Recipe: Easy Noodle Bowl

Easy Noodle Bowl

When Cook's Illustrated emailed this recipe, I was intrigued because I'm always looking for mix-and-match recipes, where I can sub in various protein, veggies and sauces to work with mood / on-hand ingredients.
What intrigued me the most was their suggestion to use cheap ramen noodles (sans the seasoning packet) for an easy, perfect noodle base - and then to not toss the seasoning because it's great on popcorn, salad, etc.
This recipe was exactly what I was looking for. It could easily be a quick weeknight meal, with the protein prepped in a batch and a ready-made sauce. I plan on trying this a million different ways! (see my notes at the end)
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 4
Calories 600 kcal


  • 1/4 cup

    hoisin sauce

  • 3 tbsp

    soy sauce

  • 2 tsp


  • 12 oz

    pork tenderloin

    trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick

  • 2 ¼


    chicken broth

  • 2 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
  • 4 oz mushrooms sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated/minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 3-oz packages

    ramen noodles

    seasoning packets reserved for another use

  • 12 oz

    broccoli florets

    cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 3


    sliced thin on bias


    It doesn’t matter which flavor of ramen noodles you buy since you won’t be using the seasoning packets sold with the noodles. Don’t discard the packets; you can use them to flavor freshly popped popcorn. Serve the noodle bowls with Sriracha hot sauce.
  • Whisk 1 tablespoon hoisin, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and cornstarch together in bowl. Add pork and toss to coat; set aside. Whisk broth, remaining 3 tablespoons hoisin, and remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce together in second bowl; set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  • After you start the first pan cooking, get the protein cooking. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in another 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add pork in single layer, breaking up any clumps, and cook without stirring until browned on bottom, about 1 minute. Stir and continue to cook until pork is no longer pink, about 1 minute longer. Once cooked, pull off heat as you continue to work through the remaining steps.
  • Back in the mushroom pan, add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth mixture and bring to boil. Arrange noodles in skillet in single layer; cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook until noodles have softened on bottoms (tops will still be dry), about 3 minutes.
  • Uncover skillet and, using tongs, flip noodles and stir to separate. Spread noodles in even layer and scatter broccoli over top. Cover and cook until noodles and broccoli are tender, about 3 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking. 
  • Build your noodle bowls! Divide noodle mixture evenly among individual bowls, then top with pork, and serve with scallions and sriracha.


  • The hoisen-sauce base is a nice one I've used before, but I always add sriracha into the sauce from the beginning to give it some amount of heat.
  • I'm not a big fan of using cornstarch on protein to get that classic Chinese-food "slipperiness" and browning. I'll skip that ingredient in the future.
  • I'll definitely try this with the batch-cooked smoked & shredded chicken I make, but it was really great with thinly sliced pork tenderloin. I'll probably also try tempeh.
  • This is a dish I see changing with seasonal veggies from the garden - snow peas, kohlrabi, parsnips, serranos, asparagus, Chinese cabbage, etc. It's also great for left-over veggies. I had broccoli, cauliflower and carrots from a veggie platter that went into this first round. I'd probably limit it to 2 veggies.
  • Sauces...oh the possibilities! I'm sure I'll rotate through every conceivable Thai and Vietnamese sauce. I might skip making the sauce in favor of a store-bought Szechuan. By eliminating the fuss of prepping the protein and sauce, I think this could easily be a 20-min weekday meal.

Recipe: Kale, Walnut & Blood Orange Salad

Last winter, we finally dined at Catelli’s in Geyserville, CA, and they blew me away with a kale salad that I couldn’t stop thinking about. I decided to set about recreating it. Their menu described it as “Organic kale, meyer lemon, blood orange, crushed croutons, crushed nuts, Parmesan & Dry Creek Olive Oil,” so I started by trying to make my own dressing – sort of a simplified Caesar-esque affair. It was ok, but a lot of work, and ultimately I decided what I really wanted was a quick, EASY salad for lunches and I now have the perfect answer.

I love this salad because the balance of flavors and textures is perfect, PLUS it keeps me full until dinner because of the nuts and Caesar dressing. See my notes below on alternate ingredients or suggestions.

Serves 4 side salads or 2 lunch-sized salads.


  • 1 bunch ruffly kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 blood oranges or 4 cuties
  • Caesar dressing of your choice


  1. Trim away the kale stems, then gather the leaves together and slice into 1/8 inch crosswise slices, similar to how cabbage is often prepared when “shredded”. If the leaves are big, cut the sliced leaves into 2 or 3 segments to make it bite sized.
  2. Massage the kale until it’s soft. Seriously, if you’ve never done this before, it transforms kale from a jaw-working experience to a tender, lovely raw texture.
  3. Place in a bowl with the walnuts and toss with 2-3tbsp of salad dressing, to your preferred dressing density.
  4. Peel by hand or slice away the peel of the oranges with a knife (my preferred method), then separate in half, remove the pith in the center and cut the wedges into thirds. Then separate the orange pieces into individual bites. If you are using cuties, just peel and separate…maybe cut the wedges in half.
  5. Toss the orange pieces in and give the salad a fluff…that’s it!

