Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken Nuggets

Ah, chicken nuggets. So many memories.

Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken Nuggets

When my parents used to go out for date night, leaving one of my older sisters (and later on, me) in charge, we would splurge on a dinner of chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese in front of the TV.

When I used to work as a nanny (for 4 girls under the age of 9), I would pull out chicken nuggets for dinner and turn on Jimmy Neutron when the girls were exhausted and their parents were going to be home late. It’s a proven fact that those little golden bites are a babysitter’s best friend.

Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken Nuggets

Now, when I want the oven on to heat the apartment and am craving some comfort food, it’s chicken nuggets to the rescue once again. This version, however, boasts a better ingredient list and more lasting fullness.

Serve with a mustard dip (honey, mustard, salt and pepper whisked together) and a big salad and you’ve got a tasty, giddy, back-to-your-babysitting/babysat days dinner.

Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons Honey
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 2/3 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Cashews
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut to nugget size

Instructions

  1. Process cashews in a food processor until powdery.
  2. Add breadcrumbs and pulse until combined.
  3. Transfer breadcrumbs and cashews to a large bowl or plate.
  4. Combine flour, paprika, and chili powder in a large bowl or plate.
  5. Whisk together honey, egg, and water in a shallow bowl.
  6. Dip one nugget into flour to coat, then into the egg, and finally cashews.
  7. Place coated nugget onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Repeat with all nuggets.
  9. Lightly brush remaining egg on top of nuggets.
  10. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
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RQ: What are some of your best chicken nugget memories?

Denver Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Recap

I did it!!!

I can’t even contain my excitement, joy, pride, and disbelief over Sunday’s marathon. Spoiler alert: I met every single one of my race goals!

Pre-Race Jitters

Before I get into this extremely long race recap, I just have to say thank you to all of you. Your messages, tweets, calls, and texts meant the world to me. I know it sounds strange, but I could honestly feel the positive thoughts being sent my way throughout the race. Thank you so much for all of your support.

Now, let’s recap!

On Saturday, Rob and I hit up the expo to pick up my race packet and peruse the booths. Some of Rob’s students were actually volunteering at the event handing out race bibs! My memories might be slightly skewed, but I think the Phoenix expo was about double the size to the one in Denver, which was still huge! Regardless, it was a successful afternoon as Rob had his gait analyzed by the Brooks representatives. (Apparently he has a mid-foot strike.)

Rob getting his gait analyzed

After a peaceful evening of staying off my feet and not sleeping much, Rob and I found ourselves on the 6:15 Light Rail full of runners on our way to Civic Center. The compartment was alive with nervous energy and chatter among the runners.

Lite Rail of runners

I didn’t want to wait around at the start line too long, and we arrived at Civic Center right at 7 for the 7:15 start. I had just enough time to slather on sunblock while waiting in the bathroom line before heading to corral 8. Rob and I said goodbye once it got too crowded for him to walk with his bike.

With the full marathon, half marathon, and 5k all starting at the same time in the same place, the start line was seriously packed! A bunch of runners and I were just standing on the side of the corral barriers waiting for the waves to start and thin so we could find a space. It wasn’t a big deal, but it did not help my pre-race jitters.

Getting in line, or trying to

Once my wave crossed the start line, I seriously couldn’t stop smiling for about a mile. With goal #2 being to have fun, I was just trying to enjoy my time on the course and soak everything up. Plus, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening!

The first few miles were more hilly than I had expected. In truth, I did about 0% studying of the race course (besides a vague idea of the locations it went). I didn’t look at an elevation map and I didn’t study street names or mile markers. I wanted to know as little as possible so I couldn’t psyche myself out. It worked.

Start line

I’m not sure what I did, but around mile 5-6, my right knee started giving me some problems. If I wasn’t running in a super straight line and with perfect posture, my knee would shoot some pain and force me to limp along until I got my posture under control and/or came out of a turn. Uphills were equally as painful.

I will tell you that I had some seriously angry thoughts at this point. It was mile 8 for pete’s sake and I was considering pulling out because of the pain. I put that thought behind me because this was NOT going to be how my race turned out.

Since goal #3 was run the whole thing, I didn’t stop running through my knee issue, but just slowed down (though according to my watch, I was still holding steady at 9:30 averages). Once the 4:15 pace group caught up to me, I decided it was mind over matter and stayed with them for a few miles before the pain subsided for good and I was able to pull ahead. Phew.

Still going strong

The course was super crowded until mile 12.5, when the half marathoners branched off for the finish while the full marathons headed out for a few more out and backs. Though I was really enjoying listening to people chat and the motivation a large group brings, the open space along the road was welcomed.

