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Easy ideas for drop in guests (for a new mom!)

I would probably stick with an Antipasto tray of lunch meats, cheeses, and marinated veggies along with a basket of hard rolls, and an assortment of fresh fruits, and a few bottles of "two buck chuck" wine from Trader Joes.

It literally only takes like 5 minutes to throw together an antipasto platter if you got the ingredients all on hand. You could knock that out while they are working on their first glass of wine. For the fruit, just try to keep an assortment of pre-sliced/ & chopped fruit ready to go.

For some warmed/cooked items, Paula Deen's recipe for spinach & artichoke dip is dead simple and foolproof, plus it's only 6 ingredients - mix everything together and bake in the oven, serve with toasted pita bread or bagel chips, something sturdy. You can also prepare it days in advance.

You could throw together flatbread pizzas quickly too and pop those in the oven. Or keep long loaves of ciabatta bread on hand, that you can fill with pizza toppings and bake in the oven.

Or maybe a make your own fajita/taco bar. Just keep some prepped veggies, cheeses and other toppings ready to go in plates in your fridge. Then all you have to do is grill up some pieces of steak/chciken, and slice and serve them with some warmed tortilla shells, and your already prepped toppings.

Maybe have some roast cooking in a slow cooker throughout the day that, if people stop over, they can make sandwiches from with some rolls and slices tomato, onion, lettuce and other condiments.

Dec 15, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Are Brown Rice's (and other wild rice's) Suppose To Be Creamy/Sticky?

Thanks everyone, and to the previous comment asking how I cooked it - I followed package directions and cooked it on the stove in a pan with a tight fitting lid.

I will go ahead and try reducing the water by about 1/4 cup increments to see what that does.

The Lundberg blend is really good btw. I like the idea of adding in mushrooms. I was also considering making a batch with golden raisins and slivered almonds.

Dec 15, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Where can I find plain yellow rice with no seasoning?

I would suggest just sticking to some annatto seed infused oil. It will impart a very rich golden color. Annatto seeds are cheap and you don't need a whole lot for a given recipe.

Personally I'm not a fan of turmeric - it has a slightly perfume-y smell and medicinal & chalky taste that I don't care for.

Saffron is expensive, but you can buy tiny bottles of it at Trader Joe's for a few bucks and a tiny bit goes a long way. But you should steep it in some liquid or fat first so it will infuse the color into the rice more evenly. If you just toss it into the rice, the color will just bleed into the grains it came in contact with, and not color the rice evenly.

Whatever route you go, I would caution you to stick with glass or metal containers, and avoid anything plastic or any utensils that will stain easily. These ingredients can stain the crap out of plastic permanently.

Dec 14, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Are Brown Rice's (and other wild rice's) Suppose To Be Creamy/Sticky?

I just bought a couple of new rices/rice blends. One is a "Texmati" rice, and another is a wild rice blend (Lundberg Wild Blend) which has long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, whole grain black japonica, and few other types in it.

I've made a batch of each so far, and I noticed both of them were pretty creamy and sticky. Is this normal for whole grain rices? I mean, taste wise they were great - especially the multi grain blend. But if I was in the mood for some a light fluffy rice, can it be done with these types of rices? Or do they always cook up this dense?

I'm worried if I use less liquid than the package directions, they will just come out hard and chewy.

Dec 14, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

[UPDATE] Vote for Your Worst Food Trends for "Best (or in this case, worst) of 2014"

Kale

Quinoa

Bacon

Sriracha sauce

Moscarpone cheese

Absurdly Overpriced Cupcakes

Cronuts, Ramen Noodle Hamburger Buns and every other forthcoming stupid fad like them

Chipotle in Adobo

Deep Frying everything under the sun

Celery Root

Pomegranates

Truffles/Truffle oil

Pancetta/Prosciutto

Dec 05, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Slow Cooker Hot Wings

This sounded interesting, but I would really caution anyone considering this for a party to do a trial run first to see if they like it or not. I made a half batch of these today and was really disappointed with what the slow cooker did to the wing meat. It basically turned it into mush. It was like eating paste off of a bone. In fact I even took the wings out of the slow cooker an hour early, because I was worried about cooking them for that long on high as the instructions state. I put them on a cookie rack over a baking sheet in the oven at 400 for about 35-40 minutes to finish them off, but it still didn't fix the texture of the meat. I'm thinking these would be better off simply roasted in the oven on a rack, basted with the sauce a few times during cooking. Maybe you can reserve some of the sauce and marinate them for a few hours in it too. But I would not recommend the slow cooker route - not only does it take like 4 times longer, but it produces an inferior result.

