breakfast, brunch

cracked wheat + pecan waffles | spiced butter | cranberry maple syrup.

It’s November already; can you believe it? Don’t fret. Sure, an onslaught of holidays are coming up in the next few months. You only have a few weeks before you see your Aunt Beatrice and she reminds you in her special way that your house could use a good dusting and, now that she mentions it,  a little tidying up at the exact time as you’re attempting to wrestle a giant turkey into your oven.

I have a theory about Thanksgiving. I think that lots of new recipes show up everywhere – the interwebs, magazines, Food Network specials – during November. All of them interesting, and a vast majority of them delicious…if only we were to make them. I have a deep admiration for cooks who look at Thanksgiving as a shiny opportunity to showcase new dishes to their guests; I am not one of them. Our Thanksgiving dinner is so entirely steeped in tradition that a new side dish needs to be signed off on by all parties in attendance. Requests are submitted. Paperwork is filed. New foods are pondered and most are denied. I am told to check back in December, because it’s not that these new recipe suggestions aren’t delicious – indeed, I’m sure they are – it’s that at my house, Thanksgiving means we eat the things which have graced the table for decades.

This year, I will not add to the fray. I will not give you Thanksgiving dinner recipes. I’m not holding out on you, but I’d rather not muddy the waters when robust, dinner-ish savory items aren’t even my speciality. I’m going to leave that to those who do it better than I do. So if you want to try something new for your dinner, be my guest, but try to get it from a tried and true source; your favorite blogger, cooking website, whatever. Here’s what I will be doing for you in the meantime.

I will make you appetizers for Thanksgiving and the weekend which follows (and by that, I mean when everyone is still lying around on your couch recovering). I will make you finger food. I will maybe make you a dessert or two. I will make you foolproof breakfasts to feed those who are staying at your house (or for you to graciously make in the kitchen of your host, if you are travelling). Perhaps most importantly, I will make you Thanksgiving leftover ideas; because everyone may love Thanksgiving dinner on the day of, but by day 5? You’re over it. My goal is to arm you with some solid recipes you’ll love that use your leftovers in ways that give you taste buds a little something new. Sorta like you’re going out to dinner or ordering take out, only you won’t have to do that. And hopefully you won’t be throwing out a gazillion pounds of food, either.

I thought I’d kick it off with breakfast. They have become the standard at my house, because they are, without a doubt, my most favorite waffles. Bonus: they’re good for you. They’re WHEAT. they give you energy, and you don’t feel like you ate a small pair of hand weights after you eat them. They have a little bit of crunch to them, thanks to some bulgur wheat and pecans. If you want to eat them with regular butter and syrup, please feel free: they are scrumptious.

However: if you want to treat yourself and your family and/or house guests, you will make a very easy spiced butter to go alongside them. Also, you will top them with cranberry syrup you can make from scratch (as I will below) or you can make them after Thanksgiving using your leftover cranberry sauce and simmering it with some maple syrup. It’s divine. I never knew maple and cranberry were such a nice combination, but the sweet/tart mashup is wonderful. A pretty great way to start your day.

Waffles and spiced butter adapted from The Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay. Cranberry maple syrup a figment of my own imagination. And please feel free to make these in any combination: the waffles are great with regular butter and maple syrup, and the butter would go nicely on regular waffles, as would the cranberry syrup, etc.

I should begin by saying that if you are using leftover cranberry sauce for this, then you can simply simmer your sauce, strained or no, with the maple syrup for about 10 minutes or so till everything is warmed and incorporated. If your version of “cranberry sauce” is “that kind in a can,” it’s confession time: so is MINE! I love the high-fructosicity of the can-berry. Call it a guilty pleasure or just a fascination with Jell-O type products, I can’t help myself. I tried to see if it would work with the canned cranberry for you, and although the texture is fine, the canned stuff is too sweet for this. 

Cracked Wheat + Pecan Waffles | Spiced Butter | Cranberry Maple Syrup

for the waffles:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus either oil or nonstick spray for your waffle iron)
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat*
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans + 1 cup rough chopped pecans, dry-toasted slightly in a skillet, for serving (both of these are optional, but pecans make a difference in flavor and give a nice top crunch to your waffles)

for the spiced butter:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons honey (I use a dark Tennessee wildflower which I’m borderline obsessed with)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch (or two) of ground ginger
  • pinch of sea salt

for the cranberry maple syrup:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • zest and juice of 1 large oranges (or 2 small)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup (no fake stuff, please; it’s almost upsetting how different it is from real maple syrup)

*don’t go thinking this is something fancy you’ll never find it. you’ll find it, and here’s why: because to make matters easier, i grab boxed tabbouleh mix. That’s right. It should be in the rice/beans section near all the other rice/couscousy things. It says “tabbouleh,” and that’s fine; just make sure the box you are grabbing houses the spices in a separate packet (as they almost always do). You only want (duh) the bulgur wheat part.

