Cozy Baked Oatmeal

I suppose in the way others obsessively look to icons of style for inspiration about what to wear, or celebrity designers' coffee table books to figure out how to redecorate their living rooms, I idolize food people. Which might explain this 1980s gym teacher getup I'm currently sporting and why 75% of my furniture involves particle board, but dang, check out my fly cake pan collection!

Anyway, rather than just craving certain dishes, I go through phases of who I might like to eat like during a given week and embrace it with a restraining-order-level dedication. Typing that out makes me realize how totally weird that is. But there you have it.

Sometimes it's Ina, all "good" olive oil and comfort foods "with the volume turned up". Other times it's Lynne Rossetto-Kasper with her unbeatable riffs on pantry staples. Often it's all about food bloggers--I am convinced that Molly and Luisa always have something simple and amazing on the table, for instance. This week, I'm all up in Heidi Swanson's mix like so many other people, flipping through her latest book at all times. It's made transitioning from that juice cleanse wonderfully easy and totally delicious. This oatmeal, which we all devoured over a dreary, rainy weekend, was particularly magical. And not just because it wasn't made of juice. I hadn't planned on telling you about it, but after its heavenly scent filled the house, a photo had to be taken, and the party of flavors and textures (creamy. chewy and crunchy bits!) made it mandatory to let you in on the whole thing.

This recipe is so incredible flavorful, and so easy to assemble, even with a small person singing and droning the kitchen at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. It's an awesome twist on the everyday, and reheats like a dream for a couple mornings' worth of meals. This is breakfast food to have on the regular, something to make you feel a little extra special during this lovely time of year when the days seem, oh, 37 hours long. It's the sort of recipe that spurs Bieber Fever-esque fandom of food bloggers. Love.

Cozy Baked Oatmeal

Adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day

This recipe is ripe for the riffing. Use any nuts you like, any berries you wish, adjust the amounts of sweetener to suit your tastes. I used almond milk instead of regular milk and it was perfect.

Serves 6 to 8

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1/3 cup natural cane sugar or brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

1 large egg

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, divided

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 medium ripe bananas, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 1/2 cups blueberries

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-by-8-inch baking dish (or a dish of similar size).

In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, walnuts, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, half the melted butter and vanilla.

Arrange the banana slices and about two-thirds of the berries in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with the oat mixture. Pour the wet ingredients evenly over the oats, pressing the oats down a bit if necessary to make sure they're evenly moistened. Sprinkle the remaining berries over the top.

Bake until the oatmeal is set and lightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes. Serve with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter drizzled over the top.

Miscellaneous, FruitShauna Sever