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.

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Gourmet Recipes on a Budget

18 Gourmet Recipes on a Budget

Gourmet Recipes on a Budget - champagne-tastes.com

Gourmet Recipes on a Budget

These 18 Gourmet Recipes on a Budget feature gourmet-style recipes that are full of flavor and flair, but won’t hurt your wallet!  

Does your bank account start sobbing as soon as your car pulls into the grocery store parking lot?  Does your credit card start to hide deeper and deeper in your wallet as you approach the checkout?  If buying your usual groceries stretches your budget, buying “fancy food” for a party or date night might send you into a panicked frenzy!  Never fear– fellow budget-conscious foodies!  If you too, have ‘champagne tastes, but a beer budget,’ these 18 Gourmet Recipes on a Budget will help you serve flavorful, gorgeous food– without stripping your savings account dry.

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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.

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Apple French Toast Bake with Raisins, Dates, and Pecans - An easy, vegetarian breakfast bake!

Apple French Toast Bake

Apple French Toast Bake with Raisins, Dates, and Pecans - An easy, vegetarian breakfast bake!

Apple French Toast Bake

This Apple French Toast Bake is made with fresh apples– cooked down and softened into a chunky applesauce– dried dates, raisins, nuts, and chunks of French bread all tossed in a custard sauce and baked to perfection.

Have you ever been assigned a food to bring to a party?  As in– handed a recipe and told ‘bring this?’  Awhile back, I was helping organize a brunch party, and that’s exactly what happened.  I was supposed to make a baked pumpkin French toast– and, of course, I did.  As excited as I was to try it, I was a little teensy bit skeptical.  You see, I ADORE French Toast.  I’m convinced (and I’m pretty sure that I’m right) that regular French toast, made with a thick French loaf of bread, is just about the best breakfast on the planet.  How can you improve on perfection?  Why try?  Once the smell of baked fall yumminess started wafting through my entire apartment, however, I was sold.  I immediately decided that baked French toast was brilliant– and then promptly forgot all about it.  Recently, however, with the fall air returning and gorgeous seasonal apples showing up in the stores– I remembered the tasty baked breakfast, and decided to make an apple-icious version.  This Apple French Toast Bake is made with fresh apples– cooked, seasoned, and mashed into a chunky applesauce– as well as dried dates, raisins, nuts, chunks of French bread, and a custard sauce.

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This easy Pumpkin Eggnog is fall take on the classic winter cocktail, and is ready start-to-finish in about 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Eggnog

This easy Pumpkin Eggnog is fall take on the classic winter cocktail, and is ready start-to-finish in about 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Eggnog

This easy Pumpkin Eggnog is an autumn take on the classic winter cocktail, and is ready start-to-finish in about 10 minutes.  This post is sponsored by Drizly.

Do you love eggnog?  The thick, creamy drink is one of the husband’s favorites.  When he sees the cartons of eggnog start to magically appear in the dairy aisle in late fall, his eyes light up, and I know the eggnog guzzling is about to begin.  However, not all store-bought eggnog tastes as dairy-licious as one might hope, and these can also have an undeliciously long list of strange ingredients.  If you too wait all year for a drink of eggy luxury, but find yourself wrinkling your forehead in concern over the ingredients, or crinkling your nose because you thought it would taste better– listen up!  Eggnog is EASY to make at home.  I promise.  And this Pumpkin Eggnog isn’t just easy– it’s even BETTER than regular old eggnog because, well– because it has pumpkin!

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Easy Chocolate Crêpe Cake- Simple to Prepare and Delicious. No Baking!

Chocolate Crêpe Cake

Easy Chocolate Crêpe Cake- Simple to Prepare and Delicious. No Baking!

Chocolate Crêpe Cake

This decadent Chocolate Crêpe Cake is a delicious take on the classic French Gâteau Mille Crêpes, and has twenty layers of chocolate crêpes and homemade amaretto whipped cream.

Recently, I’ve been a little crêpe-crazed.  You’ve probably noticed– my apartment and my food blog have been overflowing with crêpe-tastic food.  Savory crêpes, sweet crêpes, and breakfast crêpes.  La vie en crêpe!!!  Well, my friends, there’s one crêpe recipe I haven’t shared yet.  Maybe you’ve been waiting for it.  Maybe you’ve dreamed about it (or is that just me?)  The crêpe cake is the pinnacle of all crêpes– the crowning glory of crêpe-dom.  This crêpe cake uses twenty 5″ crêpes, and is filled with fluffy, delicious amaretto whipped cream.

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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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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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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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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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