Bites of My Life

Back from a perfect girls trip to California and I’m already counting down until I go back. 5 months to be exact, in case you were wondering. No birthday or bachelorette to celebrate just a good ole girls trip.

“I should move here.” Something I say after just about every trip I go on, my dad says it too me to. I did it once, hi DC! I had only been to southern California one other time, both times now to Newport Beach. Looks like NP is trying to show off for me…

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-Cold temps are here in OKC! My last week of the “fall reset” I was participating in called for pumpkin overnight oats, but I had to opt for warm pumpkin oats over cold with the cooler temperatures. I did low sugar maple instant oatmeal with a spoonful of pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and chia seeds mixed in.
-INSANE matcha from the new Woodshed Tea that just opened in the city. Order it with oat milk and ask for a sample of their oat milk matcha cold brew. Equally insane.
-Headed to sunny southern California for a long weekend girls trip. Highlight of the trip was seeing my long lost bestie gal that left me for LA in June.
-First morning in Newport had to be fueled properly. The Bueno Bowl from Alta Coffee was muy delicioso!
-Boat, drink, eat repeat. The outline for our southern California girls trip!
-Cheese from a tub still deserves to be styled.
-Scout spotted in Newport! My favorite brand making an appearance on our trip to keep our boat ride drinks cold and cool in style. I quickly jumped on this photo opp!
-Sunset rooftop drinks at Lido House with a RHOC celeb sighting. Trip accomplished.
-Sweet finish to a super sweet trip!

Annie

I’m working on some travel posts recapping my recent trips. Until then, let’s time travel to my visit to Newport Beach two years ago.

Okie Southern Salad

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Disclosure: I'm totally ripping off a salad I had recently. The idea of roasted okra in a salad had me anxious to recreate. This salad takes the flavors and ingredients of Oklahoma in the summer. I guess Oklahoma is technically the "midwest" but Okie Midwest Salad doesn't have the same ring to it. My current binge of Bravo's Southern Charm must have me feelin' southn'.

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Corn, okra, pecans, black eye peas, all the goods make it in here! And it all comes together with a grainy mustard vinaigrette. I prep all the ingredeints and eat on it for a week, but it also makes for a great entree salad for about 4 people. 

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Okie Southern Salad
yields 4 servings

Ingredients:
2-3 romaine hearts, depending on size (i buy the 3 pack from Trader Joe's)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled
1, 15 oz can of black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion
1 lb. fresh okra
1 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn (2 cobs)
3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
chive, small chop
olive oil
salt and pepper

Mustard Vinaigrette:
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. honey, agave or maple syrup
salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Wash and pat dry your okra. Trim the ends off and slice about 3/4 of an inch thick. Place on a roasting sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing half way through. 

While the okra is roasting, time to make the dressing. In a mason jar combine all ingredients. Twist on the lid and shake to combine. A small bowl and whisk will work fine I just prefer the jar method!

Slice the ends off your romaine hearts. Chop into big shreds and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse your black eyed peas and set aside. Slice your small red onion in half and finely dice 1/2 of it, set aside. Slice your grilled chicken breasts into thin slices, set aside.

Your okra should be finishing up. Once out of the oven, transfer the okra to a plate and set aside. Using the same roasting sheet add your fresh off the cob or frozen corn. Turn the oven up to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes watching it the whole time. This is my longtime method of getting that grilled corn taste without having to deal with the hassle of a grill. You don't even have to thaw the frozen corn. 

Time to assemble. Over the chopped romaine, add in black eyed peas (you can heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute or leave them room temp), roasted corn, diced red onion, roasted okra, chopped pecans and chicken. Drizzle over as much or as little dressing as you like. Toss to combine. Garnish with chopped chive and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 

*This salad is really just a process of prepping ingredients and then tossing all together. When I make this for one person (moi), I prep each ingredient then store separately in the fridge. To make, just reheat the chicken, okra and corn. Then toss with remaining ingredients, portioned out for one serving. 

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Annie

Restaurant Review: The Pritchard

Snuggled in the heart of the Plaza District, The Pritchard unifies upscale and casual to create a concept with delicious craft cocktails, wines from all over the world, and locally-sourced dishes being served for dinner, late night and brunch. 

The moment you walk in you can't help but be grabbed by the thoughtfully curated decor and ambience of the space. The well stocked bar is paired with marble countertops, adorable bar stools (that I want to steal for my own home) and an epic gallery wall at the focal point. Across the way a deep green tufted velvet booth runs from the front to the back of the restaurant. They really took the time with the design of the space and it doesn't go unnoticed. I'm a sucker for restaurant ambience and they do it well. 

I came for brunch last Sunday and could not wait to write this post to tell you all about it. Everything from the service, to the food, to being able to doodle on the table had me swooning. 

