Meat On The Side Cookbook

Meet Nikki

I am a chef, mom, TV host, cookbook author, blogger, professional voice over artist and terrace gardener. I cook in a way I call "Meat on the Side" which focuses on veggies, making them unique and the star of the plate. 

More about Nikki...



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    Junk Food Flip

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    Food Network Star

    Nikki Dinki on Food Network Star Season 9!! Click here for pics, clips and more from the show






    A couple times a week this happens in my house...


    It's 8:30 and my husband comes home only to find me on the computer, blogging, producing, editing, writing (maybe online shopping ;) and he meekly says “What's for dinner?”







    You see, at this point in our marriage he is well aware that if he doesn’t walk in to find me rocking to 90's pop with the kitchen in full-on disaster mode than I'm probably not making dinner.



    Listen, it happens. We all get busy and sometimes the fantastic 5 Star, 4 course dinner I had planned in my head just doesn't make it to the plate.







    Luckily he is o.k. with that, and sometimes actually encourages me not too cook in order to keep the kitchen in a semi-recognizable state.



    He's fine with leftovers and a clean kitchen as long as there are certain types of leftovers in the fridge…







    Some things taste better the next day or even next month when frozen and yet others take on the texture and taste of an old shoe.







    So when I offer up a frozen, individually wrapped enchilada and tell him that I even have sour cream ready to go- he is happier than a me in a candy store...oh... I mean, a kid in a candy store...same thing ;)







    Besides the fact that these make easy and delicious leftovers, they also make phenomenal, often-requested, star-of-the-week meals.


    Enchiladas are a pretty simple concept, and if you splurge on a few extras like poblanos and tomatillos you can whip up the most amazing Mexican meal worthy of Cinco de Mayo.







    They are also the perfect “Meat on the Side” meal. Lot's of peppers and onions, beans and cheese and just a hint of chicken that you could easily leave out if you wanted.


    It’s a super satisfying meal that turns into leftover bliss for those clean kitchen nights.







    4Tbs Olive Oil

    1Lbs Chicken, OPTIONAL

    2 XL Red Peppers, chopped

    3 Large Poblano Peppers, chopped

    1 XL Yello Onion, chopped

    4 Garlic Cloves, chopped

    1 16oz can Refried Beans

    2 4.5oz cans Green Chilies

    1tsp Ancho Chili Powder

    ½ tsp Cumin, Chipotle Chili Powder + Smoked Paprika

    2 Limes, zest

    3Tbs Cilantro, chopped


    12-15 Medium Soft Taco Shells

    8oz Queso Fresco Cheese, crumbled



    6 med/large Tomatillos

    3 Poblanos

    2tsp Kosher Salt

    ½ tsp Pepper


    Tomatillo Salsa:

    4-6 Tomatillos, ½ - 1inch chunks

    1tsp Kosher Salt

    2 limes, juice and zest

    ½ Large Red Onion, chopped small





    Salt and pepper chicken, cook chicken in 1Tbs olive oil until cooked through and let cool. Chop into 1inch pieces and set aside.   Place 3Tbs Olive oil in a large pot and add chopped peppers, onions and garlic. Cook until tender on medium heat about 7-10minutes. Add beans, green chilies, spices and salt cook 5-10minutes until beans are well incorporated. Add lime and cilantro, and cooked chicken and turn off the heat.  Spread 1/2cup of sauce onto the bottom of a 13 by 9 dish.  Spoon 3/4cup filling onto each taco shell, roll up and place in baking dish. When you have completed all rolling all the tacos spoon remaining sauce on top of enchiladas. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until sauce is bubbling and enchiladas are slightly brown.  Let sit for 10minutes and then serve topped with cheese and Tomatillo Salsa.

    MAKES: 14 Enchiladas



    Roast tomatillos and poblanos under your broiler until charred. Place poblanos in a Ziploc bag and let sit till cool, then remove skins and seed and place in a food processor with the tomatillos and salt. Puree and use with Enchiladas.


    Tomatillo Salsa:

    Toss tomatillos, salt, lime zest and juice, and red onion in a bowl, let sit 15 minutes before serving. Serve over enchiladas.






