Quinoa Fried Rice Recipe

 Crispy Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice has got your takeout cravings covered, but healthier! | themillennialmenu.com

If I’m going to take a few unplanned months away from sharing recipes, I better have a great one to kick off coming back to blogging, and this recipe for Quinoa Fried Rice is it. Who doesn’t love fried rice? It’s salty and buttery all at once, and always satisfies that takeout craving. Sometimes, though, I want to eat healthier (well, slightly healthier) or have a more filling meal, and substituting quinoa for the rice in this recipe gets the job done.

In terms of making this recipe more filling for work lunches, I always add crispy fried chicken, tossed in a bit of extra sesame oil at the end of cooking, to get me through an afternoon of teaching. You can easily do this as vegetarian dish without the chicken, add an extra scrambled egg or two, or add tofu. Or, simply enjoy as is.

One other thing I love about this meal is that it’s a great recipe to make during the same week you try out my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce, since you’ve already got over half of what you need to make those once you’ve grocery shopped for this recipe! The flavors are definitely distinctly different, still, so it’s a great way to save money on groceries and using up your ingredients while still varying up what you eat.

Quinoa seems to really multiply and I always end up with a mountain of it - which is exactly what you want when you’re adding awesome flavors like sautéed onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh chopped scallions, and more. This is a great recipe to cook for a crowd and has a relatively inexpensive base in the quinoa. Cheap, tasty, health(ier)…add this to your calendar for dinner next week!



Quinoa Fried Rice

Makes 4-6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Soy sauce: Beef & Broccoli // Chicken, carrots, soy sauce, and quinoa: Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: Instant Pot: High, 1 minutes NPR 5 minutes plus 15 minutes "frying" the quinoa // Stove top: 30 minutes
Total Time: Depending on cooking method, 30-45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa

  • 4 tbsp. butter

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • salt & pepper, to taste

  • 2 scallions, chopped

  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce

  • 4 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil + 2 more if making crispy chicken strips

  • Optional: 2 chicken breast, sliced into thin strips with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil




Dietary Substitutions:
Vegetarian Friendly: Leave out chicken or add tofu.
Dairy-free Friendly
Gluten Free As long as you confirm all of your ingredients are gluten free, this recipe is gluten-free friendly. Double check your soy sauce.
Vegan: Use additional oil as needed rather than butter, and leave out the eggs.

Directions

MAKE THE QUINOA & CHICKEN
1. To make the quinoa:

On the stovetop: turn one burner on high. Add 2 cups of water to the sauce pan. Add in 1 cup dry quinoa. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and let the quinoa sit for 15 minutes. Read more about how to cook quinoa 

In the Instant Pot: Add 1 cup dry quinoa and 2 cups water to the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 1 minute. Yep, 1 minute. NPR for 10 minutes, then QPR. Read about why you need an Instant Pot in general here. While that's happening...


2. Slice your 2 chicken breasts into thin strips. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sliced chicken breast and let cook until browned. Use a spatula to ensure all sides are browned. Cooking should take 5-10 minutes.
3. When the chicken is almost done, add 2 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir to coat to add extra flavor to the strips.

PREP THE MIX-INs
4.
Dice 1 medium onion, 2 medium carrots, and 4 cloves minced garlic and add them to a large frying pan with olive oil over medium heat.
5. Sautè the veggies until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
6. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and stir (yes, I said 4. Don’t ask, just do it)
7. Add some water (less than 1/4 cup) to a microwave-safe bowl, add the 1/2 cup frozen peas and microwave on 30 seconds to soften them. Then, add the peas to the frying pan.

FRY IT!
6. Once the quinoa is ready, add the cooked quinoa to the pan with all the veggies and stir.
7. Add 4 tablespoons soy sauce and 4 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir. These amounts are flexible and dependent on personal preferences! Add more or less if you like.
8. Add your cooked chicken strips to the pan. Continue to stir, adding more butter, sesame oil, or soy sauce as desired.
9. Meanwhile, quickly scramble two eggs in separate pan. I’ve found scrambling it all together makes the quinoa weird and congealed. Definitely scramble your eggs separately. Add these to the quinoa pan and mix to incorporate.
9. Add salt & pepper and chopped scallions to taste.

