Genetics are a funny thing. When my dad drove me to a recent appointment for outpatient eye surgery, he commented apologetically that I had him to thank for my eye problems. He quickly added that he also gave me his low blood pressure, so it wasn’t all gloom and doom!
My dad graciously passed along his sweet tooth, too. For a special treat when we were young, he’d drive my siblings and me to our neighborhood Turkey Hill for an after-dinner ice cream cone. In those days the stores hand-scooped cones and dishes from cases filled with eight tempting flavors. I used to tell people that my dream job was to be an ice cream taste tester for Turkey Hill. I mean, how awesome would that be?
So it was rather exciting when I received a call from Turkey Hill Dairy last month. Alas, they weren’t calling to offer me work as an in-house taster, but they did need my taste buds—and my creative kitchen spirit–to drum up some festive recipes using eggnog.
Since I started my blog, I’ve become aware a love-hate relationship tied to certain foods. For example, there’s often not much gray area where mayonnaise, anchovies, beets, black licorice, and liver are concerned. People are either all in or all out.
In the beverage category, eggnog elicits similarly strong reactions. The good news, however, is that you don’t need to enjoy it straight up to reap its benefits in a variety of seasonal recipes.
Traditionally, eggnog consists of milk and cream that is thickened with eggs and sweetened with sugar. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are also added–and maybe some rum, bourbon, or brandy. The basic components make eggnog a natural fit in a variety of baked goods, and the warm spices work especially well with a variety of holiday cakes, quick breads, and even pancakes.
So whether you’re a seasonal eggnog drinker or simply need to use the last of a jug you purchased for company, consider what would happen if you replaced the milk in one of your favorite seasonal baked goods with eggnog.
One of the most popular recipes on my blog is called Apple Crisp Baked Oatmeal. The inspiration came from my sister-in-law, Melissa, a nurse who leaves early for work and often packs breakfast to eat on her break. Several years ago, she requested a combination of two very different baked oatmeal recipes that would be perfect for her in terms of flavor and quick prep. The hybrid recipe is fruitier than my original recipe for apple cinnamon baked oatmeal and does not require the “soak” time. It reminds me of a healthy apple crisp, hence the name.
When tasked with creating a handful of new recipes using eggnog, I began by incorporating it into a variety of tried-and-true recipes. With some noteworthy changes, the following breakfast has become a brand new favorite in our house.
A fresh grating of nutmeg ramps up the holiday appeal, and the addition of pecans provides complementary flavor and crunch. Perhaps more importantly, the flavor in one cup of eggnog allowed me to remove a third of a cup of the sweetener and three tablespoons of oil contained in the original recipe. Even considering the sugar and fat present in the eggnog, this was a net improvement. (See details below the recipe.)
The original recipe calls for two cups of milk, and I substitute just one of them with the eggnog. This keeps the recipe lighter and maintains the appeal for those who may not be eggnog enthusiasts.
By the way, when Melissa makes this, she prepares it the night before and takes the whole baking dish to work to share with her coworkers. Wouldn’t you love to work with her?
Yield: 8 servings
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, chopped pecans or walnuts, divided (may use a mix)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup eggnog (I use Turkey Hill Egg Nog)
- 1 cup milk (any kind will do; I really like the subtle flavor of Silk’s unsweetened almond-coconut milk)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups diced apples, skin may be left on**
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and butter the inside of a 1-1/2 quart casserole–like a 9-inch square or 7×10-inch baking dish. (A 9×13-inch baking dish may be used; the pieces will just not be as thick.)
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, 1/4 cup of the nuts, all of the dried cranberries, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the egg and then add the eggnog, milk, and vanilla. Stir or whisk until thoroughly blended.
Sprinkle half of the diced apples over the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the fruit with the dry oat mixture. (I take a moment to spread out any clumps of cranberries.) Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Scatter the remaining apples and nuts evenly over the top, and then sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over all.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the oat mixture is just set in the center. (Check a few minutes early and add time as needed to accommodate the precise dimensions of your baking pan.) Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
The baked oatmeal may be eaten immediately or made the day before, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Reheat gently or enjoy cold or at room temperature.
- *Freshly grated nutmeg offers superior flavor to regular ground nutmeg. If using the latter, you may wish to try 1/4 teaspoon the first time around.
- **I like to use a mixture of sweet apples like Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, and Golden Delicious. Tart apples like Granny Smith and Gold Rush provide great flavor, too—simply be aware that they will reduce the overall sweetness of the dish.
For this recipe, I like to dice the apples fairly small. That way, they incorporate better with the remaining ingredients.
Nutrition facts per serving (this recipe): Calories 241; Total Fat 8g; Saturated Fat 2.4g; Cholesterol 42mg; Sodium 116mg; Potassium 298mg; Total Carbs 37.4g; Dietary Fiber 5g; Sugars 17.8g; Protein 7.1g; Vitamin C 13%; Calcium 11%; Iron 9%
Nutrition facts per serving (original recipe): Calories 282; Total Fat11.4g; Saturated Fat 5.8g; Cholesterol 28mg; Sodium 100mg; Potassium 277mg; Total Carbs 40.8g; Dietary Fiber 4.8g; Sugars 22.2g; Protein 7.0g; Vitamin C 11%; Calcium 11%; Iron 10%