Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

This baked oatmeal is like eating apple pie for breakfast. Seriously. But a little bit healthier (although there is always a place for a hefty slice of apple pie in my diet, perhaps even for breakfast).  It has a layer of syrupy apple pie filling and heavy dose of fall spices like cinnamon and ginger. Plus I added pecan pieces for crunch. Sold yet? The oats make this a stay-with-you kind of breakfast, but it's not super dense or gummy like some baked oatmeals can be. In short, it's a pretty much the perfect fall breakfast. The only thing it's missing is a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, which you're more than welcome to add. A dollop of Greek yogurt would would be second best. And the powdered sugar is really just for show - it makes a nice picture - but isn't necessary if you're in a hurry. 

I've always liked baked oatmeal, but haven't made it in awhile. We've been super busy around here so I thought it would be good to have for early mornings before work or errands. Especially since the mornings around here have have been a bit gray and drizzly. Per usual for the PNW :) While the oatmeal was baking it filled our apartment with aromas of apple pie and cinnamon and made me realize how much I love this time of year when comfort foods make their way into the kitchen and onto our plates.  

// Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal // Serves 6-8
Baked oatmeal needs to be served warm, ideally fresh from the oven. Just thinking about eating cold oatmeal gives me the shivers... As with most of my recipes, this one is adaptable to your tastes and preferences. Experiment with different spices, nuts,  fruit, etc... You could also substitute the milk for a non-dairy milk and swap out the eggs for a banana. 

For the apples:
1 tablespoon butter
1 3/4 lb apples (about 6 small)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons tapioca pearls
1 cup pecan pieces

2 cups oats (not quick cooking)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (optional)
2 eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into slices
Powdered sugar to serve

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9x9" baking dish and set aside

2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium pot. Add the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and tapioca. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, until apples are soft. Remove from heat and stir in pecan pieces. Set aside

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt, and flaxseeds. Stir to combine. 

3. In a smaller bowl whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, milk, and melted butter. Slowly add the wet mixture to the oat mixture and stir until well combined. 

4. Spoon about 1/3 of the oatmeal into the prepared baking dish. Add 1/2 of the apples on top, spreading them out as best as you can. Top with another 1/3 of the oatmeal, then the rest of the apples, then the remaining 1/3 oatmeal. Press the apple slices into the top for decoration

5. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown