Thursday, December 18, 2014

Memphis Nosh: Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

I've talked about how I'm not a *huge* fan of restaurant Mexican food. 

I love Las Delicias, and I like my own Mexican food, but that's about it.

Except for Las Tortugas

It's kind of far from my house, but Kyle and I were waiting for an appointment at the Apple store, so we headed up the parkway for some amazing Mexico City-style Mexican food. 

Las Tortugas is in a small strip center on Germantown Parkway - the sign just says "Deli Mexicana" so keep an eye out for it, it's easy to miss!

From their "About Us" page:

Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana was opened in 2003 by Jose “Pepe” Magallanes.
Our restaurant strives to preserve the integrity of Mexican cooking and cuisine by refusing to Americanize the process or presentation. The philosophy of purist methods and techniques and self sourced fresh food should be obvious when you eat!
They're very big on making authentic food - no melted cheese, no refried beans, none of the icky stuff I don't like. It's perfect. 

Here's our "pre-gorging selfie" - I figured (correctly) that we would both be so full after we ate we wouldn't be quite as cute!

Kyle got (I think) the filet mignon torta. Steak, bread, cheese, tomatoes (which he picked off, but they looked amazing), with tortilla chips and pico. 

He said it was really good. He spoke about 3 words the whole time we were eating, and all three were yum so I think he liked it.
I had the Carnitas de Mexico City tacos - "hand carved Newman Farms Berkshire pork shoulder, braised in a copper 'olla' pot with whole orange, bay leaf, jalapeno, and allspice. They came in four tortillas with cilantro and fresh avocado slices, with a little salad of lettuce and cucumber, a cup of pico, a cup of spicy salsa (the amazing salsa de aguacate tayde), and tortilla chips. 
Oh. My. God. 
The only thing I would change about this is some more sauce - maybe something tangy, like pineapple salsa or even a bbq-type sauce (yes, I know...I'm a Memphis cliche). Or maybe another lime slice, or salt. But that's literally the only thing I would change - and I'm pretty sure they would give you another lime slice if you asked!
The interior is interesting, with lots of turtles and interesting signs, but it is small, so be prepared to wait, sit at the bar that runs along the windows, or get an embarrassing amount of food and eat in your car.
Not that I've ever done that.
The daily specials are always fantastic, and the guacamole and queso fundido alone are worth the drive. If you're out in Germantown, or just really want some great, authentic, Mexican food, go.
And invite me.

Friday, December 5, 2014

OOTD: Last Day of School!

Everyone does a "first day of school" outfit post. 

But the thing is, the first day of school is so much easier to dress for.

You're not behind yet. 

You're optimistic.

It's usually either hot (the end of August is still summer in Memphis) or at least mild when school starts, so you don't feel like this:

(Although, in Memphis, December could still be flip flops and shorts weather. But this particular day it wasn't.)

No one has really done anything stupid or made you mad or forgot to refill the printer paper.

You have brand new pencils and pens and notebooks. 

Even for PhDs, who never really get "breaks" from school, the first day of school usually sees us less stressed than the last day. 

Dressing cute on the first day of school = cake.

Dressing cute on the last day of school = NOPE.

But I did it!

(I totally went to the mall after class. No shame.)

Shoes//Jeggings//Tank//Cardigan//Scarf (Similar)//Purse (Out of Stock but all Francesca's purses are great!)//Phone Case (Similar)

Let's talk about that cardigan and scarf for a minute.

The cardigan is from Loft, and it's unbelievably soft, warm without being too warm (seriously why do people turn the heat up to 80 in the winter? Moderation people.), and such a great color. Yeah, I wear a lot of grey. But it's easy and always so nice looking.

The scarf is a Tilo scarf that I got in my Popsugar Must Have box a few months ago. I am NOT one of those people who is like "oh this cost such and such." But it was a great deal. A $125 scarf in a $35 box? Sold. Especially because it's pretty, huge, and, like the sweater, warm but not like...sweaty...warm. It's a pretty ombre, and can match almost anything. Seriously - if you have a chance to get one of these, do it!

So who else is done for the semester? Any big break plans? Wanna invite me? :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Roasted Potatoes with Bacon, Onion, and Cheese

So I have a theory about food. 

If it has potatoes, I'll probably like it. 

I mean, this is one of my favorite things I bought in London:

And if it has cheese, I'm definitely in. 

I mean, this is my football team: 

(via #GoPackGo!)

