Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eat: Fancified Oatmeal

Today, I stand up for bowls of neglected oatmeal everywhere! For too long, they have endured countless rejections among the breakfast tables of America. No more! Prior to a few years ago, I never even touched oatmeal. This was thanks largely in part to vague childhood memories of it being “ucky”. Then, I learned that one does not need to eat it plain, in fact, one can flavor it with a multitude of things. Brown sugar, cinnamon, or maple syrup, just to name a few. This week’s recipe for Fancified Oatmeal is a testament to how delicious the grain can be. The oatmeal is baked with a mixture of chocolate, brown sugar, pecans, strawberries, and bananas. It can be made for a larger breakfast crowd, but is also suitable for a smaller audience since the oatmeal is perfectly good reheated. Although I should warn you that the bananas will turn brown after a day or two.

The fantastic thing about this dish is that you can modify it in so many different ways. I substituted ground cinnamon in place of the orange zest and Chinese spices the original recipe suggested (quite frankly, because that sounds weird and gross). You can leave out the chocolate for a healthier option, or double it if you have a signicantly sweet tooth. Pecans can be replaced with whatever you happen to have in your pantry: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and the like. If bananas aren’t your thing, just double the strawberries...or add cherries...or forget the fruit altogether! See what I mean?!? You could make this baked oatmeal every weekend for the rest of your life and it never be exactly the same.

TIME: 40 minutes
YIELDS: 6-8 servings
MY SOUNDTRACK: Weekend Edition (NPR)

2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
1 cup of sliced strawberries
1/3 cup of chocolate chips
2 cups of milk (I used skim)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F and grease a medium size baking dish. Mine was 8x8 inches, so anything around that should be fine.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and half of the pecans, strawberries, and chocolate. You will use the rest of the pecans, strawberries, and chocolate later.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla extract.

4. Transfer the dry oat mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining pecans, strawberries, and chocolate on top as well as the banana slices. Lastly pour the milk blend over everything. Gently shake the baking dish (don’t go crazy here, just jostle it in slow motion) to help the liquid spread throughout the oats.

5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes and get ready for some heaven.

Tip: You can do steps 1-4 the night before, store in the refrigerator, and pop into the oven first thing in the morning!

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