Getting back in the swing of things

Spring has been nuts so far. My initial foray back into running post-injury went well, but I wasn’t very consistent. However, a few weeks ago I started running regularly again and for a while it was going well. I ran four miles, three days a week and my knee didn’t hurt at all. It was fantastic. But then I started increasing my mileage. About three weeks ago I ran six miles in my attempt to start getting ready for my next half marathon. It wasn’t a great run because it was a bit warm and the Powerade Zero I brought with my made me nauseous. During my walking breaks I stretched a bit to keep my knee healthy, and when I thought I had succeeded. But the next day I was really disappointed that it was hurting. I went to spinning that Monday night, which helped a little, but my knee still didn’t feel quite right. So I took a week off from running. I also went to the chiropractor which helped a little, but not nearly as much as I was hoping. Unfortunately the best therapy for my particular problem is rest, which is frustrating with so many races coming up I May. So I made a difficult decision. After weighing all of my options, I decided to forgo the Orange County half marathon on May 3rd. Mostly because I won’t be anywhere near prepared to run 13.1 miles that day, but also because I don’t want to risk getting injured before the Tinkerbell races at Disneyland the next weekend. Fortuitously, one of my co-workers wants to take my OC half marathon bib so it won’t go to waste. As a consolation prize I decided to do the OC 5K instead since I still want to get a medal that weekend. I’m still worried about not being ready for the Tinkerbell 10K and half marathon on May 9th and 10th, but at least skipping the OC half marathon will give me a better chance of being uninjured. I paid a lot of money for the Disney races and I am going to get my medals! The good news is that my run last night was the best I’ve had since I got hurt in January. Everything clicked. Granted, I ran really slowly (even for me), but at least I wasn’t exhausted and gasping for air the whole time. Hopefully this trend continues. Fingers crossed!

Learning experiences

I’ve had a couple of interesting learning experiences over the last two days. First of all, I had jury duty yesterday in Santa Ana. It was the first time since I’ve lived in California that I’ve had to show up in person for jury duty. When I was in Los Angeles County I had to call in every morning for five days, but in my three summons I never had to actually report to the courthouse. That was lucky for me, but Orange County is a different story. Here you show up for one day and then see if you get chosen for a jury. I got to the Santa Ana Courthouse around 7:15 AM yesterday morning thinking I was in for an extremely long day of sitting around and doing nothing, but it didn’t turn out quite that way. Almost immediately after the juror orientation I was pulled into a 60-person jury pool for a trial and went upstairs to one of the courtrooms. The jury selection lasted all morning and part of the afternoon. I was fortunate to just sit in the audience the whole time and not get put in any of the hot seats where I would have been interviewed by the lawyers. The judge was pretty strict and shot down a few flimsy excuses that folks made to try and get dismissed. By 2:30 PM the jury had been selected and sworn in, and the rest of us were excused. That was the best outcome for me considering I have some really important stuff to do at work over the next week. So now I don’t have to worry about jury duty for another year!

One of the things I was looking forward to after avoiding jury duty was going to Disneyland this morning. I had a grand scheme in mind. The next in a series of Disneyland 60th anniversary pins was being released this morning and I was going to be there to get one this time around. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out the way I hoped. I arrived at Downtown Disney at 6:15 AM, which was only 15 minutes after the line for the pins was supposed to start forming. But I guess that particular guideline wasn’t enforced because I noticed that the only open parking lot was pretty full and there was already a very long line. I hurriedly parked my car and queued up as quickly as I could. Less than a minute later, though, a Disney cast member told me that they already had 500 more people in line than they had pins for sale. That meant there were already 2000 people in line ahead of me! I couldn’t believe it. There was no way I was going to stand there for the next hour for something that wasn’t going to happen. Since I’d already made the drive to Anaheim I figured I’d wait for the Earl of Sandwich at to open at 7 AM and grab a delicious breakfast, at least. Then I discovered that they weren’t going to open until 8 AM (even though the website said 7 AM). And since the parks didn’t open until 9 AM today, I decided to just go back home rather than wander around Downtown Disney doing nothing for hours. So I wasted a lot of time driving all over Orange County this morning, but I learned a little bit about the 60th anniversary pin buying process. If I can make it there next month when they release another new pin I’ll be more prepared!

Foodie Friday – Curried chicken tenders

Chicken curry is my culinary nemesis. Back in 2012 I even wrote a whole post about it! After trying so many different curry recipes I’d pretty much given up on producing a good result myself, but then I ran across this Martha Stewart recipe. It’s not a classic chicken curry dish since the sauce is more like honey mustard, but it’s simple and really delicious. The curry flavor definitely comes through. I deviated from the original recipe because for simplicity (and laziness) I used canola oil rather than butter. That’s not exactly Paleo, but I tried to make up for it by using raw honey. I probably could have used olive oil or melted coconut oil too. I’ll have to try one of those next time. I also used chicken tenders instead of breasts because it’s easier to split up into lunch portions. I love this dish. The flavor is amazing and the chicken stays tender. I need to remember to make it for my lunches more often!

1 to 1 1/2 lb chicken tenders
1/2 c honey
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, canola oil, Dijon mustard, curry powder, and salt. Place the chicken tenders into an 11×7″ or 13×9″ pan coated with cooking spray (I use either Trader Joe’s olive oil spray or coconut oil spray). Pour the honey mustard mixture over the chicken and turn each tender a couple of time to coat. Cook at 375 deg F about 30 minutes, turning the tenders once, or until the chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

Based on Martha Stewart’s Curried Chicken Breasts.

