Confident and experienced cooks tend to view a recipe as a series of suggested guidelines, adapting and tweaking as desired, but most people see a recipe as a series of rules, a complex formula that could easily be ruined by one wrong step. There’s nothing wrong with following a recipe precisely, but it can be limiting, expensive, and make cooking feel like a chore instead of a chance to be creative.
So I’ve come up with a solution: choose your own adventure recipes, a series of guidelines with lots of options built in so that you can experiment without worry. This first installment is a dish I recently discovered and have completely fallen for: baked oatmeal.
Baked oatmeal is like the perfect hybrid of a cake and a bowl of oats. It comes out firm and chewy, tastes great hot or cold, and is both healthy enough to eat on a weekday morning and special enough to make for a weekend brunch.
I made my version with fresh strawberries, orange juice, sliced almonds and a dash of turmeric. Choose your own adventure below.
2 cups oatmeal (I used thick cut, use certified gluten free oats to make gf)
2/3 cup nuts and/or seeds (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp of 2 additional spices/flavorings (nutmeg, cloves, garam masala, cardamom, vanilla, orange zest)
1/3 c. sweetener (brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave)
1 1/2 cups liquid (milk, almond milk, orange juice, apple juice)
1 binder (2 eggs, 1/2 c. pumpkin, 2 flax eggs, 1/2 c apple sauce)
2 cups fruit (berries, sliced bananas, diced peaches, chopped apples)
2 tsp. turbinado sugar to finish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375º. Grease a small (8×8) pan or casserole dish. In a nonreactive bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients except for fruit and mix again. Scatter half of fruit in bottom of baking dish, pour oatmeal mixture on top. Scatter remaining fruit on surface, follow with turbinado sugar if using. Bake 45 minutes, until edges are browned and texture is firm. Serve hot or cold, with milk, yogurt, and/or additional fresh fruit.