Okay, for this, I really really REALLY feel the need to do a whole review on a waffle maker. Sadly, though, I’m paid to work and not blog (I know, life is so unfair!), so I didn’t get the chance to write up an actual “why I love the waffle iron I love” that I had envisioned.
Because, guys! Waffles are the ultimate fool-the-child lie! You can put anything in a waffle, and most kids will devour it because, hey! It’s a waffle! That gross line of crud that’s left against the edge of the dustpan when you’ve swept the floor in both directions eighteen times, and you still can’t make it go away? Put that shit in a waffle, and be ready to hear “You’re the BEST parent EVER!” Squish a layer of cream cheese and a few strawberries between two of those, and you’ve just been elevated to the level of that really rare Pokemon Go character that sounds remotely like a porn-star’s stage name.
I have savory waffles, and cheesy waffles, and cinnamon roll waffles, and all sorts of waffles that work really really well for lunches (Thanksgiving-leftover waffles, anyone? No joke!), and I want to show you guys – but a waffle maker can make or break you in this, so I’ll go over what I like, and why, soon. If you already have something you love, then go for it, but otherwise, give me another week and I’ll get back to you!
These Pumpkin Spice Waffles make the house smell lovely, particularly in those cold months when everyone wishes they had time to bake a pie like grandma used to make, but before you know it, it’s March and you never baked the damn pie. Plus, they work like a charm for reheating in a toaster. They’re soft, even slightly soggy, when first out of the waffle iron, but don’t let that fool you – they firm up more as they cool, and will be easy to eat (like normal waffles) when you toast them for lunches. However, if you like a crispier waffle, add an extra 1/2 cup to 1 cup of whole wheat flour (the oat flour complements the flavors well, but bakes softly).
Also, for the poor misguided folks out there who don’t like pumpkin (I’m sorry …. I need a moment here … alright, I’m better). You can substitute the pumpkin puree for unsweetened apple sauce, and call them Apple Spice Waffles instead!
Damn, you’re good.
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (you can substitute for coconut oil)
- 24 large eggs
- 3 cups whole milk (may substitute for almond milk)
- 1 1/2 cup plain whole yogurt (can substitute for coconut milk)
- 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade, just make sure it's not pie filling)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 3 Tb vanilla bean paste (may substitute for extract)
- 3 cups oat flour (I use rolled oats, and grind them into flour myself with my Food Processor, because technology)
- 1 Tb baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup pumpkin pie spice (OR 2 Tb cinnamon + 1Tb ground nutmeg + 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves + 1 Tb ground ginger)
- Whisk wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl until incorporated.
- Mix dry ingredients in stand mixer with paddle.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Let batter sit for 5 minutes.
- Ladle batter into waffle iron, about 1/2 cup per waffle and cook according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Cool on wire rack, then Flash Freeze in a single layer on parchment-paper-lined jelly roll pans for a couple of hours, before packing into heavy-duty freezer bags and sucking out all the air to freeze (or using a vacuum sealer).
- Toast to reheat (you can wrap in tin foil, or cut into waffle strips to send in warmed food jar if you really want them nice and warm), and don't forget to send a mini dipper of syrup or honey!
- The-Best-Freeze-Ahead-Soup-Known-To-Man. No, seriously.
*This soup is perfection as is, but absolutely withstands omissions and substitutions. Whether it’s a vegan thing, a dairy- or gluten-allergy thing, or a “kid hates anything remotely green” thing, I promise you this soup will see your modifications and raise you an OM
- BONUS How-To: Chicken Stock/Vegetable Stock to use in your soup, that will just make you feel sorry for all those suckers eating out of a can – EXTRA BONUS: we’ll do this stove-top, but Ill tell you how to do it with your Instant Pot as well, which is just a whole other level of awesomeness.
- Mini Mac-and-Cheese Muffin Bites.
- Pumpkin Spice Waffles
- Ridiculously-Easy-And-Totally-Worth-It (yes, it’s a theme) Bagel Chips (three ways, people!)
- Chewy Dried Pears
Here’s the list of equipment you’ll need, and a list of equipment that makes life easier.
