oatmeal

Here’s a plan for weekends in January: Pretend you’re at a fabulous hotel, where there’s no guilt for staying in bed most of the day. Wear the new, comfy pajamas you opened at Christmas. Watch a movie on your iPad. And, eat the foods perfect for a day snuggling up and staying out of the cold.

On days like this, I don’t want to think about dirty dishes in the sink and using more than one burner on the stove. I want something warm and comforting, like the memory of the very best oatmeal I’ve ever tasted, served at a bed and breakfast.

That oatmeal was perfect on its own, but the B&B owners also set out little pots of oatmeal toppings to add a little luxury to the oats. Heavy cream, dried fruit, fresh-cut apples, toasted pecans, chopped dark chocolate, maple syrup — set out whatever you have for an oatmeal bar.

The idea of a relaxing weekend morning might sound like a fairytale to those with young children. And while we can’t promise for peace and quiet, we can at least make it easier for you with this month’s recipe. Place all the ingredients for the oatmeal in a slow cooker before you go to bed, and in the morning, breakfast is ready.

Steel-cut oats are a must for this slow-cooker oatmeal.

Bed and Breakfast Oatmeal

Makes 8 servings

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or cherries

Combine water, oats and salt in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Turn heat to low. Cook 8 hours, until tender and creamy.

Top with cranberries or cherries. Sweeten with brown sugar or maple syrup. Add cream or milk for a thinner oatmeal.

If oatmeal’s not your thing, try this rich and wonderful breakfast bread pudding. This one also cooks in a slow cooker, but only cooks for about 3 hours. So throw everything in the pot early in the morning, and it will be ready for brunch. Local Farrell Bread’s cinnamon-raisin bread is perfect in this recipe.

Cinnamon Bread Pudding

Makes 8 servings

  • 10 slices cinnamon-raisin bread, cut into pieces
  • (about 5 cups)
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, beaten

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick spray. Place bread cubes inside.

Mix milk, water, vanilla and eggs, and pour over the chunks of bread, gently stirring with a wooden spoon to coat the bread with the milk mixture. Cook on low for 2 ½ to 3 hours.

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