This is my second Monday of four Mondays dedicated to summer cooking. Last week, I discussed setting up a summer kitchen (see HERE). Today, I am encouraging you to actually use that toaster oven for more than toast. If you are die hard WAPFer, then you are not turning to the microwave to heat food in the summer time but cranking up the toaster oven. This can be a really good thing for a number of reasons.
- A toaster oven can use half the energy of a standard oven and about a third less than a roasting oven which is good for the electric bill and the environment.
- Toaster ovens are mobile, they can be moved outside when in use and keep the house cooler.
- They work by use of heating coils (and in some cases fans) rather than by exciting electrons with the electromagnetic waves generated by a magnetron like a microwave does (see more HERE). Which sounds potentially hazardous to you?
The best toaster oven has a few features which help it to work better.
- Does not have a digital clock or electric timer. These consume energy even when they appliance is off which costs you money and is bad for the environment. Just say no to more kitchen appliance clocks! You really are not at risk of forgetting the time.
- Has a convection fan to circulate the air which improves the heating making it efficient and even.
- Is large enough to do more than toast. Think oven not toaster.
The one above is an Oster convection toaster oven with no digital clock, a convection fan and is big enough for a chicken, or a ten inch cake round, or a 12" pizza pan, or even two 9x5 loaf pans with bread. I found it at Costco for just $50 and I have to tell you I am pretty jazzed about it. If you have a large family, you might think that a toaster oven won't work for you. Let me promise you, it can. I know because I have ten kids and I use it.
While a single chicken won't make enough for a meal of roast chicken, it does make enough to shred for chicken Caesar salad (especially when I add bacon!). I also did two meatloaves in it. Each pan was packed with two pounds of ground beef and a half pound of liver and were done in just 55 minutes. I am baking bread in mine today. I do not mind keeping two loaves of bread in the fridge while the first two bake. It is pretty great that in an hour and half, I can have four loaves of bread and be cool as a cucumber inside (you have tried my awesome fridge method for perfect sourdough, right? If not, find it at the Sourdough 101 link above or HERE). For the record, I also have a four slot regular toaster. We like toast and I cannot wait for the toaster oven to make that much. But, most houses might not need both like mine.
So what are things that can be made in a toaster oven?
- I mentioned the Healthy 4 Life meatloaf recipe
- A single roast chicken
- My super sourdough bread
- Two half batches of gluten free brownies, see HERE, in round pie plates
- Egg casserole in a two quart casserole, see HERE
- Four half batches of soaked oatmeal coffee cake, see HERE
- A pie, yes really! Try my super easy press in crust HERE
- I have done a 10 layer cake in two rounds, one after the other and frosted it with my chocolate ganache, see HERE
- Six muffins in a tin or eight muffins from the freezer (see my technique HERE)
So tell me, how do you use your toaster oven?
Linking up with Monday Mania!