Cinco de Mayo – Lunch with Friends

Not working that day?... invite a few friends over for lunch… I have lots of menu ideas for that…. soup and a salad… and a little dessert… add a Margarita to it… and you have a great little celebration…

What could be better… a day off… an afternoon with good friends and good food… after all… Cinco de Mayo is all about fun and food.

Setting the Mood

Even a small informal lunch with friends can be festive… and not expensive… set the mood with the table… use a bright colored tablecloth or placemats… each place mat can be a different color… pick a bright color that matches all of them… and buy inexpensive paper napkins… you can find them at party supply stores or even Walmart.

Make a quick centerpiece … use a clay pot and buy a cactus… or… find a small sombrero and put that in the middle of the table. Or even make a unique topiary ….

The brightly colored topiary in the photo above is from Craftstylish … very inexpensive and easy to make… check out their website for easy step by step instructions by Jeffrey Rudell.

The Menu

Now here are a few luncheon ideas for you to consider when choosing the menu for your Cinco de Mayo lunch…


Black Bean and Bacon Soup

Salsa Corn Soup
Tortilla Soup

Main Course

Taco Salad

Smoked Turkey Quesadillas


Margarita Ole Bars


Cuervo Frozen Margarita

Classic Margarita
Non-Frozen and Frozen Raspberry Margarita
Non-Frozen and Frozen Peach Margarita
Non-Alcoholic Margarita Punch
Non-Alcoholic Strawberry Margarita

Cinco de Mayo – Family Celebrations

Cinco de Mayo is next week… and unfortunately it is during the week again this year… so revving up the party may not be an option with work or school schedules… but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate.

Get the Family in the Mood!

Your table will look so festive when you serve up terrific Mexican foods on the tableware shown above!

Choose from 9 ounce cups, 10 1/2 inch plates, tablecover, luncheon napkins or 7 inch dessert plates. These can be purchased at ShinDigZ...

But hurry they're already out of the luncheon napkins... an easy solution is pick a bright color and buy a solid color paper napkin that will go with this set... Check out the website for this selection of really attractive and very affordable tableware!

Terrific Menu Ideas

I have lots of ideas for you to consider… starting with Family Celebrations. You can make Cinco de Mayo fun…

Make a special breakfast… no time?... the Breakfast Burritto is perfect for people on the go… make the filling the night before and pop it in the microwave to reheat in the morning..

Make a great family supper celebration with one of the many tasty entrees to choose from… and of course have dessert!

So here are my top picks for Cinco de Mayo Family Celebrations…. Want to see more?

Check out the “Mexican” label or look at the listing in the Cooking Tip of the Day Recipe and Tip Index under Mexican.


Mexican Omelet

Breakfast Buritto

Supper – Main Events

Tex-Mex Meatloaf

Mexican Pizza

Baked Spaghetti – Fiesta Style

Fiesta Beef Enchiladas

Easy Taco Pie

Mexican Mac N Cheese


Mexican Chili Cheese Corn Muffins

Side Dishes

Mexican Salad

Corn and Green Chili Rice


Salsa and Tortilla Chips



Recipe: Burgoo over Baked Garlic Cheese Grits

So just what is burgoo?…. I hadn’t heard of it until I was in the south. It's basically a stew… although many will dispute that… saying it's a soup. It is a Kentucky favorite… and part of the regional list of foods on many Kentucky Derby menus…. Owensboro, Kentucky claims to be the Burgoo Capital of the world…. but many may dispute that too among other things…..

There aren’t many things people agree on when it comes to burgoo… most will agree that it contains meat, vegetables and a thickener… but even the thickener is up for discussion… as for the exact meats and vegetables… well… let’s just say don’t bring the subject up as dinner conversation… you will likely hear many versions of what should be in burgoo…. even cooking methods vary… so it’s basically a recipe free-for-all…. oh and us Yankees… we call it stew.

I did extensive research on burgoo recipes… and took a consensus of the ingredients used… as well as the method… and came up with a recipe… only to be told by Warren… they call it Brunswick Stew here in Brunswick, Georgia…. and actually there is a terrific little restaurant called the Blackwater Grill in nearby St. Simons Island that makes a killer Brunswick stew and… after tasting the burgoo… it was exactly the same as the Brunswick stew I had at Blackwater... Warren was right (just don't tell him..).

