My Favorite Recipes from 2021

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by Sil Pancho

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12.31.2021


It’s always such a joy to reflect on the past year including all of the recipes I made and what I accomplished. While I don’t have much time to write as much as I used to, I wanted to take a minute to share some of my personal favorite recipes from 2021.

You’ll notice that there are a lot of vegan and vegetarian recipes on the list this year as one of my goals was to consume less meat and eat more veggies, so that not only am I nourishing my body, but also so that I’m making Ambitious Kitchen inclusive for everyone.

I hope you enjoy trying some of my favorite recipes from this past year below. If you make any, be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe. I adore you all. xo!

Breakfast

cherry smoothie in a glass topped with almonds and frozen cherries

Almond Cherry Smoothie (my favorite smoothie ever!)

Why I love this recipe: honestly this is the BEST smoothie you’ll ever make. It reminds me of cherry garcia ice cream! I love adding spinach, though it does change the beautiful color but trust me when I say you 100% need this refreshing cherry smoothie in your life.

lemon blueberry baked oatmeal in a baking dish with a slice cut out

Lemon Poppy Seed Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Why I love this recipe: this recipe went viral last year and for good reason. It’s like a lemon poppyseed muffin and an oatmeal bake had a baby. I love the light lemon yogurt glaze on top and everyone, including kiddos, will gobble this up!

three chocolate peanut butter banana smoothies in glasses

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Why I love this recipe: TWO WORDS. Wendy’s Frosty! Yes that’s right this smoothie tastes exactly like a Wendy’s frosty. It’s addicting as hell but nourishing and full of good for you ingredients. Make it! Oh, and if you want it extra thick, be sure to use frozen bananas and less milk, that way you can eat it straight out of the cup with a spoon like a milkshake.

zucchini carrot muffins next to a mug of coffee

Morning Glory Zucchini Carrot Muffins

Why I love this recipe: It’s absolutely perfect in so many ways and I found myself going back for another. My toddler LOVED these too! Basically imagine carrot cake, oatmeal and zucchini bread all wrapped into one muffin. So many fabulous, nourishing are packed into these too like nuts, coconut, raisins, applesauce, zucchini, carrots and oats! UNREAL.

sliced apple zucchini bread

Spiced Apple Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Why I love this recipe: Tony and I made this recipe together last minute and I could NOT get over how amazing it was, even without the cream cheese glaze/frosting on top. It’s incredible anyway you have it, so moist and tender and packed with fruits and veggies. Highly recommend this one!

Lunch

spicy tuna melt on a plate with sweet potato fries

Spicy Jalapeño Cheddar Tuna Melt

Why I love this recipe: I don’t know why but I had a serious tuna melt obsession when I was pregnant with Viggo and it continued after. This spicy tuna melt is by far my favorite. I could eat it EVERY SINGLE DAY for lunch. It is essential to get high quality canned tuna for best flavor!

sweet potato kale salad in a bowl topped with avocado

California Roasted Sweet Potato Kale Salad

Why I love this recipe: this salad is my favorite salad EVER. I eat it probably 2x a week and love how much it makes. I know kale isn’t everyone’s favorite, but once you try this salad you’ll be OBSESSED. The dressing coats the kale wonderfully and gives it so much flavor. It’ll BLOW YA MIND, and yes, it’s vegan.

orzo tomato soup in a mug next to crackers

Creamy Tomato Orzo Soup with Mini Turkey Meatballs

Why I love this recipe: even though this hearty soup is dairy free, it oddly tastes like an amazing bowl of spaghetti o’s! The mini turkey meatballs take a little bit of time to make, but they are SO worth it because they’re infused with basil pesto and taste like a dream. SO creamy, so perfect and wonderful when it’s cold outside.

cauliflower quinoa salad on a plate

Roasted Carrot Cauliflower Quinoa Salad with Sunshine Dressing

Why I love this recipe: yes, I’m still very much into quinoa salads and this one comes to the top of my list. Roasted carrots, cauliflower, dates, herbs, peas, quinoa, pistachios and more! Not only is it gorgeous but it’s drenched in a sunshine dressing which consists of tahini, ginger, turmeric and a touch of sweetness. This vegan salad will be your go-to to pair with proteins or prepare for meal prep, promise.

vegan caesar salad on a platter

Vegan Caesar Salad (with homemade vegan caesar dressing!)

Why I love this recipe: so this is basically the ultimate side dish especially for those who are dairy free or vegan. The vegan caesar dressing is INCREDIBLE. Everytime we make it we always lick our plates clean, no joke. I love to pair it with roasted crunchy chickpeas (store-bought or homemade are great!) and avocado. If you’re not vegan, feel free to serve with grilled chicken, though I highly recommend a buffalo grilled chicken aka the meal Tony and I ate all summer long.

Dinner & Sides

hot chili chicken noodles in a bowl with chopsticks

Sweet & Spicy Hot Chili Chicken Noodles

Why I love this recipe: slightly sweet, spicy and SO SO COZY. There’s not much more to say other than that this is a total flavor bomb. You can add some veggies in here if you want; I’d probably recommend broccoli! Make it, devour it and don’t forget to rate the recipe.

turkey picadillo in a bowl with tortilla chips

Turkey Picadillo (with a slow cooker option!)

