Recipe: The BEST Thai Chicken Salad

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happy Thursday friends! Can you believe tomorrow is already December? We are literally sprinting towards 2018. I can't seem to make time slow down! 

This is my first official work week, working from home and it has been so awesome. I am obsessed with my job and all the new challenges that come with it. It's definitely been a huge change from my last job, but four days in and I can already tell I made the right choice for me and my family. 

Anyways, the nice part about being home is I can prepare dinner earlier than 730pm. Last night, Adam had a work happy hour and wasn't sure exactly when he'd be home, so I wanted something I could pre-make and easily assemble when he got home. 

This salad totally fit the bill and it's honestly my favorite salad ever. I could actually eat the dressing with nothing else. Try it for yourself, I swear you'll thank me. 

This salad has a lot of steps, but if you do what I do, you'll have left overs for lunch. This dressing lasts in the fridge for about a week (if it lasts that long), so make extras and enjoy!

Thai "peanut" dressing (I doubled everything) 
  • 1⁄4 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • juice of 1⁄2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes\

For the salad
  • 4 tablespoons ghee, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded thin
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 small sweet potato or yam, shredded 
  • 6 to 8 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • handful of sliced carrots
  • handful diced tomatoes 
  • 1⁄4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • roughly chopped green onions, for garnish
How to Make: 
Dressing: Place all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. 
  1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the ghee. 
  2. Season the chicken on both sides with the salt, garlic powder, and pepper, then place in the hot pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness, until the chicken is cooked through and no pink remains. 
  3. While the chicken cooks, place the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. 
  4. Add the shredded sweet potato and a bit of salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft. 
  5. When the chicken is done, let it rest for 3 minutes, then slice it at an angle into strips.  
  6. Arrange the salad: Place the greens in a large bowl, add as much dressing as you like, and toss to coat. 
  7. Add some greens to each plate, then top with the chicken strips, sautéed sweet potato, cucumber, coconut, and cilantro. 
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Happy Friday eve Friends! Tomorrow I'm sharing the easiest (and delicious) recipe, plus my new favorite pans. See ya'll tomorrow! 

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Dear Baby.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

It took me 3 weeks to open an empty blog post and write this title. I changed the title 4 times. It took me three weeks to say the word. It took me 6 weeks to come to terms with what was happening. I closed it, I deleted it, I started over. I stopped writing and I started writing again. Ten tissues, three re-starts, 4 texts to Adam and here we are.

I write about everything. I've shared a lot of great times on here but today's post is not a great one. For me, I wasn't sure I even wanted to write this post. But, writing this post is my version of therapy. It's what pushes me through the sadness and helps me deal with what I'm feeling. Grab a coffee, or if you're like me, a bottle of wine.

Let's start at the beginning.

Labor Day started like any other holiday weekend. Saturday was a day for sleeping in except I couldn't sleep because I felt nauseous (despite not drinking the night before) and I had to take the dogs out. I tried to make eggs but they made me puke. Coffee, puke. Thirty minutes later and two pretty blue lines and all of a sudden this labor day was not so typical.

Adam and I spent the weekend doing new parent-to-be things. We picked out names (call us presumptuous), we told our parents (call us excited beyond belief) and we already started making summer plans for our first summer with baby. Safe to say our dreams had officially come true.

We had the "do you want a boy or girl" conversations. We talked about daycare. I even made a private baby room board on Pinterest. Things were becoming so real. I stopped drinking coffee, eating sugar and I was loading up on all the good things. Except for an occasional starburst, I craved them so, I was prepping my body, heart and mind for baby.

Five super short weeks later our dreams were dashed and our baby was gone. "The heartbeat at the first ultrasound was strong." "We had no reason to worry." "At least you know you can get pregnant." "You can try again soon." "You will move on."

These are all very comforting words to everyone except the mom and dad who were just told they weren't going to be parents. They are anything but comforting when you're told you just lost your baby. When the doctor said there was no heartbeat it was as if she ripped mine out too.

