Over the Top Sweet & Savory Waffle Bar

For our family potluck Easter brunch this year, we did a Waffle Bar – and I may have gotten a bit carried away.  But it was so much fun! People brought amazing salads, veggie sides and a wonderful egg casserole, and we made waffles.

Ali and Caitlin had visited Waffle Up! in Denver and loved their waffles, so I gleaned some ideas from their online menu and we added a few of our own.

I found a great Belgian waffle recipe from Taste of Home that I modified a little, and tried a vegan waffle recipe that I wasn’t too thrilled with.  Will continue to work on that and post it if I find a good one.  If you are making a gluten-free batter be careful to only use one waffle iron for it to avoid cross contamination.

Warning – this is a long post – as we offered a lot of toppings!

Here’s my waffle recipe:

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 generous Tbsp baking powder
3 cups whole milk
1 cup butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix milk, sugar, vanilla and melted butter in a large pitcher. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Dump flour mix on top of the liquid mix and blend gently, until you have no large lumps. Don’t overmix the batter. It’s way easier to pour the batter from a pitcher.

Heat waffle irons and either spray with a vegetable spray, or use a small cooking brush to brush oil on the irons between waffles. Pour enough batter onto each section of the waffle iron to about half fill it. It will expand and nearly fill the whole section during cooking.

Keep waffles warm in a 200 degree oven with a sheet pan flipped over them.

Prep the toppings (can do many of them in advance) and keep them in small bowls with a little tag that identifies them. Print out and display your recommended “toppings recipes”. We also suggested that people cut waffles up and make waffle “bites” so they could try lots of different toppings.

Savory topping Supplies:

1 lb. Bacon or turkey Bacon, baked or fried and diced
1/2 cup fresh Basil, rolled and cut into thin strips
Brie
*Cinnamon Apple Butter (Add a little cinnamon to regular apple butter)
*Fig Jam
2 cups crumbled goat cheese
6-7 slices of prosciutto, diced
3-5 Green Onions, sliced into 1/4″ rings
Maple Syrup

Spicy Sausage gravy
1 lb. spicy breakfast sausage
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 cups of hot milk (Can add more if gravy is too thick.)
1/2 tsp Lawry’s seasoned Salt

Cook sausage in frying pan. Add flour and stir for a few minutes, until the flour is just starting to brown. Add the salt, pepper and Lawry’s and continue stirring. Slowly add the milk whisking to combine. Cook for another 10 minutes or so – stirring often – until it thickens. Check seasoning.

With these toppings, you can make:

Bacon, Basil & Brie with Cinnamon Apple Butter on the side
Brie and Apple Butter
Bacon with Maple Syrup
Fig Jam, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto with a garnish of Basil
Spicy Sausage Gravy with a garnish of green onions

Sweet toppings:

Fresh strawberries, washed, and sliced into 1/2 slices
Fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries (we used frozen organic blueberries and they worked great.)
5 Bananas, cut into disks
*Nutella
Sweetened Whipped Cream

*Vanilla Mascarpone Cheese
1 container Mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Blend together. Could probably use Cream Cheese as well. Add more brown sugar if you like it more sweet.

Honey Nutmeg Sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 stick butter
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg

In a microwave safe bowl, heat everything together for 1-2 minutes in the microwave.
Stir well and serve in a pitcher.

Caramel Apple Pecan Mix:
4 apples, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Saute apples in butter until they start to soften. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, and cook stirring constantly until sugar is nice and melted – about 3-4 minutes. Add pecans and stir to blend.

Bananas Foster Topping
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons rum
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Melt butter, add brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for a few minutes until they’re nicely blended. Add rum and cook a few more minutes until you can no longer smell alcohol when you smell the steam. Add vanilla extract and remove from heat.

With these sweet toppings you can make:

Fresh Berries (any kind) with whipped cream
Fresh fruit (Strawberries and/or bananas) with a drizzle of Nutella and whipped cream
Strawberries with Vanilla Mascarpone Cheese
Bananas with Honey Nutmeg Sauce
Caramel Apple Pecan Topping
Bananas with Bananas Foster Topping

*These toppings work best in a ziploc bag, with the filling squeezed down towards a lower corner, and the the top of the squeezy part secured with a rubber band. Then just cut a little corner of the bag off, and store the bag in a bowl. You’ll need to cut a slightly bigger opening for the Mascarpone cheese and the fig jam as they’re pretty thick.

Arrange all the toppings in pretty little bowls, and the waffles on a big platter.  Make sure to display the suggested toppings combinations.  Our favorites were the Fig Jam, Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Basil, and the Vanilla Mascarpone with Strawberries.  But really all of them were good and fun to try.

Jen’s French Toast Casserole

My neighbor Jen made this unusual breakfast casserole for a potluck. There’s no added sugar, so it’s not overly sweet – but perfect served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a little drizzle of maple syrup.

I’ve made it tons of times since – and it’s a great brunch dish. I’ve never made it with regular bread, but you could easily add a tsp of cinnamon to the eggs if you did.

6 eggs
1 1/2 cup half n half
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 loaf Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl bread
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
5 Tbsp butter, melted

Blend eggs, half n half, milk and vanilla.

