Eating My Way Through

Curried Quinoa and Raita Salad January 30, 2011

Filed under: Lunch,Salad — Nikki Wegner @ 4:28 pm

I cook a lot on Sundays to have ready meals for the week. I try to mix it up, and make things that are healthy, yummy, refrigerate well and that I  won’t get bored with.

So I decided to try something new recently, and cook with curry powder. I know that I am a little late to the party on this one, but it wasn’t something I had ever cooked with before! This recipe called specifically for madras curry powder (found in the Indian food section of my supermarket), which is a bit spicier than regular curry powder, so if you want less heat, feel free to use the regular kind!

To start, you saute some garlic with curry powder in a medium saucepan (make sure you grab one with a lid). Then you add in your quinoa and some water. Bring everything to a boil.


Quinoa Boiling

Quinoa Boiling


Put the cover on the saucepan, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 16 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Remove the cooked quinoa from the heat and let it cool completely.





Once the quinoa is cooled, stir in the mango, green onions and cilantro.


Curried Quinoa Salad

Curried Quinoa Salad


To make the raita, simply combine cucumber, mint and yogurt in a small bowl. Serve with some spinach for some extra greens!


Curried Quinoa and Raita Salad

Curried Quinoa and Raita Salad

This recipe would be great for a light weeknight meal, but I used it for a week of lunches. To make sure it stayed fresh I kept the spinach, quinoa and raita all separate, not combining until lunchtime.


Curried Quinoa and Raita Salad (Adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsps Madras curry powder

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 mango, peeled and diced

1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced

3 tbsp cilantro, fresh and chopped

1/4 cup cucumber, peeled and diced

2 tsp mint, fresh and chopped

1 (6oz) carton plain, non-fat greek yogurt

1 (5oz) package baby spinach


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add curry and garlic and cook for one minute

Add quinoa and two cups water and bring everything to a boil

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes or until tender and water absorbed

Remove from heat, stir in salt and cool quinoa completely

Add mango, green onions, cilantro to quinoa and toss gently

In a separate small bowl, combine cucumber, mint, yogurt and stir well

Yields 4-6 servings


Hot and Sour Soup January 13, 2011

Filed under: Lunch,Soups — Nikki Wegner @ 3:18 pm

With the New Year always comes resolutions. One of mine was to post to the blog more, and so far, I have admittedly been slacking. But you have to start somewhere!

My other resolutions aren’t necessarily super specific, just to recommit to running (I signed up for my first 10-miler in April with my friend Jamie!…eeks) and eating healthy. So to kick-start the new year I have been making a lot of yummy salads and soups to get in some extra veggies.

Soups are great for healthy lunches, as long as you go for broth based soups and avoid the heavy cream! This week I made an easy version of Hot and Sour Soup to bring in to work every day. This is totally a one-pot wonder of a meal, and after some time spent washing and chopping veggies, it is ready in minutes.



To start pour some vegetable broth  in a large stock/soup pot/dutch oven. Add in some rice vinegar, soy sauce and Thai red chili and garlic paste. Look at you, you’ve already made the base of the soup!

Next you just chop up some mushrooms, onions, carrots and bok choy and add everything to the pot. Also open up your cans of bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and drain them, then add these veggies to the pot as well. To add a bit more kick, mince some garlic and grate some ginger to add.

To finish it off I usually add in some cubed tofu (I’ve found the firm variety works the best). Then all you have left to do is bring the soup ingredients to a simmer over medium heat and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.


Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup


Once the soup is all done you can eat it right away, or like me, divvy it up into 5 portions for a week’s worth of lunches.

Each time I make this soup it turns out a bit different. Sometimes I have onions, sometimes I don’t. The bok choy was a new addition this last time I made it, and I loved it! This is a great soup for even the pickiest vegetable eater because you can mix and match everything. Also, if you are not a tofu fan, sauteing some chicken and adding it to the soup would also taste great. It’s up to you…cause you really can’t go wrong when it is so good for you and so easy to make!

Hot and Sour Soup

6 cups of vegetable broth (3 standard cans)

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp Thai chili paste or Asian hot sauce (more if you want it spicier)

2 cups mushrooms (crimini or shiitake), sliced

1 can bamboo shoots

1 can water chestnuts

2 cups bok choy, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 small sweet onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp ginger root, grated

16 oz firm tofu, cut in to cubes


Prep all the veggies.

In a large soup pot combine the broth, vinegar, chili paste and soy sauce, and stir until well mixed.

Add in the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, bok choy, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger root  and tofu.

Bring everything to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Yields 5 servings (about 2 cups)


Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili with Corn Bread and Honey Butter October 28, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Lunch,Soups — Nikki Wegner @ 1:40 pm

Now that I am officially only a few radio ads away from the end of political season I thought it was time to start posting again.  Though I have been baking and cooking over the last month, that is where my energy for non-work things that don’t involve alcoholic beverages end. Sad, but true.

