chopped thai chicken salad

I originally discovered this recipe on Pinterest, found myself opening the link, reading through it, determining I would make it “next week,” and then never really committing to it. One night about a month ago, Dustin and I were in the mood for something light and full of fresh flavors. Ah-ha! I thought. I would reopen the recipe and we would tackle it. I was 100% committed.
 After we finished - and almost licking our plates - we both agreed it would fit perfectly into our rotation of Top 20 regular meals. And so it did. 
Honestly, a really easy and relatively healthy salad that comes together in no time at all.
It was love at first bite.
And the rest is history.
Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small head green or white cabbage (2 cups shredded)
2 large carrots (shredded)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
½ cup green onions
½ cup chopped peanuts
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce (We use Liquid Aminos)
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon oil
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup water
1. Boil chicken breasts in Low-Sodium Chicken Broth; once cooked through, shred chicken breasts; let cool
2. Chop the cabbage into very thin pieces, like it would be for coleslaw. Peel and grate the carrots. Roughly chop the cilantro and green onions. Toss the chicken and vegetables in a large bowl and keep chilled.
3. Mince the garlic. Place garlic in a small mixing bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice and oil. Whisk until smooth. Add the peanut butter and water and whisk again until smooth and creamy.
4. Toss the salad with the dressing. Add the crushed peanuts. Serve chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one day. For best results, keep the leftover salad and dressing separate until ready to serve.


carrot cupcakes

Last night I found myself with a baby in my arms - midway through a feeding, checking on cupcakes I had just pulled out of the oven, getting ready to make cream cheese frosting, all while burping Little Olivia and telling her how I can’t wait until she can chow down on cupcakes with her mama. Cue, Carrot Cupcakes.
 CARROT CUPCAKES                  
1 Dozen
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
     *Modified to be Gluten Free - I used William’s Sonoma Cup4Cup GF Flour
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
8 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners. In a bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and eggs.
Stir in baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and salt. Add flour; mix. Stir in carrots, walnuts, and coconut.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
Frost cupcakes, and garnish with shredded coconut.
Note: If I made these again, to my personal preference I would nix the frosting and just eat them as carrot “muffins” for breakfast or pack them in Dustin’s lunch. For us, the frosting was a bit rich, and the cupcakes themselves were so moist that frosting wasn’t even needed.


how it all began // His very best

meet dustin. my husband. engaged june 23, 2011. 
married september 1, 2012.
in love with him from day 1.
and laughing ever since.
being newly married and a meticulous planner of all things, I was surprised to find myself pregnant last fall. yes, pregnant. on my husband’s 27th birthday. a month after our honeymoon. I held a nursing degree I hadn’t put to use yet and was just learning how to be a Godly wife to my husband. 
everyone who knew me knows my dream was to be a mom. a stay at home mom. a young mom. a mom to a big family, being that I come from a small one. someday. this was my plan.
God knew this plan of mine also. even from a very young age, I wanted to be “a mommy” some day. I had spent many years talking to Him about this plan of mine. talking about the plan I intended to live out a few years after marriage. after I got a nursing job and established in my career. after life settled down. I even remember praying after graduation for my “dream job,” over and over. God interpreted my “dream job” much differently.
and I’m so glad He did.
after many years of said prayers, college graduation, an engagement, a wedding, and a honeymoon…after finally getting settled into “normal” life, we soon discovered God had other plans for us. last fall after the disbelief, excitement, joy & anxiety, and three pregnancy tests later, my husband and I found ourselves preparing to meet our little bundle of joy on the way.
 time for a new plan.
I want this blog to offer everyone - esp. moms and moms-to-be - the true, real thoughts through the eyes of a young mom & wife. in the 9 months (er, 38 weeks and 2 days) of pregnancy and the past two months of being a mom to my daughter, Olivia, I have learned more than I learned in 22 years of being alive. God has humbled me, awed me, loved me, and encouraged me through this new and wild journey alongside my husband and best friend. what amazes me the most is that He gave us His very best - a perfect, beautiful, tender & mild, strong & healthy baby girl. This lesson - that God gives His children His very best- has stuck with me from the moment I laid eyes on my baby girl two months ago today. 
This blog will showcase big and small moments of being a wife and new mom, stories of strength and achievement, truths about the tough stuff, Olivia’s monthly milestones, my favorite recipes and new discoveries, my favorite baby-related products and places, the happenings of everyday life as a family of three, and of course, all the stuff my mom (or anyone else) never told me about being a mom myself. enjoy.

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