Oatmeal Singles with Caramelized Whiskey Bananas

Oatmeal singles with caramelized whiiskey bananas

Oatmeal singles with caramelized whiskey bananas and chocolate chunks

We have a little problem in our house. A problem that manifests itself daily in hordes of small storage containers that return home each evening with us from work. All of the cooking done each weekend to provide healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks results in many, many small dishes that fill the top rack of our dishwasher in a blink. Most weeknights, we run the dishwasher with a full-to-bursting top rack, and a fairly light bottom rack. I do not enjoy the daily putting away of the clean containers, that must be stacked just so in a near Tetris-like fashion, so I am always looking for a way to use fewer containers on a daily basis. Enter the oatmeal single.

While browsing around on Pinterest, I came across Emily’s recipe for baked oatmeal singles…the recipe is very similar to my own baked oatmeal, just baked into muffin form – genius! I took Emily’s recipe for banana chocolate muffins and amped it up a bit with caramelized bananas with a shot of whiskey…and fair warning, you might have to taste the caramelized bananas a time or two, just to make sure they’re edible. A cook has got to have quality control, right?!

The finished muffins are perfect for busy weekday mornings – just pop one in the micro for 25-30 seconds, and head on out the door with a warm breakfast in hand, ready for munching.

And friends, you should know that Mark calls these delicious little wonders “Grumblecakes,” after a cartoon from Home Star Runner. Be sure to click on the grumblecake in the bottom right corner at the end of the animation.

Oatmeal cake with caramelized bananas

Even Santa likes oatmeal cakes with caramelized bananas

Baked Oatmeal Singles with Caramelized Whiskey Bananas
Serves 12

Oatmeal Mixture:
4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other milk of your choice)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 eggs
3/4 tsp kosher salt

3 bananas, peeled and sliced into rounds
3 T packed brown sugar
2 T butter
splash of whiskey (because you CAN)
1/4 cup dark chocolate mini chips

  1. Scoop the oats into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Pour the almond milk (room temp, or slightly warmed) into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the two eggs, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and ¾ tsp kosher salt and whisk until you have a smooth mixture, with the eggs beaten into the milk mixture.
  3. Pour the milk mixture over the oats, and stir gently to combine with a rubber spatula, and let the mixture rest while you deal with the bananas.
  4. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and melt 1 T butter in it. Add the bananas, and stir them into the melted butter. Let them cook for 3-4 minutes, until they start to break down a bit at the edges, then stir in the brown sugar. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the bananas breakdown almost completely, into a caramel colored ooze, with lighter lumps of banana barely intact. If you feel like it, add a splash of whiskey or bourbon and stir into the bananas – 1-2 tablespoons should do it. Turn off the heat, and remove the bananas from the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375F, convection if you’ve got it. Give the oat mixture a stir while you wait – the oats should have already soaked up much of the milky liquid.
  6. When the oven is ready, spray 12 muffin tins with olive oil, or grease with butter.
  7. Fold the caramelized bananas into the oat mixture, and then stir in the chocolate chunks.
  8. Fill the muffin tins with the oat mixture – each cup should be full – the muffins won’t really rise.
  9. Slide the muffins into the oven on the center rack and bake for 30-40 minutes – check for doneness at 30 minutes if baking in metal tins. If using a silicone muffin mold, you’ll likely need closer to 40 minutes to fully cook the oats.
  10. The finished muffins should be browned on top, and if you slide a paring knife into the center of the cake, they should have a moist crumb, but not gooey.
  11. Cool the cakes in the tin for 10 minutes, then slide a butter knife around the edge of each cake, and remove to cool fully on a cooling rack before storing in the fridge in a storage container for 1 week.  Reheat cakes in the microwave for 25-30 seconds each.

What’s your favorite quickie weekday morning breakfast to get the day started right? Share in the comments section below…

Update: The BEST Granola Bars

Fall 2010 is really shaping up to be one incredible season in our family. After the amazing weekend at House on the Rock, we received a call from my brother on Thursday. Our new niece was determined to join us in the world a little earlier than expected – Mike and Lisa were already at the hospital awaiting her arrival. Well, it turned out to be a LONG wait for the little lady. As Mikey said – if she were a roast beef, she’d be cooking low and slow. Rowan Elisabeth officially entered the world early on Saturday morning, about the same time Mark and I were heading downtown to our last big race of the season, the Hot Chocolate 15K.

