Weeks 23 & 24 – Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bake, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Breakfast Casserole, & Risotto


Sorry for the little holiday break!  We were out of town, and on top of that I had this nagging sickness (of varying degrees) for the past TWO weeks!  That’s so long.  Yesterday was the first day I was feeling normal again.  Thank goodness.  The beginning and end of those two weeks it was more modified but there was 5-7 days in there that I really just wanted to lay down all day.  But Christmas was in there so I powered through and here I am.  We had a good time in Syracuse, but so many things to take part in, it was nice to get back to our home and relax a little before we have to get back to it.  I’m so thankful that Matt and I both work for companies that give us the week between Christmas and New Year’s off!

For New Year’s we had a little party at our place.  A bunch of Matt’s friends from college were in town so we hosted and invited any of our DC friends who were around to join us too.  The out of towners spent the night here and we hosted brunch the next day too.  So three of our four new recipes were for this two day gathering, and boy did they not disappoint! The risotto was just a result of ‘we need to make dinner, haven’t gone to the grocery store, and need to have all the ingredients for a recipe here already.’  And apparently Matt has been wanting to make risotto (I blame the cooking shows we watch) so he did most of the work on that one.  Everything was delicious and will be made again!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bake (Recipe from here)

Serves: 8+


For the cooked apples:

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 large apples, peeled and sliced (your favorite variety)
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

For the oatmeal:

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 6 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup dried fruit, such as cranberries or raisins
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Place the steel cut oats in a large bowl with 2 Tbsp butter.  Pour the hot water over the oats and cover the bowl.  Let stand for 20 minutes.
  2. Make the Apples: Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the apple slices, cinnamon, and sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  3. After the steel cut oats have finished soaking, stir in the old fashioned oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in the dried fruit.  In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, apple sauce, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Stir the liquid mixture into the oat mixture.
  4. Spread the cooked apples over the bottom of a lightly greased 2 quart-ish baking dish. Pour the oatmeal mixture on top of the apples.  Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.


Spinach Artichoke Dip (Recipe from here)


  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped canned artichoke hearts
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic*, smashed
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. roasted red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, Parmesan, sour cream, mayonnaise, roasted garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Mix well with a rubber spatula until all ingredients are evenly blended.
  3. Add spinach and artichokes, mix well.
  4. Spread into a small baking dish (I used a quiche dish). Sprinkle additional grated Parmesan over the top if desired.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.
  6. Serve warm with baguette slices, pita chips, crackers, etc.

*To roast individual cloves of garlic, I just throw the unpeeled cloves into a baking dish or pan and bake at 350˚ F for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool before squeezing the cloves from the peels.


Breakfast Casserole

Serves: 12+


  • 12 eggs
  • 1 lb frozen shredded hash browns
  • 1 lb pork sausage, cooked
  • 12 oz shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
  • 6 scallions
  • ¾ cups milk


  1. Mix all ingredients, except sausage, in a bowl.
  2. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 or 10×14 pan, top with sausage.
  3. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.



Risotto (Recipe from this book)

Serves: 6


  • Olive oil
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups aborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Other Toppings, as desired


  1. Place chicken broth in a small pot over low heat to warm it up.
  2. Chop the onions into bite sized pieces, not too fine.
  3. Cook onions in olive oil in a dutch oven or stock pot. Let the onions soften 4-5 minutes, then add the garlic.  Cook for a few more minutes, until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the rice to the pot, stir until rice is coated thoroughly (use a wooden spoon).
  5. Add the wine and continue to stir, when the wine has been absorbed, add the 1 cup of the broth and continue to stir.
  6. When the broth has been absorbed, Add another cup and continue to stir every couple of minutes.
  7. Continue adding broth in this manner. The goal is to keep it from drying out, without drowning the rice.  This will take 25-35 minutes.  Keep tasting the rice along the way and once it’s soft with a little bit of bite in the middle you’re done.
  8. Stir in the Parmesan (we used ½ – 1 cup, we didn’t measure), add any other desired throw-ins (we used some parsley).
  9. Sprinkle the top with fresh ground black pepper and enjoy.

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