Huntersville

Restaurant Review: Verde Mexican and Nuevo Latin Fusion

Need a vacation but are stuck here in Lake Norman? You need to check out Verde in Huntersville.  This great restaurant will transport you to Cuba, Argentina, Mexico…without leaving this beautiful area.

The front is deceptively small, once you get inside the restaurant goes back pretty far and seats plenty.  They have a great little bar area with high top tables, and booths and tables in the restaurant area.  There is room enough for a large party of about 10.  Service is great, our waitress was so kind and attentive.

We started with cocktails and drinks.  I had the peach margarita which was on special.  It was sweet yet strong!  Very good!


Next we ordered the guacamole which comes with chips and salsa.  They also refilled our chips when we ran out for no charge 🙂  The guacamole was very fresh, chock full of tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro.  The salsa had a slight hint of chipotle to it, which isn’t my favorite flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering.  I liked it!

For my entree, I chose the paella with seafood.  It was as flavorful as everyone before has stated, but maybe a little heavy on the peas!  I could taste the smoky paprika, and most of the seafood was very fresh, but I did have one calamari ring that was a bit fishy, so I took the rest off.  The shrimp were delicious.

Ty had the Tacos Verde which were small but tasty.  He ordered a side of rice to accompany.  The tacos had tasty marinated steak and were topped with chipotle rouille, avocado salsa, Monterrey jack and cotija cheeses.  Yum!

We enjoyed our time there and will likely be back!

Mooresville

Restaurant Review: El Veracruz in Mooresville, NC

Photo Credit: Stephanie S on Yelp

The last time I visited this location was when it was the Prickly Pear years ago.  We loved it then, although the stairs can present a challenge to some.  There is handicapped parking in the back and a ramp for those needing access.  This building was once a church and is kind of off the beaten path right past downtown Mooresville, but that just adds to its charm.

The service was great on our visit, our food was brought very quickly and our waitress was very attentive and kind.  The chips were fresh and warm and the salsa was very flavorful and just spicy enough.  Also very fresh.  We ordered a cheese dip as an appetizer and it was thick and creamy, very good!

Our dinners were also delicious.  I got a platter with a taco, chile poblano and a tostada.  All was delicious, but the taco was my favorite.  The meat was spiced well and it surprisingly held together while I was eating it.

My kids got the Pollo con Crema and that was super good.  The meat was seared just perfectly to give you the crispy brown bits but the chicken itself was very tender.  The rice was also flavorful and fluffy.

We truly enjoyed our experience and can’t wait to return.

Recipe

Tex Mex Dip

When we lived in Osceola, Arkansas we attended the First Presbyterian Church and each Wednesday night we had a fellowship supper.  Each family brought a dish to share and we enjoyed each others company and broke bread together.  Sue Moody brought this one night and I just loved it.  She graciously shared her recipe with me over 20 years ago and I still make it often!

TEX-MEX DIP

INGREDIENTS

  • tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium avocados
  • 1teaspoon pepper
  • cup sour cream
  • 1cup mayonnaise
  • (1 1/4 ounce) packet taco seasoning mix
  • 21 ounces commercially prepared bean dip (plain or jalapeno)
  • 1 cup green onion, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 7 ounces olives, chopped
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS

Peel, pit and mash avocadoes in medium bowl.

Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.

In separate bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and taco seasoning.

To assemble, spread bean dip on a large, shallow platter.

Top with avocado mixture.

Put on sour cream and taco mixture.

Sprinkle wit chopped onions, tomatoes, and olives.

Cover with shredded cheese.

Recipe

Recipe: 5 Minute Tomato Salsa

Mexican food is my favorite.  And the one thing I love about Mexican food above all others is the salsa.  This one reminds me of the salsa at one of my childhood favorite haunts: Pancho’s in Ft. Walton Beach Florida.  Easy to make, and very fresh tasting!

5 MINUTE TOMATO SALSA

Very fresh, make as spicy as you want by leaving seeds of jalapeno in if desired.
Source: The Best Quick
1/2 small jalapeno, minced
1/4 small red onion, peeled
1 small garlic clove, pressed and minced
2 tablespoons packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lime juice
14 1⁄2 ounces diced tomatoes, drained
Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes in food processor until minced, about 5 times.
Add tomatoes and pulse 2 times. Transfer to fine mesh sieve and drain for one minute.
Charlotte · Denver · Gastonia · Huntersville · Sherrills Ford

Best of Restaurants: Mexican Food

Mexican food is my all time favorite.  It’s my deserted island food, my last meal food and my go-to when working late.  Here are the best dishes I’ve found.

Shredded Beef Chimichanga at Margaritas in Denver, NC

Quesadilla Mexicana at La Unica in Huntersville, NC

Table-side Guacamole at Paco’s Tacos in Charlotte, NC

Pollo Loco at El Patron in Gastonia, NC

Pelusa at Los Mezquites Grill in Sherrills Ford, NC

Lobster Quesadilla at Cousins Maine Lobster Food Truck in Charlotte, NC

Fish and Chips Taco at Velvet Taco in Charlotte

Recipe

Simply Good Sandwiches

Sandwiches represent a certain failing for me.  Whenever I can’t get a home cooked dinner on the table, I rely on this old staple to sustain my hungry people.  It’s a default if my kids won’t eat what I’ve made (yep, I’m one of those parents who don’t MAKE the kids eat what I fix.)  But I’ve learned that sometimes, when you make a sandwich, there is a certain comfort in being able to take your plate and eat in front of the TV while watching Seinfeld re-runs.  Here are some of my favorites:

Club Sandwich

Perfect for an easy summer dinner, especially with fresh homegrown tomatoes  Club Sandwich

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 slices toasted bread
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 4 slices shaved ham
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced, divided
  • 4 leaves lettuce, divided
  • 4 slices crisp bacon, divided
  • 2 slices Monterey jack cheese
  • 4 slices shaved deli turkey

DIRECTIONS

  • Spread mayonnaise on one side of a piece of toast; add layer of American cheese, ham, two slices of tomato, two leaves of lettuce, and two pieces of bacon.
  • Spread mayonnaise on second piece of toast and place on top, mayo side down.
  • Spread mayonnaise on top of that second piece of toast.
  • Layer Monterey Jack cheese, the rest of the tomatoes, lettuce, turkey and bacon on top.
  • Spread mayonnaise on third piece of toast and place on the stack mayo side down.
  • Slice the sandwich in quarters diagonally.
  • Skewers or long toothpicks may be used to hold all the layers together.

