Blooming Tomato

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Why should onions have all the fun?!

Forget the Blooming Onion (though it is undeniably delicious), because this summer the Blooming Tomato is taking over!

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I’m always looking to do something new with veggies—to transform them into something special.

And sometimes just cutting a veggie in a different way can accomplish that goal...

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This tomato becomes the centerpiece of a salad, and suddenly the salad is an experience—not just some veggies tossed together on a plate.

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The trick is to cut it into wedges while leaving the bottom center intact.

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Then top it as you like!

I’m going with Caesar dressing, lettuce, bacon, croutons—and to make it really special, some crab.

And just imagine this with some summer heirloom tomatoes!

Oh man, get ready for a lot of Blooming Tomatoes on my Instagram!

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Blooming Tomato

servings: 1; makes 1 salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 bacon strip
  • 1 large tomato
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Caesar dressing
  • 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
  • ¼ cup croutons, cut into small pieces
  • Crab meat (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp—6 to 7 minutes, turning once. Then transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain.
  2. While the bacon cooks, remove the tomato’s stem and place it stem-side-up on a cutting board. Then cut the tomato into 8 wedges making all of your cuts on the stem side and leaving the bottom intact (first cut the tomato in half one way without cutting all the way through, then cut it in half the other way without cutting all the way through, and finally cut each quarter in half without cutting all the way through—for 8 even wedges).
  3. Next, sprinkle the cut tomato with the salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the tomato, fill it with the shredded lettuce, and top it with the croutons and crab meat (if desired). Finally, when the bacon has finished cooking, remove it from the pan, crumble it over the blooming tomato, and serve.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
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Ultimate Veggie Burgers

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: 6 patties

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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 into six even patties by hand, each about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and ¾-inches thick. 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.

Notes:

  • 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
 

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Cauliflower Egg Salad Sandwich

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So you think adding cauliflower to your egg salad is weird?

While it may sound newfangled, twenty years from now, this version will be a household staple everywhere—it’s that good.

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A little steamed cauliflower added to a traditional egg salad gives you the perfect texture you didn’t know was missing from the classic recipe.

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But the egg salad is still soft and creamy when you bite into it.

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Let's not forget to mention that this recipe includes the perfect combo of mayo, mustard, celery, and scallions—and, of course, those beautiful eggs!

It's hard for me to talk about this any more without actually eating the sandwich, like, RIGHT NOW!

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Veggies shouldn’t just make things healthier, they should make things better!

And this is a better sandwich.

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Cauliflower Egg Salad Sandwich

makes: 2 sandwiches, with about 2 cups of egg salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ head cauliflower, stems removed + broken into florets or coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 4 slices white bread
  • 4 pieces romaine lettuce
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced

Directions:

  1. Begin by hardboiling the eggs; in a small saucepan, arrange them in a single layer and add cold water until it reaches an inch above them. Set the saucepan over high heat and bring the water to boiling. Then cover, remove from the heat, and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water and set this aside to cool; peel when ready to use.
  2. Add ½ inch of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a large saucepan and bring this to boiling over medium-high heat. Next, add the cauliflower, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is tender but not mushy—3 to 5 minutes. Drain and run the cauliflower under cold water, finely chop it, and then pat it dry (this should give you about 1½ cups of cooked, finely chopped cauliflower).
  3. Peel the eggs and finely chop them. Place the cauliflower, eggs, mayonnaise, celery, scallions, mustard, paprika, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt into a large bowl. Gently toss this mixture until it is well combined.
  4. Place a slice of bread on each of 2 plates. Mound the salad on top, dividing equally. Then divide the lettuce and tomato between both sandwiches, and top each with a piece of bread. Cut each sandwich in half and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Sometimes you can find cauliflower florets in a container in your produce section. If you buy the cauliflower this way, you will need about 6 ounces or 7 to 8 medium/large florets.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Toddler PB + J with Quick Frozen Fruit Jam

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There are a lot of delicious peanut butters out there, but not as many good jams. 

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So I'd like you to imagine an incredibly tasty jam—a jam that is made simply of fruit and a touch of sugar.

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And now that you're conjuring up this super appetizing vision, this is where I say, “Oh, but you can make a jam like that yourself!”

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And then you snap out of your jam-filled fantasy and say, “Um, Nikki? I really don’t have time to be making my own jam.”

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But here's the thing—you do!

It's as easy as grabbing a bag of frozen berries, adding a tablespoon of sugar, and cooking for only 15 minutes.

That’s it!

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And if you want to combine this amazing new jam (that you made!) with some peanut butter and hemp seeds on your favorite bread, you suddenly have a seriously awesome lunch for yourself!

