Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

In my book, Meat On The Side, I have a Cauliflower Wing recipe...

Cauliflower 2.jpg

I roast cauliflower and toss it with my famous (and famously simple!) Buffalo sauce.

Then I douse it with blue cheese and shaved celery, for a “salad” worthy of an Oscar (Or whatever type of award is appropriate for a salad. Probably not an Oscar, huh?).

It’s an easy and light way to get your Buffalo fix.

However, I've been playing with the whole cauliflower + Buffalo sauce thing for awhile now, and I've recently come up with a new version.

This one has just a few more calories and takes just a little more time, but in the end you are left with something that will really, truly satisfy your craving for wings.

The batter is simple--a combination of flour and milk...

You whisk it up, add some cauliflower, and suddenly start to see the magical way a piece of cauliflower can become a wing.

Once baked, you simply toss these "wings" with Buffalo sauce and, most importantly, prepare yourself to eat them all!

It’s a plate of wings that are baked--not fried! And it's cauliflower--not chicken!

Really, what more could you ask for?!

No need to send a thank you gift, just remember you owe me. ;)

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

servings: Makes 40-50 cauliflower “wings”

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, broken or cut into bite-size florets
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon light brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil. Spray the foil generously with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, 2 tablespoons of the hot sauce, 3 teaspoons of the Worcestershire sauce, the salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.
  3. Toss the cauliflower in the batter, then spread it on the baking sheets. Bake the cauliflower until it is slightly browned in spots—about 20 minutes.
  4. While the cauliflower bakes, in a small pot, whisk together the remaining ¾ cup hot sauce, the butter, vinegar, brown sugar, and remaining 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Once the cauliflower is browned, remove it from the oven and toss it well in the Buffalo sauce. Turn on the broiler, to high if you have that option. Then return the cauliflower to the baking sheets and cook it under the broiler until it is crispy and browned in spots—2-3 minutes more. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and toss or brush it with the remaining sauce. Enjoy by serving with blue cheese.

Notes:

  • Freezing Instructions: To enjoy later, freeze the completed Buffalo Cauliflower Wings in a single layer (not touching) on a baking sheet lined with foil. Once they are frozen, remove the wings from the baking sheet, place them in a food storage bag, and put them back in the freezer until you are ready to eat them. To reheat, begin by preheating the oven to 375°F and lightly spraying a baking sheet with cooking spray. Cook the wings until they are warmed through, 10-15 minutes, depending on their size.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

 

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My Baby Food Philosophy

I make all my own baby food, it's not an easy process, so I've figured out how to do it as quickly, easily, and nutritiously as possible. I make small 1oz portions of food that I mix and match for her meals. I call them baby cubes...

Tomato Soup with Rice + Basil Yogurt Drizzle

Is there really anything better than tomato soup?

Let me clarify--homemade tomato soup.

When I was younger, I was addicted to cans of the Progresso version.

I can picture myself at age 22, squeezing my way into my 2x2 foot kitchen, cracking open that blue can, and then waiting those 2 minutes for the microwave to deliver my spoils.

If only I had known how much better making my own tomato soup could be.

Like, SO much better, and requiring no skills or fancy ingredients.

And what I also couldn’t have imagined at the time was how adding tender rice to my soup would completely take it to the next level.

Or that topping it with a beautiful and refreshing three-ingredient basil yogurt drizzle would boost its amazing-factor sky-high.

But now that I know what I didn't know, let's take our tomato soup there.

We just need to sauté some garlic and onions...

Add some crushed and juiced tomatoes...

And while that all simmers, combine yogurt, basil and a little salt for a drizzle you could never find in a Progresso can.

Tomato Soup with Rice + Basil Yogurt Drizzle

servings: 8 cups of soup, with about ½ cup drizzle; serves 4

Basil Yogurt Drizzle:

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Tomato Soup with Rice:

  • One 10.6-ounce package Veetee Microwavable Thai Jasmine Rice (makes 1½ cups)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • One 46-ounce can tomato juice
  • Two 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • Basil Yogurt Drizzle
  • Fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, for a garnish (optional)

Basil Yogurt Drizzle:

  1. Add the yogurt, basil, and salt to a blender along with ¼ cup water and blend this mixture until it is mostly smooth. If you prefer, you can skip the blender and instead finely chop the basil, then mix it by hand with the yogurt, water, and salt until all ingredients are well combined.

