Pan-Seared Oatmeal Wedges with Warm Plum Sauce and Sweet Potato Spread

[A small request. . . The Canadian Food Blog Awards are accepting nominations for everything from best blog to “best recipe blog” to “best writing” to “best niche blog” and more.  If you enjoy reading DDD and my recipes, please consider heading over to Beer and Butter Tarts to nominate my blog! Nominations are open until December.  Just click here. Thank you!]

I know it’s insanely popular, but I just can’t get into Sudoku.  Something about having to project ahead on so many levels at once, wading through multiple strata of possiblility, the endless contrasting options being played out in one’s head–I just find it exhausting.

It reminds me of when my cousin Marketing Guru tried to teach me chess when we were kids.  Each time it was his turn, he’d contemplate the myriad options, his elbow resting on one knee, his chin perched on his fist.  His eyes would roam from the Bishop to the Pawn to the Knight to the Pawn to the Rook to the Pawn as he scrutinized the board the way an oncologist scrutinizes an X-ray.  I’d be there fidgeting and sighing while I waited for him to make up his mind until it was finally my turn, when I’d just grab a piece and move it.  (Needless to say, I never won. Oh, and it drove him bananas).

Now, that is not to say that my mind isn’t capable of entertaining a plethora of options all at once–far from it.  In fact, I’d hazard a guess that such games are ill suited to anyone like me who is, shall we say, prone to a tad more anxiety than the average person–precisely because we think that way, all too often.  To wit:

Scene I. Mid-February in Toronto, 6:55 PM.  The HH is late getting home from work; normally, he’s home by 6:45. Ricki glances at the snow outside, pelting waves of white bullets that ping across the surface of the window. She presses her nose up against the glass.

Ricki: Hmm. . . what could be taking him so long?  Winter sure sucks. I hope he remembered to fill the tank with gas this morning.  Oh, no, what if he ran out of gas on the highway? And what if his car just stopped running right in the middle of the road–amid all those cars? Oh, no! And what if the vehicle behind him was speeding so fast it couldn’t stop in time to keep from rear-ending him? [She presses her face more firmly against the window in an attempt to see outside.] And then they got into a huge accident and the HH’s car was propelled across black ice and ended up spinning and losing control and racing headlong into a ditch–Oh my God!! The HH is lying dead somewhere in a ditch!! I have to call the hospitals!  I have to call the police! I have to–

HH: [strolls through the door]  Hi honey.  Whew–it’s bitter cold out there! Traffic is hardly moving.  So many bad drivers on the–hey, why does your nose look so flat?

Scene II. End of July. Some time in the afternoon. Ricki notices a mole on her calf.

Ricki: Hmmm, that’s strange. . .looks a little darker than I remember.  Was it always that brown?  Is that a fleck of black I see in the middle?  Or could it be that it’s gotten bigger? Hmm, those edges look a little erratic to me. . . what if it’s actually not a regular mole? What if it’s something more sinister. . . and what if it needs to be excised and biopsied? And then what happens if it doesn’t heal properly??  And what if they have to send me for tests?  And oh, no, what if they have to operate??? I could lose my leg!  And what if I can’t find a proper prosthetic to match my skin tone?!  And what if–oh, I think I’d better just grab this pencil and check the eraser’s diameter against it. . .

Scene III.  Late November.  Afternoon. Ricki is frustrated with her old computer.

Ricki: This darned thing is getting slower and slower.  Oh, I know I should buy a new one, but maybe I’ll try defragging it first. But what if that doesn’t work? And wasn’t the external drive supposed to help?  But it didn’t.  Does that mean it’s beyond help?  Or maybe that means something else isn’t working properly.  Did I remember to update my virus protection? Oh, no, what if the virus scan isn’t working properly and that’s why it’s so slow? That strange email I got last week was pretty suspicious.  . . what if my computer is infected now??  And what the virus wipes out all of my hard drive? Oh, no!!!! And then I’d lose all my files and all my photos and all my writing and my entire blog–and I wouldn’t be able to access the Internet! And I couldn’t do my job properly!! And then they’d fire me!! And I’d have no job! And then I’d end up homeless and penniless. . . Aaaarrrghhhh!

You see what I mean.

On the up side, people who exercise their brains regularly are less likely to suffer from dementia of all kinds.  And while my brain gymnastics may be of no use when it comes to Japanese number games, it’s a plus in the kitchen when you’re looking for culinary variety. Unlike the HH, say, or my dad, who consume the exact same breakfast every morning, I find that I rarely eat the same thing two days in a row.  Even when it comes to foods I love, such as steel cut oats, I feel the need to vary the preparation or accoutrements each time I consume it.

I’ve played with baked oats and almond-butter topped oats and veggie-dense oats for breakfast, and this week I tried the “cut into wedges and served on a plate” oats. I was inspired by the huge array of vegetarian options for Thanksgiving in a recent New York Times articlean entire Thanksgiving menu of meatless recipes!  And tucked within the collage of photos was this unusual presentation of oatmeal: Pan-Seared Oatmeal with Warm Fruit Compote and Cider Syrup.  Well, my mind skipped over the compote and syrup (neither of which I can eat on the ACD) and latched onto the oats.

I immediately threw together my own version, which I enjoyed for breakfast yesterday.  I loved it!  Inside, the texture is much like what you’d expect from a bowl of steel-cut oats: chewy, nubby bits suspended in a creamy base.  But the exterior is browned, slightly crispy and dry, encasing it all in a neat little package (one that’s portable if need be). Brilliant!

