Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

You’d never guess these delicious muffins are gluten-free, but by incorporating ingredients like almond meal and ground oats into your baking, you can easily serve gluten-free baked goods to your family and friends (and you may find yourself feeling better about eating these treats too)!
These muffins are tender, sweet and full of that pumpkin flavor we crave this time of year! They are perfect to grab on those mornings you are rushing out the door, or as a snack on the way to the mountains to power you through some skiing or riding! I’ll often spread almond butter on mine for an extra filling bite.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffinsgluten free pumkin muffinsgluten free pumkin muffins
Makes 12 muffins.

Dry Ingredients
1 ½ cups almond meal
1 cup oat flour
1 ½ tsp pumpkin spice
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients
2 eggs
¾ cup pureed pumpkin
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup almond milk
¼ cup vegetable or melted coconut oil

Other fixins
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375⁰. Place dry ingredients together in a large bowl, mix well. Place wet ingredients in a separate small bowl and whisk until smooth. Use the whisk to incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl, mix until smooth. If using chocolate chips, fold them in once the batter is smooth. Line a 12-muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Spoon the batter into twelve muffin cups, filling them ¾ of the way full. Smooth the tops using the backside of a spoon and sprinkle a couple pumpkin seeds on each one. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center and if it emerges clean- the muffins are done. They should feel firm yet springy to a light touch. Remove and let cool completley. Store in an airtight bag in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Chef Arica Davis – Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Let me do the cooking for you!



Delicata Arugula Salad

The holidays can make it challenging to eat healthy. On Thanksgiving we always seem to overindulge on mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, gravy, creamy green beans, or whatever traditional dishes are a must-have on your table. This year try adding a salad to your dinner and enjoy something a little lighter to help balance all of the other carbohydrate filled dishes. This salad is both filling and delicious!

Here are a few other tips to be just a little bit healthier on Thanksgiving day; start the day with exercise, eat a healthy breakfast,and skip the appetizers at dinner. At dinner, try loading you plate with the vegetables and meats first, adding the potatoes and stuffing once the plate is full.

Have a happy turkey day!

Delicata Squash Salad with Maple Candied PecansDelicata Squash Salad

Makes 4 servings.

Maple Candied Pecans
1 cup raw whole pecans
¼ cup pure maple syrup

Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the pecans and maple syrup, stir to coat. Continue to stir the pecans constantly until the maple syrup crystallizes and coats the pecans in a sugary coating. This can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes depending on your heat. Pay close attention to the pecans, careful not to burn, I find it best to cook on low. If the nuts are still sticky and glossy continue cooking and stirring until crystals start to form. Remove from heat, spread the nuts out on a piece of parchment or foil, and let cool completely. Store any unused pecans in an airtight container.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Place first five ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend while slowly pouring in the olive oil, until emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add more honey if it is bitter.

Salad Fixins
1 delicata squash (approx. size (small/med/large)? Pounds?)
5-ounces baby arugula
1/2 cups dried cranberries
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup maple glazed pecans (recipe below)
¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise, then crosswise; scoop out the seeds. Cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick crescents. Toss with one tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little pepper. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Let cool slightly before serving.

To serve: Lightly toss the arugula with desired amount of apple cider vinaigrette. Place a small handful of dressed greens on each plate. Top with roasted delicata squash, cranberries, shaved red onion, maple pecans and goat cheese. Enjoy!

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Gnocchi with Pumpkin Sauce

From PSL’s to baked goods, pumpkin season is on. This week I was craving some pasta and thought it would be fun to make some gnocchi with a tasty pumpkin sauce. The image pictured is a hollowed out Lady Godiva pumpkin filled with gnocchi. You can use any type of pumpkin for this recipe, including a can of pumpkin puree. It just depends on how much effort you want to put into making the sauce. To puree the pumpkin simply cut the pumpkin in half, stem to base. Remove the seeds and pulp. Cover each half with foil and bake at 325⁰ foil side up, 1 hour, or until tender. Once tender scrape pumpkin meat from shell halves and puree in a blender. Strain to remove any remaining stringy pieces. Save the shells for serving.

Pumpkin Saucepumpkin gnocchi
1 tbs butter
1 shallot, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 tbs chopped fresh sage leaves
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream

1 lb. pre-made gnocchi or one full recipe homemade gnocchi
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (for garnish)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds (for garnish)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in pumpkin, vegetable broth, herbs and seasoning, whisk to blend. Taste the sauce at this point and add more herbs and seasoning as desired. Cook covered over medium/low heat for 10 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream and whisk until combined. Continue to cook until thickened. If the sauce seems to thick just add a little more broth or water to thin. Cover and keep warm on low until ready to use.

Prepare gnocchi according to directions. Once the gnocchi is cooked toss with warm pumpkin sauce and pour into serving dish or pumpkin shell. Sprinkle with parmesan and pumpkin seeds. 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!