Yum.

quinoa-fried-rice-close-up

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

LUNCH TOMORROW - I’ve done this for meal prep for lunches for the week and it lasts very well! Be sure to eat within 5 days if you do add chicken.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - If you have extra carrots, chicken, soy sauce, and quinoa, you’re halfway to my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce! Work on that bottle of soy sauce with my Beef & Broccoli recipe. Use up the rest of that bag of frozen peas in my favorite comfort meal: Chicken Pot Pie.


Update: Back at it!

 I hiked the beautiful exposed ridge of franconia ridge trail twice this summer in the white mountains of New hampshire.

I hiked the beautiful exposed ridge of franconia ridge trail twice this summer in the white mountains of New hampshire.

I've (barely) survived my first two weeks of my second year of teaching, and I'm going to make a bold claim that I'm back at it on the blog, too. Last year was (very good) insanity as my first year teaching 10th grade history. I took the time this summer to do things that I really wanted to do, and was busy, too, which meant that the blog sometimes fell by the wayside. I kept cooking and I kept eating, of course, but snapping a great photo before I ate my delicious dinner or pausing to write a post became less of a priority. I think that's okay, and I'm glad I had the break. But, I've got some great recipes from the summer I want to share and I miss posting. I'm happy to be back. 

Before I post a new recipe for Quinoa Fried Rice (!) this week, I wanted to do a quick update post to bridge the gap between my last post and May and now, in September. In that time, I:

  • Completed my first year of teaching
  • Celebrated 2 years of this blog (on June 1!)
  • Started running...for fun...?
  • Camped in Acadia National Park for a week for the first time
  • Taught summer school
  • Went to history teacher nerd camp
  • Moved to a new apartment
  • Started my second year of teaching!

It definitely wasn't a quiet summer, so taking a break from the blog was much needed. Along the way, though, you shouldn't be surprised to hear I found the best places to eat wherever I found myself or made time to try new recipes and perfect old ones. I've got a few photos to share from the past few months (in no particular order), and I'm excited to begin sharing new recipes soon!

 An amazing meal on the water at  the Market Restaurant  in Annisquam, MA. We thought the view couldn't be beat until we had their delicate pastas and tender scallops.

An amazing meal on the water at the Market Restaurant in Annisquam, MA. We thought the view couldn't be beat until we had their delicate pastas and tender scallops.

 We headed to the fabled  Treehouse Brewing Co.  one Saturday at peak time...and waited 1 hour and 10 minutes to purchase a boatload of cans. Worth it, especially thanks to the BBQ food truck stationed outside. Our favorite brew? Julius. Classic choice!

We headed to the fabled Treehouse Brewing Co. one Saturday at peak time...and waited 1 hour and 10 minutes to purchase a boatload of cans. Worth it, especially thanks to the BBQ food truck stationed outside. Our favorite brew? Julius. Classic choice!

 I learned how to make  homemade pretzels from Pinch of Yum ! Shockingly easy. Stay tuned for more details on the blog soon.

I learned how to make homemade pretzels from Pinch of Yum! Shockingly easy. Stay tuned for more details on the blog soon.

 How could any restaurant called  Duckfat  be bad? We stopped in Portland, ME on our way back from camping in Acadia National Park to enjoy an indulgent lunch after a week of trail mix and hummus lunches.

How could any restaurant called Duckfat be bad? We stopped in Portland, ME on our way back from camping in Acadia National Park to enjoy an indulgent lunch after a week of trail mix and hummus lunches.

 We picked fresh blueberries at  Ward's Berry Farm  and made the juiciest blueberry pie from scratch.

We picked fresh blueberries at Ward's Berry Farm and made the juiciest blueberry pie from scratch.

 summer isn't summer without dell's lemonade in Watch Hill, RI.

summer isn't summer without dell's lemonade in Watch Hill, RI.

 I caught up with friends over 48 dumplings at  Banyan Bar + Refuge  in the South End in Boston. From 4-6pm, dumpling orders are $1...for 2 dumplings! We couldn't stop. They're delicious.

I caught up with friends over 48 dumplings at Banyan Bar + Refuge in the South End in Boston. From 4-6pm, dumpling orders are $1...for 2 dumplings! We couldn't stop. They're delicious.

