Eating My Way Through

Portobello Mushroom Burgers and Sweet Pototo Fries August 27, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Sandwiches,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 12:15 pm

Growing up it seemed every weekend my family was having a cookout. Friends would come over for some grilling out, swimming and of course only the adults indulged in some beers. But that is what summer reminds me of, grilling on my families deck, just enjoying being with friends.

So when my friend Haley came for her first DC visit with Emma on her way to Maine for grad school, I thought it was only fitting that we recreate a cookout, albeit in my apartment! Growing up Haley was a vegetarian, and Emma wasn’t, but now it’s the opposite. Go figure. So no matter what, I knew I was making something veggie friendly.

This meal is a great no stress meal for having people over. It does take some prep tine in that you need to slice the sweet potatoes and chop up some veggies for the burgers, but once that it is done it is a breeze! And as a side note: cooking with Haley and Emma was a bit distracting…so sorry for the lack of pics!

To start, cut up a bunch of sweet potatoes. Simply toss with some olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. You toss them in the oven to bake for about 45 minutes.

While they are cooking, whip up the two sauces for this meal. First a dipping sauce for the fries, a garlic and basil mayo. In a bowl, just combine some salt, low-fat mayo, garlic and lemon juice.

Garlic Mayonnaise for dipping

Garlic Mayonnaise for dipping

Then make the sauce for the burgers. We’ll top them off with a blue cheese sauce. In another bowl combine some nonfat plain yogurt, I used Greek yogurt, some crumbled blue cheese and a bit of balsamic vinegar.

Blue Cheese Sauce

Blue Cheese Sauce

Place both sauces in the fridge while you cook up your burgers and toppings.

Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Toss the Portobello mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and onions with some olive oil and salt.

Then place all the veggies on the grill to cook. Flipping the veggies once to cook both sides.

Once everything is cooked through, set up your burgers, and serve with fries and sauces!

Portobellow Mushroom Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

Portobellow Mushroom Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

Even Haley and Emma were excited!

Emma and Haley

Emma and Haley

Sweet Potato Fries (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and the Food Network)

5 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 by 5 inch “fries”

3 tbsps olive oil

2 tbsps chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh


Pre-heat oven to 400°

Cover baking sheets with foil and arrange sweet potatoes and toss with olive oil. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

In a bowl, combine basil, kosher salt, mayo, garlic and lemon juice and whisk together to combine.

Serve sweet potatoes with dipping sauce

Yields 4 to 6 servings

Blue Cheese Sauce (From Eating Well)

1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt (Greek Style)

3 tbsps crumbled blue cheese

1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar


Combine yogurt, blue cheese and vinegar in a small bowl and stir to combine with a fork

Yields 1 tbsp servings

Portobello Mushroom Burgers (adapted from Eating Well)

3 tsps olive oil

4 whole-wheat buns

2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices

4 portobello mushroom caps

1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices

Salt to taste


Preheat grill to medium-high heat

Toss tomatoes, onions and mushrooms with olive oil. Season with salt.

Oil your grill. I simply used cooking spray, because I was using a George Foreman, but it wouldn’t be safe to do that with a normal grill!

Cooke the veggies, about 1 minute per side for the tomatoes, 3 to 5 minutes per side for the mushrooms and onions.

To assemble your burgers, spread the cheese sauce on the bun tops and divide up the mushrooms, tomatoes and onions among the burger bottoms.

Yields 4 “burgers”


Coconut Risotto with Mango and Sweet Chili Shrimp August 18, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Seafood/Fish — Nikki Wegner @ 6:19 pm

After baking risotto I swore I would never make it the old-fashioned way again. The time-consuming, stirring forever, arm starts hurting way. Well I lied. And I am glad I did!

This recipe for Coconut Risotto with Mango is a great, light, refreshing summer meal. By using light coconut milk in addition to vegetable or chicken broth your rice gets  infused with the rich flavor of coconut. The mango adds a hint of sweetness and brings the flavors together. This recipe also leaves out the butter and cheese, which makes it much healthier than traditional risottos. I paired it with some shrimp I sautéed  with soy and a sweet chili sauce for a complete meal!

First you combine your broth and coconut milk in a large pot, bringing everything to a boil before reducing to a simmer and letting cook together.

Broth and Coconut Milk Boiling

Broth and Coconut Milk Boiling

Then, in another large pot, heat a bit of olive oil and toss in some chopped shallots until tender, about 3 minutes. Add your arborio rice and cook/toast for about 1 minute.

Rice toasting

Rice toasting

Add in a little white wine, and stir until the wine is absorbed by the rice.

Now begins the fun part. Add in the broth/milk mixture in 1/2 ladle scoops. Stirring constantly until fully absorbed. Then add another scoop. Continue this process until all the liquid is used up.

