Thursday, February 26, 2009

Baked Oatmeal

I'm writing this post under a little bit of pressure. A while back, I shared this recipe with my friend Jennica, who, according to her fiance, Ryan, makes it almost weekly. A few days ago her friend Kyle came over to visit, tried the oatmeal, and loved it so much that when I stopped by to say hello I found myself being ordered - in a nice way - to hurry up already and post the recipe. She meant it, too, because I've already been reprimanded for taking the time to, you know, actually bake the recipe, photograph it, and then sit down and write about it.
But I'm happy to do it, because this is one of those recipes that are so simple and handy and part of my regular cooking routine that it didn't first come to mind to post to this site. I'm also happy to do it because I want to continue to be in Kyle's good graces. And now I have a dish of baked oatmeal in my refrigerator just begging to be eaten. So, it's definitely a win-win for me.
Let's get one thing clear: I love oatmeal. You will need to know this if we ever find ourselves on a game show together where we win fabulous prizes like dinette sets by answering questions about eachother. But I digress. I used to buy instant oatmeal packets and keep them in my desk at work (way back in the day when I had a job...sigh) to eat for lunch. Or I would cook oats on the stove top, mixing in milk and brown sugar and topping with fresh fruit. But this recipe beats any kind of oatmeal I've ever had. It's hearty and flavorful and has the stick-to-your ribs quality that has been lacking in my oatmeal-eating lifetime. This is the bowl of oatmeal you would want to be eating if you ever found yourself in a comfy log cabin somewhere during a snow storm, sitting next to a roaring fire wearing a thick cable-knit sweater with a dog curled up at your feet. Trust me.

I'm also a huge fan of eating breakfast for dinner (or lunch. or midnight snacks) and because this mixes up so easily and bakes in twenty short minutes, it makes a nice filling dinner in no time with very few dishes to clean up. Leftovers (what are those?) also keep well in a covered dish in the refrigerator. I scoop out what I need, add a little milk, and heat it up in the microwave.

This recipe is also very versatile. Cinnamon wasn't part of the original recipe, but I can't imagine making it without it. You can also experiment with different dried fruits such as apples, cranberries, blueberries, etc. Or, top with fresh fruit (my favorite is banana). The possibilities are endless.

Now go get baking! (Kyle, that means you...)
Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 cups uncooked quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
1  tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
Cinnamon, to taste (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. 
3. Combine the milk,  applesauce, butter and egg.
4. Add milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well.
5. Pour mixture into 8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, serve warm.

Laziness Alert:
I'm a huge fan of NOT dirtying a lot of dishes, so I mix all ingredients together at once, then pour into the baking dish. 

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