eating lately: dinner and dessert edition

Although we're not doing any cooking this summer (thanks, cafeteria and catering staff!), I still wanted to gather up our favorite meals and sweet treats from this past school year in Madrid.  We hit a sweet spot in a lot of different areas recently, but in particular with our cooking and eating arrangements.  As mentioned in my breakfast eating lately post (check it out here!), I do the meal planning, we do the grocery shopping together, and Danny does the majority of the cooking (at least, that's how it went this past year - we'll see how things shake out in the fall).  

This year we were able to incorporate many of our favorite recipes that we made in Colorado into our meal rotation, as well as many new ones, thanks to having a better selection of ingredients in our neighborhood than we did the year before, plus we had an oven in our apartment, which was a huge help.  It does feel a little funny writing about all our favorite recipes since I did almost none of the cooking of said recipes, thus I can't offer many tips or insight, BUT I can tell you about the end product and whether it's worth making yourself, and offer commentary to that end, etc, etc which is mostly what I do around here anyway, so - let's get after it already...

Dinner

Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce - the name is a mouthful, I know, but this is one of those new recipes that we've started making so much that I can hardly remember a time without it.  Yes, it has cheese (!!! - WHO ARE WE?!?), and we always leave out the olives and the pepperoncini peppers when we make it, but the combination of everything together is just fantastic.  We love bowls like this - we have a lot of similar ones in our rotation - but this one is special because of its homemade roasted red pepper sauce.  

Cheesy Vegan Cauliflower Potato Soup - So we ate the entire pot of this soup in one sitting...that's a good sign, right?  Potato soup, I've found, can be tough to make vegan and delicious, but this one was a winner - we especially loved the reserved roasted veggies on the top of the soup.  

Curried Butternut Squash Soup - My notes on this soup were raving and along the lines of "Love it!  Can't wait to make it again!"  I mean, can't wait for Danny to make it again, but, you know.  Same difference.  We've really been having a moment with butternut squash and with curry recently - usually separately, but since they were done right together, I'm not surprised we went crazy for this soup.

Loaded Guacamole Vegetarian Tacos - The guacamole recipe that's a part of this recipe has become our new standby, and provided we have good avocados at our disposal, then I'm not sure I'm aware of a better guacamole around (although, I'd be happy to be a taste tester if you know of one).  All the pieces of this recipe are really great, though, and the last time we made it we made fajita veggies as well to make everything go a bit further.  If I had to pick favorites among all of these recipes, this one would definitely be at the very top for me.  

The Best Vegan Chili Ever - I'm skeptical of pretty much anything labeled "the best ever" but we didn't really have a solid vegetarian/vegan chili recipe yet (aside from our sweet potato and black bean one that we still love, but that's not really very traditional), and I was getting desperate enough to try bold and boastful recipes.  Turns out we actually really liked the chili, it made enough for leftovers (critical), and we labeled it our best so far.  Best ever?  Jury's still out.

Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Soup with Brown Rice and Lentils - Another super long name, but this one got all caps in the comments - FANTASTIC! - among other things.  We made this in mid-February, so it was approaching the end of Madrid's winter, especially since I rotate our recipes about every six weeks and April is (usually) definitely too warm for soup, however, you can bet this is (basically) the only reason I'm looking forward to winter.  The combination of soup, rice and lentils on one side of the bowl with some cold yogurt on top, making sure to get a little of everything in each bite - IT'S AMAZING.  

Pita Tostadas with Butternut Squash, Black Beans, & Avocado - Okay, so since this isn't necessarily a 'seasonal' recipe, we've had this one multiple times in the past few months and just thinking about it now I want it again.  We even served it to my parents when they came to visit in June which really shows our confidence in it/obsession with it (and they acted like they liked it!  They were really polite about all our vegan food, though).  One little note: the recipe really is easy, but make sure you leave enough time to roast the butternut squash beforehand.  We've gotten it into our heads "Oh the recipe is so easy, we can come home and have it ready in 15 minutes" and then we remember the squash has to roast for 45 minutes and all of sudden we're deflated.  So just keep that in mind.

Veggies and Lentils in Peanut Sauce - I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is probably Danny's favorite recipe of the bunch, and it's high up there for me too.  We've served it to guests (and ourselves, repeatedly), and well, what can I say?  It's really good.  Never had peanut sauce before?  You must!  Scared away by tamarind concentrate?  We've never used it even though the recipe calls for it.  