Why I love this recipe: this is one of my go-to meals when I need something quick and easy for the kids. They always devour it. I typically serve over brown or white rice and tostones for scooping, but it’s also terrific in tacos or empanadas. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Truly one of Sidney’s favs.

grilled vegetable orzo in a bowl

30 Minute Brown Butter Goat Cheese Grilled Veggie Orzo

Why I love this recipe: say hello to the meal I made all summer paired with chicken sausage, salmon or grilled chicken. It’s so flavorful and packed with veggies. We typically grill the veggies, but you could roast them or saute them. Truly it’s great with any seasonal veggie, so feel free to mix and match and have fun. I usually end up skipping the chickpeas, but it’s a great vegetarian option!

dipping a homemade fish stick in tartar sauce

Homemade Crispy Baked Fish Sticks (kid & toddler-friendly!)

Why I love this recipe: hot damn these fish sticks are BOMB. Did anyone else grow up eating fish sticks? If you did, these are great for a healthier option that are baked instead of fried. My kids love them and we serve with sweet potato fries or regular fries and steamed broccoli and the side. Easy and delicious!

sesame chicken meatball bowls with broccoli and rice

Sweet & Spicy Sesame Chicken Meatball Bowls

Why I love this recipe: just call me the meatball chick because I’m obsessed with meatballs and this one delivers on flavor! Seriously though, both adults and kids love meatballs, so it becomes a frequent go-to in our home. Personally I recommend simmering the sauce on low so that you have plenty of it for over your rice, but many readers like to double the sauce recipe! YUM.

dipping a chip into a bowl of vegan butternut squash queso

Vegan Jalapeño Butternut Squash Queso

Why I love this recipe: I made this and couldn’t believe how good it was. Tony and I devoured most of it in two days and you can serve it SO many ways, plus it lasts 5 days in the fridge. I love that it’s packed with nourishing ingredients like butternut squash, nutritional yeast and cashews. It’s easier to make then it looks and is great on tacos, nachos, enchiladas (for a vegan cheese sauce), on pasta and more! TRUST ME AND MAKE IT (even if you aren’t vegan.)

pulling up a slice of butternut squash lasagna from a pan

Cozy Roasted Vegetable Butternut Squash Lasagna

Why I love this recipe: I made a version of this for my MIL and I and we devoured it. It’s basically roasted veggies, a creamy, cozy, perfectly spiced butternut squash sauce and cheese layered with lasagna noodles. Freezer friendly and OH SO GOOD.

caramelized garlic carrots in a bowl with fresh herbs and green sauce

Caramelized Garlic Carrots with Spicy Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Why I love this recipe: this is the ultimate carrot recipe and will blow ya mind. They only take about 20 minutes to make and are the perfect side dish year round. They’re roasted until tender and caramelized and tossed with garlic, then dressed with a creamy cilantro sauce and topped with mint, basil and more cilantro + peanuts for crunch. IDK WHAT ELSE TO SAY other than SO GOOD.

Dessert

vegan chocolate chip cookies on parchment paper

Blow Ya Mind Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free, too!)

Why I love this recipe: I call these blow ya mind cookies for a reason. They are the BEST vegan and gluten free chocolate chip cookies in the entire WORLD. I can’t even describe how good they are but everyone who makes them goes crazy for them and can never stop at just one. Everyone is always surprised when I tell them they’re vegan, too!

grain free chocolate chunk skillet cookie topped with ice cream

Grain Free Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie (vegan + paleo)

Why I love this recipe: first of all, did you know that you can make this grain free chocolate chip cookie skillet THREE different ways. Yep that’s right you can make them into a skillet, cookies, or blondies! It’s seriously the best, incredibly fudgy and easy to make. GET IT.

peanut butter cookie bars sliced on parchment paper

Ooey-Gooey Salted Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Why I love this recipe: I have to say that I really outdid myself when it came to this recipe. It’s can be hard to achieve peanut butter blondies that are gluten free, grain free and still remain fudgy, but if anyone can do it, it’s ya girl. Use a RUNNY/DRIPPY natural peanut butter with just peanut butter (or pb + salt) as the ingredients.

healthy chocolate zucchini cake on parchment paper

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (healthy + gluten free)

Why I love this: if you want a cake that’s healthy, packed with some veggies and tastes like heaven, then this is for you. Seriously can’t believe how good this turned out. I mean just look at those photos!!! Insanity.

vegan chocolate peanut butter caramel bars on parchment paper

Vegan Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Bars

Why I love this recipe: these oddly remind me of a snickers bar and I love it. They’re actually a lot easier to make then they look, too. If you haven’t tried them yet, give them a try. Pretty damn delightful when you have a grain free chocolate shortbread, a vegan peanut butter inspired caramel with crunchy peanuts and dark chocolate on top. Yum!

slice of banana cream pie on a plate

World’s Best Banana Cream Pie (with peanut butter cookie crust!)

Why I love this recipe: banana cream pie was one of my favorites growing up and I knew I needed to create my own version. Add a peanut butter cookie crust and it is PERFECTION. Seriously everyone loves this rich pie and it’s perfect for special days, holidays or just whenever you’re in the baking pie kinda mood.

white chocolate macadamia snickerdoodle with a bite taken out

White Chocolate Macadamia Snickerdoodles

Why I love this recipe: it was hard for me to decide which cookie recipe I wanted to choose as a favorite from cookie week (the grain free cinnamon roll cookies were a close second!) but this one takes the cake. It’s buttery, rich, nutty and coated in cinnamon sugar goodness so it has a nice sugary crunch on the outside while still staying chewy in the middle thanks to brown butter and brown sugar. Make them and prepare to fall in love! My favorite way to enjoy them is with a nice cup of coffee or hot cocoa.

Check out my other favorite recipes from previous years

Also don’t forget to check out the Ambitious Kitchen favorites category for more favorite recipes!



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