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by meg

I know folks are always looking for easy breakfasts that they can just grab in the morning, and I have just three words to say about that: I feel you. While I love cooking (I love it so much that it became my job), there's something about cooking first thing in the morning, when you're only three sips into your coffee, that I find really unappealing. It's just a bit much, really.

This is why, most mornings, yogurt and granola are perfectly sufficient. Maybe toast and peanut butter. But if I can get it together enough to make something more involved ahead of time, all the better. Baked oatmeal is a longtime favorite. I first started making it using Heidi Swanson's recipe, which is excellent. But since then I've branched out a bit. I like playing with recipes and treating the same recipe in different ways depending on the season.

For this iteration of baked oatmeal, I added pumpkin puree, a blend of spices, and toasted pumpkin seeds to give it a seasonal flavor. I also baked the oatmeal in muffin tins instead of a baking dish. I love being able to just grab one of these and take it on the go if I need to. Even if I'm not running out the door in the morning, one of these muffins reheated, broken open, and drizzled with maple syrup and a little yogurt is just about perfect. They freeze well, so you can make a batch, freeze it, and pop them into the microwave as needed. They aren't super sweet, which I prefer, but if you want a little more sweetness, you might add raisins or currants for a natural sugar boost.

Other winter squash recipes you might enjoy: Pumpkin and Black Eyed Pea Cakes | Pumpkin Curry | Winter Squash Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 12

You may also use 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice blend instead of the spices called for in the recipe. Also, if you prefer, toasted pecans would be excellent instead of the pumpkin seeds.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a regular 12-cup muffin tin. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, about 8 minutes:
           1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Combine the pumpkin seeds in a medium bowl with:
           3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
           1 teaspoon baking powder
           1/2 teaspoon salt
           1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
           1/4 teaspoon cloves
           1/4 teaspoon allspice or cardamom
           1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Add and stir to combine well:
           1 cup pumpkin, sweet potato, or winter squash puree
           1 cup milk, buttermilk, kefir, or nondairy milk of choice
           1/2 cup maple syrup
           2 eggs
           1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
           (1 teaspoon vanilla)
Divide the oat mixture among the muffin cups. They will be full to the brim. Bake until the tops of the muffins are firm, about 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edge of each one and pop them out of the tin. Serve immediately, cool completely and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply microwave the muffins in 30-second increments until hot.

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