Detox Moroccoan-Spiced Chickpea Glow Bowl - Another delicious bowl that I may have never been attracted to had we not gone to and loved Morocco...I especially love the toasted pita wedges on the side of this one.  And spiced chickpeas, the yogurt on top, all the fresh herbs, everything! - it's just a real winner.

Chickpea, Spinach, & Sweet Potato Brown Rice Bowl - This dinner seems so simple - there's not much more to it than the title implies - but the sauce really takes center stage here, as well as the seasoning on the chickpeas, and makes this into a delicious dish.  When we want leftovers (or enough for four people), we double this one. 

Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes - I don't know if I'd ever had baked sweet potatoes with toppings before we started making this recipe, but now I'm hooked.  The roasted chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, and garlic herb sauce that the recipe calls for are perfect, really, and it's all so simple to put together, but so rewarding.  

Caribbean Paella (vegan style) - Despite the fact that we live in Spain, we've only eaten true paella once.  It's pricey, hard to find a vegetarian version of it (without some kind of mystery meat or fish hiding in it - I've found vegetarian often just means "no red meat" in Spain), I've got a lot of excuses.  However, I really like the idea of it, so when I found this recipe, I was excited, especially since I wasn't going to make it...ha.  As the name suggests, this is no traditional paella, but it is tasty and it is full of veggies.  We made a few modifications since we couldn't find a few things (all spice, scotch bonnet, and shallots), but the end result was still positive.

Easy Pad Thai - For a long time I've had a thing against Thai food (also a few other countries as well, it's not just Thailand!), but after giving it a chance recently while we were in France and realizing I actually really liked Pad Thai...I wasn't even mad when Danny bought four packs of rice noodles at an Asian foods store this spring (we only needed half of one for a recipe).  This recipe...to be blunt, I basically want to eat it every day.  I can't because it doesn't have many veggies in it (although maybe if I start eating vegetables for breakfast I could...hmm), but if I could I would.  It's caused me to change my stance on Thai food and now I've even got a bug to go Thailand and try the real thing.  I know...some recipe, right?!  

Dessert

Best Big, Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip CookiesIf this isn't the dessert of adjectives, then I don't know what is.  However, this is Danny's Dessert.  He's really perfected these cookies and when we need to bring something somewhere (vague!  But you know what I mean.) and we want it to be reliably good, we turn to these.  Danny's read all the comments on the original recipe and has made his own tweaks and additions, turning these into, truly, the best chocolate chip cookies.

Pumpkin Pie Bars - These were our Thanksgiving dessert since we didn't/don't have a pie plate, but we did/do have a 9x13 pan.  We used store bought crust from our local Carrefour and thought it did a great job - I have fond memories of eating the leftover bars as snacks and breakfast treats in the days following Thanksgiving.  Plus, it's a non-vegan, Pillsbury recipe, so if you thought I was crazy for the rest of the recipes, I'm sure you can get on board for this one ;)

Vegan Gingerbread Men Cookies - So we didn't make this in the shape of anything except circles I guess, but they still tasted yummy!  Danny made them for a meeting we hosted at our apartment in December and wanted to feel a bit festive for.  They were a bit more popular with everyone than I might've hoped...meaning there were no leftovers...but whatever.

Pecan Pie - Danny first made this with my mom for my grandma's birthday while we were back in Colorado for my brother's wedding and it was an (unexpected) hit.  Not that Danny isn't a great cook (because he is!), it's just that I get nervous making things for the first time for guests/big occasions plus I feel like pecan pie can be a little bit polarizing.  Danny also made this for friends in Madrid and WOW - we all loved it.  

Vegan Raspberry Popsicles - May hit and Madrid warmed up and then it got HOT, like 100° pretty much every day in June.  It was miserable and we got desperate - so desperate that I broke my "no-household-purchases-while-living-abroad" rule and we bought popsicle molds.  Danny put these to good use in the month we've had them, and we've definitely gotten our money's worth as homemade popsicles at shops around town usually go for around €3, and that's how much the molds were.  This is the only recipe we've made so far, but it's tasty and simple and we already had raspberries in the freezer.  I see lots of experimentation and variations on this one in our (warm September) future though.