Friday, May 18, 2012

Baked Oatmeal

We have now hit triple digits.  No, I'm not talking about the weather (does Illinois even get that high?).  I'm talking here, on this blog, the big one-oh-oh.  The 100th post.  Has it felt like 100 to you?  Good, cause I swear it hasn't for me.  But, unless blogger's counter lies, we're here nonetheless.  I was planning on making celebratory cupcakes with stars and 100's piped on them.  Ben bugged me to finally make the lobster dinner I promised him for his birthday now 4 (4!) months ago.  But did I have time for all of that?  Nope.  I did not.  Instead, there is baked oatmeal.  Which I made 3 weekends ago.  What?  I promise I'm not holding out on you, it's been crazy busy over here.

It's probably not the perfect dish for the occasion.  If I had been thinking ahead, I maybe would have piped "100!" on it.  But I wasn't.  You see, lately, my best laid plans have been going awry and this yummy little comfort breakfast dish here?  It wasn't even planned.   It was the result of a need to have a lazy Saturday morning with a large pot of coffee and a warm, filling, syrup smothered breakfast.  But there was no buttermilk for pancakes and regular oatmeal?  It just wasn't going to hit that indulgent spot.

Luckily, I remembered this recipe from a stack of photocopies that I may or may not have begged my mom to make for me when I gave her Heidi's (of Summer Linguine fame) Super Natural Every Day cookbook for last year's birthday.  Being a photocopy, it is technically big green cookbook eligible.  And seeing as it was delicious, It was cut and put into the BGCB later that morning.

I halved the recipe, but kept the whole egg, and it ended up being a large breakfast for two.  Eaten on the couch, between sips of hot coffee, watching brainless Saturday morning TV, deck doors open and a cool breeze coming in.  Maybe not the perfect 100th blog post, but absolutely the perfect lazy weekend morning breakfast.  (And just in time for the weekend... wouldn't you know it?)

Baked Oatmeal

The final oatmeal is not inherently sweet, but a drizzle of honey or maple syrup will easily fix that.  I used frozen berries and was rewarded with a delicious berry mush.  I assume fresh would hold form better and taste equally yummy.  The original recipe called for a bottom layer of sliced bananas, but bananas and me don't get along and they were nixed.  I substituted chunks of an Asian pear I had on hand.  I don't think there is a wrong fruit substitution at all here, so just use what you have on hand and/or what you enjoy!

2 c. old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 c. pecans, toasted, chopped, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 large egg (2 if you want it more custard-like)
3 Tbsp. salted butter, melted, divided
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pear, sliced into small chunks (I used an Asian pear)
1 1/2 c. mixed berries (fresh or frozen), divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  

Butter an 8 inch square pan well.  Layer pear chunks in bottom, topped by two thirds of the berries.  Set aside.

In large bowl, mix oats, 1/4 cup of pecans, and the remaining 3 dry ingredients.  Sprinkle oat mixture over layered fruit, completely covering fruit. 

In small bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and vanilla.  Slowly drizzle liquid mixture over layered oats and berries.  Gently whack pan a few times on the counter, to make sure that milk mixture settles all the way through to the bottom.  Top with the remaining third of berries.  

Place in 375 degree oven, baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until oatmeal is set and has a golden crust.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Drizzle remaining butter over top.  Serve up with maple syrup, honey and/or a dusting of powder sugar, if wanted.

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