It's 6 p.m. and everyone is hungry -- but no one can agree on what to eat. Rather than order Chinese food or pizza, or grill yet another chicken breast, pull out the dusty waffle iron for a tasty meal that's sure to delight the kids. Waffles aren't just for breakfast anymore.
While you might think of waffles as sweet treats to be smothered in maple syrup, an unsweetened or savory waffle makes an ideal bread for sandwiches. Use a plain, whole wheat waffle batter, and try mixing in herbs and spices, such as rosemary, basil or garlic. Once the waffles are cooked, use them instead of bread or rolls. Your waffle iron can also serve as a panini-type press. For example, add chicken breast, mozzarella or provolone cheese and marinara sauce to a basil or garlic waffle, and press the sandwich in the waffle iron until the cheese melts for a chicken Parmesan panini sandwich. Serve with a side salad and creamy dressing for a nutritious dinner.
Waffles are delicious on their own, but with some added ingredients they become even more so. Start with a plain or whole wheat waffle, and add meat, cheese or vegetables into the mix. Mix browned ground beef seasoned with dry spicy ranch dressing mix into the batter, and serve the waffles topped with cheese, lettuce and tomato for a waffle taco sure to be a hit with the kids. Add browned sausage crumbles and cheese to the batter and serve with eggs for a new take on breakfast for dinner. Or try making waffles with cornmeal. Serve this version of warm cornbread topped with chili for a twist on a classic. Experiment with different flavors and ingredients to find combinations that your family loves.
In some regions of the United States, waffles are a dinnertime staple, regularly served as a side dish. Try whipping up a batch of waffles and cutting them into strips to serve instead of french fries. If you want to get away from the breakfast feeling with your dinner, use potato pancake mix instead of waffle and pancake mix; add sour cream with a packet of dressing and dip mix stirred in, chives and cheddar to the potato waffles for more flavor. Try mixing grated veggies into the waffles to increase your kids' daily vegetable servings. Grated zucchini adds moisture, while grated carrot and finely chopped broccoli add color and a vitamin boost.
Whether you're using your waffle iron to make plain waffles for breakfast, or a savory creation for supper, properly prepare the iron before you cook to prevent your waffles from sticking. Thoroughly spray the cooking surface with a nonstick spray before you add batter to ensure that the waffles release from the iron evenly. And while most waffle recipes indicate that the waffle is done once the batter stops steaming, if you added any ingredients, such as meat or cheese, give the iron an extra minute or so to ensure everything is cooked through. When you cook your delicious waffle supper, make enough for two meals. Waffles freeze well -- store them in freezer bags -- and the next time you are scrambling to get dinner on the table, you can just pull them out and reheat.