Tomato Soup with Rice:

  1. Microwave the rice for 2 minutes as per the package instructions, and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Then add the onion, garlic, and ½ teaspoon of the salt and cook until the vegetables are tender and fragrant—3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato juice, diced tomatoes, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree it until smooth, then return it to the pot and stir in the rice and cream.
  4. To serve, divide the soup into bowls, top with the Basil Yogurt Drizzle, and sprinkle with the basil leaves if desired.
: @NikkiDinki

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Mushroom + Beef Sloppy Joes

Check out my OUTRAGEOUSLY good sloppy joes...

These Mushroom + Beef Sloppy Joes are from my book Meat On The Side.

If you're looking for amazing comfort food that's also good for you, you owe it to yourself to give them a shot.

The secret is that the sandwich filling is half meat, half veggies! No need to feel guilty--you can eat up and enjoy!

Mushroom + Beef Sloppy Joes

servings: 4 Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 8 ounces ground sirloin
  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems discarded, caps finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Finely chopped dill pickles, for serving
  • Sliced pickled banana peppers, for serving

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sirloin, breaking up with a spoon or spatula, and cook until it has browned, about 5 minutes. Then, if the skillet is too dry for sautéing the mushrooms, add a bit more oil. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they are brown and tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the bell peppers, onion, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and the black pepper to the skillet and stir to combine. Cook until all the veggies are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, vinegar, sriracha, and the remaining1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
  3. Add the tomato paste and thyme to the mixture in the skillet and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes. Then stir in the tomato sauce mixture and cook until the sauce thickens and coats the veggies and meat and all the flavors come together, 5 to 7 minutes more.
  4. To serve, spoon the sloppy Joe mixture onto the bottom half of each hamburger bun, dividing it equally, and dot with some pickles and banana peppers before adding the bun tops.
: @NikkiDinki

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Cilantro Pesto Rice with Feta, Peppers, + Eggs

Cooking these days is all about finding time savers.

I'm always asking myself, What ingredients can I have on hand to make a flavorful meal quickly?

In answer to my own question, I've discovered that one food that seems to have taken up a permanent residence in my fridge--and for good reason!--is Cilantro Pesto.

Made with handfuls of cilantro, almonds, garlic, and Parmesan, this pesto can be used as a sauce or spread that instantly makes a meal special!

I’ve slathered it on pizza, spooned it over chicken, and drizzled it over shrimp. And now, I've discovered yet another dish that becomes amazing with the simple addition of Cilantro Pesto! This time, I toss it with rice, peppers, and a little tangy feta, then top the whole thing with a perfectly runny egg.

Just by having a little Cilantro Pesto in the fridge or freezer and some Veetee Rice on hand, I can make an incredible dinner in 5 minutes! No, seriously, just 5 minutes!

And of course I could cook my own rice, but this stuff is just as good!

Plus sometimes those precious 20 minutes post-Baby's-bedtime need to be spent watching the Bachelor instead of making rice.

Cilantro Pesto Rice with Feta, Peppers + Eggs

servings: 4 cups of rice + 1¼ cups of Cilantro Pesto; serves 2

Cilantro Pesto:

  • 2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup roasted almonds
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds + ribs removed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ½ cup olive oil

Rice with Feta, Peppers, + Egg:

  • One 10.6-ounce package Veetee Microwavable Thai Jasmine Rice (makes 1½ cups)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon + a pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 2 roasted red peppers (an 8 ounces jar)
  • ⅔ cup crumbled feta (about 3 ounces)
  • ⅓ cup Cilantro Pesto
  • Cilantro leaves for a garnish (optional)

Cilantro Pesto:

  1. Add the cilantro, parmesan, almonds, jalapeno, lime juice, salt, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped. Stream in the olive oil while the food processor is on, and allow everything to mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Rice with Feta, Peppers, + Egg:

  1. Microwave the rice for 2 minutes as per the package instructions.
  2. While the rice cooks, prepare the eggs sunny-side up. Place a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat, spray it with cooking spray, and crack the eggs into it. Sprinkle each with a pinch of salt and pepper cook until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny, about 5 minutes, covering them for the last 1-2 minutes to ensure all of the whites are cooked through.
  3. When the rice has finished cooking, add it to a large bowl with the peppers, feta, Cilantro Pesto, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt, and mix to combine all ingredients.
  4. Serve by splitting the rice between two plates. Top each serving with an egg and sprinkle with some of the reserved chopped cilantro if desired.

Notes:

  • Use leftover pesto as a spread on sandwiches, drizzled over pork, steak or shrimp or tossed with pasta or sautéed veggies.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

 

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The BRAND NEW NikkiDinkiCooking.com

The BRAND NEW NikkiDinkiCooking.com is officially LIVE! In addition to a beautiful, user-friendly new look, I've added some amazing features to make your experience that much better.

One of these new features is the recipe card, pictured above. You'll now find cards like this on all of my recipe blog posts.

The cards allow you to easily follow the recipes if you are looking at your computer screen, or to seamlessly print a hard copy if that's what you prefer--the printed version is clear and includes a photograph of the final dish.

Another new feature is the ability to rate recipes and leave comments that I can actually respond to (if you were wondering why you never heard from me before, it was because I couldn't respond to your comments!).

I also love the new search function, which makes it incredibly easy to find what you're looking for. Pictures of the recipes appear with every search result, so you can immediately spot the recipe you're trying to locate!

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And if you’re visiting the Recipes page you’ll find useful categories like Appetizers and Vegetarian--each with pictures of every recipe in that category. I believe that food is best experienced in pictures, so I'm giving you tons of them!

And don’t forget to check out all of my cooking Videos, including my super convenient one-minute videos.

While you're looking around, be sure to visit my Press page, which features all of my appearances.

And the About and Cookbook pages allow you to learn about me and my cookbook Meat On The Side.

Happy surfing! I can’t wait to hear about your fabulous experiences checking out the new NikkiDinkiCooking.com!

 

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Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls

Check out the recipe for my Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls from my book Meat On The Side...

Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls

servings: 6 Spring Rolls + 1 Cup Dipping Sauce

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce:

  • ½ cup blue cheese crumbles (2 ounces)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions, (green parts only)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half (6 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • 2½ cups lightly packed cabbage slaw mix (from the supermarket)
  • ¾ cup finely chopped celery
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 flour egg roll wrappers
  • Canola oil, for frying

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce:

  1. Put the blue cheese crumbles in a small bowl, breaking up the pieces if they are bigger larger than ¼ inch. Add the sour cream, buttermilk, scallions, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.

Buffalo Cabbage Spring Rolls:

  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper evenly all over the chicken. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through—, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest for 2 to 3 minutes; then chop it into ½-inch pieces.
  2. To make the filling, placePut the cream cheese and hot sauce in a large microwave-safe bowl; and microwave on high until the cheese is has slightly softened slightly—, 15 to 20 seconds—. and then wWhisk the mixture them tountil well gethercombined. . It (This mixture does not have to be perfectly smooth; it’s okay to have some lumps.) Add the chicken, slaw mix, celery, scallions, cilantro, garlic powder, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the bowl and stir until well combined.
  3. Arrange the egg roll wrappers on a work surface, orienting each so one corner points toward you (making a diamond shape). Have ready a small bowl of water and a pastry brush. Make the rolls one at a time: Spoon about ½ cup of the filling onto the center and then brush a little water onto the margins. Fold up the bottom corner over the filling; then fold up each side corner. Then roll the filled wrapper over on itself toward the top corner.
  4. Pour oil into a small or medium heavy-bottomed saucepan to a depth of at least 2 inches (but not more than halfway up the sides). Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the oil to 375°F; (use a candy thermometer to register the temperature). Working in small batches, fry the rolls until they are golden brown on all sides—. 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer each batch to a paper- towel– lined plate to drain.
  5. Serve the rolls hot with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce.

Notes:

  • don’t always have buttermilk on hand, and although it adds a little extra tang to the dipping sauce, it can easily be replaced with any milk or cream you keep have in your fridge.
  • 50/50 - With all the flavor going on in these spring rolls, you will not miss the meat if you prefer a vegetarian appetizer—there are many times I choose to serve them meatless. To make half the recipe meatless, use only 3 ounces chicken, but add an extra ½ cup slaw mix; (don’t add the chicken to the filling until after you’ve made 3 vegetarian rolls. Or to go totally meat-free, and simply replace all the chicken with an extra cup of the slaw mix.
  • FF - Kids aren’t big fans of blue cheese? Leave it out for a scallion– sour cream dressing. Also to tone down the spicy taste, cut the amount of hot sauce to 3 tablespoons and use 5 ounces of cream cheese instead for a milder version.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

 

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Red Cabbage + Raspberry Grilled Cheese

So great being on The Wendy Williams Show today! Check out the clip--and the recipe!--for my Red Cabbage + Raspberry Grilled Cheese.