The part that comes next is the worst so I'll save you the gory details. Words like DNC, naturally pass and miscarriage pills are thrown around casually like girl-talk at brunch. Talk of what comes next is gross and difficult to stomach. I was so cold, but so hot and crying so hard that I didn't process a word my doctor said. I sat there in a blur, crying. One minute, I was buying winter pregnancy clothes and the next I'm just supposed to move on. I went through the next week in a blur, crying. Sometimes I still feel like I'm in a blur. My body hurt. It ached. My heart actually burned with pain. I went seven days without dry eyes.

The worst part is not knowing what to say or what's next. My friends would ask me how they could help, they would send flowers, text messages and their prayers and I felt so grateful but also had no good response to their outpouring of kindness.
But here's the best part, the silver lining, the light; I have the best friends and family. Coti called (and still calls) me every single day making sure I'm okay. My Omaha girls text me hourly to make sure I'm getting through. My family, oh my family. And my sister-in-laws - don't even get me started on how wonderful they are.
A lot of people have asked me if this is something I'm going to blog about. My response then and still today is how do you communicate a pain you've never felt before? How do you find words to explain how you're feeling when words haven't yet been created for the pain. How do you blog when your heart breaks with every word.

I've been through breakups and blogged about them. I've dealt with death and blogged about it. I've failed, blogged. I've been hurt, lots of blogs. There aren't words for this kind of pain, but I'm a writer, and writing is the very least I can do. Even when I don't have the perfect words to write.

Luckily for me, I married a superhero. A superhero husband who knows exactly what words to say, when to say it and he knows when flowers and wine are the perfect kind of unspoken words. Adam reminded me that throughout my 10 short weeks of pregnancy, every day I prayed for a healthy baby. I prayed for our peace and our understanding but mostly, I prayed for a healthy baby.

God answered that prayer. Even if it wasn't in the way I wanted that prayer answered, He did.

Today is a hard today. Yesterday was a better day. I'm sure tomorrow will bring a whole new set of emotions. I find myself leaning in to the people around me a little harder, leaning into God more than I thought I could. I'm trying to find my balance again.
I have learned to live this part of my life as a season. One of my friends explained how to live life in seasons. We move through them, they change, the flowers bloom, the leaves fall off and winter comes. But the important part is that we keep moving through them. Grief is my current season and for now, that is okay. I will embrace this season and learn what I need to learn from it. Because I know, the flowers will bloom again and this season will change. 
I never thought this would be my story. I always saw others dealing with this pain and could never quite grasp it. I could emphasize but never grasp it. I never thought it would be my story to tell.

The thing I realize most in all of this pain, is that this pain is also my husbands. I hate to say this but so many times he has gotten lost in this. I'm the one who physically lost the baby, but he lost one too. I'm the only physically dealing with this but he has to not only comfort me, but himself. I'll tell ya again, I married a superhero. A superhero with a strength I can only envy and a heart I'm so glad is mine. This pain is real and this hurt and confusion is hard but it's so important to have someone to lean on. I'm so glad he's letting me lean.

When I found out I became a statistic, yes that's right, one-in-four women will have a miscarriage, I immediately went numb. I still can barely stand to say the word.  I felt so guilty, so ashamed and so embarrassed. I made Adam call his family because I didn't have the strength. I made my mom tell my siblings, I couldn't bear to hear it in their voices.

Even though it seemed impossible, I found that when I told those close to me, the pain lessened, even if just by a little. I heard others stories of loss and sadness and how they grieved and again, the pain lessened. But then I heard the stories of rainbow babies and huge families. I heard about the next time people saw those two pretty little blue lines. These are the stories that bring a smile to my face and in my heart I know we will see those two lines again and eventually a beautiful rainbow baby.

A little over six weeks I had a miscarriage and I know that while this pain burning in my chest may never fully go away, it will lessen. I feel my heart lightening. I feel the embarrassment dissipating. I feel the joy returning.
Dear Baby, you are loved, you are wanted and while we never got to officially met you, we are blessed by the 10 short weeks we had with you. I'll never forget hearing your heartbeat or seeing your little picture. <3 
I know this isn't the end of our story.

