I’ve got an awesome, super simple, extra flexible recipe for you guys this week! Waffleritos. Yup, you guessed it, a combination of waffles and burritos, and what could be better than that? But first, some practical tips on how to cook with what you’ve got. The inspiration for the recipe and this post comes from this month’s challenge from The Recipe Redux:
Spring Clean the Kitchen. Cook with at least 3 ingredients that are actually in your refrigerator or pantry right now. Try not to go to the store to buy anything new. Give tips on how to make a healthy dish out of whatever you have on-hand.
This topic is near and dear to my heart and is tied to one of the complaints I hear from people over and over again—that they struggle with food waste—vegetables go bad before they can use them all up, meat is forgotten and goes off, and they are reluctant to buy recipe-specific ingredients because they aren’t sure how they will use the remainders in other recipes. I have even spoken with people who have decided that they’d rather order out instead of grocery shop and cook because the food waste stresses them out so much. I am very sympathetic to this struggle as it is one that I experienced for years when I was first becoming comfortable with cooking. I vividly remember going into my produce drawer and finding slimy green things that made my stomach turn. I also remember struggling with what to do with leftover ingredients from new recipes I had tried (I used to avoid buying cabbage and bok choy at all costs for this reason). Over time, though, as I became more comfortable with cooking and improvising, I found this source of stress started to dissipate and I developed a couple of tricks that were really helpful in avoiding food waste.
To use up vegetables:
- Roast, roast, roast! I have roasted many different vegetables that I have discovered kicking around in my produce drawer from cabbage to rubbery carrots. Once roasted, I use them as a flavor and texture boost in salads or as a topping on my favorite lunch: tostadas.
- Pureed vegetable soup! Anything can go into a pureed vegetable soup: bok choy, lettuce, herbs, celery, it is all fair game in a pureed soup.
To use up meat:
- Freeze it. Just throw it in a freezer Ziploc bag, label it, and freeze for another time.
- Roast it and use in salads, pastas, fried rice, or burritos (that’s what I did when I made the recipe below!).
To use up dairy:
- Heavy or whipping cream can be used to make a soup or pasta creamy.
- Sour cream and yogurt can be used in soups or in baking.
- Cheeses can go into a mac n cheese, burritos, as a variation on top of pizza, or on salads.
“That’s all fine and good,” I hear you saying, “but when am I supposed to cook those things?” Next week. Seriously. Here’s what I mean: when you sit down to come up with your meal plan or shopping list for the next week, the first step should always be to check your fridge and pantry for things that need to get used up. That way you can include them in your planning. If you take this step and successfully use up the food that is already in your fridge I guarantee that not only will you feel better about cooking, but your grocery bills will drop, too! It’s a win-win.
Ok. So now that I’ve shared those tips with you, let’s talk about waffleritos. I love these so, so much. I first discovered the idea of making cornbread waffles on the Hilah Cooking blog and was blown away by the simplicity and flexibility of them. We enjoy them as sandwiches with cream cheese, topped with maple syrup like classic waffles, and, of course, as waffleritos.
So this week what I had to work with was two eggs, collard greens, black beans, two chicken thighs, a couple of grape tomatoes, and a stub of cheese. I thought of doing some sort of fried rice, but then decided that I wanted to push the envelope a little with these waffleritos. What is a wafflerito? It is a cornmeal waffle used as the base for burrito fillings. In other words, heaven on a plate. When I made this for my family they were an instantaneous hit! Everyone got to top them with their favorite toppings, it was just different enough to be fun but not so different that it was intimidating (for over-tired kiddos after a long, fun weekend), and it was on the table in 30 minutes. I put out black beans, roasted chicken, Brazilian-style collard greens, chopped tomatoes, avocado, grated cheese, and salsa. Any toppings you would put on a burrito would work with these, or really whatever you’ve got in the fridge. In other words, make them your own!
- 2 cups cornmeal
- ¼ cup corn starch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ cup frozen corn
- 1 ½ cups plain yogurt (could also use up buttermilk or sour cream here)
- 2 eggs
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- Toppings (pick your favorites or work with what you have on hand):
- 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups homemade black beans)
- 1-2 cups diced cooked chicken (or another protein)
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- Chopped vegetables of your choice (tomatoes, lettuce/greens, bell peppers, green onion, avocado, leftover roasted vegetables, etc.)
- Salsa or hot sauce
- Chili powder, garlic powder, and oregano can all be used to season the beans and meat, if desired.
- Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on meat, if cooking.
- To make the waffles:
- Spray your waffle iron with cooking spray and set it up to preheat.
- In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chili powder and mix it well.
- Mix in the frozen corn. Then mix in the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
- When your waffle iron is ready, start making your waffles, setting a timer for each waffle so you don’t forget them but can also work on preparing the toppings at the same time.
- To make the toppings:
- If you will be cooking chicken, preheat the oven to 425.
- If you will be cooking chicken, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay your meat on top. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Place in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.
- Put your beans into a small saucepan and warm over a medium-low heat. If you are using canned beans you can add extra flavor by seasoning with chili powder, oregano, and/or garlic powder, if you wish.
- Prepare your vegetable toppings and grate your cheese.