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Slow Cooker Overnight Steel Cut Oats

If you're looking for an antidote to the recent rainy, chilly weather, you've come to the right place! This oatmeal cooks overnight, while you dream of sunshine and gentle breezes. When you wake up, all you have to do is spoon it into a bowl and add whatever toppings you prefer. Healthy breakfast, done and dusted!

I use an oval 6 quart slow cooker and own a high sided casserole dish that happens to fit nicely inside the crockpot, so I prepare this bain-marie style, which cooks the oats ever so gently. The end result is creamier than when I've made it directly in the crock pot, so if you have a casserole that fits nicely inside your slow cooker, give it a go. The other major plus, if I'm being completely honest, is that while I don't mind creating meals, I do loathe the clean up. In fact, when I'm cooking, I sometimes fantasize about having an assistant who cleans up behind me as a I go, sigh. OK, back to the topic at hand. Cooking this in a casserole means you it doesn't stick to the sides of the crock, so clean up is a snap and putting away any leftovers is just a matter of letting the dish cool down a bit before popping it into the fridge.

Since I've been overestimating how quickly we can consume the apples I've been picking up at the farmer's market, it was a good excuse to go with an apple cinnamon version. I usually grate the apples by hand (creates minimal mess/clean up), but decided to try slicing them using my mandoline. I know, it sounds complicated, but either is far quicker and easier than slicing with a knife. Personally, I am a texture person, and found that I really prefer the apples sliced thinly more than I like them grated, but you do you!

Prep takes no time at all, and the only fussy thing about this is peeling the apples, but if you don't want to, skip it. My inexpensive slow cooker has a few bells and whistles that allow me to set the number of hours at high or low, and then automatically goes into a "warm" mode. This makes about 4-6 servings, and you can customize yours by adding the toppings of your choice. The leftovers, if your family doesn't devour the whole thing in one sitting, are best heated in the microwave with some milk. I'm not sure which I like more about this recipe, the easy prep or waking up to the smell of apples and cinnamon and realizing that the only thing left to do for breakfast is to eat it. Either way, it feels like a small victory, and I'll take as many of those as I can get!

About steel cut oats: When I lived in England, they called these pinhead oats, which made me giggle a little, but also slightly offended me. I've also seen them called groats and Irish oats. Whatever the name, they are delicious! If you've only ever made rolled or porridge oats, this is going to open up a whole new world of flavor and texture. It is more toothsome, and a bit nuttier tasting. Depending on where you are, they can be a bit tricky to find. If you can't find them in your local grocery store, check natural and whole food shops, and I'm sure you can find them online. Though I haven't tried this recipe with rolled oats, I'm pretty sure it would be an overcooked mess, so don't substitute those in this recipe.

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