Enchiladas…great recipe from a great college friend

As I mentioned a few posts ago…I recently caught up with an old college friend in DC Amina, and this hs her recipe that I have just revised a bit. It’s so so easy and really delicious! Thanks Amina!


1 can enchilada sauce  

1 can refried or black beans

1 can corn, drained

1 can chopped or sliced olives, drained (I omitted these…not an olive fan) 

1 package shredded Mexican cheese mix (she uses light…so do I)

1 package tortillas (she likes flour, I like corn)

Some chopped onions (she uses frozen, I chopped mine)

 I also added in some left over crab cakes my Dad had made, and some steak.



Spray rectangular Pyrex casserole dish with Pam.  Pour half of the can of enchilada sauce into it.


Put one of the tortillas down in the sauce and put in one handful each of beans, corn, and cheese. Add around a tbsp each of the chopped onions and olives. Roll the whole thing up so there’s sauce on most of the outside of the tortilla.


Repeat filling and rolling tortillas until there’s no more room in the pan.

 Like this:

Then pour the remaining sauce over the top of the tortillas. Spread the remaining cheese and olives on the top too. Poke the ends of the tortillas down a bit.


Bake at 350* for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is all melty.


Serve with any/all of the following: rice, tortilla chips, salad, or guac.

I thought for sure the boyfriend and I would love the crab ones more than the steak ones…but alas we loved the steak.

See you all soon!


Review of 5 Church


This is my first review of a local restaurant, which seems odd to me, but I guess usually my posts have been about trips or things I make.

I had heard about 5Church from my friend Jon, also a big foodie and Top Chef fan. It’s located at 5th and Church streets here in Charlotte, go figure. It’s three investors with Chef Jaime Lynch, who was the chef at Barrington’s (special occasion place, so delicious) here in town and has also worked at Le Cirque. I did notice that evening that two of the three investors were in the house.

I had high hopes for this restaurant based on the design of the website, word of mouth, and the menu. 

The decor is very NY chic which I love. Great bar area. What I didn’t love about the decor was the leucite clear chairs. They just aren’t comfortable. I like to sit and enjoy the ambiance and these chairs make me want to flee.

Our waiter was good…but only after we asked for specials or his recommendations on the menu. I am a firm believer that waiters should help guide your experience of a new restaurant. The menu had snacks, first course, steaks, and the main course. I inquired what the snacks were and how big they were…he told me a few bites. I ordered the baked goat cheese and spinach. I kind of thought it would be more like a salad but it was more like a dip. Good and tasty, but not what I expected.

My friend Kelly, ordered the Bibb Salad, which also looked delicious.

She crushed it. I was jealous.

The boys both ordered the hummus which looked a lot like the dip I had.

I got the Maine Skate. I lovely white fish with pickled ramp brown butter and fresh veggies.

It was lovely and cooked perfectly.

The boyfriend had the lamb burger, which looked awesome.

The pink sauce was like a homemade ketchup which I tested…spicy and yummy.

Our two friends had the Hangar steak and it looked awesome.

All in all, it was a good dinner and I will consider coming back. The location is fantastic as it’s right up the street from the Blumenthal Performing Arts center…where we took in Aziz Ansari immediately following. He’s a funny guy…and a foodie too!

A few more food notes:

Try Savor on Morehead. It’s delicious. My favorite is the mojo chicken sandwich and the chocolate banana pudding. It’s amazing.

Also, try Mattie’s diner at the NC Music Factory. I had a bite of this meatloaf and it was awesome. I had a turkey wrap, which was ok…but I will be getting this meatloaf next time.

Till next time!


My own Top Chef taste test in DC

Greetings everyone!

Sorry I’ve been away a bit too long. I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day holiday. I spent that Sunday at my parents and my Dad made his famous ribs. He smokes them on his smoker, with a dry rub, and OMG they are good. He also does our Thanksgiving turkey on the smoker. YUM!

