Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Are you looking for a yummy dessert to bring to your next holiday party? Or maybe just an excuse to make cupcakes… here is an easy recipe perfect for the holidays!

Hot Chocolate CupcakesHot Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 18-24 cupcakes
1 box dark chocolate cake mix
1 tbs flour (for high altitude cooking)
2 tbs cocoa powder
3 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup of water

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and spray the liners with non-stick spray. Combine the cake mix, flour and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl along with the vegetable oil and water, whisk to combine. Combine wet and dry ingredients together and mix well.

Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them about three-fourths full. Press one marshmallow into the center of each cupcake, making sure it’s covered in batter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

4 cups of powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs milk
1 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract or peppermint schnapps

Add powdered sugar, softened butter, milk and peppermint extract or schnapps in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Beat on low until powdered sugar is incorporated. Then move mixer up to medium-high speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. If it is too dry add a splash more milk. Place the icing into a piping bag with an icing tip. Frost cupcakes as desired and garnish with hot cocoa toppings. Enjoy!

Crushed candy canes
Hot cocoa powder

Chef Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!

Shepherd’s’ Pie

Shepherd’s Pie has to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. Sautéed beef and vegetables cooked in fresh herbs and topped with mashed potatoes- what could be more comforting that that? Traditionally shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, but here I’ve made it with Durham Ranch ground elk. Super tasty! You can easily substitute the elk for ground beef, turkey or lamb. Make sure to use chicken broth if using lamb or turkey.

Ground Elk Shepherd’s Pie
Makes 4-6 servings.Shepherd's’ Pie

3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and halved
2 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream or whole milk
½ cup unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbs olive oil, separated
1 lb ground elk
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs chopped rosemary
1 Tbs chopped sage
2 Tbs thyme
1 tsp ground pepper
½ cup white onion, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
½ cup carrots, chopped
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups beef broth
½ cup frozen peas
Chopped parsley & chives, for garnish

Peel and cut potatoes; cook until tender, about 20 minutes, drain. Add butter and milk then mash together; let cool. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as desired. Once cool mix in the egg yolks.

Preheat the oven to 400⁰. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground elk into the skillet. Stir in rosemary, sage and thyme, season with salt and pepper. Cook the elk until cooked through, then transfer to a plate. Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil in same skillet and add onions, celery, mushrooms and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften, about 10–12 minutes. Add tomato paste and flour, cook for two minutes. Pour in broth and cook until the mixture thickens. Next return the meat to the skillet with peas and cook for another 5 minutes.

Pour the meat mixture into a baking dish, then spread mashed potatoes evenly over the top. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Garnish with chopped chives and parsley.

Chef Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!

Butternut Squash Thai Curry

If you read my column in the Tahoe Daily Tribune regularly you know how much I love butternut squash; it is such a versatile and healthy addition to just about any meal! Recently, I was asked for a fall-inspired vegan dish and I immediately thought of a butternut squash Thai curry! This dish is great because you can incorporate as many vegetables as you’d like. For example, diced potatoes, snap peas, carrots or even broccoli! Just make sure to chop all the vegetables the same size so they cook evenly. Also make sure to add any snap peas at the end with the chickpeas so they don’t get overcooked. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Thai CurryButternut Squash Thai Curry
Makes 4 servings

2 tbs coconut oil
½ large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled & chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tbs curry powder
3 tbs red curry paste
1 tsp red chile paste (optional)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
½ cup of vegetable broth
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 lime, cut into wedges
1 handful of cilantro
2 cups of cooked rice

Place the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the coconut oil is melted add the onions, bell pepper, celery, butternut squash, garlic, ginger, curry powder, red curry paste, chili paste, salt and pepper. Sauté this mixture for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour the vegetable broth and coconut milk in the pot and bring to boil, reduce to a medium simmer. Cover and cook for ten minutes, or until the butternut squash is fork soft. At this point taste for flavor and add more salt or seasoning as needed. Add the chickpeas five minutes before serving. Serve the curry over rice. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro. Top with more chili paste or Sriracha if you desire more heat!

Chef Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!

Wild Boar Spaghetti

I had a craving for some spaghetti this week, but plain ol’ meat sauce just wasn’t going to cut it! So, I picked up some Durham Ranch ground wild boar from Raley’s and whipped up this delicious recipe, which is a riff on one I learned in a Tuscan Cuisine cooking course I took in Florence. I really enjoy wild boar because it is so lean and has a bit of a nutty flavor, but you can easily substitute ground beef, turkey, elk, or venison for the boar. Same for the pasta – use any noodle type that you would like for this dish or skip the carbs completely and use spiralized zucchini ‘noodles’ instead.

