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9 easy waffle iron hacks for appetizers, mains and desserts

My waffle iron is a much-used uni-tasker at my house. On Sunday mornings, I’ll make a blitz of straight-up waffles that I pop in the freezer for my kids’ breakfasts for the coming week. But for many, the gadget just sits in a cabinet, unused. What if the waffle iron wasn’t just a one-trick pony?

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A close up shot of a waffle iron; Shutterstock ID 321229508; PO: today.com

Wondering what else I could do with it, I did a little digging on Instagram (#waffle; #will_it_waffle; #waffleit) and was astounded by the creativity and innovation of some pretty dedicated wafflers (these folks are anything but indecisive!)

Then, I realized that if you really wanted to, you could even use a waffle iron to create a three-course meal! Here are nine easy appetizers, mains and desserts you can make with a waffle iron.

Appetizers

Quesadillas

How smart is this?? Six-inch flour tortillas fit nicely in most round waffle irons. The fillings can be simple pull-together ingredients from shredded cheese to leftover vegetables or chicken, making this super quick.

Mozzarella Sticks

This one comes from the Waffle-Meister himself, Daniel Shumski, author of Will it Waffle. Slices of low-moisture mozzarella cheese (he recommends provolone, Jack, or Fontina) are breaded and waffled until crispy and melting.

Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

These were responsible for my first waffle-Aha! moment. The Hanukkah potato pancakes were astonishingly good—super crispy on the outside and creamy-tender on the inside. Plus, unlike traditionally cooked latkes (which are fried) they only required a spritz of cooking spray.

RELATED: 10 Tips for Using Your Slow Cooker to Get the Best Results

Mains

Panini

Making a panini in a waffle iron makes perfect sense—what’s a panini press, but a large waffle iron? Of course, it’s a one-at-a-time deal, but if you’re planning on feeding a crowd you’re not likely to make panini anyway unless you’re using a griddle.

Calzone

Roll the dough to fit the waffle iron, fill with cheese, meat, sauce…whatever, then top with more dough. Close the lid and let the machine do its thing. It’s an ooey, gooey homemade Hot Pocket.

Falafel

Another clever one is falafel because it doesn’t need all that oil for deep frying, but the crust is crisp and golden and the center is tender and soft. For an added bonus, stuff a pita with all of the fixings and waffle that!

RELATED: Forget the Slow Cooker! 15 Things Your Rice Cooker Can Do

Desserts

Cookies

Waffle iron cookies have got to be a dieter’s best friend—or at least someone with self-control issues—because you can make a lot or you can make a little quickly! Waffle what you want and refrigerate the rest.

Churros

For a fast three-ingredient dessert, waffle puff pastry for five to six minutes, then dunk the squares in cinnamon sugar (use a 1-to-3 ratio of cinnamon-to-sugar). The butter in the pastry keeps the dough crisp and flaky. Cut them into strips and you’ve got Mexican-inspired doughnuts.

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

What’s so genius about this recipe is that you don’t need to preheat your oven to have cinnamon rolls! In less than 10 minutes (including heating the waffle iron) you have eight hot, crispy cinnamon rolls.

Grace Parisi is a New York City-based food writer, cookbook author and food stylist. Her book, Get Saucy, was nominated for a James Beard award. Her latest book, Quick Pickles comes out in Spring 2016. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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