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Kitchen Limitation Challenge!

gothgimpbadcooking May 15, 2012 07:57 PM

My husband and I opened our own movie theatre a couple of months ago. We have a small kitchen where we make fantastic pizzas, pressed sandwiches, nachos and other movie theatre snacks delivered seatside.

We are here at the cinema alllllll the time, and since opening the doors our nutrition has gone in the toilet. I would estimate my diet is roughly 65% pizza at this point. Fresh, phenomenal pizza but... our bodies are starting to rebel.

When we feel our healthiest we eat a lot of vegetables, whole grains, as little processed food as possible and nearly no meat or dairy. Yesterday I had the first chance to cook at home in weeks and I made black eyed peas with rice and sauteed greens with a salad. That's our kind of meal.

I want to do my own kind of pantry challenge: a cook only in the movie theatre challenge. Tonight I made a delicious roasted vegetable and kimchi rice bowl. I have a feeling a lot of roasted veggie dishes will be ideal because of our pizza oven, so I'm open to suggestions. Here is all the equipment I have to work with:

two deck pizza oven (one always set at 500 degrees, can set the other deck as needed)
rice cooker (brought from home)
panini press
hot dog steamer
crockpot (often is cooking boiled peanuts for the concession stand, but can be hijacked as needed)
food processor
immersion blender

The cool thing is I have loads of counter space, cutting boards, and an industrial three compartment sink. However, I'm getting hung up on not having a range. We do have a hot plate but it is kind of a pain.

So.... with these limitations.... what would you cook for dinner? Focus is on easy, and fresh. A farmer's market is a short distance away and we are working way too hard for anything really fancy or that requires a ton of planning

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  1. biondanonima RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 15, 2012 11:39 PM

    I think you can use the rice cooker for other grains, like quinoa and bulgur, and the slow-cooker for things like lentils and beans (lentils can be made in the oven as well). I would focus on those for meal bases, and just make sure to have a variety of roasted vegetables around to make salads with. If you have a fridge (which I assume you must), make large quantities and refrigerate them separately, then at mealtime choose your grain/protein of choice, toss in whatever vegetables suit your fancy and dress with vinaigrette. Do you have a microwave? If so, you can use that to make quick scrambled eggs. Make a big crockpot full of soup and just reheat as necessary. Eat a lot of raw salads, gazpacho, etc.

    1. g
      gothgimpbadcooking RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 16, 2012 06:08 AM

      I had just been thinking about gazpacho! No microwave, nope, but of course several fridges and ginormous freezers. We typically eat a lot of soups and stews but without a terribly easy way to reheat I have been stumped.

      2 Replies
      1. re: gothgimpbadcooking
        biondanonima RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 16, 2012 06:11 AM

        You can reheat in the crockpot, and if you're willing to be patient, the oven will reheat your soups and stews evenly, but slowly. Same for most other leftovers.

        1. re: gothgimpbadcooking
          LauraGrace RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 16, 2012 06:47 AM

          $15 hot pot will do the trick there -- better for small portions too.

        2. l
          LauraGrace RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 16, 2012 06:10 AM

          Roasted veg bowls with beans or lentils, baked eggs (or quiche or frittata) in the bottom pizza oven? Cheese-toasted bread to dunk in roasted tomato bisque or any roasted-veg stew/soup? Ratatouille? Aloo gobi and a host of other "dry" Indian dishes are fab roasted.

          101cookbooks.com has bunch of easy, healthy, vegetarian in-a-bowl type meals -- that might be a good resource. I LOVE this kind of challenge! Getting my brain going for more ideas.

          1. s
            sueatmo RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 16, 2012 07:00 AM

            I have to think some more about things you can make in your unique kitchen. But posters often rave about induction burners. Could you work an induction burner into your kitchen? If so, I think that would open up some options for you.

            This is interesting because there is a part of an ongoing thread about people who don't ever use their home ovens. But you have the opposite situation.

            1. g
              gembellina RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 16, 2012 07:00 AM

              If you've got lots of counter space, maybe a cheap microwave would be a good investment - I've lived without one for years but now that my new place has one, it's so much easier! Especially if you're working hard and don't want to wait 20 mins to reheat soup in the oven.

              Anyway, suggestions based on what you've got: you can make a rice pilaf in your rice cooker by using it to fry onions etc before adding the rice, then adding stock instead of water. Use this to stuff peppers then roast in the oven.

