Saturday, February 8, 2014

You're Doing Everything Wrong: Breakfast of Champions Edition

Back when I traveled more frequently for work, I usually stayed at hotels that included free breakfast. My plan was always to have yogurt, cereal/granola, and coffee. I figured I would probably eat a less than healthy lunch (why is it always sandwiches at catered lunches?) and probably find a Panda Express at the airport so breakfast should at least be an attempt at something good for me. Such is work travel when you're tired.

My plan would always crumble like the terrible muffins they serve in hotels when I'd walk into the breakfast room and smell waffles. The smell would just be so tempting and I wouldn't be able to resist it. I would make a waffle and it would be wonderful. Or if I was able to resist, I found myself envying the business man across from me eating a waffle and reading USA Today (not that part - read a real newspaper) or the family on vacation with the children enjoying their waffles. And then I'd crave waffles and it would be terrible especially if I couldn't have them right away. Unlike Leslie Knope, I don't have a regular diner that I go to or a Ben Wyatt in my life to bring me waffles and chicken soup when I'm sick. So I did the next best thing - I asked for a waffle maker for Christmas.

In adulthood, Christmas presents become more utilitarian and less fun. I guess if either my brother or I had children, it would be more entertaining but we don't so it's waffle makers, hockey jerseys, and movie marathons. It works for us I guess. My mom sent me links to several waffle maker models and I selected the Food Network Belgian Waffle Maker. I'm sure Bobby Flay, Giada, and Alton Brown all approve. This is in no way an endorsement of Food Network products or Kohl's but let me tell you, it is a great waffle maker. It's easy to use and clean, comes with a handy-dandy batter scoop, and recipes for your waffle making enjoyment (I have tried none these at this point). I've made regular waffles twice so far and they have more than met my expectations.

I started researching waffle recipes because that's what I do when I get a new kitchen toy. Then I realized something - I'm doing everything wrong when it comes to my waffle maker. Did you know that you can basically make anything on a waffle maker? Sandwiches, hashbrowns, mashed potato waffles, brownies - the list is insane. Buzzfeed, my absolute favorite website for killing time and chipping away at my social life, had three "important" waffle lists in 2013. From these lists I learned about "24 next-level waffles", 17 unexpected foods I can make in a waffle maker, and 12 surprising foods I can make in a waffle maker.

Let's break down the things that I will be making with my waffle maker in the coming weeks:
  • Bacon Waffles
  • Ham & Cheese Waffles
  • Brownie Waffles (which make excellent bases for sundaes)
  • Hashbrowns
  • S'Mores
  • Falafel (because why not?)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Mashed Potatoes
I might actually find a use for brunch with all of these options! And I left off grilled cheese and pizza both which sound amazing.

One option that came up several times in my waffle research was Cinnamon Roll Waffles. I decided to start my waffle adventure here since cinnamon rolls are my third favorite breakfast food and I never make them. The recipe uses a tube of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in place of waffle batter. I discussed this idea a few weeks ago at brunch with a friend. At the time, she was enjoying a plate of delicious waffles and I was regretting my choice of Eggs Benedict. I always think I'm going to like Eggs Benedict and then I eat it. It's the hollandaise sauce; I really just want a poached egg, toast, and bacon. Or I should just stick to waffles. Anyway, I told my friend that I was planning on making the cinnamon waffles. She has made them before and didn't like them as much as she thought she would. Undeterred, I soldiered on to waffle glory.

The recipe I settled on actually describes these as "splendiferous" and it has lived up to its name. It's so insanely easy that I don't understand why I didn't think of this years ago. You preheat your waffle maker as you normally would, open the cinnamon roll tube, separate, and place each roll into the waffle maker. That's it. When they're done, heat the icing for about 10 seconds and drizzle on top. Sit down and enjoy. I bet little kids would love this recipe.

It tastes exactly like a cinnamon roll - a little crunchy on the outside and soft inside. My waffle maker has temperature settings (not all do); I kept mine on the crispy setting. I love the fact that the waffle unrolls just like a cinnamon roll as you cut into it. The icing is always the best part and that's not lost here. It sets exactly like it does on the rolls and brings the sweetness without being overly sweet. Some of the cinnamon does melt off into the waffle maker (like it would in a baking pan) but not enough to detract from the cinnamon-y taste. I think you could use maple syrup on these too and it would taste fine. I'm not going to do that since cinnamon roll icing is magical.

I used Pillsbury Grands (because that's what I had at home). The recipe uses the regular ones and another friend told me she had problems with the Grands. I would use them again but my waffle maker is actually a Belgian waffle maker so I think that's why it worked. If you have a regular waffle maker, I'd go with the smaller rolls. You can always change it up next time (because there will be a next time). I also made one at a time since I wasn't sure what would happen with them. If I use the smaller rolls, I'll probably make four at a time instead. My apartment smells both waffle-y and cinnamon-y so basically today is going to be perfect. Imagine if hotel breakfasts featured these bad boys - no one would ever eat the yogurt and cereal.

I think my next waffle maker challenge will be the bacon waffles and the mashed potato waffles. Maybe I'll even host a brunch so we could have Bloody Marys and pretend to be cool. The genius of waffles is that once you make a batch you can keep them in the oven on a low or warm setting so they stay crisp and heated until you're read to serve. That is the perfect food.

Next week on the Island: It's finally time for my super special Valentine's edition of Lazy Movie Weekend. The movie's got love, revolution, Communism, and awesome hats. You won't want to miss it!

Leslie Knope photo
All others by me

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