Bacon Honey Mustard Potato Salad

I'm gonna level with you all real quick: when the sun comes out, I turn into a real lazy cook. Gone are the days when I actually want to slave away over the stove making soups or roasting vegetables. Because I'm not trying to sweat anymore than I have to, ja feel? 

So when the sun comes out to play in Seattle, it's all about turning the oven off and turning the grill on! And in case you've been living under a rock, I sort of kind of like to grill things

But what I love almost more than delicious grilled meats and veggies on the grill in the sunny weather are cold summer salads. The kind you make a big batch of early in the week, stick it in your fridge to let the flavors marry and become even more delicious over time. The kind that make dinner time a real lazy effort because you're merely throwing something on the grill and eating a cool summer salad straight from the bowl. We're talking minimal effort here, friends!

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Thai Yellow Curry

One of the many benefits of living in a big city like Seattle is you never run out of amazing places to eat. Particularly with such a diverse city like Seattle, you never run into the issue of being able to find the type of food you're craving at any given moment. Craving Indian? It's just a tap away on PostMates. Craving Thai? There's four different options to choose from less than two blocks away (thanks, Yelp). Whatever you're craving, we pretty much have it all. I definitely do not take it for granted the variety and sheer quality of amazing global cuisine we have here in this amazing city!

Growing up in Olympia, Washington we weren't spoiled with copious amounts of global cuisine like I am here in Seattle. Let me put it this way: "global cuisine" meant divey El Sarape or the Emperor's Palace that was delivered to us via a car with a bright, yellow phone on top. Supes authentic! 

The cuisine I did gain exposure to, though, was Thai food. My favorite Thai restaurant to this day comes from my hometown called Lemongrass. Growing up, my mom and I would go out to lunch or a mom/daughter dinner date at Lemongrass because my brother was a weirdo and didn't like Thai food (still doesn't!) We would get the same thing every time too: pork and prawn fresh rolls, pad see ew and most always yellow curry. While I love pretty much any and all Thai food, there is nothing to me quite like a good yellow curry. And Lemongrass has, hands down, the best yellow curry I've ever tasted. 

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Cole’s Chorizo Hash

The last few weekends I've realized that Cole and I have made time for what I lovingly like to call "planless weekends." You know, the weekends were you spend the majority of your time in pajamas, perpetually avoiding the shower, binge watching season after season of The Great British Baking Show and just generally taking a break from reality for two seconds. Because as summer starts to creep up and our social calendars start to fill up weekend after weekend until suddenly it's Christmas, its these lazy, low-key weekends that we crave, nay, need to unwind and recoup. 

But because I'm a Type A planner through and through, no "planless weekend" is complete without some sort of plan, usually in the way of what we're eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. As Aziz Ansari's loving character said on season two of Master of None, "It's never too early to plan ahead, especially when it comes to matters of the tum." And because a laid back weekend cannot be made complete without a hearty and delicious breakfast/brunch, I like to make sure our weekends starts off on the right foot with an epic brekky. 

Breakfast is Cole's domain and, as of late, he's been whipping up some pretty amazing breakfast hashes on these lazy weekends. So amazing, in fact, I just had to trademark his name on this recipe that's become a household favorite. So for all of you that are about to partake in a relaxing, rather uneventful weekend, I present Cole's Chorizo Hash. 

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Sheet Pan Salmon and Asparagus

The last few weeks have been busy, busy, busy with work events, our much needed trip to Vegas and numerous other social activities (because we're just so dang popular). So busy, in fact, that I realized I've been off my meal planning and prepping game. And there's nothing that makes me feel more out of sorts than when I'm off! But I'm proud to say that I'm back on my meal plan grind and I'm feeling alive!

On top of it all, the sun has been starting to come out to play and it's making me all sorts of happy. Literally, I'm grinning from ear to ear right now! It also makes me inspired to make simple, clean and seasonal meals aka meals that just feel bright and put a smile on my face.

