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Carrot Cake Dip

May 13, 2015 Dessert, Menu No Comments

One of the things that I really enjoy about writing a food blog is sharing my ideas that are thought of ‘outside of the box.’ Especially when it comes to a more traditional type of dish. If you’re in search for a traditional recipe, chances are that someone in your family has a recipe for it. And if they don’t, there are most likely countless versions that exist online. This is also the time when I like to put my creative side to good use. Instead of trying to change or modify a perfectly established and well-balanced dish, I prefer having fun with it…reinventing it, if you will.

Recently I had a craving for carrot cake. Although I’ve never made a carrot cake from scratch, I know that there is a decent amount of work involved. I also know that there are more than enough perfected recipes floating around online that probably would not benefit much from my improvising. Being that party dips are always a fun approach (and are pretty popular at my family parties), I decided to give a carrot cake dip a try. Since cream cheese and spices are key carrot cake ingredients, this was actually an easy recipe to put together. I added the basic spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and brown sugar), along with chopped walnuts, toasted coconut and, of course, shredded carrots, and folded them into the cream cheese (you can also add raisins if you prefer). Using ginger snaps to scoop up the dip, the flavor was spot on…and much easier to make than an actual cake!

So if you’re a fan of carrot cake and fun party dips, give this recipe a try. I promise you it’ll be a big hit!

Carrot Cake Dip

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tspn cinnamon
1/4 tspn nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup finely shredded carrots
1/4 cup toasted coconut*
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Combine all ingredients, except for carrots, coconut, walnuts and raisins, mix on medium high speed for 1-2 minutes. Fold in remaining ingredients. Serve with ginger snaps.

* For tips on toasting coconut, click here.



My kitchen assistant, helping me mix the ingredients.






Avocado Egg Rolls

May 4, 2015 Appetizer No Comments

My wife had recently gone out to lunch with friends, and they had gotten an order of the restaurant’s famous avocado egg rolls. A taste of my wife’s leftovers was just enough inspiration for me to attempt my own version of the crispy appetizer. Instead of following the restaurant’s recipe – which I found pretty easily online – I decided to put my own version together, using an avocado and tomato salad as the filling. I also baked the egg rolls instead of the traditional frying method. The egg rolls turned out to be a big hit…and a perfect dish to offer up for Cinco de Mayo! Although they would serve up well on their own, we used a bottled lime vinaigrette dressing as a dip. There are a number of dressings and dips that would work well with this dish, but I highly suggest you try them on their own first. There is plenty of flavor already happening in these crispy roll ups!



Avocado Egg Rolls
Makes 6 servings

1 tspn  olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
1 firm, ripe avocado, halved and pitted
1 small red bell pepper, diced
6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 tbspn cilantro, finely chopped
6 egg roll wrappers

Preheat oven to 425˚. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt. Set aside.

Scoop out flesh of avocado, rough chop into pieces. Add pepper, tomatoes and cilantro, mix well. Add liquid mixture, mix well.

Lay one egg roll wrapper on a flat surface, in a diamond shape, with the bottom point facing you. Place 1 tbspn of the avocado salad into the middle of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper from the bottom, half way up to cover the salad. Fold both sides in, then slowly and tightly roll up the wrapper. Before you roll it completely, moisten the top corner lightly with a bit of water, then finish rolling and making sure that the moistened edge seals the wrapper tight.






Place the rolled wrappers onto a baking sheet that is either covered with parchment paper, or lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Lightly spray the egg rolls. Place the tray in the oven, bake for 10-15 minutes, until the wrappers start to brown and crisp.


Remove from oven, let cool slightly. Serve and enjoy!



A Little of This and Some of That: My Favorite Books!

April 23, 2015 Menu No Comments

For ages, cookbooks have been an integral part of the kitchen, being just as important of a cooking tool as your most used pots and pans. Nowadays, virtually any recipe that you want is right at your fingertips, thanks to the internet. However, there are still plenty of well-crafted cook books that are being written that should not be overlooked. In this episode, I’m sharing with you some of my favorite food-related books, ones that I treasure not only for their recipes, but also for their well-told stories and incredible photos. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee and join us!

Be sure to contact us at or in the Comments section below to let us know your favorite cook books and what you thought about this episode of A Little of This and Some of That.


You can click on the images below for more information and for purchasing. 






flavor bible




Ricotta and Rice with Ham and Asparagus

April 15, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments
ricotta rice

As I was enjoying my last few bites of the Easter ham and rice pies last week, I came to the sad yet expected realization that it will be another year before I get to savor the seasonal treats. And as usual, I always say to myself that it’s a shame that we can’t celebrate and enjoy these dishes more than once a year. Of course if we did, they wouldn’t quite taste so special. But this did get me thinking on how I could spin a variation of these annual treats into a new dish that could be enjoyed all year round. But how exactly would I do this? Thanks to celebrity chef Nadia G of Bitchin’ Kitchen, I found my answer.

In a recent episode of her eclectic cooking show, Nadia G put together a dish that she called Riso con la Ricotta, which was a decadent combination of white rice, ricotta cheese, pancetta, Vidalia onion, sweet peas and pecorino cheese. Everything abut the dish screamed ‘hearty’ and ‘stick to your ribs’. I gave the recipe a try, and it was everything that I imagined it to be. It was good. REALLY good! It also included two of the key ingredients in my Easter rice pie…ricotta and, of course, white rice.

I decided to use Nadia G’s recipe as a starting point, and build up the key ingredients to make a dish that was similar to the Easter pies. I substituted the pancetta with cubed ham (which is of course the star ingredient in the ham pie), replaced the peas with asparagus (the peas would have worked well, but asparagus is always on our family’s table for Easter dinner), added some lemon juice and zest (which give the citrus flavor to the rice pie) and a bit of fresh parsley. After seasoning the dish with a little salt and pepper to taste, the mission was complete. I had created a hearty and filling dish that had the taste and character of the traditional Easter pies, but could be enjoyed pretty much any time of the year!

You can find Nadia G’s version by clicking here. I suggest that you try both versions. Again, her’s was outstanding. But for a lighter, more spring-like taste, I’m sure you’ll enjoy my modified version. And if Nadia G happens to come across this post…reach out me at I’d love to spend a day comparing notes in the Bitchin’ Kitchen!!!

Ricotta and Rice with Ham and Asparagus
Inspired by Nadia G’s Riso con la Ricotta

1 cup (1-inch) sliced asparagus (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup white rice
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 8-oz boneless cooked ham steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pecorino cheese, finely grated
2 tbspn fresh chopped parsley
zest plus juice of 1 lemon

Cook the asparagus in boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside.

Put the rice in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook until done, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl and stir in the asparagus and ham. Stir in the ricotta cheese and pecorino cheese, then add the lemon juice and zest, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and enjoy!

ricotta rice



Recent Comments

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