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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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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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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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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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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