A meal that does just that and that has also been a cornerstone of my meal prep game for years is my Sheet Pan Salmon and Asparagus. When I made it last time, I actually made a promise to myself to include this in our weekly dinner lineup every week if possible. There's no reason why I wouldn't either, because there are literally countless reasons why this all encompassing meal is a winner. I couldn't possibly share them all, but for starters here are 10: 

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Almond Crunch Salad with Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

Ever since Cole and I started dating (almost five years ago…!) we've been into binge watching TV shows. Not unlike the rest of the modern world, it's kind of our thing. The very first show we watched together was Entourage. Followed by every season of Top Chef, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and so so many more you probably don't even want to know. 

One of my most favorite binge watching stints was when we watched the sort of little known local chef (to Cole at least, the native Californian) who first got on the map on local television and has since started his own Youtube series and livecast, Sam the Cooking Guy. Oh, the days of Sam the Cooking Guy were glorious! I was so thankful to Cole to have brought such a gem into my world. Not only is Sam just your average Joe cooking everyday recipes in his kitchen, but he is funny as hell. So when we binge watched not only were we consuming countless hours of food porn but we were laughing our bellies off while we were at it. 

While we fell off the Sam the Cooking Guy bandwagon and have moved onto bigger and better things (hello, Stranger Things/Silicon Valley/Westworld/Everything HBO and Netflix does because they are the second coming of Jesus Christ), I always think of Sam when I'm in the kitchen. Especially, when I think of a recipe that highlights some pretty awesome Asian ingredients, like soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, hoisin, sambal and even just your every day green onions. See, Sam cooks with these ingredients almost exclusively and he makes some pretty delicious looking thing with them! Which was why he inspired me to stock up my pantry with similar ingredients and get creative in the kitchen using this whole other flavor palette. 

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Chipotle Lime Fajitas

You guys! I've been a little MIA, I know, but guess what?! I finally got some sun! Some very very VERY much needed sun

Me and a crew took a weekend trip down to beautiful and sunny Las Vegas! I actually had forgotten what the sun felt like. We spent the first day just soaking up every last bit of sun in our own private Cabana (#CabanaLife) and I could've stayed there forever. A few trips to the craps table, eating some delicious food and drinking some tasty adult beverages also didn't hurt either! It was absolutely divine! 

Even though coming back to yet again rainy Seattle was a rude awakening, the sunny weather inspired me to get this spring/summer started no matter what this weather is doing! That's why I'm tempted to cook foods that make me want to kick my feet up, make a cocktail, put on some tunes and at least pretend I'm somewhere sunny. 

Mexican food usually does this for me. Something about bright, zesty flavors like lime and chiles often paired with a cool and refreshing margarita make me feel like I'm poolside! And that's a feeling I'm definitely trying to live out as much as possible. 

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Italian Chopped Salad

Nobody ever told me that growing up basically amounted to perpetually looking forward to the weekend every day that isn't the weekend. I mean, even on the weekend you're most likely looking forward to another weekend in the near future. You wake up Monday morning and look forward to the weekend ahead. And again on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. Even more so on Thursdays and Fridays circa 3pm. Once the weekend hits you're in your happy place for about 48 hours until you repeat the never ending cycle that is the reality of grown up life. Wah wah. 

Luckily, I've perfected the recipe for the perfect weekend (at least in my book). It's gotta have about 40% of it dedicated to solid relaxation time, be it lounging in PJs playing phone games, listening to music or binge watching a new show on Netflix; 40% devoted to trying something new and fun, like trying a new brewery and/or restaurant, taking a day trip or getting some solid extrovert time in with friends; and 20% devoted to being productive AKA cleaning and meal prep. And I've come to realize, while it's the 80% of my weekends devoted to relaxing and trying new, exciting things that keeps me energized and going strong, it's the 20% of my weekend that I spend setting myself up for success the next week that I can't live without. Because, let's face it, if I don't have a clean apartment and lunches packed for the busy week ahead, it just makes the journey to the next weekend all the more miserable. 

