Friday, August 22, 2014

Memphis Nosh: Babalu Tacos & Tapas

A couple of weeks ago Kirby, her little girl (who is going to be THREE soon, which is unbelievable), and I went to Babalu Tacos & Tapas, one of the newest additions to Overton Square.

It's been pretty hyped, and every time I go by there are huge lines out the door, so we decided to go on a weeknight as early as possible - and it worked! Got there are 5:30, walked in, waited about 2 minutes, and got a table right away!


(Pic from the sign company that made this AWESOME exterior possible, Balton Sign Company)

Inside, it's a kind of "cozy industrial," if that's possible.

(The bar)

Also, they show "I Love Lucy" projected on the wall!

Because (as I've had to explain to a LOT of people) "Babalu" is the name of a Cuban song that Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball's real and TV husband, popularized on the show. 

Like so:


Secret confession time. 

Desi Arnaz was my very first celebrity crush. 

When I was younger, I used to watch "I Love Lucy" with my gramma all the time. 

When I got old enough to be like "yay boys!" Desi Arnaz was absolutely it for me.

Even before that I pretty much imagined that I was going to end up just like Lucy and marry a Desi of my own.

The Lucy part isn't that far off:



Also this is my life:


(Also, no judging because 1. Desi Arnaz was super hot and talented, and 2. yeah, she played ditzy but Lucille Ball was actually a genius who fought for women's rights and took Hollywood for all it was worth in a lot of ways. Basically she was a badass, married to another badass, and I also want to be a badass.)
(Harumph.)

Anyway.

I love "I Love Lucy." 

I LOVE Babalu Tacos & Tapas.

We started off with some appetizers/small plates, and each got one big things, which is absolutely what I would recommend.


We started with the guacamole, which is made tableside and is totally customizable, delicious, and comes in an awesome molcajete.


They add sun dried tomatoes (I usually do fresh, but it was really good), and we added bacon to ours. 

DO IT.

We also asked that our server put about half the normal amount of cilantro and it was perfect, so don't be afraid to ask for specific amounts of ingredients.


We also got the queso blanco dip and added pork belly. 

Again I say: 

DO IT.


Kirby got the empanadas, and Cloe got black eyed peas, rice, and our awesome server rounded up some fruit for her (none of which I took a picture of, but it looked great, and they are super accommodating for off the menu requests).

I got, without a doubt, one of the top 5 best burgers I've ever had in Memphis.

The Baba Burger.


It is: "Aspen Ridge Natural Angus Beef, roasted roma tomatoes, caramelized onions, white cheddar cheese, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, chipotle aioli, sweet sourdough bun" burger and it is almost as badass as Lucille Ball.

It comes in a large ($10.50, two patties) or small ($8.50, one patty), so of course, for research purposes, I got the large. 

OMG.


Cooked perfectly medium-well (their default), super juicy, and that bun is like a sweet blanket wrapping up all that deliciousness. 

So good. 

So messy. 

So worth it.

Service was really good - it was a little scattered at times, but all the servers will refill your drinks and bring food out, and I think they were short, so it was fine. Since everyone was so nice and accommodating and the food was so good, the minor hiccups were just that. 

By the time we left the line was massive, so definitely get there early or be prepared to wait - and spend some time browsing the local stores!

I definitely recommend Babalu, and I will DEFINITELY go with anyone who wants to have some lunch/dinner/snacks/drinks!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recipe: My Mom's Chicken and Rice

I come from a long line of women who are amazing cooks. 

My mom makes the best Mexican food (she grew up in the southwest), the BEST french fries, and some unbelievably bizarre but delicious things from random stuff in the fridge.


My gramma made the best fried chicken in the whole world, some of the most amazing German food ever, and would never turn away anyone who was hungry (that's where I get my "bring whoever" attitude - she would put coffee on as soon as she saw a car in the drive and never let anyone leave her house hungry!).

(With my mom in 1955, in New Mexico)

My great-grandmother, who I never met, is legendary as a fantastic cook and, as my mother says, "an actual saint."


So I come from some ladies who knew how to make delicious, if not fancy, food that brought people together. 


And who traditionally have fantastic hair, but that's another story.

My mom's Chicken and Rice is an example of a meal I grew up with - not too complicated (so you could spend more time with your kids/family/whoever happened to pop by), nothing too fancy (cause if I can't find it at the grocery store, I probably don't need it), but plenty of flavor and PLENTY of it (because you never know who will come by!). It's one of my favorite things she makes, and it's super simple and delicious.

