Cheesecake Parfaits

Cheesecake Parfait

Cheesecake Parfaits

servings: 6 to 8


  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Assorted toppings such as fruit, preserves + cookies


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it is softened. Then add the powdered sugar and beat the mixture until it is smooth, scraping down the bowl to ensure there are no lumps.
  2. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, sour cream, heavy cream, and salt. Beat these ingredients until the mixture is very thick, about 5 minutes.
  3. Spoon the mixture into desired glasses, layering with toppings. Refrigerate the parfait until you are ready to serve it.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

Remember that time my friend, Zac Young, and I made cheesecake parfaits?

Still SO my fave!

I mean, blueberries are like “fruit caviar!”

Zac Young and Nikki Dinki

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Ultimate Veggie Burgers


It's been my goal for awhile now to make a bang-up version of a veggie burger.

But every time I really thought about it, I was super intimidated.

I mean, all of those weird ingredients, lots of chopping, and then the fear that after the first bite, the whole thing might just fall apart.

So instead of tackling this daunting task head-on, I've avoided it like the plague.

I just told myself that someday I'd make a better—no, a perfect—veggie burger.

More perfect than any other one out there.

And so when the time came for me to face my fear, I came up with something that makes me wonder what I was so afraid of in the first place.

My Ultimate Veggie Burgers have no weird ingredients, are super dense (for that BIG bite experience!), and look better than some of the best beef patties you've ever laid eyes on!

Like all amazing things we can't have right away, the reward is SO worth the wait!

Ultimate Veggie Burgers

servings: 4 large or 6 small patties


  • One 15-ounce can brown lentils, rinsed + drained (1½ cup cooked lentils)
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup walnuts halves + pieces
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons barbeque sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the lentils and mushrooms on a parchment-lined or lightly sprayed baking sheet and roast them until the lentils are dry and crisp on the outside and the mushrooms are dry and shrunken to half their original size—25 minutes.
  2. Use a wooden spoon to move the mushrooms to the side, then spread the cooked rice in the open space. Return the pan to the oven and cook until the rice is lightly toasted in places and the lentils are very dry—15 minutes.
  3. While the beans, mushrooms, and rice are cooking, place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them until they are coarsely ground. When the lentils, mushrooms, and rice have finished roasting, add them to the food processor and pulse until well-combined, but not completely smooth. Then add the flour, barbeque sauce, egg, salt, garlic powder, rosemary, and paprika and pulse just until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Next, form the mixture by hand into either 4 large patties or 6 small ones. Then heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook them until they are well-browned and crisp—about 3 to 4 minutes per side.


  • ¾ cup dried lentils should yield the 1½ cups cooked lentils you need in this recipe. Also, ½ cup uncooked brown rice should yield the 1½ cups cooked rice needed.
  • If you prefer to bake the patties rather than sautéing them, place them on a lightly-sprayed unlined tray and bake them at 400°F until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside, flipping halfway through—about 20 minutes.
  • You can omit the flour for a gluten-free patty. The patties will be slightly less stable, but still very good.
  • To prepare from frozen, bake patties at 400°F for 13 to15 minutes.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

Find more recipes like this in Meat on the Side!


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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


  • 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


  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.


  • 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.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
Hamburger Helper with Squash + Lentils Healthy

Find more recipes like this in Meat on the Side!


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Egg In A Squash Hole



Some chefs will tell you that presentation is everything.





Well that’s not exactly true, though yes, we eat with our eyes first, it’s really all about the taste.


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Brussels Sprout Poppers



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






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



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Spaghetti Squash Crust Pizza



Cauliflower is definitely having its moment in the sun.






One of the reasons it’s so popular is that everyone is churning out cauliflower crust pizzas--and loving how tasty an all-veggie crust can be!



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Pea-Threaded Pasta


Since I’m normally coming up with new and hopefully inventive recipes, there are definitely times in my kitchen where things don’t turn out quite as I expected.







And then there are the times that you put a pea on uncooked pasta, throw it in boiling water and instead of it falling apart, the pea and pasta fuse together for one insanely cute dish. 


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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


  • 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


  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

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

Find more recipes like this in Meat on the Side!


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Zucchini Crostini with Pomegranate Goat Cheese Spread

Today I'd like to present you with an exclusive peak into my premier cookbook, Meat on the Side.

Putting the words “zucchini” and “crostini” together made for a lot of fun as they rolled off my tongue.

So I decided to create something to go along with those words that would be just as fun to eat. 

And here you have it! You can have fun saying—and eating!—your Zucchini Crostini! 

Zucchini Crostini with Pomegranate Goat Cheese Spread

servings: 15 Crostini


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 large zucchini, cut diagonally into fifteen ¼-inch-thick slices
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds


  1. Blend the cream cheese, goat cheese, thyme, lemon zest, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the cranberries, distributing evenly.
  2. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt over both sides of the zucchini slices and arrange the slices on a serving platter. Divide the cheese mixture smoothly over the slices and top each with a generous sprinkling of the pomegranate seeds.


