Miso-Chicken Noodle Bowl

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I had a noodle bowl craving the other day and decided to experiment. I looked at a couple of recipes and was inspired to create my own. The results were low-cal (353 calories in a generous sized serving), flavorful, and filling. Even better, it maybe took half an hour to prepare. My only criticism is the miso itself is high sodium, so something to keep in mind.

MISO-CHICKEN NOODLE BOWL

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INGREDIENTS
FOR BROTH:
1 large sweet Onion, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped Carrots
2 tablespoons Sesame Oil, divided
1 pound Chicken Breasts, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
2 boxes (32 ounce) Miso Broth

FOR NOODLES
1 8-ounce package wide-style Chinese or Japanese noodles
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil

METHOD OF PREP
For best results, prepare the broth and noodles separate.

  1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large stock pot. Add onions and garlic, saute until slightly translucent, but not brown. Add carrots and ginger and saute until carrots are tender-crisp. Add a little water to keep vegetables from browning.
  2. Add miso broth, bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer.
  3. In a medium to large frying pan, heat one tablespoon sesame oil. Add chicken, stirring frequently until no pink remains. Add chili garlic sauce and stir until all pieces are coated.
  4. Transfer chicken to broth and continue to simmer as you prepare the noodles.
  5. Cook noodles in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and transfer to pot with one tablespoon sesame oil to prevent noodles from sticking.
  6. To serve – in a large bowl, add about half a cup of noodles. Pour 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the broth mixture over. Garnish with scallions and serve with chopsticks, if desired.

Broth mixture and be refrigerated and reheated as needed up to one week.

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Mashed Potatoes

Another reason I love fall…mashed potatoes! True, you can enjoy them any time of year, but there is something particularly enjoyable about this comfort food in the colder months. When I used to cater, the company I worked for had a caramelized onion mashed potato that guests loved. I developed my own version, cutting back on the butter and cream and instead using BACON. This is one of my favorite fall side dishes, I made them for Thanksgiving last year and have served them at multiple dinner and dinner parties. Guests are hardly ever disappointed.

It’s hard for me to give you an exact recipe as I always wing this one, but I think I have pared it down for you to try and replicate in your own kitchens.

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CARAMELIZED ONION AND BACON MASHED POTATOES
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 ounces thick cut maple bacon, or any thick cut bacon
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until fork-tender, drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a nonstick skillet, remove from heat when done. Using a set of tongs or a fork, remove the pieces and drain on a paper towel, reserving the bacon grease. Once cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon into pieces and set aside.
  3. Turn the heat back on the skillet with the bacon grease and add onions. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until browned, constantly moving the onions around, whether by hand flipping or with a spoon, careful not to burn.
  4. Add sugar to the onions and saute until sugar is incorporated and mixture is almost syrupy – the added sweetness is important to the dish. Remove from heat and set aside with bacon crumbles.
  5. Add milk, butter, and more salt and pepper to large sauce pan. Heat until butter is melted. Add potatoes and using a potato masher, start mashing by hand. Texture should have some pieces of potato – the desired effect is more rustic than whipped. Mix in bacon and onions, adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Potatoes can be served immediately or cooled down and refrigerated. When reheating, additional milk may be needed to reconstitute potatoes to desired texture.

Remember this recipe is not an exact science – play around with more bacon, less bacon, more potatoes, more liquid, etc.

FOS – When Onions Become the Foundation of a Healthy Relationship

When I was in high school, I loved comedian Paul Reiser’s book, Couplehood. There was a chapter in the book that discussed going out for coffee. It was a pretty elaborate chapter and I wish I still had my copy of the book to accurately quote what he was talking about, which was essentially there isn’t anything beyond coffee that people could meet up for without it sounding odd or complicated. By going out for coffee, the name coincides with the event, you know what you will do when you get there. I want to show Mr. Reiser how this has evolved and you can in fact get together for more than a coffee date and less than a full meal – the answer lies in soup. French Onion Soup, specifically. Or, how I like to refer to it and hope it takes over the world, FOS.

This very food has formed the foundation of one of my friendships, the man whom I also commissioned for the graphics of this blog and one of my Starbucks partners, Mr. Eric Shine. We didn’t hit it off when we initially met and he was just a customer in my store, it was upon interviewing him and offering him a job that everything fell into place. Now Eric and I are in very different places in our lives, not just because of our 14+ year age difference. I am practically mid-career and focused on settling down and finding someone to share my life with. Eric’s life, in a way, is just beginning – he’s finishing up high school and starting college in the fall. Over time, we discovered we had quite a bit in common, such as our sharp wits, love of technology, entrepreneurial spirits, and a love of food. All of these commonalities were slowly discovered bowl after bowl of French Onion Soup…and we didn’t have to be hanging out to bond over the soup. It got to the point that we would just inform each other when one party was eating said soup somewhere, and the rest of the conversations follow. As Eric would say, when we met, onions cried…

Eric has an un-quenching thirst for the combination of savory broth, sweet caramelized onions, French bread, and gooey melted cheese. It is just one of those dishes that he endlessly craves. Up until about three months ago I had never even attempted to make it at home, it had never crossed my mind, but over time and knowing Eric, I was up to the culinary challenge.

Since my first attempt, I feel I have perfected my recipe, though I will continue to meet for FOS.

It all starts with an onion

Slice about 5 - 6 large onions to begin...

Melt about a stick of butter in a large stock pot, preferably one with a heavy bottom. Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

After about half an hour of stirring around the onions, they will start to brown and caramelize. Once they are brown, soft, and syrupy, you can add your seasonings.

For seasonings, I went with thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and some parsley

Add about two quarts of beef stock, and allow to simmer for an least an hour. Soup can be served immediately, or cooled to be reheated and served later.

When you're ready to serve...in oven-safe soup bowls, ladle in some hot soup.

Add your French bread...I had rubbed a bit of garlic on the bread and toasted it first.

Add your cheese. Gruyere, Gouda, and Swiss all work well. Here I have Gouda. Place the bowl under your broiler. I have mine on a sheet pan to make it easier to place in and take out of the oven.

In 3 - 5 minutes, you have your own French bistro fare, worthy of the finest of friendships.