Fully-Loaded Broccoli Crust Pizza

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Remember that time on The Wendy Williams Show when I showed everyone how to make a fabulous Fully-Loaded Broccoli Crust Pizza?!

Well, I still can't decide which is my favorite part—the super flavorful crust, the melty cheese (always in the running!), the crispy bacon, or the warm and savory potatoes!

I think you owe it to yourself to cook up this amazing pizza and help me be the judge!

Fully-Loaded Broccoli Crust Pizza

servings: 3; makes one 10- to 11-inch pizza

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads broccoli (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ + ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 3 medium red potatoes cut into about twenty-five ⅛- to ¼-inch slices
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream, for a garnish
  • 3 tablespoons chopped scallions, for a garnish
  • Hot sauce, for a garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove most of the tough, thick stems of the broccoli. Working in batches, place the remaining broccoli in the bowl of a food processor and pulse it until it is finely ground. You may need to stir as you go to make sure the bigger pieces don’t sit on the top. After grinding the broccoli, you should have about 5 cups.
  2. Place the broccoli on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high heat for 6 minutes, stirring halfway through. Once it is cool enough to handle, put the broccoli in a kitchen cloth or a piece of cheesecloth; roll up the cloth and twist and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. When you are done, you should have about 2 cups of dry, packed broccoli.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli with 1 cup of the cheese, the eggs, chili powder, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Transfer this mixture to the baking sheet and shape it into a 10- to 11-inch diameter round, about ½-inch thick.
  4. Bake the crust until it is firm and brown around the edges—about 20 to 25 minutes. While the crust bakes, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook it until it is crisp—6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel (leaving the bacon fat in the pan) and turn the heat up to medium high. Add the potatoes to the pan along with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until brown all over and tender—about 7 to 10 minutes
  5. Remove the crust from the oven and top it with the remaining 2 cups of cheese. Return the pizza to the oven and bake it until the cheese is melted—about 5 minutes. Top the cheese with the potatoes and bacon and cook until the potatoes and bacon are warmed through —about 2 to 3 minutes
  6. Remove the pizza from the oven and top it with dollops of the sour cream, the scallions, and a dash of hot sauce. Cut and serve it immediately.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

When I knew I was bringing soups to The Wendy Williams Show, butternut squash soup was obviously at the top of the list.

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But knowing Wendy is vegan, I really had to rethink the classic recipe. 

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Without using chicken stock or cream—both of which can add so much flavor to soups!—I had to extract as much flavor as possible from my ingredients, while finding other ways to give the soup a creamy texture.

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I discovered roasting the squash was vital, as it really intensified the sweet taste of the squash.

And pairing the roasted squash with apple made it even better.

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A handful of cashews later, and my soup was even creamier and more velvety in texture than it would have been if I had added a cup of cream!

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In the end what I’ve really created is just a better soup—that also just happens to be vegan.

Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

servings: 6; makes about 16 cups of soup

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup:

  • 1 large butternut squash (3 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 red apples (about 1 pound), peeled + coarsely chopped, some reserved for a garnish
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Topping:

  • 3 cups one-inch cubes sourdough bread (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup whole pecans (about 4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 leaves fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons loosely packed + finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Peel the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Use a soupspoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them. Cut the squash into ½-inch-thick slices and then into ½-inch chunks. Place them in a medium bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Toss to coat; then spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender—about 50 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it is tender and browned in spots—about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
  3. Add the stock, apple, cashews, and 1 teaspoon of the salt to the pot and cook for 50 minutes. When the squash has finished cooking, remove it from the oven, add it to the pot with the stock, and cook the soup for 10-20 minutes more until the cashews are very soft.
  4. Transfer the soup to a blender and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, the ginger, nutmeg, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Blend until combined and then transfer the soup to serving bowls. Top with breadcrumbs, diced apple, and enjoy!

Topping:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the bread cubes on a (parchment-lined? No, nothing) baking sheet and cook them in the oven until they are dried out and toasty—about 5 minutes. Then transfer them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until small bread crumbs form. Add the pecans and continue pulsing until the bread crumbs are fine and the pecan pieces are about the size of a pea.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the sage leaves and fry them until they are crisp—about one minute. Then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, reserving the oil in the skillet.
  3. Next, add the bread crumb mixture to the hot oil and toss until it is light brown and toasty—2-3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the parsley and salt.
  4. Top the Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with the bread crumbs, fried sage, and pomegranate seeds.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
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Banana Crêpes

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Some recipes are too good to be true…

And this is one of them.

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I’m about to tell you that you can take a banana and an egg and make some of the best crêpes (or pancakes!) ever!

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But seriously, it’s just a banana and an egg—THAT’S IT.

Okay, yes, there is some salt and vanilla, but those don’t technically count.

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You blend them, you pour the batter out, and voila!

You end up with light, moist crêpes that can be eaten any way you like.

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I like mine with Nutella and strawberries, because, well, that tastes amazing.

But in your kitchen, the crêpe-topping rules are up to you!

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So try them!

There is literally no chance you will be disappointed.

And in the highly improbable case that you are, send those leftovers my way!

