Welcome to Yummy Fixins!

Thanks so much for checking out my blog. My name is Arica, I am a Personal Chef serving the Lake Tahoe area. Please visit my new website at www.yummyfixins.com

Cooking is my passion, I love spending time in the kitchen creating yummy dishes. I originally created this blog to share healthy yummy recipes with my friends and family but now I'm sharing them with the world. Most of the dishes you will find here are very healthy and can be altered to fit any dietary restrictions. I hope you will find something delicious!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pork Loin in Sea Salt

This morning I stopped by our local butcher Overland Meat Co. to pick up something yummy for lunch. I was only cooking for one so I decided to grab a nice piece of pork loin and re-create a dish I learned while in Italy. I have been thinking about making this dish for the past few weeks and I'm so glad I did, it was the perfect light dish and very easy. It does take some time to marinate and to bake but I'm sure you can find something to do around the house while you are waiting or just relax and enjoy the day.
 The images here have only one piece of pork but the recipe is for two.

At first I was very concerned when my cooking teacher told be how much salt we would be putting on the pork she knew what she was doing so I didn't say a word and just followed instruction  It is amazing how it flavors the dish without making it too salty. You can find a lot of dishes in Italian restaurants like this especially fish dishes, it makes for a beautiful presentation at the table. I look forward to trying this with fish but for now here is a yummy pork dish for you to try out. 

Makes 2-4 servings

2 thick pork loin chops 
1 cup of dry white wine
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 small red onion, minced
2 tbs black peppercorns

2-3 cups of sea salt (or more)

Place the pork loins into a shallow dish and cover with wine, garlic, onion and peppercorns. Cover the dish a refrigerate for at least 1 hour, flipping halfway through. 

Preheat the oven to 300. Drizzle a little olive oil onto a  baking dish or pan then a little sea salt. Remove the pork from the bowl and place into the pan then cover with more sea salt. Make sure the pork is totally covered in salt and drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of the wine from the marinade onto the pork. Place in the oven and bake at 300 for 45 minutes (or more if your pork is thick).
Remove from the oven, crack the salt crust. Dust as much salt from the pork as you can and diagonally cut the pork into thin pieces. Serve on a plate with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy! 

Crostini Toscani (Pâté)

I became totally hooked on pâté when I was in Italy and just couldn't get enough of it! This recipe is a traditional Tuscan recipe and boy is it tasty. The one ingredient you might be confused about is the anchovy, but don't fret, you can't even taste it. The anchovy just brings a little more flavor. 
This is a great appetizer or party snack. So give it a go and let me know your thoughts!

Makes 2 cups 

3 tbs butter
2 cups chicken livers
2 tbs capers
4 anchovies (flat canned)
4 sage leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine

1-2 baguettes, sliced

Melt the butter in a large pan then add in the capers, bay leaf and sage. Cook on medium/low for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Next add in the anchovies and chicken liver and bring to a medium heat. Cook until the chicken liver is halfway cooked then add in the wine and increase the heat to medium/high until the liver is cooked through. Remove from heat, cover and let is set for a few more minutes so it can cool down. (The mixture should still have a little wine in the pan.) 

Place the pan of ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. If you would like it cold, just set it it the fridge until you are ready otherwise leave it out and prep your bread. 

Grill or toast the sliced baguette and place the pâté on the toast and serve. 

Buon Appetito! 

**Don't add any salt until the dish is cooked and you feel that it needs it. I didn't add any to my dish.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Arugula & Cherry Tomato Pizza

One of the best pizzas I had in Italy was in one the most beautiful places in Italy, isla de Capri.
 was only in Capri for three nights but I think I ate and drank my way through the beautiful town. A random rainstorm caused us to duck into the first restaurant we could find and thank goodness we did because the food was amazing!

It was Capris at that I had the best pizza yet. It was very simple and delicious and was immediately added to my "must make when i get home" list.

This pizza has very simple ingredients and it is so yummy. Give it a try and picture yourself in Capri as you take your first bite! 

Prepared Pizza Dough, uncooked

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups fresh arugula leaves
1 tbs good quality olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425. Once the dough is placed on the pan or stone and rubbed with olive oil place the cheese and tomatoes on it and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pizza top it with arugula, fresh cracked pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Buon appetito! 

