Fall Panzanella Salad with Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons

"That screams fall," said my roommate after taking one bite. It sure does and now I pretty much want to eat it every day in the coming season. 

If you aren't familiar, a panzanella salad is local to Italy, made of bread and tomatoes, sometimes onions and basil, and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Panzanella now comes in many shapes and forms. For instance, this recipe uses cornbread as the bread component. I have a soft spot for cornbread. My family makes a basic cornbread that we put with just about every soup, stew, and chili we make. But pumpkin cornbread, I can't. I'm SOLD!

I love the layers of flavors and textures and temperatures in this salad. Warm roasted fall veggies, cold crisp apple and toasty pumpkin cornbread all with a maple vinaigrette. It's dense enough to have for dinner, but excellent for lunch too. 

A cornbread mix will totally suffice in this recipe since you are making them into croutons. If you can find a pumpkin cornbread mix-buy it, if you can't-make one, or just use regular cornbread. It will still be delish!

Fall Panzanella Salad with Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons adapted from Purely Elizabeth
serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish*

2 cups butternut squash, diced into 1/2 in. size pieces
2 cups brussels sprouts, quartered
1 medium red onion, chopped into small wedges
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 honey crisp apple
2 cups pumpkin cornbread, diced into 1/2 in. size pieces **see note
10 oz bag tuscan kale

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and onion. Place veggies in columns on a foil lined roasting sheet. Drizzle olive oil over veggies. Season everything with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cinnamon over only the butternut squash. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender, stirring halfway though.

In the meantime, cut your cornbread into 1/2 pieces and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Once the veggies are done, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and toast the cornbread for 10-15 minutes until the edges are crispy.

In a small mason jar or bowl combine dressing ingredients. Chop the honey crisp apple into a medium dice. 

To assemble; put kale in a large salad bowl. Top with roasted veggies, apple, croutons and drizzle with dressing. Toss and serve. 

*Single girl serving: Have all the components ready to go, but only toss one serving with the dressing. Keep everything else in the fridge to pull out each night for dinner. Store the veggies in the fridge and reheat, only cut part of the apple you are going to use and store the croutons wrapped in foil sitting out on the counter.

**Note: I used this pumpkin cornbread mix which is sadly now discontinued, but this recipe minus the pecans or this recipe are great. Regular cornbread would work too. Save the time and use a mix. You shush 'em up when you toast them anyway!

I kid you not when I say I have genuinely gotten so excited for dinner knowing I have this waiting for me. It's got it all going on. 


Bites of My Life

I'm freezing. In regards to weather I haven't said that since probably last February. Woke up this morning for a Barre3 class and my usual walk. I had a sweatshirt on, but still had to make a stop at Starbucks for some tea to warm my insides up. It was so cold (57 degrees <--- I'll be laughing in a few months at this) and I loved it! 

-Been making this loaded salad like crazy lately. Full with seasonal produce like sweet potatoes, beets, avocado and honey crisp apples. Tossed with homemade pumpkin dressing (recipe)!
-Tuesday night lights watching sis's cheer girls and BIL's 8th grade footballers. They pride themselves on being the real life Tammy and Coach Taylor. 
-Post game froyo. Seasonal choices of PSL, snickerdoodle and pistachio.
-10 things I already love and 10 things I'm trying now that OKC's Trader Joe's is open. Did you see my post
-Get me out of the office and in to a coffee shop if you want me to really be productive. Lucky for me, my job allows that. 
-The sweetest little package, with the best surprise inside! I get to be a bridesmaid for for my Madeline and I can't wait!
-Geeked out when I saw this superfood turmeric, ginger and beet Larabar, but it kind of tasted like grass...
-How gorg is Nancy's version of my Pumpkin Green Smoothie? She is a smoothie bowl queen!
-Put a dent in my wallet, but couldn't be more excited to spend it on TJ goods!
-Beer tasting and my besties for a perfect Friday night. 
-Fair food should always come jumbo size and should always leave you with a stomach ache. This Indian Taco did just that. 
-Came for the Eli Young concert, stayed for the rodeo and silver bullets. 


10 Products I Love & 10 Products to Try at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Oklahoma City

Trader Joe's Oklahoma City

The big league city that is Oklahoma City, and the place I call home is FINALLY getting a Trader Joe's. Officially opening Friday the 23rd at 8am. I can hardly stand the wait. 

I fell in love with TJ's the summer I lived in DC and have been deprived ever since. Anytime I'm on vacation or a weekend trip to Texas, I make a stop at their Trader Joe's to pick up my favorite almond butter and trail mix. It's a full on love affair with this quirky grocery store. I'm not shy to share my love, leading to posts like this...

