Food Pic Friday: Hash House A Go Go

Food Adventures, Las Vegas
Andy's Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles

Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles

Waking up in Sin City? Nothing will cure that debauchery-induced hangover better than the outrageous offerings and massive portions at Hash House A Go Go situated in the newly renovated center-strip hotel The Quad (formerly Imperial Palace).

Pictured here: Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken & Waffles | Two sage fried chicken breasts with hardwood smoked bacon waffle tower, hot maple reduction and fried leeks.

The chicken and waffles is a must-have and any menu item that has the word “tower” in it is no joke. The presentation is absolutely ostentatious — at the base is a stack of waffles that have strips of bacon cooked INTO the centers (like someone laid the porcine crack onto the waffle iron itself before sealing it shut), then two large chicken breasts with a beautifully crunchy coating, all topped with a pile of crispy fried leeks and stabbed through the heart with a giant steak knife and perhaps the longest sprig of rosemary I had ever seen (…aside from that one year in college when I bought a mini rosemary bush that had been trimmed to look like a Christmas tree).

Luckily, the taste lived up to the hype of the many positive reviews, the glorious plating, and the grand procession as it is gingerly carried to your table. I will admit though, the excess bested me and I was not able to finish it on my own (it’s definitely meant for sharing!). The sweet maple reduction combined with the fatty greasiness of fried chicken skin contributed to the diminishing return, despite the blissful first bite. At just under $20, go ahead and splurge on this breakfast that is sure to soak up all that alcohol and keep you feeling satiated all day long.

Viva Las Vegas!

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Check out Hash House A Go Go: hashhouseagogo.com

The Quad Resort & Casino
3535 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

See their Yelp reviews here!

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our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things, and this month’s theme is dining out: eating at new restaurants, trying new dishes, or exploring new cuisines! We’ve been to Vegas many a time, but this was our first visit to the famed Hash House A Go Go… and you can bet we’ll be squeezing it in to our future itineraries, if only to satisfy my chicken & waffle cravings!

This month is hosted by Ash at Organic Ash over in Auckland, New Zealand.

Cheers!

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Mae’s Cafe – Garden Grove

Food Adventures, Orange County

Mae’s Cafe… I used to drive past it all the time when I lived in Garden Grove. It’s situated right next to one of the most consistently busy In N Out Burger locations, and you can even see the Mae’s Cafe marquee from the 22 freeway! I was always curious about the unwavering blue and yellow sign and what lay beneath in the ordinary-looking restaurant. My best friend C was in town and wanted to meet up here to catch up over lunch — a divey diner, he called it. Mae’s Cafe is open 24/7 so he had plenty of high school memories of late-night meals with friends; maybe it was where all the cool kids hung out because I had never set foot in there until just last week.

Steak & Eggs at Mae's Cafe

Steak & Eggs at Mae’s Cafe

When we first walked in, well… we were tackled by a bear hug from C. But then we were warmly welcomed by the woman behind the counter; a closer examination of her name tag revealed that she is in fact Mae of Mae’s Cafe! That was a great way to start our experience and I was looking forward to the food to come. I had done my research beforehand (read: looked up the menu online) and I knew I wanted one thing — THE MANLY MEAL. I kid, I kid, although that only $14 for steak, potatoes, AND a choice of pancakes, waffles, or French toast, my wallet was tempted to dive in. Challenge… not accepted.

New York Steak & Eggs with Hash Browns

New York Steak & Eggs with Hash Browns

Instead I went for my all-time favorite diner dish — steak and eggs. Mae’s offers a choice of sirloin, t-bone, New York steak, or porterhouse (or for the strong of heart, country fried), and I opted for the New York steak with my eggs sunny side up and runny. The steak arrived rare to my liking, though this particular cut was a tad chewy. Nothing a dip into luscious egg yolk couldn’t fix! These are all served with your choice of hash browns or lyonnaise (pan fried) potatoes as well as toast, English muffin, or biscuits & gravy. As you can see in the photos above, I went for the hash browns – extra crispy and a beautiful golden brown. Now my readers, I’ll bet you know me well enough by now that you can guess what I ordered for my bread accompaniment….

Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy

Not the prettiest plate in the world, the biscuits were absolutely drenched in a thick, white country-style gravy. The gravy was savory and hearty, but the texture was a bit odd — even visually you can tell it resembled cottage cheese. Still, the fluffy buttermilk biscuits underneath sopped up the all the flavors and were really comforting in a stick-to-your-ribs kind of way.