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Banana Crêpes

servings: six 5-inch crêpes

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread, plus more for a garnish
  • 6 strawberries, thinly sliced
  • Powdered sugar, for a garnish

Directions:

  1. To the bowl of a blender, add the bananas, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend these ingredients until they are smooth, then set them aside.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the butter in a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Then make the crêpes one at a time by adding about ⅓ cup of the banana batter to the skillet, cooking each until its bottom is a deep golden brown—about 3 to 4 minutes. Then flip the crêpe over and cook it until the other side is also a deep golden brown—1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat this process with the remaining batter, wiping out the skillet and adding 1 teaspoon of butter between each crêpe.
  3. To serve, spread about 1 tablespoon of the Nutella over each crêpe. Then place a line of sliced strawberries slightly off center in each crêpe and roll them up, starting from the side closest to the strawberries. Drizzle the finished crêpes with more Nutella, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
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Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Shaved Asparagus + Prosciutto

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My husband likes to eat low-carb—which is terrible!

Yes, I know it's good for me, and yes, someone like me who consumes carbs like a junkie could obviously use a break, but I just don't want to!

Especially when it comes to pizza!

But what if there was a pizza that was big on flavor yet low on carbs?

This is a game changer: Cauliflower Crust Pizza.

There is plenty of cheese, it still warms your belly—it just doesn't add to it—and you can get as creative as you want with the toppings.

The crust uses cauliflower instead of flour; anytime a substitution like that works without sacrificing taste, I’m on board!

In fact I'm the captain of that tasty ship!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Shaved Asparagus + Prosciutto

makes: One 10- to 12-inch pizza

Cauliflower Crust:

  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1 ½ pounds), broken into florets
  • 1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg

Asparagus + Prosciutto Topping:

  • 5 asparagus stalks (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 Fresno chile
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 slices prosciutto
  • Olive oil

Cauliflower Crust:

  1. Place the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. You may need to stir as you go to make sure the bigger pieces don’t sit on the top. You should have about 4 cups.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the cauliflower in a large saucepan along with ½ inch of water. Cover and cook on medium-high until tender—5 to 7 minutes. Drain and let cool. When the cauliflower is cool enough to handle transfer it to a kitchen towel or piece of cheesecloth; roll up the cloth and twist and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Squeeze hard to get out all the excess water, this is crucial to getting a good crust. Once done you should have 1 to 1 ½ cups of dry cauliflower.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the cauliflower, mozzarella, oregano, garlic powder, and salt together. Add the egg and mix to combine. Don’t be worry if the mixture seems too wet and loose. Transfer the cauliflower mixture to the baking sheet and shape it into a 10- to 12-inch-diameter round, about ½-inch thick.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the crust until golden brown—about 20 minutes. While it bakes, prepare the topping (below). When the crust is done, remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the heat up to 475°F.
  5. Spread the ricotta topping mixture over the crust. Scatter the asparagus and chiles over the top and then sprinkle them with a little salt and add a drizzle of olive oil. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake the pizza for 10 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, scatter the prosciutto over the top; cut into wedges and serve.

Asparagus + Prosciutto Topping:

  1. Use a vegetable peeler to completely shave the asparagus spears into thin ribbons; place in a small bowl. Cut the chile crosswise into thin rounds. Stir together the ricotta, thyme, lemon zest, and ½ teaspoon salt in a second small bowl. Cut the prosciutto into ½-inch-wide strips.

Keep It Simple:

  • Since you are spending a bit of time on the crust, you may want to spend less prepping the topping. Store bought pizza sauce or plain ricotta right out of the container both work as a great base for some veggies.
  • Fresno chiles are fully ripe jalapenos and have a fruity heat. If you can't find them use any hot pepper, or skip and use red pepper flakes and sweet peppers instead.
  • Prosciutto is an especially tasty form of cured and aged pork leg, but it can easily be replaced with ham, pancetta, or even cooked bacon.

50/50:

  • With or without the prosciutto, this is a super satisfying pie. But if you don’t want one 50/50 pie, make 2 individual pizzas out of this recipe.

FF:

  • The cauliflower crust will quickly become a staple in your home. Be sure to make extra so you have it on hand. Make the pie to completion except for the prosciutto, cool and freeze; when you’re ready to eat, bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes until hot and crisp; top with the prosciutto and serve. Or freeze the crusts with no topping, let thaw in the fridge, top and bake as instructed above.
  • The more you process the cauliflower the less you'll see bits of cauliflower and the more it will look like a traditional crust.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Grilled Romaine + Radicchio Salad with Honey-Orange Dressing

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I LOVE this salad.

Yes, LOVE.

The char from the grill, the slightly bitter radicchio sweetened up by a dressing of honey and orange, and then the burst of fresh grapes to brighten up the smokiness.

Make this for your next dinner party, make it tonight, heck make it for breakfast—just make it!

Grilled Romaine + Radicchio Salad with Honey-Orange Dressing

servings: 4; makes about 1 cup dressing

Honey-Orange Dressing:

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives

Romaine + Radicchio Salad:

  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts, cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
  • 1 radicchio, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
  • 1 red onion, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups halved red grapes

Honey-Orange Dressing:

  1. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, orange juice, honey, vinegar, and salt to a medium bowl. Whisk together until well blended; then whisk in the chives.

Romaine + Radicchio Salad:

  1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill (or plan to use a grill pan). Use a pastry brush to brush the oil over all surfaces of the romaine, radicchio, and onion wedges; then sprinkle the salt evenly over them.
  2. If not using a grill, heat a grill pan over high heat. Working in batches if necessary, arrange the romaine, radicchio, and onions on the hot grill or grill pan. Cook until all pieces are slightly wilted and charred on all sides—1 to 2 minutes per side for the romaine and radicchio, 2 to 4 minutes per side for the onions.
  3. To serve, divide the romaine, radicchio, and onions among 4 plates. Ladle one-quarter of the dressing (about ¼ cup) over each serving. Divide the grapes over the tops.

