Derby Day Desserts

As you might have noticed from some of my UK basketball themed posts (Blue & White muffins, UK basketball cake, Blue & White cookies), my husband and I are Kentucky born and raised. We no longer live in the Bluegrass State, though, and there are some things we miss. No one around here has an appreciation for "My Old Kentucky Home" or UK basketball! We moved North and no longer can get Zaxby's or sweet tea (check out my peach sweet tea recipe here). There are tons of other things as well including Ale-8-One, Missy's Pies, local spots in our old town of Lexington, and KY Derby pie. 

Now if you are a Kentuckian, horse fan, or sports fan, that last one might have caught your attention. The 140th KY Derby is this coming Saturday! Neither my husband or I have been to the Derby, its on our list of things to do. While the Derby may be known for horses, hats, and Millionaire's Row, there are a couple treats that are also synonymous with the day - KY Derby pie and Mint Juleps.

While I've never had a Mint Julep, I do enjoy Kentucky Derby pie. You may also know it as "That Day in May" pie, Kentucky pie, May Day pie, or even just Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan pie. Whatever you call it, the pie is delicious! It's fitting that both Mint Julep and Kentucky Derby pie feature another Kentucky classic - bourbon. I decided to look around online and found recipes for the classics, along with other Mint Julep and Derby pie inspired desserts!

  • KY Derby Pie cupcakes - These cupcakes are from yours truly, they are butter pecan chocolate chip cupcakes with pecan pie topping and whipped cream! I even topped them with some Derby inspired fondant decor. (My version omits the Bourbon, but you could add that in if you want!)
  • Mint Julep cupcakes - This Baker Chick cupcake recipe is made from batter flavored with mint extract and Bourbon, and topped with a a Bourbon/mint buttercream.
  • Mint Julep sugar cookies - Good Clean Fun's recipe is for a Bourbon infused shortbread cookie, topped with a Bourbon mint icing.
  • Mint Julep Kisses cookies - If Bourbon isn't your thing, check out this simpler Mint Julep cookie recipe that just focuses on the mint flavor of the iconic drink.
  • Mint Julep scones - These scones from Fake Food Free are a bit of a mix of the two iconic Derby desserts, they contain Bourbon, pecans, and mint!
  • KY Derby Pie bars - Another Derby Pie inspired dessert features a shortbread crust with Derby pie filling. The SoHo blog recipe sounds scrumptious!
  • Mint Julep brownies - These brownies from Noble Pig are amped up with bourbon and mint extract. They have a nod to Derby pie as well, since they are served with brown sugar candied pecans!
The Classics
  • KY Derby pie - You can't go wrong with a classic! This Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan pie recipe is from the newest member of the Food Network, Kentucky native Damaris Phillips.
  • Mint Julep - Another Damaris Phillips classic Derby party recipe. I'm pretty sure Damaris, a Louisville native, knows a thing or two about Derby classics! Not a Bourbon drinker? Try this Mocktail version.
Enjoy these dishes and let me know if you try them out for a Derby party!

Rainbow Cupcakes

I seem to go through waves for cake/cupcake orders. I'll get quite a few all at once, and then I hit a lull without any orders. It had been a while since I've done a cake (my last one was my niece's art themed cake!). But, I've had two projects in the past week, with a couple more coming soon! One of my favorite parts about the process is brainstorming after getting a theme for the party. Who doesn't love an excuse to browse Pinterest?! My job tends to be more left brain, analytical work, so it's nice to tap into my creative side when planning cakes!

As I mentioned, I've had a couple projects lately. The first order I had was for rainbow cupcake toppers. My boss' daughter turned 3, and I was excited to make cupcakes for their celebration! Unfortunately, I also had my first cupcake transporting issue...someone pulled out in front of me and when I slammed on my brakes a few cupcakes flipped over in the carrier. Thankfully, though, the toppers helped hide the issue and the cupcakes still looked cute. 

When we were talking about the cupcakes, the birthday girl's mom mentioned she liked rainbows. I thought that would make adorable toppers! I used rolled out ropes of colored fondant to create the rainbow, and balls of white fondant for the clouds. The toppers were easy to make, and my boss' daughter loved them. Here's how I made them:

  • Start with colored fondant, or dye fondant red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple
  • Roll out the colored fondant into thin ropes

  • Form the ropes into a rainbow shape and cut the fondant

  • Add a small amount of water in between the ropes of fondant
  • Roll out white fondant into balls for clouds, use a row of 3 and one of two for each side of the rainbow
  • Attach the clouds with a small dab of water
  • Let dry a couple hours

Ancho Chile Fries

If you've stopped by my blog this week, you've seen me share some delicious Bobby Flay recipes. Last weekend my husband and I made some burgers we previously had at Bobby's Burger Palace. To complete the meal, we made his Southwestern fries we had eaten at another restaurant of his - Mesa Grill. The fries are seasoned with Kosher salt and spicy Ancho chile. If you know much about Bobby Flay, you know he uses a lot of Ancho chile!

