Slow-Cooked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

I'll be real--breakfast time is rough around these parts. To be more real--I feel like I've been thrown into a flippin' rodeo ring before I've even had a chance to put on a bra. I mean, COME ON.

If you read my last post detailing my growing dependence on coffee, you have at least one part of the puzzle, which is to say it takes me a heck of a long time in the morning to get my brain around the fact that we're starting a new day. But if you've ever been woken up by a small child, you know that it's the exact opposite in their little brains. I will never understand the sheer volume and quantity of words that come out of Little C's mouth at 6:00 a.m., half of which are inevitably tied to "Where's my glitter scarf?" and "What's for breakfast?". I-yi-yi, kid, I dunno--the couch, cereal, or something, I guess? Where am I? What day is it?

But occasionally, I don't need to worry about figuring out breakfast and it is a glorious thing, indeed. Because sometimes, the night before, after the sort of very productive day where I'm so on point post-dinner that I'm actually thinking ahead to the next morning, I pull this recipe out of the arsenal.

A great many of us know the glory of using the slow cooker to assemble dinner at that golden hour of 9 to 10 a.m., when the morning rush has slowed but the rest of the insanity has yet to pick up, and it's the perfect time to throw some stuff into said slow cooker so that when you're ready to jump off the roof at 4:30, dinner is already well on its way to being done with no extra effort from you. Lawsie mercy, how I love the slow cooker. And when I figured out that you can use it to make breakfast to defray the morning fogginess as well, it was a pret-ty special discovery.

 So when the good folks at Plum Organics got in touch with me about developing a recipe for their new Little Foodies Cookbox using their products (with which Little C is positively obsessed) this slow-cooker breakfast wonder came to mind. The basic recipe for slow-cooking steel-cut oats is endlessly riffable, crying out for the addition of different spices and sweeteners and add-ins, but it turns out that when you swap out some of the water with a really delicious, high-quality fruit puree, you get an extra punch of flavor and nutrition. BOOM. I love it.

(Sidebar: Come to think of it, getting to work with Plum's products couldn't have been more timely: a couple of fruit-flavored mallows from the new book actually rave about the use of baby food, which sounds crazy, I know. But really, it's the perfect puree, and there's no need to peel and chop and process and what not. I'm not saying you'd want to do a Turkey Dinner mallow, but for recipes like Honeyed Apricot or Banana Marshmallows, it's really quite a revelation. This idea of using baby food instead of other fruit purees in recipes is all sorts of useful.)

What's your go-to easy breakfast for your little ones?

Slow-Cooked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Serves 4

I really can't say enough about remembering to spray the sleeve of your slow-cooker with nonstick cooking spray before you throw the ingredients in it. It will make your life infinitely less curse-inducing when it comes time to clean up. 

3 3.5-ounce packets Plum Organics Just Apples 3 cups water 1 cup steel-cut oats 2/3 cup chopped dried apples 2 tablespoons raw turbinado sugar, honey, or agave nectar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/8 teaspoon salt

Spray the sleeve of a 5-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place the sleeve in the cooker and combine all ingredients in it, stirring to blend. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hours or overnight. Stir well before serving.