Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summer Cookin'

The weather is starting to heat up around here, which means there's one place I don't want to heat up... my kitchen.

There are two things I've tried recently to help keep the heat out of the kitchen:

(1) Bake using the toaster oven!

I recently made Berry Baked Oatmeal in the toaster oven -- it was so nice to have a warm breakfast but not heat up our little apartment!

I watched it carefully, cooked the breakfast on the bottom rack and adjusted the temperature and cooking time a bit, but I did it with success!  And, will certainly be trying it again since my little 9x9 pan fits perfectly in the toaster oven.

I'm interested in trying out more things in my toaster oven this summer:
  • roasting veggies/potatoes
  • making oven fries (a summer "staple" when we grill)
  • brownies!
  • muffins
  • quick breads
  • pasta bakes
  • bread sticks
  • pot pies
  • quiches
  • and cookies!

(2) Only boil foods for a few minutes.

I've tried making pasta with only 3 minutes of "heat" time.  Dump your pasta in the water right away and cover the pan.  Then, turn on the burner long enough to heat the water to a slow boil (with my gas stove, that takes about 2 minutes).  Allow the pasta to slow boil for about another minute.  Next, turn off the burner.

Your pasta will keep cooking in the warm water.

Cooking this way does take more time, but it really cuts down on the heat/steam in the kitchen.

I've also tried this with potatoes, boiling them just a little longer (~8 minutes) and allowing them to sit for 30-40 minutes.

Saving Energy in Addition to Heat -- 

Not only does it keep the heat out -- but, it cuts down on your energy use too!
  • You know your oven is the "hummer" of the kitchen, right?!  
It's the most fuel inefficient portion of our kitchen, and the stove top isn't much better.

If you do need to use the oven, consider trying a similar approach -- place the food in the oven without preheating it.  Then, bake (especially a pasta dish of sorts) for half or 3/4 of the cooking time.  Turn off the oven and do not open the door.  Allow the dish to continue cooking in the warm oven as it cools.  This works wonderfully for most things, except breads/baked goods.    
  • And, you know that water boils at 212 degrees, right?   
Unless in a time crunch, there's no need to "rapidly boil" because the water temperature of boiling is still 212 degrees -- you're not making it any warmer by seeing more bubbles.  Instead, we're just using more energy (and releasing more heat into our kitchens).

So... heat it to a slow boil and turn the gas/electric burner off.  You'll save tons of energy in the process, and keep your kitchen cooler!

That's my kitchen-tip for today... for more, visit Tammy's Kitchen Tip Tuesday.


  1. Thanks for the tips! I never thought to do a quick boil with pasta, what a neat idea! Especially if you know what you're making ahead of time :)

    ~Aubree Cherie

  2. These are great tips! And that berry baked oatmeal looks like a must try!

  3. Handy pasta boiling tip!!
    I love my toaster oven too. We got it as a wedding present, and I am working on recipes for it.
    Brownies failed...I think the rack was too high (despite what the manual said)
    Potato wedges worked wonderfully.
    Baked chicken breasts worked great as well.
    It's an awesome little piece of kitchen equipment!

  4. Just using the toaster oven is a really good idea - it's often overlooked!

  5. Great tips! I will be trying these this summer, as we don't have a/c here! :)

  6. Ooh, the pasta one is new to me. I don't know why I didn't think of it. We, too, get very hot in the summer and I am always trying to not heat the house with the oven and stove and all that. I use my toaster oven religiously; but even that sometimes seems too much.

    I love using the BBQ for everything. I'm going to try pizza's this summer (i just heard about that) on it and of course, hamburgers, hot dogs, and I'm going to experiment with all sorts of other things.

    It gets WAY TOO HOT to cook!

  7. We hit 80 last weekend, so I started thinking about summer cooking. Of course, we are going to get snow again this Friday, so I have a little while before I actually have to transition to warm weather cooking. :)

  8. Thanks for that pasta tip, friend! I'll try that one this summer.

    Not sure if our toaster oven is tall enough to fit a pan of baked oatmeal in it, but I'm making that soon nevertheless!

  9. I LOVE my toaster oven! I have one of the larger models, and I do probably 90% of all my baking in it. Great to see there are other people as well that use it for more than making toast :)

  10. I like to start my water boiling in the microwave. I get it good and hot, then dump it in the pot to finish boiling. It's a lot quicker and cooler.

  11. I love the slow pasta boil tip. I definitely need to try that one. Another trick I pull to heat water more efficiently is putting as much as I can in a bowl in the microwave, then putting a small amount to start on the stove. After the microwave water is boiling, I pour it in the pot. This way, the microwave is speeding up the heating time with very little energy being used.


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you; especially how you're finding JOY in your kitchen.

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