Meat On The Side Cookbook

Meet Nikki

I am a chef, mom, TV host, cookbook author, blogger, professional voice over artist and terrace gardener. I cook in a way I call "Meat on the Side" which focuses on veggies, making them unique and the star of the plate. 

More about Nikki...



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    Zucchini Crostini with Pomegranate Goat Cheese Spread



    Today I'd like to present you with an exclusive peak into my premier cookbook, Meat on the Side.


    Putting the words “zucchini” and “crostini” together made for a lot of fun as they rolled off my tongue.

    So I decided to create something to go along with those words that would be just as fun to eat. 

    And here you have it! You can have fun saying—and eating!—your Zucchini Crostini! 


    Click to read more ...


    Spaghetti Squash Crust Pizza



    Cauliflower is definitely having its moment in the sun.






    One of the reasons it’s so popular is that everyone is churning out cauliflower crust pizzas--and loving how tasty an all-veggie crust can be!



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    Pumpkin Polenta with Brussels Sprouts + Sausage



    My husband is always a good sport when it comes to being my go-to taste tester.






    He eats random meals made up of four totally different things--recipes I tested earlier that day. 



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    Pumpkin Quesadilla



    Pumpkin Quesadilla - From Meat On The Side

    Makes one 8-inch quesadilla; serves 2


    Salad Topping

    1 cup sliced romaine lettuce (¼-inch-wide) strips

    ¼ cup quartered cherry tomatoes

    Juice of half a lime

    1 teaspoon olive oil

    Pinch of kosher salt


    Pumpkin Quesadilla

    One 4½-ounce can chopped green chiles

     ½ cup pumpkin puree

    2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

    1 teaspoon sriracha

    ½ teaspoon kosher salt

    2 medium flour tortillas (8 inches)

    1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (4 ounces)

    ⅓ cup finely chopped cooked chicken (2 ounces)

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

    2 tablespoons shelled raw pumpkin seeds (not salted)


    Salad Topping

    Toss the lettuce, tomatoes, lime juice, oil, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside while you make the quesadilla.


    Pumpkin Quesadilla

    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the chiles in a small bowl. Pat them gently with a paper towel to absorb some of the liquid. Add the pumpkin, cilantro, sriracha, and salt to the bowl and stir until combined.

    2. Lay one tortilla on a plate. Scatter half the cheddar over it and then spoon the chile mixture evenly over the cheese. Scatter the chicken and then the remaining cheddar over the chile mixture. Lay the second tortilla on top.

    3. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet. Transfer the quesadilla to the skillet and cook until the bottom tortilla is brown on the underside and crisp—about 3 minutes. Flip the quesadilla over and cook the other side the same way—for 3 more minutes.

    4. Remove the skillet from the heat. Spread the mozzarella evenly over the quesadilla and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the mozzarella is melted and the seeds are lightly toasted—5 minutes. Top with the salad; cut into wedges and serve hot!


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    Veggie Queso + Homemade Doritos



    Queso with Squash + Cauliflower

    Makes 2 cups of queso


    ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

    ½ large yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about ¾ cups)

    2 garlic cloves, sliced

    ¼ medium head cauliflower, cut into large chunks, (about ½ pound or 1½ cups)

    ⅛ small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about ½ pound or 1¼ cups)

    1 cup chicken stock

    ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

    6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups)

    4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

    ½ cup jarred salsa

    Chips, for dipping


    1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower, squash, chicken stock, and the ½ teaspoon salt. Bring this mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender—about 20 minutes. This should give you about ¼ cup liquid along with the veggies.


    2. Place the mixture in a blender and process it until it is completely smooth. Add more stock or water if there is not enough liquid to blend easily.


    3. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan over low heat. Add the cheddar and Monterey Jack and stir until the cheese melts. Add the salsa and stir to combine. Taste the queso; add more salt if necessary and more stock if your mixture is too thick. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy hot!




    Homemade Doritos

    Makes 56 chips

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    Zucchini Salsa



    Recently I was honored to appear on the Food Network television show The Kitchen.


    The show includes five amazing co-hosts who introduce viewers to a bunch of awesome recipes, cocktails, and crafts.





    Before showing up, I knew I had to bring my A-game—and a recipe that would make people sit up and listen.



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    Cucumber Chips



    Currently, I have one measly cucumber in the garden.



    Due to some bug problems and a bit of an overcrowding situation in my center planter box, Mr. Cucumber isn't quite thriving.






    However, in the past--and definitely at the farmers market--there is usually a cucumber explosion this time of year.




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    PB + J + P + C




    I've been on a kick lately--changing up classic dishes by adding more veggies to them.


    You know, making them much more "Meat On the Side"-esque.





    But when I started messing with one of the most classic lunch foods ever--peanut butter and jelly (PB + J), no one liked ALL! 


    I posted a pic of my PB + J + P + C a little while back on social media and let's just say you guys had something (not too pretty) to say about it.



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    Cucumber Sub



    Gluten-free is definitely trending--and for good reason.






    Of course there are some people who simply can’t have gluten, but there are also many who are realizing that eating less gluten and carbs helps them feel and look their best.



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    Pickled Strawberry Flatbread



    Someone recently pointed out to me that I tend to weave fruits into my savory dishes more than the average person.





    I never really thought about it, but I guess they're right.


    It's just that sometimes when I'm thinking about what a dish needs to make it really delicious, pears, blackberries--or in this case--strawberries, just seem like the perfect adds.



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