Cilantro Burgers with Sriracha Mayo


This recipe is derived from the Cilantro Burgers with Sriracha Mayo recipe from the Cooking Light website as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $2.25 / burger

Chef’s Note: How have I not posted this recipe before?  I honestly thought I had.  I even searched through my archives trying to find it, but alas.  It slipped through the cracks in the electrons in my laziness to post things.  So here it is, the recipe that started it all.  This was one of the first recipes I cooked from Cooking Light; it has become a staple in our household (we have even made it for guests).  It’s a little pricey because I went with happy turkey meat (free range, hippie goodness) instead of generic depressed cow meat, but it is well worth it.


  • 1 lb lean, ground turkey breast
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mayo
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Sriracha (aka cock sauce)
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns


  • George Foreman grill
  • Small cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Medium bowl
  • Meat thermometer
  • Small bowl


  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. While the grill heats, chop 3 Tbsp of cilantro.  In the medium bowl, combine the ground turkey, cilantro, salt, and pepper (don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty on this one).  Divide into four equal patties about 1/2-inch thick.
  3. Once the grill has heated, add patties to the grill.  Cook approximately eight minutes or until cooked through (make sure you always check with a meat thermometer).
  4. While the patties cook, combine the mayo and the cock sauce in the small bowl.  Stir with a fork until well blended.  Apply the sauce liberally (the more the better in our household) to both halves of each bun.  Add a sprig of cilantro to each bottom bun.
  5. Top each bun with a patty when done.
  6. Enjoy!

Biweekly Check In

Let’s be honest.  I’m crap at doing these weekly check-ins on a weekly basis, so we’ll just aim for biweekly for a while and hope we’re still not disappointed.  Though I will hold on to my disappointment in myself with a tight grasp this week, as my progress on the trail is abysmal.  A reoccurring knee issue keeps me sidelined more often than not, but I am pushing this weekend to get back into my groove.

Here’s to hoping my knee and I learn to play nice (read: it had better shape up or ship out.  And please, not the latter).

Progress on the Trail:
Saturday, 15 April:  4.41 miles
Sunday, 16 April:  1.79 miles
Monday, 17 April:  4.16 miles
Tuesday, 18 April:  6.87 miles
Wednesday, 19 April:  4.78 miles
Thursday, 20 April:  4.90 miles
Friday, 21 April:  3.12 miles
Saturday, 22 April:  3.14 miles
Sunday, 23 April:  3.96 miles
Monday, 24 April:  3.09 miles
Tuesday, 25 April:  4.95 miles
Wednesday, 26 April:  2.78 miles
Thursday, 27 April:  2.01 miles
Friday, 28 April:  5.59 miles

Week Fifteen – Sixteen Total: 55.55 miles
Distance to Go:  1,507.60 miles (2,190 miles total)


Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:

Vegetable and Chickpea Curry:  This one is a slow-cooker recipe so it takes some time, but it is time well spent (and will leave your house smelling like an Indian kitchen for at least 24 hours, which is a bonus for me.  I love me the smell of curry).  Not to spicy but it carries a hint of a kick and offered leftovers for a few lunches to boot, which is always a bonus.

Sausage, Gravy, and Egg Breakfast Sandwiches:  Definitely not one of my favorites.  By rule, Cooking Light does not steer me wrong, but this one might be an exception.  They aren’t bad, but they are bland.  The gravy did not thicken until I refrigerated it, and it offered little flavor for the mix.  My biggest mistake was making a double batch (my plan was to freeze a bunch for make ahead weekday breakfasts) so I still have at least a dozen waiting in the freezer for me to eat without enthusiasm.

Lemony Orzo Salad: This recipe is a repeater.  It did not take long to prepare, it was not too messy of a cleanup after we ate, the leftovers don’t have to be reheated to be enjoyed, and it tasted great to boot.  Orzo is one of my newer finds in my culinary excursions and I love it.  I have a big, great grain girl crush on it.  Add zucchini, tomatoes, and feta cheese and I was sold, though I did omit the olives because, ew.

Chive Green Beans:  This one I butchered a bit.  I did not have fresh chives or parsley, so I used dried.  I did not have stone-ground mustard, so I used poupon (that’s right, I pouponed my green beans, I’ll admit it).  It turned out a-okay, and I paired it with the Lemony Orzo Salad above.