Because I want this to be a quick prep, I usually prepare all the kale advance and store in a container to use all week. I buy the walnuts already chopped so there is no fuss.

The oranges are the only thing I cut fresh each day. For one lunch sized salad, it’s just grab the kale and walnuts, toss with dressing, add one prepared orange.

Also for salad dressing, just go with a Caesar you like. I try to pick things with minimal ingredients, like Annie’s, but I stumbled upon one from Primal Kitchen that is dairy-, gluten-, soy-free which is DELICIOUS.

Recipe: Pan-seared Salmon

This is such an absurdly simple and delicious recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

Our pan-seared salmon is first brined to season it and to keep it moist as it cooks. It is then placed in a cold, dry nonstick skillet skin side down over medium-high heat. The skin protects the fish from drying out while cooking and is easily peeled off and discarded once the fish is cooked. The skin also releases fat into the pan, which is then used to sear the second side until it is golden brown and crisp.


  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
  • Lemon wedges


To ensure uniform cooking, buy a 3/4- to 1-pound center-cut salmon fillet and cut it into two pieces. Using skin-on salmon is important here, as we rely on the fat underneath the skin as the cooking medium (as opposed to adding extra oil). If using wild salmon, cook it until it registers 120 degrees. If you don’t want to serve the fish with the skin on, we recommend peeling it off after the fish is cooked. Serve with lemon wedges.

  1. Dissolve ¼ cup salt in 1 quart water in large container. Submerge salmon in brine and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Remove salmon from brine and pat dry.
  2. Sprinkle bottom of 10-inch nonstick skillet evenly with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place fillets, skin side down, in skillet and sprinkle tops of fillets with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat skillet over medium-high heat and cook fillets without moving them until fat begins to render, skin begins to brown, and bottom ¼ inch of fillets turns opaque, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Using tongs, flip fillets and continue to cook without moving them until centers of fillets are still translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and register 125 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Transfer fillets skin side down to serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.

Recipe: Miso-Marinated Salmon

I just tried this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, and it was so easy and so delicious that it really needs to be shared! I paired it with some lovely sides I got from – ginger-cilantro rice and cucumbers with wasabi and rice vinegar.


  • ½ cup white miso paste
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sake
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
  • Lemon wedges


  1. Note that the fish needs to marinate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours before cooking. Use center-cut salmon fillets of similar thickness. Yellow, red, or brown miso paste can be used instead of white.
  2. Whisk miso, sugar, sake, and mirin together in medium bowl until sugar and miso are dissolved (mixture will be thick). Dip each fillet into miso mixture to evenly coat all flesh sides. Place fish skin side down in baking dish and pour any remaining miso mixture over fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Adjust oven rack 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Place wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Using your fingers, scrape miso mixture from fillets (do not rinse) and place fish skin side down on foil, leaving 1 inch between fillets.
  4. Broil salmon until deeply browned and centers of fillets register 125 degrees, 8 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through cooking and shielding edges of fillets with foil if necessary. Transfer to platter and serve with lemon wedges.

RECIPE: Berry Crisp with Spiced-Oatmeal Crumb Topping

From Bon Appetit – July 2008
yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

The topping on this is to die for. The recipe called for nectarines, which I really want to try it with when they are in season. However, I made it with strawberries and raspberries and it was divine. I look forward to trying it with blackberries in the fall 🙂

I prepped the berries and topping in advance so that throwing it together for guests after dinner was quick and easy.

* 3/4 cup all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon (generous) ground cardamom
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

Fruit mixture:
* 2 pounds nectarines, halved, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups)
* 1 1/2-pint container fresh raspberries
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* Vanilla ice cream

For topping:
Mix flour, oats, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cardamom in medium bowl. Add melted butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture comes together in small clumps. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

For fruit mixture:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine nectarines, raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch in large bowl; toss to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit. Bake until fruit mixture is bubbling thickly and topping is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cool 20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

RECIPE: French Toast with Pears and Pomegranate Sauce

From Bon Appetit – Sept. 2008
yield: Makes 4 servings
active time: 30 minutes
total time: 30 minutes

This recipe sparked moans of pleasure 🙂 Rather than try to follow a new recipe before coffee, I prepped the egg goo and the sauce the night before, as well as sliced up the pears and put them in a storage container. That meant in the morning, all I had to do was dip and cook the eggs, saute the pears and warm the sauce.

NOTE: We all thought the sauce needed to be more syrup-y. I think they make it liquidy so the toast soaks it up, but I believe I will try melting the sugar down into a syrup and then adding the juice next time to see if I can get it a bit thicker.

