Skinny Spicy Buffalo Shrimp Dip

I absolutely loved this dip when I made it for the Super Bowl a few weeks ago, so I’m bringing it back for March Madness! The “skinny” part is deceiving in this gooey, cheesy, rich dip that tastes especially decadent with the shrimp. With only 120 calories per 1/3 cup, you’ll save enough calories to have an extra beer in the second half of the game. You can make this dish as hot as you want by adding more or less hot sauce. So instead of snacking on buffalo chicken wings, try out this tasty dip.

Cheesy, gooey goodness. You've never guess it is healthy!

Cheesy, gooey goodness. You’d never guess it is healthy!

What you’ll need:
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup hot sauce – I used sriracha
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 cups cooked peeled large shrimp, diced
3/4 cup reduced fat Mexican blend cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish, or any dish of an equivalent size.

Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Mix until smooth.

**Tip: Add the hot sauce little by little until you achieve your desired hotness.

Add the shrimp to the dip and mix. Add it to your baking dish.

Keep the chunks of shrimp bite-sized so you can scoop up a bit in every bite.

Keep the chunks of shrimp bite-sized so you can scoop up a bit in every bite.

Bake in the oven until hot, or about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and top with the remaining cheese. Add it back to the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Let the dip cool for a few minutes before digging in.

Bake until the cheese bubbles on top.

Bake until the cheese bubbles on top.

Serve this with carrots and celery to keep it extra skinny, but it’s also delicious with baked pita chips. If you like this dish, try my Tangy Yogurt Veggie Dip!


Turkey Meatballs: Part 1

Welcome to my 4-part turkey meatball series! For the next few posts, I’m going to try something new. First, I’ll give you a basic item – in this case, a turkey meatball recipe. Then, I’ll take that basic item and build on it for the next few posts to show different ways to use it in your cooking. This is a great way to do a brunt of the work on the weekend so you’ll have quick, healthy meals ready to assemble for the rest of the week.

Turkey meatballs are a great way to start. They’re really tasty with tons of flavor from the garlic, onion, and oregano. But they’re also incredibly healthy because I’ve substituted brown rice for bread crumbs, leaving the calorie count at 162 per serving with 21.4 grams of protein, 7.2 carbs, and very low sodium. And they don’t take too long to make – only about 30-45 minutes depending if you’ve already made rice or not. Not to mention, you’ll already find a lot of these ingredients in your kitchen staples. These babies are a great staple that the whole family will love.

Let’s get started with my basic turkey meatball recipe.

These are great to use in a variety of recipes, but they’re also pretty tasty to snack on, too 🙂

What you’ll need (serving size is 4 meatballs, this makes about 28 total):
1.25 pounds ground turkey – I like Jennie-O Extra Lean Ground Turkey Breast
1/2 medium white onion
5 tablespoons chopped or minced garlic
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 egg
Dash of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

What you’ll need to do:

Start by cooking your brown rice. You can instant brown rice or regular brown rice, cooked over the stove or in a rice cooker. Whatever the method, you’ll want 1/2 cup rice and 1 cup of water. If you cook it over the stove, start with both the rice and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to low and simmer covered for about 10 minutes.

After the rice is done, prep your space. Have a cutting board and medium mixing bowl out, a large pan on the stove, and a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. As I roll my turkey meatballs, I put them on the baking sheet covered with aluminum foil so I can pop them in the pan at the same time – the aluminum foil helps save me from washing the dish.

Crack your egg into the medium mixing bowl and scramble. Chop your onion very fine; you want the pieces small so that they mix in well with the ground turkey and other ingredients. Add it to the egg in the medium mixing bowl along with the brown rice, garlic, oregano, S & P. Then, add the ground turkey.

Okay so I didn’t scramble my egg first in this case. Trust me, it’s better and easier if you do. I just wanted to show you what the mass of ingredients looks like.

Use your fingers to combine all the ingredients. This way, I find that you combine the ingredients more thoroughly, and (let’s face it) it’s kinda fun. Besides, your hands will be messy anyway because you must roll out your turkey meatballs with you hands.

After the ingredients are combined, tear off a small piece of the mixture and roll into a 1-inch ball in your hands. Place on the baking sheet as you go, and keep rolling the meatballs until they’re done.

