Hot Corn Dip

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One of my favorite dips to make during football season is this corn dip. I got the recipe a few years ago and it’s become a staple in our house. When someone tries it for the first time, they can’t leave without getting the recipe; it’s that addicting. The key ingredients are corn, cheese and chipotle peppers. You can adjust the heat level by adding or subtracting the amount of chipotle peppers. Personally, I love a lot of chipotle peppers, it gives it a great zing. You can also change up the amount of cheese. I’ve made it with more of the montery jack than the chedder and it’s worked out great. The addition of fresh ingredients at the end of baking, rounds out a perfect party dip.

Hot Corn Dip:

  • 2 cups shredded chedder cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Montery Jack
  • 2 tbs chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced small
  • 1 small can (4oz) diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1/2 cup Mayo
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 11oz can of corn, drained
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs green onions, sliced thin
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the cheeses, chiptole and green peppers, mayo, garlic powder and corn together. Pour into an oven safe dish.
  3. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly
  4. Top with diced tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Feta

One of the only ways I can get my son to eat pork is stuffing it with feta and spinach. I’ve been making this for years. One of my best memories with this pork dish is my husband’s late grandfather sitting at our dinner table asking for more. It warms my heart knowing that he really enjoyed something I made. There are several steps in making stuffed pork tenderloin and I’ll do my best to walk you through it. This is one of those meals that I don’t have a recipe for it. I’ve just made it and never thought about how much goes into it. It’s fun trying to figure those things out.

First thing you want to do is take the silver skin off the tenderloin. You will find it in the thicker part of the loin. Take your knife and run it under the silver skin till it’s gone. Next you will want to butterfly the tenderloin. Run your knife lengthwise down the loin, being sure not to cut all the way through. Flatten it out, you might need to make a few more cuts till the meat is flat and even. Season with Salt and pepper.

Place the sautéed spinach and feta on the tenderloin.

With kitchen twine  you want to close the tenderloin around the filling. There are several ways to do this and there isn’t one right way. The main goal is to keep the yummy filling in. The easiest way is to cut individual pieces of twine and tie it down the tenderloin. After the tenderloin is tied up, you will brown them in a pan and then finish it off in the oven and serve with a wine sauce.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin:

  • 1 package pork tenderloin (usually has 2 tenderloins)
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 2 6oz packages fresh baby spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbs oil over medium heat and cook garlic till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach, in batches, and cook till wilted. Set aside.
  2. Butterfly the tenderloins and season with salt and pepper. Evenly distribute the spinach and feta over the opened tenderloins. Close the tenderloins over the filling and tie with kitchen twine. Season the outside with salt and pepper.
  3. In the same skillet used to cook the spinach add the additional 2 tbs over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering add the tenderloins and brown on all sides. (3-4 minutes per side)
  4. Transfer the browned tenderloins to a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 140-145 degrees. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving with sauce. (Skillet will be used to make sauce, do not clean it out)

White Wine Sauce with Rosemary

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tbs minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I sometimes add a little more)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (this too can be adjusted)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbs butter
  1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat, in the skillet used to brown the tenderloins. Add the shallots and cook till soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and scrape up all the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Lower heat to medium. Add the broth and rosemary and cook till reduced by half, about 8 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the butter 1 tbs at a time and serve.

Source: Gina Marie Original

Gina Marie’s Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those fixtures that screams BBQ’s and family gatherings. Throughout the years I’ve learned a few tricks to make a great potato salad. First, there is no need to add tons of ingredients to a potato salad, it’s all about the potatoes. If you add too many things to it you will lose the potatoes and what’s a potato salad without tasting the potatoes? Second, the way you cook them and mix them up are a huge part of making a terrific potato salad. I’ll go through some key steps…

1. Do not bother washing or cutting the potatoes. Drop them in a huge pot of cold water and get boiling. Once they boil, turn it back a bit and cook them till they start splitting.

2. Mix your mayonnaise and spices together BEFORE adding to the potatoes. This will make a difference. The more you mix your salad the more your potatoes will break down and become mush. Mixing up the mayo before hand helps you not overmix.

3. Use a secret ingredient. My secret ingredient is what I use in my ribs, Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.

Follow these steps and your potato salad will be a huge success.

