Thai Tomato Soup

Some recipes were born for the sake of existing with another. Like food soulmates, if you will. Cookies and milk, peanut butter and jelly and chips and salsa come to mind.

But of course this list would not be complete without grilled cheese and tomato soup. Grilled cheese is sort of like pizza in that even if it's "bad", it's good. I mean, I'm the first one to admit that one of my favorite ways to eat a grilled cheese is with American cheese on wheat bread. Of course, I'll eat a grilled cheese any way it's prepared – simple, boojie, it's almost impossible to make bad and it's always delicious. 

Tomato soup on the other hand, the critical part of this classic combo, is another story all together. Because if you're eating a boojie grilled cheese with canned tomato soup then what is the point?! I take that back. The only acceptable form of canned/boxed tomato soup is the Pacific Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. It's delightful and perfect for if you're feeling lazy. 

But if you're not feeling lazy and like rising to the occasion to make the perfect companion for grilled cheese, then my Thai Tomato Soup recipe is for you. I will just start by saying that by making this homemade tomato soup you really aren't putting in a whole lot more effort than you would by heating some canned/boxed soup over the stove. So there's no excuse to not make this creamy and flavorful tomato soup that will change your life forever! 

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Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken

Few things give me greater joy than roasting a chicken. Just imagining it now gives me all the feels. From the physical act of prepping the bird for the roast, to smelling the aromatics permeate my entire house while it is in the oven, to seeing the beautiful, crispy, golden brown skin glisten on the finished product. Swoon!

While there are infinite reasons why I love roasting chicken, allow me to just name a few reasons why it's a staple in my household. The first is that it's one of the cheapest yet most impressive homemade meals out there. Even if you're buying organic chicken (highly recommend) you are never spending more than $10 for some beautiful protein. What's even better is it takes very little to make this bird shine with flavor. A litle lemon, herbs and fat is all it takes to make a moist, flavor-packed chicken. It also goes without saying that there is quite possibly nothing more perfect and decadent than crispy, salted chicken skin. I mean, it's like nature's candy!

My favorite way to roast chicken as of late is inspired by my idol, Ina Garten, of course. Ina recently shared a foolproof way to roast chicken in less time to achieve even more flavor with a simple spatchcocking method, which essentially means butterfling the chicken to help even the cooking time. She also cooked this butterflied bad boy in a cast iron skillet because, duh! She's a smart lady, that one. Seasoning it simply with lemon, onion, fresh thyme, olive oil and a bath of white wine, the chicken comes out juicy, flavorful and succulent. 

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Prosciutto, Asparagus and Burrata Flatbread

Spring has sprung! Which means my mind is fully focused on foods that make me feel like we're at least (sort of) on the pathway to warmer days, even if the weather is doing the exact opposite of that (Oh, Washington!) The foods I'm referring to of course are fresh, springy produce like peas and asparagus, lots of bright, fresh lemon and foods that generally look light, cheery and bright like the season that is spring! 

So if you're with me on this notion, and you already got hooked on this post solely for the fact that the photo is seriously the poster child of food porn, than this is the bright, springy recipe you need in your life! Ladies and gentlemen, my very spring forward prosciutto, asparagus and burrata flatbread is here to make all your dreams come true. 

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Taco Pizza

I am not ashamed to admit that sometimes I have the gnarliest cravings for "trashy" food, because loving food as much as I do means appreciating the boojie and the trashy all at once. So when I'm in the mood for a true guilty pleasure, I'm craving anything from McDonald's (oh, don't you dare judge) to grilled cheese with American cheese (the only acceptable way to eat a grilled cheese really) to Kraft mac and cheese (shapes > noodles, obviously) and, of course, taco pizza. 

You heard that right. Taco pizza. A perfect mashup of flavors and cuisines, it's Taco Bell meets your standard homemade pizza. Crazy? A little. Crazy delicious? Oh, you know it!

I was first introduced to the crazy concoction that is taco pizza from the local pizzeria I grew up with that had a taco-ish style pizza on the menu. Essentially consisting of a "sauce" layer of salsa infused refried beans, basic taco seasoned ground beef and lots of cheese, it's baked to golden perfection like a typical pizza but then topped with your fresh taco components like shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and/or hot sauce. It literally tastes like your Americanized taco (ie. Taco Bell) in pizza form. What could be bad about that? 

I found myself craving it the other day, and basically every single day after the initial thought. And because there's hardly a pizza place in town that's bold enough to feature such a combination on their menu, I took matters into my own hands and made a homemade version! 

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Lamb Kofta Meatballs with Harissa Yogurt Sauce

Raise your hand if you're like me and you have an unhealthy obsession with Trader Joe's? But can you blame me? Every time I walk into Trader Joe's, or TJ's as I so lovingly call it, it's like a trap to spend all of my money on all of their delicious offerings. But you know what? I'm not even mad about it! 

TJ's is not only a lifesaver when it comes to affordable and easy grocery items, but it's a gold mine for creative, new ingredients that help spice up my cooking adventures. Like the time I discovered harissa and it changed my life forever in my Hungry Ali fan favorite lemon harissa chicken. And that other time I discovered their frozen naan and my heart exploded because not only could I enjoy restaurant quality naan from the freezer section (like how is that even possible) but I could turn it into mindblowingly delicious recipes like my lamb naan pizzas

Well guess what? TJ's did it again and it totally inspired a new dish that I'm totally obsessed with: lamb kofta meatballs with harissa yogurt sauce. Talk. About. A flavor. Explosion.

