It was the week of Thanksgiving.  My whole family piled into the car and drove six hours to Ohio, where we and a dozen other relatives descended upon the home of my aunt and uncle for a week of cooking, eating, playing board games, watching football, eating some more, setting fire to turkey fryers, and generally creating an abundance of family drama.  There weren’t enough spare bedrooms for everybody, so the kids (I was in high school at the time) got to sleep in the basement.  In the mornings, we woke to (you guessed it) still more eating.  That year saw the debut of my aunt’s new waffle maker, and you can bet we ate more than our share of fluffy, golden-brown waffles topped with pecans and whipped cream.  Dozens and dozens of them.  We liked them so much, my parents decided to invest in the same waffle maker, and my family still devours those things like there’s no tomorrow.

Fast forward a few years.  My dear fiance and I decided to list that very same waffle maker on our wedding registry, since 1) it was awesome, 2) waffles are awesome, and 3) there was no way in the world we could afford such a beautiful piece of machinery on our… um… non-salary.  We were more than thrilled to receive it as a wedding gift from none other than my aunt and uncle who had introduced us to homemade waffles in the first place.  Since then, we’ve served hot Belgian waffles to our friends and house guests, enjoyed them ourselves on quiet Saturday mornings, and even held a waffle party or two during our years at seminary.

In honor of the awesomeness of fresh homemade waffles, here are four tried and true recipes, beginning with the basic one my aunt (and my mom and I) uses.  If you’re in the market for a waffle maker, I would really recommend getting our model–it’s a splurge, but it’s well worth it (don’t buy it on Amazon, though; they charge twice as much as other places, for some reason).  I’ve tried several other brands, and none of them stood up to the Waring Pro.  Trust me on this one.  Waffles are so worth it. Waffle1

Basic Belgium Waffles
Topping ideas:  blueberries or sliced strawberries, walnut or pecan halves, whipped topping, chocolate chips.
Yield:  6 waffles

1 3/4 cup flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 beaten egg yolks
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or almond, if you prefer)
2 egg whites

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl with a whisk.  In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Add liquids to dry ingredients, combining until just moistened.

With an electric mixer on high, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks (this can take around 5 minutes, but be careful not to overbeat).  Gently fold egg whites into batter (they don’t have to be completely mixed in).

Refrigerate leftover batter up to two days.

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles
A perfectly spiced recipe for fall.  Feel free to increase the amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger if you like a stronger flavor.  These are delicious topped with pecans and cinnamon-infused maple syrup.

Yield:  8 waffles

1 1/2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
pinch salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup (8 oz.) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup milk
4 T. butter, melted
2 eggs

Combine dry ingredients (flour through salt) in large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat together remaining ingredients until well combined.  Fold wet ingredients into dry until just moistened.  Refrigerate leftover batter up to two days.

Chocolate Waffles (recipe from Alton Brown here)
These are a chocolate lover’s dream.  I think they’re good with just a little butter, but go for the chocolate syrup if you’re a real chocoholic.

Sourdough Waffles with Ham and Cheese (recipe from Cooking Light here)
Hearty and flavorful, these waffles make a meal in themselves.  I haven’t tried the dijon-syrup sauce; I think these are great plain with a little butter.  Remember that the yeast batter needs 24 hours to ferment, so begin these a day ahead.  You’ll also want to use extra cooking spray when making these babies.

And… a bonus:

Cwaffles (Cake Waffles)
My husband thinks cwaffles are the best thing ever.  I think he made them up as an excuse to eat cake for breakfast.  Whatever.

Prepare boxed cake mix (any flavor, although my husband is partial to funfetti) according to package directions.  Cook in waffle maker as you would a regular waffle batter.  Serve with ice cream (or, if you’re feeling ridiculous, maple or chocolate syrup… or pop tarts).  Enter a diabetic coma.