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.

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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.

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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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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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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

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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Kale with Apple Cider Vinegar

Braised Kale with Apple Cider Vinegar

Easy Braised Kale with Apple Cider Vinegar- 5 ingredients, less than 10 minutes

One of my favorite things about spring is that the ground comes back to life.  Gardens start shooting up produce again, sometimes faster than it can be eaten.  I especially love when this happens to my friends, and they start giving away veggies.  Recently I was gifted a jumbo, overflowing bag of delicious curly green kale. (Thanks friend!)  There are, of course, tons of ways to fix kale, including blending it up in smoothies, juicing it, and eating it raw in a salad.  One of my favorite kale recipes, however, is this warm Braised Kale with Apple Cider Vinegar.  This incredibly fresh and nutrient-packed side dish is warmed in a sauté pan, and tossed with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.

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Lemon Roasted Asparagus

Lemon Roasted Asparagus

Lemon Roasted Asparagus - Simple, Fast, + Vegan

If you’ve been smiling at the warmer weather forecasts, grinning at the flowering trees, and popping allergy pills like crazy, you too may be enjoying spring.  You know what else is fantastic in the spring?  Asparagus.  When you aren’t dodging water puddles, realizing you forgot your umbrella in the car, and debating on how to dress when it’s frigid in the morning and downright hot in the afternoon, you should be eating asparagus.  It’s in season right now, and its crisp green goodness is the perfect addition to any springtime meal.  If you’re looking for a simple and quick way to prepare your asparagus– this Lemon Roasted Asparagus is just about as easy and delicious as you can get.

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