Overnight Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats

I can hardly believe that today is the first day of March!  The year is just whooshing by.  Before we know it, spring will be here and all will be well again.  To be honest, this winter is really grating on my nerves and recently, each day it just seems harder and harder to pull myself out of my warm bed and into the angry cold of the winter morning.  During the week, I get up fairly early to catch my early morning train (between 4:15 am and 5 am- sometimes later, which in turn, completely sabotages my morning commute in to work.)   Usually, I allot myself the most minimal amount of time and my morning pans out to be a quick shower, a wild rush through the apartment getting everything together, running out the door with wet hair and then a sprint for 3 blocks, up three flights of stairs, and down a train platform allowing me to barely make my train.  It's not pleasant.  Of course, in my haste, I never seem to prepare anything for breakfast and usually end up eating yogurt and granola later on in the morning.  Don't get me wrong- I love a bowl of plain Greek yogurt topped with granola and honey.  It's my go to breakfast of choice.  But sometimes, especially at the tale end of winter's cold mornings, I crave something a little more comforting.  And warm.

Recently I found just that.  Steel cut oats, my friends.  Prepared during the night, while you sleep, in a crock pot.  They are the easiest thing to pull together and have such a delicious, simple taste to them. I've made two recipes so far- the first had dried apricots in it that plumped up deliciously over night and offered just the right amount of sweetness to the steel cut oats.  Recently I started making apple pie steel cut oats that sort of taste just like - you guessed it - apple pie.  Doesn't that sound like just the thing to pull you out of bed on a winter's morning?  It does to me!

Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal topped with almond milk and raw, local honey.

The steel cuts oats are paired with chopped apples; warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; a bit of almond milk (or whatever sort of milk you prefer), a bit of brown sugar; raisins; chopped nuts, if desired; and chia seeds.  They come together in about the time it takes you to peel and chop up two apples- less than five minutes.  Once mixed together the mixture is heated in a crock pot for 4 hours on low.  It is as simple as that.  In addition to them tasting delicious, the scent of warm apple pie wafting through the air in the early a.m. is a fabulous incentive to drag yourself out of bed.  Trust me.  And better yet- one cup of steel cuts oats gives you at least four servings so all you have to do is reheat them each morning.  And boy do they reheat well.  

Do you have any favorite recipes that feature steel cut oats?  If so, I'd love to hear about them!

Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal
The following recipe inspired by Closet Cooking, with a few additions.
(makes 4 servings)

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water or apple juice or apple cider -I used water
2 cups of milk (or 2 more cups of water) -I used almond milk
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into bit sized pieces 
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 cup of raisins (optional)
1 tablespoon of chia seeds (optional)
1/4 cup of walnuts or almonds, chopped (optional)
Milk to taste (optional)

*I serve mine topped with almond milk and raw, local honey.  The second batch that I made was much sweeter than the first, perhaps due to the natural sweetness of the apples.  Taste your oatmeal before adding any additional sweeteners (such as honey or brown sugar) because you may not need them.  My second batch was sweet enough that I did not need to add the honey but the first batch worked quite well with the addition of honey.  It's all up to your taste preferences, really.