We had the pleasure of hosting family to celebrate a few birthdays recently: our son in law as well as my father. We all gathered on Derby Day, so I decided we’d throw a surprise Derby party.

The dinner party was a huge success, and the food turned out great. I purchased big hats for the women on Amazon and bow ties and pocket squares for the men. Then I decorated with jockey hats and toy horses throughout the house. Such a fun evening!





(Adapted from Katiescucina.com)

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups grated sharp cheddar (+ more for the top)

1/2 cup mayo (I used Hellman’s)

1/2 cup (one jar) chopped pimentos, drained and blotted dry

2 TBSP green onions, sliced

1 tsp Italian parsley, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp hot sauce (I used Tabasco)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a stand mixer or using a hand held one, combine the cream cheese, 2 cups grated cheddar and mayonnaise.

Mix until well incorporated. Stir in the chopped pimento, green onion, salt, pepper, paprika, and hot sauce.

Mix until well incorporated.

Spray an oven safe dish with cooking spray. Place the pimento cheese dip mixture in the dish.

Top with shredded cheddar.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve with veggies, crusty bread, crackers, or chips. Can easily be made a day or two in advance, refrigerate and heat just before serving.


(Adapted from theviewfromgreatisland.com)

Makes ~36 meatballs

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil for browning the meatballs

Bourbon Sauce

1 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup brown sugar

2 TBSP chili sauce

1/2 cup bourbon

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1 TBSP molasses

1/4 cup water

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Place all meatball ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the meat as you put it in. Mix together, using your fingers to gently combine everything without compacting the meat.

Form into small 1″ balls.

Heat 2 TBSP of olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs, working in batches.

Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through. (On a thermometer, it should read 160 degrees)

To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a skillet, and stir and bring to a simmer. Or you can blend all ingredients ahead of time, refrigerate and once you’re ready to eat, add to a skillet and continue.

Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until thick. Place cooked meatballs into the sauce, and let heat through until ready to serve.

Serve on a plate with toothpicks, a drizzle of sauce. Serve a bowl of sauce on the side for extra dipping.


(Adapted from thevintagemixer.com)

1/2 cup of grits, cooked according to directions on box

1/4 cup of milk

3/4 stick of butter (6 Tablespoons)

1 1/2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 eggs

1/3 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 TBSP scallions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter or spray 4 ramekins or a 8×8 baking dish. Cook the grits according the the directions on the box. On the stovetop, melt butter with minced garlic.

Add in the cooked grits, cheese, and milk.

Stir over medium heat until combined, then cool to luke warm. Whisk the two eggs together with salt and pepper and scallions, then add the eggs to the warm grits. Stir everything until well combined then ladle out into the ramekins or a baking dish.

Bake at 325 for 30-40 minutes or until beginning to brown on top. (The time will depend on the dish you’re cooking them in). Serve immediately.


Heat in a skillet sliced country ham and set aside. Once cooled to be able to handle, slice the ham into biscuit sized servings.


(Adapted from Food Network)

2 1/2 cups, plus more for dusting
1 TBSP baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 cup chopped Spanish olives 
1 cup mascarpone, chilled 
3/4 cup reduced-fat buttermilk, chilled

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Position an oven rack so it is in the top third of the oven.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Stir in the olives.

Using your fingers or a fork, cut the mascarpone into the flour mixture until it resembles small pebbles in the flour.

Add the buttermilk and gently mix until a rough dough is formed. (Do not overmix.)

Pour the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gently gather into a 1-inch-thick square. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter or a glass, cut as many rounds as your square will allow. Gather the scraps once, reform and cut a few more. (You will have about 12 biscuits.) Place on a small rimmed baking sheet so that the biscuits touch each other.

Bake in the top third of the oven until light golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Assemble your ham biscuits and enjoy!


(Adapted from cookinginstilettos.com)

2 tsp of canola oil

~3 lb pork shoulder

1/2 cup of dark brown sugar

1/2 cup of bourbon

2 TBSP soy sauce

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

2 TBSP Dijon mustard

2 TBSP ketchup

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

1 large onion, sliced

Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Slider buns for serving

Season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper. In a large pan, add the canola oil. Over medium high heat, brown the pork shoulder on all sides.

In a bowl, mix together the dark brown sugar, bourbon, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, ketchup and smoked paprika until the sugar is dissolved.

In the base of the slow cooker, layer the sliced onions.

Nestle the pork shoulder on top and pour over the sauce.

Let cook on LOW for 8 hours or so, until the pork is fork tender. Halfway through, if possible, turn the pork on the opposite side.

Remove the cooked pork to a dish and shred the meat using two forks.

Skim the fat from the sauce and the onions. Puree the onions and the sauce using a blender until smooth.

Pour the sauce over the pulled pork until the pork is “wet”. Serve on slider buns. The pork can be made in advance, and then reheated easily either in a slow cooker or bake in the oven ~10 minutes or until heated through.


(Adapted from Thefullnester.com)


3 cups graham cracker crumbs 

1/2 cup of butter, melted

1/3 cup of sugar

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

1/2 cup of dark corn syrup

1/4 cup of butter, melted

3 large eggs

2 tsp bourbon

1/4 tsp of salt

2 cups of chopped pecans

1 (12 -ounce) bag of semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick baking spray with flour.
In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and egg white, stirring until well combined. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake for 10 minutes; let cool completely.
In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and corn syrups.

Add melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt, whisking until well combined.

Stir in pecans and chocolate morsels; spoon mixture over prepared crust.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the middle is set. When it has completely cooled, slice into bars or wedges.


(Adapted from Food Network)

For a gathering, it ends up being a full time job making individual mint juleps (or any cocktail for that matter).  I love having a specialty drink for a group that can be made in advance so that the host (ME) can enjoy their guests instead of playing bartender all night long. This recipe makes 8 mint juleps.

2 cups sugar
4 bunches mint, ends trimmed
2 1/2 cups bourbon 
Crushed ice 

Combine the sugar and 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat stirring until all sugar is dissolved. 

Remove from the heat and submerge 3 bunches of mint.

Let stand at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight. Strain.

Stir together the mint simple syrup (you should have 2 1/2 cups) and bourbon in a pitcher. Add a couple of sprigs of mint for garnish. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 8 hours.

To serve:

Pack 8 mint julep cups (or glasses) with crushed ice (I break up a couple leaves of mint a bit in each glass to ensure the oils from the leaves really permeate the drink). Pour 4 ounces of the mint julep mixture into each cup or glass; garnish with a mint sprig on top, and serve with a straw.

Grandbabies are the best….