Burgoo is often served over grits… plain or Garlic Cheese Grits… and sometimes over mashed potatoes… seems they can’t even agree on that…

The only deviation I made from recipes I found… was I added a bit of tomato paste to thicken the soup-stew… we prefer it stew-like…

This recipe turned out terrific… what I found interesting… is that almost all the recipes I found… and I found many, many recipes… used little or no spice except for salt and pepper and maybe a little garlic powder… instead depending on the flavors of the meats and vegetables to dominant the dish… well all except Emerill… but that wasn’t a surprise.

It was very easy to make and really really good.


I used a combination of pork stew meat and beef stew meat… and a thick boneless chicken breast cut into chunks… a lot of recipes used whole chickens … cooking the chicken then removing the meat and cutting up the cooked chicken…. I did it my way to lessen the fat and the work… I didn’t come up with the method… I find it in several recipes and liked the idea.

Keep the heat low during the cooking… a very slow simmer… and stir it periodically… even so mine stuck on the bottom a bit… so check it often.. you don’t want burned bits in your burgoo. After the initial cooking… this would be ideal to put into a crock pot and allow the crock pot to finish the cooking… which is what I will do next time to lessen the work even more.

I used about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.. I will list it as 1-2 tablespoons … depending on how thick you like your burgoo.

Most recipes that used beans ..used lima beans or butter beans… we are not fans of lima beans… we used butter beans … we find they stand out less than lima beans in dishes.

This recipe serves 6.

I highly recommend you make the Baked Garlic Cheese Grits … it really adds to the dish. I think one thing everyone trying burgoo will agree on… it’s wonderful!

Recipe: Burgoo

All you need:

About ½ lb. beef stew meat
About ½ lb. pork stew meat
About ½ lb. thick boneless skinless chicken breast
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion cut in half then sliced
2 large garlic cloves finely diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 cup diced carrots
1 large green pepper, diced
1 ½ cups frozen butter beans
2 cups frozen corn
1 15 oz. can Hunts petite cut diced tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste (see tips in post)
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (large dice)
Salt and pepper to taste
About 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Baked Garlic Cheese Grits

All you need to do:

In a large Zip Loc bag, combine flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix well.

Dredge the cubed meats in the seasoned flour (you will need to do this in batches.

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.

Quickly sear the dredged meats in the hot oil. Stir to sear all sides of the cubes.

Remove the meat from the pot to a plate and set aside while cooking the onions and garlic.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and heat… add the onions and stir often until onions are almost translucent.

Add the finely diced garlic over the onions and cook for another minute or until onions are completely soft.

Add the beef and chicken stock… stir well ….scraping off the bits of flour off the bottom of the pot.

Return the meat to the pot.

Add all ingredients EXCEPT the potatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil then lower heat and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for 1 hour over low heat. Stir frequently.

NOTE: If the burgoo becomes too thick.. simply add more stock… if it’s too thin add a little more tomato paste.

Add the potatoes and simmer for another hour. Continue to stir frequently.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over Baked Garlic Cheese Grits and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Recipe: The Beaumont Inn’s Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

I found this recipe for Bread Pudding while doing some research for foods that would be good for a Kentucky Derby party menu. The Beaumont Inn’s Executive Chef, Nick Sundberg, shared this recipe with I have an excellent bread pudding recipe I got from my Aunt Sadie… but this recipe was less custard-like than mine so I thought I would give it a try.

The bread pudding had excellent flavor and was really very good. They listed the raisins as optional… I added them… however, I decided the raisins will stay in next time, but the pecans will be left out. I love pecans… but I felt that the flavor of the pecans just wasn’t that evident.. at least not enough to keep them in the recipe.

This pudding recipe uses French bread… and was typical of what you would expect from a good bread pudding but it was a lot lighter than I expected, which was a pleasant surprise… in my opinion though, it really needs a sauce or at least whipped cream (Chantilly Cream) to top it off… I will include the Beaumont Inn’s recipe for Bourbon Sauce that they serve with the bread pudding.