Wild Boar Pasta SauceWild Boar Pasta
Makes 4 servings

2 celery stalks
2 carrots, peeled
4 garlic cloves
1 small yellow onion
1 parsley bunch
1 lb ground wild boar
½ tbs dried basil
½ tbs dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup red wine
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup shredded parmesan
1 lb spaghetti


Mince or finely dice the celery, carrots, garlic, onion, and parsley. Sauté vegetables in a large sauce pan over medium heat until the vegetables start to soften. Crumble the wild boar meat into the vegetables and season with dried oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Sauté the meat until cooked through. Pour in the wine and cook until it evaporates. Add the tomato sauce and cook for 15 minutes on low so the flavors build. Taste and season as needed.
Prepare the pasta according to the package. Drain and place on each plate, top with wild boar sauce and garnish with shredded parmesan.

Chef Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!


Wild Boar Pasta

Apple Cider Glazed Meatballs

Fall connotes different things to different people. For me, it’s apple cider, which is versatile on its own (hot or cold) or as an ingredient for seasonal dishes. Adding a sweet cider glaze to meatballs transforms them (also, it makes them addictive!). It’s easy to make this recipe gluten-free by replacing the breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs or flour and the soy sauce for tamari. You can also turn this recipe into a burger and use the glaze to coat the burger patties after cooking, serving it on a sweet roll with some caramelized onions!

Apple Cider Glazed Meatballsapple cider meatballs
Makes about 20 meatballs

1 pound ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup shallot or onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup peeled shredded apple, drain on paper towel

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients. Mix to combine. Roll into one-inch balls. Place the meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

Pro tip: When making meatballs be sure to make one sample ball and cook it for taste before rolling the rest of them. This way you know if you need more seasoning before preparing the entire batch.

Apple Cider Glaze
1 cup apple cider
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp chile sauce or red pepper flakes
2 tbs cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Place into a large skillet. Cook on medium-high heat until thickened and bubbling. Once the sauce is thick, add in the cooked meatballs and coat with sauce. Cook until meatballs are warmed all the way through. Transfer glazed meatballs a serving dish. Serve warm and enjoy!

Chef Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!


Open Faced Salmon Sandwich

I’ve really been enjoying these sunny days when I tend to eat lighter dishes featuring raw ingredients. Salmon is filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. Pumpernickel bread is loaded with protein and fiber, plus it’s gluten free, making this a pretty healthy meal. This recipe is super simple and doesn’t take any cooking, just prep!

Open Faced Salmon SandwichesOpen Faced Salmon Sandwich
Makes 2-4 servings
4 slices thin-sliced pumpernickel or rye bread
5 oz. crème fraiche
1 cucumber, sliced thin
4 radishes, sliced thin
8 oz. smoked salmon, sliced thin
1 bunch fresh dill
¼ cup capers, drained
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper to taste

Spread desired amount of crème fraiche on each slice of bread and sprinkle a little salt and pepper. Evenly arrange the cucumber and radishes on each slice of bread. Top with smoked salmon. Garnish with dill sprigs, capers and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve.


Chef Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s soup time! I am a very seasonal eater. Soup is one of those dishes you won’t find me cooking or eating in the summertime unless it’s a gazpacho or chilled cucumber soup. But this weather has me in the mood for the warm comfort of soup. Did you know it also makes the best leftovers? This recipe calls for grilled corn and grilled chicken. Alternatively, you can use canned corn, drained. For the chicken, you can shred a rotisserie chicken or use your own roasted chicken. You can also substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth and leave out the chicken to make this soup vegetarian and vegan friendly!

Grilled Chicken Tortilla SoupChicken Tortilla Soup
Makes 4 servings

2 tbs avocado or olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grilled corn, or drained can of corn
2 cups grilled chicken, chopped

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Sauté the onion, jalapeno, and garlic with seasonings. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add in the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. While the soup is cooking grill the corn and chicken. Add the black beans, corn, and chicken to the soup. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes.

