with pumpkin?!”  The answer was obvious– everything is better with pumpkin!!!  However, when I found Italian lady fingers hiding in the back recesses of my pantry, I knew it was the beginning of something fantastical.  You already know, I’m sure, that pumpkin and espresso together are magically, wonderfully, delicious.   (Starbucks has been marketing that flavor explosion for years!)  With a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand, giving me pumpkin-infused confidence, I whipped up another batch of pumpkin-coffee goodness.  This Pumpkin Tiramisu is made with layers of mascarpone and pumpkiny goodness between espresso-infused Italian lady fingers.

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I tried Blue Apron for a week, and here’s what I thought. This post is NOT sponsored.

A Week with Blue Apron

A Week with Blue Apron

A Week with Blue Apron

Interested in a meal subscription plan and want to try Blue Apron?  I tried it for a week, and here’s what I thought.  Please note: This post is NOT sponsored by Blue Apron– I used an online promo code for $50 off one week’s meals to try it out.

Alright everyone– it’s story time.  Once upon a time, I thought I wasn’t affected by advertising.  I rarely watch commercials, I do research before buying things– I cannot be swayed!  Right?  I thought so, but then one day I found myself at the gym, pounding the treadmill, drooling inexplicably over an Olive Garden commercial (I don’t even LIKE Olive Garden, guys!), and then convincing the husband we NEEDED to try their Taste of Italy THAT NIGHT.  Well, friends, that’s when I knew ads work.  (It’s okay though, because that meal was really tasty!)  Recently, the ads on Pinterest and in my email drone on and on about meal subscription companies– you know what I mean, Blue Apron and the like– and honestly, I’ve been a bit obsessed.  These companies promise to deliver ready-to-cook groceries straight to your door, and I WANTED it.  I worried, though.  Was this a clever advertising campaign design to make me lust after expensive food that I didn’t need?  (Probably.)  Would I end up loving it anyway?  (I really thought I would!)

The problem is, once I started looking, I had a little bit of sticker shock.  Using these meal delivery companies is pricier than going to the grocery store, no lie.  (At least, it is for me with my Aldi shopping ways.  If you frequent Whole Foods or other pricier grocers, you might disagree.)  No matter how long I looked, however, these companies still seemed so FUN.  I loved the idea of little ‘home cooking lessons,’ with ingredients I didn’t normally have easy access to (or just hadn’t tried).  The more I looked, however, the more confused I got– because there’s a bunch of meal delivery companies, and they all offer something a little bit different.  That’s when I decided I probably wasn’t alone– you might be confused and curious too!  And that, dear readers, was the beginning of a new project.  Let’s call it– The Blue Apron Project.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be trying out a few different meal subscription services, and giving you the 411.  The info.  The low-down.  Ya dig it?  (If you want to bail now, to avoid any more bad jokes/outdated slang/awful puns– I totally understand).  Let’s start with the one you’ve probably heard the most about– Blue Apron.

*Note: Blue Apron did NOT send me a free box, but they DID send me a coupon for you!  Scroll to the bottom of this post for the coupon link. Continue reading

Blueberry Basil Julep - Muddle basil leaves with blueberry simple syrup, add crushed ice, add bourbon, and drink up!

Blueberry Basil Julep

Blueberry Basil Julep - Muddle basil leaves with blueberry simple syrup, add crushed ice, add bourbon, and drink up

Blueberry Basil Julep

This Blueberry Basil Julep is made with blueberry simple syrup, fresh basil leaves, and bourbon.  Enjoy it on Derby Day, at a cocktail party, or whenever your herb garden is overflowing.

A few weeks ago, the husband and I made another weekend road trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  While we wandered around distillery gift shops and waited for our tours, I had lots of time to read the cocktail recipes that were plastered all over the gift shops.  In particular, a recipe for a pineapple basil julep at Jim Beam caught my eye.  It was a little more complicated than I wanted my cocktail process to be, but I liked the idea of adding a fruity simple syrup to a julep.  When we got home, I started playing bartender.  (Except, I don’t know how to do any fancy bartender bottle-spinning moves, and I’m not very good at listening without interrupting, so maybe I’m NOT an awesome bartender.)  At any rate, I tried a few cocktail concoctions, and this one was the bomb dot com.

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Seared Scallops with Wine Sauce: A fast, easy, and delicious date night dinner that's ready in about 20 minutes.

Gourmet Special: Seared Scallops with Wine Sauce

Seared Scallops with Wine Sauce: A fast, easy, and delicious date night dinner that's ready in about 20 minutes.