Louisiana Gumbo

When I think about what my south tastes like, it’s gumbo, a staple in Cajun cuisine. And the key to a good gumbo is the roux. Roux is a thickening agent used in many dishes like soup, stew, and gravy. It is made of equal parts flour and fat; either oil or butter. Most gumbo cooks spend thirty minutes to an hour making the roux, cooking it until it turns into a dark caramel or chocolate color. This is a very hands-on process so make sure someone is always there to stir the roux during cooking so you don’t burn it. If you see black specks in your roux, you’ve burned it; throw it out and start over. I like to add the “trinity” (onion, celery, bell pepper) to the roux before it gets to the desired color, because that’ll help slow the cooking process. Once you have the roux the rest is simple. The longer you let the gumbo simmer the better it will be.

Louisiana Gumbogumbo
Makes 16 servings.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cup yellow onion, diced
2 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 cup celery, diced
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 lbs andouille sausage, sliced
1 tbs Creole seasoning
1 bag (16 oz) frozen okra
1 lb crab meat, lump or claw
2 lbs peeled shrimp
12 cups seafood stock
4 cup chicken broth
2 tsp Zatarain’s Pure Ground Gumbo File (found in spice section at most grocery stores)
½ cup green onion, chopped for garnish
6 cups cooked rice

In a large, heavy bottomed pot or a Dutch oven, combine the oil and flour over medium heat. Stir slowly and constantly for at least 25 minutes until you make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate.gumbo roux


Add chopped onions, bell peppers, celery, parsley, green onions, andouille sausage, and Creole seasoning. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables start to soften, 8 to 10 minutes.gumbo vegetables

Add the stock and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 hours. Add the frozen okra, shrimp and crabmeat, cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before skimming off the fat that has risen to the surface. Taste for seasonings and adjust. Serve the gumbo over rice and sprinkle with file powder and green onions.

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 Pot Pie

This savory recipe will fill the house with the aroma of Mama’s home cooking. Chicken pot pie is a traditional recipe that pleases just about everyone. There are a couple steps in this recipe but it is well worth it!

If you don’t have time to make everything from scratch save time with the following tips: Instead of cooking chicken thighs you can pick up a cooked rotisserie chicken and shred it. You can also buy a bag of mixed frozen vegetables or even refrigerated pie dough. You can double the pie crust and layer one on the bottom, but for this recipe I cut some of the carbs (and prep!) out and only put the layer on top.

Chicken Pot Pie
Ingredients Chicken Pot Pie
Makes four to six servings.

1 – 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup butter plus 2 tbs, separated
1/3 all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup cubed Yukon potato, skin on
¼ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrots
¼ cup diced onions
½ cups frozen peas
3 cloves garlic, diced
salt and pepper
1 egg white
1 pie crust, see recipe below

Preheat oven to 375⁰. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once cooked through remove from pan and let cool. Once cooled, chop and set aside.

Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and place back over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the potatoes, celery, carrots, garlic, and onions and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, make the gravy. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, salt, and pepper until well blended and cook for 2-3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broth, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.

Stir in the chicken, gravy, and peas into the vegetable mixture and stir until combined. Spoon mixture into lightly oiled pie or deep dish pan. Top with crust; press the dough around the dish to seal or tuck the edges into the crust. Cut slits in several places in top crust. Brush the pie crust with the egg white. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick of cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch
2 to 4 tbs of cold water, as needed

Place flour, cold butter, and salt into food processor. Pulse ingredients to combine. Turn food processor on low and slowly pour water in a little at time until the dough becomes crumbly. Pour the crumbly dough into a bowl, and gather the dough into a ball with your hand. If it’s sticky add more flour, if it is not forming a ball add more water. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Then follow your pie recipe for baking.

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!

Ahi Tuna Poke

Let’s face it: we all want to find that recipe that doesn’t take a lot of prep, takes great, and is healthy to boot. Lucky for you, I’ve found it. Ahi tuna poke is one of my go-to recipes because it such a simple dish and only requires a handful of ingredients. Even better, there are so many variations of poke, so you can customize it. Some people add in Sriracha for some heat, a little mayonnaise for creaminess or even seaweed for another texture, but personally I prefer this simple version. Get creative and do what you like best. Serve it with chips as an appetizer or on rice for a meal – it’s that versatile. The most important part of a poke recipe is the fish. You will want to purchase a very high quality sashimi grade ahi tuna steak. The most consistent place in South Lake Tahoe to get ahi is at Overland Meat Co. They have the freshest and most quality ahi I’ve found out here.
Ahi Tuna PokeAhi Tuna Poke
Makes two to four servings.

½ pound raw sashimi grade ahi tuna
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut the ahi tuna into ½ inch cubes. Add tuna, green onions, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and sesame oil to bowl. Gently fold to combine. Taste and adjust with more soy sauce, sesame oil. Let sit 5 minutes at room temperature, then 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 Pasta Salad Lettuce Wraps

Looking for a quick fix this week? Rotisserie chicken is an easy shortcut for just about any recipe that calls for shredded chicken. If you’d rather prepare the chicken yourself, roast two chicken breasts at 400⁰ for 20 minutes and shred. Serve this recipe for dinner tonight, and use the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, the flavor will only get better overnight. You can add halved cherry tomatoes, diced celery or even parmesan cheese to the pasta salad for a little extra flavor.