The Hot Chocolate runners shiver before the race. Mark, Jenn, Shelley, Jeremy, Elizabeth

And let it be said that my sister-in-law, Lisa, is one tough momma for enduring 3 days of labor without medication or apparently even screaming, though I’m sure she was in PLENTY of pain. Lisa is my hero and proud momma to a beautiful little girl with a full head of fluffy blond hair! Times like these, it’s hard to live a thousand miles away from them, as I wish I could hold my new niece and inhale that sweet baby smell NOW.

Since I don’t live in Colorado, and don’t want to crowd the new parents with my presence as they settle in, the best I can do is to send my love from afar and a few granola bars to snack on…I know from other friends with newborns that one-handed foods that can be grabbed and munched on quickly are needed in those first weeks. I hope these bars help keep their energy up as they get to know little Rowan and her routines.

Granola bars are hands-down the most frequently made food in our kitchen…and the one I’m known for in our circle of friends. It’s an established fact that at any race, biking event, vacation or party, I’m bound to have a baggie of granola bars with me – and I’m usually willing to share. I can’t count on restaurants and shops to have something I can safely eat, so these little granola bars are my go-to snack.

I posted my recipe for granola bars eons ago, but dozens and dozens of batches later, the recipe has evolved, and these bars hold together much better than the old recipe. I love that by adding cocoa powder to the “goo” I get the chocolate flavor in there, without having to worry about them melting if it’s warm out. The recipe is just a general guide – you can use whatever kind of nuts you like (hazelnuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds are my current favorite mixture), and you can play with the sweeteners as well – honey, brown rice syrup, maple syrup and agave all work fine, so use what you like best.

So welcome to the family, Rowan! Know that Aunt Jenn can’t wait to meet you, and in the meantime, be good to your parents – they’ll be working hard to keep up with you for awhile!

What’s your favorite on-the-go snack? Share your travel snacking secrets in the comments below.

Granola bars
Makes about 30-35 bars (approx 3×3″)

5 cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cup chopped raw nuts
 (I use a mixture of 2-3 different kinds of seeds & nuts)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup creamy, unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter
1/3 c honey
1/3 c brown rice syrup (available at Whole Foods – or use maple syrup or all honey)
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T vanilla extract
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 c chopped tart cherries or crystallized ginger, optional
Parchment paper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the nuts and oats on a full sheet pan. Toast the nuts and oats in the oven for 10 minutes, then stir, bake for another 10 minutes, then remove from oven and pour the oat mixture into a large mixing bowl along with any chopped dried fruit or ginger, if you’re using it. Leave the oven on at 350 – you’ll need it later.
  3. During the last 10 minutes of oat baking, combine the brown sugar, honey, brown rice syrup, peanut butter, cocoa powder, butter, and salt into a small nonstick sauce pan over medium-low heat, stirring with a spatula until it all melts and is well incorporated with no peanut butter lumps. Add the vanilla, stir and turn off the heat.
  4. Cut two pieces of parchment paper. The first piece of parchment should be large enough to cover the whole sheet pan, including folding up the sides of the pan. Cut a second smaller piece, just large enough for you to use to cover 1/4 of the bars as you press them firmly into the pan, so you don’t burn your hands, or stick to the oats.
  5. Pour half of the hot “glue” over the oats and nuts in your mixing bowl and use a spatula to stir it all together, coating the oats evenly in the sweet goo. Pour the remaining glue over the mixture and continue to stir until everything is nicely coated.
  6. Place the large sheet of parchment paper over the sheet pan covering the entire bottom with overlap for the sides, then scoop the sticky oat mixture onto the pan. Use your spatula to smooth it out into a more-or-less even layer covering the whole pan. Next, take the second, smaller sheet of parchment and use it to cover part of the pan as you use your hands to firmly press the bars together into a tightly packed, even layer.
  7. Put the granola bars back in the oven for 4 minutes, then remove and set on a cooling rack until completely cooled before cutting.
  8. Cutting the bars: Pick up the whole pan of bars by the ends of the parchment, and turn upside down on a large cutting board. Peel the parchment away, and reserve, cutting the sheet into smaller pieces to lay between layers of bars in a large storage container or ziploc bag, to keep them from sticking.
  9. Use a large chef’s knife and firmly press down with the knife with a gentle rocking motion (do not saw at the bars), and cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like. I usually get 5 rows of bars across the pan lengthwise, 7-8 bars per row. I also like to cut one row of the bars into two-bite super mini bars for smaller snacking size.
  10. Layer the bars in a large storage container, and slip pieces of the parchment between layers. Store on your countertop or in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks, though I doubt they’ll last that long. I keep ours in the fridge, just to keep my hand out of the container every time I walk into the kitchen!