Gina Marie’s Potato Salad

  • 5 lbs Russet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs mustard
  • 1 tbs Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
  1. Put uncut and unwashed potatoes into a large pot filled with cold water on high heat. When water starts to boil turn down to medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes start to split.
  2. Drain and let cool till they are easy to handle. (you want the potatoes to be a little warm)
  3. With a pairing knife, remove the skin from the potatoes and dice into 1/2 inch pieces and add to a big bowl along with the onions.
  4. In a separate small mixing bowl mix together the mayo, mustard, creole seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasonings to your likeness. (If you like it really saucy, add more mayo and adjust the seasonings accordingly)
  5. Add the mayonnaise mixture and parsley to the potatoes and stir till combined. Chill for at least 4-5 hours and serve.

Source: Gina Marie Original

Sushi- Tampa Roll

Sushi has been apart of my families life for close to 20 years. My parents first got the taste of it back when I was in High School and the parents of one my friends brought some to the big football game. They let my parents try some and that is where it all began. We started going to the local Japanese restaurant to get our new addiction taken care of. Soon after that my dad realized it’s much cheaper to make sushi at home. It’s still nice to go out and get some really good sushi but making it at home can be fun.

When my kids were born and were at the age that fish and solids foods were ok, I introduced them to sushi. They LOVED it and it became their favorite food. They love having sushi making parties, it’s fun letting them pick out what they want in their rolls. That’s what is great about sushi, there are NO rules! You can put whatever your little heart desires into it. Fried Chicken? Why not? I personally haven’t done that, but don’t see why you couldn’t.

My husband never had sushi till he met me. He enjoys sushi, but he likes sushi with cooked ingredients. My kids and I are more of the the raw sushi (sashimi) type. When we lived in Tampa my husband wanted to try the Tampa Roll. It’s made of fried grouper, mayo and scallions and it became a favorite of ours. When we moved away from Florida we missed the Tampa Roll and I thought it would be easy enough to make. I found that grouper is harder to come by when you don’t live in Florida. I tried different types of frozen fried fish, and you will be surprised at what tasted closest to the original. Frozen fish sticks! If you can’t find fresh or frozen grouper in your grocery store, the fish sticks make a great alternative.

The items you need to get started…

Bamboo Rolling Mat, Nori (package of seaweed paper), sushi rice, fried grouper (or fish sticks), mayonnaise and scallions. Optional: wasabi paste and pickled ginger.

I like to tape plastic wrap around the bamboo rolling mat. It helps with keeping it clean. You can make your own sushi rice at home but that is a process and I will plan on posting that down the road. If you do not want to make the rice at home you have some options. I found that if you have a Chinese buffet that does sushi, they will sell you sushi rice. You could also try a Japanese restaurant. How much you get depends on how much you want to make. A couple pounds of rice will make quite a few rolls.

*Keep a bowl of water near you when making these rolls. You want to keep your hands wet while working the rice or else it’ll stick to you.

Lay the Nori down on the bamboo mat, shiny side down. With wet hands, put about a cup of rice on the paper and spread it out. When I make an inside roll (rice on the inside) I don’t put it all over the nori, as you can see above. Next, spread about 1 tbs of mayo on the rice in a thin strip going from one end to the other. Layer the grouper and scallions (see above picture). Work with the ingredients facing you and slowly start rolling the nori over the fish. You will continue rolling it up and when you get to the end, wet your finger and run it across the end of nori so it’ll stick to the roll and the seam won’t open. Slice into about 8 pieces and enjoy!

Fried Grouper:

  • 4 grouper fillets
  • 5 cups peanut oil
  • tempura batter

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pot till it registers 350 degrees. Slice the grouper fillets into long thin strips and dip into the tempura batter. Place a few strips of battered fish into the hot oil. Cook until lightly browed and place on paper towel to soak up the grease.

Tempura Batter:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

Beat an egg in a bowl. Add ice water in the bowl. Be sure to use very cold water. Add sifted flour and salt in the bowl and mix lightly. Be careful not to overmix the batter.

Baked Ravioli

As much as I love cooking there are some nights I just don’t want to think about dinner. I start thinking where do I want to get dinner from? What am I in the mood for? The other night I had that happen and thought about ravioli. I REALLY wanted baked ravioli and decided not to order anything and just go get the stuff and do it myself. Baked ravioli is fairly easy to put together and has the taste of lasagna without all the work. I have made a creamy marinara sauce and thought that would be nice to use for this dish. Boy was I right, it turned out fantastic. Served with a nice salad and some garlic bread and you have a great dinner.

