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.

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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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Lookalike Sweet Pea Soup

Lookalike Sweet Pea Soup

Hubby and I share a great deal of similarities, but this most recent experience was WAY TOO MUCH! Savor this spring soup with your significant other, in health or toothache!  Click to skip to the recipe

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

They say that if you’ve lived with someone for a very long time you start looking like each other. Hubby and I have lived together for a very….exceptionally long time and although we have many similarities, we don’t look too much like each other.

Or do we? 

We both have blue eyes.

On any given day, after various salon appointments, we both have blonde hair. 

Our tummies aren’t as flat as they once were and getting up and down out of our respective easy chairs, we both have a little hitch in our giddy-up (as my Dad would say). 

Sometimes we come out of the closet and we’re wearing the same colors.

Sometimes we miss the same golf shot.

Sometimes we order the exact same meal. Sometimes we finish each other’s sentences.

And then…there is the whole name thing……

But our recent bonding experience has carried things too far…way too far! 

Hubby made a dentist appointment recently. He reported back that he had a tooth that required repair and a bigger appointment the following week.

By the next day, I had a sore tooth and went to the same dentist.

After a quick x-ray, she emerged with uncomfortable-looking body language and promptly sent me off to an endodontist to discuss a root canal.

That guy was great, but he said no can do and pushed me along to a really nice oral surgeon who scheduled me for a tooth extraction and dental implant the next week.

YIKES!

I reported back to hubby and he laughed and laughed.

He, the owner of a tooth that simply needed repair and me whose tooth was at dental death’s doorstep. I filled my prescription for Valium and prepared for the worst. 

Hubby’s appointment day came, the day before mine, and off he went.

Forty-five minutes later, he texted that he was on his way to my same oral surgeon for an emergency tooth removal.  The dentist had misjudged the decay on his tooth. Go figure. 

Bottom line is that we each lost a tooth in the exact same place in our mouths, twenty-four hours apart.

Now, even our smiles are a bit more similar. 

Which gets me to the recipe this week. Pea soup!!

Yes, in order to ease the swelling, the surgeon recommended that I buy bags of frozen peas. Which I did: Bags and bags and bags of frozen peas.

After the swelling was gone, the peas remained. Note too, that only soft, smooth things were on the Morgan menu for a week or two.

So, our frozen peas did double duty as relief and substance.

Some things don’t change though. Even as similar as we are, I couldn’t convince hubby to eat pea soup.

He hates peas… which worked out just fine for me!

Have a great week and don’t forget to schedule your dentist appointment soon!

Sweet Pea Soup

Yield: 1 Quart

Time: 30 minutes ‘til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas, thawed

2 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, about 2 cups

½ cup dry sherry

Juice from ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons

2 to 3 dill sprigs

3 to 4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup heavy cream

Sour cream for garnish

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Heat the butter over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and spinach.

Pour in the sherry and cook until most of the liquid disappears, about 4 minutes more. Add the lemon juice and dill sprigs.

Pour in 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer the soup for about 20 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to liquefy the ingredients to create a smooth, velvety soup. Return the soup to the pot. If the soup is too thick, you can add some more broth.

Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream. At this point, you can chill the soup or heat the soup to warm it up.

It’s great served warm or cold! Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of dill.

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?

Secret Squash In The Kitchen…Filming!

Secret Squash In The Kitchen…Filming!

New ways lead to new ideas!  I’m excited to share my Honey Roasted Spaghetti Squash recipe and NEW news about what I have cookin’ up in my kitchen…  Click to skip to the recipe

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

Want to know a secret? Here it is.

I’ve been filming for a new video series featuring me…. talking to you…. about FOOD!

We’ve just started, and I’m not sure where it’s going but in these videos, I show you how to cook one thing in several different ways.

This idea grew out of the many, many conversations that I’ve had with friends and readers who are saying that they are sooooo bored with the food that they are cooking.

And, let’s face it, we’ve been cooking at home a lot this past year.

One of the segments I shot featured spaghetti squash. In order to show you how to prepare the squash and the dishes, I surrounded myself with a whole bunch of these football-size veggies. Six in all!

After the video was in the can (I don’t think it ever goes into a can anymore, I think it shoots up into the clouds, but who knows?) I was left with a few of these babies that I hoisted onto a platter for future use.

These squash are durable and last a really long time.

Later that evening, I found myself at a local restaurant with a few of my gal pals. I started perusing the menu and low and behold, listed right there under “Lighter Fare” was a roasted spaghetti squash dish.

I told my friends about the day’s earlier video and we decided to share an order or two to try it out. It was delish!

There was a discussion and I found out that most of the gals loved the dish and many of them would make it at home, but there was a learning curve that required some climbing before anyone would tackle the squash. 

I developed a recipe that copies the restaurant’s dish and distributed my remaining squash to the gals who decided to give it a try. It’s pretty darn good.

I’ll keep you posted on the videos. Meanwhile, if you are looking for new ideas for the same ole’ things that you cook every day, don’t hesitate to send me a request.

