Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Kentucky Derby Menu Ideas Party

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and it’s time to prepare your party provisions!  Share these on Saturday in a small backyard soiree or savor them television side with the hubby.

We all know and love the term, “Spring is in the air,” but imagine, too, the divine way it smells, beckoning us to our backyards with the promise of barbeque with the fixin’s….And with Kentucky Derby right around the corner, we can really pull out the Southern stops for a safe and delicious outdoor gathering.

Whether you’re setting an elegant table or wearing a Kentucky Derby hat as you graze an outdoor buffet, consider these your go-to Kentucky Derby party plans:

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…
Mint Julep Recipe Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@gustavocastilho?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Gustavo de Camargo</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/mint-julep?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

The Kentucky Derby doesn’t have to be a marathon if you play host this weekend. A simple charcuterie board elevated with Southern-style taste and ingredients will come to the rescue! This board’s arranged with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and an assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. Serve with Kentucky Derby’s infamous Mint Juleps and you’ll have yourself a party:

The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, 1930

4 sprigs fresh mint

½ tbls powdered sugar

1 glass bourbon, rye, or Canadian whisky

 

Use a long tumbler and crush mint leaves and dissolved sugar lightly together. Add spirits and fill glass with cracked ice. Stir gently until glass is frosted. Decorate on top with 3 sprigs of mint.

Read On

Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

From family to family, here in the South, there is debate about how to make a traditional hand pie. But one thing is for sure: This recipe makes for a delicious peach pie!  This recipe yields a pie that looks like a puffy, jelly doughnut and is over-the-top delicious. Top with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and serve with vanilla ice cream for a delicious Southern treat.

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Collard Greens With Slow Roasted Pork Belly

This Southern recipe was made from my Farmer’s Market opening day bounty and pulls together a few of my favorite farmer’s market finds: Tender collard greens, paired with rich pork belly. This dish is perfect if you’ve just had a stash of your greens in your drawer that you’ve been looking to work into a dish or perhaps bought a bushel too much from your local farmer’s market trip. This dish makes for a lovely first course or a wonderful side dish.

 

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Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

My chilled soup adds farm-fresh sweet strawberries for a cool and refreshing treat.This recipe features both ways of making a gazpacho – you have the option to seed the tomatoes or you don’t. Either way, you’ll still have a great batch of gazpacho!

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Fried Pickles and Comeback Sauce: Your How to Guide

Like pickles? You’ll love this recipe, and you’ll be delighted to discover that there are so many ways to create a delicious batter for your fried pickles. I personally like the combination of seasoned flour and buttermilk for a tangy topping. You can fry them whole or sliced, fried in vegetable or peanut oil – Whatever floats your boat! The comeback sauce featured in this recipe is definitely to die for.

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My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

I’ve always considered that my recipe for hush puppies is TOO GOOD…Try it and you be the judge. This recipe is my own version of that South Carolina fisherman’s special recipe. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to follow it precisely to get a tasty result. If you’re looking for a recipe that you can get creative with, this is it! Pick and choose your add-ins and sauces.

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Delicious Ideas for World Health Day 2021

Delicious Ideas for World Health Day 2021

It’s World Health Day, and I’m highlighting five recipes that can kickstart your goal of adding more veggies to your meal plans and staying on the healthy-ish side of the table.

 

The theme for this year’s World Health Day is “Building a fairer, healthier world”. The theme is fitting, considering the year we’ve had surrounding our own health and the health of our families and communities.

The “Pandemic 15” is real!

Maybe you’ve pledged to improve your health, now that the world is slowly opening up. You can start by putting one fork in front of the next. It’s easy!

The key is not to feel discouraged, but to start small and
build towards healthier habits!

So, to give you a boost for this year’s World Health Day, I have compiled put together a little listy of my favorite fresh and healthy-ish recipes that are tasty enough that even a picky hubby wouldn’t turn down a plate.

