Crunchy Broccoli Chicken Stir-Fry

When Cole and I first started dating over five years ago, we quickly adopted the date night ritual of cooking together. It was quite natural, really. We both liked food, cooking and, most importantly, we both liked eating. It was a no brainer to cook most of our meals together! It's a good thing that turned out, am I right? 

There are a lot of dishes that come to mind when I think about the early stages of our relationship. Pasta bakes were on the menu almost once a week as were frittatas and anything with pesto in it, but the one dish that gives me serious nostalgia is stir-fry. 

Because deep down we're both just a couple of nerds in love (who also enjoyed watching Archer back in the day), we didn't just make stir-fry frequently when we first starting dating, we made an event out of it which soon came to be known as Stir-Fry Day. It was a day we came to know and love and would look forward to celebrating for obvious reasons. Because, admit it, stir-fries are fun! They're also quick, easy, cheap and darn tasty. 

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Creamy Za’atar Beet Dip

Taste buds are funny, aren't they? When I grew up, I wasn't the pickiest of eaters but I did have a few things I wouldn't touch; mushrooms, broccoli, onions, olives, and tomatoes being a few things I wouldn't go near. I can't put my finger on what happened for certain – maybe my mom just made those things regardless of my fickle palate or maybe my taste buds just matured – but over time I started to develop a liking for these foods. Well, besides olives…but that's an entirely different story! 

Beets were another food I could just not get behind. Granted, to this day, beets are a rather polarizing food. And if you would've asked 10-year old Ali her opinion on beets she would've been on the opposing side fo sho. Magenta, gelatin-like root vegetables that resemble dirt? No thanks! 

But just as my palate has grown to like the simplest of foods that I can't imagine living without, it has also grown an intense affinity for beets. Beets no longer taste dirty, but uniquely earthy. The texture is no longer off putting but rather a perfect vehicle for more acidic and creamy flavors. Thanks to my maturing taste buds, beets have become one of my favorite foodie staples. 

Though I've been loving beets in my adult life, I hadn't actually cooked with them. Like ever. So folks, this post is not only an ode to beets but a Hungry Ali first! 

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Chimichurri Sauce

Is anybody else having a minor anxiety attack about the fact that summer is nearly over?! Ok, granted, I'm seriously looking forward to fall and all that it brings, including all the tasty food. But let's not forget that summer has been pretty good to us! I mean, sunny and warm weather, beach days, outdoor grilling, backyard chillin, breathtaking sunsets and, of course, puggie snugs?! It's been pretty stellar. Summer, you will be missed! 

So before I get too ahead of myself and get too excited about fall quickly approaching (because you know I will), let's take a step back and relish these last few gorgeous days of summer. And, if you ask me, the perfect way to do such a thing is to fire up ze grill! 

Because summer has been awfully good to us, I think it's only fitting that we send it off in style. And, to me, there's nothing like grilling a big, juicy steak to really class things up. Almost every time I grill steak, I know I'm making chimichurri to go with it. Steak and chimichurri is just about as natural of a combo as pb&j in our house! And once you've had it, it's easy to see why.

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Mexican Street Corn Salad + Life Update!

Everyone. I have a v v exciting announcement. It is so exciting that it probably beats just about anything I've ever announced or will announce about my life in the future. You ready for it?! 

Cole and I….adopted a PUG!!!!!!

Let me give you the full back story. For those who know me well, you know that I've been obsessed with pugs for a long time, especially since my parents got their pugs whom I adore, Maxwell and Chloe Boo. Cole and I dreamt of having a pug of our own for years, and that finally started to become a real possibility when we found out we could move into our new house complete with a dog-friendly landlord and a backyard just made for our future puggy.

We knew we ideally wanted to adopt a pug instead of buying one from a breeder and fortunately came across Seattle Pug Rescue. From submitting an application in May, to having a home visit to working with the adoption coordinator, it was quite the involved process, but worth every step. Because at the end of the day we owe Seattle Pug Rescue a huge thank you for putting in the time and effort to find us the perfect pug, Neville! 

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Teriyaki Chicken Burgers

Not many people know that my love for food has an even deeper connection because the first jobs I had starting from the age of 16 were in restaurants. From bussing tables to serving people fish and chips and burgers, I've seen it all and have a few too many horror stories to tell if you've got the time. But I'll spare you…for now! 

In college I worked at Red Robin (or, as we affectionately called it, The Dirty Bird) because, well, I needed to support my drinking habit like any good college student. Oh, and I guess pay the rent. Priorities! As you can imagine that Red Robin life was not entirely glamorous. We're talking dealing with inconsiderate tourist, singing that infamous happy birthday song more times than you can imagine and coming home after 12 hour shifts smelling like ranch and campfire sauce. Ah, the glory days! 

Even though I wouldn't jump at the opportunity to relive my time at the Dirty Bird, I still, to this day, find myself craving their food. It's not often, but sometimes I get a mean hankering for some fries with ranch and campfire sauce or a bleu ribbon burger. I know it's nothing fancy, but there's just nothing better than the taste of nostalgia. 