Race crowds

At mile 16, my confidence soared. I was feeling great, holding onto my 9:30 pace, and knew I was going to finish this thing. My stomach was under control and the only cramping I was getting was in my forearms (from holding my water bottle). I desperately wanted to pick up my speed, but I had to remind myself that there was a lot of race left and to keep it under control.

The 4:15 pace group passed me for the second and final time around mile 20 when my splits slowed to 10:15-10:30′s. Even though I wanted to hang with them, I wanted to run the whole thing more and I wasn’t sure I could hold their pace, so I let them go. My calculations were also telling me that I might still finish under 4:20 (goal #5), so I figured I didn’t need to rush.

Running Running

Those last 6 miles were funny. Part of me was ready to pull off and sleep. Part of me was ready to sprint so it would be done quicker. Part of me so so desperately wanted to stop and walk. Resisting these things, I grandma shuffled my way through the last few miles. Though, according to Rob, I was looking strong at mile 25 even though I felt like I was going at a snail’s pace.

When that finish line finally came into view, and the spectators were crowding in so much that a narrow alleyway was formed, I was ecstatic and in utter disbelief. I could finally feel confident in calling myself a marathoner!

I can see the finish line!

Rob was the best spectator. On his bicycle, he was able to see me at about 10 different spots along the course, track me via text, take photos, and message both our families to keep them updated. I think this officially earns him ninja status!

The entire course was absolutely gorgeous. From the golden leaves to the three separate lake views combined with the perfect, slightly cloudy weather, a runner couldn’t ask for a better day to tackle 26.2. Not only was the scenery a major perk, but the spectators were the best! There was only one section of the course (City Park) that felt slightly lonely. The rest of the course had people cheering, signs every few steps, and little kids with their own aid stations. It was so motivating!

Capital Building

Here it is, 3 days later, and I am feeling just fine riding this marathon high. No muscle soreness and just some slight pain in the balls of my feet. My knee is ok and working fine.

RQ: Are you a fan of crowded races? How would you have dealt with unexpected pain/injury so early in a race?

Tall Tales Tuesday: The Crowds of Japan

Japan is probably one of my favorite countries. The ancientness, the modernness, the bullet train, the cherry blossoms, the food, the kindness of the people.

Mysterious Alleyways

Ah yes, the people.

Japan, for all it’s perks, is one crowded place.

Kyoto

Sure, the majority of the time I spent there was in the big cities of Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo, but I’ve been to Times Square at Christmas and it has nothing on the everyday streets of Japan.

The off-hours subway tunnels also rival the rush hours of New York and London both.

The covered “high” streets, the neon lights, the window shoppers, evening revelers, and sushi devourers all mix together in a surprisingly peaceful flow.

One of the high streets

Unless of course, you plan to cross the street. In which case, keep your eyes on your path and stick to it. But even this is a kind of choreographed dance that only Japan can do without road rage or bumping into each other.

I’ll take the crowds just for the pure awe-inspiring vibes that Japan gives off.

RQ: Where is the most crowded spot you have spent time? New York on Christmas…yay or nay?

Fall Burn!

With the holidays fast approaching, and the cold weather coming in, it’s the time of year where our activity starts to dwindle and we start to hunker down in warm pajamas and hearty meals. Instead of becoming sedentary, let’s make it a point to stay active!

Introducing the Fall Burn! 

Fall Burn Logo

If already know you want to sign up, click here!

This workout plan is 4 weeks of full body conditioning to help you reach your fitness goals and feel your best in time for Thanksgiving.

Why is this Burn perfect for Fall?

  • To keep you motivated. With the weather cooling down, you might feel more motivated to start hunkering down and less time being active.
  • To improve/maintain your overall fitness through full body strength and conditioning.
  • If you have your sights set on completing a Turkey Trot or other 5k race this winter.
  • There is a max of 6 moves, more often less, in each workout, so you won’t feel overwhelmed by learning new moves.
  • Each workout takes about 30-45 minutes tops!
  • To have you feeling your best in time for Thanksgiving.
  • If you need a change in, or some fresh air put into, your workouts.

Here is what you will get during the 4 week Burn:

  • 6 days a week of full body workouts
  • 5k Run Plan Add On. This is optional and includes 3 days of running each week. ←-Perfect if you have  Turkey Trot coming up!
  • Nutrition suggestions that will help you make minor changes that can lead to bigger ones
  • A goal of moving at least one mile a day
  • Picture sheets of all workouts
  • Membership into a secret Facebook group for tips, motivation, encouragement, and accountability from me as well as other members of the Burn
  • Beginner modifications and advanced progressions for every workout to make it more manageable and more challenging depending on what you need
  • Tracking sheet to monitor your progress
  • Six days a week of motivation, encouragement, and accountability from me (via Facebook)
  • Daily Bonus Workout Challenges
  • A daily photo challenge for inspiration and accountability
  • Access to your very own personal trainer (me!)