The sauce itself was interesting though, sort of like a cross between pizza sauce and hot wing sauce. It does brown rather quickly in the oven so keep an eye on it.

Nov 16, 2014
Atomic76 in Recipes

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Wait a minute, they're mortified by raw veggies yet they will eat raw sushi? This doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Also, once you season/dress veggies they start to breakdown as if cooked anyhow.

Nov 13, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt

I just bought some of this after getting bored with my usual seasoned salts. I haven't cooked with it yet, but I tasted it out of the bottle.

One thing I like right off the bat, is that it's not drowned in Paprika and Corriander and Cumin and other stuff. It's much mellower and more neutral, with a buttery savory-ness.

In the past I had tried Morton's Nature's Seasoning blend for something a little less overpowering, but it has a really odd artificial celery like taste to it that I really dislike.

This stuff on the other hand, seems more in line with what I was looking for.

Nov 04, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt & other homemade seasonings

I just picked up some Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt, as I had been looking for it in my neck of the woods recently. I haven't cooked with it yet, but from what I've tasted, there is obviously the salt, garlic and onion. But aside from that, the next thing I taste is a celery like flavor, and *maybe* rosemary but I'm not sure about that. On the bottle there are small narrow leaves that look like they could possibly be dried oregano, but I don't really taste that.

I definitely like how it's not drowned in paprika, cumin and other spices common in many other seasoned salts.

Nov 04, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Authentic ancient Chinese recipe for Bourbon Chicken

I was searching for this recipe as well several years ago, and surprised at how elusive it was - long story short, none of the recipes out there come anywhere close, so skip the white grape juice, the bourbon, the maple syrup, save your money.

I did end up finding some small operation online that was selling a kit to make your own "bourbon chicken" at home. It was two small bottles, one was a marinade and the other a glaze. Basically the marinade gives it its smokey flavor then the glaze gives it its sweet flavor. I gave in and ordered this, and yes it did in fact taste very much like the real thing. The problem was it cost like $18 plus shipping and handling , then I had to wait weeks for it to arrive. And, the main ingredient in both products was MSG.

The other thing to consider is it's not just about ingredients, but rather cooking technique. You can make something very similar to food court "bourbon chicken" by simply marinating boneless skinless chicken thighs in Teriyaki sauce for a few hours or overnight, then pan frying gently on medium low heat in vegetable oil. The key is to take your time and let that mahogany colored glaze develop slowly as the chicken cooks through. If you cook it too fast the outside will scorch and burn and the chicken will be raw inside. But if you take your time it will cook more evenly and develop a nice sweet flavorful lacquer on the outside.

Also, dark meat chicken shouldn't be cooked just until it's safe to eat - let it cook further, it will give it a more pleasant texture. Dark meat that's only cooked to the point of being safe to eat has a gluey sticky rubbery texture to it which isn't very appetizing. Unlike white meat chicken, if you take it a bit further past it's safe temperature it gets better imo, and becomes more meaty and juicy. I'm assuming it's because you are letting the additional fat in the dark meat render out properly.

Oct 27, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Cookbook for "ELECTRIC" Pressure Cooker

One thing to point out, I've read elsewhere that the InstaPot only gets up to 12 PSI, whereas your traditional stovetop models get up to 15 PSI - which means you will have to add more cooking time when converting pressure cooker recipes written for stove top models.

There are some electric pressure cookers that get up to 15 PSI though too, the Nesco one does, and I believe the Emeril Lagasse model made by T-Fal does as well.

Also, before you invest in a bunch of books - in my experience, a lot of the times listed in recipes I've tried were way off. It's really more trial and error and taking notes about what cooking times work best with your specific model.

Hip Pressure Cooking is a great site, and the owner is really cool - she's responded to several of my comments on Facebook. I still use her recipe for home made hot sauce to this day.

I know some people prefer the stove top models, but personally I feel the electric models are more consistent with their heating which makes learning the right cooking times easier and more accurate. They are also much safer since they shut off automatically, in case you leave the kitchen for some reason and don't get back in time.

Oct 11, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking
1

Bad year for local corn?

The corn I've had here in NE Ohio has been fine, nothing remarkable, but certainly not super sweet. Personally I don't like super sweet corn though, so this is all subjective.

Sep 05, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Defrost frozen fish in original plastic packaging. Safe?

I don't recall ever seeing these warnings on fish packaging, but if I had to guess, perhaps the plastic is not heat safe. Certain types of plastic will leak out toxins when heated.

Personally, I just thaw shrink wrapped fish by placing it in a bowl of warm water. In about 15 minutes it's thawed evenly. I don't like using a microwave to defrost.

Sep 05, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Chipotle is going seatless...

