Food in San Francisco is expensive.
We were just in Thailand where I could eat an entire meal for like three dollars. In San Francisco I could easily spend $16 on lunch for just me. Ouch.
On top of that, I’ve got some dietary restrictions and it’s generally just easier to cook my own food. But since we’re staying in AirBnB’s with variable kitchen access and equipment for the next few months, I’ve had to get creative with my cooking.
I’m focusing on recipes that don’t need lots of ingredients. They need minimal prep and equipment. They’re also fast to cook, and easy to clean up. And they taste good. Duh.
I’ve already started trying out some ideas – guys the lunch I made last week was so good – and I wanted to share how I’m cooking in our current AirBnB using just the microwave. My recipes are gluten free and vegetarian, but I hope this post inspires you get creative with whatever you cook in your AirBnB. Let me know what you think!
1. South Western Baked Egg In Sweet Potato
This was that amazing lunch I was telling you about. It was inspired in part by this recipe, but I spruced it up a little and cooked the entire thing in the microwave!
I baked a sweet potato in the microwave (poke holes in the skin and nuke for 5 minutes). Then I sliced it lengthwise and scooped out enough of the centers to make room for an egg. I cracked a raw egg into each half, and microwaved again in bursts of 30 seconds until it was cooked the way I like. Mine took 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds for mostly set whites and runny yolk.
Then I warmed up some canned chili black beans in a microwave safe dish, and piled them on top of each sweet potato half. I finished them off with a little Sambal Oelek, and some steamed spinach – also cooked in the microwave.
Tony and I ate half of a sweet potato each for a lite-ish lunch. I think I could actually eat a whole sweet potato myself if I was pretty hungry.
P.S. Let me know in the comments if you’re as charmed by our AirBnB host’s Warhol style Marilyn Monroe plate as I am!
2. Spaghetti Squash Marinara
I just had this one for dinner tonight and it was right up there with the southwestern sweet potatoes in terms of satisfying meals.
I cut a whole raw spaghetti squash in half and scooped out the seeds. Then I microwaved it on a plate, cut side down, for about 7-10 minutes total, stopping to check for done-ness about half way through. I let it rest for a few minutes to let the built up heat in the squash finish the cooking process.
I used a fork to “shred” the cooked squash to get that characteristic spaghetti effect.
Jars of marinara sauce are all crazy big for some reason, so I opted for a small jar of sun dried tomato pesto instead. The pesto had Parmesan cheese in it – bonus! I got that yummy salty umami flavor without buying a block of cheese and hoping my host had a grater – or buying a green can of cheese that would go mostly to waste.
The jar of pesto was brand new, so rather than cooking it separately I just added a few spoons full to my hot spaghetti squash and let the squash warm the sauce. I didn’t bother taking the squash out of the shell since it acts like a disposable bowl and makes cleanup super easy.
How did it turn out?
So good! Easily as good as spaghetti squash I’ve baked in the oven. A whole squash and a small can of tomato pesto is about right for two servings, so it’s the perfect size to not have a ton of leftovers.
BONUS IDEA: If you actually use marinara sauce and you have leftovers, you could make “baked” eggs in a mug with the leftover sauce and a hand full of spinach for breakfast the next day.
3. Red Beans and Rice
This was my lunch a couple of days in a row. I used pre-cooked organic microwaveable rice, but you could use minute rice (or regular rice) if you want to break out the pots and pans.
I nuked half a can of rinsed kidney beans in a microwave safe dish. Then I microwaved my rice, seasoned with salt and pepper, and stirred the beans and rice together. I love eating eggs with just about anything, so I made a little well in my rice, cracked an egg in, and nuked it for about a minute to give myself a little extra something.
Not gonna lie, plain red beans and rice is kind of bland. I added a dollop of Sambal Oelek as is my custom, but it’s begging for some herbs like thyme or sage, and maybe some creole seasoning.
If I could find a store that sold bulk spices that would be perfect since I could buy exactly the amount I needed, but the Safeway here only has spices in jars. As a consolation prize, that Safeway is about a block from the beach so at least I can see a beautiful ocean sunset while doing my shopping. #nomadlife
4. Avocado Toast with Poached Egg
Yep… a poached egg can be made in the microwave. Just made my first micro-poached egg last week in fact. OK, so it did explode a little bit (I was warned this might happen, but did not heed said warnings). I have high hopes for round two though.
You can also apparently poach an egg with a coffee maker. Who knew?
As for the toast, you can’t do that in the microwave, sorry. But you can pop it in a toaster, or broil it in the oven, or toast it in a pan on the stove. In a pinch, you can toast bread with an iron, or on the hot plate of a coffee maker. That’s a thing.
Or don’t toast the bread. Just call it avo-bread instead of avo-toast. I won’t judge you.
I haven’t made this travel meal yet, but here’s how I would do it.
Toast bread however you choose. Mine would be gluten free bread toasted in a pan to prevent cross contamination in the toaster. Then just cut the avocado in slices, salt and pepper the avocado, and top with a microwave poached egg.
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar would be great on this, and it’s another reason I really need to find a market with bulk seasonings for sale.
5. Quinoa “oatmeal”
I like quinoa for breakfast because I feel yuk if I eat oats (even gluten free oats). If you eat oats, you could substitute quick cooking oats for quinoa here.
I cooked quick cooking quinoa according to the package directions for microwave cooking. Then I added a little salt, and a spoonful of sugar from the coffee and tea station our AirBnB host provided. A handful of raisins (Tony has been eating them as a snack) rounded out my breakfast. I ran out of milk for my tea, but I would have put a splash of milk in as well. Single-serve milk cartons (or dairy-free milk cartons) are great for things like this.
And if I can find a market that sells bulk spices (I’m sure there’s one around here…) I would add a dash of cinnamon too.
This one was super easy, tasty, and filling. A really great way to start the day!
What Travel Recipes Do You Use?
I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peek into what I’m cooking while we’re traveling. Now I’m curious, what do you do?
Do you cook in your hotel or AirBnB? Are there any special challenges you face like avoiding cross contamination, or cooking without familiar equipment? Have any favorite recipes? Tell me all about your travel cooking experience, I’d love to hear it!