About The Beaumont Inn

Before I get into the recipe… a bit about the historic Beaumont Inn. The Beaumont Inn is Kentucky’s oldest family-run country inn, located in Harrodsburg, Kentucky… near Lexington, in the heart of the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. The inn, built in 1845, inn has a long and rich history… it started out as, Greenville Institute, a school for young ladies owned by Dr. Samuel Mullins.

The beautiful inn at night

After changing ownership a couple of times, it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Glave Goddard in 1917 and was turned into an Inn two years later. It is run today by the fourth and fifth generations of the family…

The parlor room

With all its historic charm, The Beaumont Inn is a “must see” on a trip to Bluegrass country. The inn boasts modern day amenities such as delicious dining in their dining room, a tavern and a spa.

The Old Owl Tavern

Take a look at their website for more information and photos of this fabulous inn.

Tips for the Bread Pudding

The recipe directions say to tear the bread into pieces… my French bread was tough to tear … I just cut it into cubes.

When mixing the cinnamon and sugar, use a small bowl, then using a wire whisk, gently whisk it until the cinnamon is evenly distributed in the sugar.

You are directed to pour the wet ingredients over the bread… I tossed it a few times and then let it sit for about 10 minutes, tossing again after 5 minutes… I wanted the milk mixture to be absorbed as evenly as possible … I had a little milk mixture left in the bottom of the bowl after transferring the ingredients to the baking dish… I poured it over the bread… I recommend you do this so your bread pudding is moist and not dry in spots.

This recipe is very easy… I hope you give it a try.

Recipe: The Beaumont Inn’s Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

All you need:

1 pound French bread
3 ¼ cups whole milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup pecans *see post for notes
¼ cup raisins (optional) *see post for notes
Bourbon sauce (optional)
Chantilly cream (optional)

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the French bread into cubes and dump them in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. *See post for tips

Pour the cinnamon and sugar over the bread cubes and toss until evenly distributed (you will have some on the bottom of the bowl).

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Then add the milk and vanilla. Whisk them until well blended.

Add the egg-milk mixture to the bread cubes tossing until well absorbed. *see post for tips

Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking oil spray (butter flavor preferred).
Spread half the bread mixture in the baking dish.

Sprinkle with pecans and raisins.

Top with the rest of the bread cubes.

Pour any of the egg-milk mixture remaining in the bowl, over the top of the bread cubes.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes or until lightly brown. (I wouldn’t recommend baking longer than 30 minutes, otherwise your pudding will dry out).

Serve warm with Bourbon sauce or Chantilly Cream.

Recipe: The Beaumont Inn’s Bourbon Sauce for Bread Pudding

This Bourbon Sauce is delicious on the Inn’s Bread Pudding… it adds just the right amount of flavor to the bread pudding.

Please see the post… The Beaumont Inn’s Bread Pudding … for the pudding recipe and a little background on the historic Beaumont Inn located in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

So here is the recipe for this delicious sauce… a perfect topping for their bread pudding.

Recipe: The Beaumont Inn’s Bourbon Sauce for Bread Pudding

All you need:

1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon Bourbon
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

All you need to do:

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Boil for 1 minute.

Serve warm.

Kentucky Derby Brunch Ideas

I come from Thoroughbred country… not Kentucky Thoroughbred country … but still Thoroughbred country… the thing about living were thoroughbreds reign supreme is that the appreciation for these fabulous animals is a way of life. I live in upstate New York… Saratoga Springs… racing season is from the last week in July to Labor Day… it is the August place to be. While I like to wager… I really don’t go for that as much as to watch the horses… they are truly magnificent… poetry in motion.

The Saratoga track is restored … they’ve taken great care to preserve the history and tradition that is horse racing…freshly painted white… wooden grand stand… striped awnings… beautifully manicured gardens… fountains.. and those magnificent horses… just an absolutely fantastic day outing…so I have a special place in my heart for thoroughbred racing.

