Atomic76's Profile

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Home made hummous just not as good as restaurants

I know I'm gonna get hell for saying this, but I actually prefer the bottled lemon juice for homemade hummus - it's more consistent and as long as the bottle itself is relatively freshly opened, you know what you're gonna get overall. Fresh lemons can vary a lot, from being watery and bland, to overwhelmingly sour and strong to tasting rancid, oxidized and stale. I've tasted more of a failure when people follow a recipe to a tee but don't adjust for the variances in the fresh lemon juice vs. bottled.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Thicken sauce for shrimp scampi?

It would probably work. In many Chinese recipes, they do this to the meat - I believe it's referred to as "velveting" since it gives the surface of the meat a velvety mouth feel, but the residual starch also helps thicken any sauce in the wok/pan too. Even recipes like Chicken Marsala call for the chicken to be dredged in flour first, which ultimately helps thicken the sauce. My only concern would be that shrimp cooks so much faster, there might not be enough time for the flour to cook off it's raw taste. You can also mash some butter up with flour (equal parts of each) and add a little of that to the pan, also known as a "Beurre manié".

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Tacos for a Home Wedding

Perhaps some slow roasted pork, which you can then cut into large chunks and throw under the broiler to char it for "carnitas"?

I've had beef filet mignon tacos at restaurants in the past, and they were fun too - kind of a nice upgrade from your usual mealy ground beef drowned in powdered taco seasoning loaded with msg.

Chipotle's diced chicken is pretty easy to make at home - just throw some boneless skinless thighs in a plastic bag along with a can or two of Chipotles in Adobo and let them marinate overnight before grilling over a really hot grill (season to taste of course, I just use a pre mixed garlic & pepper blend).

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Los Angeles Area

Current restaurant pet peeve

I have mixed feelings about "loud" restaurants, it works both ways. Often times I *don't* want to hear all the conversations from other tables near me, especially when you get stuck sitting next to folks who are clearly attention whores and purposefully trying to make a scene. Same goes for getting stuck next to screaming kids, at least the loud music helps drown them out a bit.

I don't go out as often these days because of the prices - particularly on appetizers and cocktails and wine, have gone up way too much. I'm not paying $10+ for a cocktail with only an ounce of liquor in it - I could buy a whole bottle for that much. In fact, once you factor in the tip, you could buy a whole half gallon of liquor for that much. I'm also not paying $12 for two pieces of shrimp on a plate with some foo foo micro-greens and a few drops of some flavored oil.

If I do go out to eat these days, I seldom drink at all there, and we plan on heading back home for drinks afterwards - way cheaper, plus you can splurge on the top shelf stuff and still be saving a ton of money. I also avoid the appetizers and any other upsells and just stick to the lunch or dinner item itself.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics
1

list your favorite kitchen gadgets

Electric food steamer - I leave mine out on my counter since I use it so much. It's so much nicer than waiting around for a pot of water with a steamer basket to come to boil. The electric steamer starts steaming your food in literally seconds. Plus the timer on it makes it easy for you to get consistent results every time. It cooks rice perfectly, makes perfect hard boiled eggs which for some reason peel easier too, steams fresh veggies gently and evenly unlike a microwave, poaches fish and chicken and sausages perfectly, and is just a much healthier way to cook overall.

Electric Pressure Cooker - I also use this very often to make home made stocks which rival cooking them on a stove top all day, in a fraction of the time. But I also love that I can throw a roast in there and a jar of gravy and in about an hour I will have something that tastes like it's been slow roasting for several hours. It can also make super tender chicken for tacos, or shredded pork for BBQ Pork sandwiches.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Cookware

Do I really need a wok?

I had a more traditional wok, but ended up tossing it. It was way too big to fit in my cupboards and you're really not even using most of that excess cooking surface at all. A more modest sized stir fry pan with a flat bottom worked out much better - like the ones you have pictured. You don't *need* one to do stir fry's but the high sides are helpful to keep splattering grease or sauces from getting all over your stove while cooking. I started using mine as more of an all purpose cooking pan, even when I wasn't explicitly making stir fry.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Cookware

Subway made 2 mistakes that are destroying its business

Their lunch meats, cheeses and veggies always look so wilted and dull and old. Not to mention, I believe most of their meats are all some form of processed turkey meat. Their bread is mediocre, but what really drives me absolutely nuts is the damn employees keep smashing the whole sandwich flat like a pancake when they go to cut it in half. Also, when you ask for something like a *little bit* of mayo, they squirt like a half gallon of it on the sandwich. Their breakfast sandwiches are a joke too, with their pre cooked eggs and bacon - I can get better fresher tasting breakfast sandwiches at a BP station or a vending machine.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Chains

Chic Fil A highest rated fast food

I used to enjoy their food, but had to stop going there because of them supporting anti-gay discrimination efforts. I don't care how good their food or service is, those types of "ex-gay" programs they supported are deplorable, and nothing more than flat out child abuse. They hurt a lot of gays and lesbians who are already more inclined to substance abuse, depression, suicide and homelessness. For the founder of Chick Fil A to be so crass and flippant about donating to such organizations was the last straw for me.

