Pear and Almond Crockpot Steel Cut Oats

Pear and Almond Crockpot Steel Cut Oats | Once Upon a Recipe

Lessons learned from shooting the photos for this recipe: Oatmeal is not naturally pretty. It isn’t very photogenic either. I’m not very good at making oatmeal look delicious. Sometimes things that don’t look pretty or delicious still taste freaking fabulous. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Oatmeal has feelings too.

Ok, I’m getting a little off track. The point is, my dear friends, that oatmeal can taste really really good. I’m an oatmeal lover through and through. I grew up eating it on the regular and for me, it’s a very comforting breakfast. Most non-oatmeal fans that I know associate oatmeal with gummy, tasteless goop. But if you prepare oatmeal correctly, and add a few tasty things, it can be amazing.

Pear and Almond Crockpot Steel Cut Oats | Once Upon a Recipe

Steel cut oats are my favorite kind of oats. However, making steel cut oats on the stovetop takes a damn long time. And this girl ain’t got time to stir stuff for 20+ minutes in the morning. I must also be doing something wrong, because my oats still ain’t creamy after 20+ minutes of cooking and stirring those oats. Yes dear friends, I had almost given up on steel cut oats altogether.

And then I discovered crockpot steel cut oats! Not only does the crockpot help us achieve that wonderful creamy texture, but it also does all of the work for us! I’m talking dump the ingredients into the crockpot, set and it and forget it, get your beauty rest, and wake up to a hot, comforting breakfast that will hold you over until lunch. Are you with me?

Pear and Almond Crockpot Steel Cut Oats | Once Upon a Recipe   Pear and Almond Crockpot Steel Cut Oats | Once Upon a Recipe

Let’s give breakfast duty to the crockpot so we can get a little more shuteye. More sleep + a hearty breakfast = a good day ahead! Happy Tuesday, friends!

Pear and Almond Crockpot Steel Cut Oats | Once Upon a Recipe

Pear and Almond Crockpot Steel Cut Oats

Makes four generous servings. This recipe is easy to adapt to your personal tastes. Other delicious options include substituting an apple in for the pear, a pinch of nutmeg for the cardamom, and adding a 1/4 cup of raisins instead of the almonds. Or try using blueberries in place of the fruit, and adding in a 1/2 tsp. of vanilla instead of the cardamom. Basically, as long as you stick with the oats to liquid ratio, the options are limitless! The sweetener is completely optional – I love brown sugar in my oatmeal – but if you’d prefer to use maple syrup or honey or stevia, or leave it out completely, go for it!

1 cup steel cut oats

1 1/4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or cow’s milk/milk of choice)

3 cups water

1 pear, cored and chopped small

3 TBSP. sliced almonds

4 TBSP. ground flax seed

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

2 TBSP. brown sugar (optional)

Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in your crockpot before you hit the hay. Stir well. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Wake up to breakfast! Top with additional milk, sliced almonds, and fresh fruit. Enjoy! Portion leftovers into containers and re-heat in the microwave with a little bit of milk.

Pear and Almond Crockpot Steel Cut Oats | Once Upon a Recipe

The Baking Begins | Cherry Almond Butter Cookies

There is something about holiday baking that just gets me feelin’ the Christmas spirit. Maybe it’s the warmth that comes from the oven and fills the kitchen in contrast with the cold outside, maybe it’s the sweet scent of baking butter and sugar that teases your tummy, or maybe it’s the thoughts of sharing delicious cookies and treats with friends and family as you get together to celebrate the season. Whatever it is, I adore it and can’t seem to get enough.

Baking is a big Christmas tradition in my family, and there is never a shortage of sweet treats to choose from. In fact, one might be inclined to skimp on turkey and mashed potatoes in an effort to leave extra room for cookies and squares and tarts!

There are a few Christmas cookie recipes that I turn to year after year, but I also try to pick a couple of new recipes to try every holiday season. These cookies, Cherry Almond Butter Cookies, joined my recipe stash a few years ago when I impulsively bought the Company’s Coming Most Loved Cookies cookbook right before Christmas. Their butter content might make you think of shortbread, and they have a similar buttery sweetness, but the addition of tart dried cherries and crunchy toasted almonds give them a delicate uniqueness. They have become one of my favorites, and if you give them a try, they might become one of your favorites too!

Cherry Almond Butter Cookies (from Company’s Coming Most Loved Cookies)

2 cups of butter, softened (room temperature)

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

5 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/3 cups of dried cherries (roughly chopped)

1 cup of toasted slivered almonds

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the egg and beat well. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture in 3 additions, mixing well after each addition until no dry flour remains.

Add the cherries and mix well. Divide the dough into 3 portions. Shape each portion into an 8-inch (20 cm) long log. Wrap each log with waxed paper. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.  (This is an important step as it makes the cookie dough firm and easy to slice before baking). When ready to bake, discard the wax paper from each log. Cut into 1/3-inch (1 cm) slices. (I was able to get about 20 slices out of each log, for a total of 60 cookies). Arrange about 2 inches (5cm) apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Gently press 2 or 3 almond slivers* in a decorative pattern on top of each slice. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until just golden. Let stand on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.

*To toast the almond slivers, spread them evenly in an ungreased shallow pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring or shaking often, until lightly golden.

PS. Honey just informed me that when he found these in the freezer this afternoon, he polished off 8 cookies in one sitting. Hide these if you want them to make it until Christmas!

PPS. I apologize for the terrible light in my photos. I have zero natural light in my condo, and since I do much of my cooking/baking in the evening after work, the light is even worse! The odd Saturday or Sunday cooking venture might yield more favorable results, but I’m not going to limit myself to just those two days per week.

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