Homemade Waffles and Syrup

Our family is going through the slow, sometimes-painful (when we realize a favorite of ours contains it) removal of red dye from our diets. There are lots of things that got cut out years ago: fruit snacks and the like, Koolaid type drinks, etc. ┬áBut it’s in SO much more than you realize when you try to completely cut it out. A few convenience foods that I still bought despite their lack of nutritional value (because let’s face it, sometimes we just need a quick dinner) contain red dye. Like Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and Hungry Jack Belgian Waffle Mix. Really? Why is red dye in these?

Sidenote: I’m not freaking out over birthday treats at school, a snack at a friend’s house, etc. The boys don’t have to be the odd kid out in these situations. I’m just taking it out of our diet at home.

So. Back to waffles.

I used 100 Days of Real Food’s waffle recipe as the basis, thanks to Sonya’s recommendation. I changed up a few things, primarily to make it easier to mix and to be able to use the ingredients I already had in my pantry (I didn’t have any King Arthur white whole wheat flour; just regular white flour and regular whole wheat flour). I made a batch and a half of the original recipe (and that’s what I’m posting below), so there are plenty to freeze. It made 8 huge Belgian waffles.

3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbl skim milk
1/4 cup oil (I used coconut oil – because it’s a solid at room temp, melt it down to liquid before using by putting what you need in a measuring cup in the microwave for a few seconds at a time until it’s a liquid)
1/2 cup applesauce
1-2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tbl ground flaxseed

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cinnamon, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and flaxseed. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, applesauce and honey.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together (doesn’t need to be perfectly mixed). THEN, add the coconut oil while you are whisking the batter, so that it gets evenly distributed. This is important, because the batter is cold and the coconut oil will harden in the batter; you want it to be in tiny bits, not large clumps.

When the waffle iron is hot, ladle some batter onto the center of the iron. I found that, due to the coconut oil, I did not need to grease my waffle iron. Cook as long as you need – my Belgian waffler takes about 3 minutes/waffle.

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These are delicious with maple syrup, of course, but if you want to try something really amazing, make this Buttermilk Caramel Syrup. Oh my goodness…it’s amazing and super easy to make. Three bits of advice: 1. use commercially-prepared buttermilk (instead of adding vinegar to your own milk to sour it, like you can when baking) 2. Using 1/4 cup of butter is fine. 3. Prepare the syrup in a big pan. Bigger than you think is necessary, because when you add the baking soda and have a bubbly chemical reaction, you don’t want to lose this delicious concoction all over your stovetop!

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Breakfast Pockets

I made these for dinner last night, and they were REALLY good! A bit time-consuming, but since it makes a lot (we had several pockets leftover for the freezer, which means Luke will get a hot breakfast on a school day in the weeks to come, which will make him really happy!) I was okay with that.

You do make a bread dough, but it was really easy and totally worked. In fact, now that I have this dough recipe, I’m thinking of all kinds of stuff to fill these pockets with! It makes a light, not-tough bread that’s perfect for filling with something, and dough that was very easy to work with.

I mostly followed the original recipe, found here. My only change was to use crumbled bacon instead of sausage, since that’s what I had on hand (and what we prefer). I just sprinkled it over the top of the egg filling when I had it on the dough already, so it stayed crispy. That meant that instead of frying the sausage with the onion, I just needed to saute the onion in a tiny bit of butter before I added the egg and hash browns later.

A note about the filling: instead of frozen hash browns, thawed, I just bought Simply Potatoes hash browns (I used the southwest seasoned ones – these are found in the refrigerated section of the grocery near eggs). And, next time, I will omit the hash browns completely. We just don’t eat a lot of potatoes around here, and Luke even commented that he loved them, but next time he’d like no hash browns. To me, it was just filler. I’ll add a couple more eggs to make up the difference in volume.

Dough
1 1/2 Tbl yeast (2 packets)
1/2 c warm water (110 degrees – I microwaved for about 30 seconds)
3/4 c evaporated milk (110 degrees – again, microwave, but only about 20 seconds because it’s not as cold as the water to start with)
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 c flour

Filling
1 lb bulk sausage (or bacon, as described above)
1/2 c onion, chopped
1 1/2 c hash brown potatoes (thawed or use Simply Potatoes)
7 large eggs
3 Tbl milk
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, shredded

Dough:
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the water.
Add milk, oil, sugar, egg, salt, and 2 cups flour; whisk until smooth.
Add enough flour until it makes a soft dough but do not knead. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Filling:
Cook the sausage and onion over medium heat until browned. Drain. Whisk the eggs, milk and spices together in a bowl. Add the hash browns and egg mixture to the pan. Cook and stir until set. Sprinkle with cheese and keep warm.

Assembly:
Preheat oven to 350┬░.
Punch down the dough and cut into 16 equal pieces.
Roll or stretch each piece into 7 in circle on a floured surface. Top with 1/3 c filling, fold, and pinch shut (I didn’t have any problems with filling oozing out while baking, and I just pinched them closed with my fingers). Bake for 15-20 minutes.

To freeze:
Allow to cool completely. Once cooled, place in the freezer on the baking sheet until frozen. Store in a ziploc bag in the freezer for 3-6 months. To reheat, place on a paper towel and microwave for 1 1/2-2 minutes.

