The Random Writings of Rachel: Recipes for a Tiny Kitchen

Recipes for a Tiny Kitchen

 

In Michigan, my kitchen was on the smaller end of the scale as far as kitchens in American homes go, but I had all of the normal kitchen appliances: Oven, full-size fridge, stove, blender, crock pot, toaster, microwave, rice cooker, air-popper, etc.

In my current kitchen, I can reach inside the fridge while stirring something on the stove, and, if I had another set of arms, I could be washing dishes in the sink at the same time. It is an extremely efficient use of space, and the appliances I have are: a small fridge, a microwave, a 2 burner gas stove, an electric tea-kettle, and a rice cooker. We don't plan on investing in additional kitchen appliances because there isn't much room for storage here, and appliances are comparatively expensive, so to us, it's not worth it to invest in something like an pricy toaster that will take up a lot of room...not when you can toast bread on a frying pan!


However, as the primary chef in this household and as someone who dearly loves having people over for dinner, I've had to strategize and adjust my thinking when it comes to preparing awesome meals with just 2 burners to work with.

Here are a few of my go-to meals that use ingredients that are easy to find here and can be made easily with non-existent counter space and very few kitchen implements:

Spicy Popcorn Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes - Well, the potatoes have to be mashed with a fork because thus far the search for a potato masher has not yielded any results (Why did I not pack my potato masher as I had planned???), but this is a favorite 2-pan meal for us.

Chicken/Veggie Stir Fry with Rice - Ahh, stir-fry, the food which is never the same, and as such, never boring. I was raised on stir-fries--keep mixing up which veggies and which types of spices you add and you'll always have something different for dinner!

Vegetable Soup - A pan full of chopped assorted vegetables plus water (broth if you prefer, but I just use water) garlic, pepper, and a dash of chilies, 1 pot meal!

Chicken Rice Soup - Similar to the above, but with different ingredients. A pan full of chopped chicken, celery, carrots, onions, garlic, pepper, potatoes, and some rice. Add enough water for everything to boil up nice, and you can add milk after it's cooked if you want a creamy soup. Add a couple dashes of sesame oil for flavor, too--I love that stuff.

Chicken Fried Rice - Eggs, chicken, onion, bok choy, bean sprouts, whatever veggies sound good at the time (I like chopped fresh carrots and green beans), fried with pre-cooked rice, pepper, chilies, garlic, and soy sauce. Another 1-pot plus rice cooker meal.

Sloppy Joes - Or a from-scratch version of them anyway (using what we can find here): ground beef, onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, a chili or two, ketchup, oatmeal (since the beef is so expensive, this is my trick to make it stretch) a splash of vinegar, till everything seems tasty enough to slap on a piece of bread.

Veggie and Egg Hash - Start cooking potatoes first, add onions and assorted vegetables (tomatoes, zucchini, sweet potatoes are all good) and spices. When everything's cooked, add in some eggs.

Chicken Tacos - Only uses one pot, to cook the chicken with random spices, onions, zucchini and tomatoes. Top with some homemade fresh salsa (my recipe: tomato, onion, avocado, lemon juice, cilantro, pepper, and salt).

Hamburgers - Pan-fried burgers will never be the same as grilled burgers, but we shouldn't expect them to be. Angel loves this meal, and it only uses one pan, plus sliced tomato and avocado as toppings, so it's pretty easy to whip up.

Chili - So, there's no actual chili powder that I can find here, but beans, meat, veggies, chili peppers, chili powder-like spices...that's close enough for me. Eaten with crackers or avocado, but as yet, never topped with cheese because we've never been willing to spend the money on it. If you have cheese, enjoy it!

Bacon and Eggs - In theory, we could also do BLTs, but we wash all veggies that will be eaten raw in boiling water and that takes the satisfying crunch out of lettuce. Instead, we've also done bacon, egg, tomato, and avocado sandwiches.

Popcorn - No air-popper, so I'm back to old-fashioned popcorn in a pan. It works great, just remember to keep the lid on unless you were going for the popcorn-explosion look in your kitchen. I import my popcorn kernels by bringing home a couple bags of them after a trip to Malaysia.

