Restaurant Review: Sodalicious

“It’s Not Me, It’s You.”  “Boy Scout.” “Your Mom, Extra Dirty.” “Blue Bombshell.”  If you know what these have in common & I’m speaking your language, you must have been to Sodalicious in Provo, Utah.  Me?  I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit and I’ve got the lingo down.  Why haven’t I posted about it before?   That’s the question I keep asking myself…why?!  If you’re on Instagram, you’ve seen some of my pickups through the Sodalicious drive-through, so I haven’t been holding back, friends.  But if you are anywhere in the vicinity – ever – you have got to make a quick stop at Sodalicious.  And you will be oh-so-happy you did!  Let me give you the “skinny” (which can also be slang for a diet drink when you’re ordering, by the way).

Sodalicious Walk-up Window

Sodalicious got started in late 2013 in the back of a little local barbershop in Provo (30 W 300 N)…just a little drive-up window that you could easily miss if you didn’t know you were looking for it.  I tried it soon after it opened and word had already spread so that there was a line of cars waiting for their drinks and treats.  These days you could hardly miss it if you turn down the right street – there is usually a line backed down the street!  (But don’t let that deter you – it’s worth the wait AND those people know how to take an order and fill it fast!)  Not only do they have their barbershop location, but just a few weeks ago, a second location was opened even closer to BYU at The Village (602 E. 600 N.).  There is indoor seating & everything!

 

Sodalicious Pebble Ice

See that pebble ice?  Love it!  Every drink is served in a styrofoam cup to keep it nice & cold.

If you’re new to Sodalicious, let me fill you in on everything you need to know.  It sounds simple – they’ve got drinks and snacks – but the drinks are all customizable, so the choices really are limitless.  Sodas are the main focus, but there is also hot chocolate, “hot lava” (I’ll get to that in a minute), and non-carbonated soft drinks like lemonade, horchata, etc.  Keep it simple and get it plain (but why would you?), jazz it up with flavors galore by choosing one of their Mixology menu items, or create your own special combination!  Sizes range from a 12 oz kids drink ($1.00 plus flavors) to a giant 44 ouncer ($1.75 plus flavors)!

Sodalicious-Hot-Lava

Hot Lava (can’t remember the price…maybe $3.50 for the small?) – only served in the Winter, but worth waiting for.  This is extra thick & rich hot chocolate with whipped cream.  Add in your favorite flavor & it is A-mazing.  Comes in small or medium (8 oz & 12 oz I think).

You can walk up to the window on the side of the building or go through the drive-through.  Usually, once you get near the walk-up window, someone will come out to your car and take your order (use our handy Sodalicious lingo guide below so you can feel “soda-cool” – what am I missing?  Add it in the comments!).  As the line moves, just keep driving until you get to the second window with the cashier.  That’s where you pay and get your drinks.

Sodalicious Lingo
Dirty – with Coconut & Fresh Lime
Extra Dirty – with Half & Half
Skinny – Diet
Sodalush – Sodalicious fan

Sodalicious Sugar Cookie

Sodalicious Sugar Cookie ($1.50) – Soft & sweet with a hint of almond.  And they keep them in the fridge, which I LOVE.

If you want something you can sink your teeth into, grab one of their treats, which include their ever-popular sugar cookie, the ginormous Big Fat Crispie, a simple bag of popcorn, and more, each for $1.50 or $2.  Our go-to is the sugar cookie, but everything is good!

Sodalicious Whiteboard

There’s a whiteboard by the walkup window & behind the cashier window with new flavors and menu items.  I snap a pic almost every time it changes so I can keep a running list of choices.

I’m actually not a big soda drinker, but I’m hooked on Sodalicious!  We all love it and have our favorites.  If you’re not sure where to start, try one of our family favorites!