So to kick-off the blog restart here are some recipes for chili and corn bread! The chili comes from me playing with/combining my favorite things from other chili recipes into one. I used ground turkey and beef broth, but if you are a vegetarian, simply subbing vegetable broth and tofu could work great! The corn bread is a favorite recipe of mine, and is definitely not a sweet version, so I usually top mine with some homemade honey butter.

To start spray a large skillet with cooking spray and add in onions, shallots and sugar, and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are nice and caramelized then add in the green pepper and stir frequently so everything doesn’t burn. Feel free to use red or yellow peppers here. They tend to give me heartburn, because I am really a 75-year-old woman, unfortunate, yet true.

Onions and Peppers

Onions and Peppers

Once cooked, put the onion and pepper mixture in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Then re-spray the skillet with cooking spray, and add in the ground turkey and garlic, cooking until done.

Add the turkey to the pot, along with the corn and black beans and spices.


Turkey Goodness

After stirring until everything is well combined, add in the tomatoes and broth and stir. Let everything come to a boil then reduce to a simmer, covering partially with a lid.

Chili Simmering

Chili Simmering

While your chili is cooking, start the corn bread! Pre-heat your oven and spray a square baking dish.

Then in a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking sod. Whisk together with a fork, then make a well in the center.

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, corn, egg whites and oil.


Wet Ingredients

Wet Ingredients


Combine the wet ingredients with the dry by pouring the mixture into the well, then stir until combined.

Pour into your baking pan and smooth the top.


Corn Bread Ready for Baking

Corn Bread Ready for Baking


Bake the bread for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean!


Corn Bread

Corn Bread

Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then cut into squares to serve with your chili!


The chili should be done simmering, right about the time that your cornbread is done cooling.


Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili

Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili


Remove the honey butter from the fridge and serve with the bread for a complete meal.

This meal would be great for a Saturday or Sunday football game-watching party! (Packers or Badgers preferably.) You can cook it up before your guests arrive, so the chili is finishing simmering as the corn bread is cooling! The chili is a bit spicy, and you can cut that down or make it even more by adjusting the amount of chili pepper you use. Or just serve with some cold beer, which I’ve found always helps with the heat of spicy things ;)!

Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili (own recipe)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 shallot, diced

1 tsp sugar

1 green pepper, diced

1 lb ground turkey

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 14-oz can black beans, drained

12 oz sweet corn, frozen & steamed

1 Tbsp ground chipotle chili pepper

1 Tbsp ground chili pepper

1 tsp oregano, dried

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

28 oz can tomatoes, diced

1 ½ cup broth (beef if you are adding the turkey, vegetable if you want to make it vegetarian!)


Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat.

Add in onions, shallots and sugar. Cook 5-10 minutes until caramelized, add in green pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Stirring occasionally so everything doesn’t burn!

Transfer to a large dutch oven pot or large sauce pan.

Re-spray the skillet, then add in the turkey meat and garlic, cooking until browned. Sprinkle with salt if you want. Once fully cooked, drain any excess fat, then add the meat mixture to the large pot.

In the pot, add the black beans, corn, and spices. Mix everything together until coated with the spices.

Add in the tomatoes and broth. Bring everything to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, then partly cover with a lid for 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese, scallions, whatever you want!

Yields 6 servings.

Corn Bread with Honey Butter (adapted from Weight Watchers)

1 cup uncooked yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

14 3/4 oz cream-style corn, canned

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large egg whites (feel free to use egg white substitute)

2 tsp oil, corn or vegetable

8 tbsp light butter

3 tbsp honey


Pre-heat your oven to 400° and coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

While the oven is preheating, soften the butter in the microwave, add the honey and stir until combined. Return to the fridge to set while the cornbread cooks.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and mix well until combined with a fork. Make a well at the center of the mixture and set it aside.

In a smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk, corn, egg whites and oil.

Add the liquid mixture into dry ingredients, pouring it into the well you made, then stir until well mixed.

Pour the batter into the baking pan and smooth the top.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yields 8 servings.


Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad September 18, 2010

Filed under: Lunch,Salad,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 5:40 pm
Tags: , ,

I actually brought this pasta salad to a barbecue over labor day…so yeah, been awhile since I posted/really cooked…but with work crazy right now, I am lucky if I make cereal for dinner! And instead of cooking today and building up a few reserve posts, I have spent it on the couch, watching  football and per usual yelling at the television . Maybe tomorrow…

Anyways, sometimes you just need something quick and easy to throw together for a party or get together. This pasta salad is super easy and requires minimal time and ingredients. So it’s perfect for a last minute dish to bring along to a friend’s house.

First things first, make the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, prep the dressing by combining vinegar, oil, garlic and oregano in a container.



Shake well!

Then combine with the tomatoes and a large bowl and let marinate while the pasta cooks.

Marinating Tomatoes

Marinating Tomatoes

Once the pasta has been drained and cooled, combine with the tomatoes. Add in the mozzarella as well and stir to make sure everything is nice and combined. Salt to taste.