Then add in the mango and salt, and stir well.

Coconut Risotto with Mango

Coconut Risotto with Mango

For the shrimp, simply spray a large skillet with cooking spray and toss in the shrimp, soy sauce and sweet chili sauce. Cook everything together until the shrimp are heated through.

Soy and Sweet Chili Shrimp

Soy and Sweet Chili Shrimp

Serve the shrimp on top of the rice for a yummy dinner.

Coconut Risotto with Mango and Sweet Chili Shrimp

Coconut Risotto with Mango and Sweet Chili Shrimp (adapted, sort of,  from Oprah)

4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup light coconut milk

1 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped shallot

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup mango, diced

1 lb shrimp, deveined, defrosted, etc.

2 tbsps soy sauce

2 tbsps sweet Thai chili sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Brand)


Combine broth and coconut milk in a large pot, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.

In another large pot, heat olive oil and then add shallots, cooking for 3 minutes or until soft.

Add in the rice and stir for about 1 minute.

Pour in the white wine, stirring until completely absorbed by the rice.

Add warm stock 1/2 ladle at a time; stir until almost absorbed before adding more. Repeat until broth is gone and the rice is tender.

Stir in mango and salt, set aside.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, then add in shrimp, soy sauce and sweet chili sauce. Cooking until shrimp are heated through and fully cooked.

Serve shrimp over rice.

Yields 4 servings


Spicy Chipotle Corn Soup August 15, 2010

Filed under: Lunch,Soups — Nikki Wegner @ 6:49 pm

It’s the hottest summer in DC since 1993! Each day I step out of my apartment into 90 degree heat and high humidity praying that I am not a gross mess by the time I make it to work. But once I get to work, it’s a different story. My office is an icebox. My office mate and I spend our days shivering and wrapping ourselves in blankets, sweatshirts and whatever we can get our hands on to warm up.

So that is why despite the temps outside, I decided to make a vat of soup for lunch last week. On Chow, I found this recipe for Chipotle Corn Soup. I figured it was a great way to take advantage of summer’s abundance of sweet corn, and the fact that it was on sale at my grocery store was an extra bonus!

There was just one problem with my plan, the recipe called for whole milk as the soup’s base, not exactly the healthiest choice. I decided to give swapping in low-fat buttermilk for the whole milk a try. Buttermilk is a great substitute as it’s still creamy and has a richness to it, just without the extra calories and fat!

To start you have to shuck all the corn and cut all the kernels from the corn cobs.

Removing the Kernels

Removing the Kernels

This isn’t a quick job, and your hands might hurt after it, but the commitment is worth it…I promise!

After you have the corn kernels all prepared, heat some light butter in a large pot. Once it starts foaming, toss in some chopped chipotles in adobo sauce and the scallions and let everything cook for about 3 minutes.

Butter, Chipotles and Scallions

Butter, Chipotles and Scallions

After the mixture has had time to cook together, add in the corn kernels, salt, buttermilk and water. Stir everything together and then bring the mixture to a boil.

Soup Mixture

Soup Mixture

Once your soup base is boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

While your soup is simmering, grab a fine mesh strainer and a large heat-proof bowl and set aside. Set-up your blender, removing the small cap in the middle which will allow the steam to escape and prevent the lid from popping off! (Which we know I have had problems with in the past!) Then get a kitchen towel to cover the blender top so you don’t spray your kitchen with soup.

Take your soup off the heat and using the blender puree in batches.

Once you have a nice consistency, pour your soup through the strainer into the large bowl. Using a spatula, press down on the strainer, getting all the soup you can out of the mixture and into the bowl. You will have “stuff” remaining in the strainer, which you can throw out.

Stir in the corn you set aside and serve your soup!

Spicy Chipotle Corn Soup

Spicy Chipotle Corn Soup

I was a little nervous about how this soup was going to turn out, since I was substituting a key ingredient, whole milk, for buttermilk. But I am happy to report that the soup still tasted great, and was much lighter and healthier! Using the buttermilk also gave the soup a great bite, which contrasted nicely with the spiciness of the chipotle. Serve this soup with a slice of bread if you are worried about the kick it has.