Pizza Dough

I enjoy making pizza and since it is so easy I make it quite often. This recipe is great because you let the dough rise in the fridge overnight and use it when you are ready to make your pizza. There is no need to let it sit at room temperature to rise, which makes pizza making very convenient all you need to do is plan ahead a little. The dough is good in the fridge for up to 3 days so you can make a fresh pizza whenever you want! 
Antico Molino Napoli Antimo Caputo '00' Flour, 2.2 lbWhen it comes to pizza dough and pasta I can't stress how important it is to use good flour. The absolute best flour is "00" farina flour. I find this particular brand at whole foods and some small Italian specialty stores. Once you try this flour I promise there is no going back. The difference is unbelievable! 

Makes 2 Balls of Dough

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 cup cold water 
3 tbs olive oil

1/8 cup semolina

Stand Mixer Directions

Mix the flour, salt, and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add in the water and oil and let the mixer run until a ball starts to form, once the ball forms split it in pieces then turn on again, letting the mixer do the kneading for you or remove and knead for 5 minutes until a smooth ball forms.

Remove the ball from the dough from the mixer. Split the dough in half and make two even balls. Place the balls on a tray covered with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. 

Bowl Directions: 

Mix the flour, salt, and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add in the water and oil mixing well. Turn the dough onto a floured counter or silpat and use your hands to start kneading it into a ball. Continue kneading the dough for 7-8 minutes until an elastic ball forms. 

Split the dough in half and make two even balls. Place the balls on a tray covered with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Leave the dough in the fridge until you are ready to shape. 

Pizza Time:

Preheat the oven to 425.  (at this time place your pizza stone in the oven). Sprinkle some semolina on the counter and start. Place the dough into the center of the pizza press out and start pulling and stretching the dough until you have the size and thickness that you prefer. 

Until I get a chance to make a video here is a great one on shaping your dough. http://youtu.be/7OotCkmoPN8

Top the pizza with your fixins and cook for 10-15 minutes. 

Buon Appetito.

**Cook time will be based on your toppings and quality of your oven, so pay attention after 10 minutes. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Zucchini Fritters with Yogurt Dip

As I mentioned in my last post my zucchini plants have been producing some awesome zucchini so I have been making all kinds of fun dishes like Zucchini Bran Bread and Farro with Wheat Berries & Zucchini. I've seen quite a few pics of fritters on food blogs lately so I decided to give it a shot. This was my first go at it, they don't look that beautiful but they were tasty. This recipe is a work in progress so give it a go and let me know any tips you have. The one tip I do have is that It is very important to remove as much water as you possibly can from the zucchini before mixing it with the flour. 

Have you ever seen one of these?
How cool is this fun contraption?? It's like My girlfriends mom had it laying around and didn't need it so I decided to take it and try it out. It made the perfect shredded zucchini for this dish and it was super easy to clean up, plus if I lose power and want to get fancy I don't need a food processor. For this recipe you can just use a food processor with a shredding blade. 

Makes 12 Fritters

2 1/2 cups or 2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped 
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1 egg 

Yogurt Dip
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 cloves of roasted garlic, mashed to paste(make ahead of time)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped 

Place the shredded zucchini in a mesh strainer with the salt and toss. Let the zucchini sit in the strainer over a bowl for 10-15 minutes, pressing out the water. 

Once the water is removed place the zucchini in a bowl with the parsley, flour, cheese and egg. Mix well, season with pepper and place the mixture in the fridge.

Heat 1 tbs of oil in a skillet to medium heat, in the meantime make the yogurt dip. Mix all of the dip ingredients together and place it in the fridge. 

When the skillet is hot place the zucchini mixture a dollop at a time in the skillet and press with a spatula. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side until crispy. Remove and set on a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Serve warm with a dollop of the yogurt dip. 


Whole Wheat Zucchini Bran Bread with Almonds

 My garden is just pumping out the zucchinis and i'm loving it. Living in the mountains makes it very hard to grow great produce but we keep trying. This was our first year growing zucchinis and surprisingly they are very easy and they are doing great. The three beauties above seemed to have come out of nowhere in just a few days so it was time to get cooking!
There are so many different things you can do with zucchinis and this time I deicded to use one of the zucchini for bread and the other two for Zucchini Fritters. This recipe is on the healither side and not super sweet but quite yummy. The bonus is that it taste hardly any time to prep. 

