Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Warm-up with Baked Oatmeal

Mornings lately here in Wisconsin have felt a lot more like January and a lot less like mid-November. The result is that I've been craving something warm and comforting beyond the usual morning coffee. I'm not much of a morning-meal person - not a morning person in general, and I'm just not hungry right away. Sometimes, when I do wake up hungry, if there's time, we like to do a big brunch. But if the agenda is full and impatient, grab-and-go is better. We often have muffins of eggy goodness around, but when baby it's cold outside, I want something that feels a bit more like comfort food. 

Enter stage right: Baked Oatmeal.

It's rather like a warm bowl of fresh-from-the-oven oatmeal raisin cookie that's been dunked in warm milk. The recipe is super flexible. I've tried different dried fruits, walnuts or pecans in it or on top, adding ground flax seed, vanilla yogurt when we're out of plain. I also like that it's low in added sugars, thanks largely to the applesauce (use the good stuff!) and the cinnamon & vanilla. For the version in the photos, I used our homemade Spiced Pear Sauce instead of applesauce. Once I tried dried apricots and pecans - very, very tasty. Next up I'm going to try craisins and walnuts and include a bit of orange zest for a deep fall flavor. Bonus: it's gluten-free (just make sure to use certified gluten-free oats if you're super-sensitive).

I like to bake a batch and freeze it in servings. Perfect for busy mornings or a quick snack. It heats up quick in the microwave, and tastes so good with a splash of milk (or heavy cream, or in this case half & half - use what ya' got!). Easy peasy comfort. 

Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, December 2007

Dry Ingredients                                   

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins*                                           
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk**
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 packed tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil/butter/spray an 8-inch square glass baking pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl until smooth; add to dry and mix well. Pour into baking dish and distribute evenly. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool slightly before cutting into serving pieces. Serve with milk. Or heavy cream. Or half & half. Whatever you've got. 

Double the recipe for a 9x13inch pan version.
I've not tried egg substitutes, but you might try 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds in 1/2 cup water. 
*Raisins: we've used both golden and dark and both are fine. I like to rehydrate and plump them up a bit by warming gently in some apple cider. Drain well before using. 
**Milk: the original recipe called for whole milk. That works. So does 2%, skim, lactose-free 2%, and both original or vanilla almond milk (haven't tried chocolate). For us, soy milk didn't quite have the right flavor. 

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