Breakfast Fajitas

Breakfast Fajitas

C ordered the breakfast fajitas — a hot skillet piled high with strips of steak, ham, onion, and bell peppers, and topped with a dollop of refried beans and mountain of cheesy scrambled eggs. It was a man-sized meal (though not the Manly Meal) served DIY with tortillas and salsa. C said it was difficult to choose between this and the John Wayne’s Favorite, but he seemed to have zero regrets as he dove into this sizzling platter.

Le French Dip

Le French Dip

Martin was in a lunch-y mood and decided to go for Le French Dip. Because adding “le” makes it more French, I guess. The menu described it as “thinly sliced beef on a French roll, served with au jus dipping sauce,” but as we soon discovered, the beef slices were generously thick. They seemed to be a bit dry, so he let them marinate in the piping hot au jus which perked them up and made for a more enjoyable sandwich. The fries sounded crispy as Martin crunched next to me in the booth we shared, never offering me a single fry. :( The sandwich came with a pickle (reasonable) and a carrot stick (odd?).

The conclusion? It was a divey diner as promised. But the staff was no-nonsense yet attentive, the food was decent, the iced coffee was pretty good, and most importantly, it was a great place to share a booth with friends and enjoy a leisurely conversation over breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or any meal really, since they never close. Definitely better than Denny’s, that’s for sure!

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Check out Mae’s Cafe: maes-cafe.com

9062 Trask Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92844

See their Yelp reviews here!

Hoover’s Beef Palace – Templeton, CA

Central Coast, Food Adventures

Our trip to the Central Coast was wrought with visits to awesome places with hilariously awesome names. After our dinner at Crazy Sushi Fever in Atascadero, we woke up the next morning ready to continue our Central Coast adventure. First, we needed some fuel to start our day, and where better to brunch than a place called Hoover’s Beef Palace? Seriously.

Hoover's Beef Palace

Hoover’s Beef Palace

Hoover’s Beef Palace, a quaint little greasy spoon just off the 101 freeway, is a down-to-earth, no-frills, country-style diner. A pit stop for many truckers and locals, it was the kind of place where I got some funny looks for taking pictures of my food. It was also the kind of place where about 1/4 of the menu was filled with “Meat & Eggs” plates. My kind of breakfast!

But first, coffee.

But first, coffee.

There’s nothing quite like diner coffee. Good ol’ basic black coffee, no fancy origins or special roasts, but most importantly, it didn’t have that gross acidic aftertaste. Sip on a cup o’ Joe while admiring the walls adorned with photos of county fair prized pigs, John Deere memorabilia, and portraits of cowboy hat wearing sheriffs (mayors? city officials? hard to say).

Martin's Tri-Tip Steak and Eggs

Martin’s Tri-Tip Steak & Eggs

Martin shared a fascinating tidbit with me recently. Did you know that tri-tip roasts were originally made popular by the Central Coast? Since we were in the ‘hood, Martin decided to pick the West Coast’s contribution to barbecue for his meat & eggs. The steak was a bit chewy for my taste, but temperature (rare) was perfect and the seasoning was spot on.

Alice's Rib Eye Steak & Eggs

Alice’s Rib Eye Steak & Eggs

I decided to go with the rib eye steak and eggs. Mine too was cooked perfectly rare and seasoned generously with a simple combination of garlic salt and black pepper. Just like Dad used to make! The farm fresh eggs were beautiful sunny side up with their golden runny yolks. The hash browns were crispy they way I like them. Just when I thought I couldn’t be happier….

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

… our side orders of biscuits & gravy arrived! We each got a half order that came alongside our meat & eggs plates, but it was a ton of food and we could have easily shared one. The white gravy had bits of sausage sprinkled throughout and the buttermilk biscuits hidden underneath soaked up all of that hearty goodness. I had a soft spot for Southern comfort food and these biscuits and gravy really hit the spot.

So if you’re visiting SLO County, be sure to swing by Hoover’s Beef Palace for a satisfying rancher’s breakfast before heading up to Paso Robles for wine tasting or nearby cities for fruit picking. Don’t be alarmed if people give us city folks funny looks for “checking in” on our phones or snapping a photo or two. The regulars seem to know exactly what they want and come here for the large portions and small town vibe.

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Check out Hoover’s Beef Palace Restaurant:

401 N Main St
Templeton, CA 93465

See their Yelp reviews here!