If you’re looking to start your healthy eating journey, start small by adding more veggies with these meals:

Salads are a great start to your healthy journey! Aside from being easy to prepare, this Mediterranean Tuna Salad won’t make you feel guilty about eating something tasty. It’s tuna salad on steroids… and just what you are looking for when that mid-afternoon craving hits!

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Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

I originally made this recipe because we had so many leftover potatoes. My solution? Turn them as a hash side dish for your main course meal instead! Who says you can’t include carbs in your healthy-ish meal plan. Certainly not me!

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This Vietnamese Eggplant Stew is something I’m really proud of. The eggplant comes out as delicious, velvety, and rich. I learned the technique to make this dish in a cooking class when I visited Hoi An, Vietnam. Totally deserving of my listy since it is WORLD Health Day!​

 

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Just because you are trying to eat veggie-forward meals, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite dishes, like roasted chicken with stuffing. Yumm.

This dressing with veggies recipe that I made has squash, mushrooms, and more! Cinnamon, thyme, and chicken broth combine to make this one of the most delish side dishes you can find. I stuff it into roasted chicken, thick pork chops, or even more veggie-forward into zucchini boats. It’s all good!

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Carrots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and squash are the stars of this veggie salad. It’s so filling, it doubles as a side dish or main dish meal. Top everything with my very favorite vinaigrette and you have a veggie-forward meal to share with family and friends. 

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Spring Dinner Party Menu Featuring Fresh Dinner Salads

Spring Dinner Party Menu Featuring Fresh Dinner Salads

The secret to entertaining and still having a good time?

 

PLANNING!

Steal my very best springtime entertaining ideas that will guarantee you have just as much fun as your guests with these main course salad ideas!

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

While March isn’t quite marching away from winter, I feel Spring in the air.

Easter is right around the corner and with vaccinations occurring rapidly, families and friends may start gathering to celebrate a new season.

I have a theory about entertaining. I like to keep my eye on the prize of enjoying my party as much as my guests do. I must admit that I usually accomplish this goal!

The secret to making it all happen is to plan, plan, plan. If you spend the time preparing before-hand, when it comes to party time, everything will be ready!  

Putting these two ideas together, I have a party plan to share with you for your right-around-the-corner Spring get-together. My book, “At Home Entertaining”  (If you don’t find it on your shelf, you can still find it on Amazon), contains a plan for a Sunset Picnic Supper.

This party plan was one that our catering company created when we were asked to design a party to go with a groundbreaking ceremony on the lot that would eventually house a four-story office building. The lot was vacant, so we erected a tent and set each place at multiple tables with individual picnic baskets that held the guest’s china, linen napkins, glassware, and even a stem vase with a single fresh flower.

The meal was presented family-style with servers offering platters of main course salads. We prepared all of the pieces of each salad in advance and keep them refrigerated, assembled the dishes on-site, right before serving.

The party was a hit and I’ve served these main dish salads again and again over the years.

I used that party plan to create one for this year. It includes these dishes:

Grilled Flank Steak With Roasted Onions, Sliced Tomatoes, Blue Cheese and Poblano Pepper Vinaigrette

Here’s how: The day before I’ll pound the flank steaks with the rough side of a meat mallet and place them in marinade overnight. I’ll roast the poblano peppers and add them and a handful of spinach leaves to my favorite vinaigrette recipe to create a deeply colored, subtly spiced sauce. This I’ll chill in the fridge.

I’ll roast small (palm-size) white onions, cut into quarters, in the oven until they are golden and syrupy, and store these in the fridge as well.

On the day of the party, I’ll grill the steaks to just medium-rare. I’ll wrap them in foil and refrigerate until about an hour before the party. Removing the steaks, vinaigrette, and onions from the fridge, about an hour before gives me the time I need to bring everything to room temperature. (I like the way food tastes at room temperature instead of chilled from the fridge.) 

To assemble the salad, I cut ripe, beefsteak tomatoes into slices and lay them around the outside of a large platter. Then I’ll top these with chunks of blue cheese. I’ll lay the onions inside the ring of tomatoes. 

Then I’ll slice the steaks into thin strips and pile them high into the center of the dish. I’ll drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the top of the salad and serve the rest on the side. And

I’ll do all of this before the first guest arrives! The salad will be good-to-go for several hours.

Poached Chicken In Tuna Sauce

This is a dish based loosely on a dish called Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna-caper sauce) and is perfect for this party because it is made the day ahead. Whole chicken breasts are poached in wine and broth with veggies and herbs.

Then these are sliced and layered onto a platter and covered in a rich sauce made with tuna, anchovies, capers, lemon juice, and mayo.

I’ll refrigerate the dish overnight which allows the slices of chicken to absorb all the flavors of the sauce. All I have to do is remove the platter from the fridge and garnish with lemon slices, capers, and fresh parsley.

I’ll add a ring of baby artichokes around the edge of the platter…. just because I can!

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

Roasted Salmon In the Grass With Cucumber Mint Sauce

This is the secret to perfectly roasted salmon….Shhhhhhh… don’t tell!

….It’s brown sugar.

Yup, I spice my salmon with brown sugar. I mix the sugar with everything else in my spice drawer and then rub it all over the salmon. Twenty minutes of roasting in a hot oven and you have the most delish salmon that you can easily serve at room temperature.

I’ll lay the salmon over barely sauteed spinach (the grass) and drizzle it with a sauce made from fresh cucumbers, sour cream, and fresh mint. Oh boy!

I’ll round out the menu with Farmer’s Market Orzo Salad from “Canvas and Cuisine” and Herbed Onion Biscuits.

Dessert will be my spring-time favorite
Sunshine Cake from Sunday Best Dishes”

Even I want to be invited to this Spring dinner. How about you?

Here, Fishy, Fishy: Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Here, Fishy, Fishy: Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Here, fishy, fishy, I have a new recipe for you!  Try this recipe to repurpose leftover fish for a hearty and satisfying chowder, brimming with all of your favorite vegetables. Because I had pumpkin swordfish, I “peppered” the chowder with like-colored ingredients, but remember, it’s your fish chowder. Click to skip to the recipe

pumpin swordfish chowder

I had friends over for a fussy dinner the other night. 

I did my version of surf and turf by grilling both a butterflied leg of lamb and delicious pumpkin swordfish steaks. Don’t fret, recipes will follow!

I ended up with a bunch of leftovers. You know how I am. I cannot stand to waste food.

The wheels started runnin’ and I thought about leftover recipes for the swordfish.

Swordfish cakes came to mind as did my Bubba Gump’s list of other fish dishes like swordfish gumbo, swordfish fried-rice, swordfish salad, swordfish burgers, swordfish spread…well, you get the picture.

In the end, fish chowder won out and I created a recipe that worked out just fine.

Because I had pumpkin swordfish, I “peppered” the chowder with like-colored ingredients using sweet potatoes and carrots to flavor the broth. But remember, it’s your fish chowder. 

You can use whatever fish you have leftover and your favorite chowder veggies.

It’s really all about the fishy, creamy rich broth that makes this soooo good. Serve with a wedge of cheesy garlic bread and a green salad and invite those friends back to join in the FUN!

Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Serves: 6

Time:  30 minutes ’til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

½ red onion, finely diced

6 ribs celery, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 medium white potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons flour

½ cup white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

1 pound cooked swordfish steak, chopped into ½-inch pieces

Chopped, fresh parsley

Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe

Melt the butter in a deep soup pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Stir and cook until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes. Cook for 3 minutes more. Season the veggies with salt, pepper, and thyme. Sprinkle the flour over the top. Pour in the wine. Stir until the liquid thickens and begins to reduce, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and cream. Stir in the swordfish. Reduce the heat to simmer the chowder over low heat. Continue to cook until the potatoes soften, and the broth is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. For thicker broth add more cream. For thinner broth, add more chicken stock.