Here are a few mouth watering photos for you and one of the chef…

They were so good! After years of buying them at Costco, he bought them at Wal-Mart. They might have been his best ribs ever.

Ok so now to the Top Chef taste test. The first weekend of June I headed to Maryland to attend my good friend Jenn’s wedding to her beloved, Blake.

A photo of the happy couple…

After the fantastic party…I headed down to Silver Spring, coincidentally the bride’s hometown, to visit an old college friend, Amina. She made this beautiful brunch of fresh fruit, tomatoes and basil, and Quiche. Delicious! So wonderful to see her.

And then it was to DC for a few days of sightseeing. I’ve been to DC a few times, but never have done the touristy stuff because I’ve been in and out for meetings, etc.

On Monday, I hit the Air and Space Museum, the Newseum, and the Museum of American History. Also on my hit list that day was Good Stuff Eatery. A burger joint owned by Spike Mendelsohn who was on Top Chef Season 4 and Top Chef All Stars. I am a huge Top Chef fan and follow a lot of the chefs on Twitter. Speaking of which…you should follow this blog on Twitter…@whatkatetastes. Just sayin.

Anyway I knew his burger joint was on Capital Hill so I mapped it out and incorporated it into my plan. Speaking of my plan, a huge shout out to the DC Metro trains and my iPhone for guiding me in a city I wasn’t familiar with.

I took this photo en route from the Newseum to the restaurant. I would really like it if the folks that work in there could get something done and not wait until after the election.

Ok back to food! So I walked in and ordered a farm fresh burger w/ bacon and cheese. I also got a hand spun chocolate shake and village fries, which are fries with sea salt, thyme and rosemary.

It took about 10 minutes to wait for my order and that’s when I noticed they had siracha mayo and old bay mayo in addition to ketchup for your fries, etc. Definitely tried both of those. Liked the siracha the best.

I got my burger and headed upstairs where they had seating. They wrap everything like it is to go and give you a tray if you are eating there. I didn’t love that and you will see why in this photo.

My burger got kinda smushed. Now, don’t get me wrong, this was a delicious burger. Very much reminded me of my favorite In N Out burger. My fries were good, but would have been so much better if they were crispy instead of soggy. My shake rocked. All in all, it was worth the walk but I was expecting much more.

The following day, I started at the Jefferson Memorial, walked my way to the new MLK memorial, saw the Lincoln memorial and the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Very cool, very moving day. The weather was perfect for walking.

I was on such a mission that day to get going, that I didn’t have breakfast (unusual for me) so I decided to have an early lunch at my other Top Chef stop, Graffiato. Mike Isabella was on Season 6 of Top Chef and was a finalist on Top Chef All Stars. This was my second visit to Graffiato (so it kind of wasn’t a fair fight to begin with).

The last time I was there was in the fall and the menu reflected that. They had chicken thighs with his famous pepperoni sauce and pumpkin zeppoli’s that I will never forget.

I sat at the bar that overlooked the wood fire oven and the kitchen which was fun because I love to see how chef’s make things. They had a special pick three items for $20 dollars for lunch so I chose to do that and ordered the roasted cauliflower with mint and pecorino, fresh cut spaghetti w/ tomato sauce, and salmon with artichoke, white beans and capers. I knew from the last time that it is tapas style plates so I could handle three.

I also ordered myself a few glasses of white wine. That’s how I do vacation on a Tuesday.

The cauliflower arrived first and it is and forever will be the best cauliflower of all time.

I tried to watch the chef to see what exactly she was putting in there…but never figured it out. There was a bit of red onion in there. Yum. Garlic. Yum. And of course the mint and the cheese. Amazing. I cleaned this plate.

Next out was the spaghetti. Simple. Clean. So good.

The Salmon was next…and sorry I forgot to take the photo before I ate a bite. That happens a lot. I can’t help it.

The salmon was perfectly cooked with a great salty crust. The artichoke and white bean mixture it sat on was awesome. I was a very happy girl.