Make It Meaty:

  • When the veggies are done, leave the grill or grill pan on and cook up a small pork tenderloin. Cut, place next to the veggies and top everything with the dressing.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Cabbage Nachos with Tomatillo Salsa

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Now that football season’s over, I find myself missing it a little. My husband and I are used to watching football every Sunday…and sometimes Thursday, Saturday, and Monday, too.

I like football, but when I think about it, what I really miss is football food.

A football game is a good excuse to whip up snacks, open some beers—or maybe some sparkling rosé—and watch TV all day.

But I guess I don’t really need an excuse. ;)

I think it’s time to get back to Sunday tailgate snacks all day! And to start, how about some Cabbage Nachos?!

Mild, crunchy cabbage adds texture and acts as a delicious glue to hold a showstopping tomatillo salsa and crispy chip together.

Since I’ve solved the problem of missing my football snacks, it’s time to settle back onto the couch. The only question now is, what to watch?!

Cabbage Nachos with Tomatillo Salsa

makes: 1 large plate of nachos

Ingredients:

  • ¾ pound tomatillos (5 to 7), husks removed
  • 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chile
  • Half a yellow onion, peeled and cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 5 cups lightly packed shredded green cabbage (about half a head)
  • 30 large tortilla chips
  • 2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese (8 ounces)
  • ¼ cup pickled sliced jalapeno chiles

Directions:

  1. Turn on the broiler, to high if you have that option. Place the tomatillos, fresh jalapeno, and onions on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and then stir to coat the vegetables. Broil until the vegetables are tender and slightly charred—7 to 10 minutes. (You may have to remove the tomatillos and jalapenos and let the onions cook for an extra minute or so.) Leave the broiler on while you do the next steps.
  2. To make the salsa, transfer the charred vegetables to a food processor or blender; add 2 teaspoons of the salt and the cilantro. Process until almost smooth.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the cabbage and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the cabbage is tender but not mushy—about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in about half the salsa until combined. You want the cabbage to be coated, but not dripping wet, so then stir in as much of the rest of the salsa as you need to get to that point.
  4. Arrange the tortilla chips in a single layer on a large oven-safe serving dish. Spread the cabbage mixture over the chips and then sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Broil the nachos until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Scatter the pickled jalapenos over the top and serve right away.

Keep It Simple:

  • Tomatillos look like green tomatoes with papery skins around them, and taste like a tart apple. If you’re having trouble finding them at your store, you can use tomatoes instead—the taste will be different but similarly delicious.
  • To make this dish in less than 10 minutes, try these shortcuts: simply buy a jar of your favorite red or green salsa instead of making the tomatillo salsa. And save major time by purchasing shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix as well as shredded cheese at your market; no need to do it yourself!

Make It Meaty:

  • These nachos are currently meatless, but you can add your favorite nacho topping, including ground beef, over the whole plate—or just over half for a 50/50 appetizer.

Family Friendly:

  • Your family will never know there is a pound of cabbage sitting in these nachos. The sautéed cabbage has a really mild flavor and its job is to help the tomatillo salsa stay on the nachos to give you a flavorful hit with every bite.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Collard Greens Pot Pies

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You already have a favorite pot pie recipe?

OK, but mine’s better.

Yours was passed down for generations? Oh, that’s sweet…

But mine’s still better.

Why?

Because mine is stuffed with collard greens, of course!

This slightly bitter, hearty green breaks up the richness of the traditional dish but leaves the classic pot pie flavor as the star.

And best of all, you’ll leave your meal feeling great when you think about the massive amount of greens you just ate…

The bottom line is, I win for best pot pie!

And if you make this your new favorite pot pie recipe, then you’ll be a winner too!

Collard Greens Pot Pies

servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onions
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound collard greens (8 to 10 leaves), coarsely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • ⅓ cup chopped parsley
  • Two 9-inch pie crusts (not baked)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with 1 teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and cook, turning once, until brown on both sides and cooked through—10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to rest.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium; add the butter to the pan and cook until melted. Stir in the celery, carrots, onions, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the vegetables are soft and tender—5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Stir the wine into the vegetable mixture, scraping with your spoon to release any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook for a few minutes until most of the wine has evaporated and then stir in the collards and nutmeg; cook until the collards are wilted and soft—3 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Add the flour to the pan with the vegetables, stirring to combine well; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock and milk. Bring the liquid to simmering and then simmer until the mixture becomes thick—3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the chicken into bite-size pieces. Add the chicken and parsley to the thickened vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.
  5. Spoon the vegetable mixture into four 3½-inch oven-safe bowls (like a French onion soup bowl), dividing equally. Lay the pie crusts on a work surface and then from each crust, cut 2 rounds sized to fit generously over the bowls. Place a crust on each bowl and crimp it to the edge. Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl and then brush this wash over each crust. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the tops, reserving a bit to add before serving if you wish. Use a small sharp knife to cut a couple of slits in the top of each pot pie. Bake the pot pies until the crust is brown—about 30 minutes. Dust with the reserved Parmesan and serve.

