Every recipe you need to throw a Kentucky Derby Party

It’s all about the Run for the Roses here in Kentucky these days! I learned this week that over 160,000 decked out gents and ladies with hats beyond your wildest imagination, show up for the big event.  And it’s not just the hats, horses and spectators that are part of the tradition, but some very specific Derby food dishes too. Between the Kentucky Oaks and the Derby itself, there are 127,000 mint juleps served at Churchill Downs! And don’t worry if you can’t make it to the Derby, there are plenty of parties going on all over the state. If you’ve never hosted a Kentucky Derby party, then maybe this is your year. Even if it’s just a special menu for the family and a few friends, I’ve got you covered today with a few favorites for your own Kentucky Derby Party. But know that once you try some of these Kentucky-inspired favorites, you may just want to serve them all year long!

The Southern Living Derby Day Party  is a guide to all things Derby party, along with a few fashion tips too!

Appetizers and Main Dishes

  • Sliders are always a great party option because they’re easy to hold, can feed a crowd and there are so many flavor options.  I love Chicken Cordon Bleu sliders, though they aren’t a traditional Derby food!
  • Kentucky Beer Cheese is pretty much exactly what its name implies and is another staple that you’ll hear about frequently here in the Commonwealth.
  • “Fried” Chicken is always a nice idea, especially when it’s a Chick-fil-a copycat chicken tender, and don’t forget your favorite dipping sauces too!

  • The Kentucky Hot Brown Bake is a new twist on one of the first sandwiches you’ll be introduced to here in the bluegrass. It doesn’t take but a few bites to see why the combination of turkey, bacon, tomato and cheesy goodness is such a popular request!
  • Country Ham & Biscuits are a classic and this recipe from myrecipes.com suggests offering mustard blends and flavored butter to make them even tastier.

  • And what’s a derby without a spectacular hat? This Derby Cheese Hat from myrecipes.com uses cheese rounds and is sure to be crowned the favorite hat of the entire Derby when served with an assortment of crackers and maybe even some special jams and jellies.

Side Dishes

  • Scooped and chilled Watermelon always seems to be a favorite for any meal, or snack for that matter, as the weather gets warmer. It’s just as refreshing as a glass of water, but has much more flavor! If you feel adventurous, kick it up a notch with a bit of chili powder!
  • My Layered Coleslaw uses coleslaw instead of lettuce and makes for a crispier version of the traditional seven-layer salad.
  • These Goat Cheese Biscuits were inspired by those served at Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and are such a delightful combination of herbs and goat cheese inside and buttery Parmesan topping.


  • These Sweet Tea popsicles have all the refreshing flavor of an Arnold Palmer, but in a popsicle. Perfect for a warm race day!

  • You obviously can’t have a Derby party without a Hat shaped Cake, and with its fresh flowers and ribbon embellishments, you don’t even have to be an expert cake decorator.
  • To round out the dessert section how about some Red Velvet “Run for the Roses” cupcakes? This recipe was originally created for one of Kentucky’s other great loves, the UK Wildcats. Simply switch out the blue food coloring for red and voila, you have “Run for the Roses” cupcakes!
  • Individual pies make in mini pie pans or even hand pies are great for large gatherings when you don’t want to be too fussy about place settings and all that formality.

  • Did you know that the name “Derby Pie” is actually copyrighted? It’s true! When a friend gave me her Kentucky Nut Pie version I just had to try it. It was definitely a winner in our house and disappeared in no time!
  • There are lots of recipes for Bourbon balls and those are a big deal here in Kentucky. I’ve heard of several people who include a Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour while they are here for the derby. One of the favorite places for such treats in town is Old Kentucky Chocolates. It’s a good idea to include a few pre-made menu items sometimes when you’re throwing a party, so why not some of these!


  • Mint Juleps are another Derby tradition, and if bourbon is your thing, Southern Living has this  Mint Julep Sweet Tea recipe. If, on the other hand, bourbon isn’t your thing then you can leave that out and enjoy a sweet mint tea.

  • Kids of all ages are sure to enjoy these Frozen Pink Lemonades Of course if pink lemonade isn’t their favorite flavor or color, then just replace it with their favorite tea, juice or soft drink.

In case you haven’t marked your calendar yet, post time for the Derby is scheduled for 6:34 pm, Eastern time. Be sure to fill your plate with goodies before that, because if you step out for 2 minutes you’ll likely miss the entire thing!\

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EASY Game Day Recipes You will LOVE

Everywhere you turn, there’s talk about the big game coming up. And naturally, everyone has their opinion on who the best team is and who is going to take home the trophy.

And me? Well, I’m not really a football fan. Unlike my family, I am only casually interested in who gets the prize. I might not be the game’s biggest fan, but I am definitely a huge fan of anything that gives me a  reason to make up a bunch of fun food and snacks and get everyone together to enjoy it.  And game nights, especially big game day nights, are the perfect excuse for fun food!

