Eating My Way Through

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough March 6, 2011

Filed under: Dinner — Nikki Wegner @ 3:59 pm
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Pizza is by far one of my guiltiest pleasures! I have a very hard time resisting it…no will power whatsoever. Combined with beer, it was definitely my downfall in college (it probably didn’t help that the only sport I played was beer pong.)

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if I could find a way to make it a bit healthier. Enter the whole wheat pizza crust, made easy by my mixer, which yes I am still obsessed with!

To start, you just combine a packet of yeast with some warm water, letting it sit until it gets a bit fizzy.

Yeast

Yeast

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add in the flours and the salt and mix using the dough hook on low-speed.

 

Flour mixing

Flour mixing

 

Once combined, slowly add in the yeast, kneading the dough for about 7-10 minutes. Once it is well-formed, add in the olive oil.

Take the dough and shape it into a ball, placing it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let the dough rise for about an hour, until it is double its size.

 

Dough rising

Dough rising

 

Once the dough has risen, punch it down. You can use it right away, or wrap  in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerate overnight to make it extra yummy.

 

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

 

To finish off your pizza, preheat your oven to 375º and add your toppings of choice, then bake for 15-20 minutes!

I caramelized some onions with garlic and mushrooms and then added some goat cheese and prosciutto to mine, while my roommate took a more traditional route, topping hers with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and black olives…both delicious!

 

Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Pizza

Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Pizza

 

One good thing about this dough-you can freeze it and have it handy for a latter date! If you don’t want to use it all right away, just wrap it in some plastic wrap and aluminum foil and pop it in the freezer. It should take an hour or two to thaw, so make sure you take it out in time if you are craving it.

This is a great addition to my healthy cooking staples! A way to get my fix of a favorite, without as much guilt. And the ability to make my own mini pizzas has self-control built right in!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 packet of dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp of sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

Add yeast to warm water in a medium-sized bowl, letting it sit for  about 5 minutes until it gets fizzy

In a stand mixer, with the dough hook attached, combine the flours and salt on low-speed

Slowly add in the yeast mixture and let the dough hook knead the dough until well combined, scrapping the sides of the bowl to make sure all the flour is getting mixed in

Kneading should take about 7-10 minutes, then add in the olive oil and continue kneading until combined

Form your dough in to a ball and place back in your mixing bowl

Cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel, and let the dough rise for about an hour – the dough should almost double in size

Punch down the dough and form into desired shape for pizza making!

For even better results put in the fridge and let it sit overnight

Yields 8 Servings (I made 8 mini pizzas)

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Fig and Goat Cheese Scones December 17, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Sides,Treats — Nikki Wegner @ 4:51 pm
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Being from Wisconsin I think it is inherently mapped in our DNA that we have to love cheese. I am a cheesehead, I accept it and embrace it. I especially am a sucker for cheese plates at restaurants or parties, I really have a hard time restraining myself. When I was visiting two of my best friends in New York City Maddy took me to The Dove Parlour, this beautiful little bar that had one of the best (and most affordable) cheese plates. After we stuffed our faces with a variety of delicious cheeses, an assortment of bread slices, apricots, jam, nuts, figs etc., I was inspired to make these fig and goat cheese scones.

These scones are a great savory, yet sweet treat. I love making a big batch and freezing them, heating them up for breakfast or eating with a hearty soup for lunch. I have made these a bunch of times in the past, but this time I tried to make them a bit healthier by using light butter and whole-wheat flour, and I splurged and bought some fresh chevre from my fave cheese shop in DC, Cowgirl Creamery. So Good!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use fig jam (which I use here), fresh or dried figs, whatever you can find/is in season. You can also substitute in other fruits if you prefer, I think apricots would taste great too.

To start, gather all your ingredients and preheat your oven.

 

Ingredients Assembled!

Ingredients Assembled!

 

In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients, the two-types of flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

 

Dry goods

Dry goods

 

Then drop in the butter pieces, working them into the flour mixture with your fingers. Once mixed in, add the milk and goat cheese and stir until the dough comes together. You will end up with a slightly sticky ball of scone dough.

 

Scone Dough

Scone Dough

 

Next, simply mix in the fig jam or fresh/dried figs. Then take the dough and form into 12 2-inch balls of dough. Place them on baking sheets you sprayed with cooking spray and slightly flatten.

 

Scones for baking

Scones for baking

 

Bake the scones for 15 minutes, or until their tops are slightly brown, and remove from the oven. Take off the baking pans and let cool on a wire rack before enjoying! If you want to freeze some, let them completely cool before wrapping for the freezer.

