Eating My Way Through

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Tart October 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nikki Wegner @ 12:27 pm

For all my friends and family who actually read this blog…I am back! After a few month hiatus to quit my job, travel around Wisconsin and Europe, move to Chicago, pass a Calculus exam and begin Grad school, I am ready to start sharing my culinary adventures again with you all!

This summer I spent a good amount of time living with my parents, which I have to say was a pretty great gig! My dad has turned our backyard into a very bountiful mini-farm and most nights the three of us made dinner out of whatever was fresh/ready to eat that day.

Two of my dad’s most prolific veggies are eggplants and tomatoes. I personally think eggplant gets a bad rap too often, you can do so much with it if you just look around for a great recipe.

It was my night to make dinner, and though my dad was skeptical, I set out to make a Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Tart. And I am happy to report that he definitely went back for seconds!

To start, you prepare the crust for the tart.

Tart Dough

Tart Dough

I promise it is an easy one, so don’t freak out! All you do is combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Then dig a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add in the water and oil. Stir everything together until you have a soft dough, it will be a bit sticky. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times and then form into a circle. Cover that with plastic wrap and let it chill for 15 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, you can prep the eggplant. Slice the eggplant and arrange on baking sheets. Sprinkle the slices with salt and let stand 15 minutes. This will draw out the water in the eggplant, which you then pat dry.

Now back to the dough! One your dough has chilled, place it on your lightly floured surface and cover with nice big sheets of plastic wrap. Now using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a circle, about 10-11 inches. Once done, place the dough into a tart or pie pan coated with cooking spray. Make sure to prick the dough with a fork in a few places, honestly, not sure why you do this, but just do it!

Crust ready for baking!

Crust all nice and crispy

Bake the crust for 10 minutes and let cool on a wire rack.

While the crust is cooling, brush your eggplant slices with olive oil. Pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once they are done cooking, be careful as you stack them on top of each other on a plate. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them steam a bit.

As the eggplants steam, you can saute your other veggies for the tart. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Start by cooking the garlic and onions for a bit. Then add in the tomatoes, salt, basil and oregano and cook for just a minute.

Tart filling

Tart Filling

Now it’s time to assemble the tart! Sprinkle the tart with two tablespoons of shredded mozzarella and then layer on the tomato mixture and eggplant. Sprinkle the top of the tart with the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan.

Tart ready for baking

Tart ready for baking

Bake the tart for just 10-15 minutes at 400º.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Tart

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Tart

To serve, just cut into 8 pieces and plate!

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Tart (adapted from Cooking Light)


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon olive oil

Cooking spray


1 eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

2  tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 6 ounces)

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese, divided

2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese


Preheat your oven to 400°.

For the crust, combine the flours, wheat germ, baking powder and salt in a bowl with a whisk. Make a well at the center of your mixture and then add the water and oil. Stir until you have soft dough. Lightly flour a flat surface and knead the dough lightly and then press the dough into a circle. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 15 minutes.

Unwrap the dough on plastic wrap and then cover with another sheet. Using a rolling-pin, roll the dough out into a 10-11 inch circle. Coat a tart pan with cooking spray and then put the dough in the pan and press into the bottom and sides. Poke the dough with a fork. Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 400°. Let cool completely.

To prepare the eggplant, arrange it on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Pat the eggplant dry with paper towels then brush with olive oil. Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes. When done cooking, stack on a plate and cover the eggplant with plastic wrap; letting it steam for about 7 minutes.

While the eggplant is steaming, heat a large skillet and coat with cooking spray. Add in garlic, cook for 1 minute and then stir in tomatoes, pepper and onion, cooking until tender. Then remove from heat and add in basil and oregano. Sprinkle with sea salt.

To finish off the tart, sprinkle the cooled crust with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Layer in the eggplant and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

Bake the tart for 10 minutes at 400° for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Yields 8 servings


New Toy!: Kitchen Aid Mixer January 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nikki Wegner @ 3:13 pm

So this is slightly ridiculous, but I just had to post these pictures of my new KitchenAid mixer from my friend Haley! I seriously have the best friends ever.