 I tested out a gluten free no-bake chocolate cheesecake for dinner with coworkers and it was a hit. Some more tweaking and taste-testing, and I'll share it on the blog.

I tested out a gluten free no-bake chocolate cheesecake for dinner with coworkers and it was a hit. Some more tweaking and taste-testing, and I'll share it on the blog.

 This cookie dough spoon dessert stole the show at  Little Donkey  in Cambridge (egg-free, I promise!)

This cookie dough spoon dessert stole the show at Little Donkey in Cambridge (egg-free, I promise!)

 our view after a 12 mile bike ride in acadia national park in maine. We camped for about a week! 

our view after a 12 mile bike ride in acadia national park in maine. We camped for about a week! 

Subscribe to the blog for some new recipes coming up!

Grilled Mexican Street Corn Soup Recipe

 This grilled mexican street corn soup recipe, inspired by the mexican street food elotes, is the perfect way to welcome summer. | themillennialmenu.com

I'm super excited to share this Grilled Mexican Street Corn Soup recipe! It's a fun take on the classic Mexican street food, elotes. I love ordering this dish as one of the many delicious tapas at Toro, a great Boston restaurant that first introduced us to the wonders of Spanish tapas before our trip to Barcelona (no Mexican street food in Barca, though). While I definitely envision corn on the cob as the ultimate summer food, May counts as basically summer, right? This soup doesn't get too far ahead of itself, though, and will still keep you cozy on these still-chilly spring nights.

Elotes features a creamy coating on fire roasted corn, finished with bright flavors like chile powder, cotija cheese, and lime juice. There are so many layers of flavor when you take your first (very messy) bite that I wondered how I could ever re-create that in soup form. I'd been inspired seeing different elotes soup recipes on the internet, but the flavors just weren't the same when I tried to make it the first few times. UNTIL NOW.  It's all thanks to a few secret ingredients...courtesy of one of my favorite places on this planet, Trader Joe's. 

This soup wouldn't be the same without that charred, deep roasted corn flavor that comes from a fiery grilling. Thankfully, Trader Joe's freezer section has got you covered on this one: you'll need one bag of Trader Joe's Mexican Style Roasted Corn with Cotija Cheese and one bag of Trader Joe's Roasted Corn. Both bags have roasted corn, which will add that depth of flavor. I like the Mexican Style because there is some creamy sauce included in the bag, which acts as a nice base for the soup by adding that extra burst of flavor for you to build onto. I went with a more "plain" second bag because my recipe adds my own seasonings and flavorings, but this is really flexible -  Note: If you can only find one of these kinds of corn at TJ's, it is not a huge deal at all - just make sure you have two bags of corn total. You can also make this with regular frozen corn as well as canned corn - while the roasted flavor won't be as intense, the bright, flavorful toppings like the cotija cheese and lime juice will still guarantee this dish is a hit.


Grilled Mexican Street Corn Soup

Makes approximately 4 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Cilantro: all my recipes here, including my Chicken Enchiladas Recipe // Sour Cream: add it atop Turkey Chili or my Five Minute Fish Taco Bowls.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
 




Dietary Substitutions:
Vegetarian Friendly
Gluten Free Friendly
Dairy-free or Vegan: Top with dairy free cheese, skip sour cream

Directions


1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium head. Add 1 small yellow onion, diced, to the pot and stir 2-3 minutes, until transluscent. 
2. Add the two bags of corn and stir for 3-4 minutes, until starting to defrost. IMPORTANT: Set aside 1 cup of the corn mixture, for topping the soup later.
3. Add 4 cups vegetable broth and 1/2 cup sour cream to the soup and let simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Slowly and carefully, in batches if needed, transfer the majority of the soup into a blender and blend until desired texture.
5. Transfer back into your soup pot and add salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Let simmer on medium-low heat while you finish preparing the topping.
6. Meanwhile, while the soup is simmering, chop about 1/4 cup cilantro and toss it with the corn mixture that you said aside earlier in step 2.
7. Plate the soup and top with the corn and cilantro mixture, cotjia cheese and a squeeze of the lime wedges and enjoy!

Yum.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. I love making a big batch of soup and keeping it in the fridge for a quick meal. I wouldn't recommend freezing this due to the added dairy (sour cream) but if you leave that out it would be very freezer friendly - just top with cheese once defrosted!

