Meet Nikki

I am a chef, TV host, blogger, radio host, recipe developer, professional voice over artist and terrace gardener. I cook mostly "Meat on the Side" which focuses on veggies, making them unique and the star of the plate. 

More about Nikki...


Food Network Star

Nikki Dinki is going to be on Food Network Star! Premiering June 2nd at 9pm on the Food Network. Click here for pics, clips and more from the show

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    Food Network Star - Episode #4





    As we are opening up our envelopes that tell us what genre we are cooking for I am sitting there thinking "just not Western."  

    I can fit my POV into a Romance or Musical theme (though I'm not sure what kind of food is musical in nature) but "Meat on the Side" doesn't exactly scream western. Western flavors are more or a Russell thing filled with bacon and smoky meats.  


    But of course on this show you rarely get the easy route. 




    Click to read more ...


    Eggplant Sauce





    When your child is young you feed them pureed vegetables. This food is nutritious and easy to eat.


    And then, without warning, it goes down!! You start trying to give them whole broccoli instead of the pureed stuff.

    This seems logical enough until the tree like foreign object is promptly rejected and dumped on the floor...


    And there it sits, under their chair, next to the scary carrot and every horrifying brussel sprout. 






    But why give up the simple idea of eating pureed vegetables??

    Hate the texture of a vegetable? Puree it!

    Think veggies are too bitter or bland?? Add other more tasty pureed stuff to them!


    Before you know it you’re eating a whole head of broccoli in a single serving... 



    Or maybe a whole eggplant... 




    Click to read more ...


    Food Network Star - Episode #3



    BACK ON TOP!!!!!!



    I felt a lot of pressure going into this week. After last week I couldn't make another mistake or I really could be going home. 

    With this realization on my shoulder I walk into the mentor challenge only to see mystery bags on each of our stations. I don't like mystery bags, oh geeze



    Click to read more ...


    Pie Dough



    People tell you all the time that things are easy.


    I usually don't believe these people.





    It's like when someone tells you to take a class at the gym and they reassure you that it's easy...


    But when you can't walk like a normal human being for a week and sitting down makes you grunt a little, you learn to be skeptical.




    Click to read more ...


    Food Network Star - Episode #2



    Here we go again! 


    As we pull up to this massive set up with grills, a stage, tables and more chairs than were at my wedding I quickly realize that though the day will be spent in the sun, I will definitely not be relaxing and working on my tan.



    Click to read more ...


    Apple Pies in Apples




    Today we are going to talk about cute things. Silly cute things. And no, I'm not referring to another YouTube video of a wet cat or a laughing baby...






    And no, it's not a picture of two animals that don’t belong together and yet are best friends.


    Oh! Like the one where the baby monkey is sleeping with the doggy and he's got his arm around him and you just know they will be BFF's till the end of time!







    I’m talking about something cute…silly cute…that you can eat!


    Something that says “hey, look at me” and when you do you think, “well hello, aren’t you beautiful, and precious, and...and...I MUST EAT YOU!!”





    I'm talking about the crazy delicious idea of making an apple pie...


    wait for it...


    keep waiting...







    Click to read more ...


    Red Pepper + Lemon Dip


    The food processor is my best friend.

    As much as I love to be in the kitchen, there is always a point that if I have to chop one more clove of garlic I just might snap. Let's face it, prep is no fun! That’s why all the big name chefs have prep cooks in their restaurants. The prep cooks do all the dirty work and the real chefs get to just throw things in a pan and light them on fire.

    So the closest thing to a prep cook that I can manage in my meager kitchen is...THE FOOD PROCESSOR.


    I call him Francesco.


    There is nothing better than throwing a bunch of ingredients into Francesco’s able hands and suddenly having something, well...quite tasty! So I bring you yet another quick dip featuring my partner in crime, the food processor...




    2 Roasted Red Peppers

    1lemon Juice and Zest

    2Tbs Olive Oil

    1.5tsp salt

    1Tbs parsley

    1Tbs basil

    6oz cream cheese


          Put all ingredients in a food processor and chop until pureed and smooth. Serve on it’s own as a dip or over pasta, shrimp or chicken! ENJOY!



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    • Brownie Bites with Caramel Centers
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    Tomato Sauce



    People change... Times change... Feelings change... And though your Italian grandmother would scold me, I have to confess...My tomato sauce recipe...has changed....





    Lucky for me I am still young. (Although the impending “3-0” this month makes me feel like I'm 10 steps away from the nursing home.)


    But at 30 I’m pretty sure I am still young enough that I can change my “signature” sauce recipe. And hopefully by the time I'm 70 no one will remember how fickle I used to be with my famous “Sunday gravy."





    Tomato sauce was one of the first things I ever made and it was the very first thing my husband and I ever made together.

    (The first and the last, there is no room for two cooks in my tiny kitchen ;)


    Click to read more ...


    Brown Butter Nutella Stuffed Cookies 



    As a society we like things on a stick, things that are fried and things that are STUFFED! 


    The idea of something stuffed inside of something else is a simple but exciting idea. It's a mystery and a surprise. 






    You have something already delicious, like a doughnut, a potato or a turkey and then you take these things to a whole new level. You stuff the doughnut with jelly, load up the potato and then of course there is the ingenious idea of stuffing a turkey with a chicken and a duck! 




    You have made something new! You have taken something and not just made it the best it can be, but even better. You have STUFFED IT!!






    Now let's talk about cookies. We all like cookies and many times I judge my cookies like I do my its cover of course. 


    I look at the outside, I see if it's thick or thin, smooth or bumpy. And far before I bite into it I have made a certain judgement about this cookie. 


    Click to read more ...


    Mango and Honey Crostini



    It’s one of those words that's thrown around a lot when it comes to



    And as much as I would love to fix all your life's problems, let’s start with the food, this is only a food blog after all! 



    Balance in a dish makes you want to keep on going back for that next bite.

    You want your food to be sweet but not too sweet, salty but not too salty, creamy but not “food coma, never leaving the house” creamy.  



    Well, may I present you BALANCE in the form of a crostini. 

    Sticky sweet honey BALANCED by a sprinkle of salt, perfectly ripened mango BALANCED by bright and “wake up your taste buds” mint. And of course a spread of cream cheese which gives me BALANCE in my life just is cheese...

    (I’m a simple person :)






    1 small baguette, 16 ¼ to ½ inch slices

    1 block Cream Cheese 

    1 Lemon- Zest

    2 Mangos 

     1/3 cup Mint leaves, loosely packed

    ¼ cup Honey



    Toast bread slices till lightly toasted.  Let bread cool and top with approx 1Tbs of Cream Cheese and a couple grates of lemon zest.  Top that with finely chopped mango and mint.  Finally drizzle 1tsp honey over the mango and mint and finish with a sprinkle of salt.  Enjoy!! 



    • You could use most spreadable cheeses instead of cream cheese
    • You could sub apricot, plum, pineapple, grapes or berries for the mango







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