Red Cabbage + Raspberry Grilled Cheese

servings: 2 Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups lightly packed shredded purple cabbage (12 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup raspberry jam
  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar
  • 8 ounces Fontina fontina cheese, sliced
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the cabbage and salt and cook until tender but not mushy, —3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the jam and vinegar and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is completely tender, —2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  2. Heat a second large skillet over medium-low heat. Butter 1 side of each slice of bread. Place 2 pieces of bread, butter- side- down, on a plate. Top each with 3 alternating layers, : first of cheese, then cabbage, and then the rest of the cheese, dividing them equally, and then finish off with another slice of bread, butter- side- up. Place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook them until browned on the bottom, —3 to 5 minutes. Then fFlip them over and cook until the other side is has browned and the cheese is has melted, —3 to 5 minutes more, gently pressing the sandwiches as they cook. Cut in half and serve.

Notes:

  • You can really customize this sandwich: just use what you have in the pantry. Any sliced bread works fine, you can substitute any jam flavor that you like, and instead of champagne vinegar feel free to use red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
  • Purple cabbage is also known as red cabbage and may be labeled that way.
  • I can usually find purple cabbage freshly shredded by the store in my produce section. You can also use green cabbage for a similar taste but a slightly less exciting color.
  • Because of the sweetness of the cabbage and the fact that it’s a grilled cheese, this sandwich should be a hit! Not convinced? Use half that amount of cabbage mixture for super- picky eaters; the cheese will melt all around it, mostly concealing our little secret.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

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Spicy Brussels Sprout + Lentil Soup

So great being on The Wendy Williams Show today! Check out the clip--and the recipe!--for my Spicy Brussels Sprout + Lentil Soup.

Spicy Lentil + Brussels Sprout Soup

servings: 4 Makes about 8 cups of soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups yellow onion (1 medium onion), finely chopped
  • 1 cup red pepper (1 large pepper), finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots (about 3 medium carrots), finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery (2 stalks of celery), finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt *check
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 cups veggie or chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cups brown or green lentils
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts (7-9 large Brussels sprouts), shredded (2.5 cups packed)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*
  • 1 avocado, pitted + chopped into ¼- to ½-inch dice
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and add the onion, peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook this mixture until the veggies are tender—about 7 minutes.
  2. Then add the stock, lentils, 1 ½ cup packed shredded Brussels Sprout, chipotles, and another 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook 35-40minutes until the lentils are al dente. Taste soup and add salt if necessary and more stock or water if soup is too thick
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the remaining 1 cup of Brussels sprouts, the avocado, lime juice, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt together until well combined.
  4. To serve, divide the soup into serving bowls and top it with the Brussels sprout mixture from Step 4 and some cilantro.

Notes:

  • Puree or finely chop the entire can of chipotles in adobo and use 1.5 tablespoons for this recipe. Store the remaining in the bottom of a Ziploc bag in the freezer and cut of tablespoon amounts as needed.
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Gingersnap Cookies with White Chocolate

My sister, Gina, is an incredible baker.

She makes desserts that are the epitome of #craveworthy.

They always satisfy that inner child in you who craves something rich, moist, and slightly over-the-top.

For Christmas she makes loads of cookies, packs them in her suitcase, and flies them to Buffalo where we all converge to celebrate the holiday season.

And when she arrives, she kicks me out of the kitchen and does her best to cover every inch of it in flour--making even more cookies and treats.

Gina is the Yin to my Yang, always taking on the desserts and leaving me to what I really do best.

Together, our foods are perfect complements, and so come Christmas it’s a bit of a Sweet vs. Savory Showdown.

And at the end of this fight, everyone is a winner.

Gingersnap Cookies with White Chocolate

servings: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup granulated or turbinado sugar, for coating cookie dough balls

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Then line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Then beat in the molasses, canola oil, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, vanilla, salt, and ginger. Mix these ingredients until well combined.
  3. Next, add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture until smooth. Slowly stir in the flour, then stir in the white chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop the dough into 1-inch balls, roll them in the granulated or turbinado sugar, and place them on the lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until they are set up and firm in the center—8-10 minutes; they will still be soft but will harden more as they cool.
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring then to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

Original recipe from Two Peas + Their Pod

 

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Chocolate Clouds

chocolate-cloud-cookies-7-s.gif

My sister, Alecia, is One with the cookie the same way some people are One with nature.

