Bacon Bourbon Meatballs

Who can resist a good meatball appetizer? Especially when bacon and bourbon are in the mix! You’re going to love these tasty (gluten free) meatballs. They are always a crowd pleaser and will not disappoint! You can even make the mixture and shape the balls to freeze for later. J

Bacon Bourbon Meatballs

½ small yellow onion
1 garlic clove  
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 pound bacon, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 egg
2 lb. ground beef

1 cup bbq sauce
1/2 cup Bulleit bourbon
1 shallot
2 cloves of garlic

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place onion, garlic, parsley, and chopped bacon in a food processor and pulse until the bacon until it is evenly ground and no large chunks of bacon remain.

Combine the bacon mixture and the remaining ingredients. Mix gently until evenly combined. Scoop the meatballs into 1½-inch balls, making sure not to compress the balls while shaping. Place on a parchment lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking place the sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce in a large skillet and turn on medium/low heat for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meatballs and set aside. Discard any excess grease. Place the meatballs into the sauce pan and allow them to simmer in the sauce for at least 10 minutes to cook out the bourbon. Serve warm and enjoy!

Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

Marlette Blonde Ale Cheese Soup

Craft beer is exploding in popularity and it’s just as nice to cook with it, as it is to drink it! Plus, I find cooking with beer brings out the richness in food. For this recipe I’m using a local beer, one of my favorites from South Lake Brewing Company, their Marlette Blonde Ale. This beer is medium-bodied with a slightly sweet after taste, perfect for this recipe. If you can’t get your hands on this beer, any ale should do the trick, just make sure it’s not hoppy or bitter. And not to worry, the alcohol evaporates when it cooks so this is a kid-friendly soup as well!

Marlette Blonde Ale Cheese Soup
Makes 6 servings

6 tbs salted butter, separated
1 red bell pepper
4 celery stalks
3 large carrots
1 small onion
2 jalapeños
½ cup flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour)
12 oz South Tahoe Marlette Blonde Beer
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese shredded

Finely dice the red bell pepper, celery, carrots, onion & jalapeños. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the finely diced vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the flour to the vegetables to make a roux. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the beer, broth and heavy cream. Bring to a light boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently then reduce to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for 10-20 minutes over medium low heat until thickened. Stir in the cheese and keep stirring until it melts. Keep warm until ready to serve. Scoop soup into individual bowls and garnish with shaved jalapeños and shredded cheddar. 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!

Champagne Lobster Pappardelle

Celebrate the mom in your life with an amazing dinner this Mother’s Day. And what better way to treat her then with lobster and champagne? This recipe is simple, but is sure to impress! If it were me, I would start the night with a cheese and charcuterie platter paired with champagne (be sure to save a little room for the pasta)! Follow the cheese with a simple green salad, and then this lovely lobster pasta. Pappardelle pasta is perfect for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite noodle. This recipe shines in its simplicity, but you can also jazz it up with roasted tomatoes or chopped, cooked bacon.

Champagne Lobster Pappardelle

Make 4 servings
3 – 8 oz. lobster tails, thawed
1/2 cup butter
2 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups champagne or prosecco
2 cups heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
16 oz. pappardelle pasta

Prepare the lobster for steaming. Use kitchen shears and cut lengthwise through the top of the lobster shell. Remove the digestive tract once you’ve cut through the shell and rinse to remove any shell fragments. After cleaning the tail, pry the shell open with your hands. Once open, carefully loosen the meat from the bottom of the shell, starting at the wide end. Be sure you keep the meat attached at the tail end of the shell. Next, lift the meat through the opening and place it on top of the shell.

Place a steamer basket in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to barely touch the basket and bring to a boil. Put the lobster tails on the steamer basket and cover the pot. Leave covered and steam for 8 minutes. Remove lobster from the tails and chop into large chunks, and set aside.

Prepare the pasta sauce. Melt the butter in a deep skillet. Add the shallots and garlic, cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until soft. Add the champagne and simmer for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half. Season with a pinch of salt & pepper and red pepper flakes. Pour in the heavy cream and bring to a low boil and let it bubble for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. This will thicken the sauce.

While the sauce is bubbling, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to instructions. Once the pasta has thickened add the chopped lobster and cook for another 3-5 minutes on low. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as needed. Place cooked pasta into the sauce and 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!