LUNCH TOMORROW - Keep the toppings separate and add once you've heated up your soup. It will help it tasting just as fresh as the night you made it! Especially the lime - squeezing a fresh lime wedge over the top while sitting at your desk will make those desk lunches slightly less sad.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - You'll likely have extra cilantro, which is also a favorite garnish in my Easy Chicken Enchiladas recipe. Check out all my cilantro recipes here by scrolling down the page). Use any extra sour cream atop a cozy bowl of Turkey Chili with some of that cilantro as well.

 This mexican street food-style corn soup, inspired by elote, is topped with a delicious mix of bright flavors like charred corn, cilantro, and lime juice. The best summer souP! | themillennialmenu.com

Beef & Broccoli Meal Prep Recipe

 This Beef & Broccoli meal prep recipe is the perfect Sunday meal prep to fuel you through your week. Better than takeout! | themillennialmenu.com

I am a HUGE fan of take out. Not just because I think the food is good (I do), but because I just love the convenience of it. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook - clearly. But there's something about food showing up at your door that can't be beat. Until now.

This Beef & Broccoli recipe is better-than-takeout good - the marinated flank steak is extra flavorful, the sesame seeds add the perfect crunch, it's got a little bit of a kick...what more could you want? I love/hate to admit that it also just tastes and feels healthier than takeout, meaning I should probably hold back on ordering takeout. Also - that's a great excuse to use this Beef & Broccoli recipe as a meal prep and have it for lunch all week.

Flank steak, which is what you'll need for this recipe, often comes in larger (read: more than single serving) portions, so it's great that this recipe is ideal for meal prepping and having multiple nights in a row or for lunch for the week. Since it's made in the Instant Pot/crock pot (stove top directions included too), it's also such an easy recipe to come home to. It only takes about 10 minutes to finish up.

My favorite way to cook this recipe is to use the slow cooker function on my Instant Pot, because it allows me to cook the food before I get home from work, but also takes advantage of the Instant Pot technology keeps it warm all day after the few hours of cooking are over. Perfect when you work in a school building for 11 hours a day.  

Wondering how you could ever possibly put something in your Instant Pot/slow cooker in the morning AND shower before work AND down some coffee??? First, do it once and you'll realize it's SO worth it. Second, this recipe is GREAT for dump and go - I mix the sauce the night before and keep it in a tupperware, slice my meat ahead of time and store in the fridge in a gallon zip lock bag, and dump it all together in the morning and hit "ON". You can definitely, definitely do that and come home to better-than-takeout Beef & Broccoli ready and waiting (well, for 10 more minutes of simmering, but close enough).



Beef & Broccoli Recipe

Makes 6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Beef Broth: French Onion Soup // Flank Steak: Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
Prep time: 10 minutes before + 10 minutes after
Cook time: Slow cooker: Low, 4 hours // Instant Pot: High, 10 minutes NPR // Stove top: 30 minutes
Total Time: Depending on cooking method, add prep time + cook time

Ingredients

  • 1 pound flank steak Substitute: skirt steak
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 4 tablespoons cold water
  • Pinch of red chili flakes Optional, to taste
  • Sesame seeds, for topping
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • Serving suggestion: Serve over white rice




Dietary Substitutions:
Dairy-free Friendly
Gluten Free As long as you confirm all of your ingredients are gluten free, this recipe is gluten-free friendly. Double check your soy sauce.
Not Vegetarian or Vegan Friendly

Directions
(see non-Instant Pot directions in italics below)

PREP THE BEEF
1. Make the sauce by combining 3/4 cup beef broth, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil and whisking to combine. If you like heat, add a pinch of red chili flakes to the sauce now.
2. Slice 1 pound of flank steak thinly, against the grain. Add to your pot (for whatever cooking method you're using).
3. Pour the sauce over the meat and stir to coat. Cook based on your cooking method: Instant Pot: 10 minutes high pressure NPR // Slow cooker: 4 hours on low // Stove top: simmer on medium heat for 20-30 minutes, until meat reaches desired doneness.

