Thanksgiving Menu

I have been working on my Thanksgiving menu and I’m so excited about it. If you are stumped with what to make I am here to help. I will share with you what I’ll be serving and other recipes that you might like. There are some recipes I do not have links to and those are the ones that I have yet to post about but I do plan to.

If this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving, please don’t stress. It’s really all in the planning. Plan your menu ahead of time and then break it down. You do not need to be cooking all day on Thanksgiving. I like to enjoy the day and spend time with my family and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade along with football. To help you out, I will share with you how I’ll be planning the days to Thanksgiving.


  • Make Parker House Rolls and Freeze


  • Make Spinach Dip
  • Make Cranberry Compote
  • Prepare napkins and table cloths (iron if necessary)


  • Make Pumpkin Cream Pie
  • Make Apple Pie
  • Make Cranberry and Apple Cake


  • Brine the Turkey
  • Make Green Rice and Bake
  • Make Mashed Potatoes
  • Make Spiced Apple Cider
  • Make Sweet Potatoes and Apples and Bake
  • Cut veggies for tray
  • Set the tables

Thanksgiving Day:


  • Roast Turkey
  • Make Brie en Croute
  • Make Stuffing
  • Mix the Spiced Apple Cider with Wine to make Sangria
  • Roast Brussel Sprouts
  • Reheat All Side Dishes
  • Throw rolls into oven
  • Carve Turkey and enjoy dinner
Now here is my menu along with other dishes you might like. 

*Brie en Croute
*Veggie tray
*Cocktail Shrimp (already cooked and frozen)
Special Drink:
*Spiced Apple Cider Sangria
Main Course and Sides:
*Brined Turkey
*Mashed Potatoes
*Roasted Brussel Sprouts
*Cranberry Compote
*Pumpkin Cream Pie
*Apple Pie
*Cranberry and Apple Cake
*I will be serving

Football! Football! Football!

Are you ready for some football? I know I am! It’s officially my favorite time of the year. I’ve already had my first pumpkin spice latte and I have pumpkin spice scentsy burning. I am seriously ready for fall! I am also ready to start cooking up football food. You can’t watch a football game without having great food. In the next several weeks I’ll be posting all sorts of goodies to eat while you watch your favorite teams.

Here is a link that will take you my previous Football Food Roundup.

And here are a few new added recipes that will be perfect for the game.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Spinach Dip

Shrimp Mousse

Chicken Enchilada Wraps

Italian Pasta Salad

Independence Day Goodies

A lot of us are planning big gatherings with family and friends this weekend. I’ve made a list of dishes that would be perfect for your parties. I’m very excited for the weekend, I am going to be surrounded by family and friends at my new house. We have gotten a lot accomplished and I am now able to start thinking about cooking and my blog again.

I hope everyone has a terrific 4th of July and that you are safe and surrounded by loved ones.

P.S. I am coming up on the 1 year Anniversary of Gina Marie’s Kitchen. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year. To thank you for all the support I am planning a little giveaway to one of my readers. Please stay tuned…

Pasta Mozzarella Salad has all the best summer has to offer.

What cookout would be complete without Baked Beans

Another great use for tomatoes is this Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

This Potato Salad will be at our cookout this weekend. It’s a must have!

Want some ribs?

Stuffed Strawberries are the perfect 4th of July treat

Another use for berries is this Strawberry and Blueberry Crostata







Review: Tostitos® Dip Creations™ Freshly Made Guacamole Dip

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I sometimes get products to test out and blog about. This one is Tostitos® Dip Creations™ Freshly Made Guacamole Dip. I have my own personal way of making guacamole but was willing to try out this mix. If you are unsure of how to make a great tasting guacamole from scratch, this mix would be perfect for you.

I was a little nervous about how it was going to turn out when I opened up the bag. The directions say to add the mix to three large avocados.  I mashed up my avocados and added the seasonings but thought it looked plain. I love texture in my guacamole so I decided to add tomatoes, something I always do anyway. I set it in the fridge to sit for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld (scared that it would turn brown). When I took it out to taste, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was still nice and green.  I was even more surprised at how good it tasted. The seasonings were dead on and there wasn’t one flavor that overpowered another. I really enjoyed the flavors, as did my family. Within minutes the guacamole was gone.

Overall: I would make it again but of course I’ll be sticking to my regular recipe which doesn’t have a lot of sodium and other things I can’t pronounce. I do suggest this dip mix for people who are unsure of what to put in their guacamole. You will be very happy with the outcome.

Note: I was not paid for this post; the opinions and views are strictly my own.

Easter Lamb Cake

I want to share with you what one of my families Easter traditions are. We have several, but my favorite one is this Lamb Cake. Sadly, this year will be the first year I will not be making one. We are heading to where we will be moving soon, to be with my husband. He’s already started working and the kids and I are waiting for school to end before we are permanently there. Anyway, this picture comes from last years cake so please ignore the lack of decorations around the lamb. I have no idea why I took a picture of the cake before it was completed, but this was before I decided to start doing a blog. The one thing I would like to point out is the platter the lamb is on. This was my Great Grandmother’s and she used it to put her Lamb Cake on. One thing I wished I had of hers was the cast iron lamb mold. I have a very flimsy one, which desperately needs replaced. If you want to make a Lamb cake I highly recommend a good mold, so the cake batter doesn’t flow out the sides (like mine).