Keep It Simple:

  • The white wine can easily be replaced with chicken stock or even water.
  • The nutmeg gives the dish a special but subtle flavor and really compliments the greens. But you can leave it out if you don’t have it on hand.
  • You can bake this dish in 1 or 2 large casseroles (or deep-dish pie plates) instead of in individual bowls. If you need to, be creative and piece the pie crusts to cover!
  • Make this an under-500 calorie meal by baking or poaching your chicken with no oil and using a reduced-fat milk instead of whole. It will all still be creamy and delicious and you won’t feel as bad about having seconds (or thirds in the case of my husband).
  • Make it ahead! Once you have put the crust on, stop! Cover the pot pies with foil and then freeze for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to dig in, heat your oven to 400°F and put the pot pies in with the foil still on, bake 40 minutes, remove the foil, and then add the egg wash and Parmesan and cook for 20 to 40 minutes more, depending on the size of your dish. (If you don’t have freezer-to-oven casseroles, use disposable pans.)
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Brussels Sprouts + Tomatillos Skillet Pizza

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I like my food to be amazing, and there are a couple of amazing things happening in this recipe…

First, we are making pizza in a skillet, which is a foolproof way to create a crisp crust with a chewy and moist inside.

Second, we are taking Brussels sprouts to a whole new level, separating the leaves and allowing them to get the perfect amount of “charredness” (totally a word).

And last we are adding tomatillos—after peeling away their papery outer skin, we are left with what looks like green tomatoes but tastes like “apple-ish, grape-ish amazingness” (yes, totally words).

I’m introducing Italy to Mexico and creating a tart, refreshing finish on an amazing pie…along with some really great words. ;)

Brussels Sprouts + Tomatillos Skillet Pizza

makes: One 12-inch pizza

Ingredients:

  • ¾ pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups shredded Gruyère cheese (6 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium-large tomatillos
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Half a lime

Directions:

  1. Cut off the bottom stem of each Brussels sprout and then gently tear or cut the leaves away from the core; discard the very center. Place the leaves in a medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups loosely packed leaves). Stir in 1 teaspoon of the oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Brush a 12-inch cast iron skillet with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and stretch or roll it to a 10-inch-diameter round. Fit the dough into the skillet, pushing it out to the edges. Scatter the cheese evenly over the dough and then sprinkle with the garlic. Spread the Brussels sprouts over the top.
  3. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the underside of the dough is very lightly golden brown—about 5 minutes. Then transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the leaves are charred and the dough is cooked through—for 10 to 12 minutes more.
  4. Meanwhile, remove and discard the husks from the tomatillos. Wash and dry the fruit and then coarsely chop it. Place the tomatillos in a small bowl; add the cilantro. Juice the lime into the bowl and add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; toss to combine. Scatter over the hot pizza and serve.

Keep It Simple:

  • I never quite mastered making my own pizza dough, so I prefer to leave it to the professionals. Just pop into your favorite pizzeria and ask them if you can buy some dough: They are happy to sell it to you and you are happy to have fantastic dough you didn’t have to make.
  • To make this pizza you can use 12 ounces of dough, 15 ounces, whatever you can get your hands on, just don’t use more than 1 pound as the pie will get too thick.
  • Though I’m a big fan of tomatillos they are not always easy to find, so to replace them try diced pears, apples, or tomatoes.
  • Gruyère can be replaced with a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan or just mozzarella.

Make It Meaty:

  • Crisp and chopped bacon or pancetta are great toppings that can be sprinkled on with the tomatillos. Or for something a little more substantial, 4 to 6 ounces of cooked, chopped chicken is a great addition.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Roasted Broccoli, Corn + Green Chile Stuffed Naan

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Naan bread is tasty…

OK, I assume you’re looking for me to describe it as more than “tasty.”

Naan is an Indian bread that, like a pita, has a large hollow in the center, created by the moisture in its dough turning to steam and forming an air pocket when it bakes.

But unlike pita, naan is chewy and delicate in flavor and texture, and once again…very tasty!

Besides stuffing it like I do here, you can use naan as the base for a flatbread or pizza or cut it up for dipping into any kind of hummus or cheese dip.

However you prepare it, it's sure to be (you guessed it)…

TASTY!

Roasted Broccoli, Corn + Green Chile Stuffed Naan

servings: 2; double the recipe as you wish

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup very finely chopped broccoli
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup corn kernels
  • 1½ cups shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • Half a 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 1 naan
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

Directions:

  1. Turn on the broiler, to high if you have that option. Toss the broccoli with ½ teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium bowl until well coated. Then spread it on a rimmed baking sheet and place under the broiler until charred and tender—3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Return the broccoli to the medium bowl. Add the corn to the broccoli, along with the cheese, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and the chiles. Stir to combine.
  3. Very gently open the naan by running a knife along one edge, between the layers. Naan usually has one layer that is thicker than the other, so try not to rip the thin layer. If some breaking occurs, that’s okay—the filling should stay in and the cheese will act as a glue, sealing up the bread as it cooks.
  4. Gently spoon the broccoli mixture into the naan. You want to push it to the edges but if you are having trouble getting the filling into a particular spot don’t worry, it will melt into those areas, it doesn’t need to be perfect.
  5. Briefly heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the turmeric, making sure it spreads evenly through the oil. Lay the naan in the skillet and cook until crisp and golden brown on the bottom—3 minutes. Gently turn it over and cook the other side until it is golden brown and the cheese inside has melted—for 3 minutes more. Cut the naan into sixths or quarters and serve immediately.

Keep It Simple:

  • Though most stores are carrying naan bread these days, there are lots of substitutes that you can use for this recipe if it’s hard to find: Pita works very nicely, you can use two tortillas and make it like a quesadilla, or use the filling in between two slices of regular loaf bread, creating an outrageous grilled cheese.
  • Turmeric has a warm, peppery flavor and adds a great bright yellow color to the dish, but it can successfully be replaced with paprika or garlic powder or simply left out.
  • Green chiles come in a small can and can usually be found next to the refried beans, taco sauce and tortillas in your grocery store.
  • Instead of buying frozen corn or corn in a can use the kernels from one ear of fresh corn. Simply place the husked ear in boiling water for 5 minutes or better yet, put it on your grill till slightly charred. Use a sharp knife to cut down the side of the ear to remove the kernels.