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Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

So last Christmas I got what everyone and their mother also got for Christmas: an Instant Pot. And you know what? I'm kind of obsessed with it! 

Have you been living under a rock and have no idea what an Instant Pot is? Not to worry, friends, I got you. An Instant Pot is a 9-in-1 electric pressure cooker that can also be used as a slow cooker, rice maker, yogurt maker and so, so much more. It's basically a smarter, safer and faster version of the slow cooker that is all the rage, for good reason. The pressure cooking method alone is a dream, making it possible to cook laborious foods like dried beans, stews and slow-cooked meats two to six times faster than any other method. And I don't know about you, but I'm all about saving time in the kitchen! 

While I'm still an Instant Pot noob, I'm starting to test the waters with various recipes that can be made better and easier with the help of the Instant Pot and learning to love it more and more with each cook. In fact, one of the first things I created was what turned me into an Instant Pot fanatic and that, my friends, was red beans and rice. 

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Josie’s Hot Sauce

Breakfast tacos make a regular appearance on our weekend breakfast menu. They're easy, scrumptious and infinitely customizable, so what is not to like? While I thought our breakfast taco making game was pretty solid, it wasn't until recently that I discovered they were missing one key ingredient: hot sauce. 

But not just any hot sauce: Josie's hot sauce. "Who is this Josie you speak of and why does she have her own hot sauce?" See my boyfriend, Cole, born and raised in SoCal where the Mexican food is bountiful, grew up on the infamous Josie's hot sauce from a family favorite, local Mexican restaurant. It was so well loved in his family that his mom practically begged the owner of this restaurant for the recipe. Sure enough, they handed it over and the hot sauce has been in the fam ever since. 

Believe it or not, I only tried this hot sauce for the first time this past Christmas though we have been dating for some time. It was quite a special moment on many levels. Once I tasted it, I got it immediately. It totally lived up to the hype – and then some! What makes this hot sauce so great is that it's not too hot, because nothing is worse than burning off your taste buds with an overpowering hot sauce. I actually like to taste the flavors of my food! It packs a perfectly spicy punch with hints of smoke and aromatic garlic. Leave it in the fridge for a few days and you'll even notice the spice and garlic flavor intensify. 

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Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

I love a good happy hour. I mean, what's not to like? It's an "hour" of the day that's devoted to eating delicious appies while drinking adult beverages and enjoying good company so, yeah, it's kind of my favorite thing to do! But even though happy hour typically means more affordable prices, sometimes it's hard to justify going out for happy hour, especially if you have an appetite for tasty appetizers and adult beverages like I do. 

Which is why I find myself these days embracing and, quite honestly, preferring the "home happy hour." Let me just name all the ways the "home happy hour" wins the happy hour game: 

  1. Sweats and slippers are involved.
  2. Forget uncomfortable bar stools or those uncomfortable metal chairs, you can enjoy your appies and beverage while lounging on your own couch.
  3. Say "bubyeeee" to noisy, overcrowded restaurants and "hello, lover" to your warm, cozy home.
  4. Your bank account will thank you. Trust me. 
  5. You get the joy and satisfaction of entertaining your friends by putting that Pinterest-y bar cart to use (for once) and showing off your cooking skills.

So now that we're clear on the home happy hour totally winning on many levels, it's time to bring your A-game with an appetizer that is easy to make, completely affordable and downright delicious. Introducing the star of your next home happy hour menu, prosciutto wrapped asparagus. 

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Winter Minestrone

Well, folks, we've reached that time of year in the Pacific Northwest when life seems perpetually dark, gray and damp. Translation: it's winter and I'm realizing that it's going to take a lot of little pick-me-ups to get me through this dreary season. I'm breaking out all the candles, cozy socks, spicy tea and cuddling my pug as often as I can to cure my winter blues. Oh, and just one more thing: soups, baby, soups!

While I could probably eat soup year round (and, let's face it, I do), there is truly no better time to enjoy soups than winter. Which is why I'm just tickled I discovered this latest recipe that I will truly be making and enjoying all season long, Winter Minestrone. 

Inspired by Her Royal Highness, Ina Garten, this recipe does not shy away from the fact that it should be made and enjoyed in these wintery months. Taking a spin on a classic Italian minestrone, this winter version features seasonal butternut squash and spinach to make for one hearty, stick-to-your ribs bowl of soup. But what really sets this winter minestrone recipe apart are the knockout flavor boosters like smoky pancetta, dry white wine and store bought pesto for that extra herbacious kick. It's one of those perfect bowls of soup that's best enjoyed with a crusty piece of garlic bread for dipping along with an Ali pour of red wine and a pug on your lap (ideally). 

So go ahead, lean into the cozy with this most satisfying, heartwarming soup. 

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My Favorite Recipes of 2017

Holy cow, is 2017 really almost over?! I mean, it's been an interesting year, to say the least, what with politics (good riddance), news, the weather and entertainment. But hey, 2017 has also had its shining moments like, um, hello, we got a pug! And we moved into a a house with a backyard in our favorite Seattle neighborhood! 2017, you have been interesting, but you have also been a pretty darn good year. 

It also goes without saying that 2017 has been a pretty delicious year. In reflecting on the last year in the life of Hungry Ali, I have to say I was rather impressed with myself for the tasty variety of recipes I've whipped up these last 12 months. Which is why I felt ever so inclined to do a recipe roundup of my favorite and tastiest recipes of 2017 to send you into 2018 in delicious fashion. 

So with that, enjoy this tasty little roundup and cheers to you and an equally delicious 2018! 

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