Well, ladies and gents (are there any guys who read my blog? Besides maybe you, Chris), the holidays are officially upon us. In the space of a week, I’ve gone from the girl who was outraged at the onslaught of pre-Thanksgiving Christmas (get that Holly station off my XM radio!) to the girl who’s got Mariah Carey on repeat thanks to Pandora (you can’t get better than “All I Want for Christmas Is You”).
With the rapidly approaching holidays comes another installment of the Holiday Blog Hop! (You can view my last post here.) This Vanilla Cranberry Baked Oatmeal is a twist on a breakfast that’s irrevocably tied to memories of some of my closest friends–in fact, some of them are a bit jealous that there’s only little old me to eat this batch!
One of the things I’m trying to focus on most this holiday season is being present. I’m the kind of person who gets to the place / event / thing she’s been waiting for and is immediately thinking about the next thing and the next thing and the next thing–yet completely forgets to appreciate and enjoy where she is right then. And frankly, life’s too short to miss out on the stuff that’s happening to you thisverysecond.
I was first served this baked oatmeal on a weekend retreat I took during my sophomore year of undergrad. Those three days were completely eye-opening for me, and have continued to shape me to this day (I actually wound up leading the same retreat later in my college years). Regardless of any religious persuasions you may (or may not) have, I think we all can relate to that–a moment where it feels like blinders are lifted off or the world shifts into clearer focus. Don’t you wish you could bottle up that clarity?
Anyway, my friends and I tracked down this recipe (which wasn’t, as it turned out, the retreat house’s “secret recipe”–it came from Cooks.com!) and ever since have relished the chance to whip up a casserole dish full. This oatmeal has made an appearance at many a holiday reunion, and could almost always be found in the fridge of my apartment during a particularly onerous exam period senior year (two of my roommates were bio majors, after all).
You may be used to eating oatmeal for breakfast, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself sneaking spoonfuls from the dish at any snacky time of day. The use of vanilla bean seeds gives the flavor a richness that you just can’t get with extract alone (not to mention an absolutely heavenly scent!), and the dried cranberries are bright, tangy, and a great textural contrast to the oats. Enjoy! And make sure to savor the meal, whatever time of day it is.
Vanilla Cranberry Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Cooks.com
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Seeds of one vanilla bean, scraped
- Dash of vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and grease an 8×8 glass baking dish.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together butter and sugar. (If you are using the microwave shortcut to get your butter to room temperature, do not forget to pull your butter out of the microwave and resort to scraping near-melted butter off your microwave tray. Not that I did that.)
3. Add eggs and beat until combined.
4. Stir in salt, baking powder, and oatmeal.
5. Add milk and continue stirring to incorporate ingredients.
6. Add dried cranberries, dash of vanilla, and seeds scraped from your vanilla bean pod. (If you’ve never scraped the seeds from a vanilla bean before, there’s an awesome tutorial for how to do so here. Careful with that sharp knife!) Stir until these additions are fully blended into the rest of the oatmeal mixture.
7. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake uncovered at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. The top of the oatmeal will no longer look moist when pulled from the oven.
Oatmeal can be covered with saran wrap and stored in the fridge for up to four days. To reheat in the morning, scoop into a microwave-safe bowl, add a few tablespoons of milk, and warm for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. It’s also delicious eaten cold!
Don’t forget to check out the other awesome blog posts in the Hop: