Starbucks Copycat! This vegan-friendly spicy Chile Mocha is made with freshly brewed espresso, steamed milk (or coconut milk), and spicy hot cocoa. champagne-tastes.com

Chile Mocha

Starbucks Copycat! This vegan-friendly spicy Chile Mocha is made with freshly brewed espresso, steamed milk (or coconut milk), and spicy hot cocoa. champagne-tastes.com

Chile Mocha

This vegan-friendly spicy Chile Mocha is made with freshly brewed espresso, steamed milk (or coconut milk), and spicy hot cocoa.  This post is sponsored by De’Longhi.

Hello, friends!  Are the skies a little grey where you are right now?  They are here.  The cooler weather has rolled into Central Appalachia, and we’ve entered the awkward ‘in-between’ season.  Let’s call it ‘fwinter.’  The bright, multi-color leaves have fallen, and the trees are (gasp!) unclothed.  Will we have gorgeous, snowy blankets on the ground soon?  Most likely.  For now, to help transition through the grey, chilly mornings– we need coffee.  More specifically, we need espresso.  And chocolate.  While we’re at it– let’s add some spice!  This spicy Chile Mocha is a vegan-friendly, decadent, caffeinated, fantabulous way to jump-start your day.

Continue reading

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.

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

This vegan-friendly Pumpkin Spice Latte with REAL Pumpkin is a healthier alternative to the coffee-shop version. Do yourself (and your wallet) a favor, and make this tea latte at home! No artificial dye, no artificial flavoring, and REAL pumpkin. Champagne Tastes - http://champagne-tastes.com

Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte

This vegan-friendly Pumpkin Spice Latte with REAL Pumpkin is a healthier alternative to the coffee-shop version. Do yourself (and your wallet) a favor, and make this tea latte at home! No artificial dye, no artificial flavoring, and REAL pumpkin. Champagne Tastes - http://champagne-tastes.com

Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte

This vegan-friendly Pumpkin Spice Latte is a healthier alternative to the coffee-shop version. Do yourself (and your wallet) a favor, and make this tea latte at home!  No artificial dye, no artificial flavoring, and REAL pumpkin. 

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?  One?  None?  Seven?  As a former coffee-addicted, jittery madwoman, I now limit myself to one cup of the dark, caffeinated, liquid gold per day.  What do I drink the rest of the day?  Tea, of course!  Sometimes, I even skip the coffee altogether, and swap it out for tea– because I’m a little wild like that.  When Starbucks started flaunting their notorious Pumpkin Spice Latte back in the middle of summer (it was early, right?!), I immediately started craving pumpkin EVERYTHING.  Of course, I made my own PSL (with REAL pumpkin), but what about when I wanted a refill?  What then???  How can I get my fill of pumpkiny deliciousness without drinking coffee all day long?  Well, my friends– meet the Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte.

Continue reading

This decadent, vegan-friendly Salted French Hot Chocolate (Chocolat Chaud) is made with crushed chocolate, whole milk and cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream), and topped with flavorful gourmet salt. The salt for this recipe was provided by J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works.

Salted French Hot Chocolate

This decadent, vegan-friendly Salted French Hot Chocolate (Chocolat Chaud) is made with crushed chocolate, whole milk and cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream), and topped with flavorful gourmet salt. The salt for this recipe was provided by J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works.

Salted French Hot Chocolate

This decadent, vegan-friendly Salted French Hot Chocolate (Chocolat Chaud) is made with chocolate, whole milk and cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream), and topped with flavorful gourmet salt.  The salt for this recipe was provided by J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works.

It’s been “officially” fall for a few weeks now, but summer has been holding on for dear life, doing its best to make sure I stay warm for just a little while longer.  I’m taking this as further proof that the universe really does revolve around me.  (I’ll pause here so that you can wonder if I’m joking.)  At any rate, at this point– fall has definitely arrived here in Central Appalachia.  The days are still warm, but the nights are cooling down, and the leaves have started to turn.  This, of course, means it’s time for cozy warm drinks– like this Salted French Hot Chocolate.  This cocoa is rich– richer than your normal hot cocoa– and is made with whole milk and cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream), and lots of crushed chocolate.  Top it off with some extra delicious gourmet salt, and you’re all set for those chilly fall evenings.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

These savory, vegan-friendly stone ground Overnight Grits are cooked in a slow cooker while you sleep. Top them with green onions and diced tomatoes, or cheese and a runny egg.

