Bites of My Life

Wowza. Last week was mmm emotional? Exhausting? Amazing? Emotional because I decided I am moving. Exhausting because crying a lot is exhausting and realizing I have to find a job, find an apartment, and find someone to take my current job is stressful. Amazing because despite the emotion and the exhaustion, I felt liberated all week by my decision and the support around it. And because it was a truly great Easter weekend with friends and family in town.

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-Funfetti Cake recipe on the blog last week! Perfect for any celebration!
-New favorite restaurant/coffee shop/place to work is now open! Stitch opened right down from my office and next door to The Jones two weeks ago and I’m going to soak up as much time there as I can!
-Gal Pal Book Club #2! We just finished Girl, Stop Apologizing. We all did not like it…I would still recommend Girl, Wash Your Face, but take a pass on GSA.
-Super easy and nutritious sheet pan week night meal made a “lite bite” appearance. Recipe here.
-Hi! I’m moving to Dallas in June! Deciding if I’m going to write a post on the why… If you are in OKC and looking for a creative job in hospitality marketing, apply here.
-The go-to when I have nothing to eat. Check out my recipe for healthy fried rice. This time I used cauliflower rice and kimchi!
-The whole Social Order crew in one place for our Vol. 4 shoot with The Scout Guide!
-Orange, was I glad I got to go the the first Thunder playoff game, because our future in the series is not looking so bright.
-Spent Saturday morning judging a cake baking competition with the dream team. All to benefit the local charity SixTwelve. A group I wish I would have gotten involved in sooner. If you are in OKC, check them out!
-Really hoping mom’s table setting genes rub off on me when it comes time to host holidays for family in the future. She kills it every time!
-Ready for sister’s little peep to join our girl squad! She is due in a week and a half!
-Aunt Chloe came through with Easter dessert this year! Kathleen and I usually always make dessert (sometimes two), but we loved passing this torch to Chlo if it meant Lemon Cloud Pie!

Annie

Bites of My Life

I apologize if you fell for my April Fool's joke yesterday, you weren't alone. However, I'm not sure I've ever pulled off an April Fool's joke more successfully. I was quite proud. I was also blown away by the amount of people who fell for my joke and messaged me saying how sad they would be if TAB really was ending. I've said it before, but you put all this content out and wonder if people even read it. So thank you, thank you for reading my posts, making my recipes and letting me know that you do so! 

Jokes aside, I leave for Hawaii in one week. Did I tell you all I'm going to Hawaii? I haven't been on a real vacation in I can't tell you how long. It's just me and two girl friends, very spontaneously jetting off to paradise for a week.  Did I also mention we booked this trip 3 weeks ago? Really embracing the "YOLO" motto for this trip. 

I also posted 4 times last week. I haven't done that since hmm maybe 2015. TAB was in full force last week. Scroll back through my feed to see said posts. 

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-So excited to add Caroline to my Arbonne team!
-That soft boiled runny egg spilling out is giving me all the feels.
-Welcome to the hood Stella Nova. I don't know how you make your almond milk latte so good, but you officially have me hooked on them. 
-Raspberry Lemon Protein Muffins were posted last week and you simple need to make them as soon as possible. 
-Carrot cake protein shake was equal parts festive and delicious. 
-Hello fresh, hello roomie taco dinner!
-When Claire love's espresso martinis, you surprise her with espresso martinis for her birthday.. 
-Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars, loved by all the non-vegan's I fed them too. 
-Successfully pulled off an April Fool's joke for the first time ever. 
-Double desserts and dessert fails are oddly becoming an Easter tradition. Carrot cake fail 2K12, double cheesecakes 2k14, pie crust mishap and two coconut cream pies this year. 
-Eggcellent first Easter for Elle!
-Love our Easter feast tradition at home we have continued that past few years opposed to brunching out to eat. 

Annie 

Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars

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These lemon bars are the brain child of craving lemon bars the second spring hit, being gifted a huge bag of Brandless Oats & Honey Granola while trying to avoid eating granola (due to my lack of self-control when it comes to this crack snack), and the response to an Instagram poll where lemon bars won in a landslide.

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These lemon bars are vegan. No, I don't follow a vegan diet, I tried and gained what felt like 5 lbs. in 5 days due to eating pasta and carbs in replacement for protein and dairy. However, I've found that cooking and baking while trying to modify for various diets is a challenge and a fun experiment. It also doesn't hurt to watch your intake of added sugar, animal products and excess dairy. Due to the granola, these bars are not gluten-free, but the are vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, and free of processed sugar. 

