A Week of Toaster Oven Cooking & Meal Plan – May 17, 2015

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013After going months without an oven, we found a great deal on a toaster oven at a garage sale.  It cost a whole $1.  For that price I was willing to take a gamble as to whether it would work, and how well.  Turns out it has been working fantastically.  The first few time we used it was for toasting croissants and other larger bread items.  Last week, I decided to get more daring and try actually cooking in it.

The first thing I tried were the rest of the frozen croissants in the freezer.  These croissants were at the end of their time; their taste was okay, but they were old enough not to raise like they should have done.  I decided to use these as my first ‘bread’ because I was willing to sacrifice them if they did not turn out right.  🙂  As it so happens, they came out great.  They were a bit small, but that had nothing to do with the toaster oven and everything to do with the age of the dough.

I also tried pizza.  First a frozen pizza, then a fresh pizza made into two smaller square pizzas …

small pizza for toaster oven

… and tator tots (should have sprayed the pan first as they stuck) …

tator tots

… before moving on to larger dishes.  By this point I had learned that the back of my toaster oven was warmer than the front.  I also realized that not all of my baking pans fit into the toaster oven, so I would have to keep that mind when planning the meals.

My first larger entree was a meatloaf.  This is one of the meals we had really missed not being able to make.  Turning them into meatloaf patties and cooking them on the stove top was not the same as a loaf.  Perhaps it had to do with the extra time baking allowed the flavors to mix.  Either way, I was very much hoping it would work in the toaster oven.

Looking at the toaster over, I knew the top of the meatloaf would be close to the source of heat.  The bacon would be at risk of burning while the middle was still cooking.  To avoid this I made the loaf wider and shorter.  This gave more room above the bacon and less distance to the center of the loaf.  I set the temperature to cook to be the same as if it was in my regular oven.

It turned out great!  So great, in fact, that I did not get a chance to take a picture.

beef stew in pot from toaster oven

My next test was a bit different – beef bourginion.  This beef stew starts out on the stove top, then moves to the oven for a few hours to finish cooking.  I normally use the same pan on the stove top and in the oven, but knew it would not fit.  Instead, I started it out in a pan, then transferred it to an oven safe dish whose size I had tested before hand.  By lowering the cooking rack, the dish was able to fit in perfectly.

There was some splattering of juices, as the stew did not have much extra head space in the dish.  This was easily wiped out though.  (Even though the dish above came out looking less than fantastic, it was easy to clean up and tasted great.)

In the end, I became a firm believer in cooking with the toaster oven.  While it does take up some counter space, it is smaller in size and did not heat up the room like the oven does.  I foresee this being a great appliance to use in the summer time, even being able to move it onto the porch to cook if needed.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

The upcoming week is a busy one.  New therapy appointment for Jack, another appointment for George, last day of school for George and finishing up things with Jack (though that is pretty unofficial) before Summer begins, Olaf is coming for one whole day this week, and we will begin to try to form a routine for summer.  Also, my husband has a big test due early on that he has been studying for.  This is not the week for trying new meals.  🙂

Breakfast:

  1. Shakes
  2. Eggs, toast, fruit
  3. Cereal
  4. Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
  5. Shake
  6. Cream of Wheat
  7. Eggs, toast, fruit, bacon

Lunch:

  1. Kheema: Indian ground beef with peas, rice
  2. OYO: sandwiches
  3. Chinese Style BBQ Pork
  4. Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, baked potatoes, steamed carrots
  5. Meatball Curry, rice, beets, peas
  6. Minute Steak, beets, carrots, peas
  7. Pizza

Supper:

  1. Soup and Sandwiches
  2. Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala, rice
  3. Salad
  4. Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Taco, refried beans, rice
  5.  Salad
  6. Basic Crepes
  7. Leftovers

 

Linked up with:

This Week For Dinner, OrgJunkie, TheModestMom, and MommyRunFast

 

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