Leek and Lima Bean Soup:  Leek soup, round two and still delicious!  Lima beans are another fiber powerhouse, so it was a one-two punch.  Not only did it taste great, but it was great for me.  I omitted the bacon to make it vegetarian (and because I did not want to buy a pound of bacon to use three slices).  I had frozen lima beans instead of fresh, but you puree the entire soup in the end, so does it matter?  Methinks not.

Pizza Margherita:  Soooooo good.  I will definitely make this pizza again.  Combined with booze and board games, it was a great night catching up with my bro-digga-dough-dough and sister (you can call them whatever you want, they aren’t picky – just picky eaters.  And they still enjoyed).  I bought what my hubby – let’s call him Abel – calls ‘happy cow cheese’ since I am on my better eating, better living kick.  It cost twice as much as the super depressed cow cheese and was hard to find, but it was good.  And the pizza sure made me happy.

Cilantro Burgers With Sriracha:  How is this recipe not on this site yet?  I will get it up, I promise.  Eventually.  I have made this recipe three times since I found it.  Double the sauce if you like double the kick in the mouth, and swap out the ground sirloin for ground (happy) turkey for an even healthier fare, and life is good, friends.  Life is good.  P.S. you can never have too much cilantro.  Yum, yum.

Blush Mac and Cheese with Tomatoes: A little bland (you could add a canoe-load of more cheese, but then the Cooking Light loses the ‘light’ part), but not too bad.  I would recommend doubling up on the grape tomatoes.

Fettuccine with Seared Tomatoes, Spinach, and Burrata:  I did not have fettuccine or burrata, so it was more like ‘Spaghetti with Seared Tomatoes, Spinach, and Mozzarella’, but the taste was spot on.  As part of my new healthier eating kick, I recently switched to whole grain pasta instead of the enriched white (read: bleached), which has twice the fiber.  Twice!  Do you track your fiber intake?  Do you realize how hard it is to get the daily recommended amount?  It’s hard, y’all.  This one was a fan across the board for me, Abel, and our company.

Country Lima Beans:  This recipe I massacred.  I did not feel like soaking dry beans for eight hours or waiting for them to cook in a Dutch oven for two and a half more.  So I used the frozen lima beans leftover from the soup, threw them, thawed, in with onion, carrot, and butter (again omitting the bacon slices to go vegetarian) and went for it.  The veggie eaters in the house thoroughly enjoyed, though I would omit half the butter next time.

Weekly Check-In

I left my Bluetooth speaker in Coloradooooooo.  Sounds like a bad country song, right?  Still, I have to admit, the price of admission was worth it.  But since I have yet to replace it, my podcast enjoyment has been slim pickings.  While I don’t have a breakout listen this week (or last week), here are a pair of honorable mentions:

Ready For Space: LightSail 2 from Planetary Radio
I knew they were planning a second mission, but I did not realize the first one was already back in 2016 (boy, time flies) and that the next one is going to get strapped to a rocket in May.  I’ll be interested to see how this mission goes.  This is actually my first listen of this particular podcast.  A coworker mentioned it to me this week and so far, so good.

Probably Science – Episode 240 – Johnny Pemberton from Probably Science
Bees that play with balls and extrapolating truth from crowd-sourcing.  Need I say more?

Now for my personal growth check-in.

Progress on the Trail:
Thursday, 6 April:  9.23 miles
Friday, 7 April:  4.25 miles
Saturday, 8 April:  3.78 miles
Sunday, 9 April:  0.46 miles
Monday, 10 April:  8.76 miles
Tuesday, 11 April:  9.99 miles
Wednesday, 12 April:  9.37 miles
Thursday, 13 April:  3.51 miles
Friday, 14 April:  5.49 miles

Week Thirteen (1/2) – Fourteen Total: 54.84 miles
Distance to Go:  1,563.15 miles (2,190 miles total)


Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:

Curried Lentil Soup with Yogurt and Cilantro:  Indian food is definitely growing on me.  I haven’t managed to up my spicy tolerance yet (my hubby – let’s just call him Walter – says I made the only bland Indian food he’s ever tasted) but I love the aromas of the other spices.  There’s something so fun about cooking Indian inspired dishes.  This dish is vegetarian, but if you lose the yogurt (Walter always omits the yogurt) and use vegetarian broth instead of chicken, you get vegan.

