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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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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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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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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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.

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Glamping: Vegan Chana Masala - A delicious, fast, camping friendly meal

Glamping: Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)

 

Glamping: Vegan Chana Masala - A delicious, fast, camping friendly meal

Glamping: Chana Masala

“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.  

A few months back, the husband started gushing about nature.  That’s right, he wanted to go camping.  To be more specific, he wanted to go on an epic, multi-week, national park-hopping, cross-country hiking and camping trip.  While I admitted that this sounded amazing (and exhausting), I had never been camping before.  Ever.  That’s right– he was taking this city-diva into the wilderness.  To be honest, I wasn’t incredibly worried about sleeping in a tent, or showering in a bath-house, or getting a little dirty.  My main worry was, you guessed it– the food!  I assumed (correctly, I might add), that a lot of the national parks are fairly isolated, with limited restaurant access.  We decided, of course, to go anyway and make it work.  What followed was a whirl of food planning, trip planning, and then eighteen days of driving, hiking, and delicious campground cooking.

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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.

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Chili Butter Corn on the Cob

Chili Butter Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob with Chili Garlic Butter

Corn on the Cob with Chili Garlic Butter

If you live anywhere remotely close to the Midwestern United States, there’s a good chance that warm weather means fresh corn on the cob.  You can, most likely, buy corn on the cob all year long, but in the summer it’s fresher and tastier.  If you, like me, enjoy gobbling down these tasty morsels of summertime goodness, it’s possible that you, like me, will find yourself with more corn than you intended to buy.  The recipe for Chili Butter Corn on the Cob will help you shake up your corn routine.

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Braised White Asparagus

Braised White Asparagus

Easy, Vegan White Asparagus Braised in White Wine, Coconut Oil, and Herbs

I’ve been asparagus obsessed lately, guys.  Ever since I talked about purple and white asparagus (here), I’ve been on a mission to try them both.  So far I’ve only found white asparagus, but you can be sure that if (WHEN) I find purple, it will be amazing.  I’m sure of it.  I found white asparagus in the ‘Scratch n Dent’ food section at Jungle Jim’s  (Did you even know that was a thing???  I believe it’s similar to the “Manager Specials” marked-down food at Kroger, but it’s all gathered conveniently in one insanely awesome, if easy to completely miss, section.)  Yes, Jungle Jim’s, I will take your marked-down and perfect-looking produce and cook it right away!  This Braised White Asparagus is cooked with white wine and fresh herbs, and makes a deliciously fresh spring-time side dish.

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Forbidden Rice with Mushrooms

Gourmet Special: 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).

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