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The Perfect KY Derby Party Menu

The Perfect Kentucky Derby Party Menu

Hey, y’all!

It’s Derby Season. Saying that arouses many emotions: I’m in disbelief that it is here, I am nervous because I am not ready, but more than anything, I am excited with every ounce of my being.

There’s no better time to be a Kentuckian. The best two minutes in sports each year, without doubt. The dresses, hats, heels, suits… it’s so glamorous! If you haven’t attended the Kentucky Derby, or visited Churchill Downs, put it on your bucket list!

I would argue that this is the best time to throw a party – and any great Derby Party menu should feature Kentucky delicacies! To help you do so, I’m teaming up with my friends at Kroger to share some of my foolproof, most reliable recipes!

Decor

While the menu is of utmost importance, don’t forget about the decor! I was very impressed with the selection of Derby-themed items at my Local Kroger. I chose to pick up a Derby Flag, an adorable horse + jockey, Julep Cups, Lily Glasses, and of course, red roses!

Kentucky Derby Party Decor -- JCP Eats

Cocktails

First and foremost, no Derby Party can happen without a Build-Your-Own Mint Julep Bar. The Punch Brothers said it best — “Heaven is a julep on the porch.” After having juleps on the porch of my new house with those that mean the most to me, I can attest to the validity of that statement.

Homemade Mint Juleps With Four Roses Bourbon - JCP Eats

Homemade Mint Juleps With Four Roses Bourbon - JCP Eats

The Kentucky Mint Julep

Ingredients:

2.5 oz. Four Roses Bourbon

4-5 Mint Leaves

3/4 oz. Simple Syrup

Crushed Ice

Directions:

  1. Pour simple syrup into a Derby glass.
  2. Add mint leaves and muddle to extract the flavor.
  3. Fill cup with crushed ice (almost to the top).
  4. Add Four Roses Bourbon.
  5. Stir and enjoy!

If you don’t like Mint Juleps (we can still be friends, y’all!), you’ll probably be a fan of the drink of the Kentucky Oaks, which is Friday at the track: the Oaks Lily. To host the ultimate Derby Party, I definitely recommend serving both cocktails. The best part? You can make the Lily ahead of time (and double, triple, quadruple the recipe!) to save yourself some stress during the event!

Kentucky Oaks Lily Cocktail - JCP Eats

Kentucky Derby Party - JCP Eats

The Finlandia® Oaks Lily®

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Finlandia Vodka

1 oz. Lemonade

.25 oz Triple Sec

3 oz. Cranberry Juice

Blackberries

Crushed Ice

Directions:

  1. Mix vodka, lemonade, triple sec, and cranberry juice together.
  2. Pour over a glass of crushed ice.
  3. Stir and enjoy (plus, if you like, add a blackberry or two into the drink)!

Appetizers

Since the Kentucky Derby is the most quintessential event in the Commonwealth, the menu should reflect the heritage of our state. Thus, I chose to make some tried and true favorites, along with some dishes inspired by our amazing culinary scene!

Homemade Spinach Dip - JCP Eats

Homemade Spinach Dip - JCP Eats

The World's Easiest Spinach Dip

Ingredients:

10 oz frozen spinach, cooked and drained

16 oz. sour cream

1 oz. packet of dry ranch mix

1 circular loaf of King’s Hawaiian Bread

Directions:

  1. Cook frozen spinach according to directions on bag; drain until all juice is gone.
  2. Combine spinach, sour cream, and dry ranch mix; stir until fully combined.
  3. Refrigerate spinach dip.
  4. When ready to serve, remove the top and middle parts of the King’s Hawaiian Bread. Using the center as a bowl, scoop spinach dip into the bread and use removed hunks for dipping.
  5. Enjoy!

It doesn’t get much more Kentucky than country ham — and these elevated sliders, which feature an orange fig spread, are simply irresistible!

Pro tip: you can get sliced country ham at the deli in your local Kroger. It saves SO much time and it is just as good as preparing a whole ham yourself; plus, you’ll have less waste!

