Grilled Hamburgers with Blue Cheese Mayo, Barbecued Onions and Arugula

Exciting news/life update incoming: On Saturday, August 5, 2018, Cole (and Neville) took me on a walk to our favorite park in Fremont and made this little life of ours official. That's right folks, he put a ring on it! We are ENGAGED!

So while this post is about this oh so exciting news, it is also equally about the decadent, amazing food that was consumed to commemorate such an occasion. Because nothing says, "let's celebrate our upcoming nups" like a juicy cheeseburger, am I right? 

It was quite serenditipous that I just so happened to have the ingredients to make these scrumptious grilled burgers on the day of our engagement. Because after a day of giddy celebration, watching the Mariners crush the Toronto Blue Jays and consuming a tad too much beer, we came home to grill up these bad boys for a perfect ending to a perfect day. 

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Grilled Gochujang Cauliflower

If you ask me, the best possible way to enjoy your veggies is by roasting them. They get this gorgeous, golden brown and caramelized coloring and flavor, and just generally end up tasting better! But if you are like me and you are not feeling this heat (like at all) you are certainly not going to want to go anywhere near that oven! No way, Jose!

Which is why I had the not-so-wacky idea of utilizing my grill to do the work that my oven normally does this summer when it comes to my veggies (and, let's face it, everything). Using a grill basket or even just a makeshift foil basket, your grill is your friend when it comes to achieving that same roasting effect plus smokiness and char. So it is really a win win, my friends! 

We have been grilling all sorts of veggies this summer – from classic corn on the cob to even my blasted broccoli on the grill. But to shake things up, I recently experimented with another set of Asian flavors and created my new favorite veggie side dish: grilled gochujang cauliflower. 

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Korean BBQ Turkey Burgers

I have recently been obsessed with all things Asian flavors. Savory, sweet, full of umami and always interesting, it's hard to get tired of the infinite flavor combinations in Asian cuisine. So when I encountered Trader Joe's Korean inspired BBQ sauce, everything changed and it was only a matter of time before I was putting it on anything and everything, including my life-changing, Korean BBQ inspired turkey burgers. 

You heard it right, I am serving up another semi-homemade, Trader Joe's special with these babies, because why try to reinvent the wheel when you have good ol' TJ's by your side? 

My Korean inspired turkey burgers are really nothing too groundbreaking or complicated, but rather just the perfect combination of ingredients. Simply baste your turkey burgs in the miracle that is Trader Joe's Korean BBQ sauce for a savory, sweet, perfectly charred and juicy bite. Then assemble the perfect burger medley: spongy Hawaiian sweet buns, crunchy shredded napa cabbage, cool and crisp thinly sliced cucumbers, more BBQ sauce (obviously) and, last but not least, a healthy shmear of Japanese Kewpie mayo (if you have never had Japanese Kewpie mayo before, you will know why this is 100% necessary. Never had it? Just go ahead and Amazon yourself some Kewpie mayo right this second because ordering mayo online is a totally normal thing to do, don't let anyone tell you otherwise!!) 

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Harissa Hummus

If you are a Hungry Ali fan, chances are you are already supes familar with one of my new favorite ingredients, harissa. It makes a stunning appearance in my fan favorite lemon harissa chicken. Not only is it a sheet pan miracle, but the smoky, spicy flavors of the harissa paired with bright, zesty lemon steal the show. 

But this super ingredient that stays stocked in my fridge at all times is not just a one-dish pony. As I started to think through other uses for this North African condiment, only one thing came to mind: hummus. 

I have been a hummus fanatic for as long as I can remember. Can you blame me though? It's creamy, savory and healthy(ish), making for one of the most perfect snacks. I will eat hummus just about any way it comes, but my favorite hummus varieties are those that stand out from your classic combination. So when I thought about adding harissa to a classic hummus recipe, it was really a no brainer! 

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

You ever find yourself in a situation where you do not feel like cooking (like at all?) Despite my love for cooking, I am not afraid to admit that I find myself in this situation fairly often. Yes, it is times like these that I am so thankful for modern technology because, with just the click of a button, I can have Chipotle delivered to my doorstep. What a time to be alive! 

Even though taking the easy route is awfully tempting, I realize that blowing my money on Postmates all the time is not exactly responsible or practical. Luckily, I do have a few recipes up my sleeve that I know I can throw together even in my laziest of states, like my sweet potato and black bean quesadillas. 