Items you will need:

  • timer/stopwatch
  • free weights
  • space to move, jump, twist, and lay down
  • mat, or soft place for floor moves
  • cardio machine, or a place to walk/run

The Fall Burn runs from October 27-November 22, 2014. The price of this Burn is only $40! Click here, or on the image  below, to sign up!

Fall Burn Logo

Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email from me. The official welcome email, first week of workouts, and nutrition suggestions will be sent on Sunday, October 26.

Please email me with any questions or concerns you may have at wreckingroutine@gmail.com. If you are interested in online personal training, but this program doesn’t fit your needs, check my Training Services page for other options. I would love to work with you!

You can also read testimonials about training with Wrecking Routine here.

**I am a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Women’s Fitness Specialist, but am not a Registered Dietician. Please consult your physician before starting any new exercise routine or diet.**

RQ: Are you in?

Chicken, Feta, Spinach Puffs

With the weather taking a chilly turn, turning on the oven to warm up the apartment sounds more and more appealing. And with Rob and I trying to clean out the freezer and pantry in preparation for a possible move (we are currently house hunting), I got a little creative in the kitchen a few weeks ago.

Chicken, Feta, Spinach Puffs

From the freezer came a single sheet of puff pastry and some chicken I defrosted. Combined with a sprinkle of feta, a touch of onion, and a bit of spinach and these tasty puffs were created. Serve with a side salad (or eat them on their own) and you have a tasty, warming dinner.

Chicken, Feta, Spinach Puff

Since we only had one puff pastry sheet, I rolled it out so it was close to double in size. It ended up being plenty of food for both Rob and I!

Fill Er Up

Chicken, Feta, Spinach Puffs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts (you may have leftovers)
  • 1 sheet Puff Pastry, rolled out thin
  • 1/4 cup Spinach, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta
  • 1 Egg, beaten

Instructions

  1. Poach chicken with seasonings of choice (pepper, garlic powder, basil, etc.)
  2. Chop chicken into small, bite-sized bites.
  3. Cut rolled puff pastry into 3"x3" squares.
  4. Layer chicken, spinach, onion, and fetta into center of one puff square.
  5. Fold over edges and dab a bit of egg to "seal" it shut.
  6. Repeat until all squares are filled.
  7. Brush tops of each puff with remaining egg.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
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RQ: What is your favorite thing to make when the weather changes? Do you ever get creative when cleaning out the freezer/pantry?

Arm Blaster Workout

I have to tell you, being on Fall Break has been exactly what I needed. With the past eight weeks being insanely busy, it has been so nice to just be on my own schedule. It’s hard to believe that it’s already Wednesday, but time just seems to fly no matter what.

My morning started with an interval 6 miles before sunrise. It was so peaceful out on the bike path with hardly anyone out yet.

Sunrise Run

Before I jump into an arm sculpting workout, I have to share this video that showed up on my Facebook feed this morning.

How can you not smile at this? Plus, that song is just built for wanting to sing at the top of your lungs.

Alright, time for an Arm Blaster Workout!

Arm Blaster

Start with two reps of each move and then two minutes of push pace on the cardio of your choice (run, walk, bike, jumping jacks, etc.). Then complete four reps and two minutes of push pace. Continue this pattern until you hit ten reps.

Not only does every single move work your back, shoulders, and triceps, but they also tackle your core, balance, and posture. Plus, you get some heart-pumping cardio in the mix as well!

Here are a few more arm workouts for you:

RQ: Are you a pre-sunrise workout type? What is your favorite arm move?

Tall Tales Tuesday: The Vague Creepiness of Old Town Sacramento

Over the summer, I took a professional development trip with a few coworkers to Sacramento, California. Our hotel was situated right next to Old Town Sacramento and after our days of discussing instructional strategies and best practices, we ventured over to explore.

As cute as Old Town is, it had a bit of a creepy vibe. Maybe it’s because it was a random weekday, or because it was a bit out of “real” town, but the place was pretty dead. An empty boardwalk combined with abandoned train tracks and you have the makings of a horror movie.

Train tracks and boardwalks

One of my coworkers and I took an after dinner walk and just about jumped out of our skins when we rounded a corned and saw this human sized chicken suit hanging from the ceiling of a novelty shop.