Make It Meaty:

  • Add 2 ounces of very finely chopped cooked chicken to the filling mixture. Or to add an extra protein kick without the meat, add ¼ cup very finely chopped edamame.

Family Friendly:

  • Nothing like hiding broccoli in cheese and between some bread to get your kids to gobble it up. But if the spice from the pepper Jack cheese is too much for them, replace it with mozzarella or cheddar.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Roasted Grape, Arugula + Goat Cheese Baked Potatoes

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To ensure that all of my recipes turn out perfectly for you and not like a #PinterestFail, a lovely woman, Carol, helps me double-, triple-, and quadruple-check everything so we can be sure my recipes are clear, precise, and easy to follow.

During one of our millions of conversations, she mentioned that her favorite light meal is a baked potato with olive oil, Romano cheese, and watercress…

Well once you make me hungry for something I must have it, so that night I whipped up my version: Soft and well-seasoned potato with peppery arugula and roasted grapes that are insanely good, especially when mixed with honey and goat cheese.

It’s one of the simplest meals you can make and guaranteed to be one of your absolute favorites.

Roasted Grape, Arugula + Goat Cheese Baked Potatoes

makes: 4 baked potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed + dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups red grapes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lightly packed, coarsely chopped arugula
  • 4 ounces soft garlic + herb goat cheese log, crumbled
  • ¼ cup honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick each potato with a fork 5 to 10 times. Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil over the potatoes and sprinkle them with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Place them in the heated oven, directly on the rack, and bake until they are soft when squeezed—45 to 60 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the grapes with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper on a rimmed baking sheet or in a medium baking dish. When the potatoes have about 20 minutes baking time left, place the grapes in the oven; when the potatoes are done the grapes should be slightly shriveled and starting to burst open.
  3. Slice each potato lengthwise, cutting about three-quarters of the way down. Push the ends of each toward the middle to open up a crevice. Divide ½ teaspoon of the salt over the 4 crevices and then fluff each with a fork. Add one-quarter of the arugula to each potato and divide the remaining ½ teaspoon salt over all 4; fluff again to mix the potato flesh and the arugula (you want to try and salt the entire inside of the potato).
  4. To serve, place each potato on a plate. Divide the cheese and grapes among them, filling the crevices, and then drizzle 1 tablespoon honey over each. Eat right away!
: @NikkiDinki

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Brussels Sprouts + Pear Carbonara

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Brussels sprouts didn’t make a regular appearance in my meals until quite recently.

At first, their bitterness was an unwanted one, but what I have found is that the key to balancing out these bitter little nuggets is to add something a tad sweet—like pears, for instance.

Combine that with a little bacon (or not) and a rich, eggy carbonara sauce, and you bring out the best in this shrunken cabbage. Its bitterness perfectly cuts through the richness of the pasta sauce, while the pear adds that wanted touch of sweetness.

You’ll be making your inner child shudder as you greedily go back for another perfect bite of pear, pasta—and of course Brussels sprouts!

Brussels Sprouts + Pear Carbonara

makes: 4 entrée portions

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 4 bacon strips, chopped into ½- to 1-inch pieces
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Cut the Brussels sprouts into quarters and place in a medium bowl. Add the oil and 1 teaspoon of the salt; toss to coat. Spread the sprouts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the linguini. Place the Brussels sprouts in the oven and roast until they are tender and charred—for 20 to 25 minutes. As soon as the water boils, cook the pasta according to the package instructions; then drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp—for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet. Add the shallots and garlic to the skillet and sauté until soft—about 5 minutes. Stir in the pasta and remove the skillet from the heat.
  4. Whisk together the egg yolks and cream in a small bowl. Slowly add ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the egg mixture, whisking as you go (you don’t want to cook the eggs, so add the hot water very slowly). Add the egg mixture to the pan with the pasta, stirring vigorously until well incorporated. Place the skillet over low heat and add the Parmesan and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, tossing to combine. Finally add the Brussels sprouts, pears, and bacon, stirring gently until mixed. Then gradually stir in as much as you need of the remaining ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to give the mixture a saucy consistency. Serve immediately, scattering scallions on each portion.

50/50:

  • For a completely vegetarian meal, simply leave out the bacon and sauté the shallots and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil instead.
  • To make this dish for a mixed household (vegetarians and meat-eaters alike) sauté the bacon (1 piece per person) and set aside in the pan. Complete the recipe as written but sauté the shallots and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a second large skillet. Serve the pasta, adding some bacon and a drizzle of its fat to each meat-eater’s portion.

Family Friendly:

  • For a sweeter taste overall, use the outer leaves of the Brussels sprout only and chop them small. They are less bitter than the center.
  • As soon as the Brussels sprouts are out of the oven, sprinkle with a little Parmesan to make them look and taste a bit more appetizing for picky eaters. You can also cook them for only 15mintes to achieve less charred flavor.
  • Sometimes dinners have to wait on the stove while everyone gathers: Keep extra pasta water on hand and add it as you need to keep the pasta nice and saucy. It will be ready when you are.
: @NikkiDinki

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Grilled Pattypan Squash + Egg Bagel Sandwiches

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Every morning in New York City, people are enjoying bagel sandwiches. Whether with cream cheese, lox, or bacon and eggs, you really can’t go wrong when layering things on a soft and chewy NYC bagel.

