Bites of My Life

I haven't "gone back to school" in a couple years now, but hearing about schools starting and having a teacher as a roommate, I have a sense of the school year creeping in and can feel my routine starting to fall back into place. Summer has been c-r-a-z-y and I don't expect much less this fall, but the idea of a routine amongst the crazy sounds pretty nice. 

-I'm really trying to take advantage of what StudioHop has to offer, by exploring studios outside my comfort zone. I stepped into Four Graces pilates studio last week and fell in love. Use my code, AnnieHop20 to get $20 off your first month and hop to pilates with me. 
-Easy tuna nicoise salad for dinners last week. Canned tuna, soft boiled egg, olives, green beans, cherry tomatoes and salty capers!
-Annie through the years while cleaning out old boxes and organizers. I found a slew of old business cards from my high school entrepreneur adventure to my summer gig in D.C.
-Friday started off slow and easy with this at home smoothie bowl. 
-Friday ended a little more wild being transported via party bus.
-Beer, nachos, fried chicken and okra. Solid Oklahoma night at our state's oldest bar. 
-Shnugs and snugs with Claire now that she if back from NYC.
-From living with Matty girl when she first met Steve to then seeing them get married is something rare and so cool. Funnest night celebrating the Behms.  
-StudioHop recently launched in Tulsa and I'm so excited to have Katie repping SH up north. Catch us both at their Tulsa Launch Party this Saturday at Lululemon on Brookside!
-The Matcha Flotcha Flame from Wheeze the Juice is my version of matcha heaven. Just matcha, coconut milk and cinnamon. 
-A rainy weekend, fallish temps and having someone around who geeks out over pumpkin seeds, resulted to these Double Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Cookies along with Perfect CCCs being baked up yesterday.
-A healthy twist on Shrimp and Grits coming soon!


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

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)

*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. 


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


Summer Shrimp Rolls

Chrissy Teigen you genius. If you haven't heard of her recent cookbook, Cravings, then you may be living under a rock. Chrissy is wife to John Legend, momma to Luna, hot model and now, a New York Times Best Selling cookbook author. 

Cravings came out last Spring. The book's tagline is "recipes for all the food you want to it." It's just that. Page after page of recipes your everyday person actually wants to eat and make. When I received my copy, I did as I usually do with a new cookbook. I sat down with a stack of stickies going through marking each recipe I wanted to make. I read the book cover to cover. Like actually read all the little blurbs and antecdotes that no one usually reads. Chrissy writes the book like she is talking to her best friend, texting her husband or ranting on Twitter.  She also has insane pictures of her in hot pink ballgowns, sitting on John's lap shoving hot dogs in his mouth as well as modeling bathing suits by the pool chowing down on chicken wings. She pulls it off, it's too good.  

After reading through the book I found myself with practically every page marked with a sticky. Yellow Cake Baked Oatmeal, Caprese Salad with Crispy Proscuitto, Mac and Cheese, Baked Pasta with Mozzarella Bombs, Steak Bites with Melty Blue Cheese Butter, Artichoke, Spinach and Buffalo Chicken Dip, Cheesy Guacamole, Chorizo Queso, Sh*t on Toast, and BTI (better than Ina's) Roast Chicken and Vegetables. SO much goodness in this book. 

The thing I couldn't wait to make though were these Summer Shrimp rolls. Those sticky rice paper fresh rolls you get before your meal at Thai places can now be made at home. I made these for dinner almost every night for dinner last week. They are so satisfy and perfect for a summer dinner. Kudos to you Chrissy for bringing the fire to the world of cookbooks. 

Summer Shrimp Rolls from Cravings
yields 8 rolls*

4 to 6 red leaf lettuce leaves
8 medium shrimp, peeled (fresh or frozen (thawed))
1 ounce Asian vermicelli or rice noodles
8 large or 16 small basil leaves
8 large or 16 small mint leaves
1 medium carrot, cut into 3-inch long julienne strips
1 avocado thinly sliced
8 (8-inch) round rice paper wrappers (you can find in most supermarkets with the Asian food)
Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving*

Rinse the lettuce leaves and pat dry. Remove and discard the center ribs then slice in half so you end up with 16, about 3 inch long pieces. 

Fill a saucepan halfway with water and salt the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low, take the shrimp out of the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water, pat dry. Cut off the tails and slice lengthwise.

Place the rice noodles in the pot of still hot water to soften. Cook until soft. Remove and rinse in a colander under cold water. 

Create a workspace lined up with lettuce, herbs, carrots, avocado, shrimp and rice noodles. Fill a clean skillet or shallow bowl with warm water to soak the rice papers. Arrange a damp towel on your workspace. One at a time, dunk the rice papers into the warm water to soften. Remove from the water and run under cool water. They easily stick together, so the cool water is a good time to unstick them from themselves. Lay flat on the damp towel.

To assemble: place 2-3 shrimp halves pink side down about 1/3 from the bottom, layer over mint and basil, then avocado, then carrots, rice noodles, then lettuce leaves. Roll up like a burrito by pulling up the bottom, tucking in the sides, then rolling till the end. The rice paper will stick together sealing it shut. Repeat with remaining rice papers. 

