Crockpot Breakfast

This post is from last week’s Coloradoan column.  They didn’t print the whole article I wrote, so am adding it here.

Lots of us use a crockpot for slow-cooked dinners, but how many of us use this versatile appliance for low effort breakfasts? Cooking overnight, breakfast greets us with savory aromas, ready to go on a busy day or a laid-back weekend. The recipes go together quickly the night before, so very little active time is spent, with delicious results. It’s a perfect way to have breakfast ready if you have overnight guests for the weekend.

This recipe for oatmeal can be made in the morning if you are up early enough to cook it 2 hours on high. It calls for steel cut oats, which hold up better than rolled oats to the long cooking. It can be made the night before and reheated. It makes enough for a family of 4-6, and it makes enough to last me all week long, which is my preferred way to cook. I can change it up with different fruit and nut toppings so it doesn’t feel so much like leftovers.

Crockpot Oatmeal

2 cups of steel cut oats

8 cups water, or half milk/half water

2 tbsp coconut oil

½ cup real maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp sea salt

Optional additions: 2 cups of diced apple; 1 cup raisins; 1 can pumpkin puree

Place the water, oats, oil, syrup, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in a crockpot and the optional apples and/or raisins, pumpkin puree. Cook 2 hours on high, or at least 4 hours on low. It can be cooked as long as overnight. Serve with fresh fruit in season, frozen berries, and/or chopped nuts, plus milk, rice- or almond milk. I like mine without the apples and raisins, and find it sweet enough without additional sweetener.

If eggs are your preferred breakfast, try this take on a breakfast strata, or layered dish.

Crockpot Eggs

1 lb nitrate-free bulk sausage (I like Boulder Sausage chorizo or Italian)

1 cup diced onion

1 small green or red bell pepper

1 pkg frozen potatoes

1 ½ cups grated cheese

1 dozen eggs

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk (substitute water)

Optional: substitute 1 lb cubed ham for the sausage—no pre-cooking required

Brown the sausage to break it up into crumbles and render out the fat. No need to cook it through as it will finish cooking in the crockpot. Stir in the onion and bell pepper and cook just until soft. Drain on paper towels.

Lightly oil the crockpot to prevent sticking, then place half the potatoes in the bottom. Top with half the sausage and onion mixture, then a layer of cheese. Repeat, ending with the rest of the cheese. Beat the eggs with the milk or water and salt and pour over the rest of the ingredients. Turn the crockpot on low and cook for 8-10 hours. Serve with sliced avocado, your favorite salsa, or sour cream.

Substitute sweet potatoes or frozen cubed butternut squash, if you prefer.

Bon appétit!