Remove “heels” of the loaf of bread (the outer, all crust slices), dice them fairly finely and mix them with the nuts and butter.

In a 9 x 13 baking dish pour a little egg mixture. Lay the first two slices of bread at one end, in the corner. Pour a little egg mixture over them, and layer the next slice halfway down and add a little more egg mixture. Repeat until all the slices have been used up. You should end up with two rows of bread slices fanned out. Pour all the egg mixture on and gently lift the slices of bread to be sure the egg is really soaked in. At this point, you can let it soak for 20 minutes or as long as overnight in the fridge. Before baking, sprinkle the top with the nut, crumb and butter mixture. Bake at 375 for 45- 50 minutes.

Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup.

Spanish Tortilla with Bell Pepper

First made this on March 27, 2010 and noted that it was great for a Sunday brunch.

1/3 package of turkey or real bacon, sliced into 1″ pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 onions
1 lb. yukon gold potatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp tabasco or other hot sauce
8 eggs
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Slice pepper, onion and potatoes into 1/2″ thick slices.

Heat oil in a large oven proof frying pan. Add bacon, peppers and onion and saute for several minutes until the bacon is cooked and the onions are soft and translucent. Add potatoes,cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then. Remove from heat.

Beat eggs with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Pour eggs over potatoes and sprinkle with parsley. Bake 15 minutes and serve warm. Delish.

Corned Beef Hash

April, 2009

1 large, corned beef brisket, thoroughly cooked and cut into bite size pieces
1 bag frozen hashed brown potatoes (or real potatoes – see note below.)
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
generous splash or Worcestershire sauce
1 squirt of yellow mustard (maybe 1/2 – 1 tsp?)
3 Tbsp olive oil

Saute onions, pepper and garlic in a little oil, until onions are soft and translucent. Heat olive oil in your largest frying pan. Add veggies and everything else to a large bowl and blend gently.

Scoop the mix into the hot oil in the frying pan. Gently even out the potatoes with a spoon. (You may not be able to get everything in – so if you have to – just do a second batch.)

Let hash cook five minutes without stirring. Then turn and saute another five minutes. If in doubt – cook longer. I just turn it in sections, so don’t worry if it starts to break apart.

Give a final sprinkle of salt and pepper and serve. Yum.

If you want to use real potatoes, you can. Just use 4-5 yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2″ thick slices, and boiled in salted water until they are almost all the way cooked through. Drain them well, dice them up and add them to the mix.

Rainy Farm Day Baked Apple Pancakes

baked apple pancakes

The peculiar name of this dish comes from the time and place I first made them.  We were staying at my Mom’s farmhouse one summer day and it just raining cats and dogs.  The kids were off playing in the attic or somewhere upstairs and Kumy and Mom and I were just sitting and talking in the kitchen, when I got a yen for something sweet.

Dutch Babies, which is what this really is, is a very eggy baked pancake that soars to 6-7″ above the pan before collapsing as it cools.  It’s a glorious brunch or lunch dish.

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (Can use any apples.)
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp sugar and a dusting of Cinnamon

Melt butter in your largest ovenproof frying pan, and saute apple slices until they start to soften – about 4-5 minutes. Add sugar and cinnamon and stir gently until the sugar starts to caramelize and the whole thing is getting syrupy and gooey. Remove from heat.

2 Tbsp more of sugar
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all these ingredients together until very smooth, and pour over the apples. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, until puffy and golden and tips are browning. Serve with powdered sugar or enjoy them plain.

Another option: Use thinly sliced peaches or pears or a blend of both instead of the apples. No need to peel the pears, which are especially tasty.  I used half peeled apples, and half pears today an it was especially good.

Martha’s Buttermilk Pancakes

Martha’s Stewart’s Recipe is the basis for Kumy’s favorite birthday cake: Pancake Cake. Kumy doesn’t much like regular cake, but he loves pancakes so we make a double batch, layer them with fresh fruit and drizzle the top with maple syrup.

I always mix pancakes in a pitcher because it’s easy to pour and saves washing dishes.

2 eggs
3 cups buttermilk (can add a little more if the pancakes are too thick)
4 Tbsp melted butter or oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp sugar

Mix very well in a pitcher with a fork or wire whisk.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

You can mix these in a bowl if you want. However I just dump the flour in, then the baking powder, soda and salt and gently stir the dried ingredients together before I mix them with the liquid underneath.

Stir gently with a fork until just blended (there will still be many lumps, but no visible pockets of flour in the mix.)  Pour 1/3 cup batter into a  greased frying pan and cook until done. I often just “eyeball” it since the 1/3 cup measure always either falls in or drips batter everywhere.

Great variations: Stir in 1 cup fresh blueberries, or 1 cup diced apples, peaches or pears, (gently sauteed in a little butter and sugar first.) Or you can add a mashed-up banana (mash with a fork) and a splash of lemon juice.

Note: if you’re out of buttermilk, I’ve had good luck with substituting 1/2 plain yogurt and half milk.  Just work with it until you get a nice pouring consistency.