CRUNCHY BAKED OATMEAL RECIPE
After the long holiday week-end of what I’m assuming was excess for most of us, (at least it was for Mr. X and me—chili dogs and chocolate-covered churros, anybody?,) I figure we all need something better to eat right about now. So it’s the perfect time for me to share my recipe for this delicious, easy enough, and predominantly healthful meal.
I’ve tried making this fun brunch dish several different ways, all with pretty much the same high amount of success. So I’m, as usual, telling it to you the way Mr. X and I like it best, with many choices for your own preferences along the way. (I usually like exact directions, but in this case, some of the flexible ingredients are all up to you!)
This is actually a really easy dish to make—the only time-consuming chores are chopping the nuts, apple, and carrot.
It’s one you should experiment for yourselves. You don’t even really taste the carrots and apples, but they’re basically necessary to help hold it all together. So please don’t let dislike of those two ingredients stop you. (Mr. X really doesn’t like carrots, but he loves, loves, loves this dish!)
But please do experiment with different amounts of everything else, depending on if you like it harder or a bit more liquidy, sweeter or more savory, coconut-y or not, etc.
After trying sooo many different iterations of this recipe, this is the one that works best for Mr. X and me. You can always share your own adjustments in the Comment below.
CRUNCHY BAKED OATMEAL
1 and 1/2 cups any type of milk (It’s really just for the wetness, but I prefer almond milk, for the health value.)
½ cup orange juice
1/3 cup liquid egg whites (But 1 large egg will do just as well.)
3/4 cup maple syrup (I prefer the real thing, but even an inexpensive “imitation” one will do. I often use sugar-free, to ensure the dish is 100% healthful. If you’re not a fan of maple flavor, excellent alternatives are honey or agave syrup, and even any type of sugar will do. But I heavily suggest maple syrup. And adjust the amount for how sweet you like the dish.)
3 tbsp. melted margarine or butter (Unsalted is best, but if you have only salted on hand, try leaving out the salt itself.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt (The big grains of kosher salt are best for this recipe, but if all you have is regular salt, go for it.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract [Note: Measure the above three non-liquid ingredients first, so you can use the same teaspoon for all four.]
2 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup chopped apple (About 1 medium)
1 cup chopped carrot (I use 8 or 9 fat baby ones, but if you have only normal sized ones, try using 1 large one)
½ cup crasins (Or raisins, if you prefer)
½ cup chopped nuts (Walnuts are best for health purposes, but you can use whichever you like best—pecans are my second choice)
½ cup shredded coconut
Just a bit more chopped nuts. Actually, whole or halves make it look better, especially if it’s for company.
Most cooking and baking directions say to pre-heat the oven first, but I never do, until I have the dish ready to go in. You never know if a phone will ring, or if you’ll have to run out and buy an ingredient or two in the middle of the preparation, or the kids will need you—who knows. So waiting a few extra minutes is nothing compared to how bad it would be if you left it on during an emergency. But in this case, set the oven to 375° when the mixture is ready to go.
Spray an 8×8 baking dish with pan spray.
In a big bowl, mix together the milk, orange juice, maple syrup, egg, melted butter, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, and vanilla. [Note: Sometimes the melted butter gets a tad hard when it’s mixed in with all the liquid ingredients, but it’s okay. Just break it up a bit; it will melt again in the oven.]
Then add the oats, apple, carrot, raisins, nuts, and coconut, and mix it all up.
Pour it into the oiled-up baking dish and top it with more nuts, whole or halved look best, but chopped will do, of course.
Bake for about forty-five minutes, until the top is as dark as you like it. We sometimes put it under the boiler for a minute or two, but keep your eye on it if you do that, as well.
It’s best served warm, so go for it in a few minutes.
For maximum deliciousness, (though it pretty much negates the healthfulness of the dish,) I pour liquid whipping cream all over my bowl of it. Whipped cream is a festive second choice. If it’s not sweet enough for you, you can always add more maple syrup to your own serving. (And then remember to adjust the recipe to your own liking next time.)
On re-heating: This recipe makes about four good servings. So if you have any left over, just put it in the fridge, and microwave the next day. The top won’t be crispy anymore, but it will be almost as delish.
About chopping: I hate chopping, but for this recipe, I just cut up the carrots and apples and then chop them in a hand chopping jar. I do the nuts first, so they don’t get wet, then the carrots, then apples. Make sure not to pulverize any of it—you want the ingredients a bit piece-y. [Note: You can grate the carrots and apples instead of chopping if you’d rather not taste them in there, but I prefer to chop because we love the little crunches.]
E-word note: As many of you know by now, I detest everything about what I refer to as “e-words,” so that’s the moniker I use for the things chickens lay. I can’t even say it or hear the word. But, since this is a recipe, I didn’t want any of it to be confusing for INAM newbies, so I bucked-up and channeled being a grown-up to write the whole word out for you. You’re welcome.
Now go make this Baked Oatmeal already and enjoy!