When I was in college I thrived off being busy. My days were a whirlwind of classes, extra curricular activities, sorority functions, internships and part-time jobs. Call me odd but trying to be a wonder college student was my kind of adrenaline rush. I often did some of my best work late in the night after a full day of back to back engagements and obligations. Fast forward 4 1/2 years and perpetually slammed is no longer how I like to live. I’m not sure if it’s my age or a refined outlook based on more experience in the world but I currently find myself craving balance. It’s no longer about pushing myself to the breaking point, but living a life where work, hobbies, social time, and down time all play an equal role.
So now that I’m trying to simultaneously juggle a hectic full-time job, teaching part-time, raising a dog and all of life’s other obligations, I’m feeling a bit out of my element. Some things I have had to let go of a little bit. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that there will sometimes be dirty dishes sitting in the sink, that my house may not always be clean and organized to Martha Stewart standards, or that I might be just too exhausted to go to the gym. One thing I’m not willing to compromise on, however, is cooking for myself.
Call me cheesy but it’s both my escape and my way of showing self care. Of course, I’ve had to come to terms with fact that if I want to cook up homemade meals and keep my sanity that perhaps I need to do some things a little differently. One of the things I’ve been trying to do is cook one dish meals that keep well so I can eat them all week long. One such dish is baked oatmeal. I’ve been making baked oatmeal for awhile and what I love about it is that there are almost endless variations. Some are more dense like a breakfast bar while others have more of the creamy, stick-to-your-ribs consistency of traditional stove top oatmeal. This recipe falls into the latter camp. Adapted from a Cooking light recipe, a creamy base of oats, brown sugar, apple sauce, milk, and eggs is dotted with cinnamon chips for a flavor punch. It’s then topped with halved prune plums for a look that’s a cross between a rustic fruit tart and a creamy oatmeal. The result was something I didn’t mind eating all week long. It had a surprisingly eggy texture that reminded me of an indulgent bread pudding and the cinnamon chips gave it a flavor profile similar to a nice coffee cake. But the plums were what really took it over the top, juicy and sweet, they yielded a lovely syrup after being baked. Whether you’re starved for time or looking for a recipe that gives in-season plums the opportunity to shine this one is a keeper.
-2 cups rolled oats
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-3 tablespoons cinnamon chips
-1 1/2 cups low fat milk
-1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
-2 tablespoons melted butter
-1 large egg beaten
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-5 prune plums, sliced and pitted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the oats, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon chips in medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the the milk, apple sauce, butter, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir the oat and milk mixtures together and pour into a loaf pan or 8-inch square baking dish. Top with the sliced prune plums cut side up. Bake for 35 minutes. You’re looking for a nice crust and softened plums, but still a creamy oatmeal-like interior. Serve warm.