Baked Apple Cups with Steel Cut Oatmeal and Greek Yogurt

The Apple Frenzy is not over yet! I know I've already shared with you my favorite recipes for an Autumn Apple Picking Picnic, but the best part of spending a day in the orchard is all the fun recipe testing and creativity in the kitchen when you get back home. Normally I use my Julian apples to bake lots of decadent desserts like my Famous Apple Crumb Pie. But this year, I've been watching my figure more than normal...Knowing that you are going to walk down the aisle in a couple of months in a form fitting strapless wedding gown and have more photos snapped of you than your whole life combined will do that to you ;) So I decided to use these apples for a healthier yet just as delicious and appealing dish...
Baked Apple Cups with Steel Cut Oatmeal and Greek Yogurt make for the perfect fall breakfast!

I'm all about presentation. Of course I want the food I cook to taste great, but when it looks as great as it tastes than you know you have a winner of a recipe. Because after all, you eat with your eyes first! This recipe definitely doesn't disappoint in terms of presentation. Oatmeal normally isn't the most appealing of food-its grey mushy consistency is simply terrible to photograph on its own (look three pictures below if you need proof hehe!). But when oatmeal is stuffed into an adorable apple cup it becomes a company worthy brunch dish.
You begin this recipe by making your perfect little apple cups. Some helpful tips are to cut the bottom of the apple to make a flat surface so they will lay better in the baking dish and be easier to stuff. Also if you have a melon scooper make sure to use it, they are a great tool to hollow out your apples. And don't worry about the browning of the apples like I did...I kept squirting lemon juice over the apples to try to prevent browning but once the apples are stuffed, you won't even notice.
Now is when the good stuff happens. You generously brush each apple cup with a melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon mixture...Oh yeah! Then you nestle those luscious apples into a baking dish, pour apple cider on the bottom of the dish, wrap in foil, pop in the oven and let the magic happen.
If your questioning the healthiness of this dish that I claimed before, just remember I was comparing it to apple crumb pie not a salad :)

Jokes aside, this recipe is still after all a healthy option! The filling is made with Steel Cut Oatmeal that is known for lowering your cholesterol and risk of heart disease plus being high in protein and fiber and low in fat. I have never been that big of an oatmeal fan, something about the texture just really doesn't do it for me. BUT this oatmeal was so different. I loved it! The addition of the chopped apples gave the oatmeal a little more bite and better texture and the orange zest really brightened the flavor. You end up with leftover oatmeal after you stuff the apple cups and I liked it so much that I heated it up for my breakfast the next day. That's really saying something coming from me.
This dish is great to make for breakfast when you have company over or for a fall holiday occasion, not just because of its wow-worthy presentation, but because of the amazing smell your house will have while its cooking. Nothing says fall like a house that smells like baked apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar!

Once the apples have finished baking, fill each cup with a generous amount of the apple and orange infused oatmeal. Then for the finishing touches add a small dollop of vanilla greek yogurt onto each apple cup. Don't skip this step, the greek yogurt provides the perfect tang to balance the sweetness of the baked apple! Next add a bit of orange zest on top of the yogurt for added color and flavor. Plate each apple on top of a pool of the reduced apple cider sauce or drizzle this sauce on top of the apples, whichever you prefer.

And there you have it, the quintessential fall breakfast of champions!!

Baked Apple Cups with Steel Cut Oatmeal and Greek Yogurt
adapted from Bobby Flay

6 apples (Gala or Fuji), bottoms sliced so apples stand
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of black pepper
1 cup apple cider
1 cup whole milk, heated
3 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups cooked quick-cooking steel-cut oatmeal, prepared according to package directions, warm, such as McCanns Quick and Easy Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal
Low-fat Vanilla Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut off the top third of each apple. With a small knife and melon scooper, carefully carve out a large cup in the apple about 2 inches in diameter. Put the apples into a 9-inch square baking dish. Dice the carved-out parts of the apples, without the seeds, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, and then whisk in 4 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the cinnamon and pepper and cook until smooth. Brush the inside of the apples with the butter mixture. Pour the apple cider into the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the apples are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes longer.

Transfer the apples to a platter. Carefully strain the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cook until it is reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes. While the apples are baking, stir the hot milk, remaining muscovado sugar, reserved chopped apples and two teaspoons of the orange zest into the warm oatmeal and cook for a few minutes. Fill each apple cup with the oatmeal. Top each apple with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle with remaining orange zest. Serve apples on top of reduced cider sauce or drizzle the reduced cider over the top of each apple.