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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    Sweet Potato Casserole with Apples + Cranberries



    A sweet potato casserole is a good thing. 





    The sweet potatoes take on an extra sweetness, complemented by all of those warm fall spices.


    Top that goodness with marshmallows, and you have a comforting side that’s always welcome on my Thanksgiving table.



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    Garlic + Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower



    Mashed potatoes are wonderful, am I right?!


    But when you’re looking for a healthier, more nutritious--and also gluten-free option--let’s talk about mashed cauliflower!





    These days, it's not uncommon to have a Thanksgiving Day guest who steers clear of gluten.


    And even if you don't, we all want to cook up something that will have everyone at the Thanksgiving table seriously wanting--maybe even needing--to go back for seconds.


    It just so happens that you can serve your gluten-free friends and get everyone and their brother excited about the same fabulous food--a mouth-watering, velvety, cheesy side dish--your new best friend: mashed cauliflower!



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    Brown Butter Garlic Carrots



    If you have read my vegetable-focused cookbook, Meat on the Side, it was probably shocking to learn on page 108 that...I don’t like carrots.





    Because as much as I’m a huge veggie fan, I have to say that not all veggies are created equal.


    In my mind, carrots just fall low on the list.



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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! 


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    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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