 

Fig and Goat Cheese Scones

Fig and Goat Cheese Scones

 

These scones are super easy and delicious! As a bonus the dough base is a great starting point for any scone recipe you may want to experiment with. If you are going for something a bit sweeter I would probably add a bit more sugar, not a lot, but just a bit. I did that with a batch of blackberry scones, and though they turned out purple, they were pretty yummy.

 

Blackberry Scones

Blackberry Scones

 

Fig and Goat Cheese Scones (Adapted from Yum Sugar)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 Tbsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp sugar

1/3 cup light butter, chilled and cut into large pieces

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (4 ounces)

6 Tbsp fig jam or 3/4 cup fresh or dried figs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400º

Spray baking sheets with cooking spray

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar by mixing

Add in butter gently using your finger tips to rub the butter into the flour mixture

Add the milk and goat cheese, stirring until dough comes together in a slightly sticky ball

Mix in fig of whatever type you are using

Divide the dough into 2-inch balls and place on the baking sheet and flatten slightly

Bake 15 minutes or until the tops of the scones are slightly browned

Let cool on a wire rack

Yields 12 scones

 

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad September 18, 2010

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

Dressing

Dressing

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

Directions:

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

 

Eggplant, Tomato and Mozza Stacks with Basil Polenta June 29, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 10:55 am
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For this meal I once again had some guest cooks. My high school friends Brendan and Emma graced me with a visit last weekend, and since Brendan previously requested to be on the blog, I thought I would indulge him!

Brendan, Me and Emma

Brendan, Me and Emma

Since Brendan has been a vegetarian forever, and Emma has since started to embrace the lifestyle too, we decided on making eggplant, tomato and mozzarella stacks on a bed of basil polenta. If you follow the link to the recipe below, you will see we changed it up a bit to make a quicker, easier version, since all three of us were starving!

This was a great meal for a dinner party or small group dinner, I am not sure how it would re-heat if you had leftover, so something to keep in mind if you decide to give it a try.

You start by slicing up the eggplant and tomatoes, grating the Parmesan and slicing the mozzarella.

Take the eggplant slices and place on a pan, brushing both sides with olive oil and sprinkling with salt.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Let those broil for about 4 minutes on each side until brown.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the tomato slices with balsamic vinegar.

One the eggplant is done, adjust the temp of the oven to 375° and assemble the stacks in the order of eggplant, mozza, tomato, mozza, and then one last tomato.

Assembled Stacks

Assembled Stacks

Let the cheese melt for about 15 minutes.

While the cheese is melting, make the polenta. Bring 2 cups water to boil. Whisk in the polenta gradually and continue whisking for about 6 minutes. I was lucky enough to have a helper, who didn’t complain at all about the job he was given…

Brendan Stirring the Polenta

Brendan Stirring the Polenta

Once the polenta has thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and margarine/butter, then stir in the basil and set aside.

Basil Polenta

Basil Polenta

When the cheese has melted between the layers of the stacks, remove from them from the oven.

Eggplant, Tomato and Mozza Stack

Eggplant, Tomato and Mozza Stack

To finish up, divide the polenta (about 1/4 cup) and stacks (about 2) among 4 plates.

Eggplant, Tomato and Mozza Stacks with Basil Polenta

Eggplant, Tomato and Mozza Stacks with Basil Polenta

Sprinkle with oregano or top with a basil leaf to finish everything off!

Emma loved this dish as did I, but Brendan didn’t chime in with warm praise, so I am a little skeptical of his feelings. But still, I would definitely make this again if I was feeding a bunch of people. I also think the stacks would be great as an appetizer sans polenta, as the flavors are a proven great combination!

Eggplant, Tomato and Mozza Stacks with Basil Polenta (adapted from Bon Appétit)

2 cups water

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup polenta (yellow cornmeal)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1 tbsp butter

1/4 cup basil, fresh and chopped

2 large Chinese eggplants, each cut into 1/2 inch strips

Olive oil for brushing eggplant

4 large plum tomatoes,  cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling on tomatoes

Dried oregano

1 7 3/4-ounce package small fresh mozzarella balls in water, drained

Directions:

Pre-heat your broiler

Place sliced eggplant on baking sheet, brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt

Broil until brown, about 4 minutes per side

While the eggplant are broiling, sprinkle tomato slices with balsamic vinegar

When eggplant are done broiling, remove from oven and adjust temperature to 375°

Top each eggplant with 1/3-inch think slice of mozzarella, then 1 tomato slice, then 1 more slice of mozzarella, and then another tomato slice

Place back in oven until cheese melts, about 15 minutes

While the cheese is melting, bring 2 cups of water with some salt to a boil and gradually whisk cornmeal into boiling water and reduce heat to medium-low