Seared Scallops with Wine Sauce

Do you need a fancy recipe for date night?  A romantic dinner for two?  Are your in-laws or boss coming over for dinner, and you need to impress?  Periodically, Champagne Tastes will be featuring ‘Gourmet’ recipes.  These will still be budget friendly and relatively simple, but will help you confidently serve a gourmet meal without hiring a chef.

If you’re looking for a decadently delicious seafood meal, you might think– “Lobster.  I love lobster.”  Typically I would agree with you, but if you haven’t tried sea scallops– they give lobster a fight for the Fabulous Seafood Award. (I just made that award up, but let’s pretend it’s real.)  These Seared Scallops with Wine Sauce are rich, delicious, and fast– the perfect date-night meal.  They’re also perfect if you want to treat yourself to an easy, fancy-schmancy meal.  You know, the kind where you get to eat everything yourself instead of sharing.

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Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is easy, and with a little planning, can be a fantastic getaway both for bourbon lovers and those who simply want to sight-see

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Navigating the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is easy, and with a little planning, can be a fantastic getaway both for bourbon lovers and those who simply want to sight-see!

Fellow foodies, if you, like me, enjoy tours of vineyards, distilleries, and breweries– listen up!  I’m sure you’ve heard of famous wine-tasting regions, such as California’s wine country, Italy’s Tuscan vineyards, and France’s Loire Valley.  Those areas are special because, while there are other fantastic vineyards scattered across the world, these are in clusters, and make for spectacular vineyard-hopping getaways.  You may or may not have realized, however, that several major bourbon distilleries in Kentucky are also clustered together, and make up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  Kentucky’s native limestone rock makes bourbon production easier, and 95% off all bourbon is made in Kentucky.  The Bourbon Trail runs from Lexington to Louisville, and as of September 2016 has nine official stops.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte with REAL Pumpkin. Ready in 15 minutes, or Prep the pumpkin puree the night before, and it's ready in 5 minutes!

Pumpkin Spice Latte with Real Pumpkin

Pumpkin Spice Latte with REAL Pumpkin. Ready in 15 minutes, or Prep the pumpkin puree the night before, and it's ready in 5 minutes!

Pumpkin Spice Latte with Real Pumpkin

This vegan-friendly Pumpkin Spice Latte is made with spiced, lightly sweetened REAL pumpkin, steamed milk (or coconut milk), and espresso.

Does anything scream “Fall!” more than the Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Well yes, probably.  The mornings get chillier, the leaves start to turn, and we all start scrambling to remember where we stored warmer clothes (or is that just me?)  Pumpkins and other squash begin proudly flaunting their brightly colored skins, daring us to take them home and devour them.  And of course, I do.  The other, albeit unofficial, start to delicious autumn goodness is when Starbucks begins selling its Pumpkin Spice Latte.  At $5-$6 a cup, however, it’s a pricey habit to maintain.  Even if you have the cash to guzzle down one of these spiced coffee drinks daily, the chemical flavoring and excessive sweetness mean that this drink isn’t exactly the healthiest option.  Instead, try this recipe for a Pumpkin Spiced Latte with REAL pumpkin.  Making this latte is quick– the most time-consuming, 10 minute part of the recipe can be completed ahead of time, meaning you don’t need to wake up any earlier to enjoy pumpkin deliciousness at home before starting your day.

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Glamping: Vegan Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers. Ready in about 5 minutes, Easy to prepare, Packed with Protein

Glamping: Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers

Glamping: Vegan Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers. Ready in about 5 minutes, Easy to prepare, Packed with Protein

Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers

“Glamping”– or, Glamour Camping– is the perfect way to enjoy time ‘with nature,’ while still feeling happy and full at the end of the day.  This series of “Glamping” recipes will focus on cooking outdoors, with recipes as exciting and fulfilling as your camping trip.  

Hello campers, hikers, and adventurers!  If you’re planning on cooking outdoors soon, and want to catch up on any of the ‘Glamping’ recipes from my trip Out West, click here!  This past summer, when I wasn’t hiking into canyons and sleeping under the stars, I was eating.  We cooked most of our own food along our route, but I found out something about campground cooking– it’s HOT.  Standing over a campfire or camp-stove to prepare a meal was just fine in the mountains of Yellowstone, but when we got to the desert in Utah, I was over it.  I wanted something fast, with minimal heat exposure, so that I could go dive into a pool.  The solution to my dinner dilemma?  Burritos.  These Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers are flavorful, protein-packed, and are ready start-to-finish in about 10 minutes.  Best of all, only a few minutes are spent standing over the heat.

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