Full body chicken suit

Another turn brought us to the only noise being made in the entire town, a sidewalk shooting game that let you “shoot” anything in the tiny space, not just the items behind the barrier as you typically see.

Shooting Games on the sidewalk

Yet another turned brought us to a deserted stairway in a back alley. Definitely not the kind of place I would want to be walking alone, not because it wasn’t safe, but because my imagination can get the best of me in situations like that.

Abandoned Walkways

On our walk back to the hotel, the bridge we had to cross to get to Old Town was lit up. Since the bridge is painted a greenish yellow, adding light to it gave it a haunting tint.

Eerie light on the street

Old Town Sacramento might be the perfect place to have one of those haunted city walks that are popping up all over the place. That, or film a based on a true story horror movie.

Creepy corners

RQ: Have you ever been to Old Town Sacramento? Does your imagination get the best of you in creepy situations?

Catching Up: Running, Hiking, Movie Watching

Oh, hey. So, about those two weeks I fell off the face of the blog-world? Sorry about that. Things should be back to normal around here. Let me catch you up on what’s been occupying my time.

Cross Country – The team’s last meet is this Thursday! Woot! I get a kick out of coaching, and many times it’s the highlight of my work day, but dang, does it take up a lot of time. One of my athletes has a chance to qualify for the state meet, but he is going to have run his heart out. No pressure. No pressure at all.

Cross Country Running

Marathon Training – I officially registered for the Rock n Roll Denver Marathon last week and have a slight ache in stomach as a result. The race is THIS Sunday! My training has been decent, but I always mess up the tapering portion. I don’t know how to slow down and rest all that well. I’ll have a post up later this week (promise!) with my A-D marathon goals.

Race markings on my path

One Year Anniversary – This past Sunday was Rob’s and my one year wedding anniversary. I cannot believe how quickly this year went! We drove up to Grand Lake on Friday night and spent the weekend hiking and utilizing a hotel deal I found on Groupon.

Rob and I on our Hike

Hiking – While in Grand Lake, we hiked 11 miles through the yellow aspens to Lone Pine Lake. It was a beautiful walk and an even more beautiful spot to rest our legs. Fall in Colorado is fast, but absolutely breathtaking.

East Inlet Hike

Gone Girl – Last Friday, a couple of women in my book club and I went to see Gone Girl, which we had read over the summer. I thought they did a superb job on the movie and really stayed true to the book. If you’ve read it, definitely go see it, but be forewarned that there is a pretty graphic scene (sexual and gory) when Desi dies.

Gone Girl

Rant: One of the trailers for Gone Girl was 50 Shades of Grey. I have zero interest in reading the book and was extremely uncomfortable just watching the trailer. I am slightly outraged it is being turned into a mainstream movie since I know people who hid the book cover to read it, but here it is on display. What is this teaching my students? Rant Over – this might warrant a full post all its own. 

Fall Break – This week is my fall break and I am so thankful to have the time to breathe personal train, catch up on blogging, finish a few books, do some grading, and rest up for the marathon.

Blogging between conferences

There you have it! My life in the past two weeks in a nutshell.

RQ: Tell me something from your past two weeks! 50 Shades as a movie: yay or nay?

Tall Tales Tuesday: Storm All The Castles

The amount of castles and fortresses dotting the Irish landscape is immense. Drive down just about any road, whether highway or backroad, and you are bound to see a few.

Lake Side Fortress

They are literally everywhere. Sticking up on private farm land, tucked into tree-covered corners, and literally two steps from the side of the road.

Random road side castle

Rob and I stopped at just about every castle we could. Sure, by the end of our 9 days we were slightly castled-out, but it didn’t stop us from seeing as much as we could. After all, who knows when, or if, we will ever be back.

Top of Blarney Castle

Almost every single one is explorable. Whether it’s through a guided (free or paid) tour, walking through on your own, or trespassing slightly on the farms.

DSC01917

Some are extremely well taken care of with immaculate gardens and interiors. While others have been left to the elements.

Adare Manor

Our favorite? Muckruss House. Though technically an estate, we labeled it in our minds as a castle. We arrived just as the last tour was beginning and managed to get the last two tickets to join. Seeing the interior of such an extravagant, Irish-style castle was one of the highlights of our trip. I highly recommend it even if just to learn more about Irish family history and geography.

Muckruss House

However you decide to explore the castles and fortresses of Ireland, do your best not to get stuck in the spiral staircases! Rob is a little too broad shouldered  for some spaces, Irish castles included!

Don't get stuck in the spiral!

RQ: Have you ever explored a castle or fortress? Would you prefer to trespass a bit or pay to see one?