I topped my first meal with almond butter and applesauce, a winning combination.  Then yesterday, I feasted on leftovers with some warm fresh plum sauce and a dollop of my Sweet Potato Spread (sweet variation).  Both were heavenly.  This afternoon, I may just have to snack on some oatmeal wedges on their own, perhaps sprinkled with a touch of garlic powder, curry powder, or garam masala.  And then maybe tomorrow, something else a little savory. . .

I mean, the possibilities are endless, aren’t they?


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Last Year at this Time: Reprise: Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

Two Years Ago: Curried Root Vegetable Chowder with Dumplings

Three Years Ago: Yet Another Chocolate Tofu Pudding (not scatalogical, I promise)

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  1. I loved your story about what went through your mind when the hubby was late. It is nice to know I am not the only one with a vivid imagination, LOL.

    The oatmeal wedges are brilliant. Thank you so much for share the recipe.


  2. These look awesome! Great photos. I will definitely make these… maybe right now. What a change from my regular oatmeal. Thanks!!

  3. These look great and I am not even an oat person 🙂 YUM

  4. Oh my, this looks so excellent! I can’t wait to try it. Such a fan of treats with minimal ingredients…thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  5. Dear lord, you had me at “oatmeal wedge” — this is GENIUS, Ricki! Thank you.

  6. there isn’t anything i don’t love about your pan-seared oatmeal wedges, Ricki! warm plum sauce and sweet potato spread – never would i have thought about such a delicious combination. i am imagining eating these all the time. yay!

    i know what you mean on the brain gymnastics. my mind goes a mile a minute. sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it gets a little crazy, but it’s all good! i’m just glad i’m not the only one. ah ha ha!

    • The combination of the sweet potato-almond spread and plum topping was really stellar! And at least you recognize that sometimes the mile-a-minute is a good thing! 😉

  7. I have the same anxious mind- and I love the term brain gymnastics, I think it perfectly describes what occurs when I’m overthinking things (which is most of the time!) Good to know I’m not the only one 🙂
    These oatmeal wedges are so unique- I love that they are made with steel cut oats! The chewy texture must make them so good.

    • I was fascinated by the texture, too–crispy outside, chewy inside. 🙂 (And I’m sure we’re not the only ones. . . otherwise, therapy wouldn’t exist!!) 😉

  8. Been there with the overactive imagination. Mind goes crazy at all the BAD things that could have happened and then they just walk in the door like it is any other day not knowing the craziness that was going on inside your head.

    I love the idea of the oatmeal wedges. I especially love that they seem easy with few ingredient. My kind of recipe! I can’t wait to try it.

    • True, funny how we rarely go on about a positive outcome (gotta work on that one). 😉 And these ARE very easy–I’m thinking they should be a “Flash in the Pan,” now. . .

  9. This sounds so so good! Definitely going to have to try these for breakfast tomorrow

    • But remember it has to cool before being pan-fried! I’d mix it up tonight, let rest in the pan overnight, then cut and sear tomorrow morn. 🙂

  10. I love those scenarios – have a few of those of my own. But I do love sudoku – in fact I really miss it and was most displeased that I started on one on the weekend and it got thrown in the bin – but I don’t understand chess.

    And the pan fried oatmeal sounds a wonderful way to start the day – and warming on a winter’s morn!

    • Right–I forgot entirely about the baby and child scenarios!! (My mom was good with those. . . ). 😉 And believe it or not, I actually thought of you re: Sudoku–you’ve written about it before. The oatmeal is, indeed, warming, though I’m not sure if it’s the oatmeal or the heat of the stove I like better!

  11. Terrie Whitbeck says

    Interesting. I’ve been on a big noodle high lately, I have absolutely no idea why – I just got a crazy craving for noodles!! Is that even possible? I’ve already tried nearly half of all the noodle recipes here ! Crazy huh. I should probably stop soon, I dont think eating noodles every day isn’t that healthy…

  12. i just finished a big bowl of savory oats and now I’m planning on these oatmeal wedges for tomorrow’s b’fast. They look really good. Thanks for the great oatmeal idea. By the way — just popped over to Beer and Butter Tarts to cast my nominations for DDD!

  13. I think you are keeping your mind sharp enough – you seriously have the highest level of food creativity I have ever seen! Skip the Japanese number games 🙂

  14. what a nice way to spike up your breakfast….I’ve never imagined oatmeal in this form 🙂

  15. This looks great, Ricki, and I liked your description … I could go for that. 😉

    Yes, my mind is very similar to yours … I think they call that monkey brain, don’t they? Jumping from spot to spot in a zany way. I never got into Sudoku either.


  16. That is such an appealing plate of nourishing, tasty foods all together. Mmmn, yes, this looks like a wonderful, tummy-warming breakfast and we just had our first cold *snap* of the year, must buy some of those oats.
    Also I need to write up a breakfast for the SOS that I threw together from some leftover pumpkin while making room in the fridge for all of the Thanksgiving bowls and platters. Rita was pretty excited about it.

  17. I’m really excited about this recipe! I’ve been bored with all my usual snack options, and this looks like a great new healthy snack!

  18. omg, this looks soooo good. and i’m glad you reminded me about that sweet potato spread!

  19. I had never seen this before until I bought the Cooking Light Vegetarian cookbook over the weekend and now I see you posting about it! It’s the most brilliant idea for oatmeal ever. I can’t wait to try it!


  1. […] “There’s oatmeal hot in a bowl, oatmeal cookies, oatmeal granola, baked oatmeal, pan-seared oatmeal, and the list goes on”.  I chose to make it hot and bubblin’ in my rice cooker this […]

  2. […] oats, and found they made much more firmer oatmeal than I was used to. Ricki’s idea to pan-fry the oatmeal sounded ideal. I took leftover oatmeal, cut in large slabs, and fried them with a touch of oil in a […]

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