The Pritchard is open Tues-Sun. During the week they focus on dinner, but add in brunch starting at 10 a.m on Saturday and Sunday. 

The whole menu is set up tapas/small plate style. When I heard this I was slightly skeptical because I'm not usually a fan of this set up. In my past tapas experience things get expensive quick and it's always hard to guage how much to order for whatever size group. I'm not sure how they do it, but The Pritchard just makes it work. 

I arrived Sunday morning ready to put their menu to the test. It is split up into brunch small plates, charcuterie, cheeses and proteins. Our waiter did an excellent job helping describe the menu as well as guide us on what and how many of each to order. We wanted all the brunch food so we stuck to the small plates column. I can't wait to come back for the cheese and charcuterie! 

After gazing the menu we settled on four plates for the two of us to share. That was easily the Johnny Cakes, Spanish Baked Egg, Popcorn Grits and Fruit Plate. The Johnny Cakes were unreal and a must order if you go for brunch. The plate comes with three cornmeal cakes, topped with homemade hazelnut spread, bananas and chopped hazelnuts. The cakes were thin yet fluffy and the hazelnut spread. I can't even. Think Nutella minus the chocolate, but better!

The popcorn grits shown above got the award for "favorite thing we ordered." There is no popcorn in the grits, but the name comes from the way they prepare the corn to become grits. They are cooked up with some pancetta inside and big shavings of grana padano on top, very similar to parmesan. People are skeptics of grits, but I grew up eating them on the reg, so I will always love them in any form.

The Spanish Baked Egg is a tomato ragu made of tomatoes, onions and spices topped with an egg. They use a unique method for cooking the egg that was new to me, but explained as very similar to a poached egg. This dish was great, it really was but everything else upstaged it a bit.

We were feeling great about what and how much we ordered, but head chef Shelby Sieg, sent out a few complimentary dishes she didn't want us to miss. Thank you Shelby!! We willing unbuttoned our top buttons to make room for her delicious concoctions. First up the Fried Chicken Biscuits with housemade pickle and hot sauce. The biscuits were fluffy yet crispy, just how they should be.

She also brought out their brussels sprouts with spanish chorizo. Simply roasted but paired with salty chorizo. They were a good offset to the grits, Johnny Cakes and biscuits!

Now who wants to go back with me for brunch round two? I have to get back to try their delicata squash, housemade kolaches and cocktails. Follow The Pritchard on instagram and bookmark them on Yelp, where you can also read another version of this review.

Annie

Let's work together! I'd love to review your restaurant. Email me annie@takeabiteblog.com so we can chat!
*Disclaimer: This is not a paid promoted post but I was partially paid in kind for compensation.

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.

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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. 

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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

Annie

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. 

Evoke
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. 

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Woodshed Coffee + Tea
Matcha: Woodshed Matcha Latte Mix
Things to note: Woodshed started as a shelf product, but they then moved to open a brick - and - mortar. I mentioned before that Evoke and Clarity use Woodshed’s latte mix. It is pre-sweetend, but gosh it’s good. I prefer my matcha latte hot, but Woodshed also offers a matcha cold brew that is crazy good. They steep matcha powder in their house made oatmik over night then bottle it and serve it cold. Hot or cold make sure to order with their oatmilk.
Verdict: 4. The house made almond milk makes this so unique.

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Stella Nova
Matcha: unsure
Things to note: Stella Nova is very similar to a Starbucks, but better. It’s cleaner, staff is nicer and the chairs are more comfortable. They refer to their matcha as a Green Tea Latte, but they have assured me their matcha powder does not contain sugar, unlike Starbucks. I get mine with almond milk, and at SN they use a vanilla almond milk. While this probably adds some extra sugar, I make sure to order mine unsweetened/without syrup so I don’t feel so bad about it.
Verdict: 5. I love this drink. The vanilla almond milk steams so nicely and makes for a super creamy and not bitter drink.

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Stitch
Matcha: unsure
Things to note: Stitch has the best vibes, they could serve me anything and I would think it was good. I love this matcha because of how perfectly they steam their milk. It is slightly bitter, but I order mine unsweetened. For a sugar free latte this one is a good one.
Verdict: 4.

a homemade matcha is always a favorite too! I use  Vital Proteins Matcha collagen  blended with coconut butter, vanilla, cinnamon and hot water

a homemade matcha is always a favorite too! I use Vital Proteins Matcha collagen blended with coconut butter, vanilla, cinnamon and hot water

**UPDATE - This may be surprising but my vote for Best Matcha in OKC goes to Stella Nova. The matcha is smooth and not incredibly bitter and the way they combine it with a vanilla almond milk makes for a sinfully tasting matcha that is so creamy and flavorful without being too sweet. {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. - originally posted 9/14/16}

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!

Annie