Best of all… on those dewy early mornings in August… you can go to the clubhouse for a terrific breakfast and watch as they exercise the horses… a definite “must do” on your list of things to do. I will definitely blog more about that area in upcoming blogs… but for now.. it’s all about the Derby…

I’ve been to Churchill Downs.. on a business trip that happened to be during their racing… a vendor that flew my boss and myself out to Louisville to view their operations.. knew we had never been to Churchill Downs and also knew we lived where track season is a main event… so they took us to an afternoon at the races… we ate in the clubhouse… a fabulous buffet… and got to see the race from a fabulous vantage point… we had our special tellers in the club house… the dining room overlooked the track… even though at the time Churchill Downs was undergoing a major renovation… it was a very special afternoon.

Tickets to Derby Day are difficult to get … so it’s nice to watch the action at home… invite some friends over… and have a lovely brunch buffet. The post time for the first race is at 10:30… the actual “Run for the Roses”… the Kentucky Derby Race is set for post time of 6:24… check the official Kentucky Derby site for updates.

So here are my Brunch suggestions for Kentucky Derby Day…

Grand Mimosas

Bloody Marys

The Early Times Mint Julep – The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby

Asparagus and Crab Quiche

Cheddar and Chive Scrambled Eggs in a Puff Pastry Shell with Garlicy Cream Sauce


Bacon Cheese Fritatta

Baked Ham with Rum and Coke Glaze or Jack Daniel's Glazed Ham

Baked Garlic Cheese Grits

Peach Upside-Down Muffins

Corn Fritters.. serve these with honey...

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon and Shallot Dressing

Peach Gelato


Sweet Tea

Fresh Lemonade

Recipe: Peach Upside-Down Muffins

Peach Upside-Down muffins… what a great name….I love all things peach… so I just had to try this recipe.

I bought a new book recently …. and decided to try some of the recipes…. if this first recipe is any indication… I got myself a stellar bargain… I found the book at a book outlet… it’s called Muffins Galore by Catherine Atkinson… this recipe was terrific… a little tricky to get out of the pan… but worth the effort… they look and taste fabulous.

I do have a small pet peeve about the recipe though… I cannot understand for the life of me… why people write confusing directions… or make the directions a pain to do… we need to make it easy for home cooks to use these recipes..

The recipe says to divide the butter and brown sugar evenly between the twelve muffin cups of the tin… easy enough …right? Not so fast… the recipe lists the brown sugar as ½ a cup…. and the butter as 1/3 of a cup…. nice… now what? You are left to either eyeball it… as Rachael Ray likes to say… which is not usually recommended when baking… or figure it out… okay I admit it isn’t rocket science… BUT wait… well… let’s do the brown sugar first…

A ½ a cup of brown sugar … ½ cup has 8 tablespoons… ahhh but the pan has 12 muffin cups…. So you take it a step further… each tablespoon equals 3 teaspoons… so… 8 tablespoons is equal to 24 teaspoons… now that you can divide by 12… so you need to put 2 teaspoons of brown sugar in each muffin cup… not advanced algebra … but why the heck couldn’t she just say that in the recipe… is it so hard to say drop 2 teaspoons of brown sugar in each muffin cup?.... I happen to know the conversions because I blog almost every day and need to do the calculation when adapting recipes to serving amounts… but the average person would need to take the time to look it up.

Now for the butter… the best way I can tell you to evenly divide a 1/3 of a cup butter into 12 muffin cups… is… cut the stick of butter where the 1/3 of a cup mark is on the wrapper… then cut the 1/3 cup stick down the middle… keeping the two halves together… now cut it into thirds across the width … then cut each third in half… (you will need to eyeball this)…

To evenly divide the batter… use a large serving spoon to drop the batter into the muffin cups. Fill each with one spoonful then go back through adding a little more to each until the batter is used up… they will end up being about ¾ full.

The recipe was extremely easy to make… but as I mentioned before… very tricky to get them all out of the muffin tin. I have a couple of tips to help you.


You must use a non-stick muffin tin… I used one and they still stuck a bit… they all eventually came out… but most stuck at first. Use your best quality non-stick muffin tin.

DO NOT use paper muffin cups to line the muffin tin.

Grease the muffin tin well… I used margarine… grease it heavily.

Let the muffins cool as directed for 10 minutes… then turn the tin over onto a large cutting board… I used my large white one that can go in the dishwasher… it will get sticky. Tap the muffin cups gently… if any come out… quickly pick them up and flip them over…. place them on a plate peach side up… now for the rest of them..

