I didn't think anything could tempt me away from my daily bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter, cooked in the microwave. But there's a new breakfast in town and it's still full of healthy oats but gussied up with warm fruit and nuts. It's sweet enough to satisfy someone with a breakfast sweet-tooth but at least for me, not too sweet in the morning. Or you could call it a "flourless oatmeal cake" and serve it for dessert.
I'm sharing recipes for three versions, two for fall, an Apples and Walnut combo and another with Pumpkin and Pears. But for summer? Go for Blueberries and Bananas! Your choice, just don't miss out on this easy, nutritious and ever-so-variable delight.
But first, I'd like to explain why I write my recipes in my own style. It's for you, readers, for you.
On Facebook, there’s a conversation group for cookbook authors who take on arcane topics like the term-of-art “divided use” and whether to use weights or measures in ingredient lists. Dull stuff, this. Or is it?
Over the years, I’ve honed my own style of recipe writing with two features. I like to think my style makes it easier for both new and experienced cooks to follow my recipes.
FIRST, INGREDIENT LISTS Recipe writers say “divided use” to signal that an ingredient is used more than once in a recipe. Ack! I hate this! Worse though, is when there’s no indication that an ingredient is split. Double ack!
Both techniques are easy to miss and worse, keep cooks referring back and forth trying to figure out how much goes in when.
This is why I split ingredients into their working groups. If an ingredient is used twice, it’s listed twice. If a recipe needs water, or there’s a final seasoning with salt and pepper, they’re listed.
Why ignore recipe-writing convention? It’s for you, readers. I know your time is precious. You want good results every time, whether it's the first time for a recipe when you're paying close attention or the tenth time when familiarity makes it extra-easy to forget an important detail.FIRST SCAN My objective is to provide an instant understanding of how a recipe comes together, just by looking at the ingredient list. I like to visually demonstrate that a recipe is simpler than a longer list of ingredients might suggest. Experienced cooks may need little more than that list. In fact, did you know that recipes from long-long ago were no more than ingredient lists, no instructions at all? It's true!
WHILE COOKING I want to provide a quick visual check to answer questions like, Did I get everything? or What’s next?
AND THEN WEIGHTS & MEASURES My recipes provide typical American cup and tablespoon measures but also metric weights (in grams) and when it makes sense, weights in U.S. Customary Units (that’s pounds and ounces) for ingredients that come in packages marked with ounces or vegetables, say, which are easily weighed when purchased. Why?FOR INTERNATIONAL VISITORS Weights in grams helps cooks from outside the U.S. accustomed to ingredients presented in grams.
FOR BAKERS Many bakers rely on the precision of a kitchen scale for baking.
SAVING DISHES But I often show ingredients in grams, even when they’d typically be measured in a measuring cup. Why? To save dishes! For example, for this recipe for Baked Oatmeal, I put a bowl on the scale and add the buttermilk, sweetener, oats and walnuts, no measuring cups!
YOUR FEEDBACK So how do these techniques work for you, readers? Do you notice? Do they work for you? inspire confidence in the kitchen? Or not?
Back to Baked Oatmeal! Enough attention to recipe writing, let's get to cooking!
For a few weeks now, I've made one batch after another of Easy Baked Oatmeal. The first squares are served warm for breakfast on the weekend, after that, they're warmed up in the microwave for a quick, healthy and filling breakfast on the run.
Plus, the variations seem endless! In early fall, apples and walnuts call to me but as the light wanes and the leaves turn color in late October and November, it's pumpkin that tempts my seasonal sensibility. Do try the very wonderful Baked Oatmeal with Pumpkin & Pears (pictured below).
But for summer? There's a summery Easy Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries & Bananas (pictured below) which a least one picky-eater grandkid scarfed down warm with a little maple syrup for dessert a couple of Sundays back. Seconds were requested, nobody knew the difference! I just love how the fresh blueberries swell and pop! It's pictured below, ready for the oven.
So have fun with this recipe, turn it upside down and make it all your own!
EASY BAKED OATMEAL with APPLES & WALNUTS
Time to table: 1-1/4 hours
Serves 9 (easily doubled for a crowd)
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups (490g) buttermilk or skim milk
- 1/3 cup (105g) sweetener (maple syrup, honey, sorghum, even a sugar-free almond syrup, all work!)
- 2 tablespoons (30g) melted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups (190g) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 cup (30g) chopped toasted walnuts (don’t skip)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 3/4 of a large apple, cored and chopped in small pieces
- 2 ripe bananas, cut in small chunks
- Oat Mixture
- 1/4 of a large apple, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup (30g) chopped toasted walnuts
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar
- Warm maple syrup or half & half, optional
Heat oven to 375F(190C). Butter an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. (For a double recipe, use a 9x13 pan.)
OAT MIXTURE In a large bowl, whisk the egg, then whisk in the buttermilk, sweetener, butter and vanilla. Stir in the oatmeal, 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Stir in the chopped apple.
COMBINE Arrange the banana pieces in the bottom of baking dish, cover with Oat Mixture. Arrange the apple slices decoratively on top, sprinkle with 1/4 cup toasted walnuts and raw sugar.
BAKE Bake uncovered for 35 – 45 minutes until top is golden and oat mixture has set. Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes.
TO SERVE Cut into nine pieces, serve warm, plain with Baked Bacon or drizzle with warm maple syrup or my favorite for temperature contrast, half & half.
LEFTOVERS Cover and refrigerate, this may look like "cake" but it's not. Rewarms beautifully in the microwave in 30 seconds.
ALANNA's TIPS Is Easy Baked Oatmeal with Apples & Walnuts easy enough for a healthy mid-week breakfast? I think so! Just mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately the night before, then quickly assemble in the morning before jumping in the shower. Don’t skip the bananas! They form a soft, sweet base that’s irresistible. The bananas shouldn’t be green but need not be “very ripe” (as for banana bread) or "very very very ripe" black bananas (my favorite). I liked the idea of portable little muffin cups so tried a half batch in muffin tins lined with lightly greased silicone muffin cups. The yield was 8 muffins and they tasted plenty good. But my idea of cute little breakfast cakes didn’t pan out, they just didn’t look that pretty.
To substitute blueberries for apple is super easy, it's very close to the original recipe.
Just substitute 4 ounces (that's 3/4 cup or 115g) fresh or frozen blueberries for the chopped apple. This is the one change: don’t stir the blueberries into the Oat Mixture, however, the berries stain the oats in a way that’s not pretty. Instead, just sprinkle the blueberries across the top of the banana pieces, then top that with the Oat Mixture.
Then substitute another 4 ounces of blueberries for the sliced apple. Sprinkle the berries on top of the Oat Mixture.
I love how fresh blueberries "puff" up in Easy Baked Oatmeal but frozen blueberries are cheaper and easier to find year-round. The other day, I bought a four-pound bag of blueberries for a $4 steal at Walmart. At least I thought so. When I got home, the receipt read $11-something. Oops, so much for a "steal" on blueberries. :-)
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