Campfire Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna: 30 minutes in a cast iron dutch oven, cooked over a campfire. Simple, easy, delicious, and incredibly filling.

Glamping: Campfire Spinach Lasagna

Campfire Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna: 30 minutes in a cast iron dutch oven, cooked over a campfire. Simple, easy, delicious, and incredibly filling.

Campfire Spinach Lasagna

“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.  

Camping trips can leave you full of dilemmas– You’re starving, you’ve been hiking all day, and yet just as you want one of the biggest, most filling meals ever, you find yourself without electricity, refrigeration, or even an oven.  What’s a hungry hiker to do?!?!  I’ll tell you what you’re going to do– you’re going to eat!!!  With a little planning and preparation– you can find yourself chowing down on lasagna.  This recipe for Campfire Spinach Lasagna is vegetarian, simple to prepare, and delicious.  It’s also a fantastic way to eat a few more carbs than normal, especially before or after a big hike.  We devoured this tasty pasta dish the night before our hike into the Grand Canyon, and managed to eat the entire batch all by ourselves.

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This Wild Berry Lavender Granita with Whipped Ricotta is a gourmet-level icy treat that can be made without any special ice cream equipment!

Wild Berry Lavender Granita with Whipped Ricotta

This Wild Berry Lavender Granita with Whipped Ricotta is a gourmet-level icy treat that can be made without any special ice cream equipment!

Wild Berry Lavender Granita with Whipped Ricotta

This Wild Berry Lavender Granita with Whipped Ricotta is a gourmet-level icy treat that can be made without any special ice cream equipment!

Last summer, I wandered aimlessly with the husband through the blistering heat of the Tuscan sun, eating as many cold things as possible.  I mostly ate gelato, because well, it’s gelato.  (I really don’t need to explain that one, right?)  Along the way, however, I also found myself devouring gelato-filled cannoli (what?! I didn’t even know that existed!), and of course, granita.  If you aren’t familiar with granita, it’s an icy frozen treat, traditionally made with water, sugar, and lemon juice.  It’s also used as a palate cleanser between meal courses. (File this factoid in your brain somewhere, just in case you someday have an especially fancy-schmancy dinner).  My favorite thing about granita is that it’s ridiculously easy to make at home– no ice cream maker required.  This Wild Berry Lavender Granita with Whipped Ricotta is the perfect way to cool down on a summer day.

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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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Rosemary Fig Pizza

Rosemary Fig Pizza

Rosemary Fig Pizza- Thin Crust Gourmet Pizza with Gorgonzola Cheese, Fig Jam, and Fresh Rosemary

It’s time for pizza!  Everybody loves pizza– even if someone says they don’t, there is probably at least one kind of pizza they would, in fact, love.  Pizza means choices, and not just for toppings.  Some love the goopy, deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.  Others prefer huge, thin slices of hand-tossed New York-esque pizza.  There’s also the traditional Italian Margherita pizza, and a newer favorite– the gourmet pizza.  These tasty slices are usually on a thin crust, and have flavorful, non-traditional toppings.  One of my favorite gourmet pies is this Rosemary Fig Pizza.

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Spicy Seared Scallops with Pasta

Spicy Seared Scallops with Pasta

Spicy Seared Scallops with Pasta- Perfectly Sear Scallops at Home!

Do you love pasta?  Do you love seafood?  If you haven’t been combining them to make quick, delicious dinners– this recipe for Spicy Seared Scallops with Pasta could revolutionize your dinner routine.  (Okay maybe not, but it’s seriously quite tasty.  And fast.  And did I mention tasty?).  The Italians, of course, are onto something with all the seafood and pasta dishes filling their kitchens and dinner plates.  Let’s join them!

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Eggplant Parmesan

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Baked Eggplant Parmesan. A little less cheese, a few more veggies, and baked eggplant instead of fried.

The grass is green again,  flowers are blooming, and the vegetable section at the market is beginning to look healthier and more vibrant.  That’s right- it’s spring!  It’s time to put away that slow cooker, and remember how to use your vegetables in something other than soup.  One veggie-centric recipe I love devouring is Baked Eggplant Parmesan.  Fairly often, this dish is served with fried eggplant and more cheese than vegetables.  I prefer to bake the eggplant, use a little less cheese, and throw in a few extra veggies.

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Lemon Risotto

Gourmet Special: Lemon Risotto

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.

How do you feel about rice?  Have you given that much thought?  (I can’t be the only one fixating on rice… right?)  Personally, I think rice is delicious.  I even love plain old white rice– add a little butter, pepper, and soy sauce– and you have an easy, if somewhat bland, side dish or snack. However, my favorite rice, the star of rice dishes, the rice dish that is not simply a background for your main dish, is risotto.

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Red Wine Pasta Sauce

Cooking 101: Red Wine Pasta Sauce

Red Wine Pasta Sauce- Easy to make, and ready by the time your pasta is done cooking!

Do you wish you could take a basic cooking class?  Do you find yourself buying lots of pre-made ingredients, but suspect your food would taste even better from scratch?  Periodically, Champagne Tastes will be featuring ‘Cooking 101’ recipes.  These cooking staples will take your food to the next level, and will help you make more ingredients from scratch.