Overnight Grits

These savory, vegan-friendly stone ground Overnight Grits are cooked in a slow cooker while you sleep. Top them with green onions and diced tomatoes, or cheese and a runny egg.

Overnight Grits

These savory, vegan-friendly stone-ground Overnight Grits are cooked in a slow cooker while you sleep.  Top them with green onions and diced tomatoes, or cheese and a runny egg.  Or all of the above!

Do you love grits?  Personally, I adore grits, and would be happy eating them at any time of day.  I have a special place in my heart, however, for grits that are ready for me to eat when I wake up in the morning.  (Who am I kidding?  I love any food that’s ready for me when I wake up!)  Sometimes this happens when the husband takes pity on my pitiful, sleepy self, and makes breakfast for me.  Other times, however, it happens when I throw (literally– THROW!) food into the slow cooker before bed.  (Okay, you’re on to me.  I’m not nearly coordinated enough to ‘throw’ food… I ‘pour’ it).
Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Pumpkin Spice Latte with REAL Pumpkin. Ready in 15 minutes, or Prep the pumpkin puree the night before, and it's ready in 5 minutes!

Pumpkin Spice Latte with Real Pumpkin

Pumpkin Spice Latte with REAL Pumpkin. Ready in 15 minutes, or Prep the pumpkin puree the night before, and it's ready in 5 minutes!

Pumpkin Spice Latte with Real Pumpkin

This vegan-friendly Pumpkin Spice Latte is made with spiced, lightly sweetened REAL pumpkin, steamed milk (or coconut milk), and espresso.

Does anything scream “Fall!” more than the Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Well yes, probably.  The mornings get chillier, the leaves start to turn, and we all start scrambling to remember where we stored warmer clothes (or is that just me?)  Pumpkins and other squash begin proudly flaunting their brightly colored skins, daring us to take them home and devour them.  And of course, I do.

The other, albeit unofficial, start to delicious autumn goodness is when Starbucks begins selling its Pumpkin Spice Latte.  At $5-$6 a cup, however, it’s a pricey habit to maintain.  Even if you have the cash to guzzle down one of these spiced coffee drinks daily, the chemical flavoring and excessive sweetness mean that this drink isn’t exactly the healthiest option.  Instead, try this recipe for a Pumpkin Spiced Latte with REAL pumpkin.  Making this latte is quick– the most time-consuming, 10 minute part of the recipe can be completed ahead of time, meaning you don’t need to wake up any earlier to enjoy pumpkin deliciousness at home before starting your day.

Continue reading

Glamping: Vegan Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers. Ready in about 5 minutes, Easy to prepare, Packed with Protein

Glamping: Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers

Glamping: Vegan Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers. Ready in about 5 minutes, Easy to prepare, Packed with Protein

Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers

“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.  

Hello campers, hikers, and adventurers!  If you’re planning on cooking outdoors soon, and want to catch up on any of the ‘Glamping’ recipes from my trip Out West, click here!  This past summer, when I wasn’t hiking into canyons and sleeping under the stars, I was eating.  We cooked most of our own food along our route, but I found out something about campground cooking– it’s HOT.  Standing over a campfire or camp-stove to prepare a meal was just fine in the mountains of Yellowstone, but when we got to the desert in Utah, I was over it.  I wanted something fast, with minimal heat exposure, so that I could go dive into a pool.  The solution to my dinner dilemma?  Burritos.  These Bean Burritos with Chipotle Peppers are flavorful, protein-packed, and are ready start-to-finish in about 10 minutes.  Best of all, only a few minutes are spent standing over the heat.
Continue reading