Fruit n’ Nut Baked Oatmeal Bars

Finished ProductThese are seriously my new favorite thing! I am a sucker for baked oatmeal – I fell in love with it in college. I had all-but forgotten about it until while looking for make-ahead breakfast ideas I stumbled upon a recipe here. So with a little experimenting and searching the stores for all the dried fruit I could find, I created my own version of these tasty little bars and baked up a batch. Wrapped them and froze them and they soon became my go-to quick breakfast. While it was hard to beat the unbelievable taste of the quiche I made, these take a fraction of the prep time.

What You Need:

2-1/4 C quick cooking oats, uncooked, or 2-3/4 C old fashioned oats, uncooked 
2/3 C brown sugar 
3/4 C raisins and/or dried cranberries (substitute any other dried fruits you want)
1 apple, peeled and sliced (substitute other fresh fruits – I used malay apples (french cashews) or jared fruit I found at the store for a cheaper alternative to fresh apples)
1/4 to 1/3 C nuts, chopped (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts…, or even better a mix of all)
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp salt
3-1/3 C milk 
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

I usually added more dried fruit and nuts than the recipe called for, more like a cup of dried fruit and maybe 1/2 cup cuts. I loved the added hearty feel they gave the bars. To make them you simply mix together the dry ingredients, add in the wet, make sure to stir in all the toppings, and then pour into a baking dish. I found that if I wanted to make portioning easier I could bake the bars in a muffin pan and then they were already divided. But if you opt to go that route, make sure you try and evenly distribute the solids to liquid ratio. Once the mix is in the baking dish, top with the sliced fruit and bake in a 360 degree oven for about 55 minutes or the center is set in the middle. For an added touch, top the bars with a little shredded coconut and it adds a fantastic little hint of sweetness and texture.
I would freeze these and reheat for breakfast. Perfect as is or if you are serving for a crown or feeling fancy, heat some milk gently in a sauce pan with a cinnamon stick and a dash of vanilla extract and you have the perfect breakfast treat.