It's possible to cook dessert and dinner in the same oven, at the same time, when you do the math. Cooking meats, vegetables and other foods together works well when you know how long it will take for each food to cook and plan your meal accordingly. Add a dessert that bakes as you're dining, and top off your meal with a sweet ending.
Combining Foods to Cook in the Oven
When you cook a meal in your oven, consider which meats, vegetables or other foods — such as pasta or rice — make good combinations. Choose foods that are appealing when cooked together, and that have similar cooking times. Because meats usually take longer to cook than vegetables, rice or pasta, choose the meat first. Determine how long to cook the meat and when to add other foods so you finish cooking everything at the same time. Casseroles are always a good option for one-dish, oven-baked meals, but usually require precooking the meat. Browned ground beef or ground turkey and stewed chicken are good choices for casseroles. Choose a baked dessert to round out your meal.
A beef roast, depending on its type, size and the degree of doneness you prefer can take from 45 minutes to 3.5 hours to roast. Ham's cooking time also depends on its size and type, and can range from 4 to 25 minutes per pound. A small, whole roasting chicken will be done in about an hour, while a large chicken requires 2.5 hours. Pork chops should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. That can translate into 8 minutes for thin, boneless loin chops to 20 minutes for thick sirloin chops.
Choosing Vegetables and Other Foods
Bake white potatoes for a quick, easy side dish to accompany a beef roast or roast chicken. Choose baked sweet potatoes to accompany ham or pork chops. A large white or sweet potato bakes in about an hour at 350 F. Combine whole, small red potatoes, whole carrots and celery stalks with a beef roast or a roasting chicken in one pan. The vegetables will be very tender by the time the meat has cooked. This one-pan method works best for meat that must cook for about 1.5 hours. Add precooked rice or pasta, such as rotini or elbow macaroni, to browned ground beef or ground turkey, mix in a can of diced or stewed tomatoes, and add a bag of frozen peas for a quick casserole that will cook in about 30 minutes at 350 F.
Choosing a Dessert
Complete your oven-baked meal with a baked dessert. When you plan to serve your dessert following the meal, it's best to avoid anything that requires a lot of cooling time or additional preparation. Desserts that are served warm or hot are ideal for this purpose. Choose a dish such as South African roly-poly baked dessert, jam-filled sweet rolls topped with a sweet, buttery sauce. While your main dish is cooking, prepare the dessert for the oven. To determine when to put your dessert into the oven, use the baking time specified in your recipe and subtract 20 to 30 minutes. For example, if your dessert bakes in 45 minutes, subtract 30 minutes, and put it into the oven 15 minutes before you remove the main dish. This allows 30 minutes for your family to enjoy the meal and your dessert will be finished baking when you're ready to serve it.
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