Bites of My Life

As I'm writing this post, it is currently pouring down rain. I'm obsessed. The perfect sleep aid for me is a rain storm. After a weekend in Dallas reuniting with my best gals from college, I'm more than exhausted. I slept the majority of the afternoon and now I'm climbing in to bed hoping I didn't ruin it by napping.

The week started with lots of pink, red and treats in the form of candy, pop tarts and cheese boards. I worked it off by using my StudioHop membership trying out new yoga and bootcamp classes. A CycleBar just opened up in OKC and I am already hooked. If you are local they have free rides all this week for you to try! Aside from eating and working out it was a busy week with work, so I was more than excited to skip out of town to enjoy the weekend. 

-Homemade pop tarts for my galentines! One of my favorite TAB recipes!
-A little galentine's spread in addition to our usual Monday Bachelor nights!
-Real life captured.
-Themed breakfasts are a must on holidays. Sliced bananas in the shape of a heart drizzled with 88 Acres Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter (I'm obsessed) and cashew butter, topped with cinnamon and crushed freeze-dried raspberries.
-I love making bulletproof coffee in the morning and golden milk at night after dinner. I'm a sucker for a good food trend. That being said I combined the two by adding turmeric to my usual bulletproof recipe and it was way great. 
-Give me all the liquids in the morning. I love a good drink and find myself often walking out the door for the day with a water, a smoothie, a coffee or tea, sometimes a Le Croix too! The more the merrier I suppose. Friday morning post hot yoga was water, Jade Citrus Mint tea and a Spicy Thai smoothie from Organic Squeeze.
-It had been a hot minute since all of my best friends were in one place, luckily most of us are in driving distance of each other. Getting to be together and celebrate Katie and Matt's engagement made for the best weekend!
-Finally got to take one of my friend Shelby's Pilates Barre class. It was so hard, but I was obsessed. Anyone in Dallas take at The Pilates Barre? If so, I'm jealous!
-Gucci fresh ;)

Annie

Copycat Republic's Grilled Shrimp Salad

Yesterday I got to share my talented friend Katie and her budding photography business, KGC Photography. A few weeks ago Katie and I got together to play around in my kitchen and with her camera. I made lunch and she photographed. It was too fun. I felt like a celeb chef for like 5 seconds!!!

At the time, I had recently shared this blog post on the Best Salads in OKC. With the post on my brain, I thought it would be fun to recreate one of my faves, the Grilled Shrimp Salad from Republic Gastropub

I recommend this salad to evvvvvveryone! It is filled with eclectic ingredients but they make it work. Components are: spinach, grilled shrimp, spaghetti squash, roasted brussels sprouts, crispy salami, smoked gouda cheese, red onion and tossed with a horseradish dressing. 

I was on Whole 30 at the time so I modified a bit, eliminating the gouda and swapping the dressing for my favorite balsamic dressing. With so many ingredients the salad takes some time, but if you pre-prep this salad it can easily be thrown together. I had already roasted my spaghetti squash and brussels and made the dressing. When it came to lunch time I just had to sautee the shrimp and toss it all together. 

Copycat Republic's Grilled Shrimp Salad
yields 2-3 servings for an entree salad

Ingredients:
8 oz baby Spinach
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 spaghetti squash, forked into strands
2 oz sliced salami
1 lb. brussel sprouts, halved
~5 Tbsp. avocado oil, divided (or whatever oil you prefer)
1 tsp. Pink Himalayan sea salt (or regular kosher salt)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp (10-12 shrimp)
1 clove of garlic minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. butter or ghee
salt and pepper

Dressing: yields a little extra, but this is a great balsamic dressing to have on hand!
1/4 cup balsamic
1/2 cup oil
1 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:
*I suggest doing some prep for this salad. Pre-roast your squash and brussels and make your dressing ahead. This way everything can easily be thrown together.

Preheat your over to 425 degrees. You will use the same oven temperature to roast your spaghetti squash and brussels sprouts.

Slice your spaghetti squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Season with a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper.  Place in a baking dish and roast cut side up for 45 to 50 minutes, until fork tender. Now prep your sprouts. Cut the bottoms off your brussels sprouts then slice them in half. Place on a roasting sheet and generously coat them in oil, salt and pepper. Once there are 25 minutes left of the squash, pop your sprouts into the same oven. Roast for 25 minutes until browned and crispy. 

Heat a pan over medium heat. No need to oil the pan, your salami has enough fat in it. Cook your salami in a pan for about 3 minutes on both side, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the grease. Keep the pan, we will use it in a bit to cook the shrimp. Cut the crispy salami into long strips and set aside.

Now time to make the dressing. In a small mason jar or in a small bowl combine the mustard, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes if you are using them.  Shake or whisk to combine. 

Once your squash, brussels and salami are all done, it’s time to prep the salad. In a large bowl place your spinach, sliced red onion, sliced salami, and brussels. Fork one half of spaghetti squash to create strands. Fork them right into the salad ingredients. Give the salad a good drizzle of dressing and toss. Final touch is the shrimp. 

