Toaster ovens cut cost, heat


POSTED: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To save energy, we recommend using small appliances such as microwave ovens, toaster ovens, slow cookers and crockpots when cooking small quantities of food. Cooking a small meal in a typical toaster oven will cost about 50 percent less than if cooked in a conventional electric oven. And using a toaster oven instead of your full-size oven will keep your kitchen cooler, too.

We tested the Black & Decker InfraWave Speed Oven, which utilizes infrared light technology. Infrared light provides almost instant heating, eliminating the need for preheating, and it cooks foods up to 50 percent faster than conventional toaster and full-size ovens. It can cook a frozen pizza to perfection and cook and reheat foods better and faster than a conventional oven.

What's nice about this oven is it's large enough to roast a whole chicken and can broil steaks. Owners should be sure to follow the instruction booklet, as cooking times will differ from conventional and toaster ovens.

Convection toaster ovens are also energy and time savers because they use a small fan to circulate hot air in the oven, allowing foods to cook more evenly and quickly—about 30 percent faster than conventional ovens. There are many convection ovens on the market with an array of features. Prices range from about $40 to more than $300.

Tips for purchasing a toaster oven:

» Make sure you have ample counter space. Toaster ovens usually require three or four inches of clearance in back because of the heat produced.

» Decide whether you need a broil setting, as not all models have it. This feature is usually found on midrange to premium toaster ovens.

» Make cleanup easier. A removable, a slide-out crumb tray (rather than a hinged tray) and a nonstick or continuous-clean interior make for easier cleaning.

» Look for safety features. A bell timer and auto shut-off can help prevent kitchen fires.

Here are a few recipes that are fine for making in a toaster oven.

Easy Mayonnaise Baked Chicken

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup cornflake crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan. Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper. Coat chicken with mayonnaise mixture, then roll in crumbs. Place chicken in a baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until done. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 500 calories, 31 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 200 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 45 g protein

Oven Roasted Garlic Potatoes

3/4 pound red or russet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut potatoes in 1-inch cubes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine potatoes, garlic, oil and rosemary in an 8-inch baking dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roast until potatoes are tender and crusty, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 2.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including salt to taste): 200 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 4 g protein

Barbecued Individual Meat Loaves

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Dash of pepper
6 tablespoons chopped onions
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan.

Combine ground beef, bacon, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons onion and milk. Form into small individual loaves and place in prepared baking dish.

Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over meat. Bake for 45 minutes. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 350 calories, 19 g total fat, 7 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 1200 mg sodium, 14 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 29 g protein

This collection of recipes is presented weekly by Hawaiian Electric Co. More recipes from HECO's database are available online at www.heco.com.