Out with the Old…in with the New

IMG_2611First off, Happy New Year!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written. The holidays can be hectic but worthwhile, which is why I took complete advantage of the cheerful spirit and mini vacation, to say the least. Christmas not only had delicious, mouth-watering food, but it had smiles, love and happiness from my family and closest friends. I even got a snowy send off! And as the only way to end such an amazing and rewarding year, I found myself road-tripping to Las Vegas with my closest girlfriends. Looking back at this past year I can’t believe all that has happened and that I’ve done, ever since I began choosing in favor of my passions, which led to the start of The Dreamery.

I accomplished almost all of my 2012 goals, and couldn’t have been more excited for all that 2013 will bring….so then why is it that ever since my return back to the realities of work and life I felt an overwhelming sense of stress and anxiety? No, I wasn’t scared or worried of the upcoming year, I was slightly annoyed with the things I keep procrastinating, and that my life, especially the apartment, didn’t seem organized, which is unlike me!

The other reason, has been my absence from The Dreamery. I haven’t been writing and expressing my emotions which makes me somewhat disappointed that I haven’t been able to balance my personal life, work, and this blog. My horoscope yesterday said, “…everything hasn’t yet fallen into place…Positive change is imminent. Something wonderful has the power to settle everything into place so that the life you’ve imagined can begin to take root. Remain hopeful and positive.” With a new sense of determination taken over me, I organized the kitchen and bedroom, and become creatively inspired to get things done. Made myself this comforting Gingered Butternut Squash and Apple Soup as the start of my 28 Mind and Body Challenge.

My biggest goal for 2013 is to find that center and balance for myself, whether it’s by traveling to many more new destinations, meeting new friends, pushing my creative boundaries, dedicating more time to do the things I love, like yoga and photography, and always remembering to choose in favor of my life’s passions. I hope you all have an amazing 2013, and I leave with you with some of my favorite images from the end of my year!

PicMonkey Collage

One of my favorite dishes was this Baked Brie which I recreated by using Camberet and seasonal Portuguese Chestnuts IMG_2577IMG_2583Oven roasted octopus with a generous portion of rich olive oil and parsley. A delicacy I look forward to every Christmas Eve.PicMonkey CollageMy family’s favorite almond cake made its appearance on the dessert table yet again, and tasted even better when I replaced the buttermilk with equal parts milk and a tablespoon of lemon juice} Creme brule, Chocolate Mousse, Bolo Rei {the Portuguese version of the fruit cake, delicious toasted with pumpkin jam}, Brigaderos, Pudim de Coco, and Passionfruit Pineapple Sorbet.

I was pretty pleased with the depth of flavors my gingerbread cookies had this year, yes by far my favorite cookie! What makes it is the mixtures of rich spices and fresh ginger, which paired nicely with my Spiced Apple Cider {recipe below}.IMG_2556PicMonkey Collage IMG_2521A glass of milk and Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies were the perfect Thank You for Santa. IMG_2552PicMonkey CollageThe sweet treat I was most excited to make was my family’s traditional Broinhas de Natal {see the full recipe below}. I’ve grown up many Christmas’s watching my mom and dad making these potato cookies, carefully cutting crystalized fruit and mixing all the ingredients by hand in an overly large bowl. I wanted to blend the old traditions of my family with my new traditions of making healthier choices. I was quiet pleased how well the sweet potato and dried fruit cookie tasted, and thought it would be a great breakfast treat, on the go snack, and a versatile cookie that could easily be a vegan dessert.IMG_2537IMG_2542IMG_2593This Christmas Sangria was hit with everyone on Christmas Day, I can see it making many more appearances. IMG_2595A refreshing winter salad of arugula and spinach, tossed with beets, cheery tomatoes, cucumber, topped with pine nuts, golden raisins, cranberries and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So satisfying!PicMonkey CollageIMG_2606The second I saw this lobster and fennel stew recipe, I knew I just had to make it Christmas Day. This surprisingly rich soup, gets a healthier addition with coconut milk but the fresh lobster and spicy garlic shrimp saved from the night before add an extra level of flavor. IMG_2612It may not have been a white Christmas but at least I got to see a snowy night before I returned to the warmer West Coast. IMG_5990As I read my new copy of Expressive Photography by the Shutter Sisters, I decided to take up my goal of getting more serious about my photography and trying out some of their techniques. I suggest picking up this book, the photographs just evoke so much emotion. IMG_5993 IMG_5994I ended and began the year on a high note by traveling to Las Vegas where there can never be enough sparkle and champagneIMG_6006I couldn’t more excited for 2o13. I feel that will bring not only me but those I know, many beautiful things. I hope it does the same for you!IMG_6003

Broinhas de Natal

Ingredients {Makes about 9 dozen}

2 kilograms {4.4 lb} – Sweet Potato {Grandma’s recipe calls for regular potatoes}

1 kilogram {2.2 lb} – Whole-wheat Flour {plus more dough and rolling}

8 large – Eggs

2 teaspoons – Baking Powder

1/2 kilogram {1.1 lb} – Granulated Sugar

3 tablespoons – Ground Cinnamon

Zest of an Orange

1 cup – Chopped Walnuts and Pine Nuts

2 cups – Unsulfured/Unsweetened Dried Fruits – Not crystalized {I used Concord Grape raisins, Golden raisins, Cranberries, and Turkish Apricots. Tip: Chop all dried fruits the same size, about the size of a raisin. Other suggestions: hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, dried figs, dried pineapple, orange and apple}


Wash, peel and cook your potatoes in lightly salted water. When they are done, use a masher to mash them into the consistency of mashed potatoes in a very large mixing bowl. Allow to cool slightly, or until you can manage to work them with your hands {I kept mashing/stirring my potatoes to speed up the process}

Pre-heat your oven 375*F. Add your eggs, one at a time, breaking them up and stirring using the masher. Using your hands fold in the flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, and cinnamon. {If the dough is too sticky, add flour enough where you can form cookies, I used about an extra 1 1/2 cups, it depends on what potatoes you use.} Fold in the nuts and dried fruits.

Sprinkle flour onto a baking sheet. Form the dough into small rounded diamond shapes, and lightly coat in the flour. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. The great thing about these cookies is you can line them fairly close together. Bake until golden brown, make sure bottoms are golden brown too, keep a close eye on them, they can easily burn {about 20 minutes}

In some strange Portuguese tradition, keep these cookies stored in an open storage bag lined with paper towel, and they last up to 2 weeks.

Spiced Apple Cider

Ingredients {Makes 3 quarts – Serves 12}

Peel – 1 1/2 Large Orange

1 tablespoon – Whole Cardamon Pods

2 quarts – Apple Cider {Use one that has the least amount of added ingredients, I enjoy this one-Trader Joes}

1 quart – Unsweetened Apple Juice

3 tablespoon – Light Brown Sugar

3/4 teaspoon – Ground Cloves

3/4 teaspoon – Ground Allspice

1/4 teaspoon – Ground Nutmeg

3 – Cinnamon Stick

12 shots – Brandy {Optional}


With the flat side of a knife, crack the cardamon pods. Add to a pot, along with the orange peel, apple cider, apple juice and stir in the brown sugar, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks. Simmer over low heat, until warmed {about 7-8 minutes} Ladle into glasses, spike with a shot of brandy for the adults.

Any cider left over, can be bottled and re-heated or drink cold as a delicious spiced apple juice.

8 thoughts on “Out with the Old…in with the New

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