cheddar & dried basil waffles

To say I’ve been feeling overwhelmed would be a severe understatement. It’s just been one of those weeks where all that I’m responsible for in my life is apparent. Back to school routines have been like a jolt of caffeine to my schedule. I certainly welcome the undisturbed work time while the girls are in school, but that morning crunch of getting two kids ready and out the door by 8:20am has tipped the balance of calm at my core. Back to school was yet another reminder that I’m alone in this job as a parent. I may be used to it, in terms of the delicate dance, but my heart is just not into being a single mother. I don’t think it ever will be, truthfully.

It’s not about wishing there was someone else there to help lighten the load. It’s about wishing there was someone there to remind me I’m doing an okay job. It’s the longing to share a funny story about something one of the girls did, like when Virginia told me she wished she had a enough money in her piggy bank to buy a new mommy while we were in the middle of a very comprehensive room clean-up. Sure, that post got a lot of laughs on Facebook, but it just isn’t the same. It never will be, and I know it’s something I have to work through on my own. No one can give me a magic remedy to resolve these feelings.

The house is not helping my worries either. I’m sitting here with knots in my stomach, wondering what the flea situation will be like when I arrive there tomorrow. I can only hope all my effort last week has had a lasting effect. I left the house on Sunday, and it seemed to be flea-free. I keep telling myself not to stress, but I’m not very good at taking my own advice. I’ve been doing deep breaths all week, reminiscent of preparing for childbirth.

In a way, I guess the last two years have been a gestation, of sorts. I’m simply not the same person I was before August 7th, 2011. That makes sense, and yet it is a constant struggle to face. Most of me remains familiar to myself, but there’s this one little mess of wires at the core that I’m trying to untangle. I seem confident on the outside, but that’s mostly to try and convince myself that I can do this, this thing called life and all the wonder that comes with it. I want so much to believe I can do it, and not just fake it until I make it. I’m working on it, and this week made a little headway as to where the deep-seated issue lies. Now it’s time to figure out how I can dispel the notion from my mind. It’s time to be my own cheerleader, so I’m going to dig deep and find those proverbial pom poms.

Cheddar & Dried Basil Waffles

makes 12 four-inch square waffles

music pairing: Under Pressure by David Bowie

My friend Catherine McCord’s new cookbook, Weelicious Lunches, came in the mail this week, just in time to help ease a little of my back to school anxieties. I love knowing my daughters have a healthy, yummy homemade lunch at school, but I will never, ever, love packing lunch (sorry to break any illusions of perfection here folks). I always admire Catherine’s photos on Instagram of her kids’ lunches, and secretly wish she lived next door to pack one for me.

As a total aside, imagine how much easier it would be to provide healthier, affordable school lunches if schools went to a 100% vegetarian menu. Non-animal protein sources are not only healthier, but less expensive. Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox for now.

The recipe for these cheddar cheese waffles was inspired by Catherine’s recipe for Cheesy Waffles (on page 91 of Weelicious Lunches). I’m quite late to the savory waffle game, and fear the weight gain that will follow now that I’ve discovered their addictive quality. I’m not kidding. I wolfed down two in less that five minutes (not my proudest moment). I made my own version using my All-Purpose Baking Mix from Homemade with Love, and opted for a mild cheddar cheese because that’s what Isabella likes. Virginia discovered American cheese this summer, and is completely rebelling against cheddar now, so I knew she wasn’t going to like these. Whatever, she’ll come around. Besides, she loves nibbling on wedges of Grana Padano, so all is okay in this Italian mama’s world.

As a former PB&J devotee in my elementary school years, I especially love Catherine’s take on all the different ways you can enjoy this delicious duo. I can’t thank her enough for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to not dread the 500+ lunches I’ll have to pack this year. You can buy her book here!

Why dried basil? I gave an explanation for this with the recipe over at Simple Scratch Cooking, along with ideas for some swap-ins to make it your own. Go take a peek at the post to read more.

1 1/2 cups (215 grams) All-Purpose Baking Mix

1 teaspoon dried basil (watch this video to make your own!)