Keep whisking polenta constantly for about 6 minutes or until it is nice and thick then remove from the heat

Stir in cheese and butter, then stir in basil

Remove eggplant and tomato stacks from the oven

Plate dish with about 1/4 cup polenta and 2 stacks per serving, sprinkle with oregano if desired

Yields 4 servings

 

Pesto Pasta Salad June 24, 2010

Filed under: Lunch,Salad — Nikki Wegner @ 11:11 am
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For the past year I have been meaning to make pesto. I even bought a very expensive, huge bag of pine nuts from Whole Foods last summer. Yet, they have sat in my cupboard, waiting to be turned into something. My roommate makes pesto all the time and she inspired me to experiment with it. Combining a bunch of different recipes, I think I came up with a pretty healthy, very yummy pesto.

I decided to toss the pesto with some pasta and veggies to make a salad I could take throughout the week for lunch. This would be a great addition to any bbq, as it’s super light and has great flavor.

To start, make some whole-wheat pasta according to the package directions.

While it’s cooking, start the pesto by toasting some pine nuts and walnuts for about 5 minutes, watching them so they don’t burn!

Toasting Walnuts and Pine Nuts

Toasting Walnuts and Pine Nuts

As the nuts are toasting, put the basil, garlic cloves, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, chicken broth and salt in a food processor. Add the nuts when they are done toasting.

Pesto Ingredients

Pesto Ingredients

Now, start the chopper and process the ingredients until smooth.

Pesto

Pesto

That’s it! Now you have a great pesto you can not only use for this salad, but for tons of other recipes!

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and let cool a bit. Toss in a large bowl with the pesto, and veggies. I used  cherry tomatoes, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes, but feel free to substitute others. Kalamata olives would be great, or maybe spinach and some red onions.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad

Top the pasta salad with a bit of cheese, I used goat cheese (Parmesan would also work) and serve. I have been eating this all week for lunch and it keeps really well and is super filling, helping me stave off the 4pm snack craving!

Pesto Pasta Salad (own recipe)

2 cups whole-wheat pasta

1 tbsp walnuts

1 tbsp pine nuts

1/2 cup fresh basil, packed

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 cup Parmesan, fresh and grated

1 tbsp olive oil

1-2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tbsp chicken broth, low-sodium

1 tsp salt

4 oz black olives, sliced

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled or 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated (to top off the salad)

Directions:

Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and let cool

Toast walnuts and pine nuts over medium-low heat, about 5 minutes

Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, chicken broth, salt and toasted nuts in a food processor or chopper to make the pesto

Process until smooth

Transfer pesto to a large bowl, toss with pasta and mix until well-combined

Add in olives, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes and mix everything together

Divide into bowls and top with goat cheese

Yields 4 servings

 

Baked Risotto with Sauteed Summer Squash June 21, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 5:49 pm
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A few months ago I made risotto the traditional way…aka the time-consuming, arm-hurting way with lots of stirring. You slowly add broth, let it absorb, and then repeat, for what seems like too long. It is delicious, just a process.

So I was intrigued when I found a few recipes for baked risotto…and I am happy to report it is much easier and tastes just as good! This version is another Martha Stewart recipe, though it is much easier than the enchilada sauce I made before. I added some sautéed summer squash to give it a bit more flavor and add in some veggies!

To start, make sure you prep your ingredients. Chop the onion, grate the parm and slice the squash!

Heat some olive oil in an oven-safe dutch oven or pot, and add onions and cook until translucent. Then you toss in the Arborio rice and stir to coat for about 1 minute.

Arborio Rice

Arborio Rice

Then you add in some wine and stir until it completely evaporates, which should take about 2 minutes.  Then you add in some chicken broth (can use veggie if you are vegetarian), water and salt. You bring this to a boil.

Mixture boiling

Mixture boiling

Once it is boiling, cover and remove from heat. Place in your pre-heated to 425° oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

When you have about 5 minutes left, start sauteing the squash in a skillet. I just use a little bit of olive oil, get that heated up over medium heat, toss in some garlic and cook for about 1 minute then add the squash.

Squash

Squash

The squash takes about 5-10 minutes, just make sure it is cooked through and you should be all set. Be sure to watch it though as it goes from perfect to burned quickly, admittedly mine got a little burned!

When the timer goes off for the risotto, remove it from the oven and place back on the stove. Remember, it will be super hot, so use oven mitts at all times!

Remove the cover, and stir in a 1/2 cup of warm water, the parm and 1 tbsp butter/butter substitute. It should have a nice and creamy texture! Top with the squash and serve.