Garnish options:
3 small corn tortillas, cut into strips
Sliced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, shaved jalapeno, and cilantro

While the soup is cooking prepare the garnish. To crisp the tortillas, place 2 tbs of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add tortilla strips and cook until crispy and golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Slice the avocado, cut the limes, shave the jalapeno, and pluck the cilantro.

Pour the soup into a bowl and garnish with all the fixins. Serve warm and enjoy!


Chef Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!

Salmon Cakes

Salmon is a flavorful and versatile fish. It is delicious raw in sushi, grilled with salsa in tacos, roasted with teriyaki sauce, or my favorite, smoked with herbed cream cheese. This recipe is a tasty and different way to enjoy salmon, especially if you have extra leftovers from another dinner. I serve it as an appetizer with a spicy aioli, but you can also use it to top a salad, or as an appetizer.

Salmon Cakes with Sriracha AioliSalmon Cakes with Sriracha Aioli

Makes 4 appetizer servings.

1 lb salmon filet
¼ cup roughly chopped celery stick
¼ cup roughly chopped red pepper
¼ cup chopped green onion
1 egg
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 cup bread crumbs, separated
½ tbs Cajun seasoning (like Tony’s Chachere or Old Bay)

Sriracha Aioli
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp Sriracha, or more if you like the spice
salt & pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients together. Taste for seasoning. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
Heat oven to 400⁰. Place salmon on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until fully cooked. Let cool. Place cooled salmon in a bowl and flake evenly with a fork, making sure there are no bones.

Add celery stalk, red pepper, and green onions in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Place mixture into the flaked salmon along with egg, mayo, ½ cup of breadcrumbs, and Cajun seasoning. Mix well*.

Shape the mixture into silver dollar size patties. Place the remaining breadcrumbs on a plate and lightly coat each side of the patty with breadcrumbs. Cook in oil in skillet over medium heat until browned on each side. Turn once while frying. Serve with dollop of aioli. Enjoy!

*If the mixture is wet and not forming well, add in a few more breadcrumbs. You can shape a small patty and cook it as a sample for seasoning and to make sure it holds shape.

Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!


Gruyere Artichoke Dip

This is one of my go to appetizers for most clients. It is always a crowd pleaser. I’ve been asked many times to share the recipe so I figured this would be the perfect outlet to do so. I serve this dip with grilled flatbread and a vegetable crudité. It will also work with tortilla chips. For a little heat add in some red pepper flakes or chili oil when sautéing the shallots and artichoke. If you can’t find gruyere, swiss is a great alternative. I hope y’all enjoy!

Ingredients Gruyere Artichoke Dip
Makes 8 servings.

2 tbs butter
2 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 -14 oz cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
S&P to taste
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallot, garlic and artichokes, cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add in the cream cheese and stir until cream cheese is smooth. Remove from heat, add in 2/3 of the gruyere and fold.

Place the artichoke mixture into a deep baking dish and sprinkle with remaining gruyere and Bake for about 20 minutes, until heated through and lightly golden on top. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve warm with flat bread & vegetables.

Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!


Teriyaki Chicken Salad

I’m always looking for healthy salad variations for the summertime. This teriyaki chicken salad is quite tasty, easy to put together, and good for you. It’s loaded with fresh vegetables and chicken and tossed in a light dressing. The crunchy noodles are totally optional, but they just give the salad a little extra something something. Feeling zesty? Add in avocado or some fresh chopped pineapple. Make sure to marinate chicken before grilling to lock in that yummy teriyaki flavor. Get creative and enjoy!

Teriyaki Chicken SaladTeriyaki Chicken Salad
Serves 4

Salad Fixins
1/2 English cucumber
1 cup sweet mini peppers
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
½ cup roasted macadamia nuts
¼ cup shaved shallots
½ cup La Choy crispy rice noodles
8 oz mixed greens

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, use a spoon to de-seed, then slice into crescents. Slice mini bell peppers into rounds and cut mandarin oranges in half. Place all fixins on a plate and set aside.

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tbs lime juice & zest
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs orange juice

Place ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender to emulsify ingredients. Taste and add sugar and more oil as needed.

Teriyaki Chicken
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
1 cup teriyaki sauce

Place chicken in a Ziploc bag with teriyaki sauce. Refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours. Remove chicken from bag, discarding any remaining marinade. Pre-heat grill. Spray each tender with non-stick spray and grill for 6 to 8 minutes each side or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork.

Toss the mixed greens in desired amount of dressing. Layer the salad with fixins. Top with grilled chicken and serve.


Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you!