Lemon Couscous: This one is a little bland (could have used a little more of the orange juice), but then again couscous by nature is bland.  While Walter thought it needed extra flavoring, I liked it enough, though I’d be hesitant to try it again.

Tortellini Pepperoncini Salad: This one was a clear winner in our house, though the pepperoncini peppers had just a tad too much of a kick for my tasting pleasure.  I used whole wheat tortellini (extra fiber) and subbed grape tomatoes for the cherry ones.  Other than these little changes, I stuck to this recipe well and enjoyed the payoff.  It made great lunch leftovers as well.

Leek and Lima Bean Soup: Another somewhat surprising winner, leading me to believe I’ve been missing out by not adding more leeks to our meals before.  While not bursting with flavor, its subtle flavor, much like the leek soup I previously made, let’s this soup stand on its own two feet.  We made it vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using vegetable bouillon instead of chicken.  Forego the sour cream at the end and it can be vegan as well.


Trail Check In

Holy hand grenades, it’s teetering on close to a month since my last check in.  Boy, have I gotten lazy.  You guys need to nag me more!  I need more motivation.  Not to finish the trail – I have actually had a surprisingly high amount of motivation there – but to update about it to make sure I haven’t fallen off pace.  Or pushed myself too hard that my legs will fall off.

Progress on the Trail:
Thursday, 16 March: 6.82 miles
Friday, 17 March: 3.71 miles
Saturday, 18 March: 5.45 miles
Sunday, 19 March: 5.40 miles
Monday, 20 March: 4.24 miles
Tuesday, 21 March: 11.23 miles
Wednesday, 22 March: 9.07 miles
Thursday, 23 March: 3.49 miles
Friday, 24 March: 3.63 miles
Saturday, 25 March: 8.86 miles
Sunday, 26 March: 11.32 miles
Monday, 27 March: 6.50 miles
Tuesday, 28 March: 9.60 miles
Wednesday, 29 March: 5.38 miles
Thursday, 30 March: 6.35 miles
Friday, 31 March: 8.55 miles
Saturday, 1 April: 6.81 miles
Sunday, 2 April: 9.05 miles
Monday, 3 April: 6.27 miles
Tuesday, 4 April: 6.63 miles
Wednesday, 5 April: 3.20 miles

Week Ten (1/2) – Thirteen (1/2) Total: 141.56 miles
Distance to Go:  1,617.99 miles (2,190 miles total)
First Quarter Total: 540.05
Projected Out: 2,160.20 (short)

Looks like I need to step it up just a little bit.  Which is funny, because my knees are screaming today.  But I am motivated.  I recently got to hike.  As in, a legit hike.  On mountains and everything!  And I have to say, it only excited me more about my AT thru hike down the road.  It is the perfect hobby for people with social anxiety.  It’s so quiet and peaceful.  Except when you need to make noise to keep from getting eaten by bears.  But other than that, so peaceful.

Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:

Two-Cheese Mac and Cheese: I had to adjust this one a bunch based on what shredded cheese I had in the fridge, but it was awesome.  Definitely a repeater in the house.  The hubby – let’s just call him Holden – even enjoyed it.  It was almost better reheated than it was freshly baked.

White Bean and Spinach Tacos: These were really good and vegetarian.  The more audiobooks we listen to about food, climate change, and the current status of the meat industry, the more we lean towards vegetarian.  So, forewarned, be prepared for a lot more vegetarian recipes and a lot less meat.

Roasted Red Pepper Spread Sandwiches:  These were so quick to make and tasted pretty darn good to boot.  A great last minute quick dinner to make and even though the roasted red bell peppers were a little pricey, it still was pretty cheap.

Artichoke and Pea Saute:  Holden isn’t a huge fan of artichoke, but it’s become my super food and I really enjoyed this recipe.  I love peas too, so bonus!

Roasted Broccoli and Red Bell Pepper:  A great side that reheated okay for lunch the next day.  Yeah veggies.

Cream of Leek Soup: SO TASTY.  I wouldn’t have believed it before I made it, but leek is another super food I’m trying to eat more of.  This soup was excellent.  I highly recommend.

Pasta Primavera: I used wayyyy too much pasta (I really need to get a kitchen scale), but it still turned out okay.  Yummy green veggies.  And it made 8 servings while Holden wasn’t home, so it lasted forever.