 

Grilled Chick N Wrappers

Grilled Chick N Wrappers
Grilled Chick N Wrappers

A wrap is a kind of sandwich, right?  I made this one for the family last night and it was a spot hitter.  You know, it hit the spot?  OK, so it comes together easily, and even though the word “grilled” is in the title, you just cook up the chicken in a skillet.  I suppose actually grilling it could only improve its flavor.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 8 ounces Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese blend
  • 6 slices hickory smoked bacon
  • 16 ounces shredded Lettuce
  • ranch salad dressing
  • 6 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 lime

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a skillet heat olive oil on medium.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into strips and add to skillet.
  3. In a separate skillet, fry the bacon.
  4. While they are cooking, slice the onion, cucumber and set aside.

  5. When chicken is done and the bacon is done, remove from skillet and set aside.
  6. Assembly time. Heat the tortilla in microwave for 15 seconds.
  7. To the tortillas, add the ranch, lettuce, cucumbers, onion, bacon, cheese, and then chicken and squeeze a little lime juice over and wrap like a burrito.

Pressed Chicken Tortas

I got this recipe when I was using Blue Apron.  They have some really great recipes, probably the best service I’ve found.  This one seems long, but it’s just because they over-explain all steps 🙂  Give it a go.  Delicious sammy!

Photo credit: Blue Apron
  • 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 4 Torta Rolls
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Romaine Heart
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 bunch Cilantro
  • 3 oz Queso Fresco
  • 3 Tbsps Pepitas
  • ½ cup Low-Fat Sour Cream
  • 2 tsps Chicken Torta Spice Blend (Ancho Chile Powder, Mexican Oregano, Smoked Sweet Paprika, Garlic Powder & Ground Cumin)

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve the rolls. Core, halve and thinly slice the tomato. Crumble the queso fresco. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce; roughly chop the leaves. Quarter the limes. Halve, pit, peel and thinly slice the avocado; top with the juice of 2 lime wedges to prevent browning. Peel and halve the onion; small dice 1 half and thinly slice the remaining half. In a medium bowl, combine the diced onion and the juice of 4 lime wedges.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season on both sides with salt, pepper and (reserving a pinch) as much of the spice blend as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken. Cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly. Wipe out the pan.

While the chicken cooks, add the sour cream and remaining spice blend to the diced onion-lime juice mixture. Stir to thoroughly combine; season with salt and pepper to taste.

When cool enough to handle, thinly slice the cooked chicken. Place the bottoms of the rolls, cut sides up, on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the sliced chickenavocado, as much of the sliced onion as you’d like (you may have extra), the tomato, half the queso fresco and the cilantro between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Top with the juice of the remaining lime wedges and the roll tops.

In the pan used to cook the chicken, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Working in 2 batches, add the tortas. Place a heavy pot on top of the tortas to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and slightly flattened. Transfer to a cutting board or plate.

While the tortas toast, in a large bowl, combine the lettuce, pepitas,remaining queso fresco and as much of the dressing as you’d like (you may have extra dressing). Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut each toasted torta in half diagonally; divide between 4 plates. Serve with the salad on the side. Enjoy!

Another favorite is LEMONY CUCUMBER CREAM CHEESE SANDWICHES.  I made these for a Broker luncheon at a home I had listed in Lincolnton during the summer and they were cool, refreshing and tasted of summer.  The original recipe is from Chew Out Loud.

DIAN’S CHICKEN SALAD

PREP TIME: 1 hr 15 mins TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 30 mins
YIELD: 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

    • 4 chicken breast halves, bone in
    • 8 ounces green olives, chopped
    • 1 cup mayonnaise

DIRECTIONS

  1. Skin chicken, put in pan, cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 75 minutes. Cool, pull from bones and chop finely. Add mayo and chopped olives.
  2. *Depending on how big your chicken breasts are, you may want more mayo and olives. Make it to your favorite consistency.
Recipe

Three Cheese Enchiladas

My people love some Mexican food.  And this specific recipe is very special to me because a long ago friend from Osceola, Arkansas brought it to a church potluck once and I asked for the recipe.  She wrote it out by hand, and photocopied it since there were so many of us who wanted it.  I found it tucked away in my files the other day and my brain just flooded with memories of that sweet family!

Three Cheese Enchiladas and the recipe :)
Three Cheese Enchiladas and the recipe 🙂

Three Cheese Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (3 ounce) package softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup Pace Picante Sauce
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 8 (7 -8 inch) flour tortillas
  • shredded Lettuce
  • chopped tomato

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine 1 cup each of jack and cheddar, and the cream cheese, 1/4 cup picante, peppers, onion, and seasonings; mix well.
  2. Spoon 1/4 cup mix down the middle of each tortilla.
  3. Roll and place seam side down in 13×9-inch baking dish.
  4. Spoon remaining sauce over top. Cover with remaining mixed cheese.
  5. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
  6. Top with lettuce and tomato and serve with additional picante sauce.

Here’s a version that’s easy to print:  3 Cheese Enchiladas