I am the Maid of Honor in her wedding this summer, and as her gift to me, which I totally think is unnecessary and over the top but I will take it!, was this mixer. I always joke to people that the mixer is one of the main reasons to get married so you can register for it…and she remembered me saying that…not sure what that says about me, but oh well!

I used it for the first time yesterday to make whole wheat pizza dough, so I will let you know how it turns out.

New mixer!

New mixer!

So cool!

So cool!



Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble June 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nikki Wegner @ 1:55 pm

Growing up we had rhubarb that randomly grew in the middle of our backyard. No one in our family ever planted it, so who knows how it even got there in the first place. My mom loved it, as she like me, loves to bake. But my dad, he had a long running hatred for it.

As soon as it grew, he was plotting its demise…and it took him a few years to finally kill it off. He used to pay me to mow our lawn, and I would get a little bonus if I “accidentally” mowed down the rhubarb too. Since I was young and naive, I had no idea how yummy rhubarb could be when cooked right and prepared with sweeter fruits, so I of course listened to my dad and pocketed the extra cash.

Today though I am happy to announce my dad’s personal dislike of rhubarb never rubbed off. I love rhubarb in pies, jams and other tasty treats. And the other night I was making dinner with a friend, and she asked if we could try to make a non-dairy dessert. So I decided to go with my trusty Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble!

This recipe is a snap and can be baking in the oven as you eat dinner, so when you are all done, it is warm and ready to serve.

All you do is chop up some rhubarb and strawberries, add some lemon juice, flour, sugar and a bit of cinnamon and combine in a large bowl.

Rhubarb and Strawberries

Rhubarb and Strawberries

Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square pan.

In a food processor, combine the crumble ingredients: flour, sugar, brown sugar and butter (or a vegan  substitute like Smart Balance), and pulse for a about 20 seconds until it is mixed and clumpy.

Crumble Topping

Crumble Topping

Spread the crumble topping over the strawberry-rhubarb mixture in the pan. Pop in the oven and bake at 375° or until the top is golden brown.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

When serving, it is easiest to place in bowls because without any sort of crust it could get pretty messy!

But that doesn’t make it any less scrumptious!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble


3 cups rhubarb stalks, diced into 1/2 inch pieces

1 quart strawberries, cut into quarters

1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh

1 tbsp water

1 tbsp, flour

1 tsp cinnamon


1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter (or substitute)


Pre-heat oven to 375° and grease with cooking spray an 8-inch square pan

Chop rhubarb and strawberries and put in a large mixing bowl

Add in lemon juice, water, flour and cinnamon, mix to combine

Spoon mixture into pan

In a food processor combine crumble ingredients, pulse a few times until clumpy and combined

Spread topping evenly over strawberry-rhubarb mixture

Bake in oven for 40 minutes, or until browned

Yields 8 servings


Salmon Burgers and Steamed Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon June 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nikki Wegner @ 6:29 pm

Continuing on my seafood kick this week, I decided to make salmon burgers. Salmon is a great healthy, if unexpected,  alternative to beef. It is full of “good fats,” protein, your full daily serving of vitamin D and lots of B12 vitamin, who knew?

I initially planned on making roasted asparagus to accompany the salmon, since it is in season and relatively cheap, but of course after the holiday my local Safeway was pretty picked over and pathetic, so I just grabbed some broccoli, cause you really can’t go wrong there.

First things first, you have to grind up the salmon. Make sure you fully remove all scales, etc! May be obvious, but wanted to make sure!

I just used my trusty chopper to grind the fish.

Ground Salmon

Ground Salmon

Then in a bowl, combine salmon, scallions, lemon zest, lime zest and salt.

Form into equal-sized patties.

Salmon Patty

Salmon Patty

Place patties  on parchment paper or foil, and place in fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.

While the patties are chilling, you can make the sauce for the burgers. If the sauce doesn’t seem yummy to you, feel free to leave off! I think they are good without it as well.

Take cream cheese, mayo, scallions, lemon juice, lime and lemon zest, and salt and combine in a small bowl. Mix and place in fridge to chill.

Sauce for Burgers

Sauce for Burgers

Also while the burgers are chilling put a pot of water on to boil to steam the broccoli. Cut into florets and place in steamer basket. Once the water is boiling place the steamer on top of the pot, cover and steam broccoli for 4-5 minutes.

