Tangy Brussels Sprout Salad

Each year as the season for brussels sprouts nears an end, I always find myself trying to find yummy ways to enjoy the last of them. Brussels sprouts are loaded with fiber, Vitamin C, folic acid and antioxidants making these odd looking little cabbages crazy good for you!

Tangy Brussels Sprout Salad Tangy Brussels Sprout Salad
Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients 
1 1/2 pounds of brussels sprouts
1 shallot
1 honey crisp or lady apple
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 tbs of extra virgin oil
1 tsp agave syrup or sugar
Pinch of salt & pepper

Make the vinaigrette by whisking ingredients together until well blended, taste for seasoning. Add more sugar and salt as desired. Set aside.

Wash the brussels sprouts and remove any outer leaves that look bruised or dirty. Make sure to leave the stem on so you can safely and carefully shave them on a mandolin, or chop thinly with a knife. Alternatively, you can use a food processor with the shaving blade attachment to shave the brussels sprouts. Remove the skin from the shallot and slice thin. Cut the apple in quarters and remove the seeds. Use a mandolin knife to thinly slice the apple.

Toss all ingredients together with the vinaigrette and serve. This salad can be left in the fridge overnight and can taste even better this way.

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

Cauliflower Soup

Enjoy a classic comfort meal with a healthy twist. While I always enjoy a loaded baked potato soup made with pureed potatoes, sour cream and cheddar cheese, I try my best to eat healthy by making modifications for a healthier meal. This recipe uses cauliflower in place of potatoes and can easily be made dairy-free by using any milk alternative of your choosing. The cheddar cheese provides a tasty touch, but it is optional if you wish to make this recipe vegan. For an extra garnish you can add chopped green onions or crispy bacon for some added protein.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup Cauliflower Soup
Makes 2-4 servings.

Ingredients
2 heads cauliflower
2 tbs olive oil or butter
4 garlic cloves
1 white onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese (reserve some for garnish)
½ cup milk (or dairy-free milk substitute)

Prepare the cauliflower removing and discarding any leaves. Cut in half then cut out the large stem, discard. Separate the florets, roughly chopping the florets and any remaining stem.

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cauliflower, salt, pepper, and broth, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

Use an immersion blender, or transfer to a traditional blender, to puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the milk and cheddar cheese (after transferring back to the pot if needed). Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper, as desired. Garnish with reserved, shredded cheese. Serve warm.

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

Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

These stuffed mushrooms are one of my favorite appetizers to serve at a cocktail party. They are super tasty and simple to make, as well as gluten free and vegetarian-friendly. The cremini mushrooms make for a nice one-bite appetizer, or you can use baby Portobello mushrooms if you’d like a more “fork and knife” style appetizer. I like to buy micro greens or sunflower greens to lay on the bottom of the plate so the mushrooms don’t slide around, plus it adds a pop to the presentation. Serve this crowd-pleasing dish at your next dinner party, I promise they won’t disappoint!

Pesto Stuffed MushroomsPesto Stuffed Mushrooms
Ingredients
1 lb cremini mushrooms
1 cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
½ cup pine nuts, reserve half for garnish
8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, reserve half for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and clean the caps. Place the cap side up (the stem opening will be face down) on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes to remove excess liquid. Remove from the oven and let cool. Place mushrooms cap side down on a fresh parchment lined baking sheet.

Combine the cream cheese, basil, half the pine nuts and half the Parmesan cheese in food processor until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use a spoon or a pastry bag to fill each mushroom. Sprinkle the tops with some of the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the tops start turning golden brown. Place on a serving tray or plate and garnish with the remaining pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

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

Thai Chicken Pizza

Thai Chicken Pizza

Typically, I am a very traditional red sauce and mozzarella pizza eater. But recently a friend introduced me to her version of Thai Chicken Pizza. I loved every bite and had to go home a re-create it immediately. I just love the red curry béchamel. I even double the recipe and use the extra to dip the crust in. There are quite a few steps to this recipe but I promise it’s worth it! If you’re pressed for time you can purchase pre-made pizza dough at just about any grocery store. You can also make the chicken and prep the fixin’s the night before so you can just make the béchamel and throw it all together when you’re ready.

Thai Chicken Thai Chicken Pizza
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup green curry sauce
S&P

Red Curry Béchamel
2 Tbs butter
1 tbs red curry paste
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs flour
½ cup coconut milk

Fixins
1 ball of pre-made pizza dough
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
½ red onion, sliced into thin strips
¼ cup roasted, salted peanuts
¼ cup cilantro, stems discarded

To make the chicken: Preheat oven to 400⁰. Toss chicken breasts in green curry sauce. Place on baking sheet cook for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool. Shred chicken, add salt and pepper as desired.

To make the béchamel: Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add curry paste, flour, salt, and whisk constantly until it is a paste-like consistency. Pour in the coconut milk and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, whisking constantly. Let simmer until thickened. Add more liquid as needed to reach a pizza sauce consistency. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 450⁰. Place the dough on a floured surface and roll out to desired thickness. I typically roll mine out to 16 inches in diameter. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

To assemble the pizza: Spread a thick layer of the béchamel over the pizza crust, lay down pieces of shredded chicken, bell peppers, and onions. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden. Remove from oven and top with peanuts and cilantro. Slice and serve warm!

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

Elk & Sweet Potato Chili

Chili is one of those nostalgic dishes for me. Growing up my dad would make a traditional ground beef and kidney bean chili topped with good ol’ American cheese and served over rice. It wasn’t the healthiest dish, but it sure tasted delicious. Now that I’m doing the cooking I try to do things a little more on the healthier side. This recipe calls for ground elk and sweet potatoes, and the cheese is optional, making this dish dairy-free, gluten-free and paleo-friendly. If you’re a meat lover but are conscious about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, try cooking with ground elk. It’s low in fat, but full of flavor. I use Durham Ranch ground elk at Raley’s in the meat department. They always seem to have it in stock.