Let the pasta salad chill until ready to serve. Before serving add in the basil.

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad

That’s it. Simple, easy and delicious!

If you are going to a large get together, simply double the recipe and you are good to go. The salad will also keep for a day or two in the fridge, but after that it will probably go bad due to the dressing.

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad (own recipe)

8 oz spiral pasta of some kind

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp oregano, dried

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup basil, chopped

2 oz mozzarella, fresh, cubed (1/2 cup)

Salt to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions

Drain pasta, set aside

In a container with a secure lid, combine vinegar, oil, salt, garlic and oregano; shake well to combine

Put tomatoes in a large bowl, dress with above mixture and toss to coat

Add in pasta and mozzarella, mix well

Salt to taste

Chill pasta salad

Add in basil right before serving

Yields 4, 1 cup servings


Minted Squash and Orzo Salad September 5, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Salad,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 3:09 pm

Deciding what to bring along with you to a party or BBQ can sometimes a be a bit challenging. Do you just chop up some veggies and bring some dip? Do you go all out and bake a dessert?

This salad is a great in between dish. Something that is a break from the traditional, while still being easy and accessible. Now admittedly, I didn’t bring this to a BBQ, I just made it for dinner and then brought it for last week’s lunches, but c’est la vie. Next time I know what to make!

To start you cook the Orzo. Orzo was something new to me, so if you don’t know what it looks like, here ya go:



Once the orzo is cooked, drain the pasta and set aside. Make sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water for later!

Chop up the squash.

Yellow Summer Squash

Yellow Summer Squash

In a large skillet, heat olive oil with garlic. Then you add the squash, sprinkle with salt, and cook until tender and browned, about 4 minutes.

Then add in the orzo and cooking water, letting simmer for about 2 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Squash and Orzo

Squash and Orzo

Once everything is cooked together, stir in 3/4 of the feta and the mint. Once the feta is melted, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with remaining feta and mint.

Minted Squash and Orzo Salad

Minted Squash and Orzo Salad

If you decide to serve the salad at a party or BBQ I would prepare the salad exactly like the directions say!

But, if you are going to make it for lunches, I wouldn’t mix in the feta and mint right away. I would toss in the feta right before reheating, and then sprinkle it with mint. This will make sure the mint is fresh and doesn’t get wilted as it sits in your fridge waiting to be eaten.

Minted Squash and Orzo Salad (adapted from Claire Robinson)

1 cup dried orzo pasta

2 tsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt, to taste

3.5 oz reduced-fat feta

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped


Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil

Stir in orzo and cook for 8 minutes, orzo will be undercooked

Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water

Drain orzo pasta in a colander, set aside

Heat olive oil in a large skillet with garlic

Add the squash, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally

Cook 4-6 minutes until brown and softened

Reduce heat to medium-low and add cooking water and orzo

Bring to a simmer and stir in 3 ounces of feta and season with salt

Cook until water is absorbed, about 2 minutes

Remove from heat stir in mint

Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with feta and mint

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


Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad July 26, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Salad — Nikki Wegner @ 3:45 pm

I decided to give this Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad  a try after a lovely day of being on the water and cooking out at a friend’s house near Annapolis. Sometimes getting out of DC, even just for a day, and enjoying a quieter and relaxing setting is all you need to recharge!

The outing put me in the mood for something that was light, yet flavorful. Plus, I was sent home with a bag full of  corn on the cob that I needed to use up asap.

This recipe is a quick (10 minutes tops), easy (all you have to do is chop and measure) and healthy meal! It will definitely become a staple in my post-work dinner/lunch the next day routine as it  allows me to indulge in my love of Latin flavors and taco salads without lots of calories/a tummy ache a few hours later.

All you do for this one is drain and rinse some black beans, and then chop up some red onions, garlic, jicama, avocado,  and grape tomatoes. You combine all of this in a large bowl and add in some corn removed from the cob and canned green chiles.

Yummy Veggies

Yummy Veggies

Then you toss in some lime juice, lemon juice, cilantro, olive oil, cumin and salt and stir together to dress the veggies.

Dressed Veggies

Dressed Veggies

Then simply toast a corn tortilla in a toaster oven until crisped.

Serve the salad on top of the tortilla and with a little bit of sour cream.

Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad

Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad

That’s it. Simplest. Meal. Ever. And it is really delicious. The perfect no-cook meal for this oppressive DC heat wave we have been suffering through!

Mexican Black Bean Tostada Salad (from Weight Watchers)

1 cup black beans, canned, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp red onions, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup jicama, diced

1/4 cup corn kernels, removed from cob or frozen

1/4 cup avocado, diced

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

4 tbsp green chilies, canned and diced

3 tbsp lime juice, fresh

2 tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin, ground

Salt, to taste

4 small corn tortillas


Combine all ingredients, minus the tortillas in a large bowl, mix to combine

Toast tortillas in a toaster oven or in a dry skillet

Top each tortilla with salad mixture

Yields 4 servings, 1 tortilla topped with 3/4 cup of salad