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

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Lavender Lemonade- Quick, Easy, and Perfect for Parties. Only ingredients needed- lavender petals, sugar, + lemons. Optional: Add gin or vodka for Hard Lavender Lemonade!

Lavender Lemonade

Lavender Lemonade- Quick, Easy, and Perfect for Parties. Only ingredients needed- lavender petals, sugar, + lemons. Optional: Add gin or vodka for Hard Lavender Lemonade!

This spring, I went a little crazy with my herb garden.  What started out as 2 herbs, grew to four, and then I added a few more, and then a few more, and then before I knew it, there were 13 colorful little metal pots filled with perky green herbs.  Among the herbs were two lavender plants, happily growing and making everything on my tiny deck smell better.  Seeing those lavender plants reminded me that a little while back, a I’d been gifted a bag of dried culinary lavender petals.  (Thank you, lavender-gifting friend!)  I wanted to use the dried petals up before I (hopefully) had a plant full of new lavender flowers to dry out, and that is how my obsession with Lavender Lemonade began.  This lemonade is not only delicious, it’s incredibly easy.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

This easy Strawberry Raspberry Clafoutis is a light and delicious French cobbler, and the perfect way to show off your spring and summer berries! champagne-tastes.com

Strawberry Raspberry Clafoutis

This easy Strawberry Raspberry Clafoutis is a light and delicious French cobbler, and the perfect way to show off your spring and summer berries! champagne-tastes.com

Strawberry Raspberry Clafoutis

This easy Strawberry Raspberry Clafoutis is a light and delicious French cobbler, and the perfect way to show off your spring and summer berries!

One of my favorite desserts is the French fruit dish clafoutis.  Pronounced ‘cla-foo-tee,’ this fluffy deliciousness doesn’t know whether it’s a cobbler, custard, or cake.  It’s full of indecision.  It will confuse guests who haven’t had it before, but they’ll inevitably decide they don’t care what it’s supposed to be, because it is just so tasty.  Traditionally, clafoutis is made with whole sweet cherries.  However, sweet cherries tend to be fairly expensive where I live, and when I buy them I usually devour them all gluttonously before I could even imagine putting them inside a dessert.  When I make clafoutis, I tend to use whatever berries I have on hand, but one of my favorite combinations is Strawberry Raspberry Clafoutis.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Chocolate Mint Julep

Chocolate Mint Julep

Chocolate Mint Julep- the Perfect Derby Day Drink!

Do you know what Saturday is?  Why, it’s Kentucky Derby Day, of course!  It’s time for the fellas to put on their linen suits and pastel shirts, and ladies, get out your sun-dresses and big hats.  If you’re one of the select few lazing away your day at Churchill Downs while you wait for the horses to whiz by, you’ll probably be paying someone else for your mint juleps and Derby pie.  If, however, you’ll be watching the race from home, or at a Derby party, you might need to make that julep yourself!  This recipe for Chocolate Mint Julep will be the perfect addition to your Derby Day.
Continue reading