The only thing I found missing from these iconic breakfast staples were—

VEGGIES!

Lo and behold, just as I had that thought, I found a perfect, bagel-size, pattypan squash giving me the eye at the farmers’ market, and I knew it was meant to be married to a bagel.

If you think squash for breakfast is weird, just wait until you bite through the sweet, tender-crisp slices sitting on a throne of cheese and topped with eggs and bacon.

It’s going to be your new breakfast staple!

Grilled Pattypan Squash + Egg Bagel Sandwiches

makes: 2 open-face sandwiches; double the recipe as you wish

Ingredients:

  • 1 pattypan squash
  • 1 bacon strip
  • 1 everything bagel
  • 4 tablespoons Boursin cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, more if needed
  • 2 large eggs
  • Two ¼-inch-thick slices large tomato (same diameter as the bagel)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

Directions:

  1. Trim and discard the root and vine ends of the squash. Cut two ½-inch-thick slices crosswise from the middle section (save any scraps for another use).
  2. Heat a small nonstick skillet (but big enough to fry 2 eggs) over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp—6 to 7 minutes, turning once. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain; set aside the skillet with the rendered bacon fat.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the bagel in half. Spread 2 tablespoons of the cheese onto the cut side of each half and set aside.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the squash slices on both sides with the salt and pepper and drizzle with the 1 teaspoon oil, dividing equally. Add the squash slices to the pan and cook, turning once, until grill marks form and the squash is tender—5 to 8 minutes.
  5. While squash cooks, heat the skillet that you cooked the bacon in over medium-low heat. If there is not enough fat in the skillet to fry the eggs, add a bit of oil. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook to the desired doneness.
  6. To assemble each sandwich, place a squash slice on top of a cheese-spread bagel half. Top it with a tomato slice and then an egg. Crumble up the bacon and scatter half on top of each sandwich, along with half the scallions. Yum!

Keep It Simple:

  • Pattypan squash has a very similar taste and texture to zucchini and yellow squash, so feel free to substitute slices of those when pattypan squash is not in season.
  • Boursin is a fabulous soft cheese made with garlic and herbs; it tastes like whipped cream cheese—which you can use instead. Regular or flavored cream cheeses all work.
  • I like to use my grill pan for this recipe as it adds a little bit of a charred flavor, but a regular skillet works just as well. This is true for most of my recipes that call for a grill pan.

50/50:

  • The bacon gives a nice salty flavor to the egg, so if you prefer a vegetarian version, simply leave off the bacon and add a sprinkle of salt on top of your eggs. And if you are doing one sandwich with bacon and one without, be sure to cook the second egg in a different pan. You’ll have one more pan to clean but you’ll also have a happy vegetarian.

Family Friendly:

  • The squash has such a delicate flavor that it really pairs well with the bacon and eggs. In truth, it adds more texture and bite than it adds flavor. But if your kids are not going to dig a large piece of squash on their sandwich, cut up the squash, and blend it into the cheese or scramble the eggs and fold it into them. It will be the same sandwich but with a kid-friendly twist.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Eggplant Zucchini Meatballs

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My stash of freezer foods for my daughter, Ivy, is one of my greatest sources of pride.

Forget a big bank account—if I have a freezer full of Banana Carrot Oat Muffins, Acorn Squash Pancakes, Cauliflower Tater Tots, and Broccoli Tater Tots, I am truly a rich woman.

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My daughter eats like me—she’s definitely a "Meat On The Side" kiddo.

And she wears her bib proudly.

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She eats every veggie under the sun (even if she doesn’t always know it!), which is incredible!

But I do want to get a little meat into her diet.

And since I know meatballs freeze really well, I went to work perfecting one for the whole family.

Eggplant Zucchini Meatballs 3.jpg

And even though the goal is to add meat here, let's be real—I knew right away I wanted to bring veggies to the party.

I also wanted to make a meatball that was a little on the moist side, so it would be perfect for new eaters who don't have all their teeth yet.  

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Pureed roasted eggplant and zucchini add moisture and a depth of flavor that don't just make these meatballs more nutritious—they elevate them to a ridiculously flavorful level.

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The not-so-secret secret?

You're using vegetable puree instead of milk or any other wet element you might normally add to your favorite meatballs.

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And you end up with an awesome meatball.

Or maybe we should call it a vegemeatball.

Or a meateggieball.

Or maybe not 😉 .

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Eggplant Zucchini Meatballs

servings: 30 to 34 meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 small eggplant (about ¾ pound)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large zucchini (about ¾ pound)
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place the halves cut-side-up on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them lightly with ½ teaspoon of the oil and then sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper over them. Bake the eggplants until they are very soft—about 15 minutes.
  2. While the eggplant is baking, cut the zucchinis in half lengthwise and drizzle them lightly with the remaining ½ teaspoon of oil and then sprinkle them with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper.
  3. Remove the eggplant from the oven and add the zucchini cut-side-up to the same baking sheet. Continue to cook the eggplant and zucchini until the zucchini can be easily pierced with a fork and the eggplant is very soft—25 to 30 minutes more. Then remove the baking sheet from the oven, but leave the oven on.
  4. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scrape the flesh of the eggplant into a food processor or blender; discard the skin. Then place the entire zucchini (including the skin) into the food processor as well. Process until pureed; this should give you about 1¾ cups of puree.
  5. Transfer the puree to a large bowl, then add the beef, breadcrumbs, parmesan, egg, rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine well and then form the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls by hand and space them evenly on a prepared baking sheet. Bake the meatballs until they are golden brown—about 30 minutes.

