Thanksgiving in Rio

Though they obviously don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Brazil, it sure was fun for us to celebrate Thanksgiving in Rio!

We ate a small breakfast as not to spoil our late afternoon Thanksgiving feast. Isn’t Brazilian granola cool looking?

It tastes good too. But the milk – let’s just say I was happy to get back to American milk. 🙂

I think spending Thanksgiving on the beach should be a new tradition. Tuna, his dad, and I spend the day at the beach in Leblon while his awesome mom slaved away in the kitchen (with no air conditioning). Tuna’s mom had a serious task ahead of her – having to make a turkey, pie, etc all in a stove that heated to ranges of temperatures instead of a specific temperature. Oh yeah, and all of those temperatures were in Celsius. At least we helped set the table!

She did a fabulous job on the meal though, and dinner was not only gorgeous, but delish too.

The stuffing and mashed potatoes were my favorite, per usual. This year I tried gravy for the first time – and I liked it!

Here comes another first for me: eating pecan pie! I usually have pumpkin pie and have always been scared to try other kinds of pie for some reason. Tuna’s mom said she had the hardest time finding the pecans for the pecan pie – she actually had to buy them in a different Brazilian state!

After dinner, I promptly declared I was going to take a fifteen minute nap. Tuna woke me up three hours later.

What can I say? It was a good meal.

Have you ever been in another country while celebrating a holiday? Like Thanksgiving or 4th of July (for Americans)?

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

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Tourist Time

Wednesday was our first full day in Brazil, and we wanted to make the most of it.  We woke up at 7:30 AM (4:30 AM D.C. time) in preparation for our touristy adventures.

Tuna’s parents had a Brazilian breakfast all ready for us once we got our bleary-eyed selves out of bed.

We devoured handmade breads with the thinnest sliced cheese and turkey ever. Thinly sliced = fancy. Though bread with cheese and cold cuts would usually be something Americans eat for lunch, it was actually really delish to have in the morning. I might have to start having this on the reg.

We also had fresh squeezed orange juice every morning thanks to Tuna’s mom. Brazilian orange peels are green – makes you feel kind of funny calling them oranges!

After b-fast, Tuna, his mom, and I all hopped in to his dad’s typ taxi driver’s car. Claudio drove us around a lot of the week and he is now our BFFL. Though we couldn’t really say much to each other since he only speaks Portuguese, so I don’t think he knows he’s our BFFL, but it’s okay.

Surprisingly, it takes a long time to get around in Rio, since there are a trillion little Fiats and only so many teeny winding city streets. Tuna’s mom told us this little anecdote, which I found hilarious and seems to sum up the Brazilian laid-back attitude: when there’s rush hour traffic, and you turn to the news radio channel to see why there’s congestion on a specific road, they always say the reason is – too many cars. Thanks, I think I could have figured that one out for myself!

Claudio drove us up the side of a mountain that legit shot us up vertically on cobblestone streets surrounded by a small country town. I don’t usually get carsick, but the those streets combined with – in quotes – “air conditioning” made me regret demolishing my seven pieces of bread and cold cuts for breakfast.

We arrived at our first tourist destination, Corcovado, the famous giant Jesus statue a.k.a. Christ the Redeemer. Though after I called the statue Corcovado all day I finally realized that Corcovado is actually the mountain that Christo Redentor is on, not the statue itself. Whoops.

We were up in the clouds!

Though I think the sign was confused too, so that made me feel better.

Christo Redentor is the largest Art Deco statue in the world (thanks, Wikipedia) and was built in the 1930’s.

The statue is HUGE and really breathtaking up close. I spend the morning wondering how they got that much concrete and soapstone up the big ol’ mountain with roads that make you slightly carsick.

Apparently, MONKEYS hang out on Corcovado too!

We headed partway down the mountain and stopped to take embarrassing pictures from a lookout point where there was a great view of the statue.

Then it was on to our next tourist destination: Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf is a set of two mountains with cable cars that have been bringing tourists to a spectacular view for exactly 100 years.