PREP THE BROCCOLI & RICE
4. If you'd like to serve this dish over white rice, start cooking that now.
5. Get 1-2 inches of water boiling in your steamer. Once boiling, add the 3 cups broccoli florets and steam for 5-7 minutes.
6. Break down your 3 cups broccoli into florets (which really just means break it into individual broccolis!)

AS THE STEAK IS FINISHING...
7. Whisk 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 4 tablespoons COLD water (cold matters here!)
8. Once the meat is "done" cooking, add this slurry to the steak and sauce pot.
9. Continue to cook 10-15 additional minutes on low (stovetop & slow cooker - for Instant Pot, turn Sauté feature on low), allowing the sauce to thicken. 
10. Serve beef over rice with broccoli, topped with sesame seeds for garnish. 

Yum.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. This has been my recent go-to meal prep recipe, so I've eaten it all week for lunch and found it to taste just as good on day 1 as day 5. The flavors really infuse into the meat so it tastes better than takeout.

LUNCH TOMORROW - As I said, this is the perfect lunch. The bowls look perfect with the beef and broccoli spooned over some nice white rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Your coworkers will be jealous.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - If you end up with extra flank steak (especially if it's on sale and you buy extra!) I recommend Pinch of Yum's Slow Cooker Beef Ragu. I ate this for 5 meals straight one week in January and had 0 complaints. If you end up having extra broth, try using it up in a cozy French Onion Soup recipe. Hang on to that soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil for some other Millennial Menu favorites coming at you in the future. 


Travels To: Where to Eat in Barcelona, Lisbon, & Sintra

 the view of the castle of the moors in sintra, Portugal, from pena palace

the view of the castle of the moors in sintra, Portugal, from pena palace

My favorite way to get to know a new city is through the food, and we recently did just that in Barcelona, as well as with a few stops in Lisbon & Sintra on either end. I feel so lucky to have been able to take this vacation just a year after coming back from Rome (and after studying abroad in Spring 2014 as well as traveling in Europe in Summer 2012). I never thought that traveling would be something that could potentially become a part of my life, and the past few years have helped me realize that it might be - if I budget!

This trip was so worth every home-cooked meal and homemade cocktail over a night out. When we were on vacation, I said so many times, "This is so worth being on a budget at home." Don't get me wrong - I'm on a budget for many other reasons, including student loans and simply just being a teacher, but prioritizing my spending and babysitting on the weekend paid off as we sipped creative cocktails at a speakeasy or splurged on last minute FC Barcelona tickets. Plus, being travel-savvy doesn't hurt.

How did we find such a great deal? As a teacher in Boston, we have school vacation in both February and April, so we used Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to go somewhere for one of those weeks. We found a flight to Barcelona for cheaper than some destinations in the United States, including flights to Florida or San Francisco. When you consider the cost of hotels or even AirBnB in the U.S. vs. Europe, I thought we might be able to pull off this Barcelona trip for a shockingly reasonable price - and we did! The secret to the cheap flight was that it was through TAP Air Portugal, and included a 15 hour layover on the way there (we headed to Sintra, which we loved!) and a 24 hour layover on the way back (when we explored beautiful Lisbon). We had never been to Portugal, so we saw this as a huge perk rather than an issue.

Overall, I fell in love with Barcelona. It is a cosmopolitan, modern city that is a total foodie destination and the perfect place for a fun, whimsical vacation. Our day trip for hiking in Montserrat was breathtaking and well worth the breath of fresh air from the city. Exploring Sintra was the best way to spend a 15 hour layover, and 24 hours in Lisbon enticed me to go back some day. I came home feeling both exhausted and energized, satisfied and more curious to explore the world.

In terms of travel recommendations, we loved our hotel, Hotel Ciutat Barcelona, in El Born district of Barcelona. We booked it on Black Friday for 30% off (!) and loved that they provided fridges full of water bottles on every floor, had a perfect location near almost every top restaurant and cocktail bar we wanted to try, and that it was across the street from a cinnamon bun bakery. Because duh. There's also a rooftop pool that looked amazing, but sadly it was a little chilly to utilize in February. Next time! Another must is an FC Barcelona game, if they're playing, as well as a day trip to Montserrat for some hiking. We did a fun cooking class with Barcelona Cooking and semi-successfully recreated the paella recipe at home last weekend. If you're looking for more info on trip logistics and other recommendations, please feel free to reach out via the "Contact" page. Planning trips is a weird, obsessive passion of mine, and I spent hours and hours researching to maximize our time and tummy space and stretch every dollar. I'm happy to share!