  • Black Forest – Doctor Pepper, Chocolate, Cherry
  • Blue Bombshell – Mountain Dew, Blue Curacao, passion Fruit, Coconut
  • Boy Scout Extra Dirty – Root Beer, Toasted Marshmallow, Half & Half
  • Castaway Extra Dirty – 7Up, Coconut, Guava, Fresh Lime, Half & Half
  • Cherrylicious Extra Dirty – Doctor Pepper, Cherry, Cheesecake, Half & Half
  • Orange Creamcicle – Orange Bang, Vanilla, Half & Half, Whipped Cream
  • Pixie – Lemonade, Pomegranate, Blueberry
  • Your Mom Extra Dirty – Doctor Pepper, Blackberry, Coconut, Half & Half
  • Mango Mountain Dew – Mountain Dew, Mango Puree
  • Mountain Dew with Cherry
  • Half Horchata/Half Orange Bang
  • Doctor Pepper with Raspberry Puree, Coconut, & Half & Half

A few extra tips for you:  Get a punch card!  For every 10 punches, you get a free 32 oz drink with one flavor shot!  Go on Tuesday – it’s Double Punch day so you get 2 punches for every drink (except 12 oz – you don’t get any punches for those)!  If your cup’s in good shape & you want to save a few cents, rinse it out and take it back for a refill – $1 any size (plus flavors)!  I know there are a lot of other “sodalushes” out there!  What’s your favorite drink?  What tips did we miss?  Share in the comments!

Sodalicious
30 W 300 N
Provo, UT 84601
(801) 800-7317

Price:  $
Average Fork Rating: 4.6

Mr. Diner:
4
Mrs. Diner:
5
Amazing Diner:
5
Sweet Diner:
5
Little Diner:
4

Sodalicious on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Pecan Praline Topping for Ice Cream & More

Pecan Praline Topping
I gave a little preview of this delicious pecan praline topping on Instagram a few weeks ago.  Since then I’ve been testing a recipe that takes this to a new level of deliciousness, so make this now and enjoy it as an ice cream topping, syrup on your favorite pancakes, etc….and stand by for next week when I unveil more pecan praline deliciousness!

Praline Pecan Topping

This is so easy to make that you really have no excuse not to make it!  It will literally take you about 7 minutes to make and will provide an easy weeknight dessert if you have some ice cream on hand…I love it with vanilla.  Praline Pecan has always been one of my favorite ice cream flavors, so it’s only natural that I should love this syrupy topping.  It is very buttery, caramelly, a bit salty, and has bits of nuts.  It stiffens as it cools, so keep that in mind so you can serve it at the consistency you want.  It is easily pourable and syrupy when warm.  You can keep it in the fridge till you need it; just microwave it for 30 seconds or until it is as warm as you want it when time to use it.

Pecan Praline Topping
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter*
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt*
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, cream, & salt over medium-low heat until it starts to simmer. Stir constantly and cook until thick, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and pecans until evenly coated. Serve or store in the fridge.
Notes
*If using salted butter, omit the added salt.


Average Fork Rating: 3.8

Mrs. Diner:
4
Amazing Diner:
3.5
Sweet Diner:
4

What I Ate at Food Blog Forum Orlando 2015 Part 1: Four Seasons & Florida Strawberries!

Maybe you already read about the amazing time I had and the top 10 things I learned at Food Blog Forum Orlando.  It was a great meeting of wonderful food bloggers – and what do you always have when you bring food bloggers together?  Insanely delicious food, of course!  So, as promised here is the first in a series of three food-centric posts of all the deliciousness served up at Food Blog Forum.

The welcome party was held at the luxurious and beautiful Four Seasons Orlando Resort with Southern-inspired food provided by PB&G, their poolside restaurant.  It was a great environment to meet new blogging friends and to start the weekend off right.

PB&G Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes with Floridian Corn Salsa – These crab cakes were seriously some of the best I’ve ever had with a lot of tender crab meat.  The corn salsa was the perfect slightly sweet compliment.  My favorite of the night – I ate my share of these and would definitely order this at their restaurant!

PB&G Passionfruit Soda & Raspberry Sorbet Float

Passion Fruit Soda with Raspberry Sorbet Float – They make their own passion fruit soda at PB&G!  It was fruity and wonderful!  Served with with a choice of raspberry sorbet (my choice) or vanilla ice cream and served in these super-cute bamboo cups (where can I get my own set?!).

PB&G Red Velvet Cake Skewers

Red Velvet Skewers – Oh, yum!  Sometimes red velvet can be overly sweet, you know?  These were not that way, but were so perfect…moist, flavorful, and with just the right ratio of cake to frosting.  LOVED them!