Chicken bowls for a crowd

I would go with 6oz personally - that's the size chicken breasts a restaurant I worked at used. They used 6oz breasts for grilled chicken sandwiches and 8oz breasts for grilled chicken dinners. Check your local butchers, they can often sell you a large bag of 6 or 8oz breasts at a reasonable price. The ones generally sold at our local grocery stores are often way too large imo.

Boneless skinless chicken thighs would be good too though, and more cost effective. Plus they will stay moist naturally. By the time you grill them and get some nice char marks on them, then dice them up - they probably wouldn't even notice that it's dark meat instead of white meat. That's what Chipotle uses.

Jul 01, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

leaving pizza dough overnight in fridge, or freeze it?

I once had some fresh pizza dough in my fridge for a few weeks and never got around to using it. Thinking it was probably bad by then I tossed it in my trash can one evening. When I got up the next morning, I was kind of shocked to see the lid knocked off my trash can, and the dough was literally growing out of the can like that movie The Blob, lol. It was summer, so it was warm in my house, but I never realized dough could rise that much if left unattended, lol.

Jul 01, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Saffron . What should I make ?

Whatever you make, I would caution you to be careful of the cookware you use with saffron. I tried to make some saffron rice once in my electric steamer and it permanently stained the plastic rice bowl that came with it.

Jul 01, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

What did I do wrong? (Chicken Stock)

There's a lot of gelatin in the wings, so if you left them out and only used the back bone then that would be part of the problem.

If you do find yourself making home made chicken stock more often, I would suggest looking into an electric pressure cooker (or any pressure cooker really). They pull out a ton of flavor from chicken bones and give you that thicker more viscous stock. I usually just reserve fresh bones and skin from a couple of packs of chicken thighs (I de-bone them and remove the skin myself as soon as I get home from the store.). Also, if I happen to be making buffalo wings at home, I cut off and save those wing tips too for stock.

You don't even really need any extra veggies when using the pressure cooker, I just toss in an onion and a few cloves of garlic, maybe some parsley if I have it, and some peppercorns and sea salt - that's about it. Adding some tomato or a splash of wine as an acid is supposed to help draw more flavor from the bones too. I normally go for an hour and a half to really cook the heck out of everything, but it can be done in as little as an hour too if you're in a hurry.

Also, by including the chicken skin, it also gives the stock more flavor, not to mention forms a nice seal at the top of the jar to help keep the stock fresher longer.

Jul 01, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Shrimp: wierd, mothball-like taste

I wouldn't call it a mothball like smell or taste, but I have noticed when I bought shrimp from discount grocery stores that it would often times smell like sewage. It was kind of like the smell of that green pond scum that forms in bodies of still water, sort of moldy smelling. Apparently seafood from China is often farmed in small bodies of water and the fish are fed the excrement from the nearby chickens, cows and pigs. That was enough to turn me off from ever buying cheap seafood from China ever again.

Jul 01, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Why do Restaurants Use Frozen French Fries?

Penn Station is one of the few fast food places I've seen that cuts and cooks their fries fresh to order. I absolutely love that place but I try to not go there more than a few times a month otherwise I will be big as a house, lol.

I think the frozen fries thing has to do with consistency and food storage though. If a restaurant orders too many potatoes one week, they go bad and get tossed eventually, but if they order too many frozen fries, they can keep them indefinitely in the freezer until the use them up.

Jul 01, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

KFC Runs DNA Test on Alleged ‘Deep Fried Rat’ – Guess What They Found

Doesn't this type of story seem to pop up every couple years or so? I've been hearing rumors about people being served deep fried rats from KFC for as long as I can remember, even back when I was a kid in the 80's.

Did they really need to go through the trouble and expense of doing DNA testing though? Cut the thing in half, if you see bones and fur, it's a rat.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Chains
1

Arby's

It's sort of silly seeing people complain about Arby's being "mystery meat" when they will then go to Subway and order their "mystery lunchmeat". Arby's roast beef is basically just glorified heated beef lunchmeat. It is what it is, I enjoy it from time to time, but I'm not kidding myself thinking it's some freshly roasted piece of beef either. Their roast beef wasn't as processed back in the 70's from what I can remember though, it's gotten more processed tasting over the years.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Chains

What is with the smell at Subway??