Add bacon and you've taken things over the top. I'm yours. Forever.


So roasted potatoes, topped with cheese (and green onions), cooked with bacon?


Here's the recipe (by popular demand!):

3lbs (or whatever will fit on your pan!) russet potatoes, cubed into about 1/2 inch cubes - you want them to all be about the same size
1 red onion (you can use white or yellow if that's what you have - they really mellow out so don't worry if you're not a huge onion fan)
1 package bacon*
1 package (?) green onions (what do you call this? A bunch? I am not a trained chef, y'all.)
Shredded mozzarella cheese**
Cavender's or some other spice mixture
Italian seasoning
Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 425F. Try to make sure you oven rack is somewhere around the middle.

Cube your potatoes - about 1/2 inch is good, just make sure they're all the same size. Then rinse them.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. This makes cleaning up much easier.

Put cubed, rinsed potatoes on the baking sheet.

Cut a package of bacon into smaller pieces - again, about 1/2 inch, but just make sure they're the same size. 

Put the cut up bacon on the sheet, on top of the potatoes.

Dice the onion. 

Put the diced onion on top of the bacon (which is on top of the potatoes).

Sprinkle on a little salt (bacon is salty already), lots of pepper (or not if you don't have a serious pepper problem like I do), a little Cavender's or other spice mix, and a little Italian seasoning. Really this is very to taste - you can always add more later, so don't be too worried about underseasoning.

Now, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the whole thing.

Take a spatula (plastic works better) and kind of stir everything around. It should look close to the picture above, just (obviously) not cooked (or covered in cheese/green onions).

Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Take out, stir everything around (add more olive oil if it's sticking badly), and put it back in for 25 minutes.

Take it out and test the potatoes - they should be fork tender. Basically a fork should slide in but it shouldn't just fall apart. This is a good time to take a bite for seasoning/to make sure the potatoes are done.

(And then take a bunch more bites until your boyfriend comes around the corner and catches you eating food out of the oven...)

Now comes the fun part. 

Grab your cheese and sprinkle it all over. It's totally up to you how much cheese you use. Don't be afraid. Go crazy!

Now put the whole thing back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Chop your green onions.

Pull it out (turn the oven off!) and sprinkle the green onions over the top.

Praise your various deities for all the ingredients. 

Then practice the sin of gluttony.

Seriously, this is amazing. I served this with some baked chicken thighs, but it's fantastic with steak, chicken, pork chops, anything - or even by itself!

To reheat (ha, if you have leftovers!) just put some on a plate, nuke it for a minute or so, put some more cheese on, blast it for another 30 seconds, and love your life. 


*Please use real, pork bacon. Turkey bacon just won't crisp up, and you need that mix of fatty and crispy for this. If you MUST use turkey bacon, cut it much smaller. And, of course, you could easily make this vegetarian by taking the bacon out completely. I would maybe add some more potatoes, or even some other roasted veggies, but that's totally doable.
**I love pretty much all cheese, but I find mozzarella compliments this the best. I've seen similar recipes with gorgonzola (which is a little too tangy for me) or gruyere (okay moneybags) but, honestly, this is with a $2 bag of shredded mozz from Target. You can add whatever cheese, or no cheese, or no green onions, because that's what makes cooking so wonderful, but mozz is my choice!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Memphis Nosh: Sam's Donuts (Collierville)

My boyfriend lives in Collierville, and, as much as I used to be a little skeptical about the suburbs, it's actually a really cute town!

(And they won an award for having an amazing main street this year!)

(And I'm from THE COUNTRY so it's not like I hate the suburbs/country in general. People in Memphis just tend to get kind of uppity about living in the suburbs, and more than one person has asked me if I really feel safe living in Midtown, and then gotten really judgmental about it. I met a girl downtown one time who told me she carries pepper spray anytime she comes inside the loop because "everyone in the city will try to rob you." Ugh.)


Our semi-regular tradition on his days off is to sleep in, and whoever gets up first goes to Sam's to get a shameful amount of donuts.

Don't judge us. 

Sam's is in a small, kind of uninspiring, strip mall on Byhalia, by the Target in Collierville, and it's kind of sparse inside (and it's cash or check only - plan accordingly!). But don't let that fool you - grab a chocolate milk from the case, order an embarrassing amount of donuts (or pretend they're for more than 2 people...), and go home, sit in bed, guard your donuts from your crazy dog, and watch cartoons. 

It's the best.