4 reasons you should get a toaster oven

KitchenAid toaster oven
Along with toaster oven staples like mini pizzas and garlic bread, you can make a variety of tasty food and treats with one.

Up until a few months I thought a toaster oven would just be another item to clutter my limited counter space (and I knew one wouldn’t replace my regular toaster or my microwave). My feelings changed after I was sent a KitchenAid 12″ Convection Bake Countertop Oven to test and I found myself gravitating to it many times a week.

Here are the four reasons why I got hooked on it and why I now recommend getting one.

Helping hand for big meals

The first “aha” moment during my test of the KitchenAid toaster oven came when we were hosting a big family dinner for my son’s birthday. With our regular oven stuffed, we were able to properly cook (not nuke) appetizers and smaller dishes inside the toaster oven without missing a beat. This not only cut our time spent in the kitchen down, it also meant we were able to serve everything hot all at once. I can see this being a lifesaver at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

RELATED: Quick and easy mini (naan) pizza recipe

Take it anywhere

While most toaster ovens are too large to keep out on the counter on a daily basis, they are small and light enough to lug around quite easily. Even the KitchenAid model, which is pretty big, can be dragged outside to use on a hot day (when you really want mini pizzas and don’t want extra heat in your house) or brought over to a relatives house to help with a large meal. We took ours on a recent trailer camping trip and it came in super handy.

Save energy

A toaster oven uses about half the energy of a regular oven, and as I mentioned above – you can take it outside so you’re not adding extra heat to your home on a hot summer day. Because it’s smaller, it also takes less time to preheat and cook food. That said, a microwave still uses less energy than a toaster oven (but doesn’t cook food as well in my opinion).

Make tasty food

Along with toaster oven staples like mini pizzas and garlic bread, you can make a variety of tasty food and treats with one. Hamilton Beach have a few good recipe ideas posted on their website and CookingDetective.com has a list of 21 toaster oven recipes that should keep you busy.

Do you use a toaster oven? Have a preferred brand? Share your thoughts (and recipes) in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Poll: Do you fix or replace broken things?

Broken VCR

A few months ago the water dispenser on my KitchenAid refrigerator stopped working. The fridge is not that old and I really didn’t want to spend money on a new one (one of the reasons we bought this particular model was for the water/ice dispenser). I researched the issue and it turned out to be a simple part in the back that I could order from Sears for about $100 and replace on my own. It took a couple of hours and was not the easiest thing to do, but when the job was done I felt great about my accomplishment and I now smile every time I get myself a glass of water.

Between then and now I’ve tackled many busted up items. Just this past weekend I fixed both the powerhead for my central vacuum system (turned out the motor needed a good cleaning with a can of compressed air to get it running again) and my Nintendo Wii (which needed the power brick reset via a GFCI outlet). A few years ago I would have just gone out and replaced these items without thinking twice. Older, wiser, cheaper, and more environmentally conscious, I now try to fix everything first instead of throwing it to the curb.

In this disposable era, what do you do when something breaks? Do you try to fix it or have it fixed or do you toss it out and buy new? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments.

Broken VCR image at top courtesy of flickr user ClintJCK and used under a Creative Commons license. Check out ClintJCK’s WordPress.com blog here