Baked Risotto with Summer Squash

Baked Risotto with Summer Squash

After making risotto this way, I don’t think I will ever go back to the original. This is just as good, maybe even better, and is so much easier ( with less room for an oops!) The recipe serves 2 for a meal portion, but served with a filet of salmon or a chicken breast as a side, you could definitely get 4-6 servings out of it and would definitely be great for a dinner party.

Baked Risotto with Sautéed Summer Squash (adapted from Martha Stewart)

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1/4 cup onion,  finely chopped

3/4 cup Arborio rice

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups water, hot and divided

1/2 cup low sodium chicken (or veggie) broth

3/4 tsp coarse salt

1 tbsp unsalted butter or butter substitute

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

3 cloves garlic

2 summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch coins

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425°

In an ovenproof pan (with lid) or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat

Add onion and cook, stirring,  2 to 3 minutes

Add the rice and cook, stirring to coat , about 1 minute

Toss in the wine and cook until it is fully absorbed, about 1-3 minutes

Stir in 1 1/2 cups water, the broth and  salt

Bring everything to a boil

Once boiling cover the pot and put in the oven, baking 20-25 minutes until most liquid is absorbed

While it is cooking, heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in a skillet, add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes

Add in squash and saute until fully cooked, remove from heat and set aside

When time is up on the risotto, remove from the oven

Stir in 1/2  cup water (the consistency of the risotto should be creamy), the butter and cheese

Serve immediately and top with squash

Yields 2 full portions, 4-6 side portions

 

Baked Tilapia with Garlic-Parm Mashed Potatoes May 18, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Seafood/Fish,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 11:07 am
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Growing up in Wisconsin it is impossible to not be obsessed with the Friday Night Fish Fry tradition! Deep fried, beer battered Cod with tartar sauce,  a side of fries and coleslaw and of course a micro-brew. Yum.

But the classic fish fry is definitely the antithesis of healthy! I was craving one after talking to my dad the other night. He was telling my about this great place my mom and him went to last week and it made me nostalgic. I decided to attempt to recreate the same type of meal at home, fish and potatoes, just a bit on the lighter-side.

I decided to go with Tilapia for the fish. Not only because it is a very healthy protein source, low in fat and sodium, but also because it is super easy to make!

All you do is spray a baking dish with some cooking spray, add in the fish, squeeze on some fresh lemon juice, add a few pats of butter  substitute (I use Brummel and Brown) and sprinkle with some garlic and salt (or just use garlic salt).

Tilapia Ready for Baking

Tilapia Ready for Baking

Simply set the oven to about 375°, place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Baked Tilapia with Lemon

Baked Tilapia with Lemon

As a side dish, instead of french fries, I whipped up some healthy mashed potatoes. Instead of using gobs of butter, which tastes great but way ups the calorie and fat count, I found a recipe that uses low-fat buttermilk to get that creamy texture.

While the fish is cooking, boil a large pot of water. Quarter about 2 1/2 lbs of red potatoes and add to the pot of boiling water, making sure the potatoes are covered with about 1 inch of water. Bring the pot back to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let boil for about 30 minutes.

Potatoes Boiling

Potatoes Boiling

One the potatoes are fork tender, drain and return to the pot. Mash potatoes to desired consistency. Add in buttermilk, chives, garlic, parmesan and salt to taste. Just mix everything together and if you decide you want them a bit creamier, add a little more buttermilk.

Parm-Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Parm-Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Put everything on the plate, with a few slices of lemon for the fish if you like, and you have a healthier version of the traditional fish fry!

Tilapia and Mashed Potatoes

Tilapia and Mashed Potatoes

But obviously, who am I kidding, this is not the same as a traditional Wisco fish fry extravaganza, nothing can take the place of that, but this might hold of your craving for a bit!

Baked Tilapia with Lemon (own recipe)

1 lb Tilapia filets

Cooking spray

4 tbsps lemon juice, fresh

1 tbsp butters substitute (I use Brummel and Brown)

3 garlic cloves, minced

Salt to Taste

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375°

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray

Rinse tilapia fillets with cold water and pat dry

Place in the baking dish

Squeeze on lemon juice

Add pats of butter, garlic and salt

Bake for 30 minutes, until fork tender

Yields 4 servings

Parm-Garlic Mashed Potatoes (adapted from Weight Watchers)

10 medium red potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs), quartered

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup chives, chopped

3 tbsps parmesan, shredded

Salt to taste

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water

Add quartered potatoes, making sure they are covered with 1 inch of water

Bring water back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender

Drain potatoes and return to the pot

Mash potatoes

Add in buttermilk, garlic, chives and parmesan and stir

Add additional buttermilk if you want the potatoes a bit creamier

Yields 8 servings (about 2/3 cup per serving)