Do you ever find yourself with less than 30 minutes to make dinner?  Of course you do.  When this happens to me, I usually find myself making some kind of pasta.  I even convince myself I’m saving time by starting the water boiling process in my electric kettle.  (I’m pretty sure this does NOT save me time, because I have to do this in two batches.  I do it anyway, and that’s okay).  This Red Wine Pasta Sauce is an easy, flavorful addition to a quick weeknight meal.

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This vegan Red Wine Pasta is perfect for wine lovers on a date night, and is ready start to finish in about 20 minutes.

Red Wine Pasta

This vegan Red Wine Pasta is perfect for wine lovers on a date night, and is ready start to finish in about 20 minutes.

Red Wine Pasta

This vegan Red Wine Pasta is perfect for wine lovers on a date night, and is ready start to finish in about 20 minutes.

Picture the following:  You have a date, you’re supposed to cook, and you only have about 20 minutes to get the food ready.   What do you do?  Panic?  (Yes, of course.)  Call for a restaurant reservation?  (Maybe.)  However, there’s another option.  Are you ready for this?  You can make fancy pasta.  That’s right– pasta that looks terribly impressive, but in reality only takes a few minutes longer to prepare than plain old spaghetti marinara.  This Red Wine Pasta is vegan, flavorful, and incredibly quick to prepare.

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Classic Italian Tiramisu

Classic Italian Tiramisu

Ahhh tiramisu.  Just the thought of it makes me smile.   And really, how can you help but love this slightly boozy, creamy, coffee dessert that melts in your mouth.  If it doesn’t make you smile, think back and try to remember if you’ve only eaten it at chain restaurants.  For years I thought I didn’t like tiramisu (I’d only had it at a certain Italian restaurant whose name will remain anonymous. Except it starts with an O and then with a G. Sorry O.G., I don’t like your tiramisu. At all).  That all changed when I was visiting friends in Paris and had this creamy coffee goodness for dessert one night.

A few years later, a good friend offered to make 2 big bowls of tiramisu for the dessert table at my wedding (yes you read that right.. 2 huge bowls!).  I wish I could say that I snuck out the back door of the reception with one whole bowl of it.. laughing maniacally of course.. but instead I shared.  How thoughtful of me.

My tiramisu love story continued last summer in Italy, where the husband and I hunted down every scrumptious Italian dessert we could find.  We shamelessly devoured gelato, cannoli, and you guessed it.. tiramisu. It was spectacular.  Just make sure to check your teeth for cocoa powder after you gobble it up. Chocolate smudges on your front teeth isn’t a look that everyone appreciates (although I think it screams “my dessert was AMAZING. Be jealous.”)

tiramisu

tiramisu in Florence, Italy

This yummy goodness needs quality ingredients.  Mascarpone cheese isn’t as cheap as cream cheese (usually $4-$5 for an 8 ounce container), but please, don’t substitute the cheese.  This isn’t a dessert you’ll make nightly, and the rest of the ingredients are fairly inexpensive.  I also don’t recommend swapping out the lady fingers for spongecake, but that’s a personal preference (I don’t like the texture as well).  If you’re buying lady fingers, there’s two kinds- a hard crunchy Italian one and a softer lady finger that’s more spongy.  Both kinds of cookies will end up soft after you dip them in the coffee mixture.  If you can find the hard ones, they should hold up better than the soft, especially if you’re letting your tiramisu sit overnight, but either cookie will work!

This recipe gives you options on how much rum and wine to use.  The smaller amount is what you probably should use, but come on.. let’s make a boozy tiramisu.  Yum.

Need more dessert ideas? Try these:

 

 

Classic Italian Tiramisu
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Classic Italian Tiramisu

Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Champagne Tastes

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 TB moscato (or other sweet white wine), plus 1-2 TB moscato
  • 8 oz mascarpone (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup brewed espresso coffee
  • 1 TB chocolate chips
  • •2 TB - 1/4 cup rum (use more or less depending on preference)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30 lady fingers (exact number needed depends on size of cookies and size/shape of dish)
  • 2 TB cocoa powder for dusting (amount approximate)
  • Optional toppings: chocolate chips or chunks, fruit, more whipped cream

Instructions

  1. First, put a small mixing bowl in the freezer.
  2. Next, cream egg yolks with sugar in a heatproof bowl or small pan set inside a larger pan full of simmering water (Or- use a double boiler. You want to heat the egg yolks without getting water in them). Add the wine and whip until mixture doubles in size. Remove from heat. Stir in mascarpone and until blended.

  3. Remove mixing bowl from freezer, and add cream. Use a hand mixer to whip until peaks form, and then fold cream into mascarpone mixture. Set mixture in the fridge.

  4. Next, combine espresso, chocolate, rum, vanilla, and remaining 1 TB moscato. Heat until chocolate is dissolved (or use freshly brewed espresso and it should dissolve the chocolate). Allow mixture to cool in the fridge (about 5-10 minutes. It needs to get to room temperature).

  5. To arrange your tiramisu, dip your lady fingers quickly into the espresso mixture and make a single layer on the bottom of an 9"x13" pan OR 8 medium-large ramekins. (If you used soft lady fingers instead of hard ones, you may need to brush the espresso mixture onto the cookies with a pastry brush so they don't fall apart).

  6. Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the lady fingers. Repeat process, topping mascarpone with another layer of soaked lady fingers, and finishing with a final layer of the mascarpone mixture.

  7. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (or overnight). Just before serving, dust top with cocoa powder.

  8. Serve cold with optional toppings if desired.

Recipe adapted from: Food Network