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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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.

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Vegetarian Applesauce & Blueberry Crepes - For a delicious, sweet yet healthy treat, or a decadent breakfast

Applesauce and Blueberry Crêpes

Vegetarian Applesauce & Blueberry Crêpes - For a delicious, sweet yet healthy treat, or a decadent breakfast

Applesauce Crepes with Blueberries

These Applesauce & Blueberry Crêpes are stuffed with homemade applesauce spiced with cardamom, and topped with warm, delicious blueberries that have been heated until they burst.

Can I tell you something shocking?  Here it is– Up until recently, I’d forgotten about crêpes.  I hadn’t forgotten they existed, of course, but it had been a couple years since I gleefully devoured a French crêpe.  And, let me just tell you, I love, love, love crêpes.  I love them so much, that I briefly considered making a mille-crêpe cake for my wedding.  Even so, I’d forgotten about my love for these über-thin French pancakes.  Recently, however, while on our epic, cross-country expedition, the husband and I stopped at Michael’s Corner, a French creperie in Durango, Colorado.  While I dug into the creperie’s ridiculously fabulous food, I cried, “We have to move here so I can eat these every day!”  Next, I decided that even if we did move to Durango for the crêpes, I probably couldn’t afford to eat out EVERY day.  When I got home, I dusted off my crêpe pan, and started cooking.
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Lemon Pepper Octopus

Lemon Pepper Octopus

Lemon Pepper Octopus - Perfect for seafood lovers!

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.

Are you feeling adventurous?  Let’s talk octopus.  That’s right, those eight-legged sea monsters that spend their days looking like they’ve escaped from a Jules Verne novel.  The spineless, fascinating creatures that can fit through any space they can squeeze their jaw bones through.  Well, my friends, those leggy beasts are also completely and utterly delicious.  The husband talked me into buying one on a Jungle Jim’s trip, and that’s how our invertebrate obsession began.  This recipe for Lemon Pepper Octopus is easy, and sure to leave you with a tender and flavor-packed meal.

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Spicy Grilled Fish Tacos

Spicy Grilled Fish Tacos

Spicy Fish Tacos- Perfect for Serving Buffet Style at Your Next Dinner Party

These Spicy Grilled Fish Tacos are marinated in a lime juice and chili powder, and grilled to perfection.  Serve them with a spiced yogurt sauce, cherry tomatoes, and avocado.

You know what I miss in the winter?  Sunshine, specifically, but also that woodsy, delicious smell of food cooking on a charcoal grill.  I love how it wafts into my kitchen from the open door, filling my entire apartment with tantalizing promises of a scrumptious dinner.  At the first signs of spring, we break out our heavy metal grill and start cooking.  One meal that’s really at its best on a grill is Spicy Grilled Fish Tacos.

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Easy, Vegan Poached Pears cooked in White Wine and Cardamom. Ready in 15 min

Poached Pears with Cardamom

Easy, Vegan Poached Pears cooked in White Wine and Cardamom. Ready in 15 min

Poached Pears

A few weeks ago, I found myself watching, in complete suspense, episode after episode of “The Great British Bake Off.” (Keep it coming, BBC!)  At one point, everyone in the show had to tackle the tricky ‘pear pie.”  Have you seen photos of (or maybe even eaten) these pretty poached pears wrapped in puff pastry?  Apparently, mastering these little beauties is more difficult and time consuming than it appears.  After seeing everyone on the show struggle with pear pie after pear pie– poaching pears, cooling them down and glazing them, and then oh so carefully wrapping them in puff pastry– I had little desire to make my own.  It did, however, most definitely cause me to start craving the un-glazed and pastry free Poached Pears with Cardamom.

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Chickpea Sloppy Joe

Chickpea Sloppy Joe

Chickpea Sloppy Joe: A Vegan Version of a Classic. Ready in 15 minutes

Oh, the Sloppy Joe.  This messy, tomato sauce and beef sandwich was a school lunch favorite, and honestly, that alone should probably convince me to never touch it again.  I do, however, remember it fondly, and was thrilled when I saw a vegetarian chickpea version on the menu at a local cafe.  As delicious as their sandwich was, it didn’t taste like a Sloppy Joe– the sauce was different.  To make a more accurate vegetarian Sloppy Joe, you could, of course, just go buy a can of Manwich and add chickpeas.  Yes, you could do that.  However, if you’re trying to avoid the dreaded High Fructose Corn Syrup, as well as pre-made food with hard-to-pronounce ingredients, you might prefer to make your own sauce.  This vegan Chickpea Sloppy Joe is delicious, simple, and takes about 15 minutes start to finish.

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Clam Chowder with Smoked Oysters

Clam Chowder with Smoked Oysters

clam chowder graphic

Winter is still here, guys!  I keep telling it to go away, and the seasonally grey skies and periodic bursts of snow are still around.  Winter doesn’t care what I think.  This, of course, means that I’ve found myself making even more soup than usual.  Last week, I cooked homemade seafood broth, and my soup-obsessed brain decided it was time to make seafood stew.  My absolute favorite seafood soup is Clam Chowder (the creamy New England kind).  It’s the wonderful mixture of two food worlds– creamy and hearty potato soup, and flavorful seafood.  In short, it’s amazing.

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Spicy Hot Chocolate

Mexican Spicy Hot Chocolate

Vegan-Friendly Spicy Hot Chocolate: 4 Ingredients, 10 Minutes

Spicy Hot Chocolate

This vegan-friendly Spicy Hot Chocolate is made with chile de arbol, chocolate, cinnamon, and either milk or coconut milk, leaving you with a decadently spiced winter treat.

Do you have a favorite kind of chocolate?  I used to say I loved dark chocolate the most, which is still partially true, but awhile back I discovered my true chocolate obsession- dark chocolate with a kick of chili pepper.  The first time I ever heard of chili chocolate was while watching the old Johnny Depp movie “Chocolat,” when Vianne picked a Mexican spicy chocolate for someone visiting her chocolaterie.  I was intrigued, and then when I tasted spicy chili chocolate, I was hooked.  Chocolate with chili is amazing, fantastical, tantalizing, and it makes me smile.  I especially like this spicy kick in my hot chocolate.

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This Indian Spiced Tomato Soup is a flavorful twist on the classic American soup is made with warming spices, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. Champagne Tastes - champagne-tastes.com

Indian Spiced Tomato Soup

This Indian Spiced Tomato Soup is a flavorful twist on the classic American soup, and is made with warming spices, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. champagne-tastes.com

Indian Spiced Tomato Soup

This Indian Spiced Tomato Soup is a flavorful twist on the classic American soup, and is made with warming spices, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

I’m not sure if you heard, but it snowed a little bit this weekend.  Just a little bit of a blizzard. No biggie.  It’s only the biggest snow storm I’ve seen since I was seven.  At any rate, I’m sure a lot of you are still snowed in, and those of us who’ve managed to tunnel out of our homes might be tempted to turn right back around and go inside where it’s warm.  All this, my friends, means one thing.  Soup, of course.  Specifically, tomato soup.

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