This hearty Cream of Mushroom Soup with Asparagus is made with mixed wild mushrooms, sautéed leeks, asparagus, milk, and cream. Serve it this winter with a hunk of crusty bread and a fireplace. champagne-tastes.com

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Asparagus

This hearty Cream of Mushroom Soup with Asparagus is made with mixed wild mushrooms, sautéed leeks, asparagus, milk, and cream. Serve it this winter with a hunk of crusty bread and a fireplace. champagne-tastes.com

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Asparagus

This hearty Cream of Mushroom Soup with Asparagus is made with mixed wild mushrooms, sautéed leeks, asparagus, milk, and cream.

There’s no question about it– it’s winter.  The wind is icy and cutting, my windshield was coated in frost this morning, and all I want is soup.  I want filling, cozy bowls of hot and steamy deliciousness that I can eat while curled up on the couch with a blanket.  (Just to be clear, you could also eat this soup while sitting at a table like a real grown-up.  I just choose not to.)  This Cream of Mushroom Soup with Asparagus is flavorful, packed with mushrooms and asparagus, and will keep you warm on frigid winter nights.

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This Seared Paprika Salmon with Cranberry Chutney is a show-stopping seafood centerpiece. Both the salmon and chutney are ready, start to finish, in about 15 minutes.

Seared Paprika Salmon with Cranberry Chutney

This Seared Paprika Salmon with Cranberry Chutney is a show-stopping seafood centerpiece. Both the salmon and chutney are ready, start to finish, in about 15 minutes.

Seared Paprika Salmon with Cranberry Chutney

This Seared Paprika Salmon with Cranberry Chutney is a show-stopping seafood centerpiece.  Both the salmon and chutney are ready, start-to-finish, in about 15 minutes.

I had a spicy Aha! moment recently.  A ‘where have you been all my life?’ pepper revelation.  About what?  Paprika.  Specifically, Spanish smoked paprika.  If you’ve only used regular paprika– listen up!  Stop what you’re doing, and go get some smoked paprika.  Seriously, it’s that delicious.  It’s like a little bit of ground-up heaven to sprinkle over your food.  If you love chipotle peppers, and haven’t been using smoked paprika– your mind will be blown.  (Or at least– mine was!)  This smoky, woodsy spice has less heat than chipotle, but all the flavor, which means you can use as much as your little heart desires.

At the moment, my favorite way to use smoked paprika is to sprinkle it all over salmon, sear the fish, and cover it with cranberry chutney.  In other words, I take three of my favorite things and throw them together in a pan.  And it’s magical.  This Seared Paprika Salmon with Cranberry Chutney is flavorful, gorgeous, and fast– making it perfect for both a dinner party centerpiece and for a quickly thrown-together weeknight meal.

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This Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado is for the food adventurer! This tasty grilled cheese uses a washed rind "stinky cheese," avocado, and tomato in dark pumpernickel bread for a flavor explosion!

Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado

This Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado is for the food adventurer! This tasty grilled cheese uses a washed rind "stinky cheese," avocado, and tomato in dark pumpernickel bread for a flavor explosion!

Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado

This Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado is for the food adventurer!  This tasty grilled cheese uses a washed rind “stinky cheese,” avocado, and tomato in dark pumpernickel bread for a flavor explosion!

The husband has a theory.  He’s convinced that there are two types of people in this world– those who like blue cheese, and those who don’t.  The blue cheese lovers– these people like strong flavors, and have adventurous palates.  Blue cheese haters– well, they don’t.  He is so convinced of this that when we started dating, it was one of his first questions.  “How do you feel about blue cheese?!”  (It’s a good thing I like it, right!?!)  Is he right?   I’m not sure, but I am sure that there are people who are willing to try any new food handed their way.  People who think, “that looks weird– give me a bite!”  If you are an adventurous eater, and love strong flavors– then this Stinky French Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Avocado is for you!  Dig into pumpernickel bread filled with flavorful, and yet pungent, washed rind cheese, along with layers of tomato and avocado.

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Pesto Spinach Macaroni and Cheese- Easy, Gourmet Mac + Cheese, Ready in 20 Minutes Start to Finish! - champagne-tastes.com

Pesto Spinach Macaroni and Cheese

This Pesto Spinach Macaroni and Cheese is an easy, gourmet mac and cheese that's ready in twenty minutes start to finish!

Pesto Spinach Macaroni and Cheese

This Pesto Spinach Macaroni and Cheese is an easy, gourmet mac and cheese that’s ready in twenty minutes start to finish! 

Guys, I have a confession.  Some days, I just don’t care how easy a 15 minute meal is– my brain hurts, and I don’t want to cook.  Does this happen to you too?  On those nights, my first instinct is to have the husband cook dinner.  (The cat, of course, still refuses to help either of us cook.)  If that doesn’t work– there’s Indian take-out.  If take-out falls through– I reach back into the deep, dark recesses of my kitchen pantry– and pull out a box of mac and cheese.  Not just any mac and cheese, mind you– I like the fancy stuff.  The organic, ‘let’s pretend this powdered cheese came from a cow’ stuff.

However, even the fanciest boxed mac and cheese always leaves me full of doubt.  I’m left wondering, ‘What exactly did I just eat?’ and ‘Would homemade mac and cheese really have been harder to make??’  The answer, of course, is NO– homemade mac and cheese is NOT difficult to make, and doesn’t take much longer to prepare than the boxed kind.  Plus, with homemade mac and cheese– there’s no suspicious powdered cheese packet!  This Pesto Spinach Macaroni and Cheese takes about 20 minutes, start to finish, and is bursting with cheesy goodness.