  • KEEP IT SIMPLE - This pomegranate goat cheese combo is one of my all-time favorite spreads and it works great on classic crackers or bread, too. Just be sure to fold the pomegranate seeds into the spread if you use it this way.
  • While I’m crazy for the goat cheese, these zucchini crostini are super versatile and can be topped with anything from hummus to crab.
  • All you can find are small zucchinis? Not a problem. Just cut the zucchini on more of a diagonal for a larger slice.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking

Find more recipes like this in Meat on the Side!


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Scoop out the insides and you are ready to bake.



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Butter is the same way, its fine as is, but when you brown it, it becomes nutty, rich and something you will use in EVERYTHING.





So take a couple minutes and brown your butter before using it in sauces, casseroles or in my Brown Butter Nutella Cookies. It’s simple, easy and this video shows you exactly how it’s done…


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How to Char Tortillas



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Caesar Salad Pasta



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Burst Tomato Pasta


¼ Olive Oil

8 Garlic Cloves - sliced

6-8 Large Tomatoes cut into 1 inch chunks or 3 pints cherry/grape tomatoes

3-4tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp Red Wine Vinegar

3-4 Tbs Chopped Basil

1lbs Linguine

2 Chicken Breast, split in half, breaded and cooked See Recipe

Heat oil in a pan on medium low and add garlic.  Cook till just slightly golden about 3-5minutes and add tomatoes.  Let tomatoes cook until tender, 15 -20minutes.  Smash tomatoes down with a spoon and add vinegar, basil and salt, cook for another 5-15minutes until you have the consistency you want. Taste to see if it needs more salt.  Toss with pasta and serve.

Serves  4-6 portions


  • Depending on what tomatoes you use you may have more or less liquid during cooking
  • Don’t over-cook the tomatoes; they should still be chunky with some liquid in the pan


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Mango and Honey Crostini


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


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

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

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

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

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

(I’m a simple person :)


1 small baguette, 16 ¼ to ½ inch slices

1 block Cream Cheese 

1 Lemon- Zest

2 Mangos 

 1/3 cup Mint leaves, loosely packed

¼ cup Honey


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


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


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Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

servings: 3½ cups, enough for a 2-layer cake


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (1 cup)
  • 2 bars cream cheese, softened (16 ounces)
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  1. Add the room temperature butter and cream cheese to a mixer and mix until they are well combined. Then add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix until smooth.
  2. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Enjoy spread on your favorite cookies or cake!
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking


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Homemade Ricotta


Makes 2 cups ricotta

4 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1-1.5 teaspoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Combine milk, cream and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling shut off heat and add vinegar. Wait 3 minutes and strain in a cheese cloth for 10-20 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.


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Chickpea Crunchies


1 15-19oz can of Garbanzo Beans aka Chick Peas, rinsed, drained + dried

1 + 1/2tsp Paprika

1+1/2tsp Garlic Powder

1/2tsp Dried Thyme

1/2-1tsp Cayenne (depending on how spicy you want)

1/4tsp Cinnamon

1+1/2tsp Onion Powder

1tsp Salt

1Tbs Oil

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss till well combined and chickpeas are evenly coated.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 400degrees for 35-45 depending on how crisp you want them.  Enjoy!!


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Butter Free Garlic Bread


3Tbs Low-Fat Mayo

1 container Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt

1/4tsp salt

8 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

1/8-1/4tsp Cayenne Pepper

1tsp Fresh Thyme, finely chopped

¼ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

1 loaf bread

Combine mayo, greek yogurt, salt, garlic, cayenne pepper and thyme together. Cut loaf of bread in half and spread yogurt mixture over the cut side of the bread. Top with the parmesan cheese and cook under your broiler until top is brown and bread is crisp. Serve warm and ENJOY!


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Half Recipe

(6-8 Individual Cheesecakes or 30 mini Cheeseccakes)

2 8oz Bars of Cream Cheese

1/3 and 1/2 Cup Sugar

1/8 Cup Corn Starch

1/8 Cup and 1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1.5Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Egg

In a food processor or mixer combine 1 Bar of Cream Cheese, 1/3 Cup Sugar and 1/8 Corn Starch until combined. Add 1 more Bar of cream cheese and combine. Add Heavy Whipping Cream, 1/2 cup Sugarand Vanilla Extract and combine. Finally add 1 Egg and combine. Pour mixture into individual graham cracker crusts and bake in a water bath for 25-30min in a 350degree oven. Or pour batter into a mini muffin tin lined with paper cups and some graham cracker crust and bake for 10-15minutes,

Full Recipe

(8-9inch Spring Form Pan)

4 8oz Bars of Cream Cheese

2/3 and 1 Cup Sugar

1/4 Cup Corn Starch

3/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Tbs Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs

In a food processor or mixer place one 8-ounce package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch and combine. Then beat in the remaining 3 packages of cream cheese. Next add 1 1/3 cups of the sugar, the vanilla extract and heavy cream and combine. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating the bating only until completely blended. For an 8inch spring form cake bake about 1hr-1:15hr at 350 in a water bath.

Gluten-Free: Skip the graham cracker crust for a great gluten free dessert. Add some ground nuts to the top of the cheesecake if you still want a little crunch.


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