Pasta Salad Lettuce WrapsChicken Pasta Salad Lettuce Wraps
Makes 10+ lettuce wraps.

1 lb. bowtie pasta
2 cups shredded chicken (I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup chopped green olives or capers
1 head butter or iceberg lettuce, leaves pulled

Red Wine Vinaigrette
¾ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
1/2 tbs dried oregano
6 garlic cloves
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place vinaigrette ingredients, except olive oil, in a blender or use an immersion blender to mix. Slowly pour in the oil while blending, until smooth and creamy.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Place the shredded chicken, chopped bell peppers, onions, olives and parsley along with the red wine vinaigrette into the pasta and mix until well combined. Taste for seasoning and add more vinaigrette, or salt or pepper as desired.

Serve the pasta salad in the lettuce cups. 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!

Sweet Potato & Steak Tacos

If it’s wrong to admit that I love anything wrapped in a flour tortilla with a little sour cream, then I don’t want to be right. But I can be healthy about it, which is where sweet potatoes come in. Also, steak. Together they make for a delicious and protein packed meal, whether it be lunch, dinner, or even breakfast. Vegetarians need not feel left out of the tasty fun. Simply replace the steak with seasoned Portebello mushrooms, or omit entirely.

Sweet Potato & Steak Tacos with Chipotle MayoSweet Potato & Steak Tacos
Makes two servings.

1 pound beef, flank, skirt, or NY strip
2 tablespoons taco seasoning, separated (recipe below)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
Salt and pepper
4 6-inch flour tortillas
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled


Season the beef with ½ tablespoon of taco seasoning, let sit at room temperature. Preheat grill over to medium high heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté diced sweet potato and onion until softened, about 20 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, place the steak on the grill and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer the steak to cutting board, loosely cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice the steak across the grain into thin diagonal slices.

To serve, warm the tortillas on the grill or in the microwave. Spoon a little of the sweet potato mixture on to each tortilla. Top the mixture with some a few pieces of beef and sprinkle crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle with chipotle mayo and squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!

Taco Seasoning
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Chipotle Mayo
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 small chipotle chile (from can of chipotles in adobo)
1 tablespoon lime juice

Mix until smooth. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Remaining chipotles can also be reserved in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


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!

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs

Figs are in season – woo hoo! I have so many fond memories of picking figs from my grandmother’s tree and enjoying the fig preserves my father would make. Fig season is one of my favorite times of year, and it always seems too short; I’ll eat as many figs as I can, and this recipe in particular, I make at least once a week. To make this recipe you can purchase a balsamic glaze or make your own balsamic reduction by simply bringing two cups of balsamic vinegar to a boil, reduce it to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by more than half. Once it has reached a syrupy consistency, pour it into a bowl to let cool. You can either use a spoon to drizzle the reduction over your dish or pour it into a pastry bag fitted with a thin tip.

Prosciutto Wrapped FigsProsciutto Wrapped Figs
Makes 4-6 appetizer servings.

12 figs
4 oz goat cheese
6 pieces of prosciutto
1 cup arugula
Balsamic glaze or reduction
Preheat the oven to 400⁰. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse the figs and lightly pat dry. Cut off the stems and cut an X into the top of the fig -going about halfway down the length of the fig. Stuff each fig with roughly one teaspoon of goat cheese.

Cut each piece of prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap each fig with a strip of prosciutto making sure the ends are overlapping. Place the figs on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, place on a bed of arugula and drizzle with the balsamic glaze or reduction. 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!

Cupcake Squash Bread

Each Tuesday morning, I make my way to the Farmer’s Market at the American Legion to purchase, seasonal, local fruits and vegetables. It has to be one of my most favorite things about summer. If you’ve stopped by the Rusty Rooster Ranch booth, you’ve probably noticed their wide array of squashes. I love one in particular, the cupcake squash. Cupcake squash are a cute little green, pumpkin-looking variety with a savory flavor and mild sweetness that is accentuated when cooked or grilled. Since they have a slight sweet taste, I tried them in a zucchini bread recipe and loved it. I like to smear a slice of this ‘cupcake bread’ with peanut butter, or serve it warm with a dollop of ice cream and sliced fruit.

Cupcake Squash Bread
Makes one 12 x 6 inch loaf or two 9 x 5 inch mini-loaf pansCupcake Bread

Dry Ingredients
2 cups wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Wet Ingredients
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
2 cups cupcake squash, shredded (about 2-3 cupcake squashes)

Preheat the oven to 350⁰. Use non-stick spray or butter to coat your large loaf pan or two small loaf pans. Place all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir with a fork. Place all of the wet ingredients into a small bowl and whisk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing well. Fold in the almonds and pour the mixture into the loaf pan(s). The mixture will be pretty thick, you may need a spatula to get all of it out. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes. Test with a toothpick in the center of the bread, if it comes out clean it is ready. When the bread is ready remove it from the pan(s) and place it on a wire rack to cool. To store the bread wrap it first in parchment paper then plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

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!