I recall watching some documentary show years ago that explained how the major fast food chains such as McDonalds and Burger King employ people to develop scents which are added to their food to give them their signature smells. One of the companies that does this is called International Flavors & Fragrances. I'm not sure though if McDonald's uses them, or SubWay for that matter, but I suspect Subway is using something along these lines in their bread to give them their distinct smell. They likely do it to lure people in and make them hungry as they are walking by, in places such as mall food courts or airports. Even casinos in vegas purposefully scent the air in their establishments with specific scents which purportedly entice people to stay and gamble.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Chains

Just Go! The 10 Essential Rules of Drive-Thru Etiquette

I can't say I disagree with anything he's saying. Drive Thru's are for people on the go, but unfortunately neurotic mentally ill passive-aggressive jerks seem to get some sort of high by pulling into them and backing them up as much as they can.

I've lost entire lunch breaks and was late getting back to work because of some asshole mother in her minivan full of kids who wanted special order *everything* then had the nerve to sit there at the window and unwrap every item to double-check everything. I couldn't even pull out of the drive thru lane because there were trees and shrubs blocking me in.

I *LOVE* how some places like McDonald's now have multiple drive thru lanes, so when someone tries to pull this shit, everyone else behind them can pass them up and get their orders ahead of them.

Also, I've seen some restaurants specifically enforce a "no substitutions/custom orders" policy and I would definitely frequent a place that does this. Special orders slow everything down, period. Some people special order their sandwiches on purpose because they think they're getting a fresher burger by doing so - if the place is jam packed, your burgers going to be fresh anyhow. Or they will ask for fries with no salt just to force them to drop a new order of fries. Again, if the place is slammed those fries under the heat lamp are already fresh.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Food Media & News

Best and Worst Cooking Shows

I used to enjoy Chopped when it first started airing - love it or hate it these days, it's probably one of the only "real" reality shows on TV these day. There's really not much room in the format of the show for them to "script" in drama. I do like the creativity on the fly aspect of it, but the show overall has become rather stale and formulaic.

I wish Food Network would knock it off with all the glamorization of the food and the celebrity "chefs" though. We get it, they're 1%-ers, millionaires, living extravagant lifestyles in their multi-million dollar estates. There's plenty of Real Housewives shit on TV already for people seeking escapism through that. Why can't they just bring on some more down to earth people in regular kitchens that actually focus on cooking? How about some real, classically trained actual chefs? They spend too much effort trying to make all their celeb chefs into some "personality" and it's painfully fake.

The Kitchen is one of the worst shows on there right now - I can't stand how they all act so over the top emotive, and all their fake foodgasms every time they take a bite of something.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Food Media & News

Masterchef returns with new judge

I followed a few of the contestants from previous seasons on Facebook, and some of them were rather vocal about the show afterwards. Unfortunately from what they described the show is largely all fake. They pretty much determine in advance who is going to win and who is going to be sent home at various stages in the competition, and make them act out certain things at times to fit with their pre-written story arcs. Also, they make them wear the same clothes for all their interviews so they can splice together comments to make it look like they said things they didn't really mean, or so things they said could be taken out of context.

I also hate when they each start going into some pity party life story about some hardships they went through or some dying/deceased loved one. That's like laying a guilt trip on the other contestants right off the bat, as if to say if any of them were to win instead they shouldn't accept the award and instead give it to the person with the saddest backstory.

Best thing you've found at a 99¢ Only Store?

Ha! I tried some too when I saw that Dollar Tree was carrying it, after hearing people raving about it for years. I wasn't really impressed with the flavor though, it just tasted a bit saltier than Hellmans, and I believe Hellman's adds a tiny amount of sugar to their Mayo which Dukes was missing.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Chains

Best thing you've found at a 99¢ Only Store?

Progresso Artichokes - they usually sell for like $3-$4 elsewhere, and they're only $1 at Dollar Tree.

StoneWave Pot - infomercial product, was selling for $10+ each, but again only $1 at Dollar Tree. Even if they don't work exactly as advertised, they are still cute stone pots for things like french onion soup.

Pop - great for large parties, if you're trying to keep costs down. They sell really large bottles of their off brand soda - I think they are like 3 or 4 litre bottles, for only $1.

Medicine - When I just need a basic antihistamine for my allergies, no sense in spending like $8 for some brand name cough syrup, when I can get a bottle of the generic stuff there for only $1. Same goes for other medical supplies like bandages and gauze.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Chains

"We reserve the right to refuse...." Whole Foods

It's just one more thing to make uppity snobby upper middle class white people feel more special and smug about themselves when they shop there. I swear, every time I've been in Whole Foods, it was nothing but snooty middle aged white people in North Face jackets, and Lululemon pants just walking around and posing, and checking each other out. They probably get some sort of mental high by being able to shop at a store whose prices weed out those "other" people.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Chains

What gadgets/cookware would you have in an efficiency apt? (my list) (kid leaving in fall)

Is this a joke? What college student is "sou vide" cooking in the dorm room/apartment? Let alone baking artisnal breads and needing a $500 blender and a $300 rice cooker? LOL.