Elk & Sweet Potato ChiliElk Sweet Potato Chili
Makes 4 servings.

1 lb ground elk
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 celery ribs, chopped
6 garlic cloves
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 lbs sweet potato
32 oz stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Place the ground elk, bell peppers, onion, celery, garlic, and seasoning in a slow cooker. Use a wooden spoon to break up the elk and mix everything together.

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into ½ inch cubes. Place the sweet potatoes on top of the mixture.

Pour the stewed tomatoes over top the sweet potatoes. Cook on HIGH 2-3 hours or LOW 6 hours. Every slow cooker is different, but once the potatoes are tender and the meat is cooked through the chili is ready. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
Place a scoop of chili in a bowl, sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top, and serve warm.

 

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

Wild Rice Butternut Pilaf

I’m always looking for a healthy side dish to go with dinner. While, this yummy recipe is perfect alongside just about any entrée, a favorite is oven roasted salmon topped with a lemon beurre blanc sauce. Alternatively, you can add chopped roasted chicken to the dish to create more of a meal rather than a side dish. Feel free to use any rice for this recipe, but my personal favorite is the rice blend found in the bulk bins at Raley’s. Enjoy!

Wild Rice Butternut PilafWild Rice Butternut Pilaf
Ingredients
Serves 8-10 as a side dish.

2 cups butternut squash, peeled
2 leeks, washed well & chopped
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups wild rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350⁰. Peel and dice butternut squash into ½ inch cubes, toss in olive oil and salt & pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add the leeks and garlic to the butternut squash on the baking sheet. Toss well and continue to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until tender.

Pour the chicken/ vegetable broth into a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir in rice, then reduce heat so liquid is just simmering. Cover and cook until grains just begin to pop, about 40 minutes. Drain excess liquid from rice and place back into the pot. Add the cooked veggies and mix well. Taste for seasoning. Top with chopped pecans and serve warm.

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

Veggie Fried Quinoa

Did you make a resolution to eat healthier this year? Keep with it and don’t give up! Changing your eating habits can be challenging, but eating better is the first step toward a healthier lifestyle. One way to stick to your resolution is to get rid of junk food and unhealthy snacks; dried fruit and nuts are a great substitute for chips and candy. I like to keep a little dark chocolate hiding in the pantry for a sweet treat now and again. Another way to eat healthy is to create meal plans. Take a few minutes and write down your meals and snacks for the week, or even a few days at a time, depending on how often you grocery shop. I like to leave one day blank for dining out or finishing up any leftovers. Enjoy this healthy recipe and good luck with your resolutions!

 
Veggie Fried Quinoa veggie fried quinoa
Ingredients
Makes 4 servings

3 tbs olive oil, separated
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh ground ginger
2 heads of baby bok choy, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup carrots, julienned
2 cups of snow peas, stems removed
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs Sriracha
1/2 tbs olive oil
2 eggs, beaten

 
Prepare the vegetables and fixins, set aside. Pour one tablespoon of olive oil in a small pot and turn to medium heat. Toast the quinoa, with a pinch of salt, in the oil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the broth, bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Once the quinoa is done*, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat, add the onions, garlic, ginger, bok choy, celery, carrots, snow peas, soy sauce and Sriracha, cook for 10 minutes or until veggies are tender. Remove from skillet and set aside, covered to keep warm.
Wipe out the skillet. Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the eggs, stirring until eggs start to scramble. Add the cooked veggies and quinoa to the skillet with the eggs and fluff with a fork until eggs are fully cooked. Serve warm and enjoy!

* Take care not to overcook the quinoa or it may get mushy by the end of the cooking process.

 

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

Pressure Cooker Carnitas

Did you know that the pressure cooker is of the most underrated appliances in your kitchen? It’s such a convenient, hands-off way to make dinner (or breakfast, or lunch, or dessert).  A meal that takes hours of cooking on the stove or in the oven can be ready in under an hour with the help of a pressure cooker. This carnitas recipe is one of my favorite pressure cooker recipes. Not only does it cook in under an hour, but (most importantly) the meat comes out so tender and juicy! The pork practically shreds itself. You can use the carnitas in tacos with cojita cheese, pico de gallo, and some guacamole, or on a baked potato with shredded pepper jack cheese and green chiles! The options are endless.

Pressure Cooker Carnitas
Makes 6-8 servingspressure-cooker-carnitas

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large orange, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs ancho chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
1-2 cups chicken broth

Trim the fat off of the pork and chop into 2-inch cubes. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat. Sear the cubed meat until meat is bronwed on each side.  Add orange slices, cinnamon, ancho chili powder, and cumin. Top with onion, garlic, and jalapeno then pour chicken broth into the cooking pot making sure not to go over the liquid fill line.

Secure and lock the lid, and cook for 50 minutes at high pressure. Remove from heat and let the pressure release naturally. It should take about 15 minutes. When pressure is released carefully remove lid. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a bowl and shred. Make sure to reserve the juices if you wish to crisp them in the oven (see steps below). Taste and add more seasoning as desired. You can serve the carnitas from this point or follow the following steps to crisp in the oven.

To crisp: Spread the shredded pork on a lightly oiled baking sheet in a thin layer. Place the baking sheet with pork under a high broiler and broil until brown and crisp on surface, about 5 minutes. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the juices from the pressure cooker evenly over the pork, and toss well. Broil again for 6 more minutes until crisp. Serve immediately.


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

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.
Ingredients

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

Ingredients
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!

Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit www.yummyfixins.com to book your next dinner party. Let me do the cooking for you.