Atomic76's Profile

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Favorite "Seasoning Salt"? Is This Regional?

I've been trying a bunch of them out over the past few years, and to be honest, my favorite is the Spice Time brand of Garlic & Pepper seasoning. It's a simple blend of garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar. It's got just the right ratios of each with a pinch of sugar to help with browning, and everything is ground evenly so some ingredients don't settle to the bottom while others stay on top.

I've tried some of the other popular ones, but I can't get past their distinct flavors which start to stick out like a sore thumb if you use them in a lot of different recipes.

Lawrys tastes like a mouth full of MSG, Morton's Season All is not as bad, but it has something in it too - maybe Corriander? which gives it it's own distinct taste that I can spot in any recipe it's used in.

Morton's Natures Seasonings has a bizarre celery taste to it, almost like some kind of artificial celery extract. Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt is similar.

I like Emeril's "Essence" seasoning, but it's expensive at around $4-$5 for a small bottle in my neck of the woods. Incidentally I also discovered that the Spice Time brand of "Cajun Seasoning" which sells for only $1 a bottle and is a large size, tastes identical.

Jan 16, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Looking for a good Enchilada Sauce

El Pato! Their sauces are fantastic, and cheap too. They do sell an "enchilada" sauce in a large red can, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm a huge fan of their small yellow and green cans of sauce. The yellow one is the hotter of the two and tastes like it was made with dried chilies, the green one says it's a jalapeno sauce and to me it tastes more like it was made with fresh peppers - it's milder and sweeter and has a fresher smell to it. I love both, but I tend to use the yellow can more since it has a slightly more smokey taste to it, and it's a little spicier.

Jan 16, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Moldy pasta sauce, help

Why on earth are you leaving jars of opened pasta sauce in the fridge for over two weeks? Of course there is going to be mold on it. It's fine to be frugal, but a trip to the hospital is a lot more than a few bucks for a jar of sauce.

Jan 16, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics
1

Are crispy eggs a culinary no no?

I've heard the same thing about omelettes - some say it's OK for them to be browned a bit, while others say you should strive for no browning at all.

They're your eggs, if you like crispy edges, then by all means, enjoy them that way.

Incidentally, I watched a cooking segment with Gordon Ramsay where he explained how to make the "perfect" scrambled eggs. It was this overly fussy process where he took the eggs on and off the burner several times, and they basically looked like slimy oatmeal by the time he was done. They may be "perfect" to him, but they looked like vomit to me.

As for fried eggs, I prefer the crispy edges. It's easy to make fried eggs with no crispy edges, just spray the pan with cooking spray and put a lid on them while cooking. The crispy edges usually happen when I cook them in a generous amount of butter and it starts to brown a bit around the edges of the eggs. It tastes fantastic and is totally decadent.

Jan 16, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

What's underneath the coating of my take-out Chinese chicken? Do I want to know???

It's just chicken thighs - and personally I prefer the thigh meat in Chinese recipes. Breast meat just comes out too tough, dry and chewy and lacks flavor.

Thigh meat may not be as "pretty" as a chicken breast, but you can clean off the excess fat and cartilage.

Another reason I really prefer the thigh meat, is when I am simply marinating it in soy sauce and pan frying it - it can hold up to the high heat so I can get a nice deep brown glazed exterior, while the meat inside is super tender and juicy.

Low(er) Carb Slow Cooker Recipes

Carnitas - made from pork roast, you can start it in the slow cooker, then chop it into 2" chunks and finish it under the broiler for some nice caramelization and crisping of the meat. To keep it low carb, perhaps serve it on bib lettuce for lettuce wraps, along with some freshly made salsa.

Chinese meatballs with cabbage in beef broth

Chicken taco meat - Just slow cook some boneless skinless chicken in a few cans of El Pato spicy tomato sauce (or you could use a packet of your favorite taco seasoning), then shred it all up when done.

Chicken Cacciatore - tomato sauce, wine, mushrooms, bell peppers and onions.

or perhaps try experimenting with some different cuts of meat like Ox Tail or beef shanks.

Jan 09, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking
1

Party sides and nibbles--hot and bored!

Just a word of warning about those onions in the slow cooker, in case you have never tried that before... your whole place will reek of onions big time when doing that. I'm assuming you want caramelized onions to go with the burgers. Personally I would just spend the 45 minutes or so letting them simmer in a pan on the stove vs. stinking my place up for hours.

Minestrone Soup

My quick recipe for Minestrone...

Cook some Ditalini pasta in a large bowl of water in the microwave for about 13 minutes, then drain and let it cool.

In a large pot, brown some ground beef (about a pound). Add in a jar of Barilla Marinara sauce, and a box of Swanson Chicken Broth.

Throw in a can of drained and rinsed dark red kidney beans. Also throw in some frozen diced vegetable medley (such as corn, carrots, peas, celery, onion, cut green beans, etc..).

Add pasta too, and let it all simmer until incorporated. You may want to add more water or broth if it's too thick for your liking.

I prefer to cook the pasta separately so it doesn't make the soup too starchy, but also because I don't want the pasta swelling up so much that it soaks up all the soup. At least when you cook it on it's own, you can control how much cooked pasta is in the soup.

I don't cook the pasta al dente either, I over cook it on purpose, so it doesn't swell anymore in the soup.

Dec 20, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

how to cook black rice??

I just posted this on another thread, but I would suggest using Saveur's method for cooking brown rice.

You can find the full instructions on their site, but in short:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil - 10 cups water per 1 cup rice.

When the water starts boiling, rinse the rice in cold water for 30 seconds, then add to boiling water.

Cook for 30 minutes, then dump rice into a mesh strainer and let it drain for about 10 seconds, then throw it back into the warm pot and put a tight fitting lid on. Let it rest for 10 more minutes, the pot should be off the heat.

Fluff with a fork and serve.

I just tried this today with brown rice and it came out perfect. Previously I had been following the instructions on the brown rice container which said to cook the rice in just enough water for it to absorb within 45 minutes, but this always resulted in really sticky glue-y rice.

Dec 20, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

I bought Butterball frozen seasoned turkey burgers and they taste like cardboard! Help!

You could perhaps make some Louisiana style dirty rice with the turkey patties, if they will crumble up enough when thawed completely.

Dec 20, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Making latkes with red potatoes--bad idea?

I use red potatoes quite often to make shredded hash browns in the morning, and they work out fine for me. I peel and shred them into a bowl of cold water and let them rest, then drain and add more water a few more times to draw out any excess starch. Then I ring them as dry as possible in a clean towel, and they are ready to cook.

I personally prefer them in most cases, since they aren't as starchy.

Dec 20, 2014
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

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

Just wanted to follow up on this, I finally cooked a proper batch of brown rice that wasn't chewy or sticky & gluey.

I used a different cooking technique I found over at Saveur which worked perfectly.

Basically you just boil the rice in a lot of water, like you're cooking pasta, then drain it and put it back into the pot with the lid on and let it finish cooking in it's own residual heat.

Their method, more specifically:

- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, about 10 cups per 1 cup of rice.

- When the water starts boiling, rinse off the rice under cold water for about 30 seconds then dump into boiling water.

- Cook for 30 minutes, then drain rice into a strainer and let it drain off for about 10 seconds.

- Add rice back into pot, and put a tight fitting lid on it and let it finish cooking for another 10 minutes (the pot should be off the heat, btw.). I also added a sheet of paper towel to the top of the pot before adding the lid, to help absorb any condensation on the lid.

- After 10 minutes, fluff and serve!

Also, the rice I used was Texmati rice.

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