Carefully run a thin knife around the sides to loosen them.. flip them over… take the ones that come out and place on the plate… repeat until they all are out… tapping and running your knife around the edge… eventually they all come out…

A number of my peaches stayed in the pan… use a small fork and get them out and place them on top of the muffins in the indentation the peach left on the muffin… they all go in easily and stay.

The recipe says to serve warm… which is okay.. but as with sticky buns… they are easier to handle cool and taste just as good as warm ones.

I followed the recipe pretty much as written in the book except I converted some of the amounts for you and included more specific instructions. The original recipe calls for superfine sugar… I used regular sugar.

I used “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light” margarine.

They look really terrific on a pretty serving plate or cake plate… perfect for a brunch buffet.

If you like peaches and like sticky buns… this recipe is for you…

Recipe: Peach Upside-Down Muffins

All you need:

1/3 cup cold butter, divided
½ cup light brown sugar
1 (14 oz.) can peach slices in juice, drained
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons margarine, melted

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place a small strainer over a small bowl and drain the peaches. Set aside.

Heavily grease a non-stick 12 cup muffin tin. Set aside.

Cut your cold butter into 12 even pieces and drop one piece in each muffin cup. *See post for how to cut the butter into even pieces.

Drop 2 teaspoons of light brown sugar into each muffin cup.

Put the muffin tin into a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until butter and sugar have melted.

Remove from the oven.

Add 1 slice of peach to each cup… making sure they are laying over.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt… mix well.

In a mixing bowl beat the two eggs lightly. Add the sour cream and melted margarine and beat until smooth.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until just combined. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter on top of the peach slices in the muffin cups, dividing it evenly. The muffin cups will be about ¾ full. *See post for tips on how to do this.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes (I baked mine for 25 minutes) or until muffins have risen and are golden brown.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Then invert muffins onto a cutting board… flip them over and place on a serving plate… *See post for tips on removing the muffins.

Recipe: Cuban Picadillo

I came across a recipe for Cuban Picadillo a number of years ago in soft cover cookbook by Pillsbury called Cooking with Ground Beef and set it aside and forgot about it until recently when Warren was joking about the foods we ate as kids…. he said they would ask his Mom … what’s for dinner?… and the answer sometimes was… something with ground beef… I had to laugh because I remember telling my son just that same thing when he was growing up.

I can’t even count the number of times I took out ground beef to defrost figuring I’d come up with something for dinner…. and I did.. usually inspired by a recipe I had seen and altered to fit the ingredients I had on hand or needed to use up…. and so many a recipe was born.

According to Wikipedia, Picadillo is a traditional dish in many Latin American countries. It’s made with ground meat, usually beef, (but often made with pork and veal also) tomatoes and a variety of other ingredients that vary by region.

Many recipes use green olives… I’m not a fan of green olives so I didn’t use them… also they were not in the original recipe I altered. Picadillo is usually served over rice or used as a filling as in tacos. So I did some further research and looked at various types of Picadillo recipes… Cuban, Mexican and Spanish… and compared ingredients…

I looked at the recipe I had saved and it sounded pretty good except I thought it could use a few extra ingredients … so out of the array of additional ingredients I had found in my search… I chose to add chopped onion, chopped red and green red pepper and garlic cloves. The result was outstanding… a terrific weeknight meal.


I served the Picadillo over white rice mixed with black beans. I used a can of black beans, drained and rinsed them… then I microwaved them for about 6 minutes on high to cook them a little. I made the white rice according to package instructions (4 servings). When the rice was done cooking… I mixed the black beans with it… the can of beans was just the right about to mix with 4 servings of rice.

I chopped the onion and garlic together in my mini chopper… so it was well mixed together.

I was leary of adding the raisins… it just sounded odd to me… but I decided to try it … since virtually every recipe uses raisins (the dark variety)…. I’m glad I did… the slight heat from the other ingredients went so well with the slight sweetness of the raisins… a really nice contrast… so I would recommend you try them.

Chopped green onions are another ingredient I would definitely recommend keeping in … they add a nice fresh and sharp onion flavor… it really perks the dish up. Use both the green and white parts of the green onion.