Country Ham Sliders - JCP Eats

Country Ham + Orange Fig Marmalade Biscuit Sliders

Ingredients:

1 package of frozen tea biscuits

1 lb. country ham

1 jar of Dalmatia Orange Fig Spread

Directions:

  1. Bake tea biscuits according to the directions listed on the bag.
  2. After letting biscuits cool, slice through the middle.
  3. Spread Dalmatia Orange Fig Spread on both sides of the biscuit.
  4. Place country ham between the biscuit halves, combining the top and bottom sections.
  5. Enjoy!

My favorite food that originated in Louisville is, without hesitation, benedictine. It would be a travesty to have a Derby party without it! Invented by Jennie Carter Benedict near the beginning of the 20th century, benedictine has delighted Louisville (and southern!) diners for decades.

I usually serve mine in sandwich form with bacon; isn’t everything better with a little bacon, y’all?

Homemade Benedictine and Bacon Sliders - JCP Eats

Homemade Benedictine and Bacon Sliders - JCP Eats

Homemade Benedictine and Bacon Sliders - JCP Eats

Bacon + Benedictine Yeast Roll Sliders

Ingredients:

1 package of Sister Schubert Park House-Style Frozen Yeast Rolls

1 package of bacon (I love the Private Selection brand at Kroger)

1.5 medium cucumbers (peeled, seeds removed, finely diced)

1 Vidalia onion (finely diced)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

Salt, to taste

1-2 dashes of hot sauce

2-3 drops of green food coloring

Directions:

  1. Cook Sister Schubert rolls according to the directions on the package. After cooled, slice an opening in the middle.
  2. Prepare bacon according to preference (I prefer to cook it in the oven). Once cooled, chop it into small pieces.
  3. Slice cucumbers in half, peel, remove all seeds, and finely dice.
  4. Finely dice the Vidalia onion.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine diced cucumber, onion, cream cheese, salt, hot sauce, and green food coloring until well-combined.
  6. Scoop benedictine spread in the middle of the Sister Schubert roll, topping with bacon crumbles.
  7. Enjoy – I promise that these will be a hit!

Main Course

Does it get more iconic than a Kentucky Hot Brown? Brilliantly created by Chef Fred Schmidt of the Brown Hotel in the 1920’s, the Hot Brown was originally made to feed the huge crowds of dancers and party-goers that visited the landmark hotel. It was heavy, filling, and immediately became iconic.

Once you have a bite, you’ll understand why.

To create the Hot Brown for my Derby Dinner Party, I chose to use the original recipe provided by the Brown Hotel. All credit goes to the Brown. I made very few modifications: I used peppered turkey breast as the meat, topped the dish with crumbled bacon instead of full slices, changed the layout/quantity of bread, and baked multiple hot browns together (casserole style) in a baking dish. This made mass preparation for a party much easier!

PS — this recipe, like all of the others previously mentioned, can easily be multiplied!

Homemade Hot Brown - JCP Eats

The Iconic Kentucky Hot Brown

(inspiration credit: the Brown Hotel)

Ingredients (yield: 2 hot browns):

2 oz. butter

2 oz. all-purpose flour

8 oz. heavy cream

8 oz. whole milk

1/2 c. Pecorino Romano, grated (extra tbsp. for garnish)

2-4 slices of peppered turkey breast from the deli (thinly sliced)

2 slices of Texas Toast

4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped (if desired)

2 thick slices of Roma tomato

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Nutmeg, to taste

Paprika, to taste

Parsley, chopped for garnish

Directions:

Mornay Sauce:

  1. Melt the butter and slowly whisk in the flour to create a roux.
  2. Cook roux for an additional minute over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Pour the heavy cream and whole milk into the roux, whisking until the cream begins to simmer (around 3 minutes).
  4. Remove sauce from the heat and whisk in the Pecorino Romano. It is finished when the Mornay sauce is smooth.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Preparation:

  1. Cook bacon according to preference ( I prefer to cook it in the oven). Leave bacon in full slices if you want to go the traditional route; chop if you prefer to crumble it on top, like I do.
  2. Trim the crust off of the Texas Toast & broil on high in the oven until fully toasted.