5 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom,divided
4 3/4-inch-thick slices egg bread
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 firm but ripe unpeeled red Anjou or Bartlett pears, halved, cored, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 cup pomegranate juice
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom to blend in 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Add bread slices; let stand until egg mixture is absorbed, turning bread slices occasionally with spatula, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Transfer pears to plate. Add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet; stir to melt. Add pomegranate juice, sugar, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon cardamom; simmer until liquid is slightly thickened and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove sauce from heat.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter on griddle or in another large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bread slices and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Cut French toast slices diagonally in half; divide among plates. Top with pear slices, spoon sauce over, and serve.

RECIPE: Indian Spiced Carrot Soup with Ginger

Indian Spiced Carrot Soup with Ginger

from Bon Appetit, April 2008

This little soup is so velvety, subtle and flavorful that it just made my heart melt. Beyond the chopping, it’s a fairly quick and simple recipe. I found myself musing that it could possibly even be a spicy carrot juice mixer for vodka 😉


1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (preferably Madras)
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel
5 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Plain yogurt (for garnish)


Grind coriander and mustard seeds in spice mill to fine powder. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add ground seeds and curry powder; stir 1 minute. Add ginger; stir 1 minute. Add next 3 ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; sauté until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add 5 cups broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if too thick. Stir in lime juice; season with salt and pepper. DO

AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving.

Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with yogurt and serve.

RECIPE: Texas Beef Brisket Chili

Texas Beef Brisket Chili


A cold-weather favorite, this all-beef, no-bean chili gets added appeal from a seasonal ingredient: butternut squash. For best results, make the chili at least one day ahead so that the flavors have time to meld.

[NOTE: I modified this recipe to offer both an oven-prepared version of brisket (orig. recipe) and what we did, which was to smoke the brisket in advance. The oven-baked version starts with ingredients in a pot on the stove, and then completes the cooking in the oven. The smoked version simply keeps the pot on the stove and begins stove cooking toward the end of the smoking time.]

Original Recipe by Bruce Aidells (some modifications made)
Bon Appetit Magazine – October 2008


6 large dried ancho chiles* (about 3 ounces), stemmed, seeded, coarsely torn
6 oz bacon, diced
1 1/4 pounds onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 5-pound flat-cut (also called first-cut) beef brisket, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch cubes – if prepared in a smoker, cut after cooking
Coarse kosher salt
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles (1 3/4 cups)
1 12-ounce bottle Mexican beer
1 7-ounce can diced roasted green chiles
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
4 cups 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks seeded peeled butternut or acorn squash (from 3 1/2-pound squash)

Fresh cilantro leaves
Diced avocado
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Warm corn and/or flour tortillas


1) Place chiles in medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over to cover. Soak until chiles soften, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

[OVEN-BAKED BRISKET] Preheat oven to 350°F.
[SMOKER-COOKED BRISKET] Prep smoker with wood and start flame. Rub brisket down with course salt and course-ground pepper. Smoke brisket for 5-6 hours.

2) Sauté bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until beginning to brown. Add onions. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

[OVEN-BAKED BRISKET] Sprinkle beef all over with coarse salt and pepper. Add to pot; stir to coat. Set aside.

3) Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Place chiles in blender. Add 1 cup soaking liquid, garlic, chili powder, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt; blend to puree, adding more soaking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if very thick.

[OVEN-BAKED BRISKET] Pour puree over brisket in pot.

4) Add tomatoes with juices, beer, green chiles, and cilantro stems. Stir to coat evenly.

5) Bring chili to simmer.

[OVEN-BAKED BRISKET] Cover and place in oven. Cook 2 hours. Uncover and cook until beef is almost tender, about 1 hour.

6) Add squash; stir to coat.

[SMOKER-COOKED BRISKET] Cut brisket into bite-sized cubes and add to the simmering pot. For this version, the pot stays on the stove, rather than being placed in the oven.

7) Cook uncovered until beef and squash are tender, adding more soaking liquid if needed to keep meat covered, about 45 minutes longer. Season chili to taste with salt and pepper. Tilt pot and spoon off any fat from surface of sauce.

DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool 1 hour. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Set out garnishes in separate dishes. Rewarm chili over low heat. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

RECIPE: Pillau with Coconut and Milk


Serves 4.

From an Indian cookbook – fantastic with shrimp/fish and the Thai Green Curry Pesto sauce.

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetened)
2-3 green chillies
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp pistachios (cut into thin strips)
2 bay leaves
2 in stick cinnamon
4 cardamoms
1/4 cup ghee or just butter 🙂
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups water

Mix the rice with the coconut, chillies, salt, sugar, raisins, pistachios, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cardamoms.

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice mixture and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the milk and water, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir.

Lower the heat to very low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff the pillau with a fork and serve hot.

RECIPE: Thai Green Curry Pesto


Makes approx. 1 1/2 cups

Fantastic on fish, shrimp, chicken or on pasta.

2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
1 – 1-1/2 cups packed cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp “Thai Taste” Green Curry Paste
1/4 cup peanut oil (or veg oil)


Place garlic and cashews in a food processor, and process for 10 seconds

Add cilantro, lime juice and curry paste and process until smooth

Add peanut oil in a stream, scrape down sides and process for another 5 seconds