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Quick plug for Brandless before we move on. This recipe is not sponsored by Brandless, but I have to brag on them. The granola, the parchment paper and the knife (yes the knife) that I used in parts of this recipe are all from Brandless. It's my new obsession. They are a fair-trade, non-GMO, mostly organic, no added sugar food and household item company where everything is $3. And for each purchase made on Brandless, a meal is donated to Feeding America. 

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Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars
yields 16 bars

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews* soaked
1 cup coconut cream (the hardened portion at the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup agave
2 cups plain granola, I used Brandless Oats & Honey, but any kind of honey, almond, or vanilla flavor will work. 
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1-2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:
Place your cashews in a bowl and cover with very hot water. Let soak for 1 hour. Line an 8x8 square pan with parchment paper, letting the edges hang over the sides and set aside. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a blender or food processor, pulse the granola until it is the texture of fine crumbs. In a small bowl, mix melted coconut oil and granola crumbs.  Press mixture into prepared pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass, make sure crust is pressed firmly into pan. Bake for 10 minutes until edges are slightly golden. 

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a high powdered blender, add soaked cashews, coconut cream, juice and zest of lemons and agave. Blend together until smooth and creamy. Taste and make sure flavor is where you want it. I added a bit more lemon zest after tasting. You want the lemon flavor to be bright and it to be slightly sweet.

Spread filling mixture over the baked crust. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until the edges are firm and the center slightly jiggly (LOL jiggly). Let rest for 10 minutes. Chill for at least 4 hours in the fridge or overnight. 

Using the parchment paper to assist you, pull the lemon bars out of the pan. Cut evenly into 16 squares. Lightly sift powdered sugar over the top. Fine served at room temperature, but store in the fridge for optimal freshness!

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Annie

Bites of My Life

Nothing better than a holiday weekend, nothing worse than the end of a holiday weekend. It was so nice to just hang out with my family, enjoy the springy weather, and eat some delicious food. It was a relaxing weekend, but I'm tired just thinking about having to start a new week. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. 

-I've been so inspired by the dishes and ingredients in my new cookbook, I used them to create last week's dinner.  Sumac chicken thighs with garlicky broccoli topped with pomegranate molasses and tahini.
-So much hype for the gummy bears from Sprouts, I had to check it them out for myself. My opinion is still on the fence. Haven't had that "life changing" moment yet that everyone claims. 
-With this being the week leading up to Easter, I was surrounded with candy. And I gave in...
-Fried okra tasting at The Jones Assembly!
-Friday night flight. 
-#TABturns4
-Plants that don't succ. 
-"So urban" walking to dinner with these goons. 
-Sunday best. 
-Mom sets the best table!
-Jesus washed away our sins, so I didn't regret any of this sinfully delicious spread.
-Couldn't stop snacking on this combo of salty cashews and m&m's. No doubt Easter m&m's are the cutest.

Annie

Lemon Loaf

About two weeks ago an old co-worker/work bff sent me a food video of a riff on Starbuck's Lemon Loaf, with the message "I love their lemon loaf, but I don't think I could handle buying all of those ingredients and doing a million steps..." I easily took this as a challenge to recreate the recipe in a more approachable manor.

Side note really quick. The word "approachable" keeps following me around. I've really honed in on realizing my style of cooking and baking is "approachable." I work to create recipes that any one can make and enjoy. I hope you agree. 

When my friend plotted the idea in me for this lemon loaf I was more than happy to follow through. I love a good banana or pumpkin bread, but this lemon version is just what my spring taste buds were craving.

If you are planning an Easter brunch for this weekend or have any spring baking to-do's, add this to your list. It is friends and family taste tested approved! I love leaving my bake goods out on the counter, to come back to find only a plate of crumbs. This is the best compliment in my opinion.

Lemon Loaf
yields 8-9 pieces, 1-9x5 loaf

Ingredients:
3 eggs
8 oz sour cream or greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Icing:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1 Tbsp. of butter, very soft

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside. 

In an electric mixer, cream eggs, sour cream (or greek yogurt) and sugar. Mix in oil. Add vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Scrape down the sides then add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix until fully combined. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire wrack for at least 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place back on wire rack until completely cool (or for the impatient like myself, throw it in the freezer for a bit). While cooling, make your icing.

You want really soft butter, but not fully melted. Whisk soft butter, powdered sugar and lemon juice until the consistency of thick glue. Pour over the top of your cool loaf and let it drip down the sides. Garnish with lemon zest. Once the icing is set, slice into pieces!

Similar to Starbucks-yes? Better than Starbucks-yes. Make/bake and you will see. Happy Spring!

Take a lick?

Annie