Mommie’s Blueberry Muffins with Streusel

Desserts and Sweets, Recipes

Yes, dear readers – the cat is out of the bag. I refer to my mother as Mommie. I had contemplated titling this post “Mom’s Blueberry Muffins” to avoid any potential embarrassment, but then I realized that there are a billion and one recipes out there called “Mom’s Blueberry Muffins.” So I figured, why not call it like it is?

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever... until we nom it. -- John Keats, sort of...

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever… until we nom it. — John Keats, sort of…

These moist and fluffy muffins are filled to the brim with blueberries, topped with a crispy crumble of streusel, and even better – they contain NO oil. Magical, right? A worthy adversary for Starbucks’ Bountiful Blueberry counterpart. And Starbucks Gold Card carrying Martin gives my muffins his seal of approval, so that’s a vote of confidence right there! We hope you’ll enjoy this sweet intermission from our Boston recap series.

Mommie’s Blueberry Muffins

adapted from AllRecipes.com. I made a few further adjustments as well.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil, per typical recipes)

1 egg

1/3 cup milk, approximately – skim milk is OK

1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen blueberries dusted in all-purpose flour)

Crumb Topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pro-tip: the water in the "spare" muffin cups helps to keep the oven moist, yielding yummier muffins!

Pro-tip: the water in the “spare” muffin cups helps to keep the oven moist, yielding yummier muffins!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a 12-muffin tray, line 8 muffin cups with paper liners and fill the remaining 4 with a bit of tap water (about 1/8 cup each). Set aside.

Frozen blueberries dusted in flour

Frozen blueberries dusted in flour

This is the mix-together-dry-ingredients step, but pause – are you using fresh blueberries or frozen? If frozen, reserve about 1-2 tablespoons of the flour in a small bowl. Use this reserved flour to dust the frozen blueberries; this small but important step will help keep the frozen little buggers from bleeding and exploding in your finished product.

Team Dry

Team Dry

Now combine the (remaining) flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.

Team Liquid

Team Liquid

Time for the liquids! Take out a liquid measuring cup with capacity for at least 1 cup of fluid. Add the applesauce (or oil), egg, and enough milk to fill the cup to the 1 cup line, approximately 1/3 cup depending on the size of the egg. Beat well.

Crumb Topping (before)

Crumb Topping (before)

Take this opportunity to prepare the crumb topping. The wet and the dry ingredients can hang out separately but once you mix them, you’ll want to get the muffins into the oven as quickly as possible. Anyway, place the stick of butter in a small bowl and measure out the sugar, flour, and cinnamon.

Crumb Topping (after)

Crumb Topping (after)

Using a fork, break up the butter and work the streusel mixture until you end up with crumbs no larger than pea-sized.

Don't over-mix!

Don’t over-mix!

Now for the moment of truth. When combining the liquids with the dry ingredients, you will want to work quickly to avoid over-beating the batter. Pour the liquid mixture into a “well” in the center of the dry ingredients. Stir just enough to moisten and combine.

Fold fold fold

Fold fold fold

As the streaks of flour start to disappear, fold in blueberries. Now stop mixing!

Fill to the top, none of that silly 2/3rds or 3/4ths full like for cupcake recipes

Fill to the top, none of that silly 2/3rds or 3/4ths full like for cupcake recipes

Fill prepared muffin cups to the top.

Voila!

Ready for the oven!

Generously sprinkle the streusel crumb topping over muffins before baking.

Voila!

Voila~!

Bake for 20-22 minutes in the preheated oven. Transfer the finished muffins to a cooling rack and store in an airtight container. These will keep for about 3-5 days out on the counter (if they last that long!) but they can also be wrapped individually and kept in the freezer for a quick rainy day snack or breakfast. Simply microwave for 1 minute or so for that fresh-baked feeling!

Fresh blueberries - among the first of the season!

Fresh blueberries – among the first of the season! (Fun Fact: those blue baskets are called punnets.)

We just entered blueberry season and found these lovelies at our local farmer’s market. They make wonderful muffins as well, but I prefer to save them for non-baking applications that would benefit more from their freshness. That said, the muffins I whipped up with these were pretty darn tasty!

Same recipe as above, using fresh berries

Same recipe as above, using fresh berries

I think one of my all-time favorite kitchen substitutions has to be applesauce for oil in baking. Someone once told me, “Everything in moderation!” – so by using applesauce and skim milk for the muffin batter (leaving only the egg yolk to provide fat among 8 muffins), and then topping it with the decadent butter-laden streusel, I’d say we have a well-balanced breakfast… maybe. Humor me*.