I was full and happy but decided to entertain the thought of dessert. My server, said her favorite was the blood orange cheesecake with passionfruit and microbasil. There are times when you just need to listen to your server…this was one of them. So good.

After I rolled out of there and got back on the Metro to Dupont Circle I stopped by Kramer books. A few friends had suggested it and it was a very cool bookstore…with…

Yup. That’s a bar. Coolest. Bookstore. Ever.

So with that my visit to DC came to a close and so does this blog.

See you all soon!

Singapore Rice Noodles

If you work in Uptown Charlotte like I do chances are good that you have been to Fujo, the chinese restaurant in one of the Wells Fargo buildings. Before my company moved, our Charlotte office was located in that building and I’m sure it was one of my co-workers that first took me there. It’s great for a quick lunch and some time back I started eating Singapore Rice Noodles there. Essentially, it’s noodles, curry, chicken and fresh veggies.

During my trip to the Super G, I saw some dried rice noodles on the shelf and thought I’d give it a shot.

I googled a few recipes and ended up combining a few to come up with this recipe. NOTE: There is only one photo of the end product for this blog entry as once everything is chopped and ready…it cooks quickly. And since it was my first time making it, I was a bit pre-occupied.

So here is what I did/used:

I read all different kinds of ways to get the dry noodles ready. Eventually I followed the directions on the package and soaked them in a bowl of tepid tap water for 45 minutes (it said 5-10 but it just needed more time for the noodles to get al dente). After this, I used a colander to dry them off.

2-3 red/orange bell peppers sliced thin

2 green onions chopped

1 med size piece of ginger (to clean ginger simply chop the skin off on all sides and then chop it up)

2 handfuls of pre-shredded carrots

1 chicken breast sliced thin

2-3 cloves of minced garlic

I don’t have a wok so I used my deepest frying pan I had. I put in 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil in the pan and cooked the chicken. Because it was sliced thin it didn’t take long.

While the chicken was cooking, I combined 3 eggs, 2 more tablespoons of toasted sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder. Strangely enough, I didn’t buy curry at the Super G and found curry (it’s yellow in color) at Wal-Mart in the spice aisle.

Once the chicken was done, I moved it onto a plate and scrambled the eggs.

I then moved the eggs onto a separate dish.

I then added another tablespoon of sesame oil and added in the ginger, garlic, and curry for about 1 minute.

Now it was time for the veggies. I added one more tablespoon of sesame oil and threw the veggies in.  After about a minute or so I added a few tablespoons of water.

One more tablespoon of sesame oil and I added back the noodles to fry them up for a bout 30 seconds. Next, 1/2 cup of chicken broth is added. Bring it to a boil. Added back in the chicken and the eggs. Added some soy sauce and dry sherry (a few tablespoons each) and tossed.

I plated it and added some sprinkled cilantro over it. It was really really good.

The boyfriend and I crushed this plate with ony a left over lunch portion left for me. I can’t wait to make it again. Now…who to invite?

Matthews Community Farmer’s Market

When I moved to Charlotte, I knew I wanted to live in South Charlotte. The house I ended up buying was the last I looked at and is near the community of Matthews. When people ask me where I live it’s just easier to say, “near Matthews” rather than South Charlotte. Gives them a better idea of where exactly I am. What I didn’t realize when I moved here was the proximity of an amazing Farmer’s Market. It’s literally a five minute drive.

Matthews, for those of you outside NC, is a small town that was populated in the 1800’s. Here is a bit of history from their official website.

In 1879, Matthews was incorporated as a municipal corporation in the state of North Carolina. Jeremiah Solomon Reid headed a committee to secure the town charter. The town’s official name became Matthews, in honor of Edward Watson Matthews. In 1880, the official census listed 191 residents.

The downtown is at the corner of John Street and Trade Street. It’s not big…but it is quaint.

