Two Month Hiatus?

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When I began this blog five years ago, I told myself I’d keep the writing, recipes and photos going, as long as it was fun for me. It’s not that for the last two months, blogging has been less fun — things have simply been busy. I am a step-parent to two busy kids. Baseball season, meaning games and practices, took up anywhere from 3-5 days of the week up until this past Saturday. Every damn week. He also just graduated from elementary school today and will be eleven on Monday! Shall we mention this fella is clocking in at 5’5″ and 120 pounds — both taller and heavier than me, despite our almost exact 20 year age difference?! And he’s got a weekend baseball tournament coming up Saturday and Sunday?

Royals - Championship Game (41 of 75)

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And the other kid? He’s now graduated from high school. As life unfolds, he’s also headed off to college two months earlier than anticipated in order to train with the water polo team at Long Beach City College. (As in, he’s set to leave next week. We are driving him down, then coming back in a whirlwind trip in order to be in Oregon for a music gig my husband has booked.)

Vincent - AHS Graduation 2016 (1 of 2)

Vincent - AHS Graduation 2016 (2 of 2)

Somewhere in there, we had to put down our two german shepherds. They both had degenerative myelopathy and towards the end of their lives, my days consisted of many doggy-diaper changes, constant attention and of course love–on top of the every day things that living within a family with kids entails. These pups were nearly 13 years old and I had known them just as long as I had known my husband (nearly a decade now).

Dogs - DOD 5-18-16 (1 of 2)

Dogs - DOD 5-18-16 (2 of 2)

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I’ve spent many days in our gardens, rebuilding, creating, planting, and not too long from now, there will be immense amounts of harvesting (which I am SO stoked about!). There are 7 types of tomatoes steadily growing, broccoli, collard greens, baby lettuce greens, gigantic spinach, leeks, beets, cucumbers, a few different types of peppers, eggplant, purple pole beans, basil, strawberries, numerous flowers and herbs. I’m excited about this year’s gardens. Mainly because I’ve put, and continue to put, lots of time into them and the potential harvest feels that much sweeter.

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Shall we add more to the chaos? YES! We knew we’d eventually get another dog. Ideally, a puppy. A lab puppy is what both my husband and I wanted, with the intention of Silas being key in raising her. We also intended to find said puppy after we’d moved Vincent to Long Beach. Then all of a sudden, locally, I found some border collie/chow chow pups who were 10 weeks old on Craigslist. We said we’d “go check them out.” NOTE: YOU CANNOT GO CHECK OUT A PUPPY AND NOT BRING ONE HOME. So, barely two weeks after losing both of our dogs, we found ourselves with a 10-week-old puppy. And… she’s the most mellow, sweet, easygoing puppy ever in the history of the world. Hands-down.

Percy (11 of 11)

Percy (2 of 3)

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I am turning 31 tomorrow. I’m not sure how that happened so quickly. While the next couple weeks will also be extremely busy, I figured I’d just stop in and say “hi!” And to also note this blog hasn’t gone dormant — I intend to get back to recipes, photos of recipes… so stay tuned.

Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup (5 of 8)

Everyone should have some recipes in their go-to repertoire. Things you KNOW you can make that everyone will enjoy eating. Around here, the go-to staples probably revolve around Mexican food. Enchiladas? Hell yes. Tacos with homemade corn tortillas? Indeed.

My husband is a big fan of soups. I’ve learned to keep a few go-to soup recipes at hand (even though I am not a particular soup enthusiast). One flavor that goes over particularly well in our house, even with the kids is potato leek soup.

I think a good soup encompasses layers of flavor. Enriching the flavor of each ingredient can help to deepen the complexity of the final soup. For that reason, this potato leek soup includes oven-roasted potatoes, roasted shallots and roasted garlic. The potato still adds creaminess while the roasted shallots and garlic add a faint sweetness. The combination of flavors is delicious!

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup (7 of 8)

Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
4 medium shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
6 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus more for garnish if desired
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup (6 of 8)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the diced potatoes, shallots, and garlic in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Toss until everything is well coated. Spread the mixture on a large rimmed sheet pan in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are lightly browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking in order to ensure even browning. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup (2 of 8)

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary so as not to brown.

Add the potato/shallot/garlic mixture, broth, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper to pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup (3 of 8)

Remove the thyme sprig and bay leaves, then purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender or work in batches in a high-speed blender, until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add water or more broth to thin it out to your liking. Gently bring back up to temperature and serve hot.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup (4 of 8)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegan Roasted Potato and Leek Soup (8 of 8)

Saturday Sites: Week Twelve

Saturday Sites - 12

1.) This instagram account cracks me up.

2.) How long do leftovers really last?

3.) I do, I do, I do-ooo like the idea of these rolls!

4.) I hope this is how you all drive…

5.) The W though.

6.) Natural food dyes from real ingredients.

7.) I think this is an important piece.

8.) This bread/cake needs to be in my very-near-future!

9.) One of my favorite authors… I look forward to reading this book as well!

10.) This ice cream sounds like something I’d want to make and not share with any-damn-body!

11.) This soup, before soup-weather is gone!

12.) Glad I wasn’t having sushi at this place at the time!

13.) We had vegan patatas bravas once… these sound equally delicious!

14.) This poem, on loss.

15.) This makes me excited to try homemade red bean paste!

16.) I really enjoyed reading these words.