And by “the cookie” I mean every cookie ever made.

Come December, she hosts an epic Christmas party and serves not one, not two, not five, but over 20 different types of cookies!

She starts making preparations weeks before and then freezes most of the cookies (and yes, they defrost beautifully!).

But there is one cookie that cannot be made ahead of time, and is also very, very delicate.

This cookie is so amazing, so unique, so incredibly delicious, that even though it's not the easiest to prepare in advance, Alecia ALWAYS makes it.

Chocolate Clouds are her favorite and they will always be on her table (and in lots of happy bellies!).

The airiness, chewiness, and crunchiness of a meringue cookie is already addicting--but when you fold in cocoa powder and chocolate chips, it becomes downright irresistible.

Since most of you are not lucky enough to come to the party, I’ve brought the party to you. I now present you with Alecia’s favorite cookies, Chocolate Clouds!

Chocolate Clouds

servings: 30 Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Then line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar using an electric mixer set to high until soft peaks form. Next, gradually add the sugar and vanilla, beating well after each addition until stiff peaks hold, the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is glossy. Then sift the cocoa onto the mixture and gently fold until just combined.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips and then drop the mixture in heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheet. Smooth out the tops of each cloud slightly.
  4. Bake just until the chocolate clouds are dry and crisp on top—35 minutes. If the cookies are not coming off the pan easily, bake for longer. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool slightly before peeling the paper from the clouds. Store covered, at room temperature.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

Original recipe from Food.com

 

 

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Christmas Pasta

Christmas is by far my favorite time of year.

Around Christmastime I’ll never complain about the cold and the snow.

The snow is the perfect backdrop to sparkling lights!

Christmas is sneaking up on us quickly, so I'd say it's time for some Christmas-themed pasta to warm our bellies on these cold nights.

The red sauce is simple but deeply "tomato-y"--and only takes minutes to make.

It starts with slowly simmering tangy olive oil and garlic until their flavors fuse together...

...And ends with tomato paste and canned tomatoes for a rich, but bright flavor.

And because we all know that you can't have the red without the green at Christmastime, we'll also whip up a green sauce with a Basil Pesto base.

To the traditional pesto, we'll add avocado and lemon--creating a creamy and colorful sauce that's the perfect counterpart.

Each is good on its own, but together they're incredible!

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Christmas Pasta

servings: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • ¼ cup olive oil + a splash
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • One 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup Basil Pesto
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ¼ cup toasted breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the pasta. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions—or about 10 minutes. Then drain, toss with a splash of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the ¼ cup of olive oil and the garlic and cook until the oil has become infused with the garlic and the garlic is translucent and golden, but not browned—about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Then add the diced tomatoes, salt, and chili flakes. Simmer the sauce until it thickens slightly and comes together— about 10 minutes.
  3. While the tomato sauce simmers, cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and use a soupspoon to scoop half of the flesh into the bowl of a food processor (reserve the other half for another use). Then add the Basil Pesto and lemon juice and puree this mixture until smooth.
  4. Transfer the basil mixture to a large bowl and toss it with half of the pasta. Toss the other half of the pasta in a separate bowl with the tomato sauce. To serve, place both the green and red pasta on each plate and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and parsley.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

 

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I didn't just get the nickname “Picky Nikki” for no reason at all, no, I gave my mother so many reasons to call me “Picky” that I'm almost surprised that she ever called me anything else.

 

 

 

 

When I talk about my childhood I sometimes generalize and say that I ate no vegetables.

 

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Pumpkin Butter

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, which means my 10-day "Meat On The Side Countdown to Thanksgiving" is officially coming to an end.

Aw, no need to cry! I know, I know--it’s a sad day--but I promise there will be more Meat on the Side recipes in the very near future!

And as a celebration of our last ten days together, I'm giving you one more recipe--quick and easy enough that you'll still have time to make it before Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow! 

I’m showing you how to whip up a pumpkin-infused butter, perfect for slathering on all those biscuits, dinner rolls, and crescent rolls.

Just start by letting some regular unsalted butter come to room temperature.

Whip it up in your food processor and then combine it with pumpkin puree, vanilla, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice.

Suddenly you have a unique holiday butter that makes everything taste special. 