Spring weather

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
-Attributed to Mark Twain, but not verified

A few years ago a friend of mine visited San Francisco and Los Angeles in June. I reminded her to bring a jacket because coming from Florida the last thing you think you’d need in the summer is a jacket of any kind. Proving my point, the one day I met her for lunch was chilly, overcast, and overall really dreary – typical for Los Angeles in June! After growing up where it’s extremely hot most of the year, I was thrilled to discover a milder climate when I moved to California. Unfortunately, it’s much hotter here now than when I first arrived fifteen years ago. We even had some days in the 90s this past January. Yes, January. That’s nuts! I live in a beach city and it should never get that hot here any time of the year. Fortunately we’ve been enjoying some spectacular spring weather this week. The highs have been in the upper 60s and low 70s, and it actually rained a little bit on Tuesday night. I loved being able to throw on a sweatshirt when I went to pick up dinner tonight. It’s too bad I’ve had to put in so many hours at work this week because it’s kept me from fully enjoying the beautiful weather. But walking out of work in the evening to a cool breeze is something I can’t get enough of. Based on the last few years these pleasant days won’t last. I’m not looking forward to summer. Hopefully May Gray and June Gloom (there’s actually a picture of the Seal Beach pier in that Wikipedia entry!) will help keep the temperatures down over the next couple of months. I’ve got a lot of running to do!

Chocolate chip cookies #51

Chocolate chip cookies #51: Based on Amanda’s Cookin’s Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookies. Baked on 4/2/15.

Happy Easter, everyone! I bought some buttermilk to make muffins this weekend (more on that in another post), but for some reason there’s no way to buy less than a quart of buttermilk at the grocery store. What the heck? Even my largest cake recipe doesn’t use more than one cup! No matter how many muffins I made I knew I’d have leftover buttermilk, so I figured I’d better find some other ways to use the extra. Then I remembered that a long time ago I found a recipe for buttermilk chocolate chip cookies on Pinterest. It was the perfect fit! Granted, the recipe didn’t use a lot of buttermilk, but any way to make use of it was good. I hadn’t made any chocolate chip cookies since October so I was eager to get back in the kitchen and try something new. Unfortunately something about these wasn’t quite right. Don’t get me wrong, they were tasty, but I think the buttermilk made the texture more like cake than cookies. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The cookies might have been better with a different mix-in besides chocolate chips. I’m glad I tried the recipe, but I’ll save the buttermilk for something other than cookies next time!

2015 Resolution #2 revisited (sort of)

When I first made my New Year’s resolution #2 back in January the first big step I intended to take was turning off the television when I start getting ready for bed at night. As far as that goes, I’ve been really successful! Since New Year’s Day I’ve been listening to podcasts or the radio during my nightly routine, except for just a handful of days. (On those exceptions I’m usually under the influence of “The Simpsons.” Curse you, FXX for showing marathons five nights a week!) I’ve been trying to pare down the rest of my television watching as well. The good news is that none of the new series that have started since the fall have really grabbed my attention. I had high hopes for “Gotham,” but I found it boring. It also helps that a few of my regular shows have either ended or will be ending after a final season. For example, it looks like due to the latest Jeremy Clarkson scandal that “Top Gear,” at least in its current form, is gone forever. Understandable, but sad. Also, “Downton Abbey” will be over after next season. Now that’s depressing! The upside to these developments is that I have fewer and fewer excuses to sit on the couch and veg out. I’m not sure if this helps or hinders my progress in that area, but I’ve decided to conduct a little experiment. During the month of April I’m going to try watching Netflix rather than cable. I definitely have more than enough programming on my Netflix list, including “Arrow” and “Daredevil” that I mentioned on Tuesday, to keep myself entertained for a month. I have friends who have completely ditched cable and been really happy with the decision. I don’t think I’ll go so far as to cancel cable (if only to be able to watch “Doctor Who” episodes when they’re new), but I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes this month. Now excuse me because I’ve got some binge watching to do this weekend!

Foodie Friday – Ranch turkey tacos

This dish was inspired by a recipe for ranch chicken tacos that I made a while back. The chicken was just OK (it might have potential with some tweaks), but adapting the recipe for ground turkey yielded much tastier results. I kept the spices the same (what’s easier than a couple of seasoning packets?), added a can of tomato sauce in place of the chicken broth, and cooked it in the skillet rather than the Crockpot. It’s incredibly flavorful and a cinch to make. It would be the perfect weeknight meal. The ranch turkey takes about 15 minutes, and then throw a spoonful into a tortilla with whatever fixings you want. You can’t miss! I must confess that since I’m avoiding grains in my diet I don’t actually make tacos with the turkey, but it’s delicious by itself so I make it quite often for my lunches. It’s a little like chili that way.

As a side note, I’ve tagged this recipe as “grain-free,” but I know the McCormick taco seasoning packet actually contains wheat in some form. They do have a gluten free variety, but it’s not the mild version so I haven’t tried it. I’m worried about it being too spicy! The obvious solution is to mix up some homemade taco seasoning, but my first attempt last year was really disappointing. I’ll have to try to again so perhaps I can make this a true grain-free dish. Healthy as well as tasty!

20 oz ground turkey (not extra lean)
1 packet taco seasoning (I use McCormick’s mild version)
1 packet ranch dressing and seasoning mix (I use Hidden Valley)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

Brown the meat in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the turkey is no longer pink. Add the taco seasoning and ranch dressing seasoning and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to low. Add the tomato sauce, stir to combine, and cook for 5-10 minutes. There’s not much liquid so it won’t really simmer, but you want the whole mixture to heat through. Enjoy!

Based on Family Fresh Meals’ Cool Ranch Crockpot Chicken Tacos.