Put on good music or an entertaining TV show to watch while you roll these guys. They don’t take long, but you will be standing there for a few minutes.

Turn your pan on medium-high heat and add your olive oil. Once the pan is heated, add as many meatballs as will fit in the pan. Cook for about 6-8 minutes, constantly turning and rotating to brown all sides – if you’re unsure if the meatballs are done, select the largest one and break open to see if it’s cooked through. If it’s done, feel free to enjoy a small snack. I figure it’s the chef’s prerogative to sample as he/she goes anyway! Work in batches if your pan isn’t large enough to hold all the meatballs.

These smell so good when you cook them. The garlic and onion really pop.

Enjoy! Make one of the upcoming recipes right away, or pack ’em up in a Tupperware and refrigerate to use for the rest of the week.

These would be delicious over regular or whole-wheat pasta, but I want to give you a few extra twists on a classic. So stay tuned for the following recipes:

Sweet Potato Chips

I love carbs. A meal doesn’t feel complete without a protein, veggie, and starch. But carbs and starches can be the worst calorie offenders of the meal, offering empty calories and a sugar crash that makes you feel hungry sooner. But I crave carbs with my meals, so I’ve had to figure out how to enjoy my favorite carb-goodness while filling myself with healthier foods. Sweet potatoes are a more nutritious starch swap that’s just as satisfying as that hunk of bread or giant scoop of white rice.

One of my favorite sweet potato recipes is my sweet potato chips. They’re kind of a hybrid between sweet potato fries and the crispy potato chips you’re used to. So instead of having soggy fries (because I bake them) or by painstakingly slicing them on a mandolin for thinner chips, I just slice them with my knife, throw them on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, and bake. What you’re left with is a super healthy, crispy-on-the-outside and softer-on-the-inside, flavorful side dish.

I served my sweet potato chips with my citrusy kale salad and basic lemon chicken. You’d never guess that such a delicious dish was so healthy!

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):
1 sweet potato
Salt and pepper

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then spray with cooking spray.

Slice your potato in thin circles and layer them on your baking sheet. Once all your potatoes are sliced and on your baking sheet, spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Sliced and ready to go in the oven. You can see that my slices are thin enough to qualify as chips, but not so thin that they’re a pain to cut!

Bake for about 20-25 minutes (you’ll know they’re done when they’re golden brown around the edges).

You can see that they’re just barely brown on the outside. If you flip them over, you’ll see that the other side is much darker. These actually look better if you flip them halfway through the cook time, but in the essence of simplicity, I don’t flip them. They still taste just as good!

Simple as that! They’re great to pop in the oven before you start cooking chicken or make a salad.

For those of you who are interested, let’s break down the nutrition. In a head-to-head comparison of white potatoes versus sweet potatoes, you’ll find that these two tubers seem very similar. In a 100-gram portion, the white potato has 92 calories, 21 grams of carbs, 2.3 grams of dietary fiber, and 2.3 g of protein. The same amount of sweet potato, on the other hand, has 90 calories, 21 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

The difference comes in the nutrients. Sweet potatoes have twice as much vitamin C as white potatoes, and sweet potatoes have 380% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A. Furthermore, sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants, they’re rich in beta-carotene, and vitamin E. Basically, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck by swapping out the sweet potato without sacrificing flavor.

Spring Peas with Dates and Walnuts

First, can I just say “Yum?!” This is super delicious, surprisingly healthy, and a constant special occasion request of Clinton’s. I made this most recently for Easter, but it’d be great for any holiday meal or any time you want to really wow a dinner party. The three different types of peas have such a fresh pop of flavor, the dates add a bit of sweetness, and a hint of cayenne pepper adds a bit of a kick that takes this side to the next level.

This super tasty, surprisingly healthy side dish is always a crowd pleaser.

What you’ll need:
10 ounce bag of frozen peas, thawed
1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped dates (fresh or dried work fine)
Pinch of cayenne pepper

What you’ll need to do:

The most important part of making this dish happen is the prep. Since there’s a lot of moving parts once you get going, having everything thawed, trimmed, and chopped before you begin will make the whole process go a lot more smoothly. Just make sure that as you prep each ingredient, you keep everything segregated because they each go in at different times in the process.

