Marshmallow Brownies

We all know I'm not one for baking, but sometimes the occasion just calls for it! Be it for the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day or just because you feel like baking and eating something sweet, sometimes a girl's just gotta bake. 

Whenever I do feel like baking I don't try to get too fancy and I go back to the classics I grew up with. Like banana bread or these mini cheesecakes! So the last time I felt like baking I wanted to whip up another classic: one of my favorite sweet treats, Marshmallow Brownies. 

It's funny, I've eaten these dozens of times throughout my whole life and it never once occured to me that they're not technically brownies. Sure, they're chewy and fudgy and decadent as ever, but they actually resemble a blondie more than a brownie. It only took 27 years and making these for my too-smart-for-his-own-good boyfriend, Cole only for him to point this pretty obvious fact out to me to realize it. Go figure!

Neverthless, whether they're brownies or blondies, who really cares? This recipe combines the best of both worlds, and then some. The batter actually starts with melted butterscotch chips and butter (uh, yeah) which creates for a sticky, rich base. And because this is dessert and you should only just go all out, you then add a healthy dose of chocolate chips, marshmallows (obviously) and walnuts for crunch. When they come out of the oven they're golden brown and smell like heaven. So you can only imagine just how glorious they taste!

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Kale Pesto

I knew Cole's favorite food was pesto even before we started dating. I received a not-so anonymous tip that his favorite food was pesto and that, if I wanted to impress him, all I had to do was make him pesto pasta. "That's it?" I thought. "I got this in the bag!"

Not so fast. Before I could even start making a shopping list I was highly encouraged to text Cole's mom for her pesto recipe because apparently he would eat no other pesto recipe. I quickly learned why. See, I don't call Cole's version of "pesto", pesto, even. I call it garlic tapenade. Yes, the pesto has a resemblance of your average basil pesto but with no less than three times more garlic than your average pesto recipe. 

Every time I've ever attempted to make "Cole's pesto" I've always been instructed to do just one thing: add more garlic. This past Christmas, in fact, we made it together and added, I kid you not, 7 cloves of garlic. When we did a taste test and I was sure that we had hit the right garlic: parmesan: basil: pine nut ratio, Cole looked at me, shook his head and said these words verbatim, "It needs more garlic. It needs to assault me with garlic."

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My Game Day Favorites!

It's Super Bowl Sunday! Sorry, my b, NFL, it's the "big game." Sure, I'm bummed my Seahawks aren't playing in the big dance this year. But in a way it's nice to not have your team playing with everything on the line. Do you know how many near heart attacks I had this past season from watching the Seahawks play?? We're talking years taken off my life! It's too much stress for one person to handle from just a game.

So even if my team doesn't play, I'm still a fan of Super Bowl Sunday. It's the one day of the year that's devoted to watching football, cheesy commercials and eating copious amounts of game day food. And since I'm a fan of any "holiday" that has its own lineup of food, I wanted to post a roundup of all my favorite Hungry Ali recipes that are just perfect for game day!

P.S. You'll notice a theme here with my game-day favs: big flavors, lots of spice, smoke and cheesiness wherever possible!

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Sheet Pan Lemon Harissa Chicken

I have had a near death experience. My Pinterest account nearly vanished! 

You think I'm being dramatic, but we were talking about 15,000 (yes, 15,000 – you could say I'm crazy, or just dedicated) tastefully selected food, wedding and home decor pins that were a labor of love. Naturally I was devastated for the three days that the life of my Pinterest account was in limbo. 

Ok, so I got a new phone. The Google Pixel, my new baby. Yes, this is a happy moment indeed! I'm obsessed with the new camera (I mean, check out these sexy tacos I made the other night). But with getting a new phone comes resetting all your apps and accounts. Long story short, I had multiple Pinterest accounts and was using a random account for my beloved Pinterest account which made it nearly inaccessible. 

But luckily the Pinterest support team worked their magic and figured out this mess for me (thank goodness!) So you can still follow and/or view all 15,000 of my pins from the account right here. You're welcome!

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Slow Cooker Tacos Al Pastor

I had an aha moment the other day: I've been doing this whole amateur food blogging thing for a minute now! Sure, I'm still in my toddler phase of being a food blog – I'm no Deb from Smitten Kitchen or (the other) Ali from Gimme Some Oven (#idolstatus). But hey, I have to say I'm proud to be giving this passion project my best shot, while balancing a full time job and just life in general! 

The reason I had this aha was because I was being a creep on my own blog by browsing through my growing recipe collection (I'm telling you, the recipe collection is getting up there! Woo!) But do you want to know what else I realized? 

I cook and eat a lot of tacos. 

Like these tacos and these tacos and these tacos and these tacos and these tacos and these tacos.

Which basically means I'm winning at life. And I think it's safe to say I'm becoming quite the taco aficionado. 

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Potatoes Au Gratin with White Cheddar and Tarragon

It has been a crazy couple of months! Sure, I've shared a few exasperated sentiments here and there, but I realize I've never shared what that actually meant! Cause sure it was a bit nutty and busy at times, but it sure was fun. And now that we are finally settling down, I thought it's about time for a life update (in addition to sharing one of my favorite recipes). So here goes!