Baked Ravioli

  • 2 large packages of frozen cheese ravioli
  • 2 jars of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • grated Parmesan cheese, about 1 cup
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the ravioli till they are almost done, about 6 minutes, and drain, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  2. While the ravioli is cooking, heat up the marinara sauce in a large skillet. When the sauce is heated through, add the ricotta cheese and stir till it’s all combined. Add the reserved pasta water. Take off heat and add the basil.
  3. In a 13 x 9 baking dish or a lasagna pan, place several spoonfuls of the marinara sauce on the bottom. Start layering the ravioli and once you have one layer spoon enough sauce to just cover the pasta. Sprinkle a little bit of the Parmesan cheese and about 1/4-1/2 cup of the Mozzarella. Continue with the next layer of ravioli, sauce and cheese. Keep doing that process till you end with the sauce. Top it with as much cheese as you want on top and bake for 30-40 minutes.

BBQ Spare Ribs

Most people have their own version on how to make great spare ribs. But for those who are a little scared of making them, take a deep breath, it’s going to be ok. You can do it! These are very easy but they do need a little bit of advanced preparation. That’s the key to making really good ribs. Letting the ribs sit overnight in a nice dry rub, helps get the flavors into the meat. The next step is cooking it low and slow in the oven and finishing it off on the grill.

I am going to unveil my top secret ingredient. You can find it in your local grocery store or Walmart. I use this in so many ways. I make potato salad, homefries, chicken salad, ribs and many other things with it. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning is amazing. I can’t even begin to explain the magic that happens when you put it in potatoes. I will post my potato salad recipe soon.

Before the grilling season ends, make sure to make some spare ribs

BBQ Spare Ribs

  • 1 package of Pork Spare Ribs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar ( I use splenda brown sugar on these)
  • 1/4 cup Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (use a little less if you don’t want it too spicy)
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite BBQ Sauce
  1. Rinse and pat dry the spare ribs. On the side of the ribs where you see the bones, there is a thin layer of skin, pull it off. (It might take you a few tries but it will come off. Key is getting it started at the sides)
  2. Evenly spread the brown sugar and Creole Seasoning on both sides of the ribs. Set in a baking pan, big enough to hold it. Place in the refrigerator, covered, and let sit overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Take ribs out of refrigerator, add the beer and cover with tin foil. Bake for 4-5 hours, till the meat is tender but not yet falling off the bone.
  4. Heat your grill and when ready, place the ribs on the grill. Get a good sear on both sides of the ribs. Once you have the sides seared start putting on  your BBQ sauce. Continue flipping and adding the BBQ sauce each time you flip it. You will probably flip it 10-12 times.

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan is my husbands favorite dinner. I am not a huge chicken fan but love chicken parmesan because it’s moist and flavorful. This is a little time consuming so I don’t make it very often. We recently moved to PA and had a lot of help unpacking from my mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, her husband, and a good friend of theirs. I wanted to make them something nice and decided chicken parm was the way to go.

You can make this ahead of time by breading the chicken and letting it sit in the fridge till you are ready to brown it. I’ve also baked it and then stored it till the next day. I think it tastes better the next day, the flavors all start to become one happy family.

Chicken Parmesan

  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 4 cups marinara sauce or 2 jars of favorite sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or more if you like it cheesy)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place one piece of chicken at a time in a big ziplock bag or between two pieces of saran wrap. With a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken flat to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  2. Using three different shallow bowls (I use pie plates) place the flour in one bowl and season with salt and pepper. Second bowl, whisk the 2 eggs with 1tbs of water. Last bowl, mix the breadcrumbs and 1 cup parmesan cheese.
  3. Working with one piece of chicken, dredge it in the flour, coating both sides and shake off excess. Next, put it in the eggs and coat both sides, letting excess drip off. Then put it in the breadcrumb mixture, making sure that both sides are well covered and place on baking sheet or plate. Continue till all the chicken breasts are breaded.
  4. In a large baking dish place 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom and spread around.
  5. In a 12 inch skillet or saute pan set over medium high heat, add the olive oil and place chicken in pan. You will need to work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook till golden browned on both sides, about 4-5 minutes each side. (you might need to add more oil to the pan if it looks dry)
  6. When chicken is done take it out and put in the baking dish. Continue till all the chicken is cooked and in the baking dish.
  7. Cover the chicken with the rest of the sauce and top with parmesan cheese and the mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. You can take the foil off in the last 15 minutes of baking if you want the cheese browned. Serve immediately.

Source: Gina Marie Original