I'm Elyse. Some of my most vivid and cherished memories are around a table with friends and family, and I want that for you, too.
What are you in the
The other day, I was struck by how many odd jobs I’ve had in the past. Working at least one part-time job since 15, I have been fortunate enough to experience a truly harrowing amount of work experiences. Starting as a Hollister stock girl, I’ve hit nearly every industry from food, retail, and fitness to real estate and museums—it’s wild. One of my favorite high school jobs (and now that I think about it, a clear start to this whole food-obsession thing) was being a store clerk at Godiva. I would come in early and dip fruit and macarons in a tub of shiny melted chocolate. Then, I’d spend all day selling folks on the idea that chocolate is good (v easy), and when the day was over, we would get to take home any of the dipped items that didn’t sell—making chocolate covered strawberries a viable dinner option for 18-year-old Elyse.
My other food-related jobs include hostess, bartender, and olive oil peddler (seriously). All of which had good things, and not so good things, about them. Four things I’ve learned, that have stuck with me over the years, are:
People can be at their absolute worst when hungry
You can try your hardest and still not please everyone
I can tell (with a decent amount of accuracy) who has worked in the service industry based on how you behave at a restaurant
There is no meal better than Denny’s after a particularly rough closing shift
The service industry has been hit HARD since the pandemic started. Folks have lost jobs and some restaurants have been shuttered for good. On top of that, people are more on edge than ever—making jobs in the service industry even more challenging. If you work in the industry, you are important and I appreciate you. And, if you have a friend in the industry, thank them and maybe treat ‘em to breakfast. And, might I recommend this oatmeal bake as said breakfast treat?
These oatmeal bars are my new go-to brunch recipe. They are delicious, gluten-free, and easy to throw together. Pair a slice with some coffee and eggs? Forget about it! The only stipulation with these is that I can only loosely call them bars, as they fall somewhere between a bar and an oatmeal bake. They crumble and break apart in all the best ways—and while they cut and hold together when refrigerated, they are at peak deliciousness straight out of the oven. These small-batch beauties have a thick layer of chewy, lightly spiced baked oats, followed by a layer of cheesecake filling, and topped with strawberries, making it ideal for spring brunch. Enjoy!
Heads Up!: In this recipe, lowercase “t”s indicate teaspoons, and uppercase “T”s indicate tablespoons.
Gluten-free, small-batch, and freaking delicious! This baked oatmeal and cheesecake hybrid is a new weekend breakfast go-to.
For the oat layer:
1 3/4C old-fashioned oats
1C almond flour
1/2t baking soda
1/2t kosher salt
3/4t ground cinnamon
1/2C dark brown sugar
1/2C unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4C whole milk
1t vanilla extract
For the cheesecake layer:
1/4C + 2T granulated sugar
6oz cream cheese, cubed and at room temperature
2T sour cream
1t vanilla extract
Hull and chop the strawberries into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle 2T of sugar over the top, mix together, and set aside.
Line an 8×8 square pan with parchment paper (making sure the sides and corners are covered). Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Stir together, making sure to break up any lumps of sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, milk, vanilla, and molasses. Pour this mixture into the bowl with your dry ingredients and stir to combine, ensuring everything is moistened. Remove 1/2C of the mixture and set aside to use as a topping.
Pour the remaining oat mixture into your lined pan. With a rubber spatula (or super clean fingers) press the mixture down to create an even layer that fills the corners, leaving no gaps. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sour cream together on medium until soft. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high for about 1 minute to ensure there are no lumps.
Turn the mixer down to low and stream in 1/4C of sugar, scraping the bowl down when necessary to make sure all of the sugar is incorporated. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium-high to high for another minute.
Pour your cheesecake mixture over the top of your oats, spreading it out with a spatula. Arrange your now-syrupy strawberries on top, pushing them in slightly to make for easier cutting later. Take the reserved 1/2C of oat mixture and break off small chunks and place them on top as well.
Bake for 35-45 minutes. Or until the oat topping is golden brown and there is BARELY a wiggle in your cheesecake. The longer it stays in, the easier it will be to cut. If serving as-is, which I recommend, let cool for about 5 minutes before scooping right out of the pan.
If making bars: Let cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let chill further in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Heads up, they’ll still be a wee crumbly, so use a fork when eating!