Category Archives: blog derby party

Horse Bites: Drinks and Mocktails

Rain or shine, cold or blazing hot, it’s easy to host a casual Derby party at home for everyone. After all, getting a babysitter for Derby is harder than hitting an Exacta!

And if you’re planning on staying home with your kids anyway, have them invite all their friends! The parents will be so shocked they’ll offer to keep your kids for your anniversary, a long weekend, whatever you want. How do I know this? Because I used to do it for both my sons for New Year’s Eve. The kids had a blast, and I never go out on New Year’s Eve, anyway. Even if I’m not drinking that doesn’t protect me from all the other idiots on the road. Here’s my Pinterest Family-Friendly Derby Party Board – enjoy!

Whether you are planning a party for families or only for kids beverages are important. Recipes for the Oaks Lily, the Mint Julep, and the new-this-year Woodford Reserve Spires are all available on KentuckyDerby.com.

I’ll be honest – if I’m pouring simple syrup, cranberry juice, or lemonade over something I’m not using top-shelf alcohol. Straight? Sure. A specialty drink I’ve personally created? Absolutely! But for party mixes like these I’d save the budget for food and drop it a couple of rungs on on the snooty liquor scale. Anyone who’s displeased is officially elected bartender – they can run to the liquor and make their own and everyone else’s drinks. #mypartymyrules

Here are the kid-friendly versions (or the versions you give your guests who are getting too tipsy):

Lily: Cranberry juice, a splash of lemonade, and a splash or orange juice over ice. Garnish with a half-strawberry unless your kids like blackberries.

Julep: Green Kool-aid or Crystal Light (Bug Juice for you Scout Parents out there) over ice with a sprig of mint. They can eat it, rub it on their teeth to gross everyone out, throw it at each other, whatever. It cleans up easy. If you’re lucky the dog will eat it and have very fresh breath!

Spires: Lemonade over ice with a splash of cranberry juice for color. Garnish with a tiny wedge of lemon.

Nab a couple of “too cool for this party” teens and put them to work making the mocktails. Maybe show them a few scenes from “Cocktail” first (while you’re transferring everything into plastic bottles). They’ll be bragging about their bar-tending skills for a decade.

You’ve probably seen my Horse Bites series with Benedictine, Thurby Pie, Hot Brown, and Country Ham. But here’s another option: the YUMMY Mint Julep! This is one even the adults will want to try.

It’s super-easy. Peel a kiwi (Make a shallow cut around the circumference and use a spoon – trust me on this one!) Then slice it. Add half a strawberry (cut side down), a blueberry, and just a leaf of mint. Now make just a cup of simple syrup (sugar or Splenda dissolved in hot water). Once it cools, pour a tiny bit on every stack. Yes, sorry, this once takes toothpicks, too. None of these fruits will brown or shrivel, so they can be done well ahead of time. If you want an adult version put bourbon in the simple syrup. But in that case make sure there’s an Adult section of the Buffet Table and an Under-21 section!

For the Thurby Pie just don’t use Bourbon in the whipped cream, and perhaps not nuts in their pie (the bourbon cooks out of the pie.) The Hot Brown will be a hit – maybe use ramekins instead of shot glasses and put two sandwich quarters in each. Kids love to dip! Benedictine and Country Ham Horse Bites are fine as they are – maybe you can get some veggies into them along the way.

Posting this after twelve-noon EST since I don’t want to encourage day-drinking, even though my Neurologist says I should give it a try. Yes, seriously! And no, I’m not giving out his name. If I do I’ll have to wait two years for my next appointment. And I’m rather fond of the margarita machine in the waiting room. #justkiddingitsinthelobby

 

Horse Bites: Country Ham

This is one of the many treats you’ll always find at the buffet at Churchill Downs during Dawn at the Dawns. It’s a particular favorite of my husband’s.

Now Country Ham is one of those things that you love or hate. I love it in small doses, so a Horse Bite is perfect for me. A big slab on a plate would make me uncomfortable. I did actually cook one. Once. Michael was in hog heaven (pardon the pun).

Little PSA here. If your doctor has EVER said the words Congestive Heart Failure to you, or has said anything about your heart muscle being weak. . . PASS on the Country Ham or you’ll be explaining it to a grumpy ER nurse right before she inserts a catheter in someplace you don’t want it. #justsayin.

Now I think the perfect way to serve Country Ham is atop a slice of nice, crusty baguette. Ideally, I’d serve this warm with half a small baked or boiled red-skinned potato (or a purple fingerling if you’re lucky!) and half of a tender broiled asparagus stalk on top. Yes, this one takes a toothpick as well. You don’t want asparagus being ground into the carpet. And the salt from the ham will season both the potato and the asparagus, so just give them pepper, lemon, or garlic as you prefer. Actually, it’s just as good cold, so don’t stress about it.

Recipes for Benedictine, Thurby Pie, and Hot Brown Horse Bites are only a click away! Next up: Kids’ Derby Parties!

Horse Bites: Hot Brown

In addition to The Pie, Hot Browns are another must-have on Derby weekend. Many Hostesses serve them for brunch Derby Day. It’s essentially an open-faced turkey sandwich on toast with Mornay sauce topped with bacon and tomato slices. But everyone has their own touches!

Kentucky Hot Brown (four generous portions)

6 slices bread, toasted and sliced diagonally
12 oz. thick-sliced turkey breast (this is the best I’ve found so far)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
8 strips half-cooked or pre-cooked bacon
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups scalded milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter and whisk in flour (do not brown). Remove from heat and chill. (The longer you chill the better.)
2. Heat milk and broth (do not boil). Add hot mixture to chilled flour mixture, and whisk until thickened.
3. Add salt, pepper, and cheese until melted.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Assemble Hot Browns in a 9×13 pan in the following order: toast, turkey, sauce, and bacon.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly.

This also freezes well. BTW, this is super-easy and would be a great surprise to make Mom for Mother’s Day Brunch!

printable version

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t put the traditional tomato slices on top of the bacon before I cooked it. All my guys would have removed it immediately, so I didn’t bother.

There are two options for this one:

If you truly want to stick to all finger-foods then use slices of baguette or wedges of pita or flatbread and a thick-sliced turkey like this one:

If you’re having a large party go ahead and cook a turkey breast a day or two before. Top it with your favorite cheese – I love Swiss, but anything that’s not too crumbly will work fine. I used smoked Gouda for the ones pictures below and they got rave reviews! Microwave that bacon (after cutting the slices into thirds), and while that is being patted dry by your sous chef (spouse, child, helpful friend) slice some grape or cherry tomatoes in half. This one needs a toothpick to hold it together.


(Yes, there is one without tomato for the picky college kid!)

Another yummy option is to make the Mornay sauce just like the original Hot Brown recipe. Then make turkey sandwiches on toast and cut them into quarters, placing 1/2 slice of cooked bacon on each quarter. Spoon the sauce into shot glasses and slide a sandwich quarter into each. Float half a cherry tomato in it if you like. Serve hot! Yes, a bit more bother, but SO clever. You can even get personalized shot glasses from bridal retailers if you want to make them even more memorable. I’d prefer plastic myself, especially if there’s alcohol involved and carpet on the floor. Have I mentioned how much I love my hardwoods and tile?

Check a few posts back for my Benedictine and Thurby Pie Horse Bites! Country Ham and Mocktail posts coming soon!

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