First, start your cranberry syrup:

Add your cranberries, orange juice and zest, and sugar to a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Heat until bubbling, then reduce your heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, for around 10 minutes. At that time, take a potato masher (or a big fork) and gently press your cranberries down so they burst. Simmer for a few more minutes until it’s the texture you want for your syrup (not too runny, not to jellied).
If you are straining, use either a fine mesh sieve or a ricer (as shown above) over a bowl to strain out the cranberry skins/zest. Pour your strained cranberry sauce back into its saucepan and add the maple syrup, heating for 5 or so minutes until incorporated. Set aside until ready to serve, at which time you may heat it right back up again.

Whip up your spiced butter:

In a medium bowl, add your butter and beat using an electric mixer until a bit fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add honey, spices, and salt and, using a rubber spatula, stir until everything looks evenly distributed and there are no pockets of spice or salt (ew.). Your butter should have taken on a very even, very light brown coloring from the spices and honey. Place in whatever container you’ll be serving it out of and set in the fridge until ready to use, at least 30 minutes to give your flavors time to meld. If you have time, set it out to let re-soften a bit prior to serving.

Waffles, anyone?

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, butter and oil lightly until eggs are just beaten. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, add bulgur and 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans and stir everything together until just combined (you don’t want to overmix this, so make every mix stroke count). Let the batter rest for 15-20 minutes. It’s nice because you can warm up your waffle iron, set out your butter if you need to, and rewarm your syrup during your wait time.

Time to cook:

Proper setup is critical for outstanding waffles. First, make sure if you haven’t already, that you’ve set your syrup to warm over low heat and you’ve set out your butter to soften.

Preheat your oven to 200˚F. Get out a baking sheet and put it in your oven while it heats; you’re going to throw your finished waffles on it while you cook the rest of the batch.

Heat your waffle iron up according to manufacturer’s instructions. I suppose everyone’s waffle iron is different that way, and I’m sure you know how to use yours. Spray a little cooking spray on it or oil it if needed. Using a ladle or large spoon, portion your batter onto your iron and cook until golden brown. I’ve found that these, more than other recipes, are a forgiving waffle, and capable of a wider range of cook time; they don’t burn easily and they cook themselves very evenly, but do watch them. Remove from iron when done and place directly on the heated baking sheet in your oven. Repeat.

Serve them on a giant platter, preferably with some sort of flourish. Top with your spiced butter, cranberry maple syrup, and a smattering of pecans, if you wish.

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  • Reply natalie November 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

    thanksgiving is so NOT the time to try new things… i swear if we swapped out even one item there would be riots. in fact, there are many things that we have to make multiples of, because no one will give up their version of the dish to accommodate a new one. so we have BF’s family’s recipes and my family’s recipes and then there is just two of pretty much ever item.

    except potatoes

    these, on the other hand…. look like heaven.

    • Reply shannon November 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      saaaaaame! we have two distinct green bean casseroles due to family preference; INTER-FAMILY! my sister likes one, i like the other. multiples are common here too.

      because you can’t meld/blend family thanksgiving food. you have to make a thanksgiving table up as if it were west side story, and the dishes were the sharks and the jets. it just HAS TO BE that way.


  • Reply Emma November 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Oh, these are cranberry waffles. Ohhhhh. No lobstahs. Oh. Yummy!

    Do I like to go against your highfalutin ingredient requests? Indeed! I do. And I will say that I think fake maple syrup is soooooooooooo goooooooooooood, and I enjoy it much more than the real stuff. But that’s just me and I’m a) poor and b) cray cray.

    • Reply shannon November 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      i knew this would happen. you would argue with me about maple syrup. and you’re SO CLOSE TO WHERE THEY GROW MAPLE SYRUP HOW COULD YOU!!!!! i wonder if the Vermontians would come with torches and pitchforks if they knew you shunned the purity. just saying. they could ask the Amish where you lived…

      if you make these, i’d like your take on how it works with the fake syrup. because i don’t mind fake syrup alone, but it’s never worked quite right in recipes for me; somehow the flavor, for me, gets odd.

