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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This Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado is for the food adventurer! This tasty grilled cheese uses a washed rind "stinky cheese," avocado, and tomato in dark pumpernickel bread for a flavor explosion!

Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado

This Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado is for the food adventurer! This tasty grilled cheese uses a washed rind "stinky cheese," avocado, and tomato in dark pumpernickel bread for a flavor explosion!

Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado

This Stinky French Grilled Cheese with Avocado is for the food adventurer!  This tasty grilled cheese uses a washed rind “stinky cheese,” avocado, and tomato in dark pumpernickel bread for a flavor explosion!

The husband has a theory.  He’s convinced that there are two types of people in this world– those who like blue cheese, and those who don’t.  The blue cheese lovers– these people like strong flavors, and have adventurous palates.  Blue cheese haters– well, they don’t.  He is so convinced of this that when we started dating, it was one of his first questions.  “How do you feel about blue cheese?!”  (It’s a good thing I like it, right!?!)  Is he right?   I’m not sure, but I am sure that there are people who are willing to try any new food handed their way.  People who think, “that looks weird– give me a bite!”  If you are an adventurous eater, and love strong flavors– then this Stinky French Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Avocado is for you!  Dig into pumpernickel bread filled with flavorful, and yet pungent, washed rind cheese, along with layers of tomato and avocado.

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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.

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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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This Eggnog French Toast is soaked in a thick, creamy eggnog and served with cranberry syrup. Make eggnog specifically for french toast, or use leftover eggnog for a seasonally delicious breakfast!

Eggnog French Toast with Cranberry Sauce

This Eggnog French Toast is soaked in a thick, creamy eggnog and served with cranberry syrup. Make eggnog specifically for french toast, or use leftover eggnog for a seasonally delicious breakfast!

Eggnog French Toast

This Eggnog French Toast is soaked in a thick, creamy eggnog and served with cranberry syrup. Make eggnog specifically for French toast, or use leftover eggnog for a seasonally delicious breakfast!

I’ve gushed a lot about French toast– and if you think YOU have heard a lot about it, imagine the poor husband.  Plus, he has to EAT it all the time too!  (You no longer feel sorry for him, I know).  At any rate– I think about French toast a lot.  Way more than is healthy.  Recently, while mixing up a batch of eggnog, I thought– “Soaking bread in this would make the best French toast EVER!  It’s thick, it’s creamy, and it would make my favorite breakfast even more ridiculously amazing.”  And, for the record– I was right.  Use your leftover eggnog (or whip up a fresh batch!) and make this Eggnog French Toast with Cranberry Sauce for a decadently rich winter breakfast.

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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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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.

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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 Vegetarian French Onion Soup is a celebration of the onion. Instead of beef broth, which masks the onion, the slowly caramelized onions make their own sweet, deeply flavorful broth as they cook. For a faster cook-time-- caramelize your onions ahead of time and freeze them!

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

This Vegetarian French Onion Soup is a celebration of the onion. Instead of beef broth, which masks the onion, the slowly caramelized onions make their own sweet, deeply flavorful broth as they cook. For a faster cook-time-- caramelize your onions ahead of time and freeze them!

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

This Vegetarian French Onion Soup is a celebration of the onion.  Instead of beef broth, which masks the onion, the slowly caramelized onions make their own sweet, deeply flavorful broth as they cook.  For a faster cook-time– caramelize your onions ahead of time and freeze them!

Do you ever have ‘ah ha!’ moments?  Moments where suddenly, everything makes sense, and your world will never be the same again?  I had one of those moments recently– about onions.  (Don’t stop reading, guys!  It’s good– I swear!)  Specifically, my ‘the skies opened and everything was clear’ moment was about French Onion Soup.  You’ve eaten French Onion Soup, right?  Have you tried to make it?  Have you heard the warnings about using high-quality broth so as not to not ruin the hours and hours you’ve spent caramelizing onions into perfect, amber goodness?  The warnings are true, to an extent, because bad broth WILL RUIN your soup.  However, and this is a big however, you don’t need to add broth at all, because the onions make their OWN BROTH.  (If you’re staring in horror at your screen– stay with me!)  The broth you’ll get from simply using well-caramelized onions, hot water, and a little wine, is INCREDIBLE.  It’s so incredibly delicious, that when I tasted it– I immediately threw away all my other Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipes, because it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

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