Tip 1:

Pumpkin swordfish has a delicate, orange-colored flesh made possible because the fish eat a whole bunch of pink shrimp and krill. I created this soup after I over-prepared swordfish for a special dinner I had with friends. I grilled the fish and finished it with a bit of butter. The leftovers were just too delish to lose, thus the soup. I added carrots and sweet potato to go with the orangish color of the fish. But you can use this recipe as a guideline. Any fish will do and plain ole’ swordfish works just fine. Add more regular spuds if you don’t have sweet potatoes and flavor this rich chowder with any of your favorite spices. It’s all good!


     

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Mix and match your guests’ favorite meats, treats, and cheeses and never be bored with your charcuterie board! Start with these Tuna Nachos, perfect for tailgating at home. Click to skip to the recipe

 

There are lots of reasons to entertain family and friends these days, as long as your family and friends have maintained their social distance while trying to live their lives amid craziness!

We’re all living in our reduced social circles these days, but that still leaves us room to gather safely. And gather, we do!

One of my favorite ways to entertain is to set out individual bites onto a lovely charcuterie board.

Now, by its very definition, a charcuterie board is made up of prepared, cured meats (usually pork) and varieties of cheeses.

The very word charcuterie comes from the French words chair (flesh) and cuit (cooked).

But meat and cheese can be boring, so I veer towards combining charcuterie with an antipasti platter. Olives and pickled veggies are so yum.

But then I have a couple of crudité tray ideas and well, before you no it, I create a board full of appetizers that is unlike any other.

Just like I like it!

My recent board was created for my fellow book club pals. It was packed full of individual appys that by themselves would be perfect for a first-course nibble, but when combined could serve a crowd for a cocktail party or game day (stay-at-home) tailgate party.

The appys assembled on my board included roasted shrimp on a stick, chunks of Parmesan cheese, whole roasted garlic, salami and cream cheese “flowers”, margarita sausage on baguettes with lime mustard, gouda and sun-dried tomato “pimento” cheese with candied bacon, hummus and Parmesan stuffed tomatoes and the fan-favorite, seared tuna nachos with roasted garlic cream.

Whew! Sounds like a lot and it was…..but it was also FUN to prepare and wonderful to watch as they were devoured in no time.

Whether you prepare your own fan-favorite appys or arrange store-bought (and there are tons of them) items on your board, the secret is to be surprising. Mix and match your favorites and be creative with your choices. After all, you never want to be bored with your board!!

Seared Tuna Nachos with Roasted Garlic Cream

These nachos are a big hit. You can easily make them in advance, and they look divine on your appy board.

Ingredients

For tuna:

1 (8-ounce) tuna steak:

½ cup rice wine vinegar

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)

1 (1-inch piece) ginger, grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

For roasted garlic cream:

Cloves from 2 whole heads roasted garlic, about ¼ cup, mashed

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup heavy cream

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

For nachos:

Large, sturdy tortilla chips

2 cups tender green leave, washed, dried and thinly julienned (I used frisee, baby kale and butter lettuce leaves)

Serves:   A Crowd

Time:   60-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the tuna steaks into a shallow dish. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, onion, and ginger.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade.  Pour the rest over the tuna steak.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours in the fridge.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove the tuna from the marinade.  Shake off the excess.  Sear the tuna in the skillet turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for very rare.  Remove the tuna to the freezer and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the roasted garlic cloves, sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine into a smooth thick cream. Season with salt and pepper. The cream should be thin enough to drizzle.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside.

Place the tortilla chips on a platter. Toss the greens with the reserved marinade.  Place several shreds of lettuce over the tortilla chips.

Remove the tuna from the freezer.  Use a very sharp knife to cut very thin slices (across the grain) of seared tuna.  Place 1 to 2 slices (depending on how thin you can cut) onto each chip.  Drizzle with garlic cream. 

 

What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating: Super Supper Book Club Menu

What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating: Super Supper Book Club Menu

I chose a veggie-forward menu for this Super Supper Book Club, Social-Distance Edition. Safely supp over a good read and prepare for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal!  Click to skip to the recipe

 

In the months before COVID, we started posting a once a month book club guide for you to follow with your group. 

I stopped posting because we couldn’t gather.

