My Cuisinart Toaster Broiler Convection Oven is a workhorse
A sleek, stylish gift for the college-bound grad
Are you looking for a handy gift for the college bound graduate or first-time apartment dweller?
Consider the versatility of this counter-top toaster/broiler/convection oven. It may not be glamorous, but it is a gift that continues to give day in and day out, and it's a handsome little devil.
It toasts. It bakes--fast. It broils. In fact, it's so versatile, about the only thing it can't do is popcorn or boil water.
When we moved into our 100-year-old apartment, with very little kitchen counter-top space and only one available kitchen outlet, I had to choose between a microwave and a toaster oven.
Now, I use my toaster oven every single day, and sometimes several times a day, and couldn't imagine living without it, so I gave up my microwave, a decision I have never regretted.
A couple of years ago, my old toaster oven died. We replaced it with this Cuisinart Toaster Oven Broiler with Convection Oven. It is mid-priced, got a good rating from Consumer Reports the year I bought it, and meets all my needs for a small, counter-top oven.
It is sleek, attractive, and a multi-functional workhorse.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner--It's all good
Breakfast. In the morning, it's toast. Or yesterday's leftover croissants, biscuits or muffins. This machine toasts evenly on both sides, unless I forget to set it back to "Bake/Toast" after using it as a convection oven the night before. Meh.
Lunch. For lunch, I often throw last night's leftovers into a small casserole dish, or directly into the baking pan that came with the oven (I line it with baker's parchment for easier cleanup), turn the setting to "Convection," and in fifteen minutes my meal is just-right hot.
Dinner. The convection oven is the best part, apart from the toaster, in my view, because it bakes potatoes and roasts a good-sized tray of mixed vegetables to perfection in about 20 minutes, depending on how large they are. While they're roasting, I can clean the fresh greens, chop some veggies, and toss a salad. Dinner's on the table in no time.
Baking, broiling and keeping food warm
Baking. I baked a fruit betty using one of the recipes in the booklet that came with the oven, and it turned out beautifully, again in less time than the conventional oven would require.
I can't say why I haven't done a lot of baking in the oven. I'm so used to throwing a cake or pie into the gas oven that I don't stop to think that I could have used my little toaster oven. I'll let you know, if I manage to retrain myself, how it works with routine baking chores.
Broiling. Now this is a feature I especially enjoy. Those luncheon leftovers? Throw a little cheese on top, turn the setting to broil, and in just a few minutes I've gussied up my dish like something brand new.
It's excellent for open-faced sandwiches and crisping up leftover bacon, too, which we do still eat once or twice a year in this (almost) vegetarian household.
Warming. Cooking for a crowd? This little oven is a good stand-by warming oven when I'm cooking for the family and have too many things going on top of the stove and in the range oven.
Plenty of room for a casserole dish
One of my favorite features on the Cuisinart Toaster Broiler Oven is that I can use my own glass Pyrex casserole dishes. Whether I'm taking a prepared casserole from the freezer, or leftovers from the fridge, I can bring them to room temperature as I would for my big gas range, and pop them into the toaster oven. They heat in about half the time.
It won't hold a big 13x9 pan, but if you're cooking for two to four, it does very well with the smaller Pyrex dishes.
Easy to clean
One of the big pluses for me is how easy this appliance is to clean and to keep clean. The stainless steel has weathered our busy kitchen quite well. Then there's that pesky problem of cleaning the crumb catcher.
I don't know if you've ever had the kind of toaster oven that has a door that flips down in back. You have to hold the bulky appliance over the sink, open the door, and try to brush all the crumbs out without dropping it. Right? Ugh!
Not this baby! The crumb tray glides smoothly in and out the bottom with plenty of clearance. All you have to do is lift it out, carry it to the compost bucket or sink, dump the crumbs, wash, dry and slip it back into the oven. There are no crumbs falling through the cracks into hard to reach places either. No muss, no fuss. I totally love that!
Dials, whistles and bells
Dials. Like other reviewers, I find the dials a little difficult to read. My eyes are old and it's not easy getting my trifocal glasses at just the right angle to read them. After using the oven for a few months, though, I soon learned where my favorite settings are. Now I pretty much forget that the dials were annoying in the beginning.
Timer. The timer is manual. Set it for anything from 1-30 minutes. It makes a comforting old-fashioned tick-tick-tick as it counts down the time, ending with a single bell that is surprisingly easy to hear without being the least bit annoying. I marvel at that each time I hear it, because I am one who easily misses a one-time bell. When the timer dings, the oven turns itself off.
No-timer setting. If you need a longer baking time and don't want to fiddle with resetting the timer after 30 minutes, you can set the oven to bake or broil without the timer. Just set your everyday kitchen timer instead, and remember to turn the oven off when you take out your masterpiece.
Sure I could have spent a hundred dollars more for this computerized model, with its large readout, but my less-expensive, low-tech model meets all my needs and works hard for me every single day. Overall, for the price, this oven has turned out to be a good buy. I recommend it.
Prices have come down since I bought my oven, and if I were buying today, I would seriously consider this one with its electronic push-buttons and readout.