It is hard to believe a humble oatmeal dish took my husband, Jack, and me on a trip to Miami. When Smart Balance asked me to participate in their national recipe contest, I almost didn’t do it. Would asking for votes, repeatedly over a month, be an annoyance to people? I certainly didn’t want to be a bother, yet a little encouragement from family and friends led me to say yes. My ultimate hope was that I would end up somewhere in the middle of the voting.
Ultimately, I didn’t win this contest. All of my friends, those who read The Fountain Avenue Kitchen and faithfully follow and cook my recipes, won it for me. Thank you sincerely for that. It was also amazing that Smart Balance gave me two trips — one of which I was able to do with whatever I pleased. Giving away that second trip through a drawing on my website was almost as exciting as winning a trip myself. The trips were all-expenses paid, two-night stays at Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa in Miami. We were given one year to use them, although I was quite sure I wanted to go during the cold winter months. Miami would be even more inviting then!
So, last Friday we departed. Waking up to a blustery 10-degree day with snow in the forecast reaffirmed why January was the perfect time to go. We arrived in Miami to a sunny 79 degrees and headed straight to the beach where we enjoyed an almost two-hour walk. That evening, we enjoyed one of the highlights of the trip: getting together with The Foodie Physician herself, Sonali, and her husband, Pete. We dined at a Yardbird, a South Beach restaurant with great food and lots of character and energy….but it was the amazing company that made the night truly memorable. If you don’t know this culinary school-trained ER doctor yet, click on the link and pay her a visit. Her recipes are creative, wholesome, and just plain delicious.
Saturday at Canyon Ranch was filled with a relaxing massage, more great food, a visit to the well-equipped gym, and some time on the beach. As luck would have it, we bumped into old friends that moved out of state over six years ago. We hadn’t seen them since, and it was pure luck that we passed each other. We thoroughly enjoyed catching up and took a long walk on the beach with them. Another highlight of the trip!
For our last evening, we enjoyed healthy spa cuisine that tasted absolutely incredible. I had Corvina (a tender, white fish) in a lobster and artichoke sauce and a kale Caesar salad. After dinner, we took a taxi to South Beach, did some window shopping, and enjoyed some gelato. After a leisurely breakfast and another long walk on the beach Sunday morning, we were picked up at Canyon Ranch, returned to the Miami airport, and flew home to our two boys who had been staying with their grandparents. All in all, it was a whirlwind weekend, but a delightful whirlwind for sure!
I must truly thank all the wonderful people at Smart Balance who arranged the trip on our behalf and took care of every last detail. The room with an ocean view, the generous credit towards my spa treatment and our meals, the ride to and from the Miami airport…they truly made this a relaxing escape. Amidst the wonderful craziness of two kids, a husband who travels weekly for work, and a job of my own, it was a true gift to have a couple of days, literally away from it all, with my husband in the the Florida sunshine.
And for any of you who haven’t tried the recipe, I am including it below if you would like to print it out and give it a try. If you have tried and would like to sample a different version, like Apple Crisp Baked Oatmeal, or other seasonal varieties, like Strawberries and Cream Baked Oatmeal, simply click on the Breakfast Categories link at the above right side of this page and peruse through the offerings!
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup (80g) pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup (56g) melted Smart Balance Original Buttery Spread (butter, coconut oil, or vegetable oil of choice work well too)
- ½ cup (4oz) unsweetened applesauce (I keep a pack of the individual serving cups on hand–they are the perfect size)
- 1 small apple, grated (fine to leave skin on)
- 1¼ cups (300ml) milk of choice
- 3 cups (270g) old fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
- ⅓ (66g) cup brown sugar (may use ¼ cup (50g) for less sweetness)
Combine all ingredients except the oats and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add oats and mix well.
Transfer mixture to a buttered baking dish. (You may use a 9-inch pie plate or an 9-inch square pan–or really any 2-quart baking dish–depending on how thick you would like your oatmeal. A 10-inch cast iron skillet works well, too.) Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
When ready to bake, let the baking dish sit on the counter while the oven pre-heats to 375℉. Uncover the oatmeal and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set in the center. Remove oatmeal from oven, set oven to broil, and sprinkle the brown sugar over top of oatmeal. Broil for a minute, watching very closely, or until the topping is melted and lightly browned.
May serve as is or with yogurt or warmed milk, nuts, and or fruit of choice. My kids eat it plain, like a muffin; I load it up. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator. May reheat gently in the microwave.
•To play up the flavor of the warm spices, I now regularly add 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice (could sub a mixture of freshly grated nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon) in addition to the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. For a slightly different yet complementary flavor profile, you could use pumpkin pie spice.
•Don’t have applesauce? Simply grate another apple for a total of 8–9 ounces (or about 1 cup) shredded apple.
•For a pretty garnish, I like to reserve some thin slices of apple and place on top of the oatmeal mixture once transferred to the prepared baking dish.
•For a hint more toothsome texture, I’ve added 2 tablespoons of steel cut oats to the batter.
Prefer to make baked oatmeal muffins? In this case, I refrigerate the uncooked oatmeal in the mixing bowl and then transfer it to the muffin tin once the liquid has been absorbed by the oats. This ensures even distribution of the liquid and solid ingredients. I get 8 regular muffins or 6 jumbo and bake for approximately 20 minutes. (Because of the wider proportions of my jumbo tin, those muffins bake in the same amount of time as the muffins baked in my regular tin. Just peek a little early until you know the exact time for your oven.)
Using coconut oil? When using melted coconut oil (and butter to a somewhat lesser degree), it is helpful to have the cold ingredients come to room temperature before mixing, That way, the oil will not re-harden when it comes into contact with the cold ingredients.