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Breakfast in Your Slow Cooker
Oatmeal. The trick to chewy but not mushy oats is in the cooking time. Resist the temptation to set the timer for 9 hours. The oats--even those sturdy steel-cut ones--will lose all texture if you cook them that long. Although some recipes call for just 4 to 6 hours of cooking time, you may prefer to have a bit more sleep than that. So 7 or 8 hours is a fine compromise. Just before going to bed, combine 1 cup of oats and 3 cups of water in a slow cooker. Set on low, cover and cook. In the morning, stir in milk, cream, spices or fruit to taste.
Slow-cooked fruit. Dried prunes, apricots, pears, apples and other fruits turn into melted, sweet orbs in the slow cooker. You can play with the flavors, adding vanilla, almond or other extracts, or the zest of a lemon or orange. Once cooked, try stirring the fruit into yogurt, eating it alongisde toast, or adding it to Cream of Wheat or other hot cereal. Combine about 32 ounces of dried fruit (prunes, apricots, pears, apples, cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc.) with 3 cups water, a half-cup of sugar, and whatever flavorings you'd like (1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other extract, a teaspoon of citrus zest). Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours, then stir in a few squirts of freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
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