We got a great view of Rio from above – including Copacabana Beach.

Though we were exhausted after our day of tourism, Tuna and I decided to be ballsy and venture out to a local wine bar in Leblon.

We were really nervous since neither of us speak Portuguese. What if we got lost, or couldn’t figure out how many real we needed to pay? We debated not going out at all, but we thought we should be brave and experience all that we could of Rio, including a little bit of the nightlife.

I’m sure glad we did, because when I attempted to order our Chilean wine in Portuguese, the waitress smiled at me and said, “we can speak in English, if that’s easier.”

Perhaps the first time I’ve ever finished a glass of wine before Tuna.

Do you love or hate doing touristy things when traveling? Love!

Have you ever ventured out in a foreign country where you don’t know the language? 

[Real] Coconut

Now that I’m back in the U.S. of A. with my laptop, I finally feel that I can give my Brazil posts the credit they deserve! (It was getting tricky trying to blog from my iPhone.)

So travel back a week in time with me to last Monday night when Tuna and I boarded our plane to Rio.

I knew international flights were meant for me when I sat down in my seat and immediately saw this gem:

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I shall take several glasses, por favor.

Tuna was jealous of my mad skills to sleep anytime, anywhere, so the plane ride wasn’t too bad (for me).

Once we got to Rio, Tuna’s parents immediately took us to their sweet beach three blocks away from their apartment in Leblon.

Please observe the below picture of Leblon Beach. This is where we got to spend the week. I seriously almost cried when I got home. How amazing is the landscape?

The two mountains right in the middle are called the “Two Brothers” and a favela (slum) is scattered along the rocks. The sociological side of me would love to study the social issues of Rio. Seeing everything the entire trip really made me realize how lucky I am and how lucky we are to have the opportunities we do here.

We walked down about half a mile to Tuna’s parents’ usual coconut stand to buy some coconuts to drink for 3 real each (pronounced reais) which is about $1.50. I was a little skeptical because I didn’t think I liked coconut. But after drinking these, I realized I love coconut!

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What I don’t like is processed coconut – the shredded white stuff doused in sugar. Real, natural coconut is where it’s at.

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I’m definitely ready to be on Survivor now.

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After you drink your coconut water, they cut it open for you with a machete and you can peel off the white stuff to eat.

When I got home from Brazil, I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought a shit ton of coconut water.

More pictures and new foods I tried to come! We’ve got a whole week to cover with this view from our window.

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Thanks as always to Jenn for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Mojitos and Museums

How cute is Tuna’s sis’ dog? By the end of our stay in Miami, Tom Selleck was snuggling with us and he finally let me do a photo shoot with him.

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Our last day in Miami was a busy one! Tuna’s sis did a great job playing tour guide and taking us to the cool local spots.

Typ, another day of perfect weather in Miami.

We started out the day by tickling our toes in the ocean on Miami Beach.

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Then it was time for lunch. We grabbed a bite to eat at a trendy Cuban place called Yucca on Lincoln Road.

Tuna and I got mojitos – they were actually pretty cheap: only 5 bucks each! In DC, a mojito would probably be the ridiculous price of approximately $12.50. Another reason I am now a fan of Miami.

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We ordered the croquetas and the chicken empanadas for our appetizers. I loved the empanadas (especially the spicy guacamole sauce) but didn’t like the goat cheese filling inside the croquetas.

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Luckily Tuna finished my croquetas for me.

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Tuna’s sis and I both ordered the Mango Avocado Salad with Chicken. It had a sweet chili dressing that was really good.

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Please observe one of the best side dishes in the world: fried Yucca.

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After lunch we ventured over to Vizcaya.

Vizcaya is a famous old mansion in the Grove in downtown Miami Beach that they turned into a museum. The inside is amazing – it’s filled with ritzy antiques from the turn of the century. It felt like we were in The Great Gatsby or something!

