Posted in Food Favorites, Freedom Friday

Eggs and Hash Browns

As part of Freedom Friday, let me introduce to you my favorite dish I make on a hurried Wednesday night. I’ve been making this for years. Sometimes I add to it, sometimes I take away from it. But most of the time, it remains the same: eggs and hash browns.

Cheese Omelet and Hash Browns
Cheese Omelet and Hash Browns

Wednesday is Costco night for us. This means a night where I head over to the consumer warehouse and buy everything in bulk. It’s amazing how far my dollar stretches when the product comes bundled in boxes. By the time I get home, I’m too tired for anything else. That’s when the routine developed of cooking eggs on Wednesday night. They’re quick, easy, and it takes me twenty minutes tops from idea to plate.

Fried Eggs—This is the easiest recipe. Crack a couple of eggs in a frying pan and away you go. It may seem easy, however if the pan isn’t greased properly, sunny side up eggs will become scrambled in no time. I use an extra large chrome skillet and prep it with olive oil, allowing the oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Not a lot—just enough to coat. Then I turn on the burner to medium heat. How do you know if the oil’s hot enough? Dip your finger in water and allow a drop to fall into the pan. If it pops, it’s ready.

Fried Eggs and Hash Browns
Fried Eggs and Hash Browns

Start cooking the eggs (you don’t need me to tell you to crack them and place them into the pan, do you?) When the egg white turns white, drop the heat to a minimum temperature, this will prevent the bottom of the eggs from burning. To know if the eggs are ready, I touch the top of the yolk with the pad of my finger. Do this until the eggs feel room temperature (I don’t know what to tell you if your eggs didn’t come out of a fridge). Also, as it cooks, use the spatula to lift carefully the edges. Once it’s done, the eggs should naturally slide off the pan into the plate.

Scrambled Eggs—There’s a trick to making good scrambled eggs: never allow them to cook long. They have to remain fluffy and moist. Not like rubber, where you chew it and it tastes like the inside of a boot (not that I know what that tastes like, nor do I want to know). Attaining fluffiness is easy. Crack a couple of eggs in a bowl and beat senseless. Well, at least until they have a creamy texture to them. If you like, you can add a touch of cream or milk to them, but I usually don’t bother.

Now, prepare the pan just as I’d described in the fried egg paragraph. There’s a difference though. Once the eggs hit the pan, turn off the burner and continually fluff them with a spatula. Keep doing this until the eggs look loose but not soggy. When you get them to that consistency, you’ve got yourself a fluffy scrambled egg.

By the way, a few things you can do with scrambled eggs to make them interesting is while they’re cooking, add some spices to the mixture. I do this in the bowl where I beat them. I like paprika, cumin, and garlic and onion powder. I’ll then season it with little salt and pepper.

I have an omelet recipe, but I think I’ll save it for another time.

As for the sides, I’ll make hash browns, which take about twenty minutes to cook. I tend to time my eggs so everything pops from the stove all at the same time. Depending on my mood, I’ll add baby carrots or celery as another side dish. Cucumbers are cool, but I find the taste less desirable—I don’t think it makes a good combination. Maybe I’m wrong. Oh, and during the summer, I eat salads, so that’s something to consider when making any of the egg dishes I described.

Do you have any egg recipes you’d like to share? What would be your choice of sides?

Posted in Food Favorites, Freedom Friday

Eleven-Spice Chicken

Saturdays is a big thing here at our house. While everyone in our neighborhood shovels the snow from their driveway, goes shopping or runs errands, my family unplugs and relaxes with good food, great conversation and awesome friends. This is my Freedom Friday post, and this is my Eleven-Spice Chicken recipe.

Eleven-Spice Chicken Dish
Eleven-Spice Chicken Dish

My family lives a hectic lifestyle. I can’t tell you how busy my wife gets hauling the kids back and forth to their activities or how I manage to stay sane doing the same thing in the evenings. But the day we look forward to the most is Saturday. Saturday is our day. Actually, it’s my wife’s day, since I get to treat her with one of my most delicious recipes. She enjoys the food. I enjoy the cooking. And when we have company over, it makes for a delightful evening of giddiness and good time.

Born from my many Saturday food experiments comes my Eleven-Spice Chicken recipe. Yep, this is a true-blue, Jack Flacco original just like the sushi recipe I wrote about a few weeks ago. How this recipe came about was from watching nothing but the Food Network for a whole year and trying various BBQ recipes from multiple hosts. I tried a myriad of spices to get the right mix of what I liked. Some meals come out from the oven smelling incredible. Some—not so much. I would tweak the ingredients slightly and try again until I got the combination right. I did this until one day, my son said, “Boy, is this ever good!” That’s when I knew I had something. When I finally tasted it, he was right, “Boy, is this ever good!”

Now, if anyone ever asked, I used to hold on to my recipes like gold. Never quite revealing everything I’d put in them. Then I thought, that’s kind of selfish. The whole point of cooking is to share a great experience with people and have them try something unique. Something they never tried before. What better way to do that than to share it with you all!