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Sausage Stuffed Mini Peppers

This whole entertaining business is something I've fantasized about for awhile now (yes, I really do fantasize about such things). There's nothing I love more than gathering people especially around food and drink. It's the basis for everything that is good in my world! 

But entertaining in our tiny 650 square foot apartment wasn't exactly ideal.  So now that we're living like royalty with luxurious extra 250 square feet in the new digs, I've been taking a crack at entertaining menus on the reg. I'm so into it that I may or may not have even gone as far as starting to map out our holiday menus….gotta stay prepared! 

In all seriousness, there's something so energizing about strategically planning out a menu to impress your friends and family. A good menu isn't just something that will keep people happy and satiated while you're partying the night away, but it's the blank canvas for you to tell your story as a cook. Whether you're wanting to showcase your socialities or just highlight the season's best, creating a killer entertaining menu is your chance to shine! 

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Lamb Naan Pizzas

The one caveat to moving into a grown-up house this summer has been our wallets have taken a teeny, tiny hit. Indeed it is sad that going out to try new restaurants, one of my favorite hobbies, isn't high on the priority list. Then again, our house looks supes cute so I'd say it was a fair trade-off!

But just because we're not going out as much doesn't mean I'm not trying to whip up some tasty eats at home. And it's definitely a good thing I like bringing the restaurant home with new recipe testing!

When we do go out to eat, one of our favorite restaurants is a place we discovered a few years ago, Mioposto. It's this quaint neighborhood Italian bistro that you could easily miss. We really only discovered it from taking a drive in this area while looking for apartments. We finally decided to try it last year for a date night and we've been going back ever since. 

What we ordered the first time became our order every other time we have gone because why mess with perfection? We get the ceci, roasted chickpeas with fried garlic and sage, oven roasted Hood Canal clams with white wine, butter and garlic, served with their housemade oven baked Mio bread (essentially like pizza dough-esque bread for sopping up all the juice), Caesar salad, a perfect rendition of a classic, and, the pièce de résistance, the spring lamb pizza. 

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Greek Chicken Pitas

Here we go again with this summer heat wave! If you're like me you're probably in a constant state of trying to keep cool at all costs. Cold showers at night? YUP. Wearing dresses to work on the daily? Oh yeah. Sticking my head in the freezer like a weirdo? Mmmhmm. Hey, whatever it takes, right??

But what's even higher on the priority list for me when it comes to keeping things cool as a cucumber is what's on the menu for dinner. I pretty much live by a golden rule that when the temperature rises about 75 degrees (aka my boiling point) dinners must be kept easy, quick, light and, most importantly, out of the oven. Because when it's too hot to move, let alone cook, the last thing I feel like doing is turning up the heat. 

My new favorite meal for hot summer nights that checks these boxes and more is my Greek-inspired chicken pitas. What I love about these pitas first and foremost is how little effort they require. Lemon juice, lots of fresh garlic, olive oil and oregano create the simple yet flavorful chicken marinade in a matter of minutes. Then its up to the grill to do the rest of the work. 

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Sweet and Sour Dill Cucumber Salad

Question: why do main dishes get all the glory? The burgers at the backyard barbecue, the beautiful pot roast on a Sunday night dinner, the turkey on Thanksgiving; they all get far too much attention, if you ask me. But let's talk about side dishes for a hot sec. 

Burgers would be nothing without a healthy portion of baked beans, potato salad and/or buttery corn on the cob. Your pot roast doesn't stand a chance without some gorgeous roasted root vegetables at the dinner table. And Thanksgiving? I don't have to tell you twice that mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole and roasted Brussels sprouts can practically stand on their own without the turkey. Turkey Shmurkey, it's all about the sides, baby! 

So I'm here to declare my love for the very underrappreciated side dish, for clearly it's side dishes that can truly make or break a meal. A few of my favorite side dishes include the utterly decadent potatoes au gratin with white cheddar and tarragon, lemon and basil confetti corn for summer time and rustic ratatouille for a cozy night in. But a side dish I'm newly obsessed with that deserves equally as much love is my sweet and sour dill cucumber salad. 

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Coconut Curry Chicken

You may have seen if you follow my personal Instagram or read from a recent post that Cole and I just spent the last week moving into our very own house! Granted, we are still renting it but does it even matter?! You guys, this house is a literal dream. We keep talking about how we don't feel like we actually live there yet and we're just guests in a cute little Airbnb. But nope. I keep waking up each day to this cozy, cute "vacation home" and it's apparently ours!  

Arguably the best part of this house (even though it's seriously hard to choose a "best" part because I have 12,000 favorite parts of the house) is the backyard. This beautiful, magical, perfect backyard down below. 

Is that not the prettiest picture you've ever seen? All it's really missing is me in it with a glass of rose in hand and Cole firing up the grill for some grilling and chilling. 

Speaking of grilling and chilling, I cannot tell you how happy it makes me that this backyard is the perfect setting for such activities! While we've had our grill for a few years, a tiny balcony is no place for a grill and chill sesh. With this new backyard, our grill has been born again and I'm all sorts of ready to prep some tasty foods for some backyard barbecue action. 

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