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.

Jeane’s Praline Apple Bread

Just stop what you’re doing and make this right now. I am serious. My T.T.T. sister Jeane made this for a meeting one Saturday morning and it is the very best quick bread I have ever had. I’ve made it lots of times and the response is always the same.  Make it.  Now.  You won’t regret it.

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
8 oz. sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp Vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups copped apples
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Take 1/2 cup pecans and bake them for 6 minutes at 350.

Mix the sour cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Gently blend the flour mix to the sour cream mix – just until blended. Do not overmix. Fold in the apples and toasted pecans.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle remaining chopped pecans on top and bake the bread at 350 for one hour. Cool for 10 minutes, and turn out onto a serving platter.

In a saucepan, bring the butter and brown sugar to the boil and boil it for one minute stirring constantly. Pour over the bread. Let the bread cool and keep it covered.

It’s apple praline paradise.

Corn Bread

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl and gently blend the two. Pour batter into a glass pie pan and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot with butter and a drizzle of honey.

Banana Bread

My grandmother used to make amazing banana bread and this is a version of her recipe. She always mashed the bananas and left them out on the counter for a little while so they darkened up a bit, leaving lovely little brown streaks in the baked bread. She loved to bake and always brought several dozen cookies with her in coffee cans when she would come to visit.(Coffee cans were the container of choice before tupperware.)

My mother, who was a wise and kind woman, would then let us kids sit at the breakfast table with glasses of milk and eat as many cookies as we wanted. I suppose she let us get it our of our systems, which would cut down on begging for cookies later on. Thanks, Mom! Just one more way you were the best mother in the world.

One time when I was 16, Grandma asked me if I wanted cookies, and I said no, I’d better not – too much sugar and fat for me. She was stunned and said with complete sincerity, “Oh, no – cookies are good for you!”   Yes, Grandma they were.

1/4 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas, very ripe, mashed with a fork
1 1/2 tbsp sour cream or plain yoghurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

Mix very well in a big bowl.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Blend in a small bowl and gently stir into banana mixture. Add 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans if you like.

Pour batter into 2 greased loaf pans, or one large baking pan. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. If the middle of the bread is still very liquidy bake a little longer.

My notes say, Ali loves this – he ate one whole loaf himself !- 2-16-01 (He was 13.)

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup apple cider or water
2 cups (1 smaller can) of pumpkin
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix flour and baking soda in a small bowl. Mix everything else in a large bowl and then gently add flour mix. Do not over mix. Pour into two greased loaf pans and bake at 350 for one hour. If you use a baking dish, just keep an eye on the time – since it will bake more quickly.

Blueberry Buckle

Many of the old quick breads have funny names – one of my favorites is Blueberry Grunt. But they all feature fruit in a tender bread and are amazing served with tea or coffee.

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk or eggnog

Blend together liquid ingredients well.

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

Blend together dry ingredients.

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Put the flour mixture on top of the milk mixture and blend very gently, just until it’s all moistened. Then carefully fold the berries in, and put it in a 9×9 baking pan. Top with dollops of the following mixture:

3 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a treat I have always looked forward to on St Patrick’s Day – since my friend Cathy is Irish and makes the most exquisite Soda Bread.

I’ve now made this bread so many times and in so many places it’s kind of my signature dish. You’d think I’d be sick of it, but there is something about that first bite of warm bread with a little butter melting on it that is indescribable.

For me, the interesting thing about this recipe was a note that it was from Rania Bratberg (from the Internet).  I was so thrilled to find a recipe on the Internet – what an astonishing idea – but of course that was long, long ago!

4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp caraway seeds

Blend in a large bowl.

1/4 cup softened butter

Cut butter into the flour mixture with a fork or knead it in gently with your hands.

1 box currants (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Add the currants to the flour mixture, and stir to break up any clumps.  Blend the buttermilk and egg well. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and blend oh so gently until everything is moist. Do not overmix this!

Turn out the dough onto a floured tray, and knead gently adding flour as needed for 2-3 minutes. (Or you can just flour your hand and gently knead the bread right in the bowl.) Form an oval on a baking pan and flatten it to no more than about 2″ thick. Slather the loaf with buttermilk and cut a couple of shallow horizontal slashes with a sharp knife.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with a clean, dry towel. Serve with lots of fresh butter.

Note: if you want, you can make two loaves – just bake them for 30 minutes.