Notes:

  • If you wish, you can sauté the meatballs instead of baking them (if your meatballs are on the moist side, this may be a little harder to do). After forming the mixture into balls, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and cook the meatballs, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown on all sides—8 to 10 minutes.
  • To reheat the meatballs, bake them in an oven preheated to 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes.
: @NikkiDinki

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Lasagna Soup

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Lasagna Soup

servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ pound ground sirloin
  • ½ pound hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, more for a garnish
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Two 32-ounce boxes chicken stock (8 cups), plus extra stock or water to thin as needed
  • One 28-ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 pound lasagna noodles, broken by hand into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped lightly packed basil, plus more for a garnish
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese, for a garnish
  • Ricotta cheese, for a garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over high heat, then add the sirloin, sausage, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it is very brown and mostly cooked through; try not to stir too much to allow the meat to really brown—5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning. Cook until the onions are mostly tender and translucent—about 5 minutes. Add the stock, crushed tomatoes, marinara sauce, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until it reduces slightly and the flavor intensifies—about 25 minutes.
  3. Add the noodles and cook until al dente—about 8 minutes, then stir in the basil. Taste, and add more salt if needed; this will depend on how salty your stock is. Also, add more stock or water if your soup is too thick (if your soup sits, it may thicken and you may need to add more stock or water later on).
  4. To serve, divide into bowls and top with the mozzarella cheese, a dollop of the ricotta, a sprinkle of black pepper, and extra basil.

Notes:

  • You could cook your noodles separately and then add them individually to each bowl. This way, if you have leftovers, your noodles won’t get “water logged.” In this case, you should use 2 cups less stock.
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Beer Cheese Soup

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Beer Cheese Soup

servings: 4; makes 8 cups of soup

Ingredients:

  • Four 6-inch-round loaves sourdough bread
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • One 12-ounce beer, pilsner or your choice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
  • 8 ounces American cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the bread bowls by slicing the top inch or top third of each sourdough loaf. With a paring knife, cut a circle about an inch from the edge all the way around the loaf, being careful to leave about an inch of bread on the bottom as well. Gently remove the bread from inside the loaf, reserving it for another use.
  2. Brush the insides of the bowls with melted butter or olive oil, or spray them with olive oil spray, then place them on a baking sheet. Bake until the bread bowls are warmed and begin to brown—12 to 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, peel the squash. Cut it in half and then use a soupspoon to scoop out the seeds. Chop the flesh into 1-inch cubes; you should have about 3 cups of squash cubes. Remove the base of the stem and leaves from the head of cauliflower and roughly chop into florets; you should have about 4 cups of florets. Set the veggies aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper and sauté until the veggies are tender—5 to 7 minutes. Add the beer and cook for 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan if necessary.
  5. Add the squash, cauliflower, stock and 1 teaspoon of the salt to the pot. Cover the pot and let the mixture cook until all the vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally—about 30 minutes.
  6. Transfer the soup to a blender, working in batches if necessary, and blend until it is very smooth. Place the soup back in the pot over low heat, then stir in the cheddar, American, and parmesan cheeses. Continue stirring until all of the cheeses are melted, then stir in the cream. Taste the soup and add up to another teaspoon of salt if needed (this is dependent on how salty your stock and cheese are).
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Golden Milk Overnight Oats

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Golden Milk Overnight Oats

servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Add the oats, almond milk, honey, turmeric, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and salt to a jar (or bowl). Shake vigorously to combine (or stir well).
  2. Place the jar in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight, or for at least 2 hours.
  3. To serve, remove the oats from the refrigerator and top them with the blueberries, walnuts, and chia seeds (this can be done the night before, if desired).
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Citrus Honey Dressing with Fish Oil + Radicchio Salad

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Citrus Honey Dressing with Fish Oil + Radicchio Salad

servings: 4; makes about 1 cup dressing

Citrus Honey Dressing with Fish Oil:

  • ¾ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon flavored fish oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives

Romaine + Radicchio Salad:

  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
  • 1 radicchio, cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
  • 1 red onion, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups halved red grapes

Citrus Honey Dressing with Fish Oil:

  1. Add the yogurt, orange juice, fish oil, honey, vinegar, salt, and pepper to a medium bowl. Whisk together until well blended; then whisk in the chives.

Romaine + Radicchio Salad:

  1. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill (or preheat a grill pan). Brush the oil over all surfaces of the romaine, radicchio, and onion wedges, then sprinkle evenly with the salt. Arrange the romaine, radicchio, and onion wedges on the hot grill or grill pan. Cook until all pieces are slightly wilted and charred on all cut sides (leave the uncut sides raw), 1 to 2 minutes per side for the romaine and radicchio; 2 to 4 minutes per side for the onions.
  2. To serve, divide the romaine, radicchio, and onion wedges among four plates. Ladle one-quarter of the dressing over each serving. Divide the grapes equally and scatter over the tops.
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Hamburger Helper with Squash + Lentils

There is nothing wrong with classic comfort food, and Hamburger Helper was something that I grew up with and still has a special place in my heart.

I'm not trying to make the original super healthy or low-cal, I'm just making it from scratch and making smart choices so that it's as nutritious as possible while still tasting exactly how you remember.

Taste is always first in my book, the bonus is a little extra nutrition.