Now on to the real reason why you're here - THE FOOD. I'll share a few highlights of what we ate during our six day trip, although if you look at the photos you might think we were gone for three weeks. I thought about apologizing for how many photos there are, but isn't that the purpose of a food blog? Note: this is a small percentage of what/where we ate. I still aim to create a Europe guide e-book but being a first year teacher has put a damper on my plans to have a side project. It's coming, eventually, I promise. The more traveling I do before then, the more I have to add to it, right?


 after an overnight international flight, our first stop (once we got to sintra, 2 hours from lisbon airport) was  casa piriquita . We picked up travesseiro, a traditional pastry of Sintra, meaning pillow in portuguese. They are puff pastry filled with almond cream. The bakery has been open since 1862 and provided the perfect fuel for our exploration of the pena palace and moor castle.

after an overnight international flight, our first stop (once we got to sintra, 2 hours from lisbon airport) was casa piriquita. We picked up travesseiro, a traditional pastry of Sintra, meaning pillow in portuguese. They are puff pastry filled with almond cream. The bakery has been open since 1862 and provided the perfect fuel for our exploration of the pena palace and moor castle.

 Once we made it to our barcelona hotel and got a good night's sleep, our first "meal" in barcelona was  demasie , a cinnamon bun bakery, literally a dream come true right outside our hotel door. We went here many times over our few short days in Barcelona. our favorite cinnamon buns (served warm) were classic cinnamon, dulce de leche, and tiramisu. Huge shoutout to ali over at  gimme some oven  for this rec.

Once we made it to our barcelona hotel and got a good night's sleep, our first "meal" in barcelona was demasie, a cinnamon bun bakery, literally a dream come true right outside our hotel door. We went here many times over our few short days in Barcelona. our favorite cinnamon buns (served warm) were classic cinnamon, dulce de leche, and tiramisu. Huge shoutout to ali over at gimme some oven for this rec.

 we dove into spanish cuisine pretty deeply - in a cooking class! We learned how to make paella (along with crema Catalana and much more) and semi-successfully re-created this recipe at home last weekend. We truly enjoyed our experience at  barcelona cooking  and felt it was a great value for the money!

we dove into spanish cuisine pretty deeply - in a cooking class! We learned how to make paella (along with crema Catalana and much more) and semi-successfully re-created this recipe at home last weekend. We truly enjoyed our experience at barcelona cooking and felt it was a great value for the money!

 crema catalana in action at  barcelona cooking .

crema catalana in action at barcelona cooking.

 I could eat Chocolate con churros from  Churreria Laietana  every morning. we watched the elderly man fry the churros fresh and they were just perfect.

I could eat Chocolate con churros from Churreria Laietana every morning. we watched the elderly man fry the churros fresh and they were just perfect.

 We stopped at  BAR pinotxo  in La Boqueria market for breakfast on our last day in barcelona. It gets mobbed for lunchtime, so we totally accepted eating a savory breakfast. I had a version of this chickpea dish twice in barcelona and am looking forward to re-creating it at home. This version included blood sausage - which I was not aware of when I ordered, but it was delicious.

We stopped at BAR pinotxo in La Boqueria market for breakfast on our last day in barcelona. It gets mobbed for lunchtime, so we totally accepted eating a savory breakfast. I had a version of this chickpea dish twice in barcelona and am looking forward to re-creating it at home. This version included blood sausage - which I was not aware of when I ordered, but it was delicious.

 the highlight of our meal at  BAR pinotxo  ended up being this pastry that was gently forced upon us despite the fact that we were stuffed. It's called xuixo, and it's a deep-fried, sugar-coated pastry filled with crema catalana. It is even better than it sounds.

the highlight of our meal at BAR pinotxo ended up being this pastry that was gently forced upon us despite the fact that we were stuffed. It's called xuixo, and it's a deep-fried, sugar-coated pastry filled with crema catalana. It is even better than it sounds.