148 cal per bar, 50 cal from fat, 7g fat, 55mg sodium, 15mg potassium, 17g carbs, 2g fiber, 5g sugars, 4g proteins

A few of my running friends post-race and post brunch: Mark, Jenn, Elizabeth, Heather and Crysta.

Baked Oatmeal with Tart Cherries

It’s the fourth of July. A day for BBQing with friends, flag waving and spectacular fireworks shows. But before all the holiday hoopla, we all need a hearty breakfast to get the day started right. This is the perfect breakfast to impress your houseguests and requires a minimal amount of work.

David Lebovitz linked to this recipe on his Facebook page, and I knew I’d have to make it ASAP. I’d never heard of an oatmeal dish baked with a custard-like base. I was intrigued. The egg, milk and cinnamon spiced batter reminded me of my favorite breakfast which I now miss – french toast. I know you can make french toast with gluten-free bread, but we so seldom have bread in the house, that I’ve honestly never made it. But we ALWAYS have gluten-free oats in the house. In a normal week, we’ll go through a 2lb bag of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats between making a batch of my granola bars, and making oatmeal for breakfast…and then there’s my obsession with rice-cooker simmered steel cut oats. Yeah, we like oats around here.

So it didn’t take me long to grab the bag of oats and get a batch of this baked oatmeal started. Making the custard is so reminiscent of making french toast, it made me happy just whisking the eggs, milk and spices together. Once you mix in the oats, you’re essentially done until the next morning when you pop the baking dish into the oven…the oatmeal takes a little planning ahead, but I promise you it’s worth it. The finished dish, fresh from the oven and drizzled with a bit of cold almond milk – is heaven. The oatmeal could definitely stand on its own served in squares with a hot mug of coffee, but I prefer to dip my spoon into a puddle of milk and savor each spoonful, studded with the occasional tart cherry. Give this breakfast treat a try.

Happy 4th of July to one and all!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy a bowl of oatmeal? Share your oaty-wisdom in the comments below.

Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Delicious Days
Serves 10

4 T butter, melted (plus some more for greasing pan)
3 eggs
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 cups almond milk (or dairy milk), slightly warmed
6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh fruit (whatever you have – peaches, fresh pineapple (Mark’s favorite) blueberries, apples, strawberries, etc)

  1. Start preparing your oats the evening before you plan to serve them: Use a large bowl with a lid so that you can mix all ingredients and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge without having to change dishes. Melt the butter in the microwave, then remove from the stove and let cool down a bit. Pour the almond milk into your mixing bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 minute, to slightly warm the milk. Break the egg into the bowl with the almond milk and beat with a whisk. Add the sugar, the butter and the spices and blend well. Lastly, add the oats and stir until everything is combined. Close the bowl with the lid and let soak over night in the fridge.
  2. Baking the oats: Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13″ ovenproof dish with butter. Scoop 1/2 of the oats into the pan, and smooth out into an even layer with a spatula. Sprinkle the dried cherries over the oats, and then scatter the chopped fresh fruit over top. Scoop the remaining oats into the baking pan and smooth out with a spatula.
  3. Bake on middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes or until the top looks slightly browned color and the top of the oats feel crisp to the touch. Take out of the oven and serve warm. If you want to eat it more like traditional oatmeal, add a splash of milk.

378 cal per serving, 110 cal from fat, 12g fat 85mg cholesterol, 630mg sodium, 150mg potassium, 49g carb, 6g fiber, 17g sugar, 9.5g protein