What you need for 2 medium size casserole dishes: 

Chicken breasts/tenderloins - about 10 tenderloins/5 breasts
2 boxes Minute Rice
2 large cans Cream of Chicken soup
1 large can Cream of Mushroom soup
3 tablespoons butter
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
(an Arkansas staple - if you can't find it, whatever type of seasoning you like)

Start by cutting up the breasts/trimming the fat from the tenderloins and heating the oven to 350.


Salt and pepper the chicken, then add garlic powder and Cavender's to taste.

Cook the rice according to the directions, minus one minute.

You'll probably have to do this in a couple of batches, unless you have a massive microwave.


When the first bowl of rice (one package Minute Rice) is done, open a can of Cream of Chicken soup. 


Fluff up the rice, then add it in. 

Then, add half of the can of Cream of Mushroom soup.


(My mom just uses Cream of Chicken, and I love it like that, but I like the earthy flavor of the Cream of Mushroom. So basically you need 2 big cans, but they can be whatever - both CofC, one CofC and one CofM, one CofC and one Cream of Broccoli, whatever!)

Before the soup.


After the soup - this is about the amount of soup to rice you want. Goopy but not like soup, and not too dry.



Do the same thing with the second bowl of rice.

Take 2 medium size casserole pans - whatever size is fine, just not huge, and not tiny. I had one 9 by 13 and one 9 by 9 or so.
Rub the butter in the bottom of the pans - you want them to be really buttery so nothing sticks.



Put about half of each bowl of rice in each dish, lay the raw chicken on top, then cover with the rest of the rice.  Then add more salt and pepper - I love things peppery so I add a lot, but however much you like is fine. Just be careful with the salt since the soup has quite a bit.


So in each dish you will have half a bowl of rice, half the chicken, and then the other half. Very easy to multiply for more or fewer dishes.

Cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

When you take off the foil, it should look close to this:


YUM.


This amount easily fed me and Kyle for several meals. Two helpings each that night, 1 each for lunch the next day, 1 for dinner, and then at least 4 more servings a couple of days later.

All for around $15.

So good. 

Thanks lady ancestors for the great recipes and inability to make just a couple of servings of anything!









Monday, August 18, 2014

Memphis Nosh: Las Delicias

I love Mexican food, but I rarely eat it out.

See, my mom grew up partially in the Southwest, and she makes amazing Mexican food - really spicy, good quality ingredients, not slathered in cheese, not super greasy.

So I'm usually disappointed when I get greasy, bland, boring Mexican food, which is most of the time I eat at Mexican restaurants.

But not at Las Delicias.

Absolutely, positively, the best "traditional" Mexican food in Memphis.

I use the word "traditional" loosely, but I'm not talking places with tapas, or bars.

I'm talking basic Mexican food,. Chips, dip, tortas, tacos, enchiladas, the stuff you can find at any Mexican place in the city.

This is just the best one. No comparison.

Las Delicias is in a stip mall in the University District, at the corner of Park and Graham Street. 
(There's also one on Quince and one on Mendenhall, but I've only been to the Park location)

It's not fancy, but it's cheap, and it's good, and holy lord they have the best chips ever.


They show up as soon as you sit down, come with little carafes of salsa (heavy on the onion and cilantro, not chunky but not runny) and bowls, and they're hot and thick and I'm in love with them.

You can buy bags of them at the store, and at the Farmer's Market!

I'm ashamed about how many I ate this particular day.

They also have great guacamole, but my friend Catherine and I were on her lunch break and decided to keep it basic.

She got a quesadilla (always solid), and I wavered between a Cuban Torta ($6.25 for a GIANT sandwich) and my usual, the Alambre ($8.49).

I went with the Alambre because it's my favorite and it's huge enough for at least 3 meals.


Steak (or chicken, but I like steak), bacon (mmmmmm...), peppers, onions, melted cheese, limes, and a fire roasted jalapeño. All served with a basket of tortillas.

Except I eschew the tortillas. 

And just scoop it up with chips like an animal. 

An animal with thumbs who loves chips.

My total, with a Diet Coke, my food, and the free chips was $12.50 including tip. 

$12.50 for amazing food for at least 2, probably 3 meals? 