Dry Ingredients
2 cups wheat flour
3/4 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (optional*)

Wet Ingredients
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce**
1/4 cup walnut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 cups zucchini, shredded

1/2 cup chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 350. Use non-stick spray or butter to coat a loaf pan. Place all of the wet ingredients into a large bowl and stir with a fork. Place all of the wet ingredients into a small bowl and stir with a fork. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing well. Fold in the almonds and place mixture into the loaf pan. The mixture will be pretty thick and not runny at all so use a spatula to get all of it out. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes. When the bread is ready remove it and place it on a wire rack to cool. 

* I don't like my bread super sweet so adding in the additional white sugar is up to you
** If you don't have applesauce in the fridge use the same amount in oil.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Farro with Cherry Tomatoes & Zucchini

Are you in the mood for a healthy summer recipe? I threw this delicious one together with some zucchini & parsley from my garden and some cherry tomatoes from the farmers market. I was very happy with the way this dish turned out and I hope you enjoy it as well! 
A girlfriend of mine gave me this yummy seasoning salt for my birthday and this was the first time I've used it and I'm loving it. If you can't find this seasoning salt I have posted some of the ingredients below so you can make your own. 

Makes 2-3 Servings

1 cup farro (a.k.a wheat berries)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
2 zucchini and/or squash, cut into crescents 
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbs parsley, chopped 
1 tbs Isle of Capri Seasoning Salt (see ingredients below)
Bring the vegetable broth and water to boil in a small pot. Once the water and broth are boiling add in the farro with a pinch of salt, cover and bring to a simmer.

 In a separate sauce pan heat 1 tbs of oil to a medium heat with the garlic for 3-5 minutes. When the garlic is fragrant add a little water along with the zucchini and Isle of Capri Seasoning Salt, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the veggies are tender. 

When the veggies and farro are ready add them into a bowl with the tomatoes and parsley, toss well. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy! 

Isle of Capri Seasoning Salt
- salt
- red pepper flakes
- garlic powder
- oregano 
- thyme

Friday, August 2, 2013

Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce

It's gnocchi time! 
I've finally taken some time to type out my first Italian recipe to share with y'all. This is a recipe I learned in one of my cooking classed in Italy, there are quite a few steps but don't be discouraged then end product will be worth it. Gnocchi is pretty easy but takes a little practice.I have been practicing quite a bit trying to perfect my gnocchi skills over the past few weeks. A lot of factor come into play when making pasta like altitude & humidity so give this recipe a few tries until you get it right. There are two tools you need for this dish, a scale and a potato ricer. 

Most Italian cooks use a scale to measure their ingredients for pasta dishes, it gives you a more accurate measure of ingredients  I also find that using a potato ricer for the potatoes gives the gnocchi the best texture. So clean off the counter, put on your apron and get ready to get covered in potatoes and flour! 

Basil Pesto
30 large basil leaves, washed & dried
1 1/2 ounces extra virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
1 small garlic clove
1/2 ounce walnuts
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Place the basil, garlic, walnuts and olive oil into a bowl. Use an immersion blender to mix well. Once the mixture is broken down add in the cheese and blend until mixed well and set aside. 

Makes 2-3 servings

1 lb of potatoes
1 cup white flour +  1/4 more for dusting
1 egg
pinch of salt

Lightly flour a smooth surface on your counter top for working. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the potatoes with the skin on until soft. Once the potatoes are soft remove them from the water and let them cool. 

While the potatoes are cooling, make a mound out of the flour on a lightly floured surface, making a well for the egg. 
Bring a large pot of water to a light boil. Peel the potatoes and then press them through a potato ricer and place next to the flour. Sprinkle salt then crack an egg into the flour well and scramble with a fork then slowly mixing in a bit of flour at a time. Continue doing this until it becomes tough to mix then use your hands to combine the potatoes in with the mixture (this is where things get a little messy). Keep mixing and kneading the dough with your hands until the ball of dough is smooth but not sticky, continue to add in flour as needed. 

To prepare the gnocchi split the ball of dough into two pieces and them roll into a snake like tubes. Cut the tubes into 3/4 inch pieces. Make sure to place the cut gnocchi onto a floured surface to keep from sticking then carefully place a few at a time into the boiling pot of water. The gnocchi are ready when they float. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place into a serving dish. Mix in the pesto and serve warm.

Buon Appetito!!