If there’s one appliance that deserves all glory, honor, and praise on your kitchen counter, it’s the toaster oven. Nothing is as powerful, as versatile, as generous as this lean, mean, cooking machine. It’s the only thing you need, really, to make yourself a happy meal in mere minutes within the confines of your kitchen—whether it’s as tiny as a broom closet or as palatial as Kris Aquino’s. I wonder if she has one. She should have one. And so should you!
Sure, I love my toast paired with salted butter and thick strawberry jam, and I grew up looking forward to eating toast topped with oozing quick-melting cheese and grated Parmesan after school. But my deep affection for the toaster oven really started when I discovered that it does way more than just for toasting bread. It can grill vegetables, roast meats and fish, broil fruits, reheat leftover pizza, caramelize sugar, melt marshmallows, coddle eggs, cook en papillote, and bake just about anything—from cookies to tarts to puddings to miniature cakes. The possibilities are endless.
I’ve also discovered that, through years of practice, using the toaster oven to cook bacon gives you the best results. I’ve tried cooking bacon the usual way on a pan, in the microwave, and even on a griller, but only via the toaster oven does the bacon come out perfectly red and crisp—with the most beautiful curls on its sides. Curls that no hairdresser can ever achieve.
But now that I’ve been trying to eat healthier, and skipping on bacon, I’ve also surprised myself by the things my trusty kitchen bestie has helped me achieve. On most days, in between meals, I crave savory snacks. What do I end up making? Crispy chickpeas. They’re so easy to make and are very versatile. I’ve also made chips of various kinds here: Mushroom, sweet potato, apple, and even kangkong. So much cheaper than buying bags from the supermarket!
I’ve been promoting the toaster oven so much that I even gave one as a wedding gift. I can just go on enumerating its benefits—from how space saving and energy-efficient it is—but my most favorite selling point is how economical each unit is. The toaster oven I’ve been using has been with me for close to four years, and that only cost me less than one thousand bucks. What a great deal, right? It’s an amazing, practical investment that no home should be without. Also, I’ve never even read any negative effects of using a toaster oven, compared to its distant cousin, the microwave. It doesn’t make any disturbing noises while at use, too. The only sound you’d hear is the ding of a bell once you’re done cooking, which is really music to anyone’s ears.
Never underestimate the wonders of the toaster oven. I am guilty of trying to find easier ways of getting things done, and with the toaster oven, cooking has been infinitely effortless. Because the toaster oven produces intense heat, cooking times are relatively shorter. But remember, because of the same level of heat, the chance of burning your food is also higher. That’s exactly why the door of the oven is made out of glass and you can see everything that’s happening inside. Another tip is to cover your food with foil just so the heat isn’t directed on your food throughout cooking time.
My hope is for everyone to find a friend in the toaster oven. It gives me joy when friends end up whipping up a complete meal, from appetizer to dessert, using this appliance. It’s high time you make the most out of it, so you will find below uncomplicated recipes that you can try and even change up based on your preferences. Cheers to the toaster oven! You can thank me later.
1| Crispy Chickpeas
Toss drained canned chickpeas in some olive oil. Sprinkle with your choice of seasonings. (We suggest garlic and paprika or lemon zest and rosemary.) Spread on the baking tray in one layer. Roast until crisp, about 20 minutes.
2| Cheesy Salted Egg Shrimp
Butterly shrimps and arrange on the baking tray. Top each with chopped salted eggs and grated cheese. Bake until cooked and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
3| Roasted Pesto Chicken
Coat chicken quarters with bottled pesto. Marinate for 15 minutes. Roast until cooked, about 30 minutes.
4| Sweet Potato Boats
Rub sweet potatoes with oil. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and make a slit on top of each sweet potato. Fill with corn, beans, and cheese. Bake for another 2 minutes. Drizzle with sour cream.
5| Cheese Bread Pudding
Combine cheese bread, egg, milk, and sugar in a bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Transfer to bake-safe bowls or ramekins. Bake until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Drizzle with honey or pancake syrup.