Spicy Chipotle Corn Soup (adapted from Chow)

8 ears corn, husks removed

2 tbsps light butter

1 tsp minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 tsp kosher salt

4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts only)

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 1/2 cups water


Remove corn kernels from the cob using a paring knife and slicing downwards, into a large plastic Tupperware

Reserve 1/2 cup of the corn for later

In a large saucepan melt the butter until it’s foaming, then toss in the chipotle and scallions

Cook the mixture for about 3 minutes, until the scallions are soft

Add in the corn, salt, buttermilk and water

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes

Grab a strainer and a large bowl

Pour the soup in batches into your blender (remove the middle cap to vent the heat, and cover with a kitchen towel)

Puree the soup until a smooth consistency and strain into the large bowl

Using the spatula, press down on the strainer to get as much soup as possible out, discard the remaining solids

Stir in the reserved corn, and serve

Yields 4 servings


Blueberry Breakfast Treats August 11, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast — Nikki Wegner @ 3:53 pm

I am continuously on the hunt for easy, yummy breakfasts that I can make on the weekends and then grab and go in the mornings on the way to work when I am sure to be a disaster and running around trying not to be late!

This recipe is perfect for that and a great start to the day because it’s filling without being too heavy. I know I labeled this post Blueberry Breakfast Treats, but I really wanted to call it Blueberry Scuffins, but I didn’t want to confuse people! A scuffin being a cross between a scone and a muffin. You plop the batter on baking sheets like a scone, skipping the muffin tins, but the final product is definitely not as dense as a scone and the consistency is more like that of a muffin…therefore, you have a scuffin!

To start the process, you toss blueberries with some sugar in a medium bowl and set aside. Control yourself with the blueberries, or before you know it you won’t have any left!

Sugar Coated Blueberries

Sugar Coated Blueberries

Then in a large bowl, you combine all the dry ingredients using a whisk. This recipe calls for flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Then you set this aside too.

In a third bowl, of medium size, you combine all the wet ingredients: buttermilk, honey, butter and egg. What makes this recipe a bit healthier for you is that you use honey instead of sugar.

After the wet ingredients are whisked nicely together, add them to the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Scuffin Batter

Scuffin Batter

Then you just fold in the blueberries and mix some more until well combined.

Next, all you do is take the batter, and using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide into 12 portions on baking sheets.

Ready to Bake

Ready to Bake

Bake the treats for about 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven, until the tops are a nice golden brown.

Blueberry Scuffins

Blueberry Scuffins

Let them cool on the pans for a bit to crisp the bottoms, then transfer to a baking rack to cool.

This recipe would be great with any number of different berries, or a combination. Maybe blackberry and raspberry next time? And they also freeze well, so you can make a big batch and freeze for later consumption and enjoyment!

Blueberry Breakfast Treats (adapted from Weight Watchers)

Cooking Spray

1 1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or thawed

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup uncooked cornmeal

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/3 cup honey

3 tbsp light butter, melted

1 egg, beaten


Pre-heat oven to 400° and spray baking sheets with cooking spray, set aside

In a medium bowl, combine blueberries with sugar, set aside

In a large bowl, combine with a whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside

In a small bowl, stir to combine buttermilk, honey, butter and egg

Add the liquid mixture to the large bowl of dry ingredients, and stir thoroughly to combine

Add in blueberries and stir until well mixed

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, distribute batter onto baking sheets about 2-inches apart, as they will spread as they cook

Bake for 12-15 minutes

Yields 12 servings


Beer Brats and Corn on the Cob August 5, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 1:53 pm

So from the title, you can already tell that this is obviously not a healthy meal posting (maybe if you just ate the corn). But, since I just returned from the motherland, aka Wisconsin, I figured it was fitting to post about a state delicacy…brats! (Just don’t ask me what they are made of.)

One night my roommate from Vermont admitted to the two Wisconsinites she lives with that she had never eaten a brat. Sacrilegious! I told her we would make them for her and she returned from Eastern Market with some great homemade brats!

Brats are super simple to prepare, all you need are the brats, onions, beer (I am partial to Miller Lite, another Wisconsin delicacy), a large pot and a grill. (And of course ketchup and mustard.)

Brats ready to cook!

Brats ready to cook!

To cook the brats, pour about 3-4 cans in a large pot, add in vidalia onions cut into strips and your brats. Bring the mixture to a boil…but be careful…because this could happen:

Overflowing beer!

Overflowing beer!

Before you have foamy beer all over your stove/kitchen, reduce heat to bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.

While the brats are cooking, heat up your grill.

Place the brats on the grill until golden brown to crispy, depending on how you like ’em.

Brats Grilling

Brats Grilling

Once they are cooked through, return to the beer mixture until ready to serve on buns with onions and other toppings! That’s all it takes! Super easy and awesomely bad for you.

To get some nutrients in there, I served the brats with corn on the cob. My mom taught me that for great corn, simply leave the husks on…

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

put the corn directly on the baking rack in your oven set at 350° and cook for about 30-40 minutes. The husks will be super hot, so don’t think you can just pick them out with your hands! Let them cool a bit, and then be careful not to burn yourself as you peel off the husks.

Plate the corn with the brats, and enjoy a Wisconsin delicacy!

Beer Brats and Corn

Beer Brats and Corn