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This Vegetarian French Onion Soup is a celebration of the onion. Instead of beef broth, which masks the onion, the slowly caramelized onions make their own sweet, deeply flavorful broth as they cook. For a faster cook-time-- caramelize your onions ahead of time and freeze them!

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

This Vegetarian French Onion Soup is a celebration of the onion. Instead of beef broth, which masks the onion, the slowly caramelized onions make their own sweet, deeply flavorful broth as they cook. For a faster cook-time-- caramelize your onions ahead of time and freeze them!

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

This Vegetarian French Onion Soup is a celebration of the onion.  Instead of beef broth, which masks the onion, the slowly caramelized onions make their own sweet, deeply flavorful broth as they cook.  For a faster cook-time– caramelize your onions ahead of time and freeze them!

Do you ever have ‘ah ha!’ moments?  Moments where suddenly, everything makes sense, and your world will never be the same again?  I had one of those moments recently– about onions.  (Don’t stop reading, guys!  It’s good– I swear!)  Specifically, my ‘the skies opened and everything was clear’ moment was about French Onion Soup.  You’ve eaten French Onion Soup, right?  Have you tried to make it?  Have you heard the warnings about using high-quality broth so as not to not ruin the hours and hours you’ve spent caramelizing onions into perfect, amber goodness?  The warnings are true, to an extent, because bad broth WILL RUIN your soup.  However, and this is a big however, you don’t need to add broth at all, because the onions make their OWN BROTH.  (If you’re staring in horror at your screen– stay with me!)  The broth you’ll get from simply using well-caramelized onions, hot water, and a little wine, is INCREDIBLE.  It’s so incredibly delicious, that when I tasted it– I immediately threw away all my other Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipes, because it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

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Savory Rosemary Apple Crêpes- A quick and easy lunch

Rosemary Apple Crêpes

Savory Rosemary Apple Crêpes- A quick and easy lunch

Rosemary Apple Crêpes

These Rosemary Apple Crêpes are light, delicious, and perfect for lunch.  Simply stuff one French Crêpe with apple slices, cheddar cheese, and fresh rosemary, and then lightly grill.

It’s no secret that I love crêpes– I crave them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and even for snacks in between!  If you’ve kept up with Champagne Tastes over the last few months, you know that I’ve been on a crêpe-binge– a crêpe-stravaganza— and have filled your phone screens and work computers with all things crêpe.  You’re welcome.  Let’s do this again, shall we?  Today– Rosemary Apple Crêpes– another simple and delicious way to fill your French Crêpes.

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This vegetarian Savory Apple Pizza is gourmet pizza at its most delicious. It's made with sauteed apples over mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses, and is topped with fig syrup and pecans.

Savory Apple Pizza

This vegetarian Savory Apple Pizza is gourmet pizza at its most delicious. It's made with sauteed apples over mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses, and is topped with fig syrup and pecans.

Savory Apple Pizza

This vegetarian Savory Apple Pizza is gourmet pizza at its most delicious.  It’s made with sautéed apples over mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses, and is topped with a fig jam sauce and pecans. 

This recipe has a story– a long, twisted tale of pizza goodness.  It all started a few years back, when I was just out of college, and shockingly, shockingly, couldn’t find a well-paying job for my studio art degree.  You’re all shocked too, right?  At any rate, I ended up (briefly) with the slightly mind-numbing job of entering health insurance data while sitting in a dark cubicle.  To pass the time, I flipped through the waiting-room magazines.  Whenever I’d find a recipe I liked, I’d have a little cubicle happy-dance.  Well, friends, that’s when I found a recipe for a Savory Apple Pizza.  Quite honestly, I have absolutely no idea what magazine it was in, and over the years this recipe has morphed into an entirely different pizza, but that’s where it began.  This Savory Apple Pizza has become a dinner and pizza party favorite.  It’s topped with gorgonzola, mozzarella, sautéed apples, pecans, and finished off with a delicious drizzle of fig jam sauce.

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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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Vegan Navratan Vegetable Korma- Easy to Find Ingredients, Step by Step Directions

Navratan Vegetable Korma

Vegan Navratan Vegetable Korma- Easy to Find Ingredients, Step by Step Directions

Navratan Vegetable Korma

This recipe for Navratan Vegetable Korma is vegan-friendly, made with easy to find ingredients, and has step-by-step directions.

What do you order when you go to Indian restaurants?  Do you stare in a panic at a list of unfamiliar food names, and then pick something at random?  Do you stick to the buffet, and get a little bit of everything?  The husband and I like to order one ‘safe’ meal, and one new, unfamiliar curry.  My trusty, always delicious, go-to meal is Vegetable Korma, a creamy curry filled with roasted spices, blended cashews, and seasonal vegetables.  One of my favorite things about korma is that, depending on who prepares it, variations in spice choices, and what vegetables are in season, the dish changes from kitchen to kitchen.  That means, of course, that Vegetable Korma is NEVER boring.

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These savory, vegetarian Tomato and Herbed Cheese Crepes are quick, delicious, and easy to prepare

Tomato and Herb Cheese Crêpes

These savory, vegetarian Tomato and Herbed Cheese Crepes are quick, delicious, and easy to prepare

Tomato and Herbed Cheese Crepes

These Tomato and Herb Cheese Crêpes use delicate French Crêpes filled with freshly sliced tomatoes, shredded cheese, and fresh garden herbs.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but here at Champagne Tastes, we’ve embarked on a Crêpe Journey.  The poor husband has been stuffed full of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert crêpes, and has started to mumble in French while he sleeps.  If you too want to be crêpe-crazed, and join us on our expedition into all things crêpe, the easiest thing to do is start by learning how to make French Crêpes.  Practice your crêpe technique, and keep a stack of these über thin French pancakes on hand.  Once you’ve got crêpes in your fridge or freezer– everything else will be très simple.

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