Enjoy!

And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Pumpkin Butter

servings: 1 1/2 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Add the pumpkin puree to a small pot over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until it reduces by almost half—about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whip the butter in a food processor until it is smooth. Add the cooked pumpkin puree along with the maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract to the food processor. Continue to puree until this mixture is smooth and combined.
  3. Transfer the butter from the food processor to an airtight container for storage in your refrigerator. When you are ready to use it, allow it to warm to room temperature, then spread on your favorite bread or toast.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

 

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Beet Cranberry Sauce

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Cranberries have a zingy tartness that brings all of the other foods on your Thanksgiving Day plate to life.

And although the canned stuff may be an old staple on your table, consider clearing some space for this simple--but spectacular!--homemade version.

I start with a traditional cranberry sauce and add some beets that have been put through the blender.

Then I strain out all of that vibrant juice.

The beets add a deeper, richer flavor to the sauce--while still allowing the cranberries to shine.

And if you are a hardcore beet lover, then consider the "Extra Beety" version (also below), a fun beet-forward take that uses chunks of beets instead of just the beet juice! 

Beet Cranberry Sauce

servings: 3 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red beet (about 6 ounces), diced
  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest + juice of 1 orange
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Place the beet and 1¼ cups water in a blender and blend until very smooth with only some pulp remaining. Strain the pulp from the beet juice and transfer only the juice to a medium pot.
  2. To the same medium pot, add the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and salt. Cover the pot to avoid splattering and cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency—about 25 minutes.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

"Extra Beety" Cranberry Sauce

servings: 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 large red beets (about 12 ounces total)
  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest + juice of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Wrap the beets (all together) in aluminum foil and bake them until you can easily insert a fork into the center of the flesh—45 to 60 minutes. The time can vary greatly depending on the size of your beets, but the good news is that overbaking won’t hurt them at all. Once they are finished cooking, immediately remove the skin from the beets by rubbing each with paper towels and chop the beets into ¼-inch pieces.
  2. Then, to a medium pot, add the beets, cranberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and salt. Cover the pot to avoid splattering and cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency, but with some texture still remaining in the cranberries—about 25 minutes.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

 

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Acorn Squash Bread

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Banana bread.

Zucchini bread.

Pumpkin bread.

All delicious, easy-to-make, moist and flavorful breads, thanks to the fruits and veggies they incorporate.

So let’s keep the Veggie Bread Train in business!

It's time to talk about Acorn Squash Bread!

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Prepared similarly to pumpkin bread, acorn squash bread uses the delicacy and sweetness of squash--along with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg--to make for a savory, but slightly sugary bread.

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This bread is perfect for your Thanksgiving Day table or a cozy treat for the next morning when you're sitting around the kitchen with out-of-town relatives over cups of coffee.

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Just bake halves of acorns squash, scoop out the sweet flesh, mix with some pantry staples, and you’ve got an extremely addictive quick bread!

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And to take it one step further, I drizzle mine with a little cider vanilla glaze--yummm.

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Then sprinkle it with some granola for a sticky sweet and delightfully crunchy topping, and you've got a recipe your relatives won't stop asking you for!

Acorn Squash Bread

servings: 1 9 X 5-inch pan of bread (about 8 slices)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small acorn squash (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon cider
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ⅓ cup granola

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a soupspoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them. Arrange the squash cut-side-up on a rimmed baking sheet and rub its flesh with the olive oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Bake the squash until the flesh is fork tender—about 45 minutes.
  2. Scoop out the flesh of the squash, add it to the bowl of a food processor, and puree until smooth (this should give you about 1 cup of puree). Then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and grease a 9 X 5-inch bread loaf pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves. In a second large bowl, whisk together the squash puree, light brown sugar, canola oil, granulated sugar, ⅓ cup of the cider, eggs, vanilla, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
  4. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined. Then pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until the edges of the bread are brown and a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean—about 60-65 minutes. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan and cool completely.
  5. Next, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of cider until a smooth glaze forms. Drizzle over the cooled bread, sprinkle with granola, and serve.

Notes:

  • To make muffins: Lower the oven temperature to 350 F after the squash is roasted. Make the batter and glaze as directed above. Divide the batter into 9 cups of a lined or greased muffin tin and bake until the edges are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove muffins from the pan to cool completely. Drizzle cooled muffins with glaze, sprinkle with granola, and serve.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
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