Love rice? Today's 'Cooking 101' post- How to Cook Basmati Rice in the Microwave!

How to Cook Basmati Rice in the Microwave

Love rice? Today's 'Cooking 101' post- How to Cook Basmati Rice in the Microwave!

How to Cook Basmati Rice in the Microwave

Today’s ‘Cooking 101’ tutorial: How to Cook Basmati Rice in the Microwave!  Follow a few easy steps and get fluffy, delicious rice in less than 20 minutes.

In my house, we go through a lot of basmati rice.  Sometimes we eat it with curry, sometimes with lentils, but I always– and I mean always— cook it in the microwave.  Actually, I cook all my rice in the microwave.  Why?  It’s easy, seemingly foolproof, and is ready in about 20 minutes.

I realize that this post won’t be helpful for everyone.  Some of you are ‘anti-microwave,’ others have rice cookers, and some of you probably cook rice on the stove top regularly without any issues.   Personally, I don’t use the microwave on a regular basis– except for rice.  If you’re ‘rice challenged,’ and have issues with rice sticking to the bottom of your pot when cooking– this post is for you.  If having multiple stove top burners going at once stresses you out– this recipe will let you put the rice in the microwave while dinner cooks on the stove.  If you’re simply looking for an incredibly easy way to fix your basmati rice– keep reading, because this post is for you too!

Continue reading

This vegan Spicy Chipotle Hummus is ready in 5 minutes, and is perfect for snacks and parties!

Spicy Chipotle Hummus

This vegan Spicy Chipotle Hummus is ready in 5 minutes, and is perfect for snacks and parties!

Spicy Chipotle Hummus

This vegan Spicy Chipotle Hummus is ready in 5 minutes, and is perfect for snacks and parties!

What’s your favorite snack food?  What do you reach for when the mid-afternoon munchies hit?  Fruit?  A candy bar?  Personally, I tend go for one of two salty options– chips and salsa, or pretzels and hummus.  I tend to rotate back and forth between the two easy options, but lately I’ve had to stop and reconsider the store-bought hummus I’ve been buying.

Guys– there have been a lot of pre-made hummus recalls recently.  A lot.  So many recalls, that I’ve started to feel as if I’m playing Russian Roulette when I pick up a container of pre-made hummus.  I won’t lie– I did pick up some pre-made chipotle hummus recently, but it made me nervous.  Plus, homemade hummus is SO MUCH BETTER!  And it’s easy– incredibly, ridiculously easy.  This homemade Spicy Chipotle Hummus is ready in 5 minutes, start to finish, and you can feel good about your snack food as you devour bite after bite.

Continue reading

These Smoked Gouda Sweet Potato Fries are baked until crispy, and topped with flavorful smoky gouda and pecans. This flavor-filled side is ready start-to-finish in about 25 minutes.

Smoked Gouda Sweet Potato Fries

These Smoked Gouda Sweet Potato Fries are baked until crispy, and topped with flavorful smoky gouda and pecans. This flavor-filled side is ready start-to-finish in about 25 minutes.

Smoked Gouda Sweet Potato Fries

These Smoked Gouda Sweet Potato Fries are baked until crispy, and topped with flavorful, smoky gouda and pecans.  This flavor-filled side is ready start-to-finish in about 25 minutes.

What’s your favorite way to use sweet potatoes?  I’m honestly not sure what my favorite sweet potato recipe is, because whenever and however I devour those gorgeous orange spuds, I love them a little bit more!  A few weeks ago, I was at a café, sharing sweet potato fries with friends, and I fell even harder in love with the starchy vegetable.  These fries were smothered in smoked gouda, and as soon as I got home, I started dreaming about piles and piles of orange, cheesy fries.  Faster than you can say ‘sweet potato,’ I was chopping potatoes, shredding cheese, and dicing pecans.  These Smoked Gouda Sweet Potato Fries are baked to perfection, covered in goopy, smoky, flavorful cheese, and topped with crunchy nuts.

Continue reading

This Kentucky Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole is made with sweet potatoes mashed with bourbon, maple syrup, and butter, and topped with a bourbon pecan crumble.

Kentucky Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

This Kentucky Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole is made with sweet potatoes mashed with bourbon, maple syrup, and butter, and topped with a bourbon pecan crumble.

Kentucky Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

This Kentucky Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole is made with sweet potatoes mashed with bourbon, maple syrup, and butter, and topped with a bourbon pecan crumble.

Each fall, there is one vegetable that reigns supreme.  One spud that shines above them all– the earthy, nutritious, delicious– sweet potato.  Growing up, my mom would, on occasion, miraculously convert those orangey-brown potatoes into a fluffy, buttery, and nutty casserole.  Each time it popped out of the oven, I would shamelessly devour as much as humanly possible, while silently wondering if sweet potato casserole was the best food on the planet.  The answer, of course, is obviously yes!  This Kentucky Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole is even better– full of buttery sweet potatoes whipped with cream and bourbon, and topped with a bourbon-pecan streusel.

Continue reading

Beluga Lentils Caviar

Beluga Lentil Caviar Appetizer

This vegan-friendly Beluga Lentil Caviar recipe features black beluga lentil salad served on top of crackers with cream cheese, and is the perfect cold weather appetizer for your dinner party! champagne-tastes.com

Beluga Lentil Caviar

This vegan-friendly Beluga Lentil Caviar recipe features black beluga lentil salad served on top of crackers with cream cheese, and is the perfect cold weather appetizer for your dinner party! 