Brocolli Ready to Steam

Broccoli Ready to Steam

While broccoli is steaming, heat a griddle pan, I used my George Foreman, and remove burgers from the fridge.

Place burgers on the griddle and cook 2 minutes on each side, until medium rare. Remove from heat.

In a small pan, heat olive oil, garlic and lemon juice for the broccoli.

Remove broccoli from the steamer and add to the mixture.

Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon

Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon

Cook for about a minute, remove from heat.

Plate the burgers with some sauce and broccoli.

Salmon Burger and Steamed Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon

Salmon Burger and Steamed Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon

So the above directions may have seem complicated to you. The recipes themselves are not tricky, it is just the dance you have to do to coordinate everything. Just make sure you time things right and pay attention, otherwise you could end up with burned burgers or mushy broccoli!

Salmon Burgers (adapted from Yum Sugar)


2 pounds skinless, boneless salmon fillet, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces

1/4 cup minced scallions, white parts only

Zest of 1 lime

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp salt

Cooking Spray


1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese, room temperature

3 scallions, white and greens, finely chopped

1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons grated lime zest

Pinch of chipotle  pepper

Salt to taste


Grind the salmon pieces in a meat grinder, chopper or food processor

In a large bowl, combine salmon, scallions, lemon and lime zest and salt

Form into patties and place on parchment paper, chill in fridge for 15 minutes

Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl, mix and chill until ready to serve burgers

Heat griddle and spray with cooking spray

Remove patties from fridge and place on griddle

Cook 4-5 minutes, turning burgers once, and cooking until medium-rare

Plate and serve with sauce

Yields 6 servings

Steamed Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon (adapted from Epicurious)

1 small bunch broccoli, cut into florets

2 garlic gloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Bring a pot of water to boil

Place broccoli in steamer basket, cover

Cook 4-5 minutes

While broccoli is cooking, in a skillet heat oil and add garlic and lemon

Remove broccoli from steamer and add to skillet, cook together for 1-2 minutes

Remove from heat and serve

Yields 2 servings


Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella May 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nikki Wegner @ 10:41 am

After a long day at work, all I want to do when I get home is make a quick dinner, grab a glass of red wine (most likely out of a jug of Yellowtail)  and plop on the couch and watch bad TV. Sad, but true.

This recipe for pasta with marinated tomatoes and mozzarella definitely fit my criteria for a weeknight meal, quick, easy and healthy.

All you have to do is chop up some tomatoes and onions, add some olive oil, mozzarella, basil and salt. I didn’t have fresh basil unfortunately, it went bad over the course of the week, so instead I just used a basil herb blend I keep in the fridge just in case!

Marinating Tomatoes

Tomatoes & Mozzarella...Yum!

And let that marinate for 10 minutes while you cook up some pasta.

Then blend everything together. Now I didn’t make the tomato mixture quick enough for it to marinate for long enough before the pasta was cooked, and I didn’t want it to get cold.

So I just tossed the pasta in the bowl with the marinating tomatoes and mozzarella and covered it with plastic wrap to keep it warm for about 8-10 minutes.

Keeping it warm

Keeping it warm

Then just stir it all together, divide into bowls and serve!

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella (adapted from Real Simple)

1 1/2 lbs beefsteak tomatoes, diced

1/2 small sweet onion, diced

2 tbsps olive oil

8 ounces fresh mozzarella (bocconcini size), quartered

Salt to taste

8 oz fettuccine

1/2 cup basil, torn or 1 tbsp basil blend


In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, olive oil, salt

Set aside, let marinate for 10 minutes

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions

Drain, add pasta and basil to the bowl, stir

Divide among bowls, serve

Yields 4 servings


Kicking things off…! March 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nikki Wegner @ 8:42 pm

I have been telling my friends here in DC that I am starting a blog about my adventures in cooking for a while now, so here goes!

Food is a big part of my life. Cooking is definitely a stress relief, and something I love doing for me, but also for the people I love.

And as the title says, food sometimes gets me through. Not gonna lie, I am a stress eater. But that doesn’t mean I need to eat poorly, or gorge on things that are bad for me. So here is my attempt to cook healthy and share some funny things that happen along the way!