Salted Caramel Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is a staple dessert in my home state of Louisiana, and one of my favorite treats. I have many memories enjoying bread pudding while growing up, and I love cooking personal dishes for my clients and friends, it’s a great way to share a taste of the South. This recipe is very simple, but it is also versatile, so feel free to get creative! You can add pecans, raisins or peaches to the bread mixture, and even a little bourbon or rum to the sauce. In addition to the caramel sauce, you can sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Most importantly, use stale bread for the recipe! You can use any type of stale bread you’d like: croissants, ciabatta, Hawaiian rolls or even hot dog buns.

Salted Caramel Bread Pudding

Salted Caramel Bread Pudding
1 large French loaf, about 6-7 cups
6 eggs
1 ½ cup brown sugar
½ cup
2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
3 cups half & half

Caramel Sauce
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar  
½ cup heavy cream  
1 tsp sea salt

Cut bread into 1 inch cubes, allow to stale overnight or bake in the oven at 275°F for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, salt, half & half in a large bowl to combine. Add the bread cubes and toss gently to coat all the bread in the custard. Pour the mixture into an oiled casserole dish. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes. If there isn’t a little liquid left after it soaks, add an additional cup of half & half, you want the bread to be soggy. Toss the mixture before baking.

Cover with aluminum foil, sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 45 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake until set and light brown, another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

While the bread pudding is cooling make the caramel sauce; melt butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, mix well. Stir in heavy cream and sea salt, whisk until smooth. Bring to a light boil then simmer to thicken.

Cut bread pudding into squares, place on serving platter or individual plates. Pour warm salted caramel over each square. 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!

Carrot Cauliflower Thai Curry Bisque

This plant-based bisque is easy, healthy and delicious. Cauliflower is an anti-inflammatory vegetable loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and carrots are not only high in fiber, but they also contain antioxidants that can help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you’d like to spice it up add more curry paste or garnish the bisque with Sriracha sauce.

Carrot Cauliflower Thai Curry Bisque
Makes 4 servings.
2 Tbs coconut oil
3 ½ cups fresh cauliflower crumbles or riced cauliflower*
2 cups carrots, peeled & chopped
½ onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbs red thai curry paste
1 cup broth, vegetable
1 can full fat coconut milk
Chopped cashews or almonds for garnish.

In a medium stock pot heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower, carrots, onion and garlic. Stir in the curry paste and salt; sauté for about 5 minutes. Once onions are translucent pour in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

When the carrots are tender pour in the coconut milk. Use an immersion blender (or a blender) to purée until smooth. Simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes. Taste for salt and heat, adjust seasonings as desired. Pour bisque into bowls, garnish with chopped cashews or almonds and enjoy!

* Substitute 2 cups of cauliflower florets, chopped

Sun-Dried Tomato & Chicken Pasta

I came across the most amazing sun-dried cherry tomatoes at Trader Joe’s. When I saw these lovely tomatoes the first thing that popped into my head was a creamy pasta sauce. It’s not the healthiest meal but it sure is yummy. These Trader Joe’s cherry tomatoes are considered semi-dried tomatoes, marketed for an antipasto platter, but they work amazingly for pasta. If you can’t find these specific tomatoes you can use sun-dried tomatoes in oil, just make sure to drain most of the oil before using. For this recipe I used chicken thighs but you can use chicken breast if that is you preference. I also prepared pasta from scratch, however you can use just about any pasta you like. I hope you enjoy. 

Makes 4 servings.

8 oz pasta; fettucini, pappardelle or penne
3 Tbs olive oil, separated
1.5 to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken
S&P to taste
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
shaved Parmesan, for garnish

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes on one side. Flip the chicken thighs to the other side and cook for 5 more minutes, or until cooked through. Place chicken on a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes. Slice chicken and set aside.

Using the same the same skillet sauté the tomatoes and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Make a béchamel by adding butter and flour to the sun-dried tomatoes and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the broth and cream, whisk until smooth. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper as needed. Bring to a light boil, and continue to stir periodically until the sauce has thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Return chicken to the sauce and mix well.  Reduce heat to low and cook the pasta according to instructions. Drain pasta and place individual servings onto plates or one large serving bowl. Top with sauce and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Teriyaki Chicken Bowl

I’ve been looking for some new weeknight recipes to add to my repertoire. Specifically something on the healthy side and easy to throw together. There are a few steps in this recipe but it is easy peasy! You can skip the teriyaki recipe and just purchase your favorite brand. You can even buy frozen mixed veggies, but fresh are way better. For this recipe I used white rice but brown rice or quinoa would work well too!