Each year, as the air gets cooler and the leaves change color, the food in my pantry also shifts.  The lighter, summery meals switch over to heartier ones, and with that comes lentils.  My lentil obsession is probably obvious at this point– if you open my pantry you’ll find red lentils, french green lentils, brown lentils, split peas, (which are almost lentils) and of course, the black Beluga lentil.  Beluga lentils get their name from their resemblance to– you guessed it– the Beluga whale Beluga caviar!  (You guessed the whale first too, right?!)

Normally, I make Beluga Lentil Salad with these flavorful little gems, but they can also be turned into a deliciously tricky faux-caviar appetizer.  Pile some lentils onto a cracker and cream cheese (or vegan cream cheese), top it with dill, and you’ll be fancy enough to go to a party at the Ritz.  (Imagine how impressed everyone would be if you served these on Ritz crackers AT the Ritz? … And I wrote that joke for free, boys and girls!  This post is not sponsored by Ritz– cracker or Hotel).  These Beluga Lentil Caviar bites are vegan-friendly, simple to prepare, and make a perfect hors d’oeuvre.

Continue reading

Vegan Black Beluga Lentil Salad- Easy to prepare, 10 Ingredients

Beluga Lentil Salad

 

Vegan Black Beluga Lentil Salad- Easy to prepare, 10 Ingredients

Beluga Lentil Salad

This Beluga Lentil salad is easy to prepare, vegan, and the perfect warming dish for fall and winter.

Have you noticed my lentil obsession?  I’ve been on a lentil-cooking crusade lately, scouring the area to find as many kinds of lentils as possible.  I’ve eagerly devoured red lentils, French green lentils, regular green lentils, and now– black Beluga lentils.  This Beluga Lentil Salad is vegan, easy to prepare, and only uses 10 ingredients.

These special, tiny little lentils get their name because, at a glance, they look like Beluga caviar.  Unlike the pricey fish eggs, black Beluga lentils are extremely affordable, fairly easy to find, and are perfect for both busy weeknight dinners and fancier gourmet-style meals.  You could, of course, attempt to pass these lentils off as caviar to unsuspecting guests at a dinner party.  It would be hilarious, and your faux-roe ruse will either last less than a second, or make everyone think you’re able to afford a heaping bowl of caviar.  The jig might be up when they remember they’re sitting in your teensy apartment and not a rambling mansion.  In any case, your guests will be thrilled with the lentils, because they are fantastic.

Continue reading

French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette

French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette

French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette- Vegan, Easy to prepare, & Perfect for a side dish or main course

French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette

Every time I try a new kind of lentil, I fall in love all over again.  These delicious little legumes come in a rainbow of colors and flavors, and are used in dishes all over the world.  Your local grocery store should carry a few kinds of lentils– at the very least they’ll probably have green or brown lentils.  If, however, you want to branch out into the vast and exciting world of lentil-ness, (yes, that’s a technical term… okay no, no it’s not), try buying a bag of red lentils, beluga lentils, or the fancy-schmancy French green lentils.  And yes, before you ask, the reason French green lentils are different from regular green lentils, is that they come with alluring accents and little tiny berets.  Really.  (No, not really.  Of course not).  This recipe for French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette is vegan, simple to prepare, and bursting with flavor.

Continue reading

Forbidden Rice with Mushrooms

Forbidden Rice with Mushrooms

Forbidden Rice with Mushrooms - This easy to prepare, nutty rice will add a gourmet flair to your dinner

 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.

Awhile back, I found myself staring at a restaurant menu, asking the husband, “What in the world is Forbidden Rice?  Also, if it’s forbidden, how are they allowed to sell it?”  (If you want to leave now, before the puns get worse, I totally understand).  I didn’t try it that day, but a few days later, while walking through Jungle Jim’s, I saw it again.  And no worries, even though it was marked “forbidden” rice, they didn’t confiscate it at the cash register.  I did, in fact, make it home with this odd little grain.  I even successfully cooked the contraband rice, without any strange rice regulators banging through my front door.

I later learned that this nutty, gluten-free grain is not only delicious, it’s also definitely NOT forbidden. (I’m just kidding guys, I totally knew that right away).  This recipe for Forbidden Rice with Mushrooms is easy to make, delicious, and will impress all your guests (because, you know, they’ll be wondering how you got the off-limits rice).

Continue reading

Lemon Risotto

Gourmet Special: Lemon Risotto

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.

How do you feel about rice?  Have you given that much thought?  (I can’t be the only one fixating on rice… right?)  Personally, I think rice is delicious.  I even love plain old white rice– add a little butter, pepper, and soy sauce– and you have an easy, if somewhat bland, side dish or snack. However, my favorite rice, the star of rice dishes, the rice dish that is not simply a background for your main dish, is risotto.

Continue reading

Vegan Masala Spiced Lentils - Red Lentils cooked in Indian Spices

Masala Spiced Lentils

Vegan Masala Spiced Lentils - Red Lentils cooked in Indian Spices

Masala Spiced Lentils

These Masala Spiced Lentils are a vegan, flavorful, and incredibly simple way to prepare red lentils.

Have you tried cooking lentils? Maybe you’ve seen them at the grocery store and thought, “Are those beans?  Are those a type of rice?  Are those tiny pebbles that someone put in a bag to trick me?  Is this some kind of food fraud?”  Well, my friends, they’re a legume.  And they’re quite tasty. They work wonderfully as a ‘meaty’ component in soup, but also can stand on their own.  They also come in a rainbow of colors, each of which has its own taste and cooking time.  (Check out this guide for lentil cook times at IndiaPhile).

Continue reading