But, in today’s environment, with some of the restrictions eased and our ability to safely gather in a socially distance approved way, I thought I would bring it back! My book club has gathered over the summer and we will convene again this week.

For those of you who are still staying home, you might consider starting a virtual book club.

A few of my besties did this over the summer as well, and we found that we gathered (virtually) more often than our in-person club.

I have included the full supper club menu here, but if you wish, just a sampling of one or two dishes works just as well.

Either way, if you are looking for a good read to share with friends (or just on your own), this one’s for you!

 

“The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewel

As I read, I had the same feelings that I had when I read The Goldfinch. The abuse of children is never an easy subject.

However, I loved this read because of the development of the characters from childhood to adulthood, the paths their lives eventually take, and The Baby that brings them together.

There are several twists and turns, many of which I didn’t see coming (which to me is the measure of a good suspense novel).

This is my next pick for our Super Supper Book Club.

Gather your readers, give them the title, and dole out the recipes for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal.

There are three stories woven into the narrative. On Libby’s 25th birthday, she finds out she’s inherited a Chelsea mansion that’s been held in trust.

She soon discovers the house has a dark history based on scant decades-old news coverage. Lucy is living hand-to-mouth in France when her phone reminds her that The Baby is 25.

Without the means or identity, she must resort to some pretty desperate acts in order to get back to England after 24 years. Henry knows everything that happened in the house in the last several years when his family lived there.

He knew why there were so many extra people living there, what happened to the once-opulent residence and its contents, and how and why people were found dead in black robes on the kitchen floor.

I already cooked up some questions for your Super Supper Book Club gathering…

  • Do you think Henry’s lies and violent acts were born out of his need to survive an unimaginable situation, or do you think there is, as Clemency states, “a streak of pure evil” in him?
  • In your opinion, who is the most tragic figure in this novel? 
  • What do you imagine happens to the characters after the book ends?

I chose a veggie-forward menu for this Super Supper Book Club. In contrast to the spartan food the children were given while they lived at 16 Cheyne Walk, this menu celebrates the abundance of the garden with dishes woven into a delicious menu that all your members will enjoy.

Super Supper Book Club Menu

“The Family Upstairs”

 


Fresh Corn, Green Bean and Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette •
Canvas and Cuisine,  page 150

Cauliflower Risotto with Cinnamon-Roasted Butternut Squash • Canvas and Cuisine, page 36

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta and Toasted Breadcrumbs (Recipe below) Canvas and Cuisine, page 96

Fresh Fish of the Day in Puttanesca Sauce • Canvas and Cuisine, page 262

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Thyme • Canvas and Cuisine, page 341

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
With Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta & Toasted Breadcrumbs

Best Stuffed Portabello Recipe

Spending quality time in the Farmer’s market naturally leads to veggie-forward main meals. This is one of these. There’s nothing better than meaty mushrooms, with a tangy, crunchy filling! You can serve these mushrooms as a first course, or as a late-night snack. Or you can stuff smaller mushrooms and serve these to your book club! The flavors are fantastic – everyone is a mushroom lover after tasting this dish!

Ingredients

1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 2 more for sauce

1 (3.5-ounce) julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained but save 2 tablespoons of the oil 

4 ounces pancetta, finely diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced, about 2 tablespoons

¼ cup Marsala wine

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

8 Portobello mushrooms, stem and gills removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Yields: Serves 4 for a Veggie Main or 8 as an Appy

Time:   30 Minutes

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons of melted butter in a small bowl. Spread the crumbs onto a baking sheet. Toast the buttered crumbs until they begin to crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes into a skillet over medium-high heat. And the pancetta and cook until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta to a platter lined with paper towels. 

Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer until most of the wine has disappeared, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice. Season with some of the salt and crushed red pepper. Turn off the heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the parsley.

Heat a grill pan on high heat. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms, turning once, until they are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the mushrooms to a platter. Spoon the sun-dried tomatoes into the mushroom caps. Top with pancetta and toasted breadcrumbs.