What Can A Toaster Oven Do For You?

What Can A Toaster Oven Do For You?

Even though it is easy to assume that toaster ovens are great for just toast, the truth is they can handle a lot more of the cooking tasks generally reserved for a full sized range. Advancements in technology has allowed the toaster oven to transform into a machine that is able to cook, bake, reheat, defrost, roast, and broil with ease. These little powerhouse appliances have allowed many a family to enjoy a delicious home cooked meal in less time and with less hassle. If you hate waiting for your large oven to preheat, or you cannot stand to waste all of that energy on a small meal, having a toaster oven can really make a difference.  Before we go deeper into the advantages one of these units can bring to your kitchen, let us quickly cover the different types of ovens on the market today.

Types of Toaster Ovens

If you have been looking at online reviews of the best rated toaster ovens for 2016, you may have noticed that there are a few different types countertop ovens available. Some handle cooking with different technology that can greatly add to how much it may cost. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the more popular types of these small ovens.

Standard

A standard toaster oven can toast up to four slices of bread or sometimes larger ones up to six slices. They have some of Darkness settings and a push lever that is similar to that of a pop-up toaster. Some standard toaster ovens have ejection trays that automatically open up when the toast is complete. They also have thermostats that control the oven’s temperature thus makes it possible for broiling. The coils will turn on and off, in the same way, a full-sized oven will in order to maintain steady temperatures. They are best for baking, toasting and basic warming.

Convection Toaster Ovens

A convection oven uses internal fans to circulate heated air around the food to ensure even cooking . This helps avoids hot spots since it will brown the food at the same rate on all sides. Another advantage is that with convection toaster ovens, food cooks faster due to even heat exposure and the option to set the oven to lower temperatures. It also offers sophistication to cooking choices.

Infrared Ovens

Infrared ovens function in a different way as compared to other toaster ovens. The heat is directly transferred to the food instead of heating the air surrounding it. It also makes the heat available instantly thus preheating becomes unnecessary. With infrared ovens, frozen food can be cooked directly without defrosting it. Exceptional crisping and browning are achieved when cooking with infrared toaster ovens. With, quick cooking and no preheating, a significant amount of energy is saved.

Advantages of Owning a Toaster Oven

Once you decide on what kind of oven best suits your needs you can then start to take advantage of many of the benefits that having one of these in your kitchen can offer you. Below are just some of the ways that cooking with one of these appliances can make a difference in how you cook from now on.

Energy Savings

Toaster ovens consume less electricity as compared to full-sized ovens. They have smaller spaces to heat and therefore, they can quickly reach the selected cooking temperatures thus saves a lot of energy. Studies on the use of toaster ovens have shown that they can save up to one-third energy that a conventional oven uses. Toaster ovens too don’t transfer heat to the rest of the house, therefore; no extra cooling bills are incurred especially during summer.

Versatility

Toaster ovens can handle a number of duties that include toasting, baking, reheating, browning, broiling, roasting and warming. Their sizes notwithstanding, toaster ovens can perform most oven cooking types. Some ovens are in fact the same size as ovens.

Convenience

Toaster ovens are very convenient and most ideal for almost any situation and home. From college dorms, recreational vehicles travelers, or campers with generators even without affording a full-sized can still reap the benefits from toaster ovens. They require very little space and can easily fit the corner of any counter. Most toaster oven models are designed to fit under-cabinet mounts. They can also be kept in the cabinets when not in use.

Clean Up

Toaster ovens are a bit easier to clean as compared to regular ovens. The corners of toaster ovens are significantly easier to reach. It’s cleaning does not require the use of odorous chemicals. Simply unplug the appliance, remove the trays and racks to be washed in the sink. Most toaster ovens have a trap that is used to empty crumbs. Both the exterior and interior can be cleaned up using soapy sponge or rag. However, you should be keen to avoid abrasive materials from exterior finishes. If grease has accumulated on the glass door, it can be scrubbed using a soapy scrubber. A solution of water and vinegar can also do well in cleaning the glass door.

These are just some of the reasons why having a countertop oven in your kitchen makes a lot of sense.  Today’s top toaster ovens are great at many things and offer excellent value for amateur chefs.  If you love to cook, but don’t like all of the work, then getting one of these small appliances is a must.  Oh yeah, they can also make toast!

