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Miele steam oven comes with preprogrammed menu options

Solve dinner dilemmas with a food-driven menu system that uses steam to cook complete meals in 30 minutes.

Steam: it's not just for cleaning anymore. Miele

I don't know about your family, but mine expects to be fed several times each day. And as much as I try to be an organized mom, I still find myself scrambling to get dinner on the table while juggling third-grade homework and toddler tantrums. So when I hear about appliances that offer to cook dinner faster without nuking it, I'm interested.

Miele's steam ovens let you prepare foods you might not have thought of as candidates for steaming. Omelets, pasta, and risotto were all listed, which surprised me.

Press the interactive control pad to engage the MasterChef menu and create an entire meal, such as poultry, a starch, and vegetables. The oven prompts chefs to add dishes as necessary, and the steam-powered cooking can have most meals fully prepared in about half an hour.

Of course, no one wants appliances that think they know everything, so you can still create your own cooking programs to get Grandma's cheese soufflé just right. Better yet, save and store your own cooking programs so that even your personalized dishes are just one touch away.

If you have a big family--or a love of entertaining--you'll appreciate the roomy, trilevel interior that lets you prepare food for about eight people. Nonperishables can be set in the oven in the morning; the timer and delayed start functions ensure you'll come home to a hot, healthy meal. And if you run late, the oven's warming feature keeps food warm, although it only runs for 15 minutes.

Miele says the oven can also be used to defrost food and disinfect baby bottles, but I'd worry that defrosting food so abruptly invites salmonella. If you are disinfecting baby bottles with steam, be sure to put them in a container that you can easily remove from the oven afterward so that you're not reaching all the way to the back to pull out strays.

Steam seems to be the next big thing in ovens and other appliances, and Miele's offering has some useful extras, so it may be worth checking out.