Start by thawing your peas. If it’s a steamable bag of frozen peas (like the kind I’m so fond of), cook slightly less than the package recommends. Or, just leave them in the refrigerator all day. You don’t want them to be too cooked, but you don’t want them to be frozen either.

Then get to work on trimming your peas. For both the sugar snap peas and the snow peas, cut off both ends of the peas (just a little bit!). Set the sugar snap peas aside, and then slice the snow peas very thinly. You can either go horizontally or vertically across the peas – I thick slicing vertically is prettier.

This is bout how much you want to take off the ends of your sugar snap peas.

Lastly, dice your shallot into medium-fine pieces. Chop your walnuts (or buy them already chopped) and chop your dates.

Now it’s time to cook. Simultaneously, get a large pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil heating over medium heat, a medium pot of salted water boiling on your stove, and a large bowl of ice water ready on your counter. After your pan is heated and your water is boiling, we’re going to get both shallot cooking in the pan and the peas cooking in the pot all at the same time. This is why it’s so important to prep first!

Starting with the shallot, throw the shallot in your pan and cook until soft (about 2 minutes). Add the walnuts, dates, and cayenne pepper and cook until the walnuts are toasted (about 1 more minute). After this is done, turn off the heat. Because you’re doing everything simultaneously, the peas will be done and it’s time to add them to the pan.

The amount of flavor in the combination is out of this world. It feels so luxurious and indulgent without adding a ton of fat, sugar, or carbs like you'd find in a typical holiday side.

Now about those peas… While your shallot is cooking, your water should be boiling. Add the snap peas and cook until green (about 2 minutes, or right after you add the walnuts, dates, and cayenne pepper to your pan). Then, add your snow peas for about 30 seconds. Immediately turn off the heat, drain your peas, and plunge them into your bowl of ice water. This shocks the peas and helps them keep their green color and crispy texture. After they’ve cooled, drain.

Your shallot, walnut, date, and cayenne mixture should be coming a finish at about the same time as your peas (remember, those thawed peas have been sitting there ready to go, so we really haven’t had anything to do with them yet). If your timing is a little off, no big deal at all. This isn’t supposed to be a hot dish, so your shallot, walnut, date, and cayenne mixture can sit in the pan (with the heat off) for as long as you need to catch up. In any case, when both mixture are ready, add all your peas (including the thawed peas) to the large pan with the shallot, walnuts, dates, and cayenne. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil and mix together.

Serve slightly warm from the pan or at room temperature. And while this dish requires a bit of a balancing act, it only takes about 30 minutes to make. Yum, yum, yum…

Mom’s Sticky Buns with Butterscotch and Pecans

Every year for Easter, my mom makes these sticky buns that my brothers and I look forward to more than any Easter basket or egg hunt. They’re ooey and gooey, dripping with butterscotch and pecans. The rolls themselves are soft and chewy, making every forkful utterly indulgent.

And they’re very easy to make! Aside from being a delicious treat, my mom likes to make this for the holidays because a bulk of the work is done the night before. This way, all she has do to is pop them in the oven in the morning so she can enjoy us kids opening our Easter baskets without laboring in the kitchen.

This is my favorite family recipe of all time, and I look forward to these every year.

What you’ll need:
1 15 ounce pack uncooked frozen dinner rolls (or about 15 rolls), make sure they’re not the already cooked “bake in 6 minutes” kind
1 box butterscotch pudding, not instant (if you can’t find butterscotch, vanilla is also tasty)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups chopped pecans

What you’ll need to do:

Grease a 10-12 cup bundt pan. Arrange balls of dough in pan, evenly spreading them around the pan. Then, sprinkle the pudding mix and then the brown sugar. Pour melted butter over the top of the mixture and then sprinkle with nuts.

It seems like the pan is not filled nearly enough, but these rolls rise and incredible amount by morning.

Lastly, cover it with a towel and let it rise overnight. I generally allow for about 10 hours.

When you wake up in the morning, the dough will be nice and risen.

This is what you'll wake up to in the morning before it's baked. It's amazing how much the dough rises!

Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Flip onto a serving dish and enjoy! My family always eats this as our Easter treat, but it would be great on any other holiday morning.

