Eating My Way Through

Panang Curry January 2, 2012

Filed under: Dinner — Nikki Wegner @ 12:14 am
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Happy New Years all! Once again I have been a failure at posting regularly…broken record I know. But hopefully 2012 will bring lots of opportunities to cook for friends and family and give me lots of fodder for the blog.

When I go out/order in Thai food, I usually order Panang Curry, not the healthiest of choices with its loads of creamy coconut milk, but I came up with a lighter version to satisfy my craving! By using light coconut milk and loading up on veggies and tofu you get all the great flavor and taste in a healthier package!

This recipe has a lot of sauteing, simmering and moving pieces, so make sure you pay close attention!

Panang Curry!

Panang Curry!

Panang Curry (own recipe)

1 Tbsp Canola Oil

16 oz Package Tofu, Firm, Diced

1 tsp Olive Oil

2 Shallots, diced

2 Garlic cloves, diced

2 Tbsp Peanut Butter

1 Tbsp lemon grass, diced

1 tsp ginger, fresh and grated

1 tsp coriander

1 Tbsp Thai Chili Paste

1 13.5oz can Lite Coconut Milk

½ can of water

½ Tbsp Fish Sauce

2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1 Red pepper, chopped

1 Squash, chopped

1 Zucchini, chopped

¾ Package Rice Noodles (Thai)


Heat canola oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat, add tofu and cook until brown, set aside.

While tofu is sautéing, prepare rice noodles according to package directions.

In a large skillet/wok heat 1 tsp olive oil. Add shallots and garlic, sauté.

Add in peanut butter, lemon grass, ginger and chili pepper, stir well.

Pour in coconut milk and ½ can of water, stir well.

Add in fish sauce and brown sugar, stir well.

Add tofu to sauce and let simmer to absorb flavor on low heat.

In the pan used for the tofu, add in a bit of olive oil, and cook red pepper, squash and zucchini. Add to sauce and let simmer for a few minutes. Serve sauce over rice noodles.

Yields 4-6 Servings


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.



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


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)


Spiced Mini Turkey Burgers with Tahini Couscous Salad July 1, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Salad — Nikki Wegner @ 1:49 pm
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I am a big fan of the magazine  Real Simple, and their extensive collection of easy, yet delicious recipes. Unfortunately they aren’t always the healthiest of concoctions, but I’ve found with a few fixes that I can usually tweak them into something that is not only good, but good for you!

Once such recipe was for Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad. The recipe originally called for ground beef and pan-cooking the burgers in olive oil, as well as using a bunch of olive oil for the dressing on the couscous salad. I changed it up by using ground turkey, grilling the burgers using olive oil cooking spray, and adding in some tahini to cut down the olive oil. The result was a something light and satisfying that also got me through my every other week craving for a juicy, probably bad for me burger!

To start, pre-heat your grill, and mix the ground turkey with spices in a bowl, and form into 12 mini patties.

Mini Turkey Burger Patties

Mini Turkey Burger Patties

Spray your grill with some olive oil cooking spray, then toss the burgers on the grill, cooking for about 8 minutes and flipping half-way through.

Turkey Burgers

Turkey Burgers

Because these are mini-burgers and they are a bit thinner, you don’t have to cook them extra long. Be careful not to over cook them, otherwise they can get pretty dry…and lose all their juice.

For the couscous salad boil 1 cup water with some salt, stir in couscous, remove from heat and cover. Let the grains sit for about 4-5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Place the couscous in a large bowl and add scallions, tomatoes and cucumbers. Add in the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt to taste. Then just mix everything up.

Tahini Couscous Salad

Tahini Couscous Salad

Then all you have to do is divide the mini burgers and salad up amongst 4 plates and serve! This was a great complete meal, a little protein, some grains and lots of yummy veggies. It also kept well for left overs and I have been enjoying it for lunch all week!

Spiced Mini Turkey Burgers with Tahini Couscous Salad

Spiced Mini Turkey Burgers with Tahini Couscous Salad

As I cook more and read more recipes, I have come to realize that if a recipe looks delicious but seems too unhealthy or like too much of a hassle, don’t just cast it aside! Take a look and see if you can make substitutions, cut down on a few steps or take a few shortcuts with some of the ingredients. I would say 9 times out of 10 there is a way to make it work for you!

Spiced Mini Turkey Burgers with Tahini Couscous Salad (adapted from Real Simple)

1 cup couscous, dry

1 lb ground turkey

1 tsp garlic salt

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp oregano

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp tahini

6 scallions, diced

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, sliced into half-moons

3 tbsps lemon juice, fresh


For the Burgers…

Pre-heat grill

In a bowl, combine turkey with garlic salt, cumin and oregano

Form into 12 mini burger patties

Spray grill with olive oil or regular cooking spray, and place burgers on the grill

Cook burgers about 8 minutes, flipping half-way through until cooked through

For the couscous…

In a small saucepan, boil 1 cup water with some salt

Once water is boiling stir in couscous, cover and remove from heat

Let stand for 4-5 minutes, then fluff with fork

Combine couscous in a large bowl with scallions, tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt to taste

Plate mini burgers with couscous salad

Yields 4 servings (3 mini burgers and about 1 1/2  cups couscous salad)


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.



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


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.



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)


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.



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


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


Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad June 15, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Salad,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 8:01 am
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In the summer I love recipes that don’t involve turning on the oven! This probably comes from growing up in a house without central air, where turning on the oven always raised the temp downstairs like 10° and you started sweating instantly.

Now, living in DC, living without air conditioning seems unfathomable. But old habits die hard, and this Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad is a great no-oven necessary summer meal!

To start, toast the quinoa for 4-6 minutes, until fragrant and it starts crackling. Then just remove from the heat and using a very thin strainer rinse the quinoa. Definitely use the thinnest strainer you can find, if you don’t you will have a mess on your hands and quinoa all over your sink!

Quinoa Toasting

Quinoa Toasting

Return the quinoa to the pot and add water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, rinse and drain the black beans, chop the yellow pepper and Mango (I cheated this time and bought pre-cut, cause chopping mangos can get a bit sticky).

Black Beans, Mango and Yellow Pepper

Black Beans, Mango and Yellow Pepper

In a large bowl, combine some orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, ginger, cayenne pepper and  salt for the dressing and whisk.



Add in the beans, yellow pepper and mango, tossing to coat.

Once the quinoa is fully cooked, toss in the black bean and mango mixture.

Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad

Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad

This is a great salad to make for lunches or a light dinner, plus it is ready in like 20 minutes, so you really can’t beat that!

Black Bean, Mango and Quinoa Salad (adapted from Eating Well)

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp ginger root, minced

1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground

1 small mango, diced

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 scallions, chopped


Toast quinoa in a saucepan for 4-6 minutes, until fragrant and crackling

Using a very fine strainer, rinse quinoa and return to pan

Add water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover, and cook 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed

While quinoa is cooking, prep the black beans, yellow pepper and mango

In a large bowl, combine orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, ginger root and cayenne pepper with a whisk

Add the beans, pepper and mango to the bowl and toss to coat

Once the quinoa is done, toss into the bean mixture and stir

Divide among bowls and top with scallions for serving

Yields 3 servings