Bites of My Life

It's the countdown to the big day. My favorite holiday is just 3 days away! I'm getting anxious and can't wait much longer. I can't wait for family to get into town, to make pies on pies on pies, to drown myself in dressing and creamed corn and spend the rest of the weekend with a massive food baby. This truly is the best time of the year.

I skipped ahead a bit and let myself start listening to Christmas music last Friday! It's all apart of the season in my mind. And last night I had a taste of Thanksgiving with my 2nd annual Friendsgiving. You can see bites from the night down below, and read about the 1st annual here

-Shared my tips last week on how I stay hydrated during the winter.
-My favorite salad in the city, is the grilled shrimp salad from Republic! Second location now open in Chisholm Creek!
-Loved have Madison & Peyton, formerly from Identical Ideals, soon to be from The Honeypot, here guest posting last week. Make sure to read their Book Club and Season for Senses posts!
-If you are in OKC, go try out the Provision Kitchen hot bar at lunch. It's so good and fueled mom and I all day while we started in on our Thanksgiving grocery shopping.
-Another spot you need to try is Goro Ramen + Izakaya (meaning Japanese pub). Their steamed buns and spicy miso ramen are phenom. 
-I posted about it last week, but I can't get enough. I had the other half of my Burrata, Prosciutto, Arugula Trader Joe's flatbread and it's too good. Make sure to add some maldon salt and thinly sliced apples on top!
-We last minute needed another dessert on our Friendsgiving table, so instead of pie, I made my Pecan Pie Bars, a delicious recipe from the TAB archives. 
-One of my contributions to Friendsgiving was the dressing. I love that this is a chance to venture out from our classic recipes a bit and try something new. I used this Barre3 recipe and LOVED it. I used their recipe for cranberry sauce too!
-Friendsgiving is starting to rival the real deal!

Annie

Guest Post: Season for the Senses

Peyton and Madison are back for guest post round two! See yesterday's "book club" post here. Today brings some sense appeal featuring my favorite season-fall!  -Annie

We spent most of our childhood in Asheville, North Carolina, home to some of the most beautiful fall foliage due to its location among the Appalachian Mountains. Some of our fondest memories are of around this time of year.

Touch – We went for more of a "wear" theme here! Autumnal temperatures, thus dressing, is our favorite. A lovely coat and scarf combination is always welcome this time of year. If the weather isn't quite cool enough for a scarf, we are both big fans of hats. A wool fedora style being the favorite for this time of year, such.

See – No trip to Asheville is complete without a trip to the Biltmore Estate. We go almost every time we're in town. If not to see the house itself, to run the miles and miles of trails or visit the winery.

Taste – While the area is known for its microbreweries, the city was just featured in the Wall Street Journal as the next wine destination. Full article here. There is a wonderful wine bar located on the ground floor of the Battery Park Hotel downtown. Also on our list is Rhubarb, owned and operated by Chef Fleer formerly of Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.

Hear – We've been listening to the new Johnnyswim album on repeat for the last week or so. 

Smell – The most prominent smell of the season is probably pumpkin, but for us the fall smells outside top the pumpkin baking inside. The light this time of year shines a little differently and the leaves changing makes for a smell that can't really be described.

A season for the senses indeed.

Peyton + Madison

Guest Post: Book Club

Formerly known from their blog Identical Ideals, but soon relaunching as The Honeypot December 1st, I'm so excited to have Peyton and Madison guest blogging today! They are red head identical twins, currently studying at College of Charleston, the masterminds behind my blog design and two girls I get to call friends from the unique bond the blogsphere brings! You can follow Peyton here and Madison here. Today they are talking books, and tomorrow they will be back talking seasonal senses-stay tuned! 

Both of us spend a lot of time with our noses in a book. We've each included two book recommendations along with a short synopsis.

Peyton's selections...

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (Peyton gifted me a copy of this book and I can't wait to dive in-Annie)

The byline of the book is "Non Religious Thoughts On Christian Spirituality." Donald Miller goes over various topics related to Christian spirituality that one may question and offers further explanation. It's one of the best books I've read this year. I highlighted many sections of the book as I was reading and this particular one stood out: "... I want my spirituality to rid me of hate, not give me reason for it."

Jackie As Editor by Greg Lawrence

Endless books, newspaper columns, and magazine articles have been written about Jacqueline Onassis's time as Mrs. Kennedy and more importantly as First Lady. It is often overlooked that after the death of Aristotle Onassis, she moved back to New York City and began a very successful career as a book editor. Jackie As Editor is written by Greg Lawrence, an author who wrote three books edited by Mrs. Onassis, and offers some charming anecdotes from other authors she worked with, as well as friends and acquaintances. I have read many books on Jacqueline Onassis and this is one of my favorites – it shows a more down-to-earth side of the former First Lady.

Madison's selections...

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This book is devastating and moving – and certainly a book which I think anyone could find meaning in. In his memoir Dr. Kalanithi is tremendously humble and seeks to define what makes a life worth living. A must read not only for the content, but also for the eloquent manner in which he details the beautiful and difficult moments of his brilliant life.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Also by Donald Miller – I'm currently reading a third book by him, so they're okay I guess (kidding) – this book is based on the process of writing the script for the film Blue Like Jazz. I would recommend reading Blue Like Jazz to better understand some of the references he makes to the book. Blue Like Jazz is full of observations of the world, whereas in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller seeks to discover how we can all live good stories. At this point in my life, where I am on the verge of graduating from college and looking for a career path that I am passionate about and thinking about how to live out my purpose in life; I frequently reference the messages in this book when talking to Peyton about what I hope for. And with that, just a few of my favorite lines from the book:

"The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is 'Do not fear.' It's in there over two hundred times. That means a couple of things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn't let fear boss us around. Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated. And I guess it serves that purpose. But fear isn't only a guide to keep us safe; it's also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life."