Construction:

  1. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Layer Texas Toast in a baking dish, covering each with 2-4 slices of turkey.
  3. Pour the Mornay sauce in the dish, covering the toast.
  4. Top with a slice of Roma tomato and sprinkle additional Pecorino Romano on top of the dish.
  5. Broil until the cheese browns.
  6. Remove from oven, top with bacon, paprika, and parsley.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Dessert

There is no dessert more fit for the Kentucky Derby than the signature Derby Pie from Kern’s Kitchen. Created in 1954, it has been hand-crafted and enjoyed by Kentuckians (and world wide) for decades. The official pie of the Kentucky Derby, the recipe is a secret – however, it is publicly known that it is downright delicious!

The chocolate nut pie is sweet, rich, and is sure to please a crowd – and it can be picked up at your local Kroger!

Kentucky Derby Party Derby Pie Kern's Kitchen-- JCP Eats

Kentucky Derby Party Derby Pie Kern's Kitchen-- JCP Eats

You have the decor, the cocktails, the appetizers, the main course, and the dessert. The only thing left? Your friends! All of these dishes are best enjoyed when shared with those that you love.

Kentucky — and Derby — spirit is meant to be shared; I am so grateful that some of my nearest and dearest friends joined me for this fine occasion!

My first dinner party at my new house will be one that I will not forget.

Kentucky Derby Party - JCP Eats

Kentucky Derby Party - JCP Eats

Kentucky Derby Party - JCP Eats

Kentucky Derby Party - JCP Eats

Kentucky Derby Party - JCP Eats

All of items mentioned – from the food, to the alcohol, to the decor – I found at my local Kroger + Kroger Wine/Spirits Store.

I love Kroger because it is truly a one-stop shop; for that, I – and any host/hostess – am forever grateful.

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

Simple Truth Lemon Shrimp

Hey, y’all!

I hope that your New Year is off to a great start. January 1st marks a change in the lives of many, myself included. I promote food positivity, not diet culture; that’s why I am so tickled to be partnering with Kroger on their Simple Truth line.Processed with Focos Processed with VSCO with e6 presetKroger simply wants to help people live their best lives in 2019; with so many diet fads focusing on what you should eat less of, Kroger is focusing on the items to eat more of. That’s a mission that I can get behind!

In your local community, Kroger is your one-stop shop for quality, healthy food. When shopping, look for the Simple Truth label. Located all throughout the store, Simple Truth foods are free from 101+ artificial preservatives and ingredients! Thus, there is no worry as to how the food was raised, processed, and/or acquired. That, to me, means everything.

For today’s recipe, I decided to work with the Simple Truth Raw Shrimp (both peeled and deveined). Shrimp is, simply put, my favorite meat. It’s versatile and flexible – two qualities that I very much appreciate in food.Processed with Focos Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

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Processed with Focos Processed with VSCO with e6 presetI developed an easy, foolproof shrimp recipe that can be used in a multitude of ways. Eat them as described and simply dip them in cocktail sauce; if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, use them in salad, tacos, pasta, or soup! How easy is that?

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Lemon Shrimp

Ingredients:

1 Bag Simple Truth Raw Shrimp, Peeled & Deveined

3 lemons, juiced

1 tsp. lemon zest

¼ c. olive oil

1 tsp. Italian Seasoning

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. chopped parsley

Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Follow instructions, as provided, for the shrimp.
  2. In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, Italian Seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt; mix well.
  3. Add shrimp to the marinade, stir well, and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Over medium-high heat, add shrimp and marinade into a large skillet. Preparation time depends on size, though typically is around 2 minutes per side (4 minutes total). Shrimp, when done, are pink and have an opaque, white flesh.
  5. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and serve!

I believe that there is power in food. It sustains us, and most importantly, it brings us together. That’s my culinary truth – and the Simple Truth line at Kroger is perpetuating that notion. For that, I thank them.

Also, be sure to check out the Simple Truth Digital Coupon Event on the Kroger app – there are so many savings to be had! The event ends on February 5th, 2019.

Tell me – what’s your favorite way to eat shrimp? I think I’m going to use these in a salad for lunch and inside a burrito for dinner. Yum!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, all opinions are my own.

 

 

First Anniversary Party!

Hey, y’all!

I am SO proud to say that, alongside forty friends and family members, I celebrated my one year anniversary here on www.jcpeats.com. To say that it has been a journey, a rollercoaster, and an interesting ride would be a hyperbolic understatement.