Over low-medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan with the salami drippings. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, being careful it doesn't burn. Add shrimp to the pan then sprinkle over salt and pepper over the top. Cooking for 2 minutes on both sides, until pale pink. Increase the heat to medium high and add 1 tablespoon butter or ghee. When the butter starts to foam add your chopped parsley. Stir the shrimp around until it is all coated in the buttery parsley. Immediatly plate, adding 4 pieces to each salad. 

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All photos by KGC photography, see more of her work here.

Annie

Take a Pic with KGC Photography

Oh man, I have been patiently awaiting this post. A few weeks ago my friend Katie and I played around in my kitchen. I cooked and she photographed. Katie has the most incredible eye behind the lens and as soon as I saw the pictures she captured I wanted to post them all over the world wide web for everyone to see. Well the day has come to share. 

Katie and I became friends through our other friend Katie. Hi KG!! Now KR (still can't get used to that). We first bonded over finding out we both work in social media, then our friendship grew over our mutual love of matcha. Two bases of a deep friendship my friends:)

Katie started her own social media and website development company straight out of college. So impressive. But what I'm sharing today is even more impressive. After realizing photography was her real passion, Katie decided to dive head first into growing her photography business, a job not for the weak or weary! 

Katie has impressed me so much on how fearless she is in the entrepreneur world. Something I wish I had, but remain timid. She invested time and money into making her photog biz happen, and it totally paid off. KGC Photography has officially gone LIVE! KGC specializes in wedding and lifestyle shoots. I'm not getting married, #single, but when I got a snipit of her skills I immediatly texted her saying we had to do a shoot ASAP!

I'm obsessed with how the pictures turned out from our mini shoot. Katie knows exactly how to capture people in their element. Exhibit A, below. Me with my nose in a cookbook hanging out in my kitchen aka my favorite room in our house.

KGC Photography's website is up and moving and grooving. After only a few short months of shoots, she already has the most stellar portfolio. Check our her gorgeous work here. You can also stalk her via insta and FB. To stalk/get to know her more, we did a little Q&A so all you take a bite readers can see why you should "take a pic" with my girl Katie!

A: Give me some basics on KGC photography, what you offer, your style, your background, how you got your start in photography etc. 
KGC: Currently I offer lifestyle shoots + wedding photography! I don’t say no to much right now because I believe the more experience, the better. So I’ll take pictures of just about anything right now! I am loving getting to learn so much so often. It is humbling and exciting all at the same time. My style is definitely classic with a modern twist. I love the film look to digital photos, and natural light is my jam. I guess the correct way to describe my style would be moody, trendy, boho, and classic, all combined into my personal art :)

A: What made you decide to take the plunge to start KGC Photography?
KGC: Honestly, it was something that I wanted to do for a long time, but was really scared to start. I think the biggest thing that scared me is what others would think about it, which I don’t even know why I would care that much! After doing social media and taking many pictures for my clients, I knew that photography is the part of my business that I truly loved the most. There is something so special about someone trusting you to capture some of their greatest moments, and I think its a feeling that I will never get used to and always appreciate.

A: What is one piece of advice you would give someone wanting to start their own business? 
KGC: My biggest piece of advice is something that I needed to take myself: don’t worry about what other people think, and give it 100 percent. Starting your own business, no matter how big or how small, is an exciting yet nerve wracking thing to do! It has to be something that you are truly passionate about, because you will find yourself wanting to spend a lot of time on it. For me, I love it so it is never truly work. It is a very cliche saying, but very true!

A: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of photography?
KGC: There are so many things that I love about photography! I am a huge people person, so like I said earlier, I truly consider it an honor and a joy that people trust me to capture moments of their lives that they want to remember and be able to look back on. I still get butterflies when someone inquires about a shoot, and I don’t think that will ever go away! I also really love the editing process. I know some people don’t, but I see it as an opportunity to create hundreds of separate pieces of art that each have my special touch on them. I love being able to take something that started out ordinary, and make it into something extraordinary. I will never get tired of the moment that my clients open up their gallery and I get a special email or text from them, it is the most rewarding feeling in the world! To be honest, I haven’t found a least favorite part yet. Although I did wear a super uncomfortable pair of shoes the other weekend when I was second shooting a wedding for 8 hours.. I lost feeling in my last three toes for like three days. I definitely did that to myself. Learned my lesson on that one.

A: What is your 5 year goal for KGC Photography?
KGC: My five year goal for KGC Photography would be that I am booking out 30+ weddings a year, and getting to travel to at least 5 different places for 5 different weddings! I would also love to have a home office that I can edit in, but for right now coffee shops will do!

A: Coffee or tea? or matcha?! 
KGC: Gosh that is a hard question. Ask me 6 months ago and I would have been a coffee HATER. However nowadays, anything with caffeine is my jam. I’d say a dirty chai would be my drink of choice. Tea + espresso? Yes please. Now if we can just find a way to get some matcha in there somewhere.

A: Current Netflix binge?
KGC: Honestly, you’re going to think I’m crazy but I don’t even have a Netflix account! I’m a HUGE bachelor/bachelorette fan, so I am knee deep into Nick’s season. I haven’t missed a season in 4 years!

