Archive for December, 2012

© Dina Avila

All images © Dina Avila 2012

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I didn’t have any plans for a New Year’s post. I figure you are all up to your necks in recaps and cocktail posts and why on earth would you need another one? Except, I was leafing through the October issue of Food and Wine magazine and came across this oh so versatile sangria. I swear it’s not uber sweet and syrupy like your typical sangria and it can easily be made non-alcoholic for the kidletts and folks who don’t or aren’t drinking. Simply swap out the hard cider for sparkling cider, or even sparkling water. I think this cocktail would be beautiful with a dry prosecco. Oh, the possibilites!

2012 was a good year and I have a sneaking suspicion 2013 will be even better.

A very Happy, Blissful, Gorgeous and Wonderful New Year to each and everyone of you!




Hard Cider Sangria

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

I substituted Cognac instead of Brandy, which F&W used, and it was perfect.


One apple, thinly sliced

One navel orange, thinly sliced

1 cup chilled apple juice

Juice from one to two lemons

1/4 cup Cognac or brandy

1 22 oz bottle hard cider, preferably dry


Combine all of the ingredients, except the cider in a pitcher or large jar. Add cider just before serving, stir and pour over ice.


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© Dina Avila

DinaFlourish (1)2

I may be alone, but after drifting from my usually grains and greens packed fare and, I dare confess, a week of eating more than my usual fair share of my Mother-in-Law’s unreasonably addicting oatmeal cookies, I’m ready for a bit of veggies and pulses on my plate. I have a feeling you may be as well. When those moments crop up, as many of you are aware, I often turn to Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day as it is chock-a-block full of healthy and inspiring recipes.  I swear, I should own stock in that book as it makes an appearance on leek soup more often then not.

This is a bit of a riff on Heidi’s recipe. I swapped in blanched kale for the mixed greens and stirred in cooked farro to make the dish heartier and more filling. I suspect you could easily trade out the split peas for any lentil (or bean, for that matter) and the farro for wild rice. I say use this recipe as inspiration to start off the New Year on a healthy foot.

I do hope you all have been having a lovely holiday season. The New Year is a heartbeat away and I must admit, I am looking forward to an even better year. I tend to reflect, journal, and work on goals and intentions throughout the year, but the New Year is a beautiful way to solidify ideas and set intentions. After finally shaking the the ball and chain of retail more than a year ago, where there is little difference between December and January (it’s just one big hellish blur), I finally understand how the New Year is perfect time to rest and reflect. Especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to be given a bit of a break in December. My dear friend, B, suggested that in lieu of resolutions she decided to have a personal theme for 2013. Her theme is gumption, mine, and of course the list is growing because it’s, well me, will be fueling my passion and creativity, taking my life and career to the next level, pushing my boundaries, personal (photo) projects and yoga.

What’s your theme for 2013?



Yellow Split Pea Salad with Farro and Cilantro Pesto

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

This is a great vegetarian dish but feel free to add some extra protein, if you like. 
I’ve got a whole chicken roasting in the oven to serve with this dish tonight.


1 1/2 cups dried yellow split peas

Sea Salt

1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems

1/3 cup pecorino Romano, freshly grated

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Serrano pepper, mostly seeded

2/3 cup olive oil

2 cups cooked farro

One bunch kale, leaves torn and blanched


Bring 5 cups of water to a boil.

Add split peas and let cook for about 30 minutes.

Drain and set aside.

To make the cilantro pesto, add cilantro, 1/3 of the toasted pumpkin seeds, pecorino, garlic, lemon juice, a pinch or two of salt and a splash of olive oil in a food processor.

Process adding olive oil slowly until the pesto is smooth.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked split peas, farro, kale a handful of the roasted pumpkin seeds and about two-thirds of the pesto until everything is coated.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!

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We’ve been house and cat sitting for the past week and popped home briefly to gather mail and to do a quick Eater shoot. I wanted to have a recipe for you this holiday season, but between a terrible bout of food poisoning last weekend, a fantastically full week of photo shoots and house sitting all this week, well, there just hasn’t been any time. I hope to make it up to you in 2013 which looks to be grand!

In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderfully Happy Holiday season!


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Yes, yes, I know. I promised you a post yesterday and I had every intention of waking up early on Friday and making a few photos and sharing a recipe, except I barely slept that night. Blame the full moon, the big mug o’ tea I had at two in the afternoon, I don’t know, but I just couldn’t sleep. Those nights make me grumpy and brain-dead the next day, and well, you can see how motivation and inspiration go out the proverbial window.

I think this delicious and oh-so-simple, perfectly autumnal squash recipe will make it up to you. It is good, really, stop you in your tracks, good. I pirated this recipe out of an impulse cookbook purchase a couple of weeks ago at Powell’s. I passively had my eye on the River Cottage cookbooks and found this little gem on the shelves. It was the only imported from England and bound in Italy (as opposed to China) copy and it was cheaper than the others refined for the States. Yes, it’s built for Brits, but that’s nothing a little iPhone conversion app can’t fix. Plus, it’s like a bit of armchair travel when reading cookbooks written for a different culture. Yes, I’d rather spend a few months in the UK, but, for now, I have cookbooks…and BBC :)



Stuffed Rosemary Acorn Squash

Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall
The original recipe calls for butternut squash, but feel free to use whatever squash catches your eye.


2 acorn squashes

1 garlic clove, minced

2 oz of butter, cubed

Olive oil

2 1/2 oz pumpkin seeds, lightly roasted

1/2 lb crumbly goat cheese, or blue cheese

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Warm your oven to 375.

Wash the outside of your squash well and cut in half.

Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bits.

Place the squash in a roasting dish or on a baking sheet and evenly add the butter to the cavities.

Add the garlic and brush the squash with olive oil.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes until the meat is tender.

Remove from the oven and carefully scoop out most of the squash meat into a bowl. Be sure to get all the juicy, garlicky goodness.

Mash the squash just a bit with a fork and stir in all but a pinch of the rosemary, pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.

Spoon the mixture back into the squashes and sprinkle with the remaining rosemary, seeds and cheese.

Place the squash back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes until the cheese is browning and bubbly.

Serve warm.

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