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. 

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    Caramelized Lemon Pasta



    My mother-in-law loves lemons.





    If I’m trying to get in good with her, all I have to do is whip up a dish that includes a burst of lemon and I’m in the running for Favorite Daughter-in-Law. 



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    Tomato + Cheddar Sandwich with Lemon Aioli



    When I’m not making lunch at home, I try to find simple, well-crafted, veggie-focused foods to pick up that almost make me feel like I've made them myself.





    One of my favorite go-to sandwiches is a delicious tomato and cheddar number from a local sandwich place.


    Besides the main ingredients, it includes a little mayo, some crunchy greens, and great bread.



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    Sundried Tomato + Basil Grilled Cheese




    Soon enough summer will be here and we can start talking about salads and fresh veggies.





    But for now, while there is still a chill in the air, I consider a scarf as important an article of clothing as pants.


    And although spring has officially sprung, that chilly air means it's still the perfect season for grilled cheese.



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    Little Baby's Caramel Apple Monkey Bread



    Today I am 36 weeks pregnant with Little Baby.


    This is the point when most women excitedly think about their new baby coming home—and they stress over the imminent labor that is coming and plan for the upcoming months of blissful chaos.


    I am doing many of these things; I feel electric with excitement, I am obsessed with this little lady—but I am also consumed with fear. 





    We lost our first daughter, Willa, at 40 weeks; she was big, strong, perfect. But she passed away.  After a traumatic labor, we came home to a quiet house and were forced to drastically readjust our visions of the future.


    Now, two years later, I am having an intense case of déjà vu.


    I’ve been here before—36 weeks pregnant, waddling around, having everyone and their mother ask when I’m due—but our baby didn’t come home.


    Slowly we put her things away; we repacked and stored diapers, carriers, and bottles. And now, here I am blowing the dust off these things and feeling hopeful, but also a little bit like a fool.


    My baby is coming home, right?




    You might say “of course,” but the only experience we’ve had is one that ended with pictures, a lock of her hair and remembrances of the softness of her cheeks—things that we cherish, but not the lifetime of memories we thought we were promised.


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    Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting



    Easter is always a fun holiday--it’s relaxed, the weather always seems nice, and most importantly there is carrot cake!






    The fact that I’m such a carrot cake fan is a little odd considering carrots are not one of my favorite veggies.



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    Healthier Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip + Peanut Butter Cookies



    Being pregnant seems to mean two things for me--a love of any task that I can do while fully reclined, and a need for all things sweet.


    As I am trying to keep my sugar intake in check, I made a deal with myself to only have sweets if I make them myself, and to try to dip into my candy drawer only occasionally.





    The only problem is that suddenly I’ll bake up a couple dozen cookies and there is only one place for them to go--my belly!


    So I came up with a cookie recipe that I can feel good about--no matter how many cookies I consume.



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    Orzo, Kale + Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette



    Many of us start the new year with a resolution to get healthy and maybe lose a pound or two.





    Everyone knows that if this is your resolution and you’re on a diet, then you should be eating salad.



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    Zucchini Chicken Wraps with Balsamic Vinaigrette + Provolone



    When I was younger I used to go out of my way to eat at a place called Mighty Taco, famous in the Buffalo area.





    At that point I didn’t eat meat or beans, so I thought of myself as innovative for putting iceberg lettuce in my taco.


    I ended up with a taco containing lettuce and cheese--and only lettuce and cheese.



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    Beet Pasta with Brown Butter Arugula Pesto



    I’ve been lucky enough to have spent 11 Valentine's Days with my husband.





    Sometimes the older you get--or the longer you've been with someone--you start to think things like Valentine’s Day are silly.



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    Brussels Sprout Poppers



    Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner and this means you're about to be eating all the Super Bowl snacks your little heart could desire.






    It's a day to sit around, watch TV, crack open a beer, and forget about those New Year's resolutions--while enjoying all the cheesy, fried, Buffalo-flavored things you can imagine.



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