Oatmeal with Fruit - This is when that electric tea kettle comes in handy. I don't even have a single pot to wash. Good thing I like oatmeal!

Our meals are a little simpler than when I had access to an at-home oven and blender and fancy stuff like that, but we've found plenty of ways to make the most of our tiny kitchen! If you're adjusting to life with a 2-burner stove, don't dismay, those little stoves can be hard workers!

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p.s. My mom will laugh when she reads this post of mine because they've been feeding their gigantic family with 2-burner meals for a decade now. Feeding two people? That's nothing.

26 comments:

  1. I wish I read this when I lived in NY! Your tiny kitchen puts my even tinier NY kitchen to shame. :) This is a great list of meals. I say you can never go wrong with a good ol' egg and veggie hash!

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  2. My in-laws lived in Malaysia for a year two years ago and it was interesting to hear them deal with a different kitchen set up! I would miss an oven, but I'm sure you just get used to it. I need to get into making stir fry. My parents had a wok and we would eat it all the time growing up. Do you use a regular pan or a wok?

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  3. The chicken stir-fry meal we eat all the time! It's perfect. I probably don't know what I'll do once I have a bigger kitchen and an actual pantry to store my food! More counter space? What's that?

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  4. Wow you really figured out how to make the best of your small kitchen situation! Good for you! Those meals all sound delicious!

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  5. I am seriously impressed! Sounds like you guys have a great system worked out for working in a small kitchen!

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  6. Yum! Great ideas for lots of 1-2 pot meals!

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  7. These are great ideas! So creative. I will keep this list handy, you never know how big your next kitchen will be!

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  8. We make so many of these! Our house is pretty small, but what we do have is a pretty large kitchen (thank goodess!). It was love at first sight when I spotted this kitchen, and I just had to have it. With that said, we cook a lot of these same meals. It makes for easier cleanup!

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  9. Love this! Our kitchen is teeny tiny too!

    Stopping by to say hi after I found you on the Peony Project. Would love you to swing by http://www.songbirdandanerd.com/ sometime!

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  10. This is how our place was in Indonesia!!! It can be hard having a small kitchen lol
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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  11. Love these ideas! I have a tiny kitchen too and am constantly knocking things over. There's definitely a science to it,

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  12. Yes!!! I love one-pot dishes for this very reason. We're moving soon and our kitchen will be *slightly* larger, but it'll still be a bit of a struggle! I also like appliances that do some of the cooking for you in the corner, such as a rice cooker or slow cooker. Helps avoid having to have 2 cooks in the kitchen and decreases the risk of accidents!

    Also, I shared about Yunnan today on my blog and I'd LOVE to know your thoughts-- have you guys been? xoxo

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  13. That reminds me of our "one-butt kitchen" (as we called it) in our first married couple apartment on BYU's campus.

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  14. thanks for this inspiration! I have a really small kitchen as well so this definitely comes in handy :)

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  15. I always had to adapt to the kitchens everywhere I've lived. In France we also had very small appliances and stove but I did have an oven which I enjoyed. We had no microwave or any of the other appliances I'd normally have but we managed just fine and I even fed a part of 18 at one time (for my birthday)...but I will admit it was stressful! and I managed to burn my hand quite badly.

    In Scotland we had an Aga which is a coal fed oven/stove and no other electricity. It was very educational. But we managed to do huge fancy meals (a bit like Downton Abbey!).

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  16. Such a ridiculously good idea to add oatmeal to beef. I never would have thought of that. I would really miss an oven!!

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  17. That's awesome! My kitchen's so big; I can't imagine having to cook in a small space like that. You're doing great!

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  18. And I thought I had a small kitchen! You really make it work! I can't say that I'd miss having a kitchen but than again, I'm not that much of a chef.

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  19. You do more in your tiny kitchen than I do in my regular sized one...

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  20. Oh my goodness, come over and cook for me! You are making me very hungry with this list of yummy foods!

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  21. That's really impressive Rachel! You should put together a cookbook with this name. But I agree grilled burgers are always better ;)

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  22. I agree with Patty, a cookbook from you is an awesome idea! Our new kitchen is smaller than our last one and I'm struggling in it.

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  23. Looks like a great assortment of go-to meals. Fried rice is a favorite use for leftover rice in my family.

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