17.) Proof of evolution in your body.

18.) Lemony desserts are my favorite desserts

19.) This is the kind of meal I dream about.

Baked Onion Rings

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (2 of 8)

As people start increasing their awareness about what goes into our mouths — is it low fat/low carb/low sugar? Gluten free? Organic? Paleo? — it seems we’re also allowing ourselves to be more judgmental of other people’s food choices. I think eating should be enjoyed; food should be relished. Its taken some real struggles and work for me to get to that point in my life. However, at the ripe ‘ole age of 30, I have come to the decision that calling people out for their food choices isn’t a healthy behavior. I don’t believe in food shaming — shaming people for what they choose to put into their bodies doesn’t simply create feelings of guilt (I shouldn’t/ should/ can’t/ won’t eat this/that) — it can feed into heightened concerns about following “perfect” diets, causing obsession and removing the joy of eating all together.

That isn’t to say I want to merely eat crap and not have any responsibility over such choices. I do think moderation for any choices is smart. As a kid, I ate my share of fast food, sodas, copious amounts of sugar… Was Taco Bell my lunch choice at least a few times a week? Oh yes. When we went out to breakfast with family friends occasionally on the weekend, was Burger King often my choice (because… well, french toast sticks)? Most certainly. I don’t eat that way now, mainly because it doesn’t make my body feel good afterwards.

There are times I crave foods for pure nostalgic reasons, other times simply because they taste good, never mind the stomachache I’ll probably have later on. Throughout my childhood, I remember the deciding factor on whether to go to Burger King or McDonald’s came down to two things:  the first had chicken tenders and onion rings, the latter chicken nuggets and french fries. When the desire for onion rings hit with full force recently, I knew a trip to good old BK wasn’t in my future, and I wanted to find a better alternative to deep fried batter coated onion rings. The following recipe is a crispy baked version, and it’s both tasty and fully satisfies the craving for what could be a much unhealthier snack!

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (5 of 8)

Baked Onion Rings

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
2 large yellow onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
canola oil
dipping sauce of choice (ketchup, ranch, etc.)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (7 of 8)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Generously brush a couple baking sheets with canola oil.

Peel off the outermost layer from the onions and discard. Cut off the ends, sparing as much of the onion as possible. Slice the rest of the onion into rings about 1/2-inch thick. Separate the rings, placing them in a bowl of cold water while you cut the rest of the onions.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, seasoning salt, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder Place the panko breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.

Take one onion ring, gently toss it in the flour, being sure to coat all sides well. Lightly shake off any excess. Next, dip it in the egg mixture, being sure to coat all sides. Lastly, toss the ring in the panko crumbs to coat. You can somewhat firmly press the egg-coated rings into the breadcrumbs to make sure they stick to the onion. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat this process with the remaining onion rings.

Lightly drizzle the tops of the onion rings with canola oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, flipping once about halfway through the baking time. Remove from oven and serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

*Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container then reheated at 350 degrees F until hot and crisp (about 10 minutes).

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (8 of 8)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (6 of 8)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Oven Baked Onion Rings (1 of 8)

Day to Day Life: Weeks 10 + 11

The last couple weeks in photos:

Spring means all the daffodils are popping open!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (1 of 25)

This guy finished up basketball and went straight into baseball season! He’s currently playing on two separate teams!
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Got to do a little pitching…
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A flat bread experiment with merlot sea salt and herbs.
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Miss Nikki is enjoying the grass that has been coming in so nicely in the backyard! I cannot wait to plant some things, too!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (4 of 25)

Speaking of… I refreshed the soil and nutrients in my baby lettuce tub this week! Hooray!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (23 of 25)

My husband and some of his colleagues were part of an interactive art exhibition you can read more about here. ‪#‎dotjpgandfriends‬
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (6 of 25)

A beautifully successful homemade popcorn experiment!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (7 of 25)

Early, early morning pre-baseball tournament breakfast. Store-bought crescent rolls wrapped around Field Roast breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheddar cheese. Delicious success!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (8 of 25)

I might’ve found chocolate Yan Yan like my childhood favorite… bought one, then discovered the ‘sticks’ now say things on them!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (9 of 25)

Homemade fettuccine!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (10 of 25)

To go with homemade creamy pesto and homemade bread, of course!
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Chicken, doing a little Instagramming. ;)
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One of my current favorite snacks. Maple yogurt, fresh blueberries, maple granola, shredded coconut and chia seeds.
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (16 of 25)

Cinnamon apple mixture for some sweet little turnovers…
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (12 of 25)

Spinach, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, garlic, feta, and parmesan cheese for savory turnovers…
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (13 of 25)

Savory turnovers!
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Chicken, doing a little dance! Haha.

Quick chili one night. With brown rice for me… smoked cheddar and green chile cornbread for the hubby.
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (17 of 25)

Lilies!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (19 of 25)

One of my favorite one-person meals lately. Brown rice, furikake, shoyu, red chili flakes, and a 6-minute-soft boiled egg.
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (18 of 25)

A vegetarian spin on a club sandwich with a side of homemade baked onion rings!
Forbidden Rice Blog | Day to Day Life Weeks 10 + 11 (21 of 25)

Blue spring skies.
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A St. Paddy’s meal of vegetarian Guinness Irish stew and Irish soda bread.
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Goof.
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Hope you’ve had a lovely couple weeks!