Beautiful Day

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crockpot Baked Oatmeal

I'm always in search of ways to simplify meal preparations; especially on Sunday.  I do love creativity in preparing food, but I do like to do other things sometimes than cook!  Our Sundays involve a bit of prior planning.  I think to some degree this is helpful always, just to preserve a restful Sabbath.  But it is also magnified by the fact that we have a bit of a drive to church on Sunday mornings, so it helps if things run a bit like a "well-oiled machine."  Since our church hosts weekly shared meals after worship service, there is the planning for the lunch meal.  We also like our sit-down breakfasts together, so I look for ways to keep breakfast simple and nutritious and still a little bit special (not the same things we might eat every other day of the week).

I've been making baked oatmeal for several years now as part of the rotating breakfast menu.  It is a family favorite here!  Usually I soak the oatmeal with the buttermilk and a few other ingredients the night before, which aids in how well it nourishes the body.  Then I finish the preparations in the morning, pour it into a casserole dish, and bake it in the oven.  We serve it with milk and it makes a hearty breakfast.

I've tried several varieties of ovenight steel cut oatmeal in the crockpot.  The first few times I couldn't stand the fact that it would inevitably be practically burned to the side and bottom of the crockpot (making washing a huge chore!) and it would taste mushy (we rather prefer that little bit of chewy texture in oatmeal).  So I had given up on overnight cereals in the crockpot.

I then discovered the water bath method and I have loved it!  It essentially makes your crockpot act similar to a double boiler.  I found some steel cut oat recipes that were amenable to this method.  It's still true that the textures are generally softer--but they are not burnt at all!

This is how it works:  Find a heat-proof dish (one that you would bake in your oven) that will fit inside your crockpot and will allow you to still close the lid.  Mix all of your ingredients for the baked oatmeal in that dish.  I would, however, leave any dried fruit out until morning. Place it inside the crockpot.  Pour water into the crockpot dish, which is OUTSIDE OF your cereal dish, filling it about to the level of where the cereal is in your dish.  Place the cover on the crockpot and set it to cook about 7 hours.  I usually turn mine on around 11 pm and set it to end around 5:30 am.  It will automatically go to the "Keep Warm" setting, so the cereal will stay warm until breakfast time.  When I get up in the morning, I add the raisins or apples to the top, replace the cover, and let it sit until we are ready to eat.

Take the dish out and straight to your breakfast table.  Spoon into bowls and serve with additional milk.  I was even amazed that the texture of this one came out very close to the oven-baked variety!

*Baked Oatmeal

1/2 cup butter, melted (could use coconut oil for all or part as well)
2/3 to 3/4 cup Rapadura or SUCANAT (sugar)
3 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups buttermilk (or yogurt)
1 tsp. cinnamon

2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt (I prefer a little less)
1/2 cup dried raisins, or 1-2 tart apples, chopped

FOR BAKING IN OVEN:  Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl the night before you want to serve it.  In the morning, add the last 4 ingredients and stir together well.  Bake in a greased 11x7 baking pan at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Top with nuts, ground flax, yogurt, warmed milk or any other toppings you wish.

FOR CROCKPOT:  Mix together all ingredients in heat-proof dish.  Follow above instructions for cooking overnight in your crockpot.

*recipe adapted from Marilyn Moll of The Urban Homemaker

I made a bigger batch of this recipe, though I cannot remember if it was 1-1/2 times or 2 times larger.  It worked wonderfully for the dish I have still fits just right in my crockpot.

I am delighted to have a simple and nutritious recipe for our Sunday morning breakfast repertoire!  I would like to try the same concept with egg casseroles.  Has anyone tried this yet?

"Embracing--rather than resisting--the daily necessity of feeding a household can be a way of embracing the privilege of participating with God in this aspect of providential care.  Feeding a household is not an achievement that, once accomplished, can be checked off and set aside to make room for other pursuits.  Feeding a household is an act of faithfulness, one that requires daily energy and attention and whose pleasures and rewards are experienced in the course of that faithfulness rather than only at the end."
 ~ from Keeping House by Margaret Kim Peterson


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