What is "dumbed down" about Pico De Gallo? You chop some tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and dress it with some lime juice, salt and pepper. Add some mashed avocado and you have guacamole. Their rice is just rice, fresh cilantro, lime juice and salt. Again, what's so "low brow" about that? What's not "authentic" about that? Is it somehow more special if a "celebrity chef" foo foos it up a bit more, farts on it, and charges like 10x more for it?

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Chains

Chipotle is going seatless...

Just because they are giving you a lot of food for your money doesn't mean you *have* to eat it all in one setting. Are you saying you would rather then give you a "healthier" portion of their food for the same $6.50 or so you are spending there? A burrito or bowl meal there is easily enough for two meals, possibly three - just save the rest and re-heat it when you're ready. There is another chain, DiBella's Subs, that make enormous sandwiches. They're like $7.50 or so for their large ones, but it's actually a bargain. One sandwich was enough for like 3 days or so of lunch. Honestly, it would cost me more to buy the amount of lunch meat alone that they put on their subs, let alone all the other ingredients, if I were trying to make them myself.

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Chains
1

Chipotle is going seatless...

The original decor of Chipotle was made from scrap materials - which was rather creative and resourceful. They're whimsical sculptures made from pieces of metal and wood. The founder opened his first restaurant with a very limited amount of money, so the decor reflects some of the ways he made the best of what he had to work with.

Just from my own observations, at any given time I was in line at Chipotle, I would say at least 80% or more of the people there were not dining in, but rather leaving with their food. So in that case, this makes sense imo.

Very few people actually use the dining areas of most fast food places these days from what I am seeing. The exception would be maybe food courts, or highway rest stops, airports and such. But your typical suburb fast food joint, the dining areas are usually empty.

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Chains

Why the Federal Ruling on McDonald's Just Turned Franchising Upside Down

This is good news. These companies are making money hand over fist and should be compensating their employees appropriately and paying them realistic wages that adjust with the cost of living just like everyone else's wages. I can't believe we are still arguing over minimum wage and livable wages these days. Where does a company get off acting entitled to paying wages to their employees that were barely considered reasonable several decades ago, let alone now? How would you like it if your boss at your job decided they wanted to pay you the equivalent of someone in your position would be making in the 70's? This whole franchisee relationship was merely a way of McDonald's corporation covering it's own ass when it came to being held responsible for anything in the first place.

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Chains
1

Do fast food restaurants in your area sell bagged ice?

I noticed this as well, our local Steak N' Shake sells bagged ice for 99 cents a bag. Kind of weird, but I chalk it up as a "nice to know in case I ever need it" thing I guess. If I'm going to Steak & Shake for a burger and fries, I'm probably not returning home to a house party of 50 people, where I would need a bag of ice too. But if that ever happens, now I know...

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Chains

Arby's, just how is their roast beef made?

I'm from Youngstown Ohio as well, home of Arby's (Boardman, listed on the Wiki page is essentially a suburb area of Youngstown), and as far back as I can remember (I'm 38), it was always that processed lunch meat "roast beef". It's basically a lunch meat loaf that's been roasted and thinly sliced. The kitchens used to be somewhat visible from the counter for many decades, where you could see them slicing the roast beef as they were making each sandwich. It's much more obscured these days though. I dig Arby's from time to time, sure it's fast food, but for some reason I prefer it over McD's or Burger King. I think they've kind of lost their vision over the years though - they focus too much on fried crap these days - mozzarella sticks, onion petals, potato cakes, etc... their oil always tastes rancid and old every time I order fries from them - probably because like 3/4 of their menu is all fried crap these days.

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Chains

Worst Cooking show Buzzwords

Every time I would hear Carla from The Chew scream out "That's my jaaammm!!" or her and Clinton do that stupid "Extra value Friiidaaayyy!!" crap, I wanted to change the channel. I finally just stopped watching the show all together because of all the stupid little "isms" they kept repeating on the show over and over again.

I'm sick of them specifying "good" olive oil, as if there is ever a recipe that calls for "bad" olive oil.

I cringe every time I hear "ooey gooey" or "crispy crunchy".

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Food Media & News

Coconut Water Changes Its Claims

It's funny how attention hungry bloggers like "foodbabe" have no problem shilling stuff like coconut water, while simultaneously fear mongering with their quack armchair "science".

I can't wait until they expose the whole "coconut oil" craze as a bunch of baloney too. It's just another reason to sell an otherwise common ingredient at a premium price.

I used to see coconut oil listed all the time as an ingredient in a lot of cheap vending machine junk food for many years, now people are touting it as some miracle health food and charging a premium for anything containing it.

