Biscuits & Gravy with Iced Coffee at Mugs Café

We parked off Main Street a little after 8 in the morning. The cloud coverage kept the sun at bay and it was a pleasant walk from the car up the Argenta strip. My initial reaction walking into Mugs Café was that the interior was deeper than I perceived. I guess you can only see things at face value until you investigate. There’s something to keep in mind when you’re deciding what to display in the front window of your coffee shop.

Renée and I stepped into the modern café and over to the counter. I was thankful for the line because it takes me awhile to make decisions- especially when food is involved. I chose the biscuits and gravy and an iced coffee. After hearing great things about their coffee, I couldn’t leave without tasting some. And with it being June in Arkansas, cold was the way to go.

We gave the counter lady our names, grabbed our mason jars of deep brown, and made our way over to the sugar and cream. The inside tables were filled up by that time so we shuffled around and eventually decided to check out front. There was a little round table for two right by the window and the weather was just perfect enough for coffee-sipping and girl talk.

When our meals were ready, I brought them to the table, snapped some shots, and dove right in. The biscuit was warm and flaky with just enough balance of buttery goodness and fluffy bread. It wasn’t dry or clumpy- which is excellent in my book. It fell apart in just the right way- without crumbling to pieces and turning to mush. The sausage was seasoned and cooked properly. The eggs were light and soft. They didn’t run or crunch. Nothing was over or under-cooked.

The gravy wasn’t super thick and was seasoned just right to complement the sausage and scrambled eggs. The hot food went well with the coffee I sweetened with sugar water. And green onions? A perfect little speck of flavor and color to tie this together. Although I can’t fully speak for Renée, she had the breakfast burrito and approved of its goodness and is a big fan of the iced coffee herself.

As we stuffed our tummies and caught up on each other’s lives, more and more people entered the café. It was really nice to see the community out on a Saturday morning. Bikers and families and single people all gathered for good food and coffee. Some trailed over to the produce market a few blocks away. It was just a lovely little experience. And those wicker chairs were pretty comfortable- even as our stomachs expanded with good things.

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SYNOPSIS:

The iced coffee was great. The flavor definitely stood out and it wasn’t watered down at all. I’m officially a fan of the Kyoto drip. It really went well with the hot gravy and biscuits. The biscuits, like I said, were excellent. They didn’t crumble and they weren’t too thick or hard to delve in to. The eggs were fluffy and the gravy wasn’t overpowering or drowning any of the other foods. The sausage was cooked to my liking and would have been a little salty on its own- but with the gravy and eggs, it was just enough pop of flavor. It all left my tummy satisfied. And it didn’t lump.

The design of Mugs is contemporary and modern. It has a clean feel to it with dark wooden tables and accents of metal. The interior is white and has dark furniture. There are some couches in the back near a little stage. I liked the little tables out front that we sat at. It really gave it a café vibe. See, guys? Arkansas can be cute and trendy.

EAT ON!
COLLEEN

White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Himalayan Pink Salt

One of the things I put on my Christmas list this past year was Himalayan Pink Salt. I had first experienced it the previous March at a St. Patrick’s Day pot luck at work. One of my co-workers put together a potato bar and that was one of the toppings he brought. I thought it was the coolest thing.

Fast-forward to March 2015.

I had recently taken an interest in the food blog HONESTLY YUM and was flipping through their recipes. With the urge to bake, I perused the cookies and found one for salted white chocolate chip cookies. Being the improv artist I am, I figured, hey! Why not use my snazzy pink salt and try this recipe? So I did. Now here we are.

I tweaked the HONESTLY YUM recipe a little bit. My cookies came out crumbly- almost like a HobNob biscuit. They were sweet and almost like sugary sand with a salty surprise and a dash of color.

Here’s my version.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
3/4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of softened butter (4 tablespoons of the cup, melted)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of white chocolate chips
Himalayan Pink Salt
vegetable oil (I had some on hand to help moisten the dough). 

Do this:
Preheat your oven to 375°

Sift: flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. (Add those bran flakes that get caught in the sieve).

Cream butter (softened and melted) and sugars and oil with a mixer. Then add egg and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until it’s all blended nicely. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips

(This is where I had to add some vegetable oil to moisten my dough).

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and use a spoon to evenly place cookies. Sprinkle on your salt. (The original recipe calls for sea salt. I use chunks of Himalayan).

Bake around 12 minutes or until edges are gold brown.

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I’ll give them a nickname of sandcastle cookies because they remind me of salty beach air and fragile sandcastles. Dad described these as “an adult cookie.” Foodie friends said something about combining that sweetness with the salt made them fabulous. Personally, I had some issues with the crumbling dough and keeping the cookies together pre-baking. Maybe it was because I substituted with coconut and vegetable oil. But people would have never known the mess I made- because they still tasted great. If I made them again, I’d crush the Himalayan salt up a bit. The chunks were a little too much salt per bite. But overall, they were a hit and this recipe makes a lot!

BAKE ON.
COLLEEN

Chicken & Waffles at The Waffle Wagon

Arkansas summer has begun. And for us downtown Little Rock workers, that means Food Truck Fridays! This week, we hit it up to celebrate Lilly‘s birthday and have a mini reunion with some old co-workers/friends. With hunger on the stomach and food on the mind, the bee line to The Waffle Wagon truck was kind of a give-in.

Now when it comes to food trucks, I definitely struggle with what to try. It’s not that I’m picky, I just like a lot of things. After some discussion with my friends and asking the lovely lady at the window just how spicy the chicken is, we all decided on the straight up chicken and waffles.

They call it “The Baby” and it’s pretty delicious. They take two marinated chicken tenders hand-battered and fried, throw them atop a Belgian waffle, douse it all in syrup, and hand it over in a little pizza box. Oh and of course, it’s all made-to-order. So it’s hot and sweet and fresh with a dash of spice.

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A salty seasoning with a cajun kick blankets the juicy chicken tenders to create a perfect contrast for sweet maple syrup and fluffy waffles. Just enough crunch from the seasoning still allows for smooth cutting and a quick into-the-mouth experience. I dabbled my crispy chicken in the puddles of syrup and squares of fluffy baked batter and they struck my tongue like nothing else.

SYNOPSIS:

I’ve had chicken and waffles before. Honestly, the first time I saw them on a menu I laughed. But they’re really becoming a thing and I think the Waffle Wagon is doing it right. There’s a unique flavor to the chicken that’s just enough balance of flavor and spice. Most chicken tenders I’ve had (with waffles) were over-cooked or over-breaded. But here, I could taste the chicken and differentiate it from the waffle. The waffle was fresh and fluffy and I have no complaints about the syrup. Even with the sun beating down on us on this early June day, I was able to taste the flavors and enjoy the experience. On another note, good customer service. I received multiple smiles from the workers. Local food is pretty awesome when you can treat yourself to it. You go, Arkansas!

STAY COOL. EAT ON.
COLLEEN