The Matthews Community Farmer’s Market is open year round, with special hours during the winter, and in the summer there is a twilight market on Tuesday nights. Everything sold at the market comes from within a 50 mile radius. Local. Fresh. Yum.

Here is a very important tip about the market…YOU MUST GET THERE EARLY. It opens at 7:15 am and by 7:45 a lot of stuff is sold out. What can I say it’s a popular market. This morning I went by Hinson Farms, as their son has his own fresh egg business, but they were sold out. I was there at 7:30. He’s still one of my favorite people in the market. He said, “sorry, they are all gone” and I replied “that’s a good thing”. He said, “well not for you”. Their eggs are so yummy indeed it was good for him but not for me.

I was on the hunt for basil, tomatoes, red onions and wanted some fresh goat cheese. I always buy goat cheese from Bosky Acres. They have plain and some flavors…my personal favorite is garlic and chive. You can also find them at Earthfare if you don’t make it to the market. I use it for my turkey/goat cheese grilled cheese (see earlier post). I also put it in scrambled eggs.

 I bought my red onions today…4 for $3 from Fisher Farms. I can’t wait to put them in my Orzo salad, which I am making tomorrow for a BBQ at my parent’s house.

They had some amazing looking purple cauliflower which I will try very soon!

A vendor I normally visit but didn’t today because I have lettuce in my fridge is Tega Hills Farms. They have the best lettuce. The bibb is my favorite. Today she even had squash blossoms! I plan to stuff those with some goat cheese and fry them up this summer.

but you have to get there early…because there is always a line!

A few other tips about the market.

They have cooking demonstrations from local chefs most weeks.

They have a large lot in the back for parking.

The ladies that sell flowers there have the best flowers. I bought some for Easter and they lasted almost two weeks. They are gorgeous and well priced.


Also, they have an email list that sends out a blast Friday morning telling you what vendors will and won’t be at market and what kind of veggies, fruits and other products they anticipate being there. Here’s the website for the market.


Last, I bought a new camera this week so hopefully I can improve my food photography. I forgot to take a photo of the tomato man…but here are a few shots of his yummy tomatoes. They are a little pricey but grown with love. He’s always at the front of the market.

Enjoy your Saturday evening! I will be in bed early after this early trip for you all…ok and for me too!

A yummy orzo pasta salad by Giada for Memorial Day

File this in the “If you have been to my house you have eaten this file” because I love making this dish and serve it often. Additionally, it’s two recipes for the price of one because a crucial part of this pasta salad is Giada’s red wine vinaigarette, which is also a staple in my house (and my work fridge for that matter). I rarely buy salad dressing anymore that’s how much I love this dressing. This is illustrated by how beat up the pages are in my Giada book on that particular page…

I know I know, you can’t read that…so here is a link to the recipe as well. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/red-wine-vinaigrette-recipe/index.html

I make one adjustment I feel you should know about. I don’t put a full cup of Olive Oil. I did at first but to me…it’s just a bit too much…so I do 3/4 of a cup and it comes out great.

Ok so now to the orzo pasta salad…which is also a Giada recipe. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/everyday-italian/orzo-salad-recipe/index.html

I make some adjustments but want you guys to know where/how I started making things. She includes garbanzo beans and mint…I omit them. Sometimes I put cheese in, sometimes I don’t. I LOVE red onion in this recipe…but the other night when I made this I didn’t have any.

So start by cooking your orzo pasta. I do follow her direction about this and cook it in chicken broth. Adds such a nice flavor. This time I used 3 cups of broth (as I had some open) and 3/4 cup of orzo. Once it’s al dente…give it a bath! I put mine in the colander and rinse it off.

It stops it from continuing to cook, keeps the salad from being too starchy and also cools it off at the same time. While the orzo was cooking…I got busy and chopped a tomato (one of the ones from the Super G market I bought a few weeks ago…yes weeks), some basil I needed to use, and a bit of buffalo mozarella I had left in the fridge.