PB&G Strawberry Shortcake Jar

Strawberry Shortcake – A stick of buttery pound cake, a piece of strawberry, delicious custard, and a dollop of whipped cream.  Not your typical strawberry shortcake, but amazing.  The star here was the custard and every bite was rich and smooth.

There was a lot more that we got to sample and savor and I would recommend any of it.

The morning of the conference, we were treated to a Florida Strawberry Tasting.  It’s interesting when you take the time to really taste and enjoy the flavors and textures, you can really notice the subtle differences between varieties of strawberries.

Food-Blog-Forum-Florida-Strawberry-Tasting

Strawberry Varieties:
Camino Real –
A great all-around market strawberry.  It had a dark red center and was delicious.
“Sweet Sensation” –
Described as “the sweetest strawberry”, but has a thin skin, so it is more of a home-grown strawberry instead of a market strawberry.  I noticed that it was sweeter than the Radiance berry, but didn’t notice it especially sweeter than the Camino.
Florida Radiance
- This was described as “the juiciest.”  Maybe I got a bum one because it didn’t seem juicier than the others.  It did seem less sweet than either of the others, so it was my least favorite.

Food-Blog-Forum-Strawberry-Water-Tasting

Strawberry Spa Water – Strawberry-infused water.  Didn’t really like this…it was almost a bit tart.

Just wait…the best eye candy is yet to come in parts 2 & 3!

Thanks to all those who put so much effort into making Food Blog Forum 2015 such a great experience.  The founders of Food Blog Forum, Jaden & Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen and Todd Porter & Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple, along with Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil worked so hard to put everything together.  Thanks Four Seasons Orlando for throwing a delicious welcome party!

Food Truck Review: Waffle Love

Waffle Love Utah County Truck

I think Waffle Love may have been the first food truck I heard about here in Utah County.  The food truck craze had been storming the country and I remember wondering if we’d start seeing them around here or not.  I, myself, am a fan of a clean, well-organized food truck with great food!

Waffle Love Truck Menu

The first time I tried a waffle from Waffle Love was while Sweet Diner and I were out touring the Parade of Homes.  A Waffle Love truck was conveniently parked right by one of the homes on our list and we knew we had to give it a try as soon as we were done touring the home.  The harder decision came when trying to decide what to order.  The menu is pretty basic, but the problem is that it all sounds so delicious!  You can order a plain liege waffle for $3.50, add your choice of toppings for $1.16-$2.09 each, or choose one of the menu favorites or seasonal specials with toppings pre-selected for about $7-8.  Prices may vary by location.

Waffle Love Truck Order

Once you order, you’ll wait a few minutes for them to make your waffle up fresh and top it off with your choice of toppings.  Sometimes it takes awhile, so don’t be in a hurry when you order that waffle!  They’ll call your name and hand you a plate pretty enough for a picture (take one and share it with me on Instagram!  I love eating vicariously.)  The problem is…usually there’s nowhere to sit, and I have trouble eating a waffle without using two hands to cut it with a fork and a knife.  I will manage somehow…usually plopping myself down on a curb or working hard with my fork, but for those of us in Utah County, there is another solution:  a Waffle Love store!

Waffle Love Physical Location

Yep, Waffle Love has its own physical location right next to Mountain West Burrito (they are actually connected inside so you can fill up on burritos and waffles without going anywhere).  Here, they not only have tables and chairs (hallelujah!), but they also have some occasional extras on the menu:  chicken & waffles, anyone?

Waffle Love Strawberries & Whipped Cream

Strawberries & Cream ($6.00) – One of my favorites…simple, but delicious!

Waffle Love Red Wonder

Red Wonder ($8.00) - Biscoff, Strawberries, Raspberries, & Whipped Cream.  Good, but I like others better.

Waffle Love Nutella Love Raspberries

Nutella Love with Raspberries ($8.00) – Nutella, Raspberries, & Whipped Cream.  Delicious!

Waffle Love Nutella Love Strawberry

Nutella Love with Strawberries ($7.50) – Nutella, Strawberries, & Whipped Cream.  Another favorite!!!

Waffle Love Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Liege ($8.50+…can’t remember exactly) - Cinnamon-sugar coated liege waffle with caramel and a scoop of fried ice cream.  This one was a little too rich & sweet for me.