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Sing For Hope Accepting NYC Donated Pianos

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Oh hey friends! How the heck are ya? I know, I've been MIA. If you're wondering why, I'll be spilling the details later this week, so stay tuned. But, little by little, I plan on catching you up.

Two weekends ago, I spent the weekend in Michigan helping my mom and dad pack up my grandmother and grandfathers house. They are getting old, despite me praying otherwise, and needed to move in where they could have some help. Is there anything worse than watching grandparents get old? Ugh, I don't think so. Anyways, we spent the weekend, sorting through clothes, dishes, pictures and tons of books.

One of the things my grandmother has that is nearest and dearest to my heart is her piano. It's her mother's piano and is the cutest little wall piano you've ever seen. It's gorgeous. She always had it full of sheet music and I can remember her playing on it. She is an incredible piano player.

The piano is the one thing I was hoping we could save. Sure, we got pictures and some china, but this piano is one of my favorite memories of my grandmother. The only problem? The piano is in Michigan, I am in Denver and the rest of my family is in Arizona. Unfortunately after all the sorting, the piano did not make the cut. Turns out, shipping a piano costs wayyyy more than it's worth.

We then tried to figure out what we could do with this piano. Donate it, give it away, have someone come pick it up? We really wanted this piano to go someplace where it was wanted. Ideally, a school or a church. That's when I found this amazing charity Sing for Hope. It's absolutely incredible. This charity is based in NYC and wasn't available for my grandmothers piano, but it's helping so many others in the process.

This New York City based charitable organization is accepting pianos and more for under resourced schools and neighborhoods. Sing For Hope's donate piano NYC drive is ongoing with plans to expand beyond this organization's target areas. This well liked and appreciated group believes that the wonder of the arts is a given right for all individuals. New York City has phenomenal arts programs and shows. It is sad that some residents within this huge metropolis do not have opportunities to enjoy the arts or play an instrument. This volunteer organization is striving hard to change this lack of available music and arts programs.
School children are ecstatic when this organization provides their school with a fabulous piano. The organization works closely with many volunteer artists working within the city limits. These music and art volunteers put on performances and give valuable instruction to people ordinarily left out of such rewarding arts opportunities. The organization pairs amateur and well-known professionals proficient in some art category volunteers with needy New York City inhabitants. These performances and classes are available in many schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other places to the sheer delight of the recipients. Sing For Hope is reaching countless new music and art lovers every day. The donated pianos are usually painted in vivid designs and colors by talented artists. Some pianos are placed in high-volume areas during special event drives to promote this organization's worthy causes. Many volunteers are involved, and the volunteers often reflect that they get back something far more valuable from their volunteer service. Any art form is desired, and these include various instrument players, actors/actresses from little known to Broadway shows fame and talented singers in every musical genre. This includes opera, jazz, blues, folk and country. It even includes rock and various alternative music styles. It is refreshing to see so much compassion from many New York City residents lending time, talent or monetary funds. This sense of shared community is one reason why this program is so popular. When individuals living in gang territories and isolated nursing home resident get a chance to experience and express an art form that they are interested in makes all of the hard work pay off. Since the arts programs are typically the first thing that educational institutions cut out when budgets are tight, the organization tries to fill the gap with excellent music and art programs and performing arts classes. The organization's founders never dreamed that their simple music and arts propelled services would grow to become a massive outreach program. Sing For Hope is constantly looking for new ways to promote the joys and satisfaction of their volunteer efforts. More New York City residents are now able to take advantage of Sing For Hope's many outreach fine arts programs. It is hoped that they will remain a powerful voice of love and community spirit for many years to come. In keeping with their mission statement, Sing For Hope strives to create arts programs that will uplift and totally transform recipients lives forever. The smiles and appreciated thanks from these individuals is worth so much to those that have volunteered. Sing For Hope is continuing their piano donation drive to extend their program's long reach into forgotten areas.

Happy Tuesday Friends. I hope it's the best ever. 

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