Add in your orzo…and your red wine vinaigrette and boom orzo salad. Giada says to use 3/4 of a cup of vinegarette…again I use less. Use your best judgement.

Enjoy! Happy Memorial Day! Don’t forget to honor those who fought for our freedom! Oh and enjoy some racing too with the Coke 600 on FOX at 6pm ET! Sorry I couldn’t resist a tune in message!

Make Ahead Turkey Meatballs for Easy Mid-Week Meals

A few years ago I started making turkey meatballs and putting them in the freezer to mix with whole wheat pasta for an easy weeknight meal. I’ll use either a pound or two pounds of frozen turkey depending on how ambitious I feel that day.

This is so easy to do on a Sunday and prepare yourself for the weeks ahead.

So get a bowl and let’s make some meatballs. Here’s what to put in the bowl.

Ground Turkey

Chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup of Italian Bread Crumbs

An egg

Garlic (2-3 bulbs…whatever you are comfortable with)

Onion (1 medium or small is fine. Sometimes I will use shallots to use them up)

Parmesan Cheese (to taste)

It’s going to look like this

Now here is the key…don’t over mix it. Once the ingredients are somewhat combined…start making the balls.

I roll mine in a bit of flour before I put them in the pan to keep them together. I fry them up in olive oil. NOTE: Use a non-stick pan for this. I don’t know why I used this pan this time but I won’t do it again. Brain fart by me.

Make sure to turn them once the bottoms get carmelized and yummy.

A twist that I love…is to put some lemon juice on each one after they are done. YUM! Sometimes I do it in the pan, sometimes I do it on the paper towel when they are cooling.

I then put 3 or 4 in a freezer bag and make mid-week packages. When I pull them out of the freezer…I put some olive oil over them and let them cook for about a minute in the microwave.

Coming soon:

Singapore Noodles

A trip to the Matthews Community Farmers Market

and much much more TBD!

I swore I wasn’t going to cook this weekend…but I did…French Onion Soup

I got home from Mother’s Day brunch at Georges Brasserie (which was lovely) and it turned into a rainy, gross day. I wanted something warm and cozy but not too heavy because I ate well at brunch…and these onions I got on the way back from Darlington Raceway at McLeod Farms were calling my name. I also wanted something easy and hassle free as it had been a long weekend.

How could I not turn them into a delicous French Onion soup on this rainy Sunday?

I used the Google machine and found a basic Betty Crocker recipe that I used as a guide.

I chopped the onions. Melted 2 tablespoons of butter and put them in the slow cooker for an hour as directed.

I then mixed as directed

a tablespoon or so of worstershire sauce

3 tablespoons of flour


and a teaspoon of sugar together and added into the slow cooker along with about 6 cups of beef broth.

Set the slow cooker for three hours and walked away.

About two hours in…I noticed that the onions were not as carmelized or as soft as I would like. So…I punted. I took the onions and added some olive oil, a tablespoon of butter and some salt and pepper and put them in a pan to carmelize. So glad I did.

It took about 25-30 minutes to get them looking this yummy. I added them back into the broth in the slow cooker, added some chopped thyme and let them cook for another hour.

After the hour I put some in a bowl, added some crusty bread and some parmesean cheese and put it under the broiler for just a few minutes.

Easy. Breezy. Cozy. Yum.

Tikin Xic Fish…and I am not perfect!


My parents and I spent the Christmas holiday in Cancun, Mexico this year and I fell in love with Tikin Xic fish. At the all-inclusive resort we stayed at, there was a little restaurant near the pool that only served lunch. We stumbled in there the first day and I tried this fish. I then ate it every day, and even tried it at a local restaurant.

I wish I had taken photos of that fish because it was presented so beautifully.

Here is the wikepedia description of Tikin Xic fish.

Tikin Xic, pronounced “teekeen sheek” in Yucatec Mayan and meaning “dry fish”, is a fish dish prepared in the Meso-American style. The fish is prepared whole then marinated with adobo de Achiote and sour oranges then wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked in an earth oven beneath a wood fire.