So in honor of game days now and all year, I thought I’d share some of our favorite game day snack recipes with you.

One of the common denominators between all of these recipes is they are finger-food-friendly, making them perfect for snacking and watching at the same time. Those are two big requirements in our house for game day snacks!

There are also a couple real centerpiece items for the big game day. They look hard, but they’re super easy to put together and they are the talk of the party when I pull them out.

Whatever team you are rooting for, I hope you enjoy a good time with your family and friends…and some good eats too! May the best team win.


12 Easy Game Day Recipes

7 Layer End Zone Dip – Perfect centerpiece for your favorite chips!

Sweet Heat Chex Mix-Snacking doesn’t get better than this mix. Plus you use your slow cooker to make it!

15 Minute Italian Nachos-these loaded fusion nachos are AMAZING.

15 Minute BBQ Chicken Nachos-BRING ON THE BBQ! We love these.

7 Layer Hot Italian Dip-This seven layer dip has all the cheese and the flavors you want to never stop eating.

Chipotle Chile Chicken Nachos-LOVE at first bite.

Homemade Beer Cheese-creative Kentucy favorite!

Easy snackadium for Superbowl- THIS is the piece to beat. All your favorite snacks in one place.

Pesto Bruschetta Spread-Best spread for crusty bread or crackers!

Baked Potato Dip-comfort food in dip form, right here.

Basil Tomato Dip- crackers make this a winning combo!

Luau Meatballs- bite sized and perfect for any party or game night. 


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10 Graduation Party Menus Plus Desserts and Snacks!

It’s that time of year when our graduates take the stage with caps and gowns and march off to get their diplomas and take on the world! Graduating is a great milestone and it’s something that should be celebrated.

But planning a graduation party menu can feel a bit overwhelming. Feeding a crowd can be a lot of work, and picking a menu that pleases everyone isn’t always easy. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

Whether you are looking for a casual feast in the backyard, a pizza party, or a special sit down family dinner after your Grad gets home, these ten menu ideas will inspire you with some fun ideas and make planning your meal easy and fun. There’s plenty of different kinds of meals to fit all kinds of personalities and preferences, and I must say that they all have me drooling.

Don’t forget to read to the bottom for all the dessert and cookie ideas! Instead of adding one idea to each menu, you can pick your guest of honor’s favorite…or make it a dessert bar and serve a few!

Easy and Casual BBQ Feast

Super easy BBQ Peach Pulled Pork in the slow cooker, or any other easy slow cooker BBQ sandwich for that matter!

The pork can be made ahead of time and frozen, then heated in the crockpot.  The baked beans cook in the crockpot and are easy to put together.  The only thing that will have to be done the day of the party is tossing the dressing on the Asian Broccoli Salad.

Pair this with favorite sides like these:



asian broccoli salad done

Asian Broccoli Salad

Add desserts and probably potato chips and perhaps some cut fruit!

Grill Out

Get out the grill and make it a backyard party!  Serve any of these and your crowd will be raving.

And when you pair these smoky meats with some classic sides, you have the makings of a winning combination!

Plus, you can get more backyard barbecue side dish ideas in this post here!

Nice Family Dinner

If you are thinking a nice sit-down dinner at home after the ceremony is the way to go, these recipes are mouthwatering and so easy!

italian seasoned salt pork tenderloin done

To make this meal easy and special, pair the tenderloin or chicken with:

Enchilada Buffet

Make a buffet of a couple big pans of different kinds of Enchiladas and let everyone serve themselves!

Some of our family favorites include:

white enchiladas

enchiladas with chili-tomato sauce

Serve these with fresh things like:

Need more side dish inspiration? Check out this post about what to serve with Enchiladas!

Build-Your-Own Fajitas or Tacos

Cook up meat in your crock pot or instant pot. Set out the meat, grilled veggies and a plethora of favorite toppings and let everyone build their own fajita or taco!

You could also grill up some chicken breasts in advance or buy a few rotisserie chickens and have them all prepped and ready to go for the big day to make one of these tasty options.

Serve them up with:

Teens Party Menu

Convert this snackadium into a teen’s dream meal! Both of these strombolis were part of a meal I made for super bowl, but with a few little tweaks it’ll be a great “main course” for your graduate and his or her friends.

Keep it simple and add a variety of chips and dips, chilled drinks and cookies and candy.  Anything they can grab, munch and head back out to dance or talk with friends.

Sandwich and Salads Buffet

Make up some easy sandwich trays that your crowd can pick and choose from!

  • Get a bag King’s Hawaiian rolls or other small buns to make a plate of small ham sandwiches and a bag of croissant rolls for Chicken Salad Sandwiches. You can get Virginia Brand ham in the deli section and have it shaved.
  • We love this easy Peach Chutney Chicken salad for sandwiches. So delicious and moist!

Serve these with a plate of assorted cheese slices, mayonnaise and mustard and almost homemade pickle slices.