In all seriousness, I would suggest simply getting a high quality electric pressure cooker, because they can be used for multi purpose cooking, from just regular frying/browning, to steaming, slow cooking, and of course pressure cooking. They take up relatively little space too and are very energy efficient.

An electric food steamer may be another good item since they are safe and are much faster than waiting for water to come to a boil for steaming stuff on the stovetop. They cook rice perfectly, you can make hardboiled eggs in them easily, poach chicken, fish, sausages, hot dogs, whatever, and steam all sorts of veggies. I recently purchased the Bella brand electric food steamer, which is BPA free (many other models are not) and has two stackable containers for plenty of cooking space.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Cookware

Please explain this green bean casserole thing

I don't love it, but I don't despise it either. Strangely, I prefer it be made with the plain old canned soup, as opposed to some "gourmet" recipe trying to make it "from scratch" which almost always turns out awful. My other caveat would be the green beans themselves have to be frozen, no mushy grey canned crap.

Personally, I like to make a "green bean almondine" instead, with some blanched green beans, some melted compound butter and some toasted slivered almonds. I may even mix in some wax beans for contrast and visual interest.

Gas Station food offerings

There's a BP station on 422 as you're passing through Parkman Township in Ohio that sells really good pizza by the slice. I believe they also make breakfast pizza in the mornings as well. The last time I was there they also opened a small pizza shop inside the store where you could buy entire pizza's too. Their slices are enormous though, I can barely finish one.

The BP station on Som Center road in Solon Ohio makes great breakfast sandwiches every morning, they're actually much better and fresher tasting than the ones being sold at the Dunkin Donuts across the street.

The Speedway on Rockside Road in Bedford Heights Ohio sells $1 burgers or chicken sandwiches under their heat lamps. They're not bad if you're on the go and looking for something cheap. There is a burger king right next to it, but some days I did not feel like sitting through a long line at the drive through, so I would get the burgers at Speedway instead.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Could really use some guidance - I need to start cooking at home

Have you considered getting an electric pressure cooker? You can make all sorts of meals in it that taste like they've been roasting in an oven for hours, usually in under an hour and all in one pot.

For example, a pork roast - just cut it in half or thirds (to help it cook more evenly), season with salt and pepper and add it to the pressure cooker with a jar of pork gravy and some potatoes, carrots, celery and onion, and cook on high for about 45 min. You could brown the roast a bit first in the pressure cooker if you like, but it's not necessary.

You can also make rigatoni and meatballs in it quickly too - no need to even boil a pot of water - just toss in some frozen meatballs, a jar of sauce, and some dry pasta, something sturdy like penne or rigatoni. Just make sure the dry pasta is submerged into the sauce but not touching the bottom of the pot or else it may scorch. Also, avoid sauces with too much sugar because the sauce may scorch too. Depending on how thick the sauce is you may need to add a little water. It cooks in about 15 min on high.

Chicken thighs also cook up really nicely in a pressure cooker, to make shredded chicken for tacos. You can use your standard taco seasoning mix and some water along with the boneless skinless chicken thighs, and just pressure cook them on high for about 15-20 min. Personally I like to use a can or two of El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco in place of the powdered taco seasoning mix, along with a little cumin. It's a bit spicy though.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Is pot roast safe?

Should be fine, I've seen plenty of recipes for beef and beef steaks that call for leaving the meat out of the fridge, covered, for a few hours until it is completely room temp. Plus you already partially cooked the exterior.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics
1

Chicken help!

Baked chicken parmesan sandwiches - just get some crusty loaf of bread, such as french bread, slice it open and add the chicken, some pizza sauce and some mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Wrap it all in foil and bake it in the oven until everything inside is warmed through and melted, then perhaps unwrap it for a bit in the oven to let the top of the bread get more crispy. You could even brush the top of the loaf with some melted butter and hit it with some garlic salt and parsley too, or do that to the inside of the sandwich as well, for some more flavor.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Bean Water Sludge

The sludge from canned beans I throw out and rinse off the beans - I don't like the preservative taste of it. But if I make beans from scratch, usually black beans and usually in my pressure cooker, I save some of it depending on what I am cooking. With black beans in particular, when cooked from scratch they have such a wonderful deep dark black color - unlike the lighter brown ones you usually get from a can. I consider that deep color a sign that they were truly cooked from scratch when making something like a black bean soup.

Jun 25, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking