The toaster oven is a marvelous appliance when you’re cooking for one or two people, and don’t want to turn on the oven just to bake a single chicken breast.
Here are five easy ways to cook delicious meals and snacks with this underrated kitchen appliance.
Breakfast: Warm Turkey and Gooey Mozzarella English Muffins
This simple yet satisfying breakfast sandwich beats anything you’ll get at a coffee shop en route to work. Protein from the turkey and healthy fats from the avocado will keep your hunger in check, while the spicy mayo, which can be made in advance, will wake up your taste buds. This recipe makes two English muffins, enough for you and your roommate (or you and your hangover).
2 whole wheat English muffins
2 slices mozzarella
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
4 slices turkey breast
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
Sriracha, to taste
1. Slice the English muffins in half and top each of the bottom halves with a slice of mozzarella and two turkey slices.
2. Toast all four halves in the toaster oven until the cheese starts to melt.
3. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with Sriracha until it’s to your liking.
4. Top the toasted muffins with avocado slices and a smear of the spicy mayo.
Mid-Morning Snack: Roasted Spiced Almonds
Forget buying the sugar-laden, honey-roasted nuts and opt for toasted almonds for a healthier snack that you can take to the office. Toasting the almonds intensifies the nuttiness and gives them a better crunch.
1 heaping cup raw almonds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 big pinches cayenne
1. Set the toaster oven to the bake setting at 400°F.
2. In a pan lined with aluminum foil, toss the almonds with the olive oil ensuring that every nut gets evenly coated.
3. Sprinkle salt and cayenne on the almonds and toss again. Spread the almonds out in single layer and bake for 12-14 minutes until the almonds turn a dark brown, but not black.
4. Let cool for five to 10 minutes before serving. Let the almonds cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Lunch: Baked Chicken Fingers with Cucumber-Mango Slaw
Nothing will replace the greasy goodness that is a bucket of fried chicken (NOTHING!), but this baked version uses significantly less oil and still has that satisfying crunch.
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into thick strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 panko crumbs
1/4 cucumber, julliened
1/2 mango, julliened*
Chili flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
1. Set the toaster oven to the bake setting at 425°F.
2. In a small bowl, lightly coat the chicken strips in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine the panko crumbs, parmesan, and Italian seasoning. Dredge the chicken in the crumb mixture, pressing the crumbs into the meat to ensure they’re heavily coated.
4. In a baking pan covered with aluminum foil, line the chicken strips in a single layer. Bake for 8 minutes. Flip, then bake for another 7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely. Let the chicken rest for five minutes.
5. In the meantime, toss the cucumber and mango together. Sprinkle with chili flakes on top. Serve with chicken strips, which go well with dips like Dijon or ketchup.
*Wash the mango and slice the skin off with a paring knife. Slice along the length of the mango, keeping the knife as close to the pith in the middle as possible. Repeat with the other side. You’re now left with two mango halves or “cheeks” and the inedible seed in the middle.
Afternoon Snack: Vegan, Dairy and Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Oat Cookies
These soft and chewy cookies are basically made from a sweet potato that’s been baked, pureed and mashed with rolled oats. They’re essentially teething cookies (my baby niece approves), but I’ve also been passing them off as vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free (as long as the oats came from a gluten-free factory) treats for my friends who suddenly became intolerant to everything. Hey, as long as they taste good, right?
Ingredients (makes about a dozen cookies):
1 medium sweet potato
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1. Set the toaster oven to the bake setting at 400°F.
2. Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
3. Set the toaster oven to 350°F.
4. Remove skin and place in a mixing bowl. Using a hand blender (or a spoon or potato masher) mash the potato to get a creamy consistency. Add in the oats, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices. Mix until well combined.
5. Make Tbsp sized dough balls and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Arrange them so that none of them are touching the edges of the tray or each other. Slightly flatten the cookies with your palm.
6. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to cool completely on a wire rack.
Dinner: Lemon-Pepper Cod with Roasted Vegetable and Kale Salad
Roast whatever vegetables are in season when they’re at their most flavourful (not to mention cheapest) — potatoes, parsnips, beets, sweet peppers — mix it up to keep things fresh and exciting.
1 cod filet
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup summer squash, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup carrot, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup white onion, diced
2 cups kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
1. Preheat the toaster oven to 400°F.
2. In a pan lined with aluminum foil, toss the vegetables with olive oil until everything is evenly coated (about 2 Tbsp). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Remove from oven and pour the vegetables into a bowl to cool.
3. Sprinkle the cod with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place on roasting pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the fish is flaky and no longer translucent. Let the fish rest for 5 minutes before serving.
4. In the meantime in a serving bowl, toss the kale with the warm, roasted vegetables and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Place the cod on top, sprinkle with lemon zest and serve.