              Lasagne, veggie or otherwise - make the sauce a bit more watery than usual and you won't have to cook the lasagne sheets beforehand, just layer them in dry and bake.

              Roast a chicken and eat hot on the first night, then use the chicken over the next few days in a salad, a sandwich, on a pizza!

              If your food processor has a shredding disc, you can make all sorts of slaws - maybe asian-inspired with some of those peanuts crumbled in?

              Eggs en cocotte or strata. You could maybe make quesadillas in the panini press?

              1. s
                shallots RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 16, 2012 09:14 AM

                Before you add any 'home kitchen' appliances, be sure that they are allowed in your state in inspected kitchens.

                I'd expect you've got the California Pizza Kitchen cookbooks; lots of ideas there for unconventional pizzas with lots of veggies.

                1 Reply
                1. re: shallots
                  gothgimpbadcooking RE: shallots May 16, 2012 10:08 AM

                  Yep, the appliance thing is of course a challenge. Although the health inspector is pretty cool about gear that is for "employee use only," I'm not inclined to run out and buy anything new since we just spent a ton on what we have. Yes, we've got lots of counter space but during a rush it is all being used and it's a pain to move even a small microwave or hot pot every time I need to prep a bunch of sandwiches.

                  I like the quiche and baked egg dish ideas, those can last me a few meals with interesting sides and leftovers to boot (I figure I get bonus points for using up ingredients that our kitchen is otherwise getting ready to throw away).

                  I love this kind of challenge too! I think tonight will be baked tomatoes, stuffed with the leftover rice and beans from two days ago and a nice quiche with the abundance of sliced mushrooms we have sitting around.

                2. l
                  LisaPA RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 17, 2012 08:22 PM

                  Roger Ebert wrote a rice cooker cookbook - seems serendipitous. :)

                  If that doesn't appeal, Amazon has a bunch of other rice cooker cookbooks, like this one. http://tinyurl.com/7gpeerf

                  Also, you can "bake" potatoes in your crockpot, which would give you another base for toppings. Do baked rice or other grains in the oven.

                  I don't know what a hot dog steamer looks like - could you use it to steam veggies?

                  1. DuchessNukem RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 17, 2012 09:01 PM

                    Couple of burners died on my stove... then I needed some space stat and parked a massive dehydrator on the whole stovetop. Then I bought a cheap electric 11" frypan (pardon me, skillet), (now priced at low end ~$25) that I use to make risotto, sauteed greens, stirfry, panfried chicken or eggplant or potatoes or falafel, browned onions, chicken paprikash, beef stroganoff, hot dogs, taco filling, sauteed asparagus... etc. Available when I need browning or quick cooking, also reheating.

                    So I humbly suggest considering the electric frypan. Portable, easy clean, flexible. Also, you can prep foods at home twice a week and bring pre-cooked/pre-prepped proteins, veg, starch to combine and heat up each day. Overnight crockpot at home makes soups/stews/chilis, pulled pork, stewed chicken, beans; rice made in rice cooker before/after work; big pot of potatoes or noodles made at home; etc.

                    My best wishes for your success! Sounds like a dream come true but I know you're working your buns off too. :)

                    Edited: Arrggghh, just re-read and you prefer little meat, apologies. Still, the skillet is very useful for quick pan-prep of veggies and reheating soups/stews, pastas.

                    1. s
                      sueatmo RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 18, 2012 12:48 PM

                      I've recommended this book many times before: The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook : 250 No-Fail Recipes for Pilafs, Risottos, Polenta, Chilis, Soups, Porridges, Puddings and More, from Start to Finish in Your Rice Cooker, by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.

                      You can do amazing things in a rice cooker. I admit that mine is underutilized.

                      1. g
                        gothgimpbadcooking RE: gothgimpbadcooking May 19, 2012 10:16 AM

                        These have been great! This week we enjoyed some more roasted vegetables, rice and beans, stuffed tomatoes (using leftover rice and beans), and a great crustless quiche that came in really handy when I stumbled in here this morning without having eaten breakfast. With all your ideas we only ate ONE dinner out this week.

                        And that Ebert book looks like a hoot! I think I'll invest in at least one rice cooker cookbook.

                        Owning our own business is pretty close to a dream come true.... there are moments it's a nightmare.... but having achieved our 10 year goal on the way early side is an incredible feeling.

                        Tonight we are taking a rare night off and I'll cook at home, but there will be something to miss about our commercial sink and employees who chop all the onions.

                        Keep the ideas coming, i know I'll revisit this thread.

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