 5 miles and 4,000 ft into the air above the region of barcelona, we had carried a selection of meats and cheeses for our picnic lunch (in 20 degree weather). All thanks to  Vila Viniteca ! This included the famous Jamón ibérico, which yes, we ate after a long hike in 20 degree weather at the top of a mountain. It's fine. At the shop, We spent about 20 minutes sampling cheeses and meats, and the wonderful staff there were so helpful and friendly. We got a little nervous as we were tasting that this would be a $60 picnic, but it came to just 12.50 euro! 

5 miles and 4,000 ft into the air above the region of barcelona, we had carried a selection of meats and cheeses for our picnic lunch (in 20 degree weather). All thanks to Vila Viniteca! This included the famous Jamón ibérico, which yes, we ate after a long hike in 20 degree weather at the top of a mountain. It's fine. At the shop, We spent about 20 minutes sampling cheeses and meats, and the wonderful staff there were so helpful and friendly. We got a little nervous as we were tasting that this would be a $60 picnic, but it came to just 12.50 euro! 

 our best bang for our buck meal was the "menu del dia" at  la pubilla . the Menu del dia is a great way to try a more high end restaurant at a reasonable price, and I had researched a lot on what our one menu del dia would be - and I made a good choice. for 16 euro, we had a glass of wine, an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. Every...single....dish....was....amazing. my main dish, above, was a perfectly delicate and garlicky fish. That is all I could translate from the catalan menu and it was delicious and that is all that matters. 

our best bang for our buck meal was the "menu del dia" at la pubilla. the Menu del dia is a great way to try a more high end restaurant at a reasonable price, and I had researched a lot on what our one menu del dia would be - and I made a good choice. for 16 euro, we had a glass of wine, an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. Every...single....dish....was....amazing. my main dish, above, was a perfectly delicate and garlicky fish. That is all I could translate from the catalan menu and it was delicious and that is all that matters. 

 one of the many dishes we had at our very authentic barcelona lunch stop,  el xampanyet . these are Padrón  peppers    (1 in 10 are spicy and I've had about 50 of these on our trip and none have been - am I just lucky?) served with cooked (rather than cured) jamon, a specialty spanish ham. It was salty and juicy and amazing. Also, they have 1 euro cava (Spain's version of prosecco, or sparkling wine) Where can you go wrong?

one of the many dishes we had at our very authentic barcelona lunch stop, el xampanyet. these are Padrón peppers   (1 in 10 are spicy and I've had about 50 of these on our trip and none have been - am I just lucky?) served with cooked (rather than cured) jamon, a specialty spanish ham. It was salty and juicy and amazing. Also, they have 1 euro cava (Spain's version of prosecco, or sparkling wine) Where can you go wrong?

I don't think any cocktail bar will ever top Paradiso for me. I'm planning to do a whole post on it, but for now, these artisinal cocktails speak for themselves. Tucked behind a secret door in a pastrami bar, we stayed for hours.

Bodega 1900 was probably our most "foodie" destination, run by famed Barcelona chef Albert Adrià. From left to right, the house vermouth (it is a vermouth bar, after all), anchovies (we REALLY took a liking to these in Spain/Portugal. It's a thing. Pigeon (WHAT) which might have been our favorite dish of the evening, "La Rubia Gallega" - aged beef tenderloin, and prawns. A must-visit, with a reservation.

 In terms of tapas bars,  bar del pla  came recommended from ali at gimme some oven as well, and she did not disappoint. This is the secreto ibérico - a "secret" cut from the famous acorn-fattened pigs of spain. It. Was. Mindblowing.

In terms of tapas bars, bar del pla came recommended from ali at gimme some oven as well, and she did not disappoint. This is the secreto ibérico - a "secret" cut from the famous acorn-fattened pigs of spain. It. Was. Mindblowing.

Our favorite stop from our short time in Lisbon was Ramiro, a Lisbon institution for fresh, delicious seafood. I really don't think I'll ever be able to eat seafood from the grocery store again. Check out those giant tiger prawns.


Remember when I said this is a small portion of where and what we ate? Yikes. Or Wow. Or whatever your reaction is. Trying new things, learning about new cuisines, and fumbling through my Spanish (which was no use in a city that increasingly prefers Catalan), and sharing these places with people who will enjoy them is something I truly enjoy. Someday, there will be an e-book about this. In the meantime, please feel free to hire me to plan your next vacation - only if I can come, too.