My favorite waffles are the Strawberries & Cream and the Nutella Love (with your choice of fruit).  The waffles are a bit yeasty and are caramelly-crisp on the outside and a bit chewy on the inside.  With all the toppings, it’s harder to appreciate the sugar pearls in a liege waffle.  For me, the waffles themselves aren’t the best liege waffles I’ve had, but when you add some simple delicious toppings, they are crave-worthy for sure!

Waffle Love is a bit pricey, but it’s a fun treat and it’s big enough to share.  Each truck offers a special of the day for $5.  I haven’t seen this at the store.  If you plan to become a regular, get a punch card (buy 10 waffles, get one free) and follow your local Waffle Love truck on Instagram or Facebook.  There are currently three trucks in Utah and one in Arizona.

Waffle Love Store
1796 N 950 W
Provo, UT 84604
(801) 228-1636

Entree Price:  $
Average Fork Rating: 3.8

Mrs. Diner: 4
Amazing Diner:
4
Sweet Diner:
4
Little Diner:
3

Waffle Love on Urbanspoon

Recipe: My Favorite Chocolate Bundt Cake

My Favorite Chocolate Bundt Cake

Have you embraced the bundt cake?  A good bundt cake is so versatile because it is pretty enough on its own without heaps of fancy frosting.  You can eat it as it is, dust it with some powdered sugar, drizzle it with a glaze, serve it up with berries, or you can totally top it off with fancy frosting…your choice!

I used to be intimidated by bundt cakes because I had had experiences with them sticking to the pan.  Ever been there, done that?  If you are still in the “bundt cake intimidation zone,” I recommend two things that have made the biggest difference for me:

1) Buy a new non-stick bundt pan that has a simpler (but still beautiful) shape.  Here’s what I use:

Wilton Perfect Results Nonstick Fluted Tube Pan (affiliate link)

2)  Make the grease-and-flour method easy on yourself by using a baking spray with flour in it.  I use Baker’s Joy (affiliate link), but there are several brands out there that have something similar.

Bakers Joy Non-Stick Spray (affiliate link)

Honestly, since I started doing these two things, I have not had a single bundt-cake-stuck-in-the-pan incident.

This chocolate bundt cake is a favorite around here.  It’s so easy and uses ingredients that most of us have already in our pantries (minus the whole milk, maybe, but you probably have something you can substitute in there if you don’t want to run to the store).

My Favorite Chocoalte Bundt Cake

I love dusting the bundt cake with powdered sugar and then offering choices for toppings – caramel sauce (my top choice), whipped cream (my kids’ fave), raspberries (YUM!), or whatever your heart desires.  If you have a bundt pan, get it out and take this recipe for a spin!

My Favorite Chocolate Bundt Cake
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10 servings
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
Liquid Ingredients:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Powdered Sugar (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients except the boiling water and mix well. (If using an electric mixer, beat on medium for about 2 minutes.)
  3. Carefully stir in boiling water. Batter will be quite thin.
  4. Pour batter into the bundt pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Then invent onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Optional: Dust with powdered sugar and serve with your choice of toppings.
Notes
For High Altitude Baking, reduce baking soda & baking powder to 1 teaspoon each.

 

Average Fork Rating:  4.5
Mrs. Diner: 5
Amazing Diner:  4
Sweet Diner:  5
Little Diner: 4

10 Things I Learned at Food Blog Forum Orlando 2015

Disney Foof Blog Forum 2015

I recently returned from a magical weekend at one of my favorite places, Walt Disney World!  You know how much I love Disney if you’ve read about our experiences at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival or some of my top Walt Disney World or Disneyland restaurant reviews, but this trip was especially wonderful because it was for Food Blog Forum 2015.  I’ve been trying to get a ticket to this food blog conference for three years – obviously it’s a popular food blog conference and I feel very grateful that I finally got to go.  Let me tell you, it was worth the wait and I really hope to get to go again.  I learned so much, made some great new friends, and was treated royally by everyone involved.

Food Blog Forum 2015 Scott Hair

For those who food bloggers who didn’t get to go (and for those of you who are just curious), I decided to share my experience in a short post series.  Today I’m sharing what I learned; the next parts in the series will be eye candy as I share what I ate (if you follow on Instagram, you’ve already had a preview of the deliciousness that caused me to return with a few extra pounds on my hips).