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A super rich dude built/owned it during the Titanic era and basically lived there by himself.

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Um, I would like concrete ship for sunbathing in my backyard please.

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The gardens were also extremely elaborate.

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We had a great time walking around the grounds all afternoon.

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Next up: our first day in Brazil!

Thanks as always to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Have you ever tried Cuban food?

What’s your favorite happy hour drink?

‘Gators and Gables

On Sunday morning we all woke up bright and early for our private air boat tour in the Everglades.

It was surprising how fast the scenery went from urban Miami to desolate marshlands. We really felt like we were out explorin’ in the prairie land.

We pulled right up to the water and our air boat was waiting for us, along with our air boat captain, Captain Bill.

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Though it was a perf day out, it was pretty chilly on the water. Tuna’s sis and I were glad we brought our jackets.

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Then we were off on our hour long adventure! The Everglades (apparently a Native American word for “river of grass”) are gorgeous. The dry plants and sea grass make such a beautiful horizon line contrasting against the blue sky.

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We saw birds, flowers, and my favorite – alligators!

Do you see this guy sneaking toward us?

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They literally come right up to the boat. Though it’s illegal to feed them, some boats (not ours) still give them stuff to eat, so that’s why they’re trained to come investigate.

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Eek! They were scary, but actually kinda cute!

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When we got home from our air boat ride, I went on a glorious run around Coral Gables (Tuna’s sis’ neighborhood.) Perhaps I shall move to Miami for the sole purpose of running in perfect weather on FLAT FLAT land. Love.

Have you ever seen an alligator in real life?

Is it hilly or flat where you live?How does that affect your running?

Bienvenido A Miami

We are already having a blast in Miami with Tuna’s sister and hubby (and their puggle, Tom Selleck.)

Of course I’m keeping an eye out for the most important person in Miami: Mama Elsa. Don’t worry, I know we’ll run into her soon.

(source)

It was amazing going from chilly D.C. weather to perfect, 75 degree sun.

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To start off our sweet vacay, Tuna’s sis and hubby took us to their favorite restaurant in Miami Beach: Barton G’s – The Restaurant.

Not only was the decor gorgeous, the service was great and the food was truly an experience. In preparation for dinner, Tuna’s sister’s hubby warned us, “this will be the best food presentation you’ve ever seen.”

I figured that meant tiny portions of fancy food on fancy white plates drizzled with fancy sauce in crazy designs.

Nope. This was a full-on giant amount of eats on absolutely ridiculous serving platters. Ridiculous = awesome.

Look at the menus! The menus were on iPads. I don’t even have an iPad and this restaurant had a hundred of them! Talk about being technologically savvy.

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We started off with two of the best appetizers I’ve ever had.

Popcorn shrimp and lobster, served in a popcorn scooper. It even came with a little bit of popcorn scattered in the scooper!

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Deep fried lobster? Mmm mmm.

Please observe the greatest creation on the planet.

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An assortment of potatoes: regular fries, sweet potato fries, homemade chips, and…wait for it…tater tots.

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They came with different dipping sauces. You should be proud of me be because I tried 3/4 of the sauces. There was a honey mustard, a cheese sauce, and a “smoky ketchup” that we were convinced was BBQ sauce. The one I didn’t try was the vinegar sauce. No thank you.

The cool thing about the restaurant was that no one was shy about staring at other people’s food and taking pics. Perf for a blogger. 🙂

Look at this meal from the table next to us. Giant forks are obviously necessary.

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We were already full by the time our entrees arrived.

Tuna ordered short ribs with roasted potatoes and veggies.

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We ordered the best side dish in the world: lobster mac and cheese.

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Tuna’s sis ordered the Royal Salmon – it was served on a pillow!

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My go to order at a fancy restaurant is always steak. This steak did not disappoint! It was even served with my own desk lamp.

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I think I’ve found my calling, you guys. I need to be the designer of the serving dishes of this restaurant. Or maybe I can just start stocking up at Michael’s Arts and Crafts before dinner parties.

It was too bad we were too full for dessert. We could have played Duck Hunter!

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Have you ever been to Miami?

What’s the craziest way you’ve ever seen food served?

Get Ready

These past few weeks I have tried not to bore you by abstaining from posting enthralling pictures of toasted peanut butter sandwiches. Though I’m sure you would have been bored as shit captivated by a play by play of my repeated epic nap-taking.

Yes, I did a spin class on Monday with Scary Spice and another run this week. But…it was all kind of boring.

Thank goodness things are about to get a lot more interesting.

So just bear with me, will ya?

And make sure to follow me on my new instagram account @chickennug_girl. 

We’ve got some traveling to do.

Where did you go on your last vacation?

Do you have any good instagram tips? I just downloaded it and am trying to figure it out!

Cheat Day Chili

I was worried about what recipe I would have to share with you guys this week since I am currently on the pre-payday cleanse of scrambled eggs, bananas, and peanut butter sandwiches. Bring on the vacation food, please.

Luckily, Tuna saved the day by creating his own delicious masterpiece and artfully photographing it for me. I better watch out – I think I may have some food blogging competition on my hands.

I would have called it Tuna’s Cheat Day Chili, but I didn’t want you to get confused and think there was tuna in it.

This chili is full of protein and is amateur chef friendly. Perfect for snugglin’ up on the couch and watching Monday Night Football. It may not be the lowest calorie option out there, but hell, we all need a cheat day, right? Right.

Thanks as always to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Cheat Day Chili

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 70 minutes

Original recipe found here.

Ingredients (4-6)

  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tex mex chili seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • dash of oregano
  • dash of hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 (15 -16 ounce) can pinto beans

Instructions

Cook beef, garlic, and onion in a 3 quart saucepan until beef is brown.

Add remaining ingredients (except beans).

Heat until boiling, then reduce heat to low.

Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Stir in beans.

Heat once more to a boil, then reduce heat to low again.

Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until desired thickness.

Garnish with sour cream and shredded cheese. Serve with toasted tortilla chips or cornbread.

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Incline Treadmill Workout

I can’t believe our Miami/Brazil trip is almost here!

No, I haven’t been looking at the weather in Miami and Rio all day every day…

I just might be able get on board with those temps.

Another positive aspect of the trip – I’ve been in the mood to work out a lot, since I need to take down my box of summer clothes from the top of the closet pronto. I’ve got a good routine going for the first time since Tough Mudder.

I tried a new workout on Thursday night after my friend Mal told me about it. Mal ran her first marathon this weekend and killed it with a Boston Qualifier!

Mal’s friend showed her this workout – and he’s a former DC United Player, so he must know what he’s talking about!

I really liked this workout for a once a week cross-training day. It’s the perfect combo of hard work and recovery with enough variation not get too bored on the treadmill. Just please don’t tell anyone that I clipped the emergency treadmill stopper to my shirt. I had visions of myself suddenly stumbling down my self-made mountain.

Have you tried any new workouts lately?

Cinnamon Baked Apples

So I really wanted to make these on Saturday night after recipe stalking on Pinterest – but I needed to be searching for recipes for dinner, not dessert!

But suddenly, I stumbled upon the same baked apples as a side dish in a dinner recipe. One that didn’t involve pork.

I had a potato I could use for the starch and frozen green beans in the freezer to have for a side. I glanced at the ingredients.

Oooo, herbes de Provence, fancy. Wait…that was the name of the fru fru salad dressing I bought at Whole Foods last week! I could pour it all over the chicken and then grill it. That  would go well with my cinnamon baked apples!

It was a damn good dinner.

Cinnamon Baked Apples

Original recipe from Fresh Tastes. 

Makes 4 small servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large apples
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Chop up the apples and mix with cinnamon, brown sugar, and water in a casserole dish or baking pan.

Bake apples for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Serve with meat for dinner or for dessert with vanilla ice cream.

Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!