Category Archives: Snacks

Pearl Couscous with Zucchini, Corn and Herbs

During the summer months, corn and zucchini are always in abundance. However, in our house, zucchini is also a bottom dweller on the list of popular summer veggies available. Yet every year, I plant one or two plants, which inevitably will provide more zucchini than anyone around here wants to willingly eat.

When I saw this recipe, I knew it was one I wanted to try. I also wondered if my husband’s love of fresh summer corn would surpass his non-love of zucchini. So I gave it a try. The result was a surprisingly fresh dish bursting with flavor. Even my non-zucchini-liking husband said, “I like this salad!”

You can eat this as a salad, side dish, even a light main dish. Perfectly good hot, warm, or cold, it makes for an easy summer recipe.

Pearl Couscous with Zucchini, Corn and Herbs

Recipe slightly modified from Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/4 cups of water or vegetable broth
2 cups finely diced zucchini (approximately 1/4-inch cubes)
2 cups fresh corn kernels
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
ground black pepper
sea salt

Directions:

Melt one tablespoon of the oil in a medium sized pan, over medium heat. Add  half the onion (3/4-cup) and a small pinch of salt. Stir frequently, cooking until the onions soften.

Add the uncooked couscous to the onions. Raise the heat to medium-high and stir frequently until the couscous begins to lightly brown (5-7 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon of the ground coriander plus the 1 1/4 cups of water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed by the couscous. Remove the pan from the heat, then fluff the couscous with a fork. Keep covered, off the heat until needed.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining onion plus 1/2-teaspoon salt, sauté until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring often, until the zucchini slightly soften and begins browning lightly (5-7 minutes, approximately). Add the corn and 1/4-teaspoon salt, stirring often until the corn is slightly glistening (2-3 minutes). Add the minced garlic, remaining teaspoon ground coriander, stirring until well combined (1-2 minutes).

Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Add the lime juice , stirring to coat everything. Add the cooked, fluffed couscous, fresh basil, parsley and chives. Season with black pepper and salt to your liking.

Serve hot, warm, or even cold if you’d like.

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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)

Lemon Cherry Muffins

Forbidden Rice Blog| Lemon Cherry Muffins (5 of 9)

I once went to a birthday party where there was no cake. Not even cupcakes. In their place were muffins. Fruit-filled muffins. While most kids would be terrified or genuinely pissed off about such a thing, I was quite pleased. I remember one of the choices being a cherry muffin that was laden with dried cherries… they were delicious.

One morning recently I recalled those muffins and my genuine appreciation of them. Not knowing what else to make for breakfast one day, the idea of baking  something that was quick and filling sounded necessary.

The following muffins came out of that experiment. They’re lemony without being overly tart, the cherries provide a beautiful sweetness, and the dusting of coarse sugar creates a lovely slightly-crisp topping once baked.

Forbidden Rice Blog| Lemon Cherry Muffins (2 of 9)

Lemon Cherry Muffins

Yields about 12 standard sized muffins.

Ingredients:

1 cup dried cherries, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
5 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
zest from 1 lemon
coarse sugar (optional)

Forbidden Rice Blog| Lemon Cherry Muffins (1 of 9)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line a cupcake pan with liners or generously grease the well of each spot.

Sprinkle dried cherries with 2 tablespoons of the flour, then mix until the cherries are coated.

In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and nutmeg.

In another bowl, lightly beat the egg then add the vanilla, buttermilk, butter, lemon juice and zest and combine well. Add the chopped cherries.

Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, just until the dry ingredients are moist.

Divide the batter equally between the greased/lined muffin tins, filling each well about 2/3-full. Sprinkle a generous amount of the coarse sugar over the batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown.

Forbidden Rice Blog| Lemon Cherry Muffins (7 of 9)

Forbidden Rice Blog| Lemon Cherry Muffins (6 of 9)

Forbidden Rice Blog| Lemon Cherry Muffins (3 of 9)

Vanilla Banana Smoothie

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vanilla Banana Smoothie (3 of 5)

At least once a day either for a meal in itself or a snack between meals, my husband will say, “Babe…can I have one of those smoothies?” I know what this means: this chocolate soy milk, bananas, peanut butter (preferably this one), and lately also powdered chocolate peanut butter. He has deemed the concoction “God’s Nectar,” (bwahaha! I shit you not!) and says that one day he will certainly live off of the stuff. Happily.

The truth is, when you combine frozen bananas (this part is essential), milk, and chocolate, vanilla, and/or peanut butter, the end product is very milkshake-like. Without the guilt… Not that I feel guilty about drinking milkshakes; I am a firm believer in moderation…and could drink a vanilla or chocolate milkshake every day guilt-free.

Milkshake diet aside, I decided to try a little spin on my husband’s chocolatey-peanut-buttery-smoothie. I wanted something a little lighter tasting, which would still be filling and refreshing. The oats and frozen bananas make this smoothie milkshake-thick and will keep you full. You can add unsweetened cocoa and peanut butter if you wish, as well!

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vanilla Banana Smoothie (1 of 5)

Vanilla Banana Smoothie

Serves 2.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons old fashioned oats
2 cups whole milk (vanilla soy, almond, or your preferred nondairy milk would be okay!)
3 medium bananas, frozen
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of fresh nutmeg

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vanilla Banana Smoothie (4 of 5)

Directions:
In a spice grinder, pulverize the oats into a fine powder. (My “spice grinder” is actually just our coffee grinder, cleaned out really well.)

In a blender, combine the ground oats, milk, bananas, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Blend on high until smooth. Divide between two glasses and enjoy immediately.

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The Perfect Steel Cut Oats

Forbidden Rice Blog | Perfect Steel Cut Oats (5 of 6)

There is something perfectly simple, hearty and delicious when it comes to a bowl of steel cut oatmeal. This time of year, especially, a warm bowl of oats is gratifying and the perfect way to celebrate cold winter mornings. As a kid, my mom would regularly make a pot of oatmeal for before-school-breakfasts. Usually plain oats that had been perfectly cooked, and on the counter would sit little dishes of brown sugar, raisins, milk and butter to add to our individual bowls.

I didn’t care for oatmeal then, although that probably had more to do with my lack of interest in breakfast, in general… Or perhaps it was the time crunch of struggling to stay in bed as long as possible, followed by a shower that took nearly too long, then the mad dash to the bus stop, sometimes literally racing the bus up our street, hoping to get there in time. Who has time for breakfast in that madness (which, lets be honest – was probably served up with some teenage sass as well)?

As an adult, my tastes have changed. While I still don’t typically eat breakfast before noon, I find myself thoroughly enjoying a bowl of oats. Plus I’m old enough to appreciate the health benefits, too! They’re relatively low in calories, contain lovely amounts of fiber and they are a good source of protein providing, 7 grams per 1/4 cup serving.

Besides, oatmeal is super customizable. You can let the following recipe merely act as a base and add toppings or other ingredients to your liking. Feel free to make this bowl your own and enjoy it often, throughout this winter!

Forbidden Rice Blog | Perfect Steel Cut Oats (2 of 6)

Perfect Steel Cut Oats

Serves 6 or so

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups steel cut oats
6 cups boiling water
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
additional milk, brown sugar and cinnamon for serving

Forbidden Rice Blog | Perfect Steel Cut Oats (3 of 6)

Directions:

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the oats and sauté, stirring, for about 3 minutes until the oats smell toasty.

Add the boiling water, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep on a low simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Gently stir the milk into the oats. Cook for another 10 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Cook for 5 more minutes, then scoop into serving bowls.

Top with additional milk if you’d like, brown sugar and cinnamon to your liking.

  • You can easily add other toppings if you’d like. Some favorites around here:

— Mash a banana or two, then stir that in along with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter when you add the milk to the oats.

— Peel, then dice up an apple into bite size pieces. Add to the oats when you add the milk, along with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

— Sliced pears are great on oats.

— Stir in cranberries, raisins, currants, chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, etc.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Perfect Steel Cut Oats (4 of 6)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Perfect Steel Cut Oats (6 of 6)