easy apple cinnamon oats with milk and brown sugar

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 Do you have one of those foods from childhood that’s ignites all sorts of great memories? Tell, me, it’s probably much more exciting than mine.

Mine is oatmeal. It was a breakfast my mom always made special by letting me sprinkle on my own brown sugar, and on really special days, she’d show me how to drizzle cream over the top. The heat from the oats would melt the sugar (that was my favorite part and still is!) and the cream would soak that melted sugar up and if I moved my spoon just right, I’d create a swirl of magic.

Oatmeal was such a fond dish in our home that I distinctively remember making it for my parents when I was barely 4 years old. I thoughtfully put two mounds of raw oats on two paper plates, and then carefully placed golden raisins and chocolate chips throughout. They looked like a start to some great homemade granola, or little raw oat mountains studded with goodness, but definitely not the oatmeal we were used to. I was so proud of them though, and I couldn’t wait to feed my parents my creations. 

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As I paraded my "oatmeal" into my parents bedroom way too early, my mom greeted me with a huge smile and said “Did you make me breakfast!?” My dad rolled over and sat up too. 

I was SO PROUD as I handed mom the plate of raw oats I could burst. And she didn’t even hesitate. She dove right in and started eating. My dad leaned over and whispered, “Oh! We’re really eating this?” And my mom shot him a look and told me how delicious it was. Dad ate it too. 

Food is one of the great memory instigators. Creating new memories with food is one of life’s greatest privileges to me and I set to create new dishes for my little family as soon as John and I got married and I took on the role of wife.

This apple oatmeal is one of those dishes. It will forever remind me of our Saturday mornings in that tiny, tiny no-dishwasher, super crappy gas-powered oven, in our first old home with lots and lots of windows. Our kitchen was so makeshift that there was literally no counter space, so we would chop everything on our garage sale-purchased dinning table. Saturday mornings always called for a special breakfast but sometimes we just wanted to stay home and make-do with what we had on hand, and for some reason, apples and oats, like good friends, were always there. 

I’d like to say I’ve come a long way from that paper plate of raw oats, but there’s still that little girl inside of me hoping that whatever I place in front of someone, will be loved and accepted. Thank goodness for moms and dads. Thank goodness for husbands who praise every dish you make and a small son who eats like you're the best cook in the world. It is so much stinking fun to know that I get to create food my son will always remember. Hoping these oats will make that list. 

Hope you love these oats just as we do. xo

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robyn holland | sweetish.co

By far the breakfast I make the most for my Myles. 

bakers note: I use Irish, steel cut oats here, which soak up a lot of liquid. I've found that in order to reach that really creamy consistency, I add more and more liquid to them after they've softened and cooked. 

for the oatmeal:
2 cups / 480g milk (any milk will do, cows milk or nut milk, I used whole cows milk here) 
2 cups water
1 cup irish oats /  steel cut oats
plus about 1 1/2 - 2 cups more of water to add once oatmeal is cooked
pinch of medium grain kosher salt

for the apple topping:
2 cups / 240g granny smith apples (or any other good tart cooking apple) 1 small/medium apple = about 1 cup, peeled and chopped
1 generous tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, muscovado sugar works well too, packed, plus more for serving 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons water
pinch of medium grain kosher salt

Bring combined 2 cups of water and 2 cups milk to a boil in a medium pot.

While you’re waiting for the water + milk to boil, cut and peel apples into thinnish slices.

If water + milk is to a boil, add 1 cup of oats and reduce heat to low. Simmer until oats have absorbed the liquids. I like to add another cup or so of liquid once the oats have cooked, creating a more saucy consistency. You can be generous with the milk or water you’re adding to the oats, they are pretty resilient and will soak up almost anything you throw at them.

In a medium saucepan melt butter on a medium heat. Butter should melt and bubble slightly. Add apples and coat them in the butter. Add your pinch of salt. Let apples soften and soak up some of the butter, for about 3 minutes.

Add sugar and cinnamon, and stir again to coat apples. Sugar should bubble and begin to pull the juices out of your apples. Cook apples in cinnamon and sugar for 3 minutes or so.

Add 2 tablespoons of water. The water is going to soften our apples a little bit and make them saucy.

Let apples continue to cook until soft and fragrant. If you forgot to add your pinch of salt, do so now.

Serve apples on top of your oatmeal, with a sprinkle of brown sugar, cinnamon and a generous splash of milk. 

All of this can easily be made ahead of time and stored in glass containers in the fridge. It stores well and can be-reheated without compromise. Just add a splash or two of water or milk to the oats to refresh and loosen them up a bit. 


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I used Irish steel cut oats. They can be found at Whole Foods, or Trader Joes or online.