Sweet potato and black bean quesadillas are my ultimate, go-to lazy recipe for multiple reasons. The first is that I am basically never not craving a quesadilla. I mean, how could you not? They are crispy, cheesy and comforting with every bite. The Mexican version of a grilled cheese (another favorite of mine), if you will. What is not to love? 

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Southwest Chicken Chopped Salad

Fact: life is too short to eat sad desk salads. This very real fact is why I am almost always looking for salad inspiration. From Pinterest, Facebook and even restaurant menus, I look for inspiration anywhere I can find to ensure I am not crying tears of regret into a sad little desk salad! 

While I love me some social media recipe stalking, I would say finding inspiration from restaurant menus is one of the most underrated and helpful resources I have found. One of my favorite salads I have tasted is the smoked chicken chop chop at Cactus in Seattle. With some of the tastiest "Pacific Northwest inspired" Mexican cuisine I have ever encountered, I can safely say that Cactus is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. While I swoon over their butternut squash black bean enchiladas with goat cheese and smoked chicken flautas with chipotle cream sauce and arugula, it is the smoked chicken chop chop that keeps me coming back for more and that inspired this very recipe in a very big way. 

Once I studied the menu and started to think through the ingredients of this winning salad, I realized it would be rather simple to recreate at home to help bring some life back into my weekday lunch routine. Starting with a bed of crisp romaine or your other favorite salad green, the salad is topped with shredded or rotisserie chicken to keep things easy, garbanzo beans, radishes for peppery crunch, smoky bacon, sweet red bell peppers, pumpkin seeds and, not one but, two cheeses, salty cotija and creamy panela. To top it off (literally), this abundant and vibrant blend gets dressed with a smoky, zesty chipotle balsamic vinaigrette.

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Salt and Vinegar Fish and Chips with Dill Tartar Sauce

Being a proud, born-and-raised Pacific Northwesterner, it should come as no surprise that I love love LOVE seafood. Salmon, oysters, mussels, Dungeness crab, even the Washington native geoduck tickle my fancy and I am just as happy as a clam when I get to devour it. 

One of the most classic ways I love to enjoy seafood is fish and chips style, because when was deep frying anything ever a bad idea? I'm talking super crispy, golden brown fish and chips doused in lemon and/or malt vinegar for a uniquely salty/sour bite. The only thing greater than a perfect bite of fish and chips is enjoying it by the water, sun shining on your face, with a cold one in hand. 

The other day when I had a hardcore craving for some good fish and chips, I realized that I don't necessarily need the sea salt air and an iconic view of the Puget Sound to enjoy fish and chips. In fact, there really was nothing stopping me from attempting an easy and delicious fish and chips from scratch! 

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Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Burritos

If I were to describe myself in a nutshell it would be that I am a creature of habit through and through. Whether it's coming home nearly every day to the same routine, shopping at the same grocery store every weekend or going to the same restaurants, I know what I like and I stick to it! Ain't nothing wrong with that, if you ask me!

In staying true to myself and my habits, there is a recipe that has been in the weekly morning routine for quite some time now that I just have to share. My huevos rancheros inspired breakfast burritos are a cinch to throw together during my Sunday meal prep routine. They're also delicious, hearty and healthy for a quick weekday breakfast solution. With a recipe like that, it is easy to see why I include it in my weekday breakfast lineup on the reg!

Freezer breakfast burrito and/or wrap things have been a staple in my breakfast routine for quite some time. The tried and true spinach feta wraps often make an appearance. As good as those and other variations are, it is these huevos rancheros breakfast burritos that really hit the spot. Starting with a pot of my tried and true Instant Pot or slow cooker pinto beans, I make these bad boys in bulk with scrambled eggs, salsa and/or hot sauce, lots of melty Monterey Jack cheese and a sprinkling of cilantro for freshness. The result is one savory, zesty breakfast bite that will fuel your morning and then some. 

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Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Pinto Beans

Sometimes I'm amazed at how easy it is to make restaurant quality food at home. Take my homemade pinto beans, for example. Whether you're using a slow cooker or an Instant Pot, the results are equally delicious and strikingly similar to something you would taste at your favorite authentic Mexican restaurant! 

My pinto beans are one of the easiest things in the world to throw together, and will become a staple in your weekly meal prep routine. Make them to accompany tacos, to fill burritos or simply eat with rice and your favorite salsa. Whatever your craving and whatever kitchen tool you have on hand, you can soon be making these like a pro! 

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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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