December began with a joint birthday party for Cole and our good pal, Leslie, which consisted of brewery crawling around Ballard. Then began the office holiday parties galore for both of us and boy, were those a blast in a glass! A day later we were back at it with our best bud, Leslie, at the Thursday Night Football Game at CenturyLink where the Hawks took on the Rams. Sure we won and our seats were amazing (thanks, Leslie!) But the best part? Chris Peterson, coach of our Husky football team, raised the 12th Man Flag before the start of the game. And I'm neither going to confirm nor deny that Cole and I shed a tear…

Less than 24 hours later we were off to Riverside, CA, to visit Cole's family. There we celebrated Christmas #1 with his entire extended family complete with a gorgeous mashed potato bar (yes, a mashed potato bar) and wrapping paper fights.The next day Cole and I embarked on our now annual day trip down to San Diego.The day was full of 70-degree sunshine (a real treat coming from the 30-degree bitter cold of Seattle), scrumptious breakfast sandwiches, a leisurely stroll through Balboa Park, beer from our favorite brewery and fish tacos galore. We ended the day with a breathtaking sunset on our drive back. 

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4-Ingredient Spicy Sesame Green Beans

Everybody needs a good standby veggie recipe. One that's not only quick and rather mindless (cause lord knows you don't feel like using too much of your brain on a veggie dish of all things after a hectic day at the office!) But it also should be tasty and one that urges you to make it a staple in your weeknight dinner routine, should it not? 

I adore my quick veggie side dish recipes like Blasted Broccoli and Garlic Green Beans that seriously make it on our dinner table on average 5 out of 7 nights a week. But it is good to shake things up once in awhile, of course. After taking a gander through my fridge one day and saw my plethora of Asian pantry staples, the lightbulb moment happened and I knew I could use those ingredients, like soy sauce, sesame oil and chili sauce, to give my favorite veggie a new twist. 

With just four (yes, FOUR) ingredients and just a mere matter of minutes, perfect, spicy, Chinese-style green beans can be on your dinner table tonight. And there's really nothing that these savory and spicy green beans don't go with! Try them with chicken, pork, steak or even on their own with rice for my vegetarian and vegan friends. Personally? I would serve them up in a heatbeat with my Salmon with Coconut Milk Sauce. There is possibly no better meal combination if you ask me!

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Lamb and Sweet Potato Chili

Last fall I did this crazy thing called Whole30. It had its perks, and some of the food, like this ratatouille you might recall and this blissful butternut squash soup, was pretty tasty. But overall, it made me a little crazy! Cole and I both found the whole thing to be rather culty and, at times, not even as healthy as it was cracked up to be. Long story short, I wasn't "drinking the kool-aid!" 

That being said, the holidays came and went and boy was it time for a little reset! But this time I knew I wanted to reset my diet according to my own rules. Yes, to incorporate a lot of the good Whole30 thinking, minus a few elements here and there and definitely leaving all the crazy behind. 

Translation: a diet focusing on good, wholesome, unprocessed foods, fill up on proteins and veggies and avoid carbs and sugar, but making it completely ok to eat things like soy sauce, beans (which are a healthy, natural source of protein) and even some dairy now and then. The latter food groups were things that Whole30 shunned like the plague, and frankly I'm just not ok with eliminating those things altogether. This time, I wanted to eat things that were good, good for me and that just make sense to me!

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Garlic Truffled Popcorn

I'm the first one to admit that happy hour is one of my favorite hobbies (and, yes, happy hour is a hobby.) And living in Seattle sure does make this an accessible hobby! I can't tell you how many amazing happy hours I discover either from word of mouth or my nightly Yelp stalking ritual. There's always a new happy hour popping up, just tempting me to spend all my hard earned money on delicious food and drink (#worthit). 

One place I've been recently obsessed with is this cute and funky little cocktail bar up on Phinney Ridge (just a few blocks up from our hood in Fremont) called Oliver's Twist. I found out about Oliver's Twist ages ago actually, but only recently went for the first time because of it's proximity to home. And ever since my first visit, I've been hooked! 

Not only is the ambiance and decor super inviting – local artwork on the walls, plush cushions on booths, dim lighting and just that cool, non-pretentious neighborhood feel – but their drinks are stiff and their snacks are on point. Particularly, their garlic truffled popcorn. 

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Cheesy Italian Meatballs

My name is Ali, and I am a messy cook. There. I said it. I admit it and I'm proud! Well, maybe I wouldn't go that far. But I'm here to embrace it. If you find me tossing a salad, you'll also find remnants of lettuce, cheese and croutons scattered all over within a 3-foot radius. You catch me baking cookies and the kitchen looks like the aftermath of World War III. Friends and family who've witnessed my cooking can agree whole heartedly that yes, I am a good cook, but a darn messy one. 

But I'm going to fill you in on a little secret and fun fact: the messier the food, the better it tastes. It's true. I dare you to think of an instance where this is not the case! 

The fact that I not only strongly believe but exemplify this notion makes me the poster child of messy food. And what better messy food to make than some cheesy, saucy Italian meatballs?

Let's dive in, shall we?

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