A toaster oven can be a fun and flavor-enhancing addition to your kitchen. Think of it as a cross between a microwave and a toaster. The microwave can quickly heat a meal and melt toppings like butter and cheese, but tends to make bread, bagels and pizza soft and soggy instead of crisp. The toaster that pops up your breakfast breads, bagels and pastries makes them crispy and golden brown, but melting cheese in your toaster will cause a gooey mess, probably harm your toaster, and possibly even set your kitchen on fire. The handy toaster oven provides the best of both worlds, and there are lots of things you can cook in it.
Toasted bread items with toppings are the most basic items that you should make in your toaster oven, as they taste much better when made in the toaster oven rather than the microwave. Try bagel mini-pizzas topped with tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and pepperoni or vegetables of your choice. You can also toast any hoagie sandwich of your choice with the fillings inside, transforming your cold sandwich to a hot one. Just make sure that any ingredients you want to stay cold, such as your lettuce and tomato, are left off the sandwich until after it is toasted.
There’s no need to stop with bread products, however. Cut hot dogs lengthwise almost all the way through, but leaving one side intact. Then put pieces of cheese into the cut, and toast the entire hot dog in your toaster oven. This works better in the toaster oven than in the microwave because the hot dogs are less likely to explode in the toaster oven. Just make sure you avoid grease fires by using a small pan in the bottom of the oven to catch any dripping grease, and keeping an eye on the hot dogs while they toast so you can take them out right away when done.
Another fun snack to make in the toaster oven is s’mores. Take your small toaster oven pan, line up graham cracker squares in it, put a square or two of your favorite chocolate bar on each cracker, and top with a marshmallow. Toast until the marshmallows start to look brown, then remove and top each s’more with another graham cracker, pressing down to squish the marshmallow and chocolate together. For a yummy variation, instead of using graham crackers, place fresh peach halves with the pits removed on the pan with their empty pit holes facing up, then put the piece of chocolate and marshmallow in the hole where the pit used to be. Get inspired and create your own unique combinations to try out in your versatile new toaster oven at Rookie Kitchen!