    • Poblanos are a great pepper with a little heat to them, but they can be replaced with green peppers which is also a good idea if you don’t like spice.
    • You could use all Ancho or Chipotle powder if you don’t have both, or you could use regular chili powder.
    • If you don’t have a lot of spices on hand use a taco season mix instead of the spices
    • The Queso Fresco can replaced with cheddar or montery jack cheese, especially if you want a cheesier enchilada.
    • You can always use a jarred green or red salsa instead of making the sauce. 
    • If you are making these vegetarian you will end up with 2-3 less enchiladas. You can also add a little extra onion and peppers instead of the chicken, or extra beans if you wanted.


    Gluten Free: There are great options for gluten free tortillas out there including the classic, a corn tortilla!







    Pin It!




    You might also like these recipes:

    • Roasted Garlic
    • Cauliflower Mac + Cheese
    • Irish Soda Bread
    • Burst Tomato Pasta
    • Apple Pies in Apples

    Reader Comments (8)

    Thought I'd let you know that I found you via Food Network Star.

    I'm always game for freezer-friendly meals that don't taste worse than fresh. This recipe sounds good, though, can you provide directions on how to prep these for individually wrapped freezer meals, as you mentioned you do for yourself? If I were to guess, I'd freeze the sauce separate from the prepared but unbaked tortilla wrapped enchilada. Then to reheat I'd... ?... bake on 325 until it's hot throughout?? Anyway, enough guessing.


    Hey Nicole!! Glad we think alike, you will love this meal!! I do the total recipe, baking it with the sauce and everything. And then put each enchilada onto tin foil and wrap it up and freeze. To defrost I normally unwrap it and put it in the microwave for 2-3minutes and then finish it in the oven at 350 for about 10minutes. You could of course do the whole defrosting in the oven, I'm just usually not that patient ;)

    - Nikki Dinki


    July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

    This looks wonderful and your photographs are amazing. Two empty superlatives in one sentence -- you see that I watched tonight's episode of Food Network Star. I am inspired by your concept and will follow your blog on Bloglovin'!

    I also found you via the Food Network Path and win or loose - happy I found your blog (hopefully WIN)
    Will you be sharing that lovely pasta shrimp mushroom recipe anytime soon?
    You did GREAT last episode! Such a natural and you look so beautiful on screen!


    Thank you so very much!!! You can find the recipe at

    - Nikki Dinki


    July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFoodgeeklee

    Loved this recipe! I also found you via food network star. I've been trying to find more fun healthy meals and your veggie meat-on-the-side concept is just perfect. Thank you for blogging and sharing your recipes. I'm gonna try the cauliflower mac and cheese next (which is great for a gluten free gal like me!).


    Awesome!! More than happy to share. For a little crunch instead of the bread crumbs on top of the cauliflower mac and cheese you could toast up some pumpkin seeds or pine nuts! Enjoy!!



    July 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

    I have to share with everyone, I have been honored to be over to Nikki's home to actually taste these AMAZING enchiladas! So glad I now have my hands on the recipe! And I am so ready to see you take first place and WIN Food Network Star! You are already such a star, and you shine on screen. My husband will be happy to get a reprise of your tasty dish! Thank you, Nikki, for your "meat on the side" recipes. I love the concept and, of course, love the dishes!

    July 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Jo

    O.o those look like flour tortillas. Enchiladas are made with corn tortillas.

    July 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternoxious.sunshine

    Hi Nikki! I am so looking forward to reading your blog! I finally watched Food Network Star yesterday and was so disappointed to see you leave! You were definitely a top contender for sure and I know you have heard this a lot, but I love your point of view! Seriously! I think we all need that kind of food philosophy. You also did a great job on camera--you are adorably relatable, and you do know your stuff. Anywho, you will definitely go far! You have a lot of fans rooting for you! Keep up the awesome work!


    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlexia

    So sorry to see you leave Food Network Star. You are far and away my favorite. I love your point of view. It helps me blend my sons desire to have no carbs and my husbands desire to have no vegetables. I really don't care that you were unsure what makes a pilaf...I just want fresh, quick meals that taste great. I hope that you have great success, even though Food Network made a huge mistake sending you home!

    August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

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