Monday, October 15, 2012

We made it!... and a call for HELP!

Kon'nichiwa!! We made it safely to Japan! :) We've been here about 2 weeks now. I can't tell you much about the country yet because we arrived in the middle of a typhoon so we couldn't see anything on the bus ride to our new base (never a boring day with this family). We were sleeping anyway because we had been traveling for almost 24 hours at that point... with two toddlers and a newborn. Fun.

We haven't had much time for exploring yet. However, in the short time we've been here, we managed to find a really cool house and we are hoping to get to moved in by the end of the month. In the meantime, we are living in a hotel.... with the toddlers and the baby. Also fun.

Our room technically has a kitchen area but it is VERY basic considering we will probably be living here for at least a month. I have two burners,  a microwave, a sink, a mini-fridge, and a toaster. No oven. I never realized just how much I relied on my oven until I was faced with trying to feed a family of five with no oven (okay technically the baby doesn't eat table food but family of five sounds more dramatic). I will admit, I cheated and borrowed my friend's crockpot.

Here is our "kitchen":

And here are all of the tools I have to work with:

You may be asking yourself, can you eat healthy living in a hotel room in a foreign country? I am determined for the answer to be yes and that we will still eat three healthy meals a day even though I have no freezer to fall back on. (I've discovered that you can also cloth diaper a newborn and homeschool a Kindergartener and First Grader in a hotel room but that's a post for another day.) It will take some planning, though. In addition to the small kitchen and minimal tools, we have no car yet so I am limited to what's available at the minimart next door or what I can carry from the commissary on the bus by myself with the three kids. And it should be pretty easy to throw together because I'm slightly insane by the end of the day when I'm supposed to be cooking since I'm living in a tiny hotel room with all of my kids. But at least I will be a well-fed insane person. (Insert maniacal laughter).

So here's where the call for help part comes in. I would love any suggestions you have for simple but healthy stove top meals with minimal ingredients. Even if it's not clean, post it in the comments or email it to me anyway and I'll clean it up. Here is what we have eaten so far (notice it's mainly crockpot. Seriously, I need stove-top meal help!):

Whole grain pasta with all natural spaghetti sauce
Black Bean Salsa Soup (un-pureed since I have no immersion blender)
Crockpot Cornish Game Hens with Apple Almond Stuffing
Chicken and Asparagus Brown Rice Risotto
Mahi Mahi Coconut Soup




  1. Easy Crockpot Cassoulet


    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped
    1/4 pound cooked smoked sausage
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    4 tablespoons tomato paste
    3 tablespoons water
    3 cans (about 15 ounces each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth
    3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


    Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion to hot oil; cook and stir until onion is tender about 4 minutes. Stir in chicken, sausage, garlic, thyme and pepper. Cook 5-8 minutes, or until chicken and sausage are browned. Stir in tomato paste and water; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in great northern bean into the chicken mixture. Add in 1 and 1/2 cups of chicken broth and give a final stir to the mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours. Before serving sprinkle minced parsley over cassoulet. Bon appetit!

  2. I always get buy sausage that is nitrate and preservative free. Good luck at the commissary with that! But you have the BIG commissary so you might be lucky :)

  3. When we lived in Tokyo for six months (we stayed in a furnished apartment/hotal-so your utensils look familar) I did a alot of marinated pork chops (the ginger dressing is amazing in Japan), and frozen veggies. I shopped at this tiny store that the restaurants shopped at, I got things a lot cheaper there than the stores that marketed to ex-pats. Look up The flying pig: Also a great place to get stuff delivered.

  4. I'm not very good with specific amounts, but this recipe is really easy and delicious.

    Crockpot Italian Spaghetti
    1 Roast (doesn't really matter what cut)
    Garlic Cloves
    1-2 Jars of Spaghetti Sauce (depending on size of roast and if you want it to be more meat or sauce heavy: I use 1+1/2)
    Choice of Pasta
    Grated Cheese (optional)

    Cut slits in the roast all around and slide 1/2 cloves into each slit (I usually do about 7 slits). Add spaghetti sauce and cook all day (I usually set it on the 6 or 8 hour setting, but have let it cook as long as 10 and it does fine if there is enough sauce).
    When you are ready to eat, cook the pasta.