      • Reply Emma November 2, 2012 at 3:11 pm

        hehe. oh, i’m just your friendly neighborhood devil’s advocate! i like using the real thing.

        it gives me blogger cred and everything.

        plus it’s delicious.

        plus we make it in maine, too!

        plus i only wish the Amish knew where I live.

        • Reply shannon November 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm

          maine maple syrup = reason number 837 to want to visit maine sometime. also, cranberry lobsters.

          how do you know they haven’t discreetly followed you in their buggy? YOU DON’T. maybe they de-shoe their horses like some of us would turn off our car lights.

          • Emma November 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm

            there’s an amish person who actually DRIVES DOWN MY STREET! whaaaaaat.

          • shannon November 7, 2012 at 6:49 am

            do they wave at you? I bet they want to. maybe if you dress up in that one costume from the photo you sent movita…i believe it was the “yer dancin” post…i bet they would like that. at the very least it would really throw them off.

    • Reply Brianne November 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      You don’t consume Maine maple syrup on a daily basis? Girl, you ARE cray.

      (This coming from the lady with six-month expired chocolate in her pantry. Derp.)

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats November 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Haha, my family is the same way! ONE time my mom attempted to mess with tradition and the entire family threw a hissy fit…we’re not too good with change. Before and since then, we have made the exact same recipes every year, with a new one occasionally joining but not replacing the rest. I’m kinda of curious what other people have at their table. What are your family’s recipes??

    These waffles sound pretty amazing and my husband has been begging me to make him a weekend breakfast…i might just have to give them a try!

    • Reply shannon November 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      oh no! your poor mom, she probably thought she was doing something fun, too. My grandma did that to my mom once when they were little – long story short, they went to another family’s house for thanksgiving…and they were vegetarians. they had a TOFU turkey. and i have zero issue with tofu (sometimes i enjoy it) but the thought of 1960’s tofurkey being my thanksgiving dinner makes me want to cry. i don’t think my mom has gotten over it.

      we do the occasional new one too; always additional, never substitution, just like you. we do i think the standards: turkey, herb stuffing (sage/sausage/apple), sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, apple pie/crumble, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, big relish tray, rolls, i’m getting SO HUNGRY… 🙂 i know there’s more…so now i’m curious as to what’s traditional; what does your family do?

      oh do these waffles! I don’t lie when i say they’re our favorite here; i think it’s how not-soggy they are, and the bulgar and pecans make for a really nice crunch. They freeze/refrigerate well (which is good, because you’ll have leftovers).

      • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats November 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        My family does brined turkey (we only learned about the brining a few years ago and won’t stop because it’s 10x better) with homemade gravy, brussel sprout hash (amazing! recipe on my blog), stuffing (it can vary but must have sausage. we tried cornbread one year but hated it), cranberry sauce (we always have the canned one and a homemade one that can vary), sweet potatoes of some sort, preferable with marshmallows, a sweet corn pudding that got added a few years back, and then dessert MUST have our fave pumpkin pie with pralines and rum whipped cream, plus another dessert that we usually experiment trying something new. I wonder if there is a “traditional” menu…

        • Reply shannon November 7, 2012 at 6:28 am

          i resisted saying “OMG THE BRINING!!!” right there because we just last year were turned on to the glory which is a brined turkey. we’ll never go back either! mom was resistant (she’s the turkey maven) but even she couldn’t deny it’s goodness. so, brined turkey from now on.
          I’m headed STRAIGHT FOR that brussels sprout hash, Amy. I don’t even need to look at it to know that’s probably going to be on our thanksgiving table. you know, yours sounds very similar from a main ingredient standpoint as mine; although i think it varies in terms of geography and culture a bit, i bet there are at least “traditional menus” for thanksgiving. I’ll say our menu hails from the Northeast, as my mom’s family is from there, and we stick to the things they’ve always had on their table. Sweet potatoes were an accepted addition only due to my husband – it’s not that we didn’t like them, but we already had mashed potatoes, and we enjoy mashed rutabegas as well (I forgot to mention that one, but it’s a must). i’m going to do a little research about thanksgiving feasts, i think.
          that pumpkin pie with pralines and rum sauce sounds AMAZING. In addition to the pumpkin pie/apple pie always have, a few years ago i started making a pecan tart with bourbon whipped cream (which will be on the blog in the coming weeks) – mom starts talking about that pecan tart around Labor Day every year since, because she wants me to know that it’s an essential part for her now. 🙂

  • Reply Brianne November 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I hated cranberries for years, but now I can’t get enough! These waffles are a must do in our house–we’re pecan crazy at breakfast time, pairing the little guys with blueberries and MAINE MAPLE SYRUP (ahem) in our oatmeal most mornings. Weekends bring about pancakes…with maple syrup, blueberries, and pecans, but now that it’s November, it’s totally time to bust out the cranberries!

