If you cook most of the meals in your house you are likely to either fall into a rut or grasp greatness by experimenting with new things. I am always trying to simultaneously improve what I’m making and trying to capture some far-off, once-tasted flavor or texture that I experienced in the past. Sometimes I have an innovation so small (like using the toaster for Grilled Cheese) that I don’t feel it’s worthy of writing down. But when I get requests from my family, I know I should. This my family’s favorite oatmeal for winter mornings recipe. If you know me and have read this blog, then you’ll know it’s nothing complicated– just a matter of adding some extra stuff to an existing recipe (on the Quaker Oatmeal box. Is that what you call a round container made of cardboard?).
The recipe calls for making two cups of oatmeal as its largest size– but that’s hardly enough for one hungry person, let alone a family. I initially doubled it but didn’t want to choose between milk and water as the liquid- so I used both. I also felt that the end product prepared as recommended was relatively tasteless (see my previous experience with that here). Since oatmeal contains a significant benefit of fiber, I thought, “how can I make it more appealing to kids?” Of course the answer is sugar, but in what form, how much and what else? Following the lead of every other instant oatmeal on the shelf*, I added cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg and rather than add lots more sugar, I opted for maple syrup extract, which is has more flavor and less sugar than its fully syrupy parent.
Of course, vanilla and more salt than the recipe calls for, and I have experimented with adding a tablespoon of butter for ‘soul.’ Lastly, I understand that not everyone likes the same inclusions so I prepare those separately. For the serving pictured above it was toasted pecans and raisins. It was a hit.
- 4 cups oatmeal (I used Quaker Oats–different oatmeals may have different cooking times)
- 1 3/4 cups Milk
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/16 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
- 1/8 tsp maple extract
- 1 tbsp butter
- raisins or dried cranberries
- Toasted pecans or walnuts
Again, nothing special here:
- Boil the milk/water combination
- Add the oatmeal.
- Simmer (stay close by) for 10 minutes.
- At about 9 minutes add the other ingredients.
- Serve in individual bowls and serve inclusions separately.
*Note: whether you utilize the fat/sugar grams or glycemic index to measure your food’s health you can tell that a majority of the available instant oatmeals are loaded and should be avoided at most costs. Check out the Internet if you want detailed analysis.