Archive for September, 2011

Under Construction

Hey everybody! If things look a little strange around here, it’s because we’re working on redesigning my blog. So, as they like to say, pardon our dust!

Thanks for stopping by, and please come back soon for the grand unveiling.



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© Dina AvilaSunriver is quickly becoming one of my favorite places. Those of you from Oregon will wonder why because, well, yes, Sunriver is a resort town, but not off-season. If you go there after Labor Day the village is all yours. Miles of bike lanes and off-road trails to meander on, epic views, green pastures with grazing horses. Hawks, eagles and chipmunks, lots of them. The air is so clean and the nights so quiet that I naturally woke early because I slept so well.

© Dina Avila

I’ve posted a few pictures here and there from that trip and here are a few more to go along with this week’s recipe: Pumpkin Chili. I know we’ve barely stepped into fall, but the nights here in Portland are starting to get cool and brisk and what better way to warm your belly then with a big bowl of spicy chili.

© Dina Avila

© Dina Avila© Dina AvilaCheers!

Spicy Pumpkin Chili

Adapted from October’s issue of O. The recipe calls for Serrano peppers which the market I shopped at were out of. I used jalapenos instead, which definitely did not provide enough heat. Adam and I doused our chili with Cholula sauce, which made the chili perfectly warm.

What you’ll need~

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 whole shallot, chopped

1-pound ground beef, optional

1 can crushed tomatoes

2-3 cups cooked beans, I used black and black-eyed peas because that is what I had on hand

1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice, or grain of your choice

1 can pumpkin puree

2 jalapeno peppers, chopped

1-tablespoon chili powder

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1-teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Fresh parsley

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.

Add garlic and shallots and sauté until soft.

Add ground beef, if using and cook until it is just beginning to brown.

Stir in all of the other ingredients, except the parsley plus four cups of water.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Serve hot garnished with fresh parsley.

© Dina Avila

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A couple of my favorite shots from a shoot I did at Yakuza:

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Photograph of the Day

Another from our trip….

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High desert sky…

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© Dina AvilaJust a quick recipe post for you guys today. I realize I haven’t been as active as I used to be on Leek Soup and mostly it’s just because I’ve been pretty busy. As we know I have a second (night) job that I’m plotting and scheming (constantly) to relieve myself of.  And, (thank goodness!) my photography business is continuing to pick up and grow, slowly but surely.

The other thing is, well, I’m bored with my blog. Not with writing for it and not with shooting for it and for you. Heavens no! I’m just tired of looking at.

The good news is that the incredibly talented (and might I add, gorgeous) Kathleen Shannon of the blog Jeremy and Kathleen and now also of Braid is redesigning my blog for me. Hurray! If you don’t know who she is then check her out. She’s the woman behind my beautiful logo that you can see in action on my recently redesigned and revamped website. Check it out!

I just got a glimpse of Kathleen’s preliminary ideas and designs and it is beautiful. Soon, after a bit of collaborating and ideas exchanging (i.e. nitpicking on my part) you will all see her work in action. Yeah, I can’t wait either.

For now, it’s the same old Leek Soup.


Adam and I off to Central Oregon this morning.

© Dina Avila

Warm days to bike ride in, cold and cuddly nights. A bit of wine, a bit of scrabble, and likely a bit of Top Chef. We don’t have a TV, so whenever we find ourselves around one, well, we are of the TV generation, after all. Last time we went to Central Oregon we found ourselves watching back-to-back episodes of Top Chef into the wee hours.

Could be worse.


Cast Iron Chicken

The September issue of Martha Stewart provides the inspiration for the recipe. I tweaked it just a hair. You’ll find it’s easy and versatile. Perfect for a cool night when you just want to throw everything in a pot and go and watch some Top Chef.

What you’ll need~

About 2 lbs chicken thighs

Coarse sea salt

Olive Oil

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

About 1/2 a pound or more fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered as needed. We want them to be bite-sized.

A handful of shallot cloves, peeled and halved (you can use whole, smashed garlic cloves too)

1/2 cup Greek olives, or olives of your choice. I used unpitted, but it’s simply a matter of personal preference.

1 lemon, washed well and quartered

6 sprigs of thyme, or whatever fresh herb you have on hand

Dried tarragon, optional

1-teaspoon cornstarch

© Dina Avila

Preheat your oven to 450°

Season your chicken thighs with salt.

Warm olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, ovenproof cast iron skillet. I used my enameled Le Creuset with no problems.

Place chicken thighs in the pan, skin side down and cook until browned. About 5 minutes.

Using your tongs, flip the thighs and push to the side of the pan.

Pour in 1 cup of stock and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add potatoes and bring to a boil.

Add shallots, olives, lemon, fresh herbs and a generous sprinkling of tarragon and return to a boil.

Carefully transfer skillet to the oven.

Roast, stirring about half way through, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through. About 30 minutes.

Return the pan to the stove and stir in cornstarch and remaining stock.

Bring to a boil to allow the sauce to thicken.

Serve warm.

© Dina Avila


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