You win Las Delicias. 

You win.

(Four for you!)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Happy Birthday to one of my icons, Julia Child!

From you, I learned that cooking could be fun, and not just a way to feed people, but also a way to connect with them.

From you, I learned that mistakes are only mistakes if you don't act like they're part of "the plan."

From you, I learned that travel is essential for the body, mind, and soul.

From you, I gained a lifelong appreciation for all things French, for teaching, and for eating a lot of butter.

Thank you Julia!





(At her exhibit at the Smithsonian)

Bon appétit! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

5 Years

5 years and 11 days ago I moved to Memphis.

I moved from Fayetteville, Arkansas (after a failed attempt at law school, two years working at a bank during the day and a bar at night, and a year into a long-distance relationship) to Midtown Memphis.

And have now spent 17ish% of my life in this city. 

Wow.

While I probably won't be here for another 5 years (since, god willing, I'll finish my PhD and get a job at some point...), it's been a great 5 years, and I can't wait to see what the rest of my time in Memphis has for me!

(My first Memphis sunburn, after the zoo the weekend I moved here)

(Oliver exploring the chaos in my first apartment - good old Rembert Street)

(And then I moved. Poor Oliver.)

(I got my MA, and started a PhD program!)

(I got a puppy, Petunia!)
(Poor Oliver)

And just recently I wore a dinosaur hat and went shopping with this guy :).

So now for the only appropriate video to go with this post.

It has nothing to do with Memphis. 

And is kind of morbid.

But Bowie is a badass.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Recipe: Tortellini with Chicken and Mushrooms

A few weeks ago, I found a recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to make.


It's from this website, Anne's Food, and, while I tweaked it a bit, the original is amazing too!

It inspired me to make my own version, which I edited for speed and because I have a boyfriend who really likes to eat.

 So when I make food, I need to make a lot. 

Here it is!

3 Chicken Breasts/8 Tenderloins (I get breasts and cut them into strips so they'll cook faster)
1 bag frozen tortellini (I get the Target Market Pantry "cheese" kind)
1 package mushrooms (cut or whole, any kind you like)
4 tablespoons butter
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt 
Pepper
Powdered/Ground Sage (to taste)

Start by salting, peppering, and sage-ing (yeah?) the chicken - start light with the sage, you can add more later!
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan, brown the chicken until just done, remove, turn burner to medium low
Start water boiling for the tortellini
Add mushrooms to the pan with 1 tablespoon butter (salt and pepper just a bit)
After about 3 minutes, add in the garlic and stir often
When water is boiling, add in tortellini and cook according to package directions
Just before the pasta is done, cut up the chicken and add it the mushrooms and garlic, with another tablespoon of butter - make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the good bits
(This is a good time to taste the chicken and see how the seasonings are!)
Drain pasta, add it into the sauce pan, stir to mix and serve!

A side salad or garlic bread would be great with this.

(Mixing the chicken, mushrooms, garlic and butter)

Super simple, and it's hungry boyfriend (and me!) approved!





Monday, August 4, 2014

OOTD: Movie Night!

Saturday night, Kyle, our friend Troy, and I went to see "Guardians of the Galaxy." 

I LOVED it.



Seriously. Probably one of my favorite Marvel movies (and I'm a HUGE nerd about X-Men.)

Also, I beg of you, stay until the scene after the credits. If you were alive during the 80s, you'll be happy you did.

Anyway, I tried out a new outfit for the night. 

I've been in kind of a slump with clothes lately, since I've been working mostly from home, and have no desire to really go anywhere or see anyone besides my good friends, roommate, and boyfriend. 

But I put on makeup and a cute outfit to go out, since even my poor boyfriend has to get tired of the running shorts and Packers tees.*

*Also football is back, so my life is filled with joy again.

Here's what I wore:


OOTD: Movie Night!


See through top
target.com



Old Navy black strap flat
oldnavy.gap.com


FOSSIL dial watch
fossil.com



Women's Evil Eye Stud Earring with Pave Accents ... : Target
target.com




My cardigan was actually coral, but a similar pattern.

I found the earrings at Target, in a set with some hamsa ones - love them!

This is a cute outfit I hadn't thought of, using things I already had and love. I hadn't really thought about the cardigan as a "summer outfit," but it went from a warmish day to chilly theater to cool walk home really well!