Traveling, Eating, and More: Santa Cruz, CA

On Labor Day Weekend we attended a lovely wedding in the Santa Cruz area. My friend J. married A. at the Quail Hollow Ranch in Felton, CA, and thank goodness the fiancé and I scored an Airbnb rental very close to the venue – we were seated with J.’s uncle who had brought tequila to share with the table.

The next day we went to Santa Cruz and walked around the boardwalk. It was a perfect summer day to be kids again! I really enjoyed our seaside ride while the fiancé loved the arcade. On our way back to Reno, the fiancé had his last gluten and dairy meal before his elimination diet: a bison burger at “Burger Me”.

Eating: Coxinha de Galinha

Summer 2015 was all about eating out, but I did try to make a few things in my kitchen, especially since I had gotten the fiancé a brand new fryer. Knowing my gluten days were near an end, I decided to make a Brazilian staple called “Coxinha de Galinha”, which is like a chicken croquette. So delicious! I made so many I had enough to share with an international group dinner I went to. Here’s is one of my last gluten-full meals of 2015!

Coxinha de Galinha

Coxinha de Galinha


Coxinha de Galinha – Brazilian Chicken Croquettes

Ingredients for the Filling

1.5 lbs chicken, boiled, shredded

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small can tomato paste

½ cup parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

The filling

The filling

Ingredients for the dough

2.5 cups chicken broth

1 cube chicken bouillon

2.5 cups flour

Water or Milk for coating

Breadcrumbs for coating

Peanut Oil for frying

The dough

The dough


Once chicken is cooked in water, save the chicken water for the dough. Shred the chicken and reserve.  Saute onion in a large pan with the olive oil. Add garlic and all the filling ingredients, together with the chicken. Cook until hot and reserve.

For the dough, bring 2.5 cups of the chicken broth to a boil and dissolve the chicken bouillon cube in it. Slowly add flour, stirring constantly until it forms a dough. Keep kneading until smooth.

Before frying

Before frying

To make the coxinha, take a golf size ball of dough and form a disk. To the middle of the disk, add a tablespoon of chicken filling. Close the dough, making a teardrop shape. To coat your coxinha, quickly drop it in cold water or cold milk, and then roll it on the breadcrumbs (or you can use an egg wash, but at the time the fiancé couldn’t have eggs.)

New fryer

New fryer

After you make all your coxinhas, it’s time to fry them. I used peanut oil and fried them at 350 F until they were golden brown. Serve warm! They also freeze really well!

After frying

After frying

Eating and More: The Fiancé’s Birthday 2015

It was a week-long celebration for the fiancé that involved a lot of eating, knowing that after Labor Day he would start an elimination diet. We had brunch at Arrowcreek Country Club, a place we were considering for our wedding, and dinner at The Depot with many of his friends. We also went o Red Lobster, his favorite chain restaurant, and participated in a puzzle room that was super fun for the fiancé, but really annoying to me since I couldn’t figure anything out.

Running, Eating, and Traveling: Summer 2015

Yes, I know. Summer 2016 is just around the corner, but I’m still talking about Summer 2015! It was a great one, so that’s why I have been behind on my posts… it seems I was always busy running, eating, traveling, and eating again.

I actually had a list of restaurants to try, but didn’t make through all of them. Here are a few though:

Great Full Gardens – again. Always healthy salads available. Love their rewards program too.

Laughing Planet – again. Another healthy favorite.

Hummus Fresh – with B. and a surprise visit from my friend K. They have salads, wraps, and juices.

Suite 103 – great food (tofu green curry, lamb shank, Mediterranean shrimp), lots of hiccups with service, but food was amazing.

Z Bar – My favorite 1944 Mai Tai (rum and orgeat syrup).

Centro – again. They were out of some items… Awesome waffle bananas foster.

Reno Provisions – meatloaf and polenta again. Can’t go wrong. (Unfortunately, they closed in the fall…)

Jus – juice bar. Great on a hot summer day after a run.

The Depot – okay food, okay service, nothing to rave about. The building, however, is pretty cool.

Villa Donato – great Italian food, but service was horrible.

Sushi Pier 1 – buy 10 get 1 free. Love all you can eat!

Moo Dang – good Thai place in Midtown, but there are better ones.

Café Deluxe – amazing café with lots of healthy options.

Asiago’s – new pizza place in Tahoe. Awesome Greek salad with mint dressing.

Latin Soul – this Lakeside Inn restaurant in Tahoe has an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse night!

With all the food, I had to keep active, but sometimes it was too hot to run, so, instead, I went to the beach in Lake Tahoe, on hikes on Mount Rose and Tunnel Creek, to the river with the dogs, and even swimming at the public pool. Plus, got to try acro yoga again with the fiancé.

Although after I came back from Ireland and Texas, there wasn’t much traveling for a while, we did have a lot of fun in Tahoe and Reno. Fourth of July was spent barbecuing with friends and watching the fireworks in my neighborhood. I went to an Elton John concert in Tahoe, and did many outings with my Little Sister such as to the Rib Cook-Off, Art Museum, Circus shows, etc.

Other summer adventures included making candles, going to a Paint and Sip night that inspired me to paint even more, celebrating birthdays with friends, the annual Shakespeare Festival in Sand Harbor, and a rope’s course in Tahoe with work!

Traveling: Houston, Texas

This past summer I also spent time with my friend S. and my goddaughter E. in Houston, Texas. So much fun to hang out with a (well-behaved) toddler! Lots of eating (great gourmet places!), swimming (it’s hot in July!), and museum fun (so much fun, it’s worth to be a member!). And since toddlers can also be exhausting, we also had a spa day 🙂

Running, Eating, and Traveling: Belfast, Ireland

The last stop of my summer vacation was Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. However, summer doesn’t really mean nice weather in island of Ireland. Most days it was cold and rainy, but I went on a jog anyway. I went by the City Hall, the many sculptures and building near River Lagan, and the beautiful Botanical Gardens.

A very cosmopolitan city, Belfast has great nightlife, with an Opera House, and many pubs with live music, like the famous Crown Bar. By the end of my trip, I had found my favorite drink: Jameson with Ginger ale. However, still looking for good Irish food…

Belfast was also part of the Troubles, so we took a “black cab tour” to see the neighborhoods affected and the many political murals. There was also a peace wall where people still write messages of hope.

Lastly, I went to the Titanic Museum, since Belfast was where the infamous ship was built. It is a state-of- the-art museum with interactive exhibits and lots of information about the shipyard and the sinking. Highly recommended!

Traveling: Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland also has some beautiful scenery, so much so that HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is filmed there. We saw Dunlunce Castle, apparently known in the show as the House of Greyjoy, and Dark Hedges, a beautiful avenue of trees known in the show as King’s Road.

Perhaps my favorite part of Northern Ireland was the World Heritage Site Giant’s Causeway. Legend says the giant Fionn McCool built a bridge to Scotland that then got destroyed by another giant who was afraid of him. Now the basalt rocks are perfectly geometric, forming columns that disappear into the ocean. Spectacular to think of how perfect nature can be!

Built by salmon fishermen and now a tourist spot, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was much less scary than it looks, even though it was 98 feet high. It was not as wobbly as I thought it would be and attendants kept things moving, so you can cross the bridge in the blink of an eye. When you get to the other side, the view from the island is still lovely, even though it’s overcrowded with tourists!

Carrick-a-Rede Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Bridge

Traveling: Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, also known as Londonderry, is the second largest city in Northern Ireland. There is so much history there that when our guide was talking, my head was spinning. Derry walls were built in the 17th century and they are still intact. You can walk around the walled city through a promenade and explore the outer city from the many gates.

Unfortunately, Derry is mostly known now for being the place where the Troubles started in the 60’s. The conflict between Catholics/Nationalists and Protestants/Unionists lasted three decades and saw a lot of violence. In 1972, one of the most notorious events of the Troubles also happened in Derry: on “Bloody Sunday” 26 civil rights protesters were shot by British soldiers.

Now Derry is a much more peaceful place, but the horror of the guerrilla war can still be seeing on the political murals of the Bogside. There are also some monuments dedicated to peace, such as the Peace bridge and the peace monument “Hands across the divide”.

Traveling: Galway, County Mayo, County Sligo, and County Donegal, Ireland

My last few days in the Republic of Ireland were filled with trips to the northern area and more days of rain. Galway was a vibrant city. Eyre’s Square, Shop Street, River, Spanish Arch: lots of young people everywhere. I really enjoyed some live music at the Murty Rabbits, where I also had a disappointing stew – everybody warned me Ireland’s food was not the greatest…

In County Mayo  we visited Cong, where John Wayne filmed “The Quiet Man”, Cong Abbey, and Ashford Castle, a 5-five hotel/medieval castle. On our away out we also went to the Country Life museum, which had many artifacts from life in Ireland.

We only stopped at County Donegal for a day, but it was one of my favorites not only because of its spectacular views but also because it is the home of the fiancé’s ancestors. We went to Grianan of Aileach, a circular structure from the 7th century CE atop a hill from where you can see 3 different counties. It was very windy, but we warmed up by having some food and Guinness at Leo’s Tavern, the bar of Irish singer Enya and her family. We also stopped by Glenveagh Castle, built in 1870. It’s inside a national park and it has beautiful gardens. We toured the castle, a retreat for the rich and famous like Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe, but couldn’t take any pictures of the inside.

View of threel counties from Donegal

View of three counties from Donegal

County Sligo was very dreamy – I had a coffee while watching the waves and the rain at Strandhill Beach. I definitely see where W.B. Yates got inspiration from. We visited the Irish poet’s grave that says “Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by!” And life goes on… now to Northern Ireland!

Traveling: Bunratty Castle and Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

My favorite day in Ireland! After days of rain and more rain, we finally had some sunshine for the highlight of the trip. We first stopped at Bunratty Castle, which is not a big deal at all, except that it was built by the MacNamara’s in 1400’s, which happens to be my future husband’s ancestors. So after we get married, can I claim the castle and become a princess???

We arrived at Cliffs of Moher: just spectacular and breathtaking. Miles and miles of cliffs and sidewalks to explore. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

On our way out we also stopped at The Burren, which is a cliff side area that looks like a lunar landscape, then at Corcomroe Abbey to see a skull and bones under a tomb.  We also tried to go to 16th century Dunguaire Castle, but since we spent so much time at Cliffs of Moher, when we did arrive, it was already closed. That’s okay though, at that point I was already getting tired of so many medieval castles!