Oh, and your kids, too, of course. ;)

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Toddler PB + J with Quick Frozen Fruit Jam

servings: 1 sandwich with ¾ cup of jam

Quick Frozen Fruit Jam:

  • One 10-ounce bag frozen fruit (such as mixed berries)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Toddler PB + J:

  • 2 slices sandwich bread (such as whole wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon hemp hearts
  • 2 tablespoons Quick Frozen Fruit Jam

Quick Frozen Fruit Jam:

  1. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the frozen fruit, 2 tablespoons of water, and the sugar. Bring this mixture to a high simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the fruit with a spoon.
  2. Continue cooking the fruit mixture over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick enough to leave trails in the pan when stirred—10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer the fruit mixture to a small bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the jam to set and chill.

Toddler PB + J:

  1. Spread one slice of bread with the peanut butter, then sprinkle it with the hemp hearts.
  2. Spread the Quick Frozen Fruit Jam onto the other slice of bread, then sandwich the two slices of bread together.

Notes:

  • The ¾ cup of jam yielded by the Quick Frozen Fruit Jam can make 6 sandwiches.
  • You can omit the sugar if you prefer; the jam will still be super tasty.
  • If you use tarter fruits, such as cranberries, you may need more sugar.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
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BLT Pasta Salad with Romaine Lettuce Dressing

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On The Wendy Williams Show I showed everyone how to make a dish that will be your go-to this spring and summer, BLT Pasta Salad with Romaine Lettuce Dressing.

Yes, the dressing is actually made with lettuce!

Combined with the classic flavors of a BLT sandwich (minus the bread), it's the perfect dish to ring in Spring!

BLT Pasta Salad with Romaine Lettuce Dressing

servings: 4 to 6 servings, with about 2 cups Romaine Lettuce Dressing

Romaine Lettuce Dressing:

  • 2 romaine hearts, halved
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

BLT Pasta Salad:

  • 1 pound short-cut pasta
  • 4 strips extra thick-cut bacon
  • 2 cups Romaine Lettuce Dressing
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach or chopped romaine
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Romaine Lettuce Dressing:

  1. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Then brush the 4 lettuce halves on the cut side with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Grill the lettuce cut-side-down until it is slightly charred and wilted—about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the lettuce from the grill pan, coarsely chop it and discard the stems.
  2. Combine the lettuce, remaining 4 tablespoons of oil, yogurt, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender. If all of the lettuce does not fit at one time, puree a portion of it, adding more as you do, until it is all in the food processor. Once it has all been pureed, set it aside for later.

BLT Pasta Salad:

  1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions. Then drain it, rinse it under cold water, and set it aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is crispy—about 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels. Once it is cool enough to handle, coarsely chop it; this should give you about 1½ cups of bacon pieces. Set the bacon aside for later.
  3. Toss the pasta with the Romaine Lettuce Dressing, spinach or romaine, grape tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, onion, salt, and pepper. Top it with the bacon and serve!
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Cauliflower Chive Risotto

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My goal is a simple one—to always make veggies YUMMY!

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I like to show people just how delicious and versatile veggies can be.

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Sure you can roast them and add some seasonings, which will always make them tastier than if they were steamed.

But let’s take it a step further...

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Let’s add cauliflower to a creamy risotto...

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This gives the dish great texture, and makes you feel like a rock star after your second helping—because you’ve had a days worth of veggies!

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Veggies don't just add nutrition to any dish; they also make the dish taste better!

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And I don’t know about you, but this is the way I like to eat my veggies.

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Cauliflower Chive Risotto

servings: 4; makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • ½ small head cauliflower (about 8 ounces), or 2 cups prepared cauliflower rice
  • 32-ounce box vegetable stock (4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1¼ cups grated parmesan cheese (4 ounces)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives, more for a garnish
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Roughly chop the cauliflower, then add it to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it has a coarse, rice-like texture (this should give you about 2 cups), then set it aside.
  2. Next add the vegetable stock to a small saucepan over low heat. While the vegetable stock warms, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent—3 to 5 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and continue cooking until it is just toasted—3 to 5 minutes. Then add the wine and stir continuously until it is fully absorbed.
  3. Gradually add the warmed stock to the vegetable and rice mixture, ½ to ¾ cup at a time, stirring very often and waiting until it is fully absorbed before adding more. The more you stir, the creamier your risotto will become. Continue until the rice is just tender and still al dente—20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Add the cauliflower along with ½ to ¾ cup more stock and cook, stirring, until the stock is fully absorbed—about 5 minutes. Then add another ½ cup of stock and repeat. Taste the cauliflower; if it is still a bit raw, add a little more stock and cook for a couple minutes more (note, you may not end up using all of the stock).
  5. Add the parmesan, chives, black pepper, and red pepper flakes if desired. Continue to cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are well-combined. Add the salt in small amounts to taste (depending on the saltiness of your cheese and stock, you may need more or less than the 1½ teaspoons). Garnish with the additional chives and enjoy!
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
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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

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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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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

: @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.

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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

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
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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).
: @NikkiDinki

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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.
: @NikkiDinki

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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.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
Hamburger Helper with Squash + Lentils Healthy
 

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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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