Here we go, then…

Ingredients:

  • Black pepper
  • Brown sugar
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Ginger powder
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Skinless chicken thighs and/or chicken legs

What prep looks like:

Chicken in a Glass Skillet
Chicken in a Glass Skillet
Chicken Prepared for the Oven
Chicken Prepared for the Oven

Directions:

  • Buy quality, skinless chicken. I tend to purchase my chicken thighs and legs from Costco. They have them packaged nicely and the thighs are already skinless, so you’ll save some time with prep. Also, you get a lot in the package, which will allow you to save money in the long run.
  • Get yourself a deep skillet and set your chicken in there. Some have argued chicken tastes better in a metal skillet as opposed to glass. I’ve tried both and I can’t really tell which tastes better. It’s going in the oven, not the BBQ. I’ll leave that up to you. Live on the wild side!
  • Spice the chicken. You’ll notice all the ingredients are powders. There’s a reason for this. With powders, you can control how much of a spice you’d like to taste in the meal. My rule of thumb is to put in what you like. Here is how I do it: Salt the meat. Nothing worse than tasting bland meat. Then sprinkle liberally all the other ingredients except for the brown sugar. Do it for both sides. Once you’re done, take a teaspoon of brown sugar and sprinkle it on one side as your last ingredient. When the dish comes out of the oven, you’ll find the sugar will have melted and caramelized over the chicken, helping to seal in the juices. I also use brown sugar because it contains molasses, which gives the dish an extra edge of rustic flavor over white, flavorless sugar.
  • Finally, preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C, cover the dish with tin foil and slip it into the oven for an hour. Once complete, take it out and enjoy!

If you like this recipe, pass it along.

Do you have any chicken recipes you’d like to share? If you’ve cooked this, how did it turn out?

Posted in Food Favorites, Freedom Friday

My Sushi Recipe

I’m back with another Freedom Friday post. If you’re joining me for the first time, I tend to use Fridays as the day I can let loose, chat about nothing really and still try to make sense of the whole thing. Get it? Yeah, me neither. You can read all my Freedom Friday posts simply by clicking on the link on the Features panel.

My salmon & avocado dish at The Sushi Garden
My salmon & avocado dish at The Sushi Garden

Okay, I feel like food. Well, I feel like talking about food. Strange, coming from a guy whose main preoccupation is zombies, aliens, and female superheroes. The caveat to writing all my blog posts is I get hungry occasionally and need to eat. What does a mind focused on the undead eat? Ah, good question. I thought I’d share a recipe with you.

No, it’s not man brains served on a platter. What am I, Hannibal Lecter? Besides, that’s kind of gross.

My Salmon's Lover's Sushi dish at The Sushi Garden
My Salmon’s Lover’s Sushi dish at The Sushi Garden

For anyone who knows me, I have an affinity for sushi. If you haven’t tried sushi, get into a sushi bar pronto and live a little! It’s an experience you will soon never forget. And just because it’s called a sushi bar doesn’t mean they serve alcohol. It means, it’s an all-you-can-eat restaurant of sorts, with plenty of time for chitchat. Whenever I go there with the family, it’s no less than three hours of absolute delight. Lots of food, and lots of chatter.

Anyway, getting back to my sushi recipe. I’ll first give you the ingredients then I’ll provide the directions—hows and whys, and all that stuff.

Ingredients:

  • Nori (raw seaweed)
  • Sticky rice (uh-hu, it’s really called sticky rice)
  • 1-2 Avocado (this will serve four)
  • 1 Lemon
  • Smoked salmon (sliced, preferably in sealed package)

Directions:

  • Cook the rice as directed on the package. The typical cooking time is twenty minutes with a standing time of five minutes. Cook as much as you need. If you’re cooking for four then one avocado will do. I tend to cook for eight because…well, my family likes sushi.
  • As the rice cooks, take the time for prep. You’ll need a Bamboo sushi mat. So make sure it’s clean. I wrap my mat with plastic wrap (hey, that rhymes). You’re going to need the sushi mat to roll your maki. Maki is the name for a particular type of sushi. You can learn the various other kinds of sushi names by reading the menu from a sushi bar first. This is how I learned how to make my sushi. Silly, I know. But it worked for me.
  • Once you’ve cooked your rice, you can start the rolling process. First, take a sheet of nori, lay it on the sushi mat, and spread the rice evenly on the sheet. What you want is a nice bed for the filling.
  • Next, lay the smoked salmon slices on the rice. This is so good. No cheating. Don’t eat any of the slices while you’re making it—it’ll spoil your supper.
  • When you’re done, scoop some avocado and spread it on the salmon. Make sure it’s even. What you don’t want is to get a piece without the filling. Believe me, a piece with only nori and rice is good, but a piece with the filling included is better.
  • After you filled the entire sheet, you roll the sheet into a roll (there’s a tongue twister).
  • The last part is cutting the roll into pieces, laying them on the presentation plate. Spray a little lemon, so as the avocado doesn’t get brown, and serve.

And there it is. My salmon sushi I make from scratch, right at home. Food fit for a zombie slayer!

The final product: My Maki Sushi
The final product: My Maki Sushi

To see how it’s done, check out this video on YouTube.

By the way, with every sushi meal you need some wasabi, Japanese pickled ginger and soy sauce. I should have mentioned that earlier. This is how it’s done: Take a small plate, pour some soy sauce, add some wasabi, stir and dip the sushi in the mixture. While enjoying the bite, slip in some ginger.

Heaven.

Have you ever made sushi? What do you like about it? Do you like eating it at a sushi bar or at a dedicated restaurant? If so, why? I’d love to hear your comments!