1.  Use Creativity Exercises When You Brainstorm
The average person only uses 12% of their brain.  Fill your subconscious with really great stuff by readying & studying so that you have a lot to draw from when you need it.

  • Ask “Why should anyone care?” when you share; what is amazing or unique about what you are sharing?
  • “That’s So Random” exercise:  gather 3 random things and use them to come up with ideas to solve a challenge (i.e., muddy boots, colorful kite, & iced tea – how can  you use one or more of these to help someone stop biting their nails?)
  • Look at what you’re creating from lots of different angles:  what are some different words you can use to say the same thing, involve your senses by acting it out, or think of it from someone else’s perspective (alien, celebrity, etc.)

Food Blog Forum Lighting is Key

2.  Lighting is The Key to Your Photography!
Find the light and shoot wherever it is.  If you can’t change the lighting, try black and white photos.  Move your subject around the light and try shooting at various angles to see what you like (back lit, front lit, side lit).

3.  Food Styling Is the Art of Story-Telling
Don’t be afraid to play around with lots of different ideas.  Use the freshest ingredients!  Cut & soak vegetables like lettuce in water to perk them up.  Set up your shoot using stand-ins until the food is ready.  When shooting “uglier” foods like meat, distract the viewer with pretty things around it (vegetables, drizzles of oil, etc.).  Don’t be afraid of half-eaten food; it tells a story, too!  Take pictures of great metals, bricks, etc., and get 20×30 prints of them to use as inexpensive backgrounds.

4.  Shift Your Mindset from a Blogger to a Publisher
The business side of blogging is the harder part for a lot of us, I think.  Multiple speakers at the conference recommended the book Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk (affiliate link).  I haven’t read it yet, but it’s a book that is applicable to anyone wanting to turn to a hobby into a business.

5.  You are “Expert Enough”
Lindsay from Pinch of Yum talked about this and it really resonated with me.  How often do you feel like there is someone who is more knowledgeable, better than you at something, etc.?  Each of us have learned something along our journey and have enough experience to help someone even if we aren’t “the best.”

6.  Ditch Social Media That Isn’t Effective
Can any fellow bloggers or business-owners name a social media platform that has changed over the years and become less effective?  Don’t you all shout the same thing at once, now!  :-)  I sometimes get dragged down by all the social media; I love the idea of focusing on what is effective & spending my time there.

7.  “Find a Need, Fill a Need” (from the movie Robots)
Have a clear picture of your audience and teach something that is valuable to them.  I’m going to be taking this one to heart; watch for an upcoming survey.  I’d love to hear what you want to see more of, what problems I can help you solve, etc.

8.  Keywords Really Count on Pinterest
Make sure your profile, boards, and pins all have great descriptions with appropriate keywords (hashtags don’t matter on Pinterest!).  Keywords are the #1 thing Pinterest looks at when determining the rank of pins within feeds and searches.

9.  Steps to Make Your Blog Pin-Worthy

  • Use the Pin It Button and Hover Button
  • Apply for Rich Pins
  • Apply for a Business Account & use Pinterest Analytics to see what your audience is interested in
  • Use Guided Search to see popular related terms to use in pin descriptions or as new content ideas
  • Use Promoted Pins – set a budget and pay per click

10.  Blogger Burnout Is Real
Elise from Simply Recipes defined it as “trying to give something you do not have.”  Focus on what you love; don’t be afraid to take a break.  High quality posts are more important than the quantity of posts you publish.  Create an editorial calendar a couple months out, but don’t stress about it; “the only person who has expectations is yourself” (Kenji from Serious Eats).  Focus on one job per day (cooking, editing, writing, etc.) – I think this is what I’m going to try!  I feel like I get distracted by trying to do everything at once!

Thanks to all those who put so much effort into making Food Blog Forum 2015 such a great experience.  The founders of Food Blog Forum, Jaden & Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen and Todd Porter & Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple, along with Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil worked so hard to put everything together.  Thanks also to all the amazing speakers and the sponsors (Walt Disney World, Visit Orlando, KitchenAid, OXO, Four Seasons Orlando, Sabra, Florida Dairy Farmers) who all went above and beyond to make the entire weekend fun, valuable, and magical!

Recipe: Raspberry Oat Bars

Raspberry Oat Bars

I am usually in the mood for chocolate; a square of chocolate as a sweet ending to a meal, chocolate cake to celebrate, a little Nutella on my waffle, etc.  But I also love a fruity dessert.  Not really sure what puts me in the mood for one or the other, although when I’m feeling blue, I’d say chocolate always takes the spotlight.

Raspberry Oat Bars

This time, though, I was in the mood for an easy fruity dessert – something I could make on the spur of the moment without a trip to the store.  These Raspberry Oat Bars easily fit that bill.  I love the fruit filling sandwiched between two layers of slightly sweet, buttery oat cookie.  The raspberry jam really has the leading role here and provides the most sweetness.  If you prefer, try a different fruit preserve….any of your choosing.  I tend to like something with just a hint of tartness in this recipe – raspberry and apricot are both great!

Raspberry Oat Bars Ice Cream

One thing I absolutely love about these bars is you can eat them as a bar cookie and you can also eat them warmed up with a scoop of ice cream (and maybe a drizzle of raspberry syrup..or even chocolate)…it’s almost like having a fruit crisp.

Raspberry Oat Bars
 
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 12-16 bars
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 14 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces & softened (1¾ sticks)
  • 1⅓ cups raspberry jam (seedless preferred), warmed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper, extending up above the pan as handles.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the jam together until evenly combined. The dough will be lumpy. Press half into the bottom of the pan. Spread evenly with warm raspberry jam.
  3. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over the top of jam and press lightly into an even layer covering jam.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly brown. Cool in the pan; then remove with parchment handles and cut into squares.


Average Fork Rating: 3.5

Mrs. Diner: 3.5
Sweet Diner:
3.5

Restaurant Review: HuHot Mongolian Grill

HuHot-Mongolian-Grill

“HuHot!” – what?!  I know…I keep asking myself the same thing.  It’s the name of the latest Mongolian barbecue restaurant here in Utah.  The Spanish Fork location opened in 2013.  And while you’re there, you’ll unfortunately hear the name called out over and over as the “grill warriors” saute food.  Not sure if they call it out when a tip is put in their jar or just for fun (or annoyance).  Anyway, no matter the name, our family loves Mongolian BBQ and we’ve gone to HuHot Mongolian Grill a couple of times now (especially since Mongo’s went out of business).

HuHot-Griddle-Grill-Warriors

If you’re not familiar with Mongolian BBQ, it’s a style of restaurant where customers create their own stirfry by loading up their bowls with all sorts of raw vegetables, meats, noodles, sauces, and more.  Then they hand it over to a chef who sautes it on a large open griddle.  The creation can be utterly delicious or a complete disaster, both of which can be attributed mostly to the customer.  If you like Asian food, Mongolian barbecue really can satisfy a lot of different diners:  creative foodies can try interesting combinations, picky eaters can control exactly what goes in their dish, kid think it’s fun, and hungry eaters can have their fill.

HuHot-Mongolian-Interior

At HuHot, a host will seat you and a server will come to take your order.  They do have a menu with appetizers, desserts, soups, and entrees if you don’t want to create your own.  Plus, they have the awesomeness that is the Coke Freestyle machine ($2.59 for a “Freestyle Soda”)!  I only wish it were self-serve; here the server gives you a laminated page with all the options and you place the order.

HuHot-Ingredients-Bar

Of course, we go for the do-it-yourself, all-you-can-eat Mongolian barbecue ($12.99 for adults, $4.99 for kids 10-12 – great price for a hungry 12-year-old boy!, $2.99 for kids 4-9, free for kids under 4) every time, which is served with rice and a choice of soup (Egg Drop or Hot & Sour) or salad (.  There is a nice variety of ingredients including catfish, mussels, two kinds of sausage, asparagus, green beans, edamame, bok choy, and more…also lots of sauces (and sauce combination recipes, which I love, too).

HuHot-Recipes

I absolutely love that they have recipe cards available at the front of the ingredient line so if you don’t know what to add to your bowl or are wondering how to make a specific creation (Broccoli Beef, anyone?).  They have them sorted into categories so if you’re looking for something specifically vegetarian, low-calorie, etc., it’s easy to find.