Southern California-Style Steak Tacos

I’m a Southern California girl at heart, through and through. I was born and raised in a small beach town and grew up with the best Mexican food in the country (no bias, really). So when Clinton and I moved to Chicago a couple years ago, aside from missing our families, we sorely missed the Mexican food (so much so that we have been known to smuggle back guacamole in our suitcases from time to time). But because we can only get back to SoCal a few times a year, I had to learn to cook some of our favorites Mexican dishes myself.

Now, there’s a difference between SoCal Mexican food and Mexican food found elsewhere. Tex-Mex is very different because of its heavy use of melted cheeses, beef, beans, and spices (particularly cumin). Southern Mexican cuisine also heavily uses cheese and spicy sauces in dishes such as in enchiladas (which is arguably the most prevalent Mexican cuisine in the U.S.), and these tend to be a little heavier. SoCal Mexican food is largely influenced by Baja California, and therefore uses more fresh or raw ingredients, such as chili peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and lime, also making these dishes fall on the healthier side. And while southern Mexican cuisine uses more chicken and pork, northern Mexican dishes use more grilled beef (carne asada) and fish. Although I truly love any kind of authentic Mexican food, the Baja California-style cuisine takes me home.

These fresh and light steak tacos take me back to the beaches of Southern California, even in the middle of blusterous Chicago.

What you’ll need (makes 4 servings):

  • 20 corn tortillas or 10 flour tortillas (you need to double up the corn tortillas; I prefer flour, Clinton prefers corn)
  • 1 pound flank steak or top sirloin roast
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Pico de gallo
    • 2 tomatoes
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion
    • 1 cup chopped cilantro (or 1 big giant handful)
    • 2 jalapeno peppers
    • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt

What you’ll need to do:

Start by getting your beef on the grill pan over medium heat. Cover with aluminum foil. If you’re making flank steak, cook for 3 minutes on one side and flip, cooking an additional 3 minutes on the other side. If you’re using a top sirloin roast (like I did in this recipe), cook for about 10 minutes on one side, flip, and cook for an additional 10 minutes on the other side. Whichever cut of beef you decide to use, let it rest for a few minutes after it’s done cooking.

These beautiful pieces of beef require no seasoning. Just spray your pan with a little cooking spray so they don't stick, and then let the beef flavor shine through.

While the beef cooks, make your pico de gallo. Chop your tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and cilantro. Mix in a medium bowl, and add your garlic, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Set aside.

The cilantro is what makes this dish extra special. Not to mention, it's almost all veggies so this dish is super healthy!

Slice your avocados and lettuce, set aside for assembly.While the beef rests, warm your tortillas directly on the stove. If you have a gas stove, put your tortilla directly on the burner and toast over medium heat, about 30 seconds on each side. If you don’t have a gas stove, warm your tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Side note: One of my favorite snacks is a toasted tortilla rolled up with a little butter. So amazingly good.

After your beef has rested for a few minutes, slice across the grain into long strips. If the strips are too long, cut into more bite-sized pieces.

All the ingredients are ready to go!

Assemble your tacos as follows: Beef first, then avocado, pico de gallo, and top with lettuce. Enjoy this one with a nice cold Pacifico or Corona, and picture yourself on a sunny beach in SoCal.

Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

Easy has never tasted so indulgent. This yummy, gooey, smokey dish is the ultimate weeknight treat. It’s loaded with rich, creamy blue cheese which pairs perfectly with the smokey bacon, and it’s packed with a huge serving of spinach (so you don’t have to feel too guilty, right?).

And it’s so simple! While the ingredients aren’t necessarily on my kitchen staples list, you’ll almost always find them in my fridge. Instead of cooking bacon, I take the easy way out and use bacon bits or bacon pieces. These last in the fridge for a long time and are great on salads, BLTs, or in mac ‘n cheese. Blue cheese can last for months, and again is great in salads or crusted on steak. And the spinach is just a pack of steamable frozen spinach that can be used in meals like this or as a simple side dish to another meal. The options with these ingredients is endless! So don’t feel guilty about beefing up your kitchen staples list with these yummy goodies.

I paired my yummy chicken with a simple quinoa side (or you can do rice or potatoes). Since you're loading the chicken with so much spinach, you don't really need a separate veggie side.

