Kitchenette Dinners, or Hotel Home-Cooking

As I’ve mentioned, we’re still living in a hotel. It’s a nice extended-stay type hotel with a little kitchenette and reliable wifi, but it’s been almost a month since we lived in a house, and I’m kind of missing some things.

Like my kitchen.

Every morning the hotel serves breakfast downstairs, and Monday through Thursday evenings, they serve a “light dinner.” Tonight was meatloaf and mashed potatoes; I’m not sure how that qualifies as “light,” but it’s the hotel’s descriptor, not mine.

Because I don’t eat gluten or dairy or undercooked eggs, there’s not much on offer for me at these meals. I’ll attend dinner when they have their “barbecue” theme and serve hamburgers, and I get their decaf from downstairs every morning, but mostly I eat my meals in the room. When someone offers me free food, I feel fairly neutral about it. It’s there whether I eat it or not, so if I don’t want it, why would I eat it?

My husband does not share this opinion about free food. When my husband is offered free food, he sees it as a challenge. I try to explain that they make more than they need and it’s not “wasting” if he doesn’t gorge himself, but he doesn’t seem to see my logic. To him, the more he eats, the more money he saves. To me, the more eggs and sausage and home fries he chows down on, the more likely we’re going to have to pay for some kind of heart procedure down the line a few years.

We are, however, both putting on weight living here. His is because of the free food. Mine is because the one place I’ve found to buy food is Trader Joe’s, and living in a hotel room is the perfect excuse to buy convenience foods that I otherwise never let myself buy. Beef tamales? Yes, please! Chocolate-covered frozen banana slices? Better get two boxes! A hummus quartet? Heck, I could live on nothing but hummus and those tiny rice crackers. And don’t even mention the wines.

I don’t think I’m eating too poorly. I’m just driving more and eating more and visiting the gym never (they’ve got a fitness room here but I find it excruciatingly boring to jog on the treadmill while watching at full volume a documentary about the Loch Ness Monster). The kitchenette is better than nothing, but it’s fairly rudimentary compared to my kitchen at home. The kitchenette has three not-so-sharp knives, one teeny cutting board, and one small colander. This setup doesn’t lend itself well to the rather complex meals I’m used to preparing.

So, what exactly am I cooking for dinner for myself?

Here’s one example:

This is the basic gmish.

When they sampled  it at the store, they used the Trader Joe’s brand Soyaki sauce. But that’s got wheat in it, so I passed on that and created my own. It’s Trader Joe’s pre-cooked frozen chicken breast strips, their canned pineapple chunks (with juice), and a sauce made of wheat-free tamari, canned minced garlic, fresh ginger, and a touch of honey. I mixed the sauce while thawing the chicken, then tossed it all together.

I was going to serve it over rice, but I forgot to cook the rice. So these are the ways I served it, one night and then the next night:

Over salad (lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper)

 

 

Surrounded by steamed broccoli (TJ’s ready-cut organic broccoli steamed in the microwave).

It’s pretty good stuff. But I get tired of pineapple pretty quickly. I bought more of the chicken strips, but I think I’m just going put them on salad and call it a day. Or I guess I could dip them in hummus.

What $5 wine would pair with chicken strips dipped in hummus with chocolate-covered frozen bananas for dessert?

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