 HuHot-Eggrolls
Egg Rolls  ($4.99  for 4)- Crisp & hot, served with sweet and sour sauce.  These were good, but not outstanding.

HuHot-Eggdrop-Soup

Egg Drop Soup (included with Mongolian BBQ) – Egg and a bit of carrot in a very weak broth.  Skip it.

HuHot-Hot-and-Sour-Soup

Hot & Sour Soup (included with Mongolian BBQ) – More flavor than the egg drop soup, but still not great.  If you want soup, go with this one, though.

HuHot-Hot-and-Sour-Soup

Mongolian Barbecue Plate #1 – Prepared well; everything was cooked well without overcooked vegetables or burnt noodles.  See those peanuts?  They have a topping bar to jazz it up after your food is cooked!

HuHot-Stirfry

Mongolian Barbecue Plate #2 – Yes, they have potatoes.  This was a green curry-flavored plate, which was decent, but nothing to compare to real curry dishes.

There aren’t a lot of choices for Mongolian Barbecue in Utah County, but this is our current #1.  There are a lot of choices for ingredients and sauces, they provide recipes for those who want them, the place is clean, and the food was prepared pretty well.  The “Grill Masters” rotate rhythmically around the griddle, turning and plating food.  They seem to be fairly conscious of cutting up most of the too-large pieces, flipping meat, and even discarding fatty pieces or ones that are otherwise unsatisfactory.  Downsides:  the prices are a bit steep for what you get (so was Mongo’s), the service is lack-luster, and hearing “HuHot!” over and over can get a little annoying.

HuHot Mongolian Grill
693 North 920 East
Spanish Fork, UT

Entree Price:  $$
Average Fork Rating: 3.6

Mr. Diner:
3
Mrs. Diner:
3.5
Amazing Diner:
3.5
Sweet Diner:
4
Little Diner:
4

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Recipe: Norwegian Waffles (Norske Vafler)

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Norwegian-Waffles

Waffles have become a favorite dessert, breakfast, snack, etc. here over the last few years.  It’s typically a fluffy Belgian waffle loaded with toppings or a sugary Liege waffle (oh, I love those bites of pearl sugar!) that are served from a stand, a food truck, or at a restaurant table.  I’d love to introduce you to a new waffle to love:  the Norwegian waffle.

When I was growing up, I was always excited for our special Christmas morning breakfast of Norske Vafler (and actually they are still our Christmas morning tradition), but these heart-shaped waffles are also perfect for Valentines Day or any day!

Norwegian-Waffles

Norwegian waffles are soft and tender – and foldable, which makes them perfect for eating in the traditional Norwegian way – by hand!  I love picking up a single heart-shaped waffle section, spreading it with jam, folding it in half, and taking a soft-sweet bite.  Yep, that’s the way to eat these waffles:  spread with something delicious and popped into your mouth.  We’ve traditionally spread them with jams and jellies, but peanut butter, Nutella, and any other spreadable concoction would also be delicious.  My husband isn’t a jam-lover, so he dips his in syrup (buttermilk syrup, preferably), which is also delicious.

Heart-Shaped-Norwegian-Waff

We’ve always cooked ours in a cast iron Norwegian waffle iron over the stove, but an electric heart-shaped waffle-maker would probably work (although I’ve never tried it).  My dad scoured ebay for the waffle iron I use and I love it (Thanks Dad!).  If you try an electric one or even one that isn’t heart-shaped, come back and let me know how it goes!

Norwegian Waffles (Norske Vafler)
 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅜ cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups (10 ounces) flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) butter, melted
  • pinch baking soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat the waffle iron.
  2. Whisk eggs and sugar together until well-blended.
  3. Stir in flour, milk, melted butter, and baking soda.
  4. Spray or brush the waffle iron with vegetable oil, then pour batter on the waffle iron. If you have a cast iron one like mine, you will have to turn it frequently to keep both sides evenly hot. Cook until the waffle is done (you may have to experiment with your waffle iron to see how much time this takes).
  5. Serve with jams and jellies or your desired toppings.

 

 

Average Fork Rating: 3.8
Mr. Diner:
3.5
Mrs. Diner:
4.5
Amazing Diner:
4
Sweet Diner:
4
Little Diner:
3

Restaurant Review: The Hideout Steak House

The Hideout Steak House

Hidden practically out in the middle of nowhere along Highway 40 in Utah, is a steakhouse aptly named The Hideout.  Reviews tout it as being worth a 2-hour drive for their signature steak on a rock.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to drive 2 hours just to try it since it was right along the way on our trip to Vernal, Utah.

The Hideout Steakhouse

We stopped there in the early afternoon, right between normal lunch & dinner hours.  The place was fairly empty and we were seated immediately.  Before we left, two other large traveling groups had stopped to eat here, too, along with several people who seemed to be local regulars.  The Hideout has plenty of room with more than one dining room.

The Hideout Interior

Our server was casual, but friendly and very attentive to our needs.  He knew the menu, made recommendations when asked, and made sure our requests were accommodated.

Among the more unique items on the menu, and what we really went to The Hideout for, was the steak cooked on a stone.  There are multiple cuts of steak offered and you can choose to cook it on the stone yourself (recommended!) or have the chef cook it for you – still on the stone.  The owner is a very friendly and open guy and came to our table to tell us about the restaurant and the process.  He fell in love with steak cooked on a stone at another restaurant and wanted to have his own restaurant with the same concept.  The stones are cut from volcanic rock that is then seasoned at very high temperatures and used at The Hideout.  Every day at 8:00 am, they heat the stones in an old smoker that is converted to a gas oven.  They are kept hot just waiting for a piece of steak!

The Hideout Steak on a Rock Tri Tip Steak

Tri Tip Steak ($14.99) – Not the type of cut I usually order for a steak, but this was really good cooked on the stone.  The steak comes out with a raw on the stone.  The server told us to immediately flip it over, then start cutting it into smaller pieces that will cook quickly.  They were ready to eat pretty much as soon as we got it cut up. 

The Hideout Steak on a Rock Filet Mignon

Filet (8 oz. – $25.99) – Mr. Diner & I split this one….sooooo good!  We tried it with the recommended glaze that we poured over it as it cooked on the stone.  It was delicious and our steaks were perfectly cooked to our liking!  (I guess you only have yourself to blame if you cook it yourself.)

The Hideout 5050 Burger Onion Rings

5050 Burger with Onion Rings ($6.99) – This 1/3 pound burger patty is half beef and half bacon and is served on a toasted bun with more bacon and traditional toppings.   It was more moist than most burgers, but the patty itself didn’t have a significant bacon flavor.  We had asked about how many onion rings it came with, and the server made sure they didn’t skimp…look at all those delicious battered rings!

The Hideout Salad Bar

Salad Bar ($4.99 a la carte, $2.49 added to entree, or can be in place of a side) – Pretty typical salad bar.

The Hideout Kids Mini Corn Dogs

Kids Mini Corndogs with Fries ($3.99) – Mini corndogs were good; the fries were a little on the limp side.

The Hideout Cream Corn

Cream Corn (side) – Entrees come with a choice of 2 sides.  This cream corn was heavy on the cream and butter with whole kernals of corn.  Reminded my of my grandma’s. 

The Hideout Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (side) – Just okay.  I couldn’t taste the garlic.

The Hideout Baked Beans

Baked Beans (side) – These had been baking a long time and were to the point of falling apart.  They were slightly sweet and had a kick of chile powder.

The Hideout Rootbeer Float

Rootbeer Float (I think this was $3.99, but not sure) – Huge glass!

We really enjoyed our experiences at The Hideout.  Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area…and there’s not much else to choose from, anyway.  I probably wouldn’t drive 2 hours just to eat here, but will definitely make a point to go again if we’re headed to Vernal.  We loved the steak and the novelty of cooking it on a stone.  Do it!  The sides were lacking a bit; I’d recommend the corn, salad bar, or onion rings.  The baked potato might be a good option, too, but we didn’t try it.  Somebody bring a steak on a stone restaurant to Utah County, please!

The Hideout Steakhouse
8400 S Parriette Rd
Myton, UT 84052
(435) 646-3500

 Entree Price:  $$$
Average Fork Rating: 4.6

Mr. Diner:
5
Mrs. Diner:
4
Amazing Diner:
5
Sweet Diner:
5
Little Diner:
4
Guest Diner M: 4.5
Guest Diner D: 4.5