Nobody even needs to know that there is squash in the sauce and that you used half the meat because you added in lentils.

You'll be gobbling up this melty, meaty pasta dish only to remember at the end that you had a balanced meal.

Sounds kind of awesome right?!

Homemade Hamburger Helper with Squash + Lentils

servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 6-8 cups)
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (⅓ cup dried)
  • ⅔ pound ground beef
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 cups beef broth
  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (16 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped chives, plus more for a garnish
  • Pinch of ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the squash and cook it until it is easily pierced with a fork—about 10 minutes. Then puree the squash in a food processor (this should give you about 2 cups of puree) and set it aside.
  2. While the squash cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mash the cooked lentils with a fork and combine them with the ground beef. Using your hands, mush the lentils, beef, and 1 teaspoon of the salt together. Add the oil to the skillet and then the beef and lentil mixture. Cook the mixture, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks, until the meat is brown—about 7 minutes.
  3. Add 4 cups of the beef broth, the pasta noodles, squash puree, cream, garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder to the meat. Stir this mixture to combine, and cook it until the noodles are al dente, 10-15 minutes. Add more broth as needed until the noodles are cooked through.
  4. Add the cheese, chives, remaining salt, and a pinch of pepper. Stir to combine, again adding more broth if the mixture is too thick. Serve hot topped with extra chives.

Notes:

  • You can substitute ancho chili powder with regular chili powder. The smoked paprika can also be subbed out for regular paprika—or you can use more chili powder in its place. A packet of taco seasoning can be used here as well, but you may need more liquid as some seasoning packets will thicken up the mixture. Also if your looking to make this dish a bit leaner add 2 cups of cheese instead of 4, you will still find it cheesy and flavorful.
  • When reheating this dish as a leftover, add an extra splash of water or stock. This will help bring it back to the right consistency.
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Cauliflower Tater Tots

Who doesn’t love a tater tot?

Crunchy on the outside, pillowy soft on the inside...

Simple and yet simply satisfying.

So if they're already so good, why would I mess with them and make a different version?

Because cauliflower tater tots are also delicious--that's why!

This recipe isn’t about making a healthy version of something you already love.

It’s about celebrating the tater tot with a new and equally yummy recipe.

And just so you understand how yummy, let me tell you that I have some of these stored in my freezer and the goal is to avoid consuming any more than 12 each day.

It's so hard to do!

Cauliflower Tater Tots

servings: 2 dozen tater tots

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1½ pounds), stemmed, coarsely chopped + rinsed
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (about 2½ ounces)
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup crushed yellow corn tortilla chips
  • ¾ cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it is coarse and grain-like in texture (you should have about 2 cups of this cauliflower “rice”).
  2. Then transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl with the eggs and mix together to combine. Mix in the flour, parmesan, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.
  3. Add the corn chips to the food processor and pulse until the chip pieces are close to the size of panko breadcrumbs (this should make about 1 cup). If you don’t have a food processor you can also place the chips in a food storage bag and smash them with a pan or rolling pin. Then transfer the corn chip pieces to a medium-sized bowl along with the panko and paprika and mix these ingredients well.
  4. Using your hands, roll the cauliflower mixture and pack it tightly by the tablespoon into tater tot (or other desired) shapes approximately 1 inch wide and 2 inches long. Roll each tater tot in the corn chip breading mixture, reshaping afterwards if necessary.
  5. Place the formed tater tots on a nonstick baking pan or a pan lined with parchment paper. Spray the tater tots lightly with nonstick spray and bake them until browned—about 20 minutes. Serve with ketchup if desired.

Notes:

  • Freezer Instructions: Place cooked and cooled tots on a baking sheet or plate in a single layer. Let them freeze completely; once frozen place them in a plastic food storage bag. To re-heat, place in a 425°F oven on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Banana Carrot Oat Muffins

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My daughter, Ivy, loves all carbs (I can’t imagine where she gets it from 😉).

She'll also gobble up anything that looks like a muffin.

And from a mom point-of-view, I know muffins are the perfect food to freeze and pull out as needed.

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So I challenged myself to make a super healthy muffin that would taste just as delicious as a regular not-as-healthy one.

My goal was to make this muffin so tasty that not only would Ivy eat it, but the big kids in the house (my husband and I) would gobble it up as well.

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The result is a muffin basically made of bananas, carrots, oats, and a touch of maple syrup. You puree all of these ingredients up and put the batter in the cups of a muffin tin.

These muffins couldn’t be easier to make and they actually taste like banana bread!

Whenever I’m eating one I have to remind myself how healthy they are because all I’m thinking is, I’m in muffin heaven.

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Now don’t get me wrong, they're a little denser than a regular muffin (they're all oats instead of flour, so that's why that happens).

And they're a touch more moist than you might be used to (this makes them perfect when re-heated though!).

But the fact that you can eat ten of these and still feel like Healthy Eating Champion of the World makes it all worth it!

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Banana Carrot Oat Muffins

servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups rolled oats, more for a garnish
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1½ cup shredded carrots (about 4½ ounces)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Add the oats, bananas, carrots, yogurt, maple syrup, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a blender; blend until the mixture is batter-like and nearly smooth.
  2. Pour the batter evenly into a 12-cup muffin tin prepared with cooking spray. Then top each of the filled cups with a sprinkle of the reserved oats.
  3. Bake the muffins until the tops are dry and a knife inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean—15 to 18 minutes.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
Banana Oat Carrot Muffins 5.jpg
 

Find more recipes like this in Meat on the Side!

 

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