What you’ll need (serves 2):
2 chicken breasts (chicken tenders won’t work this time)
1 10 ounce package frozen spinach
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (or 2 big handfuls)
1/2 cup bacon pieces (with maybe a little extra for good measure ;))

What you’ll need to do:

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Then, get your chicken defrosting in a bowl of water (see “Let’s Talk Chicken” for defrosting instructions) – if your chicken is fresh, not frozen, put the chicken aside until your stuffing is ready.

While your chicken defrosts, cook your spinach in the microwave by following the instructions on the package. Once the spinach is cooked, squeeze out any water. Mix the blue cheese and bacon with the cooked spinach in a medium bowl.

Since the spinach will be hot, your blue cheese will start to get all melted and creamy before you even put it in the oven.

After your chicken is completely defrosted, slice it open across the middle to create a pocket for the stuffing. Then, put your chicken in a baking pan so it can be stuffed.

Don't cut the chicken all the way through, think of it like a pocket.

Stuff your chicken as full as it can get with your bacon, blue cheese, and spinach stuffing. I go a little heavy on the stuffing in this recipe, so I smother the top of the chicken with whatever I have leftover.

Bake for 30 minutes. And before you know it, you’ll enjoying forkfuls after forkfuls of this delectable dish.

I can barely wait for this dish to cool long enough to eat without burning myself.

Sweet Potato and Turkey Chili Shepherd’s Pie

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. I’m not sure if it’s because of my Irish heritage, if it’s because the city I live in gets so swept up in the holiday (they dye the river green, for goodness sake), or if it’s because I finally have an excuse to eat potatoes and drink beer all day without judgment. Either way, I always go all out. And St. Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without some delicious shepherd’s pie.

This shepherd’s pie, however, is a little nontraditional. It’s actually a slightly healthier spin on the more conventional shepherd’s pie, which is loaded with white potatoes and lamb. Instead, I use the nutrient-loaded sweet potatoes and lean ground turkey. Not only that, but the depth of flavor in this dish is unbelievable. It’s spicy, sweet, creamy, crunchy, cheesy, and with a hint of citrus. It’s to die for.

Potatoes, chili, and cheese? It's comfort food in a pan.

What you’ll need:
4 large sweet potatoes
1 orange to zest
4 tablespoons margarine
1 cup sour cream (or you can use Greek yogurt)
2 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 large onion
1-2 chili peppers (depending on how spicy you like it) – I used 1 jalapeno
1 red bell pepper
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 small 5 ounce can of tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded sharp yellow Chedder
Salt and pepper to taste

Get all your ingredients ready to go, because once you start you won't have much downtime with this dish!

What you’ll need to do:

Start by putting a large pot of water on the stove to boil and preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Then, peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into manageable cubes so they’ll cook faster (about 2 inches in diameter will do just fine). Once they’re cubed, get them in the pot of boiling water.

While the potatoes cook, put your ground turkey in a very large pan sprayed with cooking spray over high heat and break apart with a wooden spoon. Seriously, use the biggest pan you have or you’ll run out of room – I resorted to using my wok. While the turkey cooks, peal and chop your onions. Once your turkey is cooked through, add the chopped onions and turn over with the wooden spoon to mix.

While the turkey and onions are cooking, start chopping your peppers. Add your chopped peppers and the garlic to the turkey and onion. Then, stir in your spices – the chili powder, paprika, cumin, and coriander. Remember, when measuring your spices, one palmful equals one tablespoon! Lastly, add your chicken broth and tomato paste, and let it simmer on the stove until your potatoes are done (around 10 minutes or so).

This chili would be good even by itself. But paired with the creamy potatoes, it's phenomenal.

By now, your potatoes should be tender when poked with a fork (that’s how I know they’re done). Drain, and return to the hot pot or a large bowl to mix. Because I always love an excuse to play with kitchen gadgets, I use my electric hand mixer to mix the potatoes, margarine, sour cream, and orange zest (ooh! I get to use the zester too!).

If you don't have an electric mixer, good ol' elbow grease can do the trick, too. I like to leave my potatoes a little chunky for pops of sweet potato.

Prepare a 9×13″ pan by spraying with cooking spray. Then, smooth your potatoes on the bottom of the pan first. Follow by layering on the chili, and then top with the cheese.

I can barely wait to dig into this cheesy, potato-y wonderfulness.