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However, I’m not afraid of a walk on the wild side.

JCP Eats, as many of you know, started out of eating disorder recovery. It was a private Instagram account that I used to post photos of my food; this, in effect, was changing the way in which I looked at food.

Food photography became just that — photography. A form of art. It no longer represented a struggle on a plate; it was a subject — one that I eventually found to be both beautiful and therapeutic.

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That Instagram page became this online community. Fast forward one year and SO much has happened. My passion became my job – and for that, I will always be grateful. I owe that to each of you. Those of you that read, like, comment, and share my posts — it’s all because of you. Thank you, for the bottom of my heart, for making one of my dreams come true.

In true JCP fashion, I couldn’t let the momentous event pass without a proper party. For that, I have several people to thank.

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To my friends at Kroger: thank you for being the corporate sponsor of the event.

To my friends at Taziki’s: thank you for catering the fabulous food. It was a hit!

Side note: Lisa and Jeff at Taziki’s make catering an event SO easy. I simply emailed my order and Lisa arrived (early, might I add!) with a smile and all of the goodies. She set everything up beautifully and ensured that food/setup would not be something that I had to worry about. I can’t recommend them enough!

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To my friends at Yes Louisville/Yes Working: thank you for the event space and for helping me orchestrate it all.

To Mr. Lemaster, my bestie’s Dad: thank you for being the DJ and for keeping the party going!

To Becky: thank you for being a fabulous bartender!

To Jude: thank you for all you did the day of!

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And to each of my friends and family members that showed up to shower me with love: thank you. I owe so much of this to y’all.

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In the coming year, I hope to take y’all around the world with me, around the US, and most importantly, around more of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I want to explore new regions, new cuisines, and new restaurants with you. I want to continue chasing this dream – and I hope y’all will stay along for the ride.

Cheers!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; however, all opinions are my own.

 

The Best Chicken Noodle Soup

Hey, y’all!

The leaves are colorful, the days are shorter, and the it’s getting colder outside. In my world, that means that it is soup season!

Soup, to me, is nostalgic. It reminds me of childhood. It is comforting, it is filling, and it is reminiscent. Now, as an adult, it’s still all of those things; however, most importantly, it is delicious!

Chicken Noodle Soup is one of my favorites. It’s a classic; however, classics, to me, have to be held to the highest of standards. Time-honored dishes truly epitomize my style of cooking and my philosophy on food: you need not have a large quantity of ingredients, you need not have a difficult recipe to execute. What do you need, however, are good, quality ingredients – ones that stand on their own and ones that compliment one another. Cooking, to me, is an act of symbiosis.

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I’m so excited to be teaming up with my friends at Kroger to share my Chicken Noodle Soup recipe with y’all. From my dutch oven pot to yours – enjoy!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 Simple Truth® Rotisserie Chicken (I prefer to just use the white meat)
  • 1 bag Kroger Wide Egg Noodles
  • 1.5 Vidalia onions, diced
  • 4 large carrots, julienned
  • 3 large stalks of celery, diced
  • 2-2.5 Simple Truth® Organic Free Range Chicken Broth (32 oz. each)
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • Salt, heavy and to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • In a large dutch oven pot, sauté onions in olive oil until tender.
  • Add garlic to the onions and allow to cook for an additional 90 seconds.
  • Combine the julienned carrots and diced celery with the onions and garlic; allow to cook for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add Simple Truth® Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, stir well, and bring it to a boil. Post-boil, add the bay leaves and fresh thyme.
  • Reduce heat, allow ingredients to simmer for roughly 15-20 minutes.
  • Add Kroger Wide Egg Noodles, allowing to cook through until tender.
  • Combine pulled Simple Truth® Rotisserie Chicken into soup, stir thoroughly.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove bay leaves.
  • Serve each bowl of soup with lemon; add right before consumed. The more, in my opinion, the better!

All of the above ingredients were purchased at my local Kroger in Louisville. If you are in Kentucky or an area with a Kroger, it is your one-stop shop – which is my kind of shopping, y’all!

Tell me – what’s your favorite soup this time of year? I just might make it!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; all opinions, however, are my own.

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