Tuesday, September 20, 2011

High End Appetizers: Right from your toaster oven

It's confession time again.  Sometimes it takes me a while to see the usefulness in some types of kitchen equipment.  Take, for instance, the toaster oven.

In years past, I would have railed against the use of a counter-top oven. After all, I can make a pretty awesome pizza right in my regular oven.  And I have a toaster that makes seriously fine toast. And bagels. And English muffins. So, why would I want another gadget to take up valuable counter space?

But, I've recently come around.  The fact is, toaster ovens are actually a great solution for energy-conscious, small-space cooking.  And I'm learning that they can be pretty handy to have around the house.  Having become the lucky owner of a pretty snazzy West Bend 6-slice Convection Toaster Oven, I've started looking for ways to use it to make our lives a little bit easier.  And greener, to boot.  
 So far, we use our toaster oven to:
  1. Save energy - a typical toaster oven uses about half the energy of a regular oven
  2. Keep our kitchen cool on hot days - it doesn't give off nearly as much heat as your oven will.
  3. Prevent stress on holidays, or on other days when you could really use a second oven - you can bake a side dish in the toaster oven while the oven is full of turkey and stuffing.
  4. Dehydrate fruits, veggies, or herbs - many large ovens only go down to 200°F which can be too high. A counter-top oven goes lower, so it's perfect for sensitive items (be sure to rotate them regularly).
  5. Help yeast doughs to rise - since the inside of the toaster oven can be warmed slightly, and is draft free, this is the perfect place to leave that dough.
  6. Re-heat left-overs - so much better than a microwave, especially for items that you want to come out crispy.
Even better, I've started using the toaster oven to whip up small batches of snacks.  

Got the urge to melt a bit of cheese on top of those crackers?  Ouila!  The amazing toaster oven gets it done - often in less time than my beloved gas oven.

Company shows up unexpectedly?  Why not toast up a few dozen slices of French bread for impromptu bruschetta?    

Or how about something a bit fancier?   Sure, we can do that.  In fact, here are three seriously simple appetizers we've created using wonton wrappers.  These delicious nibbles would be pretty perfect for your next cocktail party, but they're also easy enough to whip up for a Sunday afternoon snack -- (dare I say?) especially if you have a toaster oven.
First, take your wonton wrappers and nestle them into a mini muffin pan to give them a cupped shape (note, a half-size muffin pan fits best in your toaster oven). Bake them at 350F for about 7-8 minutes, or until they're browned and crisped.  Once they've cooled, you can fill them with any number of great fillings.

We prepped three different types in honor of the West Bend Company's 100th Anniversary Celebration, which is coming up this weekend (more information below):

Pulled pork with candied jalapeno peppers
Goat cheese with dried sour cherries and sliced almonds
Maple ricotta with crumbled bacon and rosemary

Speaking of Parties, You're Invited: 
For 100 years, The West Bend Company has developed exceptional small electric cooking appliances from the same west bend in the Milwaukee River as when the company first started back in 1911.  In celebration of their centennial,  they’re throwing quite the party. The shindig takes place this Sunday, September 25th and is completely free and open to the public. Start off your day with a free pancake and Klement’s Sausage brunch, take in a family movie (with free popcorn), and be sure to take some time to check out the “Sale of the Century” featuring West Bend and other Focus Products Group items for up to 50% off retail prices. More information about the West Bend Company's 100th Anniversary Celebration is available on Facebook.

And now for the fun part!  We get to give one of our lucky readers the chance to win a West Bend Convection Toaster Oven of his or her very own!!  

For your chance to win, just leave us a comment letting us know how you'd use this handy dandy toaster oven.

Rules:  All comments must be received by Monday evening, September 26th, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. CST  Winners will be announced
on Facebook before the end of the day on Tuesday, September 27th.  Entrants must provide a working email address in their comment or blogger profile to win.  Limited to citizens of the U.S. and Canada. 

Full Disclosure:  Although we were given West Bend Company products free of charge for the purpose of this review and giveaway, all opinions expressed in this review are our own. 
Creative Commons License
©BURP! Where Food Happens

21 comments:

  1. Hey Lo - I don't need another toaster oven, so keep my name out of the running to win. But I thought this was funny because I've always felt this way about microwaves, being that its use should be for heating up and nothing else. But I was recently at a friend's house who served this great steak meal. It was really good. And whadya know...she made it in the microwave. Now granted, she has a very high end microwave with all the whistles and bells, but still.

    Anywaaay, I do use my toaster oven for a lot of things. As long as you're not serving an army, why not use it instead of the regular oven? I love those wonton apps.

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  2. I'd make bacon in that oven, or cupcakes. Or just bacon cupcakes. ;)

    But I really just popped on to tell you that apparently there is pepper bacon from that guy now too. I'm getting some next week, so I will definitely let you know how it is. Oh, and I got the story about the place etc about everything!

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  3. I love toaster ovens. The one I have now gets continuous. French fries, pizza, steaks, tater tots, burgers and of course toast! I don;t know what I would do with out a toaster oven. I would love to have another one!

    Hope I win!

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  4. I would use it for baked sweet potatoes, pizza, frozen dinners.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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  5. Love the wanton wrapper idea...will try it!

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  6. I haven't had a toaster oven since I lived in a dorm! I suppose I'd have to start using it like I did WAY back in the last century, for practically everything.

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  7. I love toaster ovens for those days that you don't feel like turning on your oven for smaller items. I love to make fries and other sides like rolls when the oven is either tied up or I only need a few.

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  8. I think it would make it so easy to whip up meals & snacks for my young children at home - homemade mini pizzas, grilled cheese, banana boats???

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  9. I'd use this toaster oven to make english muffin and pita pizzas! Yum!

    xxdancingdiva007xx(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  10. I'll be living in a studio apartment so space is premium! My conventional oven also leaves a lot to be desired.

    Bruchetta sounds absolutely delicious so maybe I would start there, then garlic bread, and a left turn at tuna melts, before diving into those mouth watering wonton appetizers you've got pictured above.

    Oh the possibilities!

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  11. I make small batches of hot appetizers all the time and the toaster oven would be much easier to use for this.

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  12. OH! I would use the toaster oven for baking (great idea btw!) and for reheating restaurant leftovers. My fav way to use it is to toast my bagel and then melt cheese on top. Yum!

    mimirubin6@gmail.com

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  13. oh, my goodness! I love your Crispy Wonton Appetizers! I think I would make your recipe for Pulled pork with candied jalapeno peppers--sounds delicious!
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    aleq13@gmail.com

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  14. Football season! Would love to use this for all the yummy apps to cook for football season.

    Amanda Leach
    amandalm21@gmail.com

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  15. You know all I can think about is how handle that would be if we remodel our kitchen, I could put it in the dining room to use while the oven is out of order!

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  16. Oh I would so make some kind of baked fish. It would work. :) But these appetizers look great.

    anna (at)annasrecipebox.com

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  17. This is fantastic!!! I can't wait to do this...only thing is I need a toaster oven! ;)
    Tkoszyczarek@gmail.com

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  18. I would make some little pizzas or other snacks for the kids!

    thransom@gmail.com

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  19. These look awesome and much lower calorie than the fried wontons I've made before.

    I use a hamburger, ketchup, sharp cheddar cheese filling. I'm going to give this method a try.

    Thanks for the idea! I love trying new recipes.

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  20. I love toaster ovens for those days that you don't feel like turning on your oven for smaller items. I love to make fries and other sides like rolls when the oven is either tied up or I only need a few.

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