I might invite you to come over and video with me! 😉

Honey Roasted Spaghetti Squash
With Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Serves: 4

Time: 60 minutes ‘til it’s ready

Ingredients

For Squash:

2 medium spaghetti squash

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper


For Dish:

2 tablespoons roasted garlic butter (see Tip 1)

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, and diced

¼ pound fresh spinach leaves, about 1 cup

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

3 to 4 basil leaves, rolled into a cigar shape tube and thinly sliced

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and pulp. Place onto a baking sheet, cut-side facing up. Drizzle the flesh of the squash with honey, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Flip the squash and bake cut-side down until soft, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Melt roasted garlic butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the spinach leaves and cook until they are wilted, just a minute or two. 

Use a fork to pull strands from the cooked squash that resemble thin angel hair pasta. Add to the pan and toss with the sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Season with additional salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with pine nuts, thin strips of basil, and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Tip 1:

The rich flavors of roasted garlic and butter add to the deliciousness of this sauce. Here’s my recipe:


Roasted Garlic Compound Butter:

4 large heads of garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground oregano

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut about ¼ of the top off the bulbs and discard. Place the bulbs onto a sheet of aluminum foil, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Close the foil loosely around the bulbs leaving a hole at the top. Place into the oven and bake until the cloves are golden, soft, and climbing out of their papery skins. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Place the butter into a small bowl. Squeeze the cloves into the bowl with the butter. Use a fork to mash everything together. Spread the garlic butter onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to roll the garlic butter into a cylinder twisting the ends to make a tight roll. Place the butter into the fridge to firm up.

Slice the butter into rounds and place on grilled meats, fish, or veggies.

Tip 2:

Toast pine nuts by placing them into a skillet over medium heat. You can move the skillet around to roll the nuts on the bottom of the pan. Watch closely, as the nuts will toast quickly. Once they are fragrant (and you will love that aroma), they’re done! Remove the nuts from the skillet right away.

Tip 3:

When you stack basil leaves and then roll them into a cylinder and then thinly slice them, it’s called chiffonade. Just wanted you to know!

I Did It My Way! Veal Sinatra Inspired By Locanda Rustica

I Did It My Way! Veal Sinatra Inspired By Locanda Rustica

Tonight’s dish is inspired by a local Tequesta/Jupiter hangout where everyone knows your name and the Chicken Sinatra SINGS!  Make veal in marsala wine sauce, MY WAY! Click to skip to the recipe

pumpin swordfish chowder

Everyone has a favorite neighborhood restaurant. And every favorite neighborhood restaurant has a specialty dish.

We have one such restaurant in our neighborhood. The name is Locanda Rustica and it holds court among other small eateries in a strip center on the main drag in Jupiter, FL.

This is the kind of place that sees repeat customers on repeat days. If it’s Wednesday, and the Coleman’s don’t appear at their established time, there will be an inquiry from the owner as to where they were, when they show up the next week.

Patrons are known by their first name, and their drink order is served before it’s ordered. Guest of these patrons are introduced to staff as if they were meeting their family. Before the bread is served, the specialties are announced.

It’s at this moment that you realize you just hit the jackpot of weeknight dining!

This week’s specialty dish was Chicken Sinatra and let me tell you, Frank would be Flying to the Moon over this one.

He would toss Three Coins in the Fountain to get seconds.

He would have High Hopes to know that It Was A Very Good Life that included Chicken Sinatra.

There are no Strangers in the Night when it comes to this dish and you don’t have to be in New York, New York to eat it. 

Spinach, prosciutto, and cheese are sandwiched between two thin chicken cutlets. Then they are battered and sauteed. Two people at our table ordered this special, and I took a bite out of each! I was still left wanting.

You could say that I Got Chicken Sinatra Under My Skin. That’s why two nights later, I found myself creating a dish using it as my inspiration.

I had veal instead of chicken, salami instead of prosciutto, and fresh sage leaves instead of spinach. I added my mother-in-law’s Masala wine sauce. It was delish! I did it MY WAY!

The next time you are in your favorite eatery, I hope you get inspired by a weeknight special dish. After all, That’s Life!!

Veal Sinatra
In Marsala Wine Sauce

Serves: 2

Time:  30 minutes ’til it’s ready

Ingredients

4 thin slices veal cutlet, about 3 to 4 ounces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

4 thin slices of Swiss cheese

Two thin slices of salami, cut in half

 6 to 8 sage leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1 cup all-purpose flour

For sauce:

1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced

1-pint white mushrooms, sliced

1 cup Marsala wine

1 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons butter

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Place the veal slices between two pieces of parchment paper. Use a meat mallet to pound the veal to about ¼-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Layer 2 slices of veal with cheese, followed by salami and sage. Top with the remaining veal slices forming two veal sandwiches!

Place the flour into a shallow bowl. Whisk the egg with the water. Dredge one veal sandwich into the four, coating both sides. Gently shake of excess flour and then dip into the egg, again coating both sides. Shake off the excess egg and dredge once more into the flour. Place the coated veal onto a plate and repeat with the second sandwich. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of both olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is bubbling add the veal. Cook until golden brown on one side, about2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn and cook until golden on the other side, another few minutes. Transfer to a platter. 

Add the shallot and mushrooms to the skillet. Cook until the shallot pieces are soft, and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.