I'm not the most experience Trader Joe's shopper, for obvious reasons, but I do have some tried and true favorites I pick up on the rare occasions I'm in the same city as a TJ's. Today I'm sharing my 10 faves, as well as 10 items I can't wait to try. I stalk every blog post, article, report, instagram feed, etc. that devotes itself to the best Trader Joe's products. I feel confident I've come up with a well crafted list of things to try.

10 Products I Love:

1. Raw Crunchy Almond Butter This is without a doubt my favorite almond butter. It's very thin and needs a good stir when you open it, but it's perfect for that almond butter drizzle over oats or smoothie bowls all foodgrammers dream of. And #teamcrunchy just cause.

via the trader joes experience 

via the trader joes experience 

2. Cashew Butter Just like the bottle says it's creamy and salty and delicious. Cashews are my favorite nut so I obvi wig out over cashew butter. So great with apple slices, but also perfect for savory things like dipping carrots & broccoli into or for asian sauces. 

3. Rolled Oats This massive bag is so cheap and lasts forever. Makes a great bowl of oatmeal, but I mainly use this big bag more for baking or making granola. 

4. Tomato-Less Corn Salsa With chips dipped straight in or served over tacos, fish, chicken or in taco salad!

5. Macadamias mix Gingerly with Cranberries & Almonds Trail Mix Okay so look past the Omega Trek Mix image and into the background. This was my DC discovery and helped me get through the afternoon slump of my summer internship. The little bits of crystalized ginger are the best part and makes it my favorite trail mix EVER.

6. Feta Dip This one's for you Anna! When I visited Anna this summer I was greeted with a glass of rosé and this feta cheese spread served with pita chips. We scraped the container clean despite the dinner reservations we had.

7. Body Butter TJ's has some sneaky awesome beauty products that shouldn't go overlooked. I picked this up on a whim and it works so well for my dry eczema skin. The pumpkin version is faboo too. 

8. Cookie Butter Cups You live under a rock if you haven't heard of cookie butter. It's kind of like Trader Joe's mascot. Unable to eat Reese's cups, these cookie butter cups are the perfect replacement and most likely better IMO.

9. Greek Yogurt Say hello to my breakfast every morning the summer I lived in DC. At only $0.99 a cup, they were perfect for my wallet and appetite. I love pomegranate and vanilla bean! 

10. Green Tea Mints This was an impulse check out purchase that I didn't regret. Actually so good and great for after lunch. 

10 Products I Want to Try:

1. Bollywood Popcorn 100% buying this. Jai ho!

2. Frozen Falafel Wrapped in a pita with tzatziki? Yes please!

3. Frozen Vegan Tikka Masala I'm not a frozen meal person, but this one is on just about every list. 

Via pInterest

4. Parsnip Chips Intrigued! Dipped in hummus or guac.

5. Honey Sesame Almonds Trader Joe's nut section is dreamy. These almonds, coconut cashews, truffle marcona almonds, chili lime cashews etc. all at the best prices. I can't wait to try these. 

6. Riced Veggies (Cauliflower and Broccoli) To sneak into smoothies or as a rice alternative!

7. Balsamic Glaze Perfect on my Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs.

8. Sweet Potato Gnocchi I tried to make sweet potato gnocchi one time and it was such a fail. I'll leave it up to trusty Trader Joe's instead now. 

9. Vanilla Almond Spiced Chai Protein Smoothie Everything I like in one bottle.

10. Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream I have the driest hands so this is a must try!

For all you Trader Joe's veterans, any products that are a MUST? Let me know in the comments. For all you readers, get ready for the slew of TJ's products that will soon be seen all over Take A Bite. For all you OKCers, I'll see you Friday. And after you all swoop up a jar of cookie butter make sure you put it to use by making my Cookie Butter Popcorn, Cookie Butter Rice Krispies or just by the spoonful, whatever you prefer. 

p.s. I trust Gaby and Monique with all things food. Check out their full lists of favorites here, here and here


Bites of my Life

Posted up in front of the TV watching the Emmy's sipping on a cup of hot chocolate. I really wanted froyo, but someone *cough Kathleen cough* wouldn't go with me, and I couldn't stoop to getting froyo by myself. Hot coco with cinnamon (try it) and a handful of butterscotch chips sufficed my sugar craving. Does anyone else like butterscotch chips? They are the super underrated in my opinion.

Last week started with pumpkin smoothies and ended with a pumpkin date consisting of PSLs and hunting Target for all of their pumpkin flavored goodies with one of my old and favorite co-workers. We have a mutual obsession with this seasonal flavor and like to capitalize on it.

My friends and I started a kickball team and had our first game on Wednesday. Let's just say I was better at providing the halftime snacks and "adult" Capri Suns than actually providing skill for the team. We celebrated Lindz's birthday with spicy cocktails and sinful snacks, and then welcomed a houseful of besties all in town for the OU game this weekend. Bon weekend!