Serve immediately with the chili sauce. *If chili sauce is too spicy for you, you can tone it down by adding a little bit of lime juice and water. 

*The recipe says it makes 8 rolls, but it is easy to make less if you are cooking for one. I would eat 2-3 for dinner. The components last well in the fridge, so I would keep everything prepped, then just cook the shrimp, noodles and rice papers fresh each night and assemble just before eating!


I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. If you are a also a blogger make sure to check out their site on how you too can start Blogging for Books! 

Shrimp Wrap with Zesty Cocktail Sauce

Last weekend while in Scottsdale, we landed right around lunchtime. After arriving at the resort, we dropped our bags and joined friends who had already arrived at a lunch spot on the property. Traveling puts me in a constant state of hunger. I was in a must-eat-now kind of mission that anything would suffice. I ordered a shrimp wrap that came with sweet potato tots. Yes sweet potato tots...pause for salivation.

Besides the tots the wrap was full of crisp lettuce, avocado, and shrimp. It was fantastic, I can't quit get across how good it was. My mom and sister ordered the shrimp cocktail that came with this amazing salsa/cocktail sauce combo. I could eat it with a spoon it was so good. I asked the waiter for my own little serving and proceeded to dip my wrap into it. I've recently really become a sauce person, so just go with me on this one. 

Not only did this lunch suffice, but left me craving it everyday since. I made quick note to recreate it as soon as I got home. Recreated it, loved it, and have pretty much eaten it everyday since. Looks like my plan worked! A few tweaks here and there and my own version of the salsa/cocktail sauce amazingness makes me feel like I am back in Paradise Valley. Now if only I can recreate those sweet potato tots... 

Shrimp Wrap with Zest Cocktail Sauce
yields 1 wrap

1 Flatout wrap Light Original
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
handful of spinach
1/2 roma tomato, chopped
1/4 avocado, chopped
thinly sliced red onion
handful of frozen salad shrimp, thawed

Zesty cocktail sauce:
2 Tbsp. your favorite cocktail sauce
2 Tbsp. your favorite salsa

Thaw your shrimp according to package directions. Salad shrimp are the little baby kind that are super easy to thaw and super easy to cook. In a small pan over medium, heat a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until bright pink and slightly roasted. This gives the shrimp a little extra flavor. 

Heat your Flatout wrap in the microwave for 10 seconds. This will make it more pliable when rolling your wrap up. Spread the dijon mustard over the whole surface. Top with spinach, then layer on tomatoes, red onion, avocado and shrimp. Starting from the short length end, begin rolling, tucking in all your components as you roll so things aren't spilling out. No need to fold in the sides with these wraps. Once you get it all rolled, place two toothpicks through to keep it in place while you slice it down the middle. 

Mix the cocktail sauce and salsa in a small bowl. Serve the wrap alongside and eat up!

This is a quick meal that comes together easily for lunch. I made it yesterday while having the day off and also made an extra, wrapped it in foil, and packed for my lunch at work today. My lunch break just went from 0 to 100 quick. Enjoy! 


Single-Serving Shrimp and Grits


I've had the idea for this dish for a while, but just got around to making it. I don't know why it took me so long because the actual recipe cooks up in less than 15 minutes. 

This single girl/poor college kid/quick dinner dish totally elevates all the scenarios I just mentioned. It's gourmet, cheap but super easy and definitely fits the bill for a satisfying dinner. Or brunch if you want to get fancy on a lazy Sunday morning. 

I recently discovered you can buy a box of instant grits just like instant oatmeal. Microwave oatmeal is a regular part of my daily routine, but now grits, oooooh man! Growing up I remember mom always asking, grits or oatmeal? It was always the decision between sweet or savory? Really because I would either douse my grits with a pound of butter or my oatmeal with a cup of brown sugar. The only problem was that I had to wait near 20 minutes for my breakfast to be ready. I don't have that kind of patience anymore, so hello to instant grits! 

Microwave grits, a little cheese and some frozen corn and shrimp make for an ulti single girl meal! The recipe is clearly for a single serving, but it would be super easy to double or triple.

Single Serving Shrimp and Grits
serves one..obviously 

1 package of instant grits
some type of cheese-Parmesan, Gouda, cheddar etc.
1 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
6 frozen or fresh shrimp
1/4 cup frozen corn
fresh minced garlic
cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
juice of 1/4 lemon
fresh cilantro 

If using frozen, make sure to first thaw your shrimp. I do this by running them under luke warm water until thawed. 

Heat your olive oil or butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add your corn and shrimp to the pan, throw in some garlic and a little bit of cayenne. Don't go to crazy on the cayenne, unless you like things spicy spicy! While your shrimp is cooking, microwave the grits according to package directions. It's probably something like add 1/2 cup of water and microwave for 1 minute. 

Stir in the cheese and season your grits with salt and pepper to taste. (I like mine really salty!) By now your shrimp should be cooked though. Take off the heat and squeeze lemon juice over the shrimp.

Pile the shrimp and corn over your cheese grits and garnish with chopped cilantro!