This meal prep wonder is one of my favorites for a weekend where I want to make something light and healthy for lunch during the week but I don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time doing it. I've been making this salad concoction for years, ever since I tried a very similarly prepared salad at a local pizza joint in Seattle, Pagliacci. The "Pagliacco Salad" is essentially an Italian chopped salad that not only tastes delicious but made me inspired to whip up something similar at home to add to the meal prep repertoire. 

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Brown Rice Jambalaya

What a season, my peeps! First of all, can we talk about this godawful extended winter/"spring" we're having? One minute it's sunny-ish and pleasant, the next minute it's dark, stormy and downright scary outside. It's like the weather is having an identity crisis! And I don't know about you but it is definitely not contributing to my mood during this busy time of year! 

Like many people, when times are busy and the weather is grey (or just indecisive) I like to turn to cooking. It's all too easy for me to get in a cooking rut and just be too busy to be creative so I'll end up cooking my usuals: turkey burgers, turkey meatballs, and some variety of soup first pop up on that list. Which are all fine and dandy of course, don't get me wrong. But what really makes me happy is when I slow down for a minute in the swirl of a busy season to get creative in the kitchen and cook something new up for you all. Bonus points if it's also comforting and tasty. 

With this recipe that I'm so excited to share with you all I totally went all out with the creativity piece too. Because not only have I never made Jambalaya in my life, but I've never even eaten it! Yep, you heard me. This is truly a Hungry Ali first in every way, shape and form. 

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Skillet Caprese Chicken

Growing up, I was not what one would call a "picky eater." My parents never had to force feed me or urge me to "finish my dinner" (I mean, are you even surprised?) But, like most kids with not fully developed palettes, there were some foods I disliked. Tomatoes were one of those foods. 

I refused to eat tomatoes on sandwiches, salads and even in soups. Yes, I would even eat my BLTs as BLs (those good ol' BLs!) But then, as a I grew older and my taste buds developed into the "sophisticated" ones they are today, I began to enjoy tomatoes in dishes that really accentuated their bright, juicy flavor. 

Tomatoes started not tasting like "tomatoes" as I thought I knew them when they were accentuated with zesty lime and cilantro in pico de gallo, or with sharp balsamic vinegar and lemony basil in bruschetta, or when they turned sweet and jam-like when they were slowly roasted, grilled or sauteed. These types of dishes made me appreciate the tomato in a whole new light! And now I can finally say that I'm a fan of tomatoes. All it took was just preparing them the right way. 

That's why I'm in love with this new weeknight dinner stunner, Skillet Caprese Chicken. I whipped this up the other night on a busy weeknight following an unnecessarily long commute home and grocery store run where all I needed was a quick, healthy and delicious dinner solution when I finally got a chance to take a breather. I had some grape tomatoes that needed to be used up as well as some fresh mozzarella, two ingredients that were just begging to be turned into something Caprese-esque.

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Jerk Chicken

It's a little known fact that I used to work at Red Robin back in my college days. Yup, the good ol' Dirty Bird, as we would call it! So many "fond" memories I have making freckled lemonades, ordering fry fills and singing that beloved happy birthday jingle to angry tourists. Fun times!

In all seriousness, it had its moments and certainly was an awesome way to get me through college. And the best part, no doubt, was that I got to eat those tasty burgers and fries whenever my heart desired. And to this day, I still crave a good Teriyaki Chicken burger!

But my favorite burger there is actually no longer, the Jerk Chicken Burger – jerk chicken, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and mango mayo on a jalapeno cornmeal bun. It was heaven! RIP Jerk Chicken Burger. It was so beloved that when they discontinued it, my manager was kind enough to give me the leftover jerk seasoning blend that I used countlessly on chicken at home. It was this that made me fall in love with jerk chicken, at least how I thought I knew it. 

Jerk chicken is probably my favorite way to eat chicken ever. It's spicy, sweet and savory all at once which is essentially just a flavor party in your mouth. My love for jerk chicken inspired by this tried and true Red Robin seasoning always made me want to make my own homemade jerk seasoning/marinade. And so I did…only like 6 years later but, who's counting?!

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