If you're not a morning person, you'll probably appreciate anything that can improve your morning.
Ellen Levine, editor in chief of Good Housekeeping magazine, showed off the latest breakfast appliances reviewed by the Good Housekeeping Institute on "Good Morning America."
The Good Housekeeping Institute's Food Appliances department evaluated 14 toaster oven models by toasting slice after slice of bread, baking potatoes, meat loaf, cake and cookies, and broiling chicken breasts. The Institute also evaluated the usability of each toaster oven, which includes testing the handle and surface temperatures, critiquing the owner's manual, and reviewing the cleanability, in addition to conducting a general review of the ease of use of the product.
General advice: You don't have to spend a lot to get a great toaster oven. Some of the best performers cost less than $70.
Safety advice: Toaster ovens can cause fires if they're left on. So be sure to unplug yours after every use. And keep the crumb tray clean and free of drippings. If any food bits do ignite (which is one of the most common causes of toaster oven fires), you can pull the plug and wait until the flame goes out before you open the door.
Best Value: Oster 6 Slice Toaster Oven 6239 ($69.99)
Has lots of extras (a safety timer, cord storage, nonstick interior) that you normally find in more expensive toaster ovens.
It excelled at broiling.
Has a crumb tray that pulls out from the front, so it's easy to clean
Pizza Perfect: Rival 6-Slice Counter Top Oven TO600 ($59.99)
It comes with three racks.
It comes with a pizza pan that holds a 12-inch pie. This was the only toaster oven tested that could accommodate a 12-inch pizza.
It comes with a sheet large enough to bake a dozen cookies.
Best Overall: T-Fal Avanté Elite Toaster Oven With Convection OT8080 ($149.99)
You can make dinner and even dessert with this toaster oven, the highest-rated model tested by the Institute.
The convection fan lets the Avanté Elite turn out cookies and cakes as well as most full-size ovens.
It comes with a warming compartment (great for muffins) and a special tool to help you handle heated racks.
To make cleaning easy, the interior surface burns off splatters.
An excellent safety feature: this toaster oven shuts off automatically after use.
It has digital controls that are easy to read and use and an LCD display for time settings and temperature settings.
The sides and handle stay cool enough to touch while the oven is operating.
The Institute tested each wafflemaker by making waffles with a variety of packaged waffle mixes and with recipes from the owner's manuals. The institute also evaluated the usability of the wafflemakers, which includes testing the handle and surface temperatures, critiquing the owner's manual, and reviewing the cleanability, in addition to conducting a general review of the ease of use of the product. In the tests, the Food Appliances department found big differences in taste and texture of the waffles made by various wafflemakers. In some cases, the waffles didn't come out uniformly crispy or they were underbaked or overbaked.
Best for Belgian Waffles: Hamilton Beach Flip 'N Fluff ($24.99)
Not many frills, but consistently made the best Belgian waffles of all the wafflemakers tested -- thick waffles that were evenly crispy on the outside, baked through and tender.
You flip this wafflemaker halfway through cooking, to get even browning.
This wafflemaker was very easy to use.
It has a light to indicate when the waffemaker is preheated.
Best for Thin Waffles: Cuisinart Heart-Shaped Wafflemaker ($50)
Makes cute, thin, heart-shaped waffles that were always baked through in the tests.
It has signal lights to indicate when preheating and baking are complete.
It has six "doneness" settings.
The latest in coffeemakers: cutting edge one-cup models that let you avoid making an entire pot and then either drinking the dregs or throwing away most of it because you didn't have enough coffee drinkers. These new machines require a lot less work, too. They've been available in institutional locations, but just recently have been sold to consumers.
How to use them: When you're ready for a cup, you just fill the tank with water to heat it up, pop in a "pod" (premeasured ground coffee that's contained in a filter -- starting at around 25 cents each) and then push a button. In about a minute, you have a steaming cup of coffee. (Pods come in decaf and regular and with a variety of flavors.)
Testing procedure: The institute measured the temperature of water as it entered the grinds, measured the time to brew coffee, measured the temperature of the brewed coffee, tasted the coffee and evaluated the usability of each coffeemaker, which included critiquing the owner's manual and reviewing the cleanability, in addition to conducting a general review of the ease of use of the product.
Good Housekeeping advice:
Most one-cup coffeemakers are compatible with only certain brands of coffee pods, so if you have a favorite brand of coffee, check to see that the one-cup coffeemaker can make that brand.
For the freshest coffee, look for pods that are individually wrapped in foil. Sometimes the pods are sold in a large foil bag, but once the pod is opened, the pods are exposed to air and they can begin to go stale.
You can make your coffee extra strong. Although the portion of coffee in the pods is fixed, you can adjust the amount of water for a more potent brew -- or for a weaker cup.
Best Value: Melitta One: One Pod Brewer ($49.99)
Can make a 5 ounce cup or an 8 ounce cup.
It also makes tea.
It comes in fun colors (kiwi,mango, red, white, black)
Best Overall: Philips Senseo ($69.99)
Produces great-tasting coffee, with a frothy top.
The easiest one-cup coffeemaker to use of all the machines tested.
Has a convenient two-cup option.
Comes in blue, black and white.