Oven Too Small? Making Everything Fit

The neatest thing in my house is my oven. It’s a strange statement to make, but I am happy to explain myself. Our house was built in 1958; my husband and I are the third owners. Things have changed, painting has happened, floors have been redone, but two original things remain: the porcelain coated steel kitchen cabinets and my oven. (Oh yeah, and the powder blue bathtub in the upstairs bathroom – that’s from the 50s too.)

Back to my oven. Although skeptical when I first toured the house, I am now begging my husband to let me keep it when he remodels the kitchen. It’s made by GM (yes, the car company) and has a wonderful ticking sound because the timer is broken. It has no “preheat light”, so you have to watch the coils inside the oven; when they click and go from bright red to black, you know it’s preheated. The best part is, when it says it’s at 350 degrees, it means 350 degrees (I burned the first 3 things I tried to cook in it.)

The one problem is it’s not a normal size oven. We can’t go to our local take n bake pizza shop and buy a 16″ pizza because it won’t fit. But that’s okay, I still love my oven. However, I do experience some difficulty when hosting a dinner party or holiday; I can never fit everything in it.

I know there are others like me, hence the article. Below is a list of suggestions, tips, and recipes to help fit everything into your kitchen appliances come holiday time.

1) Use your slow cooker. For those of you who have visited my website or read my articles, you know that I love my crock pot. Use your slow cooker for the vegetables, potatoes, soup, or even dessert! Or if you prefer and it’s large enough put the meat in your slow cooker and use your oven for the side dishes.

2) Use every slow cooker you own. Much like #1, but if you have more than one crock pot, why not use them all? Talk about freeing up oven space! Remember, all you need is an outlet; it really doesn’t matter where. I remember being a little girl during the holidays at my aunt’s house; she would put potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil in one of her slow cookers and plug it in outside on the porch. Dinnertime came, and voila! we had baked potatoes.

3) Don’t forget about your fondue pot. If you have one, this is a great tool as well; perfect for warm appetizers. Safety can be an issue, so make sure you’re extremely careful and keep the flame and pot out of reach of children and clumsy relatives.

4) Remember your grill. Grab a 9×13 glass dish, throw in some olive oil and fresh chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, peppers, zucchini and mushrooms. Add a few seasonings or an easy marinade like a dash of your favorite Italian or Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, cover with aluminum foil, and cook on the grill over a low flame for 25 minutes. Tasty crisp vegetables without crowding your oven!

5) Time things right. Of course you all know this by now, but timing is everything and especially when cooking. Think of what will hold heat longer if you need to warm some bread at the last minute. Or, use your microwave as an insulator. If you take something out of the oven, put it in your microwave and shut the door. The food will stay somewhat warmer than it would sitting out on your kitchen counter.

On to the recipes! I listed the grilled vegetable recipe above (see #4), but below I’ve listed a couple of slow cooker side dish recipes.

Creamy Herb Potatoes

Slow Cooker Vegetables

Peanut Butter Fudge Cake

Berry Fruit Dessert

To view the above recipes and more, please visit this article on my website at Making Everything Fit. You will even see pictures of my oven!

So enjoy your holiday, use as many different kitchen warming appliances as you can, and you’ll guarantee a meal where everything fits.

Natalie Schloesser is a work at home mom who has gained renewed interest in crock pot cooking. For her crock pot recipes, a variety of other recipes, helpful hints, cooking tips, and much more visit www.natalies-recipes.com.

About Mary Ann

Mary Ann Kelley has been creating meal plans online for over 15 years, first as part of TheHomeSchoolMom's cooking resources for busy moms and later on Menus4Moms, which has been highlighted by "Diner's Journal," The New York Times' Blog on Dining Out, and PBS Parents' "Kitchen Explorer."

Mary Ann loves cooking and she loves planning/organizing, so meal planning is a natural intersection of the two. She believes her mission for the meal plans is being fulfilled when visitors let her know that she has helped them save time and money by teaching them to plan ahead and become more efficient in the kitchen.

When Mary Ann is not cooking or publishing, she enjoys reading, researching genealogy, and traveling.

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