A: Favorite bite?
KGC: Right now, I’m loving brunch. I’m going to say Chicken and Waffles from Whiskey Cake!

You can follow KGC photography on Instagram under @cunninghamkatie, on Facebook @kgcphotographyokc and check out her gorgeous, newly launched site www.kgcphotography.com.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post featuring this amazeballs salad that Katie and I noshed on for lunch during our photoshoot. Look familiar? It's a copy cat of my fave salad from Republic.

Annie

Bites of My Life

We are about half way through February. How does this happen? Last week was busy which meant it flew by. This weekend was busy in a fun way, meaning it also flew by. I didn't have enough hours in the day today to get everything done to prep for this week. I'm typing as fast as I can, barely keeping my eyes open as I write this post with the Grammy's in the background, my computer at 13% and precisely 24 minutes past my bedtime (It's currently 9:24pm on Sunday night, yes I go to bed at 9pm like a grandma). 

So let's keep it brief since sister needs to get in bed. Last week was work, workout, eat repeat; per usual. This week looks the same, but I'm so excited to head down to Dallas on Friday for a little BFF reunion. I won't mind another speedy week!!

-Real life I love having time to make breakfast, but I secretly love protein and energy bars as much as homemade smoothies. Green tea and an almond butter Kize bar on the go!
-This brussels sprout salad was a treat last week. It had a brown butter vinaigrette which is being recreated so soon. 
-Smoothie bowl hack using a pre-made smoothie from Pure Food + Juice.
-Lunch last week and this week will look like this. Kale/romaine taco salad with turkey meat, avo, green onions, tomato, salsa and crushed plantain chips. So good and whole 30!
-Perfected these dense fudgey brownies. The recipe got posted last week so you can enjoy them too. P.S. these are a perfy chocolate treat for that holiday that happens on Tuesday.
-The best part of StudioHop is getting back into hot yoga. I have been pretty devoted to just Barre3 and cardio with some interval classes mixed in, but I've missed hot yoga. The flexibility of SH allows me to go to so many studios and classes with just one membership. Sign up before 3/6/17 and use my code 'anniehopokc' to get $20 off your first month!
-Beyond obsessed with Beyond Studios. Their 500 class is a butt kicker and I can't get enough. I've been dropping in their classes thanks to none other than, StudioHop.
-I was first introduced to 88 Acres by my friend Dana. She sent me some of there chocolate sunflower seed butter and it knock nutella out of the park. Dana got me hooked up with the company and now I'm hooked on their seed bars. They are a 100% nut free brand-kudos.
-It hit 90 degrees on Saturday in OKC. Hello taste of spring!
-With Valentine's/Galentine's/Single Awareness day on the horizon it means all the sweets and treats and pink things. After my timehop reminded me that I posted these Snickerdoodles a year ago I was craving them. I made them along with these for my gal pal celebration.
-This week's meal prep looks like this: roasted delicata squash (first timer!!) tossed with parsley, shallot, lime juice and red pepper flakes. 
-Squash to go with these crispy skillet turmeric chicken thighs. Comment if you want the recipe!

Annie

Perfect Fudge Brownies

If you've been reading my blog or following me on Instagram you probably remember last year when I set out on a quest to find my perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I found it, and you can get the recipe here. Well now I have put it on myself to find my perfect brownie recipe. Like CCCs, people differ in how they like their brownies. My brother-in-law is a brownie connoisseur. He even had brownies and milk instead of a groom's cake he and my sister's wedding. 

I was excited and he was excited as I began my brownie recipe testing, only to find out we have very different opinions when it comes to brownies. I like mine dense, fudgy and super chocolatey. He likes his cakey and fluffy. I'm sorry John, but no. 

With my flavor and texture profile in mind, I did some research, developed a recipe, and to my excitement I found it on the first try! My cookie quest took four rounds of testing... This brownie recipe checked all of my required boxes. Dense, fudgy, strong chocolate flavor, and makes more than an 8x8 in pan. I know that is a funny requirement, but I always feel like 9 square brownies from an 8x8 is not enough. This recipe fills a whole 9x13 pan! 

I gave out lots of samples to gain feedback (completely ignoring my B-I-L's opinion). There was a "Stop testing, you found it" and my favorite compliment, "These remind me of 501's." Cafe 501 is a local restaurant that has my favorite brownies. I had them in mind the whole time I was developing this recipe. So, if you are like me and want your brownies, dense, fudgy and chocolatey, keep reading. 

Perfect Fudge Brownies
yields 9x13 pan, 18 brownies

Ingredients:
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. ground coffee (enhances the chocolate flavor)
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.

Melt the butter and chocolates in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until fully melted. Stirring between each 30 seconds. Make sure to scrape the bottom to keep from burning. In a separate bowl, use a hand held mixer or a whisk to beat sugar, eggs, coffee and vanilla together. With a wooden spoon, stir in the melted chocolate mixture. Fold the flour and salt into the mix. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Annie