Cream of Leek Soup


This recipe is derived from the Cream of Leek Soup recipe from the All-New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 2
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $3.00 / plate

Chef’s Note: When I started adding salt at the end, I worried it was to make up for a bland flavor.  Somewhat surprisingly, this soup does not suffer that problem.  While simple in its ingredients and preparation, this simple soup carried a flavor of its own and was a delightful treat for dinner.  Even a full soup bowl carries less than 300 calories, and leeks are supposed to help you develop a healthier microbiome.


  • 1 leek (about 1 lb)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large (2 tsp) chicken bouillon (substitute vegetable bouillon for vegetarian)
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 tsp salt


  • Stove
  • Large saucepan
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Garlic press
  • Blender
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden stirring spoon


  1. Slice the leek (cut the bottom off before rinsing to help remove the grit before you slice).  Combine with the water, rosemary, chicken bouillon, and garlic in the saucepan.  Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the blender.  Remove the cap in the blender top and cover with folded paper towels or a kitchen wash cloth to prevent splatter but allow the heat to escape (I forgot this step and ended up with green hot water spewing out the sides).  Blend until smooth.
  3. Add flour to the saucepan.  Gradually stir in the milk with a whisk until well blended with the flour.  Add the blender contents and the nutmeg.  Return heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from the burner.  Stir in the butter and salt until the butter has completely melted.
  5. Enjoy!


Roasted Red Pepper Spread Sandwiches

This recipe is derived from the Roasted Red Pepper Spread Sandwiches recipe from the All-New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $1.50 / plate


  • 1/2 seedless English cucumber
  • 1 (7-oz) bottle roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 (8-oz) block/container of light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 8 slices sandwich bread
  • 8 lettuce leaves


  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Paper towels
  • Measuring cup
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Rubber/silicon spatula (recommended)
  • Garlic press


  1. Line a plate with several layers of paper towels.  Finely chop the cucumber and set on the paper towels.  Drain the roasted red bell peppers, then chop.  Add them to the paper towels with the cucumber and let sit 5 minutes.
  2. While they sit, mince the red onion.  Press the garlic over the medium bowl and add the onion.  Also combine the cream cheese and salt.  Stir with a fork until well blended.
  3. Add the bell peppers and cucumbers to the bowl, carefully transferring them so as not to break the wet paper towels (a rubber or silicon spatula works well).  Combine until well blended.
  4. Put the spread on the bottom slice of bread.  Top each with two lettuce leaves and the top bread slice.
  5. Enjoy!


White Mac and Cheese

IMAG0540This recipe is derived from the Two-Cheese Mac and Cheese recipe from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2014 cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge

Servings: 6
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $0.75 / plate

Chef’s Note: The hubby and I agree, this is one of the best recipes so far this year and definitely a repeater.  While not the healthiest recipe in my challenge, it’s still better than a lot of dinners out there and super cheap to boot, especially when you plan ahead and buy the pasta and cheese on sale (I always get ours BOGO).


  • Water
  • Salt
  • 10 oz small shells pasta
  • 2 Tbps canola oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 large (2 tsp) chicken bouillon cube (can sub vegetarian bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  • Stove
  • Medium pot
  • Strainer
  • Garlic press
  • Dutch oven (or large pot)
  • Wooden stirring spoon
  • Whisk
  • Oven
  • 1.5 – 2 qt casserole dish
  • Cooking spray


  1. Fill the medium pot halfway with water.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and set aside when done.
  2. Preheat oven under broiler setting to high.
  3. Heat the Dutch oven over medium heat.  While heating, peel the garlic.  When heated, add the canola oil and swirl to coat.  Press the garlic over the pan and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add 1 cup of water and half (1 tsp) of the bouillon cube.  Stir to combine and dissolve the bouillon.  Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute.  While waiting for the mixture to boil, combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups of water with the remaining bouillon, milk and flour.  Stir with a whisk until well blended.  Add this mixture to the Dutch oven.  Return to a boil and cook 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
  5. Remove the Dutch oven from the burner.  Add the cream cheese, salt, and pepper and stir until smooth.  Add the pasta to the Dutch oven and mix to coat.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Coat the casserole dish with cooking spray.  Pour the mac and cheese into the casserole dish and spread it evenly.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.  Broil 3 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.  Remove and let stand 5 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!