Let’s Indulge A Little With Some Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

 

Making home made ice cream

Just about every kid loves ice cream. And while it is never going to be the healthiest of treats, there are things that you can do to improve its overall nutritional value. By making your own ice cream at home you can control what goes into the finished product. You can use sugar-free or reduced fat ingredients that can make it a little less of a unhealthy indulgence and still provide your kids something that they will enjoy.

To get started, it is best to pick up an electric ice cream maker. These are not all that expensive, and they are a great little investment into your child’s happiness and health. Some of the top rated home ice cream machines can be purchased for around $40 or $50. Not only are they rather affordable, but they are also simple to use and it is something that your kids will definitely enjoy participating in.

Ingredients

This is where you can oversee the production of the ice cream and you can use some healthier alternatives in various recipes. Fat free or reduced fat creams and milks, sugar free syrups, and even fresh fruits can be used to make something that will still tastes sweet and delicious.

Having your own machine also is great for experimentation. You and the kids can try endless different ice cream recipes or you can still with the traditional chocolate or vanilla. But having an ice cream maker in your kitchen offers you the ability to produce anything you want.

Recipes

Below are just a couple of recipes that you can try at home. These are not exactly great for the diet, but with a little ingredient manipulation you can make them to be as healthy as you choose.

Vanilla Caramel Cookie Ice Cream

This recipe is wonderfully creamy without the use of eggs. It strikes an utterly delicious and irresistible balance between sweet and salty flavors. It is one of those ice creams that everyone loves. It is made from a few simple ingredients. However, the base has an incredibly silky and rich texture. So for your perfect scoop, first you need to prepare the caramel sauce.

Heat 1 cup of sugar in a large pan.

Stir until it begins to melt.

Then cook, until it turns into a dark amber color. Add 1 cup of heavy cream, until all the caramel has dissolved.

Then remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

Allow it to cool down.

For the ice cream base, take a large bowl. Whisk together, 1 cup of whole milk, 3/4 cups of granulated sugar until it is dissolved completely. Add 2 cups of heavy cream and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Pour this into your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl. Allow it to run for 15 minutes. Add in the caramel sauce, and 1 cup of coarsely chopped vanilla cookies. Allow it to run for another 10 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a container. Place it in your freezer for about 5 hours to completely firm up. Serve chilled- fast, easy, delicious, and absolutely fantastic!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream

It is packed with sweet, rich cream, a fragrant splash of dark chocolate, and some crunchy chocolate cookies. This classic recipe is a large crowd pleaser. Additionally, it is one of the easiest flavors to make at home. The crushed up chocolate cookies and additional bits make it extremely delectable.

To prepare it, take a large bowl. Combine 2 cups of heavy cream, 1 cup of whole milk, and 2/3 cups of granulated sugar.

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a large pan. Heat over medium flame until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Add 1/2 cup of dark chocolate and mix well. Next, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. Allow it to run for 20 minutes. Next, place the chocolate cookies into a gallon size plastic bag.

With the help of a rolling pin, break up the cookies.

Store the pieces in the freezer. Next, freeze your ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

When it is nearly finished freezing, pour the frozen pieces of chocolate cookies in your machine. Allow it to mix thoroughly. When it is done, add some chocolate chips.

Then store it in an air tight container. Allow it to freeze for about 4 hours. Serve chilled- citrus, chocolate chips, yummy, and, of course, chocolaty!

Keep It Simple

With a little ingredient control, and just the right amount of sweetness, your kids can have a great tasting frozen delight that is not as bad for them as store bought ice cream. There are tons of yummy ice cream recipes online that you can kids can prepare in your own home. You can reduce the fat and the sugar and still provide something that they will go nuts for.

Pastry Ideas For Your Kitchen

Pastry Ideas For Your Kitchen

The beautiful thing about pastry dough or crust is that you can incorporate it into many different dishes. It is probably most commonly associated with the dessert menu, but you can construct many different courses with this ingredient. We will start things off in the kitchen by preparing three completely varying dishes with the recipes below.  This will give you a good starting point from which to expand and experiment with ingredients while you cook.  It is much easier to use a store bought, pre-made pie crust, but it is measurably more enjoyable to make your own from scratch. Below are some recipes that you can try in your kitchen that show off the different ways in which you can use pastry crust. From sweet desserts to savory main dishes, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Beef Pot Pie

Yes a pot pie is a wonderful way to use pastry dough and there is nothing sweet about this savory dish.