-Looks like a healthy green smoothie, acts like a healthy green smoothie, but tastes like pumpkin pie. You're welcome. 
-My skin is going through a little bit of a situation. Big sis Claire acted as my interim dermatologist and suggested trying all natural face products. Picked up this toner, previously recommended by Molly and purchased this face wash from Claire's favorite spa in NYC.
-Take a Bite went on the tour de matcha of OKC to find the best matcha latte. Read the post to see my fav!
-Fire on the Pineapple cocktail at Guyutes is my favorite drink in OKC currently.
-Celebrated roomie Lindz turning 24 with these waffle fries I can't stop thinking about. Topped with tequila queso, pulled pork, cilantro crema, tomatoes, japs, red onions and sunny side egg. 
-The Sooners may have let us down again, but with all my friends near and far in town, the weekend still won. 
-Green juice and movie theater popcorn because it's all about balance;) Highly recommend Sully.
-After scouring the pumpkin display at Sprouts, I eyed their bottled pumpkin salad dressing. Almost pulled the plug on buying it when I realized I could make my own. I snapped a pic of the ingredient list and went home to whip it up. 
-Tossed a loaded veggie salad with my pumpkin dressing. Give or take measurements of pumpkin puree, red wine vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, water, dijon mustard, pumpkin pie spice, and s&p all got thrown in.


Bites About Town: Best Matcha Latte in OKC

I've been preaching to the matcha choir lately, but if you haven't tried it yet I urge you to! Matcha is green tea leaves made into a powder giving you the purest form of it's nutrients. I had my first matcha latte about two years ago, but have just recently gotten boarder line addicted to them. They have an energy boost for those who are looking to weed off of coffee, but nothing too strong to make you jittery if you can't handle the caffeine like me.

If you are a matcha lover or a matcha newbie this post is still for you. I fed my addiction and went on a quest about town to find the best matcha latte in OKC. All contenders have something special about them, but I kept pretty honest about my opinions on each. They are ranked on a scale of 1-5, all ordered with almond milk and all ordered hot as compared to iced to keep it consistent. 

Matcha: Woodshed Tea Matcha Latte Mix (comes pre-sweetened)
Things to note: They offer Skim, Whole, Almond and Soy milk. They use a matcha mix that comes pre-sweetened. It's not too sweet though. Can't be unsweetened. 
Verdict: 5, Go Evoke! Their matcha is so creamy dreamy I catch myself daydreaming about it. Combined with velvety steamed almond milk they win! 

All About Cha
Matcha: Not sure :/ Sorry!
Things to note: They offer two sizes either love or passion, it is ordered as a "green tea latte" instead of matcha. They also offer a cappuccino, con panna, macchiato and freddo version. Milks include skim, 2%, whole, soy and almond.  You can get it sweetened or unsweetened. 
Verdict: 5, All About Cha ties! They were my first taste at a Matcha Latte and still one of my favorites.

Clarity Coffee
Matcha: Woodshed Tea Matcha Latte Mix (comes pre-sweetened)
Things to note: They offer a wide variety of milks like hemp, coconut, and almond. They use the same matcha mix as Evoke. 
Verdict: 2. Matcha lattes are hard to make. I've tried several times at home. I think it takes a fairly skilled person to make a matcha latte. That being said, I'm not sure if it was the barista to blame or if they just don't have it down yet, but it was not good. There was no flavor and it was full of chunks of matcha. No one wants a chunky latte. I'm open to trying it again seeing as though they use the same tea mix as Evoke and I love Evoke's, but I was pretty turned off by the first time. Bonus points for looking so pretty!

Urban Teahouse
Matcha: Their own matcha powder
Things to note: Kristy, the owner, is a tea genius and is there to answer any questions you may have. This is a good place to start if you are new to matcha. She allows you to customize your sweetener and level of sweetness (1-3). She also has a collection of milks, including some local options. With this spot being a "teahouse" you are getting a very well crafted tea beverage by someone who knows what they are doing. Only comes in to-go cups. They also offer a killer matcha lemonade!
Verdict: 4. I'm still playing around with my level of sweetness. I've varied between a level 1-2 using raw sugar. This latte has a more raw matcha taste. It's the purest matcha I've tasted. 

Leaf + Bean
Matcha: Urban Teahouse matcha powder
Things to note: The time I went in they did not ask me if I wanted it sweetened or unsweetened. It had no flavor and tasted like raw powder. 
Verdict: 2. Piggy backing off my experience at Clarity, it very well could have been the barista making my drink the day I went it, but again, it was just bad. No flavor. It definitely needed a little sweetener, but that option wasn't given to me. The foamy texture was good but the flavor was not there. 

So there you have it. In my opinion you can find the best matcha latte at Evoke and All About Cha! Have a different opinion or a matcha I need to try? Let me know in the comments. 

What other best bites should I go on the hunt for? Best pizza in OKC, best cookie, best breakfast dish? Let me know what "bite about town" you want to see next!