BVC Eats COMFORT FOOD: Oatmeal two ways

I love oatmeal, especially during the winter. Whether it’s cooked cereal, an ingredient in bread or rolls, or the major component of a chewy cookie, that mild, nutty flavor is always a favorite.

Cookies. I can live without cake or pie, but cookies are a food group. Ina Garten, the host of Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network, is my cookie sensei, with several of her recipes ranking among my all time favorites. The last cookies I baked were her Oatmeal-Pecan-Raisin cookies.

As usual, however, I made a few tweaks:

  • Additional spices and salt
  • Whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose
  • A cup of unsweetened shredded coconut (toasted along with the pecans)
  • Raisins soaked in spiced rum for a few days prior to baking
  • Addition of some of the raisin-rum to the dough
  • A spiced rum glaze (1 cup confectioners sugar + 2-3 tablespoons spiced rum)

The resulting cookies are soft and chewy, and a little on the sweet side. This is the first time I’ve added a glaze, and it won’t be the last.

I also enjoy oatmeal for breakfast on cold winter mornings, of which we’ve had quite a few of late. In the past, I’ve made a week’s worth at a time, poured it into a loaf pan, and stuck it in the fridge—I would then slice off a portion each morning. But by the end of the week, the remainder had usually lost all the nice nutty chewiness and taken on the paste-like consistency that is a major reason folks give for disliking oatmeal. So when I learned about baked oatmeal—with added eggs and streusel toppings—I had to try a few recipes. This one, which also includes a 15 oz can of pumpkin puree, quickly became a favorite.

I tweak this recipe on the fly as well. I’ve always added regular whole milk instead of the almond milk that the recipe calls for, but in my latest batch I decided to give cashew milk a try. I’ve substituted pecans for walnuts. Added raisins or other dried fruit. And as for spices, only a quarter-teaspoon of pumpkin spice? Really? I add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the oatmeal and another to the streusel topping, along with ground ginger, mace or nutmeg, and allspice. Sometimes ground cloves. I also add 2x the salt called for because that’s what brings out the flavors. If you add a bit more salt, you may be able to cut back on the sugar, if that’s a concern.

The result is like an extremely moist, not very sweet coffee cake. I serve it with extra milk and sliced banana, and occasionally add maple syrup.

So, these are the current favorite oatmeal recipes. If you have one, I’d love to hear about it.

(N.B. I’ve linked to the recipes instead of copying/pasting because the recipes are under copyright and related pages and comments often contain useful info)


About Kristine Smith

Kristine Smith is the author of the Jani Kilian series and a number of SF and fantasy short stories, and is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She worked as a pharmaceutical process development scientist for 26 years, but now writes full-time. She also writes supernatural thrillers under the name Alex Gordon. Check out her BVC bookshelf


BVC Eats COMFORT FOOD: Oatmeal two ways — 6 Comments

  1. My rice cooker makes wonderful oatmeal the first day. But you have to make so much! I’m always looking for ways to use the left overs.

    The only interesting one I’ve seen is to spread it out and fry like a pancake and serve with butter and maple syrup.

    I think I’ll have to try your baked version.

  2. You’re a writer after my own heart! Oatmeal is the best. I’m with you on the spices – don’t go easy on those. Salt, though – we can’t. In fact, I don’t use any in my oatmeal. You are probably right about how it brings out the flavor, but my husband’s kidneys take precedence.

    These days I make the oatmeal easy, but good. I’d go so far as to say, “decadent.”

    I start the night before, by soaking 1/4 cup steel cut oats in my breakfast bowl with 2/3 cup water.

    In the morning, I add in 2 tbsp of peanut butter (just ground roasted peanuts – no salt or sugar), then cut up a banana and one other fruit into the bowl. Whatever’s in season: right now it’s Satsuma oranges. A month ago it was persimmons. In the summer it’s berries.

    Then I microwave for 3 minutes. I used to hate microwaving oatmeal because you have to stir it every 30 seconds to keep it from boiling over. That’s a show stopper for me. But with the fruit and peanut butter in the bowl – it cooks like a dream.

    Once it’s cooked, I add 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 generous tsp of dark cocoa powder, and a good sprinkle of cardamom or mace.

    If it’s dry, I’ll splash in some almond milk, but it’s not usually needed. This is hearty and chewy, and I look forward to the next day’s breakfast all day!

    • I should’ve added an ‘if health allows’ qualifier for salt. Lately, I’ve been running into more and more folks on the ‘less sugar’ side of the Force, so wanted to mention that increasing salt lets you do that w/o much if any effect on taste.

      Your recipe sounds good. I’ve never used peanut butter as an additive before–the brand I prefer is a crunchy version, which would work really well.