Strawberry Baked Oatmeal

You guys.

I don't even really have words for this recipe. It's one of those recipes that comes into your life and Neil Patrick Harris pops into your head shouting...Legen...wait for it...dary! It's that good. I don't break out the NPH references for just any old dish.

For my mom's birthday brunch, I really wanted to make a baked oatmeal. Why, you ask? I'll tell you. When Shaun and I went rafting down the Montana River in Yellowstone National Park last summer, we went on an overnight camp out.

And one of our guides made one of the best (non-pancake) breakfasts I've ever had. Baked oatmeal. It was sweet and filling and just the perfect breakfast on a chilly Montana morning. Oh and if you have the means, I highly recommend a trip out west. It was an amazing adventure. And if you want to raft in Montana, I have to give a shout out to Flying Pig Adventures where we did our excursion. It was really fantastic.

But back to the food. So I really have been wanting to recreate this dish since last summer. I finally came up with an oatmeal dish that was not only the surprise star of Mom's birthday brunch, but it's easy and healthy enough for a weekday breakfast. Oh and did I mention that it can be made in advance and reheated in the microwave? And still taste just as fabulous as day 1? Well it can. And it did.

It's sweet, firm and flavorful, not mushy and gruel-like as oatmeal can sometimes be. The fruit adds so much flavor and soft texture. And my favorite aspect of this dish? It can be made an unlimited number of ways by changing up the fruit. I can't wait to try it with blueberries, apple slices, peaches, plums, cherries, pears, pumpkin. Oh and I'm even thinking a little scoop of peanut butter wouldn't hurt either.

Strawberry Baked Oatmeal
1/4 C (1/2 stick) butter
1 ½ C strawberries, quartered - or any fruit you want
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Splenda brown sugar blend
½ C almond milk (or any milk ya like!)
½ C maple syrup
¼ C honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 C old fashioned oats
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½  tsp kosher salt
chopped almonds or pecans, if you want

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer the berries on the bottom of the pan. In a saucepan (or in the microwave), melt the butter and pour evenly over the fruit.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup, honey, eggs, 1 tbsp Splenda blend and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix altogether.

Pour over the fruit and smooth the top. Sprinkle with nuts (I didn't use them, but I’m open to it) and a ½ - 1 tsp of Splenda brown sugar.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, or until browned on top.

Allow to cool slightly. You can go au natural (trust me, this needs nothing more!) but if you’re feeling decadent, go ahead and serve this with a bit of milk or extra syrup on top. I didn't think it needed anything though!

So there you go. My new obsession. It's so super easy and so worth the minimal effort to throw it together. I just made a second batch last night and cannot wait to dig into it for breakfast this morning! So what do you think? Are you on the baked oatmeal train? Have you ever been on an adventure out west...or anywhere, for that matter?

psst...The Book Club page is up and running! Head over to check it out, along with my first write up of Lisa See's Shanghai Girls.