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May 12, 2010 08:57 AM

Hotel Cooking Challenge - two burners, one microwave - ideas?

My friend, Angela, and her husband (and their three cats!) are currently "living" in a hotel until their house closes, so probably another three weeks. All their stuff from their old house is with movers. They are in a nice extended stay type hotel, but she only has two burners and a microwave to work with (no oven or toaster oven). She is a good cook/baker and being pretty creative, but would love more ideas for meals and dessert. She has done pastas, soups, chilis, pan fried/stir fried things, puddings...I assume her pan choices are limited, but probably has the basics (skillet, saucepan, stockpot, glass baking dish). I also assume her spice choices are somewhat limited as she probably doesn't want to fully stock a hotel kitchen!

Any creative ideas out there?


EDIT: just adding a note to say (as I mention down in my reply to rworange) that she is not complaining nor does she feel this is a bad situation, she is just mainly looking for some fun out of the box ideas. :)

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  1. What about turkey and stuffing? Buy turkey cutlets (or chicken for that matter) pan fry the meat, make gravy in the pan and add the meat back in, and make stuffing using the other burner? Could probably nuke some frozen peas or something for a veggie. I am also a big fan of fry bread tacos-- you could do the bread on one burner and the meat and/or beans on the other.

    1. And the problem is?

      I would assume the creativity would be in looking at how to make what she usually makes using the equipment she has.

      She has the frying pans for meat. The microwave makes fish and veggies well. No problem with salads ... either of the green or other variety (potato, etc)

      A nice fruit crisp can be made by microwaving fruit and browning the struesal topping in the frying pan and sprinkling the fruit with it.

      Here's my recipe for stovetop blueberry pie. You can use a ;premade graham cracker crust;results_list
      Where I live now there is no toaster and the other morning breakfast came with toast. It was just toasted using a skillet.

      She could make donuts, churros and things of that sort.

      Depends on where she lives. Buying bulk spices allows for getting small amounts.

      She could make healthy Jello using fruit juice rather than the boxed junk

      'Baked' apples work in the microwave

      Come to think of it, where I currently am living it it too hot for a stove and there are burners and a microwave. The only difference is we have four burners.

      No you can't bake a cake or roast a chicken .... but gee ... even out in the sticks here, I can buy a roast chicken from a store. I guess I am not understanding the limitations. What does she want to cook and can't

      1 Reply
      1. re: rworange

        oh, it's not a horrible situation by any stretch, she was just looking for some fun out of the box ideas. :-) Being a huge baker, if it was me, not having an oven would make me sad. LOL

        maybe some interesting one skillet dinners? I rarely use my microwave, so was wondering what things can be done in there that are normally done with the oven (was thinking desserts). I know you can "bake" in it to some degree, but didn't think it was usually very successful??

        btw, LOVE the blueberry pie idea! Mmmm!

      2. Our family of 4 lived 3-4 months with a m/v and a hot plate while our house was being re-modeled. Does she have access to some kind of refrigerator? I used to buy rotisserie chickens as I didn't have an oven and do lots of stuff with them. Chicken salad, chicken tetrazzini, chicken crepes, chicken enchiladas. If she has the utensils and equipment, she can make chicken soup from multiple carcasses with some fresh veggies (onions, carrots, celery, parsley, parsnips). I don't care for chicken and dumplings, but that would be an option. Chicken paprikash with a concocted sauce of stock, onions, sour cream and paprika.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          yes, she has a fridge, probably not huge, but I'm sure big enough. I like the ideas of making good use of the rotisserie chicken (mentioned by rworange as well). I also like the chicken and dumplings (the northeastern version with drop biscuits).

          I feel for you with the kitchen remodel. My friends up the street just went through the same thing.

          1. re: Scirocco

            The re-model was years ago. The kids were still in elementary school. It did bring us much closer as a family having to overcome the challenge. We still talk about it. Your friends will survive too and have wonderful stories to reminisce at some future point.

        2. If they like Chinese food, this is a perfect time to get more deeply into it. You don't need a million sauces and flavorings (soy sauce, hot chili paste, black vinegar, sherry or Scotch just about do it), and the two burners are all you need. You can even cook rice in the microwave if you have to (follow usual instructions, cook in a mw proof covered container of suitable capacity at 50% power). The Dunlop cookbooks have lots of exciting and relatively simple recipes. I basically learned to cook again when we lived in Taiwan and had similar restrictions (no mw, had a small electric oven that conked out after a very few uses, and an electric frying pan as well as 2 VERY HOT or OFF gas burners). It's a challenge but you can learn a lot by it.

          7 Replies
          1. re: buttertart

            Can you post me your basic sauce recipe, if you have one? That sounds pretty appealing.

            1. re: jvanderh

              It depends on the dish (soy sauce etc are cooked into them as you go). If you want to make a basic sauce for tossing with cold chicken or cut-up cucumbers, 2 parts soy sauce to 1-2 parts vinegar and 1 part sesame oil (forgot this one in list above but it's pretty important), plus finely chopped ginger, sliced scallion, and as much garlic as you like, as much hot sauce/chili garlic sauce as you like, and a sprinkle of sugar makes a nice dressing.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    And if I might ask, how would that translate into a sauce for a hot dish? Just add soy sauce?

                    1. re: jvanderh

                      You could cook the ginger, garlic, and scallion in some oil, add in the hot stuff if you wanted it, add your protein/veg, and pour in the sauce thickened with a tsp or so of cornstarch for a VERY basic stirfry. In this case I would add a part of water (we're probbaly talking tablepoons here as "parts") and a tsp or more of wine or Scotch if you have it, and leave out the vinegar. You could add a bit of vinegar at the end to brighten the taste. But if you want to learn to do it properly I recommend Irene Kuo's "The Key to Chinese Cooking" (out of print but available fairly cheap) for general Chinese cooking or the Fuchsia Dunlop books on Sichuan and Hunan cooking for the spicier stuff.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Thanks very much! I am just dabbling, so very basic is right up my alley. So the sauce would just be soy sauce, sesame oil, water, cornstarch, and wine or scotch. (Well, wine. . .there's about a 0% chance of me having Scotch)

          2. how about making pannacotta for dessert? It's needs no baking and hardly any cooking, only a couple of hours time to set in the refrigerator. Here is my recipe

            1 Reply
            1. re: madonnadelpiatto

              I don't know if Angela likes Pannacotta (I'll ask her), but I love it, so thanks for posting this recipe! And thanks for including the American equivalents! :)