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl
Makes 3-4 servings
1 cup teriyaki sauce
2 lb chicken breasts
2 carrots, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup shelled edamame
2 cups broccoli florets
1 ½ cups rice
½ tbs sesame seeds, for garnish

For the teriyaki sauce:
3/4 cup soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbs diced ginger
1 tbs diced garlic
2 tsp rice wine vinegar

Place teriyaki sauce ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Taste for flavor, add more sugar or ginger is desired. Set aside ½ cup of sauce for the chicken marinade. Marinate chicken breasts in ½ cup of teriyaki sauce for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Pour remaining sauce into a small pot and heat until slightly thickened. If you like a thicker sauce add ½ tablespoon of cornstarch and mix well.

Cook rice according to instructions. For the vegetables, fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Arrange the carrots, red bell pepper, edamame and broccoli in a metal steamer basket*; place in the pot. Cover and steam the vegetables to desired tenderness, about 4 to 6 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve. Heat grill to 500⁰. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes per side. Let rest 3-5 minutes before slicing. To serve place a scoop of rice into a large bowl. Top with steamed vegetables, sliced chicken, sesame seeds and a drizzle of reserved teriyaki sauce.

*If you don’t have a steam basket just place a little water in a large pan with the vegetables cover and steam.

Whipped Goat Cheese Phyllo Bites

I love using Athens Mini Fillo Shells for appetizers and mini desserts. These shells are so versatile, you can fill them with savory fillings like spinach and artichoke dip or sweet fillings chocolate mousse. For this recipe I bake the shells first and fill with a whipped goat cheese for a cold appetizer. You can also bake the shells with filling for a warm appetizer.

Whipped Goat Cheese Phyllo Bites
Makes 6-10 appetizer servings.

2 packs Athens Mini Fillo Shells
1 cup red grapes, halved
2 tbs honey, plus more for garnish
1 tbs thyme
12 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more if needed
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 375⁰. Toss grapes with thyme and honey, set aside. Place goat cheese, heavy cream, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Add more heavy cream if needed, just make sure the mixture is thick not runny.

Remove the Athens Fillo Shells from packaging, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes, until browned and crisp. Once the shells have cooled fill with whipped goat cheese and top with honey thyme grapes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

beef tenderloin

Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Makes 6-8 servings
1 tbs sea salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbs cracked pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 (3-4-pound) whole beef tenderloin, trimmed

Preheat oven to 300⁰. Combine salt, sugar, baking soda and pepper in a small bowl. Set tenderloin on sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle salt mixture evenly over surface of tenderloin and rub into tenderloin until surface is tacky. Tuck tail end of tenderloin under about 6 inches to create more even shape. Tie with butchers twine. Rub top and side of tenderloin with olive oil and sprinkle with a little more cracked pepper.

Place tenderloin on a parchment lined baking sheet in the oven for 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 130°F (medium-rare). Cover loosely with aluminum foil; let rest about 20 minutes before slicing. 

*I like to serve my beef with blue cheese compound butter. Just soften 1 stick of butter, place it in a food processor with some green onions a clove of garlic and 2tbs cup blue cheese, S&P. Blend until smooth, spread it in a strip on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Place in the fridge until it hardens then cut and serve.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Makes 6 servings.

3 acorn squash
3 tbs olive oil, separated
½ onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups quinoa
4 cups vegetable broth or water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup diced celery ribs
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 tbs dijon mustard
2 tbs honey
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Mix well to emulsify.

Preheat the oven to 400⁰. Cut off each end of the acorn squash, then cut in half. Spoon out the seeds and stringy bits. Drizzle each squash with two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the squash on a non-stick baking sheet, cook for 20 minutes.

Sauté the garlic and onion in one tablespoon of olive oil.Once the onions are translucent add in quinoa to toast, stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Stir in broth, salt & pepper, bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.Fluff with a work and toss with celery, cranberries, pecans and balsamic vinaigrette.Taste for seasoning. Add more salt & pepper as needed.

Remove acorn squash from the oven and fill with quinoa mixture. Return to the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes more or until squash is softened. Serve warm and enjoy!