"A good storyteller doesn't just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too."

Peyton + Madison

Guest Post: Almond Butter Balls

Hi all, Annie’s sister, Kathleen here! I am excited to be back guest blogging today on Take A Bite, especially because I get to blog about one of my favorite food groups—snacks!

I am not sure what doctors recommend as the daily serving of snacks (well, yes I do, but I ignore that) but I get a healthy four servings of snacks a day. Like yesterday, for example, I had granola at 9:45 A.M., pretzels at 1:00 P.M., pumpkin spice popcorn at 1:15 P.M., and wasabi peas at 4:00 P.M.

I never met a snack I didn’t like and I could medal in the Grazing Olympics. A handful here, a handful there, cheese, graham crackers, chips and dip, raisins, apples and almond butter… the list goes on and on of all my favorites.

Speaking of almond butter—it is one of my favorite snacks and also one of the main ingredients in one of my new favorite snacks. I made these snack balls about two weeks ago and have made them twice since. They are the perfect two-bite snack that will tide you over for hours. Plus, they only have five ingredients (most of which you will already have in your pantry!

Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls adapted from  Purely Elizabeth
yields about 8 balls

Ingredients:
½ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
3 Tbsps. maple syrup
1 tsp. coconut oil
A pinch of salt
1 cup oats

Directions:
Prepare a sheet pan or large plate by placing parchment paper to cover the surface.

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and combine the first four ingredients, stirring until fully combined. Take the mixture off of the heat and stir in the oats, mixing until fully combined. (A thick mixture should form that should not be wet but easy to work with using your hands.)

Using a small cookie scoop or your hands, form balls (or scoops) with about two tablespoons of mixture, forming compact balls of dough. Place each ball on the sheet pan or plate, continuing to forms the balls until all the mixture has been used. Place the sheet pan or plate in the freezer to chill and set for at least an hour. After an hour you can store the balls in a sealed container until you eat them all!

Until next time,

Kathleen

Guest Post: Keen for Quinoa

I'm handing the ropes over to my foodie friend and sorority sister Noel today! She is a foodgrammer, loves to cook and like myself, obsesses over food. She makes me drool at everything she posts on her Instagram, so I asked her to come up with a recipe to share on Take A Bite! 

Hey guys, Noel here. I am a simple food lover. When I go to bed at night, I plan my breakfast. When I eat my breakfast, I plan my afternoon snack/ lunch. But I am thinking about my dinner ALL day. While I currently have no food blog, I have a daily struggle on whether to start one. You can, however, find me on Instagram--->@food_onmy_mind

I am 100%, without a doubt, keen for quinoa! I try to incorporate it into every meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner.  When Annie asked me to do a guest post, I had no clue what recipe I would give her.  But obviously I wanted to do something quinoa! However, a typical quinoa meal for me consists of cooking the quinoa separately and topping it with something or other.  So I wanted to make something where the quinoa and whatever else I added to it was one, single entity.  Annie and I tossed around ideas and we settled on Quinoa Avocado Black Bean Burgers!

Yes, all that goodness was put into one, single (vegetarian) entity.  I had made black bean burgers before, and had never been successful so I was nervous to test these babies out.  However, these particular BBB’s were made with special tender, love, and care (and I have since gained a food processor, which helped, A LOT).  

I invited a few friends to join me in taste testing and for the first time in my black bean burger career, I was successful.  I did learn that my original recipe was a bit spicy (I love spicy as much as I love quinoa), so the one you’ll find below has been modified to a lower spice level.

Now, I was really back and forth on what to put on my BBB.  So naturally, I made two combinations of toppings and ate half of each burger. 

Burger 1:  Dijon mustard, feta cheese, heirloom tomato, and alfalfa sprouts.

Burger 2:  Spicy mayonnaise (homemade), blue cheese, heirloom tomato, and spinach.

For those of you who are spice maniacs, like me, burger 2 is for you.  It was spicy let me tell you!  I will admit though, burger 1 was my favorite.  The combination of feta and alfalfa sprouts with the BBB was mouth watering.  I even made it into a salad the next night.

Black Bean Burgers
yields 6 burger patties

Ingredients:
2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 avocado, cubed
1 shallot, diced
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. smoked Paprika
1 tsp. hot sauce of choice
1 egg white
zest and juice of lime
salt and pepper
*1/2 cup of cilantro would also be a great addition

Directions:
Reserve 1/2 cup black beans and set aside.

Add the remaining beans, shallot, spices, lime zest, juice and hot sauce into the bowl of a food processor, fit with a steel blade. Process until the mixture is the texture of a very chunky puree. Transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining beans, avocado, cooked quinoa and egg white and stir together. (Turn so not to mush avocado) *If adding cilantro, do it at this step.

Shape the mixture into 6 patties and chill in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour, or more.  Make sure patties are thin, so that they cook through. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the patties to the pan. Cook them until browned, about 3-5 minutes per side. Serve on salad, with a bun and toppings, or in lettuce wraps/pocket bread.

Recommended toppings:
Tomato
(Extra) avocado
Raw onion or sautéed white onion
Alfalfa sprouts
Arugula, spinach
Feta, blue cheese, Parmesan
Spicy mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
Salsa
Fried egg

Happy reading and happy eating!

Noel