Friday, June 29, 2012

Ham and Cheddar Melts on Butternut Squash Quinoa Waffles

Happy National Waffle Iron Day!  Did you even know there was such a holiday?   Do we even need a reason to celebrate to eat waffles?

Today I decided to experiment with savory waffles for dinner, and ended up creating  Ham and Cheddar Melts on Butternut Squash Quinoa Waffles:

Not only are waffles delicious and make a good meal at any time of day, but the waffle maker won't heat up my kitchen too much in this 100+ degree heat wave!   In an effort to avoid grocery shopping in the heat, I made a mental inventory of all the ingredients in my fridge and freezer, then did some Google searching for existing waffle recipes that I could tweak.   The "winning" recipe I decided to follow was for Sweet Potato Quinoa Waffles by Sarah Lipoff.  Quinoa adds a lot of protein, so that seemed like a good dinner option, plus I had some already cooked in my fridge!   Once I had my recipe reference and my ingredients, it was time to start preparing dinner.

First step, make the waffles!

Butternut Squash Quinoa Waffles  (serves 2)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup frozen butternut squash chunks, steamed and mashed
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar 
1 large egg
1/4 cup almond milk
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour (I used half white and half whole wheat)

**Theresa's note:  I made some healthy substitutions for personal preference, but feel free to use all white flour, regular milk, and brown sugar (instead of the agave), per the original waffle recipe 

Directions:

1) Combine mashed butternut squash and quinoa in mixing bowl or food processor.   Blend together well, then add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and agave nectar.
2) Add egg, milk, and oil, and continue mixing until fully incorporated.   Slowly add in flour until mixed and smooth, or as smooth as you can get it. 

3)  Heat the waffle maker.  I set mine a little higher than medium, since the batter is thick and I wanted to make sure they browned fully.
4)  Spoon half of the waffle batter into the waffle maker.  And then wait.  Waiting is the hardest part when you are excited about waffles.   Once the ready light signals their completion, check to make sure they are golden brown and release easily from the waffle maker.  Adjust the temperature dial for the next waffle, if you need to.

Mine came out perfectly browned.  Success!!!

Ahhhhhhhh doesn't that just look amazing!?!?   Are you drooling yet?

I couldn't resist diving into the waffles as soon as they came off the waffle maker, so I tore off one quarter to test.   The outside was golden brown and crispy; the middle was warm and soft.

These were somewhat dense waffles, compared to typical breakfast Belgian waffles.   The cinnamon & nutmeg helped tone down the butternut squash, and I could only detect a small hint of the quinoa.  If you hadn't known those ingredients were in the batter, you probably wouldn't recognize them, with the exception of their inner appearance. 

I probably could have stopped here and just eaten the waffles with a little butter and syrup. 

Instead, I wanted to take them a step further and make a whole meal out of them, as you can tell by the post title.  So I topped the remaining 3 quarters of the waffle with a little whole grain mustard, a slice of deli ham, and some crumbled cheddar cheese, then popped them into the toaster oven for a couple minutes until the cheese had melted.

As a side dish, I threw together a small salad of mixed greens, berry vinaigrette, sliced strawberries, and slivered almonds.  A meal like this needed a little sweetness and greenness to balance everything out.

Here is my final dinner:

As you can see, only two of the waffle melts made it to the table.  I ate one fresh out of the toaster oven before even snapping the photo.

I am pleased that my little savory waffle experiment worked.  It helped having a solid base recipe as a guideline.  At least I knew it was possible to add quinoa and savory ingredients into a waffle base.      I'll be keeping this recipe in my repertoire for future breakfast-for-dinner nights!

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