- Large Stockpot. No need to try to stir slowly to not slosh out of a 10 quart stockpot. Go for this 16 quart stockpot. It’s about $25, and will make your soups and broths far easier.
- Measuring Funnel Pitcher – 3.5 cup
- Muffin tins, for your individual servings of mac and cheese. You will be baking eight tins so you’ll want at least two, but ideally four
- Silicone Muffin Cups for soup – standard size or jumbo
- Paper muffin liners (don’t get the foil wrappers for these! Foil muffin liners + Microwave = bad words in comments on my blog)
- Waffle Maker
- Big Tupperware Bowl
- Gallon Freezer Ziplocks
Strongly suggested, but not absolutely needed:
- Stand-up mixer (it was mentioned in a comment thread earlier this week that some of these lunch batches really won’t fit in a standard 5QT mixing bowl – if you don’t have one already, but are thinking of taking the plunge, consider purchasing a 7QT mixer like mine; I can throw an entire birthday party in there, and everything fits.)
- Food Processor – can’t emphasize this one enough (see? I wasn’t lying in Round 1 when I said we’d be using it!)
- Nesco Food Dehydrator, and remember, the Nesco has extra trays if you need ’em!
- Dutch Oven – 7qt
- Parchment paper
- Jelly Roll Pans – get two
A WORD ON FREEZER SPACE
I admit, I have a lot of freezer space. I live with four adult-sized appetites, and one healthy child-sized one, and I tend to freeze and pack 20 weeks’ worth of food for all the kids at a time. Plus, once upon a time, I used to do this regularly for dinners as well as lunches.
So, I have a freezer upstairs for regularly-used items, then a downstairs freezer for frozen lunches, and a separate chest freezer for when I’m feeling particularly go-getter-y (or for when I make Thanksgiving meals ahead of time because I have the stupid schedule). I call the chest freezer my Sexy Beast, and I make my hubby apologize to it if he doesn’t treat it with an appropriate level of tenderness.
The FDA does specifically say that a closed, full freezer will maintain its temperature for 48 hrs without power (a half-full one will maintain it for 24 hrs), so food does not need to be thawed or refrigerate or transferred anywhere, as long as you kee the doors closed. So even if your power goes out Saturday, your lovingly-prepared lunches should be safe till Monday when the repair guy comes! Just sayin’ …
Now, you certainly don’t have to have this. We’re going to work on how to maximize your packing strategies in order to best use your space, and we’re going to use flash freezing and labeling techniques that make my heart skip more than Ryan Gosling (who, for the record, has NOTHING on vacuum sealing). But you should plan on being able to fit two jelly roll pans or large cookie sheets into your freezer at once at any given time during your prepping. If you can’t do that, it may be worth it for you to take a look at getting yourself a separate freezer – not necessarily your own Sexy Beast, but maybe something a bit smaller and inconspicuous, that can still guard your hard work (and only cost you an extra $0.75 or so per lunch if you hold 4 months’ worth of meals for one person in it, right?).
STILL NEED HELP PACKING LUNCHES?
Check out my feedback on how to pack the lunches, with reviews and discussion on cold foods, hot foods, beverages and lunchboxes! But if you don’t think you can take another second of wading through my never-ending drivel, and just want to cut to the chase to know what my absolute preferences are, here’s the short list:
- For hot foods, Funtainer Food Jar or Stanley Food Jar (sorry, you do need to make this decision yourself based on the details).
- For the rest of your lunch, and cold entrees, EasyLunchboxes system: containers, lunchbox, and mini dippers. Close second: PlanetBox.
- Funtainer water bottles (Doc McStuffin, Wonder Woman).
Sometimes, I come across good deals and want to share them, but I don’t want to send you unwanted emails. If you’d like me to email you when I find something really good (like the Instant Pot that went on sale last week for $69.99) you can sign up for those emails here. These would probably be once or twice a month.
I’M ON INSTAGRAM & TWITTER:
You can follow me on Instagram @emiponcedesouza. You can also follow me on Twitter @poncedesouza. If you share your photos, use the hashtag #EmisLunches, and please tag me!