Simple cooking for the busy home chef

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Nicole Meyer’s love of making food started around the age of 9, when she and her friends hosted their own make-believe cooking show.

“Instead of playing with dolls I had a cooking show in my head,” she said.

Today Meyer, of Roslyn, doesn’t so much pretend to teach the ways of the kitchen, since she’s become a sort of culinary guru with her own food blog, Nibbles by Nic, a cookbook, cooking workshop and a recent venture into video. She’s also been featured cooking on “The Dr. Oz Show,’’ “The Rachael Ray Show,’’ “The Chew’’ and “The Steve Harvey Show.’’

Meyer’s key focus in cooking is practicality, she said. As a mother of two, she said she aims to relate to  parents who struggle to find time to prepare meals and keeps them simple.

“Really my heart was with the moms in the area who had a hard time getting dinner together with the stress and day-to-day struggles,” Meyer said.

One of the most important factors in cooking is the preparation, she said, and doing that part right is how busy parents can manage to pull off homemade dishes on a hectic schedule. She recommends carving out time early in the day or on a weekend to prep for a later meal, so when the time comes the food can be tossed in a pan and served quickly.

When planning starts around 5 p.m., Meyer calls it the “do-or-die time.” At that time, home cooks are rushed to gather ingredients, prepare and cook, and by the time the eating and cleaning is done, it might be 8 or 9 at night, she said.

Meyer said meal prep should be a fun and calming activity that can save time and stress.

Another way Meyer tries to bring practicality to the kitchen is by keeping recipes simple. Her blog features handfuls of dishes that use less than five ingredients or are made in a single pan.

Meyer said her favorite dish is cauliflower-crust pizza, for its taste, and because it checks off all the boxes for the simple, homemade cooking she promotes.

“It’s one bowl, it’s fast, it’s simple, it’s healthy-ish, it’s practical and it sums up everything I’m about,” she said.

Meyer said her career in cooking developed organically. She was in real estate for eight years, and eventually started sharing recipes online. It turned into her blog, Nibbles by Nic, in 2011, and when it started seeing enough traffic, advertisers approached her about compiling some of her recipes into a cookbook. The book came out last year, called “Cups, Sticks and Nibbles,” featuring bite-size and utensil-free recipes.

She started a traveling cooking workshop last year, taking her knowledge of food to people’s homes. Based on the season or occasion, Meyer works with the host to plan a theme for the workshop or recipes they might explore. She said the events are like a “design-your-own cooking party” tailored to the host’s needs.

“I want everyone to leave my workshop with a full belly, a fun time, and a bit of knowledge,” Meyer said.

Her next step is to become a television cooking personality, she said. She plans to start creating how-to videos showcasing her recipes, like the many cooking hosts she admires.

Meyer said the reason she shares cooking with people is that she enjoys helping, and wants to give them the unique sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully making a meal.

“I just get a complete sense of gratification, and I feel very happy helping people and giving them the experience of a stress-free environment in the kitchen,” Meyer said. “It’s all about comfort and confidence. That’s what I want people to gain out of working with me.”

“Food is everywhere,” she said. “Everywhere you turn, there’s always a reason to celebrate.”

Nibbles by Nic
Nibbles by Nic

by Chris Adams

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