Round out your menu with an easy pasta salad, a veggie tray with dip and some chips.


Pizza Party

Whip up a bunch of homemade pizza and make a party out of it! You can make this easy dough in advance, and even make super easy awesome pizza sauce. Or buy your favorite premade crust and sauce and top the pizzas in any way you like. Here’s a few of our favorite pizza combos.

Serve this with a veggie tray with ranch dip, and a fresh fruit tray and fruit dip and some favorite chilled drinks.  I love root beer floats as a dessert option with pizza!

Spaghetti Feast

Cook up a bunch of pasta and serve it with one of these easy and delicious homemade sauces and meatballs! These meatballs are freezer friendly so you can make up a big batch in advance and they are absolutely delicious!

Round out the menu with garlic toast and an easy salad! Here are a couple more side dish ideas, too.

Brats or Dogs Your Way

Cook up a bunch of dogs and brats on the grill or stove top and let your people go to town topping them however they like.

You can serve this with:

Add a bowl of chilled melon balls or just an easy plate of watermelon slices and cantaloupe chunks.


Want to have a few snack foods on hand for easy munching? Here are a couple of our favorite snack mixes and other snack ideas that are really easy to make!

Dessert Ideas

Clearly no celebration is complete without dessert! Or better yet – desserts! Make one or more of these and your graduate will feel like the party is complete.


peanut butter fluff pie done

lemon cheesecake dessert slice

tuxedo bars done 2

blue velvet cupcakes 2

School color cupcakesBlue Velvet Cupcakes, Red Velvet, Green Velvet, Orange Velvet, Purple Velvet

Here’s a handy tip on how to cut cake to feed a crowd!


Narrowing down your favorite recipes to include in your menu is sure to be easier than choosing a college major these days. Especially since any of them will leave you at the top of the class when it comes to a graduation party!

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Top 10 Foods for July 4th Celebrations

berry shortcake

Doesn’t 4th of July seem like it should be the smack-dab middle of summer?  How is it that we’re already at this point?  Summer is going entirely too fast! So, let’s just savor it while we can.  And while we’re savoring how about my top 10 foods for July 4th celebrations? You’re welcome!

The Top 10 Foods for July 4th Celebrations

1.  BBQ Something, anything really! But I would recommend these …

Burgers are classic.  Try the World’s Best Burger.

Or go for chicken instead. BBQ Pepper Jack Chicken is delish.

Check out my Secret to BBQing Chicken Legs on the Grill if you want to be able to hand everyone a drumstick.

2.  Potato Salad is always a must

There are a million ways to make it, but  Here’s my version (which is really my mom’s version). Clearly, it’s a favorite at our house, and July 4th just wouldn’t be the same without it!

3.  And don’t forget the Baked Beans

I love this slow cooker recipe for Homemade Baked Beans with onions and bacon! And the slow cooker does most of the work so you don’t have to! Win-win.

4.  Not the same old Coleslaw

This Slaw with Tomato, Red Onion and Jalepeno from Micha at Cookin’ Mimi has a nice little kick to it that will have you coming back for more.

It really doesn’t matter what the occasion, this Hawaiian Cole Slaw never lasts long! At all!

Quick Cole Slaw is perfect for getting to the lake or park or wherever your festivities are being held and not missing a bit of the fun!

5.  Berry Desserts are always a big hit

There’s the blue of Blueberry Cobbler, or the red of Cherry Cobbler.

Or a combination of the two in this Peach and Blackberry Pie.

And then there’s everyone’s favorite Strawberry Shortcake, or is it Strawberry Pie? Either way, you can’t go wrong with a berry dessert on Independence Day!

6.  Ice Cream is even better when it’s homemade!

Oh, how I love ice cream.  If it’s included in your menu for July 4th, there be sure to check out these Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream as well as links to some scrumptious recipes.

Did you know that you can make your own Buster Bars? How fun would this be for getting the kids involved in the festivities!

You might also try Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches for even the youngest of sous chefs to refine their culinary skills.

7.  Something Red, White and Blue because it’s our birthday, America!

If it’s some tasty red, white and blue that you’re wanting to include in your menu, then here’s a great round-up of patriotic looking food on Living Locurto.

8.  Something Munchy

Try Butterscotch Snack Mix with the saltiness of pretzels and the sweetness of butterscotch chips. Yum!

This Citrus Puppy Chow sounds quite a bit different than the usual, but it’s a refreshingly fruity mid-summer treat.

9.  Something S’more-ish?

S’mores Pie, perchance? For those celebrations when the only fire you want to enjoy is sparklers, but you still want the taste of s’mores.

10.  A July 4th Celebration isn’t complete without Watermelon!

4th of July without watermelon is just wrong!  Try kicking it up a notch (or 3) with chili powder. Seriously, you just might be surprised at how much you like it!

Happy Independence Day!  What are your plans for the long weekend?

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