*Disclaimer: I often write jokes that are probably funny only to me. Also, I am not a registered dietician. Please do not take this recipe and go rouge with some sort of Morning Blueberry Muffin Diet.

Enjoy~!

Heritage Farm Pancake House – Sanbornton, NH

Food Adventures, New Hampshire

Perhaps what we were looking forward to most about our trip to New Hampshire (second to the wedding, of course) was maple syrup season! Throughout the month of March, farmers all over NH and Vermont set up buckets to tap the sap from acres of maple trees for weeks at a time. The sap is then collected and boiled down to a concentrated syrup to be bottled in adorable leaf-shaped glass bottles and mini plastic jugs.

If you look closely, the sign on the barn door looks reminiscent of something from Winnie the Pooh

If you look closely, the sign on the barn door looks reminiscent of something from Winnie the Pooh!

We were lucky to discover that one such farm was situated just down the hill from the Steele Hill Resort — Heritage Farm Pancake House. Open only for breakfast (Wednesdays through Saturdays 8am to noon during maple season), this quaint shop features a maple sugaring facility, pancake-flipping restaurant, and a petting zoo out back.

Boiling down the sap into syrup

Boiling down the sap into syrup

Not being early-risers ourselves, we stumbled in around 11:45am (just before closing) and asked the friendly woman behind the counter whether it was too late for a tour. She invited us to walk right into the maple sugaring area while we were waiting for our breakfast order. Awesome!

Matt the jack-of-all-trades

Matt the jack-of-all-trades

There we were greeted by Matt, an amicable gentleman who was eager to answer our questions about the process. He even let us venture up to the loft area to see the tank of sap and to get a birds-eye view of the equipment. Check out that huge flume of steam on the right — in boiling the sap down into syrup, they end up with a ratio of nearly 50:1. That’s a lot of evaporating!

Family-style Breakfast

Family-style Breakfast

Naturally, when you think about maple syrup, pancakes are one of the first things to come to mind. At Heritage Farm, the popular choice is the family-style breakfast. Farm-fresh eggs, locally grown potatoes, homemade pancakes, locally sourced smoked bacon… count us in!

Bacon and home fries

Bacon and home fries

Martin’s silky and fluffy scrambled eggs are on the left, snuggled next to the pile of home fries (extra crispy, per our request) and a little mountain of bacon. The thick-cut bacon from The Fox Country Smoke House was toothsome and tender. The potatoes seemed extra earthy and had a wonderful crunch on the edges.

Sunny side up!

Sunny side up!

I prefer my eggs sunny side up and runny. I forgot the “runny” part when I placed this order, but no matter – the yolk oozed lusciously and blew every grocery store egg out of the water.

Pumpkin pancakes!

Pumpkin pancakes!

It’s kinda hard to find pumpkin pancakes in LA outside of the fall season because that’s when it is trendy and relevant. Needless to say, I was excited to find homemade pumpkin pancakes on their extensive list of flavors. Moist and gooey with pumpkin puree and perfectly golden on the outside, these pancakes were not too sweet, making them perfect when drizzled with their own maple syrup. I was in pancake heaven!

Blueberry pancakes!

Blueberry pancakes!

Martin has a soft spot for blueberry pancakes, so they were an obvious choice. Filled with the plump purple globes, he seemed to really enjoy his breakfast, not even pausing to share a bite with me!

By the time we polished off the last morsel, we were stuffed and oh so satisfied. But wait! I still had not seen any trees with those iconic metal buckets hanging from them. I would miss what could be my only opportunity to see it live and in-person! I panicked, I worried, but then, just as we pulled onto the dirt road, I spotted it. Martin barely slowed to a stop when I hopped out of the car to snap a photo. I could vaguely hear him chuckling at my enthusiasm.

Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

If you find yourself in or near Sanbornton, NH, we definitely recommend starting your day off right with a farm-fresh breakfast at Heritage Farm Pancake House. The food is delicious and comforting, the staff are all welcoming and friendly, and there’s nothing like warming your hands by the furnace that powers the sap-boiling equipment and savoring in the sweet-smelling steam as sap turns to syrup before your very eyes. Plus, if you go early enough (unlike us – we turned out to be their last table of the morning), you just might have the opportunity to check out the pasture out back and pet some farm critters!

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Check out Heritage Farm Pancake House: heritagefarmpancakehouse.com

16 Parker Hill Rd
Sanbornton, NH 03269

See their Yelp reviews here!