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Food Media & News

"No Strollers — No High Chairs — No Booster Chairs"

It's not a matter of the parents quickly correcting their kids when they have outbursts or promptly taking them outside to simmer down - by then it's already too late, they've already disrupted everyone else around them. I think it's rather obnoxious when parents act like because they have to suffer with their hellish kids, that everyone else is supposed to suffer along with them. They chose to take on that responsibility, not me. I shouldn't be forced to put up with screaming crazy kids when I go out to eat. Not to mention, as expensive as it is to go out to eat, this only exasperates the issue even more. Some places are off limits if you've got screaming crazy kids in tow, get over it. Go to Chuck E Cheese or Denny's or a drive thru.

Anyone catching "Restaurant Startup" on CNBC?

I watched a few episodes. I'm on the fence whether I like it or not though. I'm getting so sick of how the producers have to dramatize the hell out of everything, and make the shows hosts act so mean like that. There's only so many times they can keep pointing out "we're just here to make money" before it gets old. Also, the budgeting is going to wind up being about the same for every episode, $1,500 or so for the logo and signs, $50 a piece for uniforms, $400 or so left for food, etc... Tim/Joe act like assholes to the participants, and that consultant lady is a real cranky b$%!# too. Can't they simply make a show that is informative and interesting, without having to ham it up with all the drama like that? It's so forced too.

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Food Media & News

Food related television commercial failures

The "Rollie Easy Egg Cooker" has to be one of the dumbest kitchen appliances I've seen in a long time. Who on earth was thinking to themselves "gee, I wish I could cook something in the shape of a tube"? It honestly looks like a sex toy, like one of those FleshLights or something.

I also hate how manic the guests hosts get during infomercials for kitchen gadgets, when they try out some of the food cooked in them. They all act like someone high on cocaine, who is super melodramatic and exaggerated.

Aug 02, 2014
Atomic76 in Food Media & News

Rose's Grenadine

I doubt it. Although one time when I suggested to another poster on here that they could simply use the juice from a jar of cherries in place of the Grenadine in some drink they were discussing, someone else on here read me the riot act, complaining that Rose's was some sophisticated blend of pomegranate and spices.

Aug 01, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Fish Sauce Problem

My sympathies, that has to stink like all hell.

Aug 01, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

Mad hunt for vintage candy

I know this thread is quite old, but for those of you still looking for vintage candy - I wanted to point out that the new Giant Eagle grocery stores have a candy shop in them now that carries retro candy. Some of the Giant Eagle stores are remodeling into a newer larger format store called "Market District" (or something like that). Right now I think they are mainly in PA and a couple in Ohio.

Aug 01, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics

What is the best way to prepare steak at home?

It makes a bit of a mess in your oven, plus you will get some flare ups and maybe set off your smoke alarm, but I love a good broiled steak when cooking it at home.

The cooking technique for "Steak Au Poivre" also works out nicely. You don't need to make the pan sauce as stated if you're not in the mood for it, some oil and butter would work just fine.

Jul 26, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Picky People Coming for Dinner, What to Make?

You can certainly make pasta sauce without onions. One of my favorite "quick" pasta sauce recipes doesn't use onions at all. I think I got it off of "Smitten Kitchen", just gently saute some fresh garlic in olive oil, along with some red pepper flakes and fresh lemon zest until the flavors are released into the oil (don't brown the garlic). Then just dump in a can of crushed tomatoes and season to taste. You can add some fresh herbs at the end if you got it. This is not a long cooking sauce, it only has to simmer just until it's bubbling and warmed through.

You could make it into a baked pasta dish a number of ways. Make a ricotta filling with some ricotta, parmesan, herbs and egg. Then you can spoon dollops of it into some rigatoni tossed in your sauce, and top it all with mozzarella cheese and bake it. Or perhaps blend it with some spinach and stuff some pasta shells with it, before pouring your sauce over them and topping with more cheese and baking.

Perhaps some hand breaded panko crusted chicken parmesan to go along with the pasta? Or maybe some homemade meatballs?

Jul 26, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Is there any real reason to eat squid or octopus?

I've never had octopus, but I love squid. I used to be completely grossed out by the thought of eating both. But once I finally tried squid, as well as saw how to prepare it fresh, I really enjoy it now. What I like about squid in particular is how "clean" it is relative to other animals/creatures. Pretty much almost the entire squid is clean white edible flesh. All you do is slide off the outer thin shell, trim off the "beak" and the ink sack, and remove the "spine" - which looks like a plastic feather. No veins, intestines, and other gross organs, no fur, scales or feathers, etc...

Jul 24, 2014
Atomic76 in General Topics