Let’s talk about the cake… It’s basically a spice cake and in order for the cake to stand up it has to be firm and dense. The cake has an ingredient in it called ground mace. The only time I ever use ground mace is when I make this cake. I honestly think this is what makes this cake taste wonderful. Whenever I smell the ground mace, it reminds me of my childhood. I can’t tell you how long this recipe has been in my family, but I know that at least my Great Grandmother used it. You don’t have to make this in a lamb cake mold. It would be great as a layered cake too. The recipe makes 2 lamb cakes. If you wanted to make it as a layered cake I would use 2 or 3 9 inch round cake pans. I’ve never made it as a round cake before so I’m unsure exactly how  many pans you would need. But, the cakes really puff up so I am thinking 3 might be good.

Either way you make this, I am just so thrilled to share my family recipe with you. I really hope you make this and enjoy it with your family. Happy Easter!

Lamb Cake Spice Cake:

makes 2 lamb cakes or 2-3 9inch round cakes

  • 4 1/2 cups Sifted Cake Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace (optional, although I recommend it)
  • 1 lb unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Prepare cake pans, butter and flour (use the cake flour) the insides of the pans you will be using. Shake out the excess flour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a large bowl, or over parchment paper, sift flour once, measure and re-sift with the salt and mace. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, cream the butter till waxy, then add the sugar gradually and cream together till mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping after each addition, till smooth. Add vanilla, almond extracts and blend.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture beating and scraping after each addition till well blended. If using round cake pans, pour batter evenly into each prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  6. *If using Lamb mold* Place the mold, nose side down on baking sheet and fill the batter so it is rounded on top. Cover with the other half of the mold and bake for 1 1/2 hours, but start checking the cake after 45 minutes. You should be able to start testing the cake at this time with a cake tester, it will be done when it comes out clean.
  7. Let cool on rack for at least 30 minutes, before you unmold it to cool down completely. Frost as desired.
*enough to ice 1 cake
  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 1lb confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4-8 tbs water
  1. Mix together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Start with 4 tbs water, if the consistency is too thick, add another tbs. (You don’t want it too thin, I’ve used no more than 5tbs of water) Beat the frosting for at least 7 minutes on high. You want the frosting to be rich and fluffy.
  2. Ice your cake and enjoy!
Source: Gina Marie’s Family

Oven Baked Fries

I am not exaggerating when I say these are the best oven fries I’ve ever had. I’ve had my eye on these babies for awhile. So, when the weather got nice for one day we grilled burgers and I made these fries.  The hardest thing about making your own fries in the oven, is getting them cooked to perfection. Soft and creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I could never get them to turn out that way. Thankfully the test kitchen at Cook’s Illustrated was able to figure out how to get them cooked perfectly. The ingredients are very simple and there is one important step in creating the perfect oven fries. The step may sound silly, but if not done you won’t have the creamy/crispy fries you long for. Soaking the potatoes in very hot tap water for a good 20 minutes is the key. I learned never to doubt Cook’s Illustrated and once I bit into a fry; I knew they had the winning recipe.

*Important Note* Make sure you use a heavy-duty baking sheet. If you use a lighter baking sheet the heat from the oven could cause it to warp.

Oven Baked Fries:

*Serves 3-4

  • 3 Russet Potatoes (about 8 oz each) peeled, each potato cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 even wedges
  • 5 tbs vegetable or peanut oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position; heat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and cover with hot tap water; soak 20 minutes. Meanwhile, coat an 18 by 12 inch heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tbs of the oil and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper; set aside.
  2. Drain the potatoes. Spread the potatoes out on a triple thickness of paper towels and pat throughly dry with additional paper towels. Rinse and wipe out the now-empty bowl; return the potatoes to the bowl and toss with remaining 1 tbs oil. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet; cover tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using a metal spatula and tongs, scrape to loosen the potatoes from the pan, then flip each wedge, keeping the potatoes in a single layer. Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, 5 to 15 minutes longer, rotating the pan as needed if the fries are browning unevenly.
  3. Transfer the fries to a second baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Source: The New Best Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Cupcake Tower with Ganache Filled Cupcakes

For the bridal shower I hosted a few weeks ago, I knew what kind of cupcakes I was going to make. But how was I going to display them? Then I remembered I had seen a tutorial on how to make your own cupcake tower on Annie’s Eats blog. The nice thing about making your own cupcake tower is that you are able to make it fit whatever theme your party is. I am looking forward to football season so I can make a Penn State cupcake tower.

If you want to make this, Annie has a terrific tutorial on her blog and you can find that here. The one thing I did differently was instead of using a round foam disc, my father-in-law made me a round wooden disc. I felt that would going to give it more stability, but I’m sure using the foam disc will work out just fine. I like the wooden bottom because I can reuse it for other cupcake towers.

For the cupcakes I made Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting and I hollowed out the center and filled it with ganache. To put ganache in the middle of a cupcake is easy. Take a sharp knife and cut a little hole in the top-middle of the cupcake. Take it out, but be careful to leave the top so you can put it back on the cupcake once you are done with the filling. Once you have your hole fill it with desired filling and place the “lid” back on and frost as usual.


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  1. Cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.
  2. Let sit in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Take melon baller or spoon ganache in the middle of the cupcakes.

Source: Ina Garten via Food Network