Your shepherd’s pie is almost done! The last step is to pop the pan in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles. After that’s done, all that’s left is to scoop a giant heap onto your plate and dig in!

I must give credit to Rachael Ray, who inspired my version of this dish. So in her words, YUM-O!

Mango Chicken with Steamable Veggies and Rice

While I walked home from work with Clinton today, I posed the question, “What do you want for dinner tonight?” A classic Thursday night question. I’ve been dominating the meals for the last couple weeks making some of my classic faves for the blog, so I wanted to give him the opportunity to put in his two cents. He answered, “chicken, veggies, and rice.” I’m not surprised, it’s one of Clinton’s favorite go-to meals. And of course, I know can easily whip up a fantastic meal with my classic kitchen staples.

To change up my basic chicken recipe, I decided to go with a mango chicken. It sounds fancy, but it’s incredibly easy. It requires only two extra ingredients: frozen mango (which I’ve had in my freezer for a long time) and some sort of mango/peach/stone fruit marinade (again, something I’ve had in my fridge forever), which tonight is a spicy mango marinade. Both of those extra ingredients can last a long time, so you can whip out this meal any time you need another chicken change-up.

Aside from those two extra ingredients, everything else comes from your kitchen staples, right down to your steamable veggies and rice in your rice cooker.

Yummy mango chicken with white rice and steamable broccoli and cauliflower

What you’ll need:
3-5 frozen chicken tenders
1 cup frozen mango
2 tbsp fruit marinade (any kind will do)
1 cup rice
Bag of steamable veggies

What you’ll need to do:

Get that rice in the rice cooker. The ratio of rice to water is 1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of water. Once it’s in the cook position, let’s start in on the chicken.

Put your large pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Put your frozen chicken and frozen mango in the pan. Don’t cover it with foil this time! There’s a lot more liquid in the frozen mango, so we’ll want that water to boil out. Cook for about 8 minutes over medium heat, then turn the chicken and cook for another 8 minutes (you’ll have a lot of downtime during this, so sit back and relax a bit!).

The mango makes the chicken sweet and juicy.

Not long after you’ve flipped the chicken, it’s time to get those steamable veggies in the microwave – I generally find that they only take about 5 minutes, but they can sit in the microwave for a bit if necessary.

After the 8 minutes of cooking the chicken and mango on the other side, the water should be pretty much boiled out and it’s time to add the marinade. Add 2 tbsp to the pan and toss with the chicken and mango. Cook for another 2 minutes.

Right about now, you should be hearing the pop of the rice cooker signaling the rice is done, the microwave beeping that your veggies are cooked. And voila! Dinner is served. A fancy, healthy meal good enough for any night of the week.

Brussels Sprouts with a Kick

I’m lucky because my parents aren’t picky eaters, and they raised my brothers and me to be the same when it came to food. You eat what’s served, whether it’s dark green, bright red, brown, yellow, or purple. However, there were a few food items that I knew my parents disdained, and for my dad, Brussels sprouts topped the list.

So for the longest time, I was afraid of cooking Brussels sprouts. Since they’re a food I didn’t really grow up eating, I wasn’t even sure I would like them. That is, until Clinton and I went to dinner at a friend’s apartment and our lovely hosts completely blew me away with this yummy veggie that I never knew had so much potential. So, Dad, I think I found a recipe for Brussels sprouts that I think even you would like.

The trick: Sriracha.

They're a little spicy, a little crispy, and extremely healthy and delicious.

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):
1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Sriracha
Salt and pepper to taste

What you’ll need to do:

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then start slicing off the nub-like stem at the bottom of your Brussels sprouts, and then slice the Brussels sprouts in half.

As I slice, I throw the sprouts directly in the baking dish.

After all the Brussels sprouts are in your dish, drizzle with the olive oil, Sriracha, and salt and pepper to taste, then mix with your fingers to get the Brussels sprouts completely covered.

I use about 1 tbsp of Sriracha, but I'm sensitive to spicy. The more spice you like, the more Sriracha you should glob on.

Cover your baking dish and stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes. And that’s it! While it cooks, sit back and relax, or even make a yummy main course to go with it (see my post on chicken, as an example). It’s a super easy recipe that requires very little babysitting. What you’re left with is a super healthy, simple, and delicious side dish that’s great with any meal.

Pictured here with a baked potato, recipe to come!