    God, I just can’t get over how great this recipe sounds! I may have to make a run to the grocery store tonight to get some more pecans so we can make these tomorrow morning!

  • Reply movita beaucoup November 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    WAFFLES! (Thank you.) Thanksgiving has long past here in Canada, but I love living vicariously through you Americans. I get the feeling that it is a much, much bigger deal down there. American Thanksgiving makes me crave turkey and twinkle lights…

    When I saw the first photo of this post, I immediately got a hankerin’ fer waffles. This is quite a feat when you consider that I have consumed about a pound of leftover Halloween candy and a sizeable portion of nachos in the past hour.

    • Reply shannon November 7, 2012 at 6:48 am

      I meant to ask you dear Canadians what Thanksgiving is like where you are, since i never knew until this year that you celebrate an entire month prior (I really thought you all were having some practice camp or something for the main event; it took me several days and a google search to figure out this was not, indeed, the case). You seem to have lots of food, right? It seems big? Maybe Americans do it up because we use the holiday weekend (and truly, it’s a weekend, not just a day) to get out our christmas decorations, hang twinkle lights, watch football, and make crafts and things. Okay: the crafts and things part is maybe only at my house, where each year we pick some crafts to make and then we do them. We’re like that; when my mom and sister and i get together, crafts? They happen.
      I would assume if you’re doing thanksgiving in october, you don’t want to decorate for christmas just yet. I need to know more about canadian thanksgiving.
      and now i’m hungry for candy and nachos, so i suppose this works both ways. 🙂 it’s astounding we’re not all 700 pounds for all the food we discuss.

  • Reply Faygie Moorvitch November 5, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Okay, so first of all, these look so good!
    Second, I’m thinking it’s time to invest in a waffle iron (you know, so I can actually make these!). What iron do you have? I love the shape of your waffles. They are so much prettier than the plain old square ones!

    • Reply shannon November 9, 2012 at 6:29 am

      thanks Faygie!
      waffle irons are worth it! i had one for years, and hated it. never got used, finally broke (probably from being shoved in the back of a closet) and i didn’t replace it. but i missed waffles. so this mother’s day, mr. table got me one, and i LOVE it. It’s a Cuisinart, and i’ll have to shoot you a photo of it, but it’s a stainless steel looking one with four slots for regular size, square waffles. I believe it came from Williams Sonoma, and it wasn’t ridiculously priced.
      now, the shape…that’s all my silliness. I hate it when batter squidges out the sides, and i also think the inner waffle has a nicer texture than the outer ring (which tends to be softer) so to counter this, i put less batter than i need in the center; only enough for it to eek out in a star shape. It works especially well with this recipe, as it’s a thicker batter. Making them this way also carries the added bonus of them being smaller, which means the Wee One loves to carry one around for breakfast. We call them “spider waffles.” 🙂

  • Reply Ashley November 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    You must be using your mind/tummy-reading skills again, because as I was eating breakfast this morning, I wanted something like waffles or muffins to break me out of my yogurt-oatmeal-eggs rut. These waffles look perfect! Plus I’ve been playing with different grains the past few months (Maria Speck’s wonderful book is to blame for the collection of whole grains and flours spilling out of my pantry), so the use of bulgur intrigues me in the best possible way. And I heart cranberry sauce! My mom and I hoard bags of cranberries in the freezer and make it most of the year to eat with yogurt.

    • Reply shannon November 7, 2012 at 6:14 am

      ashley, i too am a breakfast-rutter (toast-eggs-tomato slice), and i would eat these every day if i could. I make batches of them to freeze and then pop one in the microwave when i’m feeling like a little change.

      The bulgar in this is what got me too! I’m making a note to see if the library has the Maria Speck book because i don’t know that much about different sorts of grains and flours. i know how to get them, but i use a precious few in my baking and i’d love to branch out.

      your freezer, then, must look like my freezer. cran-heaven. it’s a shame they can’t have fresh cranberries all year long, but they freeze so well, it’s like you don’t need them to. 🙂

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