    Top with cheese. Enjoy!

  5. When I was newly married my mother-in-law shared this simple yet satisfying recipe with me.

    1 lb. Ground Beef ( I use 90% lean, grass fed and I bet ground turkey would work just as well)

    1 Can of peas, undrained. ( I use either the reduced sodium or frozen peas. If frozen I add some water or broth.)

    Enough sliced potatoes to make an even couple of layers in your skillet, maybe 3 medium.

    Brown the beef, drain it and return to the skillet. Add the peas with liquid and top with sliced potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for about 25 min. or until potatoes are tender. Just make sure you have enough liquid in there to keep it from drying out.

    This recipe was a God-send to me as a newlywed being lost in the kitchen.
    Also you may want to check out Creative Slow-Cooler Meals by Cheryl Moeller. She uses two slow-cookers at once to make her entire meal from mains to sides and deserts. The recipes are easy to clean up as well.
    I hope this is half the help to you as your blog and recipes have been to me!!

  6. Stir fry and skillet meals are easy and delicious. I recently discovered and have greatly enjoyed trying her recipes. There is a number of very tasty ideas to help fuel your imagination!

    This is one of our favorite meals and it is super simple to cook on the stovetop:

    Easy Chicken and Rice

    3# frying chicken pieces (I use thighs)
    1 c. brown rice
    2 c. water or broth
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
    3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
    Optional: onions, celery, green pepper, nuts

    Place rice, water, salt, butter, and parsley in 4 qt. pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Salt chicken and lay on top of rice. Lower heat to simmer; cover, and cook 45-60 minutes until water is absorbed and chicken is tender.

    God bless you as you seek to nourish your family in this time of change! Our firstborn is only four months old but we are looking forward to homeschooling him and as many little siblings as the Lord gives. Your example is an encouragement and inspiration!

    1. Woo hoo! Love it! Totally combining this idea with one my friend sent me on facebook and making a risotto out of it. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  7. I'll bet you could adapt your super-yummy veggie laden meatloaf recipe to a skillet recipe and serve over brown rice. we LOVE that recipe around here, btw - great in muffin tin size for kids lunches!

  8. Thank you so much all of you!!!! I can't wait to try some of these ideas!!

  9. I like roasted chicken and veggies on the stove top. I usually use bone in chicken breast but you could cut your hen up and it would work fine too. It could probably be made in the crockpot but the onion starts to carmelize by cooking it on the stove and the potatoes brown some and I love that.

    All I do is cut up bite size portions of potatoes (I usually use red), carrots, and red onion). Throw those along with the chicken/hen with a little oil in a pan and put the lid on. Stir periodically and cook until chicken is cooked through.

  10. You could try the following: In the skillet with some olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and thyme...put in some kale and cook it down a bit. Then add some white beans and a bit of chicken broth. You could serve it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (But you might have to use the game hens in your case.

    You could also make breakfast burritoes with your choice of ingredients.

    You could also get some ground turkey (although again, you might have to just settle for shredded meat from the game hens for now) and brown it up. Add some red pepper, taco seasoning if the minimart has it (or something similar with less sodium), black beans, and I normally use Pato Sauce, but maybe the minimart has enchilada sauce, and if not, maybe you could us some tomato sauce and hot sauce???...Anyway this could be the base for a taco salad night or taco night. You can play with it, adding or taking away.

    Also, super easy is baked chicken breast (again, you'll likely have to fry, grill, or crockpot it). Then serve it with a mixture of the following: Can of corn, Can of black beans (rinsed), chopped red pepper, chopped avocado, a little chili powder, and mix it all with a bottle of Italian dressing, or part of the bottle. And you could add some lime juice or cilantro. Maybe serve some tortilla chips alongside. Again, flexible recipe for more or just keep it simple.

    Other things you could do stovetop would be sloppy joes, roasts, stews, Or you could make breakfast for dinner with pancakes, the breakfast sausage or bacon from the minimart, omelettes, and maybe add some potatoes as a side one night. Of course all the veggies you want or fruit you wanted could be added.

    Good luck!

    1. We are definitely rocking some breakfast for dinner :) And thanks for reminding me about sloppy joes being a stove top recipe. I can't get all of the ingredients for my normal recipe but I bet I can make something similar.

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