The reason I went to the international market Super G Mart (see last post and then run there) was to find the Achiote paste. I did not however purchase a banana leaf and in hind sight perhaps I should have.

Here is a photo of the Achiote paste and ground Achiote…which I may experiment with next time. The paste is up top.

I  looked at many recipes on the internet and here is what I did…

I squeezed two limes into a bowl

Added a cup of orange juice

Used 1 oz or about half of the package of Achiote paste and dissolved it into the juice

Added some of my Dos Equis

and then threw my fish (I used Tilapia but might use another white fish next time) in a bowl and let it marinade for a few hours. I put a bit of fresh oregano on top.

So the key to this dish…is the pickled onions. Remember this…the key to the dish.

I chopped up some fresh thyme and oregano I had in the fridge. Sliced a red onion into thin rings. Juiced my remaining two limes from the Super G Mart. Added some fresh pepper and some white wine vinegar and added them all together. YUM!

I also put some rice in my rice cooker. 1 cup of rice. 2 cups of water. And wash the starch out of your rice for goodness sakes. It makes all the difference.

Once the rice was done, I added about a tablespoon of vegetable oil, some salt, a bit of lime juice (I keep some in the fridge at all times) and some chopped cilantro. Homemade Chipotle cilantro rice. So yummy and not as fattening. They use way too much oil.

I decided to try and cook the fish on a flat fry pan I have since there was the yummiest carmelization on the fish at the resort. It didn’t really work out as I had planned, but was still yummy.

The entire time the boyfriend and I were eating this I felt like something was missing…but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It kinda tasted like the resort but something wasn’t right. It wasn’t until about an hour later when I went to show him a photo on my phone that I discovered…I had forgotten the onions! Oh no! The delicious pickled onions were in the fridge!

Luckily we had some fish left over and I made us both lunch for the next day with the onions. We both agreed it was so much better. And yes, I am still bitter I forgot the onions.

Might have been the best Monday lunch of all time. And we used the onions for Taco Tuesday but damn! Let’s just say I will be making this again in the near future.

More from the international market adventure soon!

Run don’t walk to Super G Mart

I checked something off my Things I want to Try list this weekend.

I drive by the Super G Mart on Independence Blvd in Charlotte all the time. I’ve always wanted to go in. I have heard great things about it. So this weekend…I made my first trip and it will NOT be my last.

Don’t be intimidated by the International market. Sure there was some stuff there that I will never be courageous enough to try. It’s filled with asian, indian, and latin food treasures. Upon entering…you will be BLOWN away by the produce and the price of aforementioned produce. It’s amazing.

Here’s a photo of the Super G Mart…you know where it is…in the shopping center where the Best Buy used to be just past or before (depending on which way you are coming from) the CarMax on Independence.

I was in heaven in the produce department. Cooking Thai food or an asian stir fry? No problem. They have Thai Basil, fresh ginger, fresh lemongrass. Making tacos or in my case Yucutan style fish (the real reason for my visit)? No problem. They have so many kinds of peppers it’s crazy (including Thai peppers). The tomatoes? They were $.59/lb. Yup. And…I got the most amazing fresh spinach for $.99 cents. This warrants a photo. Stat.


I went there for Anchiote paste for a dish (next blog entry) and they had it in two different forms a paste and ground up. I also got some frozen veggie spring rolls, two different kinds of rice, some rice noodles and some lo mein noodles. I guess I will be blogging about asian food in the near future! 🙂 Stir fry has been on my mind.

So be brave and head on in there! To cap off this blog I will leave you with two photos that perfectly illustrate why you should go.

This was my bounty:


The green leafy stuff on the left…beautiful cilantro. Three bunches for $.99 cents.

This was how much the bounty cost:

Yup…$38 bucks.

Super G Mart on Independence. Look. Into. It.