This is a guest post from Ellen of Appliance Freaks.
Convection toaster ovens are such multi-tasking, handy small appliances that in many homes they do most of the work. They can do practically everything the big oven can do, but faster, with less energy and less mess to clean. And there are some chores convection toaster ovens do even better than their big brothers.
Note from Katie: In our culture, the art of cooking without a microwave is becoming lost. We real foodies can revitalize it! The toaster oven is one of my top favorite appliances, and we use it all the time to reheat leftover and bake. It’s an eco-friendly choice, too, because if you don’t have to preheat your large oven, you’re saving energy. Here’s mine, serving as a place to dry out yogurt jars:
10 Ways to Use Your Toaster Oven
1. You can cook just about anything
It might sound funny, but your convection toaster oven is used for so many things that people forget that it can toast bread as well. You can cook any meal that you used to cook in your regular oven, from pot roast, to whole chicken, pizza and lasagna. Baking bread is easier than ever, cookies come out perfectly. When cooking bigger pieces of meat, make sure it has two inches of clearance for even cooking.
2. Become a cookie monster
Baking cookies in a convection oven is so easy that you can let your kids do it. High end convection ovens like the Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL even have a self-eject tray, so that the kids do not have to reach inside and burn their little fingers. Because your oven is small, there is no wasted energy even if you want just a few cookies to satisfy a sudden craving. Be careful to get them out when done, they will be cooked much faster than in a regular oven.
3. Pizza for breakfast
Warming up pizza was never easier than with your convection toaster oven. Usually, you end up getting a soggy piece left over from last night, with limp veggies and hard cheese. Your convection toaster oven will make that warmed up piece taste like it is freshly baked, with nicely melted cheese and wonderful, crunchy crust. Make sure that your convection oven comes with one of those handy crisping trays.
Here’s an old picture from Katie demonstrating how you can reheat leftovers for the whole family at once – a bowl of cream of potato soup, leftover pizza, a piece of fish and a baked potato. They might come out at different times, but only one tray is dirtied. More on reheating leftovers without the microwave.
4. Bake the best potatoes
The secret to making perfect baked potatoes is to make them soft, well done inside and golden brown on the outside. Since your convection toaster oven cooks evenly on all sides, your potatoes come out cooked to perfection even if they are very large. Add some cheese and bacon bits and your guests will love you for ever.
5. Make your own trail mix
Many health-conscious people like to make their own mix of nuts, to avoid harmful chemicals that are often used as preservatives in commercial packages. Just throw a bunch of mixed nuts on a shallow cookie tray and roast them for a few minutes in your convection toaster oven. You can experiment with flavors by adding anything you like, from salt to vanilla.
6. Speed up defrosting
Defrosting in your convection toaster oven is fast and convenient. If you are in a hurry to make a pizza and forgot to defrost mushrooms or peppers, throw them into your convection oven and they will be not only defrosted but partially cooked as well.
7. A bit of luxury – chocolate fondue
Melting chocolate can be a hit or miss job. If you try to cook it on the stove top, it can burn or turn into lumps. Your convection toaster oven will do the job with no mess and no fuss. Use a shallow heat-proof ceramic dish that you can put straight on the table, and let your guests dig in. Melted chocolate, also called chocolate fondue, works best if you dip strawberries, pieces of pineapples or papayas in it. Cookies work fine too.
8. Become a baking expert
Hot air that circulates evenly through your convection toaster oven makes it perfect for baking. Whether you want to make your own bread, throw in a few tortillas or bake ciabata for sandwiches, they will come out of your convection oven just perfect: fluffy and light inside and golden and crunch on the outside.
9. Save money on kids’ crayons
Crayons do not last long. Kids love them, but they break easily and their bits and pieces end up collecting dust in kids’ drawers and under the bed. Since they are made of wax, the broken bits can be easily melted in your convection oven, and re-made in any shape or size you like. Make appropriate forms out of sturdy aluminum foils and fill them with broken bits. Few minutes in your convection oven on 250 degrees and they will melt and fuse. Once cooled, let kids play with them until they are again in bits and pieces, and then start all over.
10. And finally, toast bread
Of course, you can toast your bread in the convection toaster oven. The ‘convection’ part will just make the process faster. Some people complain that the bread is not toasted as nice as in classical toaster oven, but they probably did not read the manual. Most convection toaster ovens have simple buttons that say ‘toast bread’. How hard is that?
It will take you some time to discover all that you can do with your convection toaster oven. Only your imagination is the limit, and the speed with which everything gets done will encourage you to experiment with various dishes even if you are normally too busy for cooking. Think about how much healthier it is to cook your own dishes with fresh ingredients, free of all additives, sugar and fats. Your convection toaster oven will make it fast, simple and easy.
Thanks for the guest post, Ellen!
Ellen Kaylor co-authors a popular blog Appliance Freaks with her friend Karen May. Their goal is to provide their readers with the expert advice on pros and cons of various kitchen and home appliances, by offering thorough and unbiased reviews. Ellen, the passionate juicer, recently did a detailed review of the Breville Juice Fountain Elite 800JEXL juicer.
Ellen is also a mother of three and a popular teacher of cooking classes in which she shares her culinary expertise and her favorite recipes with her students.