1 1/2 cups (122 grams) shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk

2 large eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons (30 ml) grapeseed oil

In a medium bowl, combine the baking mix, dried basil and cheddar cheese. Stir with a fork until just combined.

In a clean, separate medium bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs, and oil with a fork until well mixed. Pour over the dry mixture, and stir until just combined, and there are no visible traces of flour.

Let the batter sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your waffle iron, making sure to grease it if it is not nonstick. Scoop batter onto each waffle mold, filling it by two thirds. The amount of batter you will need depends on the size and type of your waffle iron. Close the waffle maker and cook the waffles according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serve hot.


  • Tracey A

    Good Morning Jennie,
    Oh, once again, I can not say anything else. You put me at a loss of words and that doesn’t happen often.
    I wish I could give you a hug, but know that I am praying for you and sending a hug and a squeeze your way.
    Wishing you lest angst, lots of strength and a shiny penny along the way.
    XX Tracey

  • Sheila

    Oh Jennie, I know you don’t want my sympathy…but this post was gut wrenching for me. I have been feeling so sorry for myself because my husband works so many hours and is absent from our lives, when he is here is is only half here, and 90% of raising our four children falls on me. All this to say he is a wonderful father and husband, sometimes I just wish he had a career that allowed him to be in our lives more. So anyway thank you for reminding me that he is, he is in our lives, and I need to quit feeling sorry for myself and embrace him more and quit being grouchy toward him if he is late, but thankful that he walks thru the door with hugs and kisses.
    I’m so sorry you are alone in parenting. Know that you are never truly alone and that you are doing one heck of a job with your girls!!
    My heart goes out to you and I pray that those wires get untangled with Gods timing.
    Much Love,

  • Nicole Radoumis

    Jennie – I wrote to you very soon after I lost my husband. A friend had forwarded your blog. I ended up starting my own soon after as I found it was a great way to process all the emotions and happenings. It’s funny sometimes because I will read your post and find so many similarities – even in our choice of phrases! I guess while the grief journey is unique – there are patterns and similarities as well. Please read my blog if you get a moment – and some day, when I am in upstate visiting my in laws – I would love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee. Nothing like making a physical connection. Here is the link to my blog. I continue to share yours too!

    Take care and BREATHE. 🙂 XOXO Nicole

  • Laura

    I’m approaching the two year anniversary of my husband’s death this October. Just want to say I appreciate your honesty here. The start of school makes me tired (two kids, 9 & 4) and lack of sleep means more energy for cheering through the day-to-dayness of the week. Sure, I appreciate it all a lot more, but if I’m the only witness, how will it be remembered? Here’s to a lighter week. Cheers.

  • Bettyloug


    I started following you the very week before Mikey passed away and check in on you every week both here and daily on instagram. I am proud to have seen you weather storms that most of us cannot imagine facing. Over these past 2+ years there have also been times that I shouted with joy over your triumphs.

    Although we have never met, I feel like we are old friends because you have invited me (and the rest of the world) into your life. If I were there right now, or on any given day, I would look you in the eye and with GREAT conviction tell you what an amazing woman and mother you truly are.

    It is so completely natural for us moms to second guess ourselves, not give ourselves the credit we deserve, or the break we often need. Today I want to say to you, well done good and faithful woman. You continue to inspire and challenge me on a daily basis. I am ever so grateful that you are out there in the world and I know that each and every day Mikey looks down on you and celebrates your continually evolving life.

    Hugs to you Jennie. Many, many hugs.

  • Miranda

    It’sreally hard sometimes, and for a lot of your last 2 years. Sometimes too hard for us to shoulder solo. May something greater move on your behalf in a big or small way.

  • kay

    So much grief by so many, and sometimes I think it is all just a part of becoming human. I think the quote from “The Velveteen Rabbit” pretty much sums it up, love and hugs to you all:

    “Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

    ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

    ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

    ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

    ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
    ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

  • meenakshi

    I want to make these waffles but do not want to use eggs,chia seeds and flax seed options, can you please give some other option for this?