I hope you try this wonderful dish.

Recipe: Cuban Picadillo

All you need:

1 lb. ground lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup raisins
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
Cooked white rice
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 green onions, chopped

All you need to do:

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Drain

Add the onions, garlic and peppers to the skillet. Stir well. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the cumin, salt and red pepper flakes, mix well.

Add the tomatoes, raisins, cilantro and lime juice, mix well.

Bring skillet to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cover.

Simmer for ten minutes.

Prepare the white rice according to package directions.

Drain and rinse the black beans. Place in a small microwaveable dish and microwave on high for about 6 minutes. Set aside.

When rice has cooked, mix the black beans with the rice. Set aside.

To serve, place a helping of rice and beans on a plate. Scoop a serving of Picadillo over the rice.

Sprinkle with green onions.

Serve immediately.

Recipe: Kentucky Hot Browns

As I was looking through my files of saved recipes for the Kentucky Derby… I made a note to include this wonderful recipe for Kentucky Hot Browns…

So just what is a Kentucky Hot Brown… or Hot Brown?…. Click over to my post about the History of the Hot Brown to find out all about it and the Famous Hotel it is named for.

I actually made the original recipe… I found it quite rich and way too filling… so I adapted the recipe a bit to tone down the richness…. If you prefer all the heavy cream and the huge pile of turkey… by all means… go to The Brown Hotel’s website for the original recipe.


I made the bacon in the oven … as I love to do… here is the post if you need instructions on How to Make Bacon in the Oven.

I made the sauce using whole milk instead of cream… I also made less of it for the sandwiches…

I used about half of the turkey they used… the original recipe calls for 7 ounces per sandwich… I didn’t list a quantity in the recipe… use as much or as little as you like.

The original recipe uses “Texas Toast”… all Texas toast is … is an extra thick slice of bread (about double the thickness of normal sandwich bread)… so I took two slices of normal white sandwich bread and stacked them.

This sandwich can definitely be prepped and the sauce made ahead… and just popped under the broiler at the last minute… a very easy sandwich to make for quests.

This recipe makes four servings.

I hope you try this outstanding sandwich!

Recipe: Kentucky Hot Browns

All you need:

2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups whole milk
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese,divided
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sliced Roast Turkey Breast
8 slices white sandwich bread or 4 slices Texas Toast, crusts removed
8 slices bacon, cooked crispy
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
Sprinkling of paprika
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

All you need to do:

Cook the bacon until crispy. Set aside.

Preheat the oven set to broil.

In a medium size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the flour and cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly (you want the flour taste to cook off).

Add the milk, whisking vigorously until all lumps are out and mixture has thickened and is smooth.

Add ¼ cup of cheese and stir until the cheese has melted… remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Remove the crusts from the bread (2 slices of regular sandwich bread or 1 slice Texas Toast).

Place bread in an oven safe dishes (individual dishes for each person).
Put the desired amount of turkey on the bread.

Place ½ of a Roma tomato on either side of the bread and turkey.

Spoon sauce over each sandwich.

Sprinkle each sandwich with a little cheese (make sure you save some for garnish.. see photo).

Place dishes under broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble.

Remove from the broiler and cross two strips of bacon on each sandwich.

Sprinkle with paprika and chopped parsley.

Serve immediately.

History of the Hot Brown

So just what is a Kentucky Hot Brown… or Hot Brown?…. it’s a wonderful hot sandwich reminiscent of the Croque Monsieur and the Madame Croque recipes I recently posted. All three sandwiches are covered in a Mornay Sauce. The Hot Brown makes a slightly different Mornay Sauce than the French sandwiches… it uses heavy cream… and the cheese used is Pecorino Romano instead of a Gruyere and Parmesan mix. The sandwich also uses turkey instead of ham.

The history of the Hot Brown dates back to the 1920’s when The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky drew huge crowds in the evening for their dinner dances. In the early morning hours, after the dinner dance, many guests drifted over to the hotel’s restaurant to eat… they became bored with the normal breakfast fare … so the Chef … Fred Schmidt… created a hot turkey sandwich with a Mornay Sauce. It was an instant hit… and so began this legendary sandwich.

