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My husband recently celebrated his second pandemic birthday.

I felt like the occasion warranted a special breakfast.

I knew oatmeal would likely be a winner because our toddler loves steel-cut oats with sprinkles and dried cranberries. I was right.

This version almost tasted like an oatmeal cookie, especially after I stirred in dark chocolate chunks that started life as a chocolate Easter bunny.

This recipe is adapted from one I found on I knew it needed less than a full cup of sugar, and I decided to try swapping in both maple syrup and honey to improve the flavor.

If you don’t have one or both of those, just use the same quantity of brown sugar.

After you add the chocolate, it’s just the right sweetness. I also swapped out half of the melted butter with applesauce.

The baked oatmeal turned out great — crunchy on the top, creamy in the middle. It made my husband feel special and our daughter go back for seconds.

Easy Baked Oatmeal

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup melted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup semi-sweet chunks

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, folding in cranberries and chocolate last. Pour into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with milk or yogurt.

Meg Dickinson is a communications professional who spends many waking hours daydreaming about food. To submit a recipe, email

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