Are you ready for the Kentucky Derby?  It’s usually held on the first Saturday in May, making it this upcoming Saturday, May 7, 2022.  A lot of people like to gather with friends and family to watch the races and enjoy some good food and drink.  I believe it’s known as “the greatest two minutes of sports” so why not spend all day in the kitchen for 2 minutes of cheering pleasure? 😊  Kidding…it’s a very fun horse race to watch!

I will be preparing the following items to enjoy during our viewing pleasure, and you might notice a theme… Kentucky (where the derby is held) and whiskey/bourbon (sponsors of the event and heavily influenced in the south).


Kentucky Hot Brown Dip is a rich a creamy dip that encompasses the wonderful ingredients and flavors of a traditional Kentucky Hot Brown.  A Kentucky Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich with turkey, bacon, tomato, and cheese.  They are incredibly good, almost like comfort food.  If you’ve never had one, I recommend ordering one at your first opportunity.  But we are here to talk about the dip version.  The base of the dip is cream cheese that is combined with turkey and shredded cheese and topped with bacon, tomato, and more shredded cheese (drool).  Baguette slices or crackers are used as dippers.  It’s served hot and will go fast!

The recipe can be found here.

Start by cooking the bacon according to package instructions.  Then remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain the grease.  Once cooled, chop and set aside.

Cook the turkey (or substitute with a boneless skinless chicken breast).  Then cool, dice and set aside.  I prefer to use store bought turkey.  You can usually find some thicker sliced meat, or you can ask the deli to slice it thick for you.  I find this much easier and less time consuming that going through the effort to cook my own.  If you have any leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in the freezer, now is a good time to use it!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the cream cheese, yogurt, ground nutmeg, turkey, and 1 cup of shredded cheese to a mixing bowl.  Mix until well combined.

Pour into an 8×8 or 7×11 baking dish and spread into an even layer.

Top with the chopped bacon, then the chopped tomato, then the remaining shredded cheese.  Add the parmesan cheese last.

Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until hot and slightly browned on top.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately with crackers or sliced baguette for dipping.  Enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

Whiskey Spiced Chicken Wings are easy to make and packed with flavor.  These wings are seriously delicious.  You make a homemade dry rub that the chicken marinates in.  Then you make a homemade sauce that is both sweet and savory, and a little tangy.  The recipes for both the dry rub and sauce could be doubled or tripled and saved to use with future recipes.  Both pair well pulled or BBQ’d meats.  The dry rub consists of spices you most likely already have in your kitchen.  And I think the same applies to the sauce…you probably have most of the ingredients on hand already.  The only exception might be liquid smoke.  This is an ingredient that is very intense but adds a wonderfully smokey flavor to meats when used (only use a little at a time so it’s not overwhelming).

The recipe can be found here.

Start by making the dry rub.  Combine the dry rub ingredients in a Ziplock bag.  Add the chicken wings and seal the bag.  Toss to coat.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours but up to overnight.  So, you can start prepping these the day before to save some time.  I also think the dry rub tastes great on its own, so we sometimes make wings with just the dry rub and enjoy them as is.

Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the chicken wings from the Ziploc bag and place on the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.

Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through and an internal temperature of 165 degrees F is reached.

While the wings are baking, prepare the sauce.  Add the whiskey (or bourbon) and onion to a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 5-10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by at least half.

Add the water, brown sugar, ketchup, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire, liquid smoke, and hot sauce.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  If you want a sweeter sauce, add extra brown sugar.  If you want a spicier sauce, add a bit more hot sauce.

Once the chicken is done baking, remove the wings to a large bowl.  Add 1 – 1 ½ cups of the sauce and toss to coat.

Place the wings back on the baking sheet and bake for an additional 5 minutes to allow the sauce to caramelize.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately with additional sauce brushed over the top or served on the side for dipping.  Yum!

The recipe can be found here.

We will quench our thirst with a Kentucky Oaks Cocktail.  It’s a crisp and refreshing cocktail with a hint of sweetness.  The recipe I’m going to share with you is for 1 drink, but you could do some simple calculations and make this in a pitcher if you need enough for a group.  Why stop at the Kentucky Derby?  Enjoy this cocktail all summer long!

The recipe can be found here.

Start by filling a cocktail shaker with ice.

Add the vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, orange curacao, and cranberry juice.  Shake well.

Fill a highball glass with ice (this is a large drink).  Strain the liquid from the cocktail shaker into the glass.

Garnish with a lemon slice and blueberries.  Add a straw and enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

Finally, we will snack on Maple Bourbon Candied Pecans before, during, and after the race.  These are a great snack item or grab and go option to have on hand while hosting.  You can grab a handful on your way out of the kitchen and keep some food in your stomach without filling up.  They also make for a simple dessert.  They are sweet from the maple syrup and cinnamon, a little woody from the bourbon/whiskey, and have just a hint of spice from the cayenne.  You might want to quadruple this recipe because they will go fast!

The recipe can be found here.

Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add the syrup, melted butter, bourbon (or whiskey), salt, cinnamon, and cayenne to a mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine.

Add the pecans and stir to coat.

Pour the pecans (including any excess liquid from the bowl) onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and stir.  Spread back into an even layer.  Continue to bake in 5-minute increments, stirring every 5 minutes, for an additional 15-20 minutes.  The pecans should appear roasted and deep brown in color, and the liquid should be mostly absorbed.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then break apart any pieces stuck together.  Let finish cooling.

Store in an airtight container or sealed Ziploc bag at room temperature.  So good!

The recipe can be found here.

What do you think of my simple yet festive menu?  I won’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen, can do some of the prep work ahead of time, and will still be able to enjoy the race.  Not sure who I think will win or if I’ll place any bets but the comradery and participation in the event will be enough to make it a fun day.

Happy Derby Day and Happy Cooking!

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