Ingredients

  • – 1 refrigerated pie crust (please follow softening directions)
  • – 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • – 3/4 pound of boneless sirloin beef steak cut into 1/2 cubes
  • – 1/2 chopped onion
  • – 1 jar (12 oz.) of beef gravy
  • – 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • – 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • – 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • – 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
  • – 2 cups of frozen hash browns (southern-style, 32 oz. package)

Cooking Instructions

1) Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Following the instructions on the package, prepare the two-crust pie by using a 9-inch pie pan.

3) Place oil in a large skillet and cook over medium to high level heat until hot. Add beef and onion. Stir until beef is brown. Drain accordingly.

4) Add gravy, cornstarch, sugar, and pepper to a small bowl of your choosing and mix well. Once mixed, pour the mixture into the skillet. Add the hash browns and vegetables to the skillet and stir at a slow pace. Cook for 5 minutes or until the frozen vegetables have properly thawed.

5) Once the mixture has cooked, promptly spoon it into the pie crust pan. Use the second pie crust to cover and seal the mixture. Cut small slits in various places on the top layer of the crust.

6) Bake the pie at a temperature of 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Please allow 10 minutes of cooling time prior to serving.

If you would like to make your own crust instead of frozen you can check out this recipe homemade pot pie crust.

Monkey Bread

Ingredients

  • – 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • – 3/4 cup of sugar (white)
  • – 2 packages of biscuit dough (refrigerated if possible)
  • – 1/2 cup of butter
  • – 1/2 cup of brown sugar

Cooking Instructions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Spray 8-10 muffin cups with cooking spray.

3) In a bowl of your choosing, stir the cinnamon (one tablespoon) and sugar until blended.

4) Remove biscuits from packaging and cut into quarters. Place dough into the cinnamon and sugar mixture one piece at a time until adequately coated.

5) Place coated biscuit pieces into the muffin cups. No more than three to five pieces per cup.

6) Place the butter, brown sugar, and one tablespoon of cinnamon, in a microwavable glass bowl and microwave until the butter has melted. Blend the mixture and lightly pour the liquid over each muffin cup.

7) Bake the bread until the tops are golden brown. Cooking time should be roughly 20 minutes. Please allow for a 10 minute cooling period before removing the bread from each cup.

Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients

  • – 1/4 cup butter (chilled if possible)
  • – 2 1/2 cups of cinnamon bun/roll baking mix
  • – 1/2 cup of milk
  • – 1 egg
  • – 2 tablespoons of softened margarine
  • – 3 tablespoons of sugar (white)
  • – 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • – 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • – 1 tablespoon of milk

Cooking Instructions

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2) Apply grease to an 8-inch square cooking pan.

3) Cut butter into 1/4 inch squares.

4) Using a bowl of your choice, add butter and baking mix. Coat butter with mix until each square is coated.

5) Add egg and 1/2 cup of milk to a mixing bowl and beat thoroughly. Pour mixture into bowl containing the butter and baking mix.

6) Take the newly formed dough and place it on a cutting board that has been coated with baking mix. Roll dough in order to coat. Fold and knead the dough 10 to 12 times. Roll into a 15 x 8 rectangle if possible.

7) Add a touch of margarine to the dough as well as a light sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. Cut dough into 12 slices.

8) Place the final product on the aforementioned cooking pan and bake until golden brown for 15 to 20 minutes. Please allow 15 minutes of cooling time.

9) Mix powdered sugar and one tablespoon of milk until a smooth texture is reached. Drizzle the mixture over each bun.

As you can see, there are many wonderful ways that you can make use of pastry dough. We hope that this was a tasty introduction and you try cooking one of these in your own kitchen. There is nothing quite like the flaky goodness of the perfectly browned crust. Stay tuned for more if you have a serious sweet tooth as we get some ice cream into the mix.