Purple Pancakes

Pardon the lack of posting…I’ve not been cooking much for the past month, due to a crazy schedule and the etsy store opening. Sonya is busy growing a baby and preparing for her arrival soon, so she’s busier than normal, too!

Matt wasn’t going to be home for dinner, so I decided it would be pancake night (he’s not a fan), since the boys all devour them. Not often content to just make normal pancakes, I decided to mix in a bunch of stuff and see how they came out. The inspiration was the bag of blueberries I just found in the freezer from last summer’s trip to Michigan. Surprisingly, they weren’t freezer burnt!

No exact measurements here, but you’ll do fine!

Get out your blender. Put the following things in it:
~3/4 cup of vanilla yogurt (I always have Dannon Natural Vanilla here – you could use plain or blueberry, too)
~1 1/2-2 cups of blueberries (it’s ok if they’re a little frozen still)
a few squirts of honey or agave nectar* (I used the agave nectar)

Blend until smooth.

Add in the following:
a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed or wheat germ (I used some of both b/c I was almost out of flaxseed)
~2 cups of complete pancake mix
water (start with 1/2-3/4 cup and add more as needed to thin the batter

Cook on a hot griddle! You want the batter fairly thin, or if it’s too thick, use a rubber spatula to spread out the batter a bit on the griddle right after you pour it on there. For the purpose of getting buy-in from my two older boys who I was afraid would flinch at blueberry pancakes, I added a few mini-chocolate chips.

Verdict: delicious. I’m not a fan of the texture of traditional blueberry pancakes, so blending them up was perfect for me!

It made a ton – probably 16+ 8-9″ pancakes, though I lost count.

*agave nectar is thinner than honey and also sweeter – to me, it’s more like a pure sugar sweetener than honey. You can buy it at any grocery or SuperWalmart. It’s great mixed into a cup of tea, also.

Breakfast Casserole II

I think Sonya’s already posted a breakfast casserole, but I just realized that I haven’t posted mine! This one comes from Matt’s mom, and it’s easy and delicious!

I often make 2/3 of a recipe instead of a whole one so that we don’t have quite so much in leftovers. I bake that in a 9×9 instead of the 9×13 and it works perfectly.

**Helpful hint: This can be made the night before you intend to bake it and just refrigerated overnight. I think it’s better that way. If I make it for dinner, I usually put it together by mid-afternoon so it has some time to set.

12 slices of WHITE sandwich bread. Don’t use anything else. I’ve tried this with whole-grain wheat and it’s not very good.
crumbled bacon, sausage or diced ham
shredded cheddar or any other kind of cheese you like or a combo (maybe 8 oz or so)
6 eggs
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
butter
crushed plain potato chips (if they’re flavored, the stuff on them will burn, so don’t use those!)

Grease 9×13 pan. Whisk eggs, milk, salt and dry mustard.

Put a layer of bread on the bottom of the pan. Cover with as much meat and cheese as you want! Add another layer of bread and pour the egg over the top.

Now, the original recipe calls for a stick of butter to be dotted on the top, but I just can’t bring myself to use that much. For a 9×9 I probably use 3 Tbl, and half a stick for a full pan.

Before baking, crush chips over top of all (don’t do this step if you’re refrigerating it the night before until it’s time to bake).

Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes. Let it sit 10 minutes before serving.

Quiche

The official name of this recipe is “Quickie Quiche.” I’m not a big fan of the word “quickie” when it relates to food, so we’re just going to call this, um, “Easy Quiche.” Or how about just “Quick Quiche?” There’s a funny old George W. Bush joke about quiche, but I won’t go there.

So, here’s the recipe:

QUICHE
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust
6-7 slices of bacon
1/2 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
5 eggs
1 cup skim milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Press crust into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove, and reduce oven temperature to 375.

In a small skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 Tbl of deliciously artery-clogging bacon fat drippings (mmm). Saute onion in bacon fat drippings for about 2 minutes; remove pan from heat. Crumble bacon and set aside.

Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bottom of the pie shell. Evently distribute bacon and onion over the cheese.

In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Pour mixture over bacon and onion. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

I think that this came from Parenting magazine, but because I can never leave well-enough alone, I made a few changes. First of all, this calls for 3 eggs. Seriously? For a whole pie crust? No way. I needed this to actually feed my family, so I beefed up the eggs and milk a bit. And you could probably do more if you have a larger family to feed! Also, when I make this later this week, I’m just using real bacon bits. I know they’re not as good, and then I don’t have bacon fat to cook in, but I’ll just saute the onion in a bit of oil. I don’t want to waste the bacon bits, and it will be even faster to put together on a busy night.

Oh, best of all, the kids ate this when I made it last time. Even Bennett, who claims that “eggs are nasty,” ate a piece (that quote actually goes back more than a year, when at my parents’ house for breakfast one morning, he announced out of nowhere, “eggs is nasty.” Unfortunately, due to the hilarity it caused at the table, he continues in this belief. But he will try them every time I make them, so we’re making progress.).

This may or may not have been uttered by me tonight before our dinner (of tacos): “Boys, please make my day by not whining about what we’re having for dinner.” Seriously. If I’m not serving chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, pizza or pb&j, they’re complaining. Even if it’s stuff they do actually like! So annoying.

THIS JUST IN: BOTH boys ate dinner without a complaint! Apparently they just needed a heads-up that I don’t enjoy whining.