This hotel almost defies an adequate description… it is located in downtown Louisville… and is a treasured historical landmark. It is on the National Register of Historical Places. It was built in 1923 and at what was an astronomical cost back then of 4 million dollars. It is a truly grand hotel… with its fabulous architectural details such as the ornate hand-painted plaster relief ceilings, intricately carved railings and crown moldings… it has been restored back to its original grandeur but hosts modern amenities for today’s world. It is an experience in and of itself.

You can go to this fabulous hotel’s website and look over the history and their pictures… and the site also contains the original Hot Brown Recipe.

The Hot Brown recipe has been featured in cookbooks, magazines and even on TV…. a truly famous Kentucky tradition.

I must tell you the original recipe is very rich… the hotel’s description says… the sandwich is covered in a light Mornay Sauce… there is nothing light about this Mornay Sauce…. with heavy cream, butter and cheese…. as well as… the recipe uses a QUART of heavy cream for two sandwiches…. not to mention the original recipe specifies 7 ounces of turkey per sandwich!

A few years back, when I worked for a large company that utilized a vendor based out of Louisville, I was taken out to eat and while it wasn’t at the Brown Hotel… the sandwich I ate was definitely a Hot Brown.. I vividly remember it… I remember the host telling me it was a famous sandwich… and I also remember thinking I would explode if I ate another bite!

So if you’re planning a trip to Louisville… make a stop at the Brown Hotel…. and bring your appetites if you plan on eating the original version of this fantastic sandwich!

Please note... the above photos are from the Brown Hotel website... and the pictured Hot Brown is their photo as well.

Kentucky Derby Day Celebrations

I can’t believe it’s been a year already… how time flies… seems like just yesterday that I was writing a Kentucky Derby Menu Idea post…. and here it’s time again for another one.

The Derby is always the first Saturday in May… so this year it’s May 1st …. just around the corner. To prep for this year’s post… I looked at last year’s… a darn good list of foods for you to consider for your Kentucky Derby Celebration…. if I must say so.. and I must.

So here’s the list… from the old list and some new ones added… and more to come in the coming days… so stay tuned…

For Starters

Boursin Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms are great with anything and these will disappear before you know it.

Benedictine Cucumber Tea Sandwiches are a tradition.. and so easy to make…

Deviled Eggs are terrific with Tea Sandwiches... and best of all this is one recipe you can make ahead...

The Main Event

Ham as the main meat is perfect for this kind of event… and it requires little work. Baked Ham with Rum and Coke Glaze or Jack Daniel's Glazed Ham are perfect for this.

Popovers are a terrific accompaniment to this wonderful selection of foods.

Southern Corn Pudding is a great go-together with ham. A truly delicious accompaniment.

Green Beans with Garlic Shallots and Red Peppers

Scalloped Potatoes is another terrific side dish to go with ham.

Asparagus with a Classic Hollandaise Sauce adds a great color to the buffet and the flavor is wonderful. Just trim the hard ends off a bunch of asparagus and rinse them. Set them in a microwaveable dish.. and about 2 tablespoons water and cover with waxed paper…. A quick nuke on high for about 7 minutes or until tender…and voila! …. they’re done… drain off the liquid and drizzle Hollandaise Sauce over them…

The Finale

Amaretto Peach Tart Served as a large tart and sliced or as individual tartlets... this will definitely be a hit... the flavors blend so well with the rest of the menu.

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Tart is always a great ending to a fabulous meal… serve it with fresh whipped Chantilly Cream….

Amazing Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting The name says it all... these are truly amazing... they will make your dessert table look absolutely fabulous!


The Early Times Mint Julep – The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby

Fresh Lemonade

Iced Sweet Tea

All these foods are truly delicious and not difficult to make… and best of all they can all be prepped ahead… make as much as you can completely ahead and the rest will be a snap.

Looking for More Recipes?

If you are looking for more recipes click the "Older Posts" link to page back to older posts or go to the archives in the right column. The list of labels at the bottom in the right column will help you find specific types of recipes or try our search engine at the top and search by name or ingredient.

What's more comforting on a cold day than Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup? .. and it's so easy to make!

Chicken Noodle Soup