Not only are the fries deliciously spiced, but they are also perfectly crispy. The trick is to soak them in water for a while to remove some of the starch, and also to double fry them! These are the best fries we've made so far, I love the kick from the ancho chile.

Here's how we made the fries.

Ancho Chile Fries ingredients:
  • 2 tbs ancho chile powder
  • 1 tbs Kosher salt
  • 5 large potatoes, peeled
  • 1 qt vegetable oil
Ancho Chile Fries instructions:
  • Cut potatoes into 1/4 in thick slices and cut those into 1/4 in thick fries
  • Place fries in a bowl of cold water
  • Mix Kosher salt and ancho chile powder
  • Heat oil in a large skillet to 325F
  • Drain fries on paper towels
  • Fry batches for 3-4 mins, until a pale blonde color
  • Remove fries and place on a paper towel lined sheet pan
  • Increase heat of oil to 375F
  • Fry potatoes again for around 2-3 mins, until golden brown
  • Remove and place fries on paper towels
  • Season with chile mixture 

Bobby Flay's Santa Fe Burger Recipe

If you love burgers, you are reading the right post. Today I'm sharing Bobby Flay's Santa Fe burger from his restaurant, Bobby's Burger Palace. If you've been following my blog this week, you know I shared my version of his delicious BBQ and coleslaw covered Dallas burger early. My husband and I are fans of Bobby's Burger Palace, but sadly don't live near one. The two times we've eaten at his burger joint have left us wanting more...and more! Since we can't have his burgers very often, we decided we better learn how to make them. I'm so excited to enjoy these burgers this summer! 

My burger of choice is the aforementioned Dallas burger. The spicy BBQ has quite the kick, but its complimented perfectly with a delicious cooling cole slaw. The burger is spice crusted and mouth watering! 

My husband's favorite, however, is the Santa Fe burger. This burger features a delicious queso and blue corn tortilla chips! Queso dip and chip on a burger? Yep, and it's delicious! The queso is rich in flavor, and the blue corn tortilla chips add a crunchy texture. His burger joint is all about having your burgers "crunchified." You can add potato chips to any of his signature burgers. Trust me, it's delicious! We may or may not have each gotten a burger the first time and then gone back to have his classic burger "crunchified". Hey, it was too good to resist!

Santa Fe Burger ingredients:
  • Queso:
    • 1 tbs unsalted butter
    • 1 tbs all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (8 oz)
    • Kosher salt
    • Ground pepper
  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 2 1/2 tbs canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
Santa Fe Burger instructions:
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat
  • Whisk in flour and cook for 1 min
  • Add in milk and increase to high heat
  • Whisk constantly until mixture is thickened, about 5 mins
  • Remove from heat and add cheese, mix until completely melted and incorporated
  • Season queso with salt and pepper
  • Keep queso warm over low heat until burgers are done
  • Preheat a skillet with oil to medium-high heat
  • Shape ground beef into 3/4 in thick patties with a small indentation in the center (this keeps the burger from doming up)
  • Season both sides of the beef with Kosher salt and ground pepper
  • Place burger into preheated skillet and cook for approximately 4 minutes
  • Flip burger and cook for an additional 4 minutes
  • Check temperature of burger using a meat thermometer to get the burgers the way you want (we cooked longer to get to well done)
  • For the best burger, lightly toast the buns in a separate pan with a little butter
  • Cover burger with queso and broken pieces of blue corn tortilla chips

The only difference between this recipe and the original Santa Fe burger is that the original includes roasting a Poblano pepper. We left that out as my husband prefers it without the pepper. You can find the original recipe here.

Bobby Flay's Dallas Burger Recipe

Spring is finally here! After what seemed like a never-ending winter, we had our first weekend of beautiful, warm weather. It was a crazy week at work for both my husband and I, so we decided to enjoy the weather and relax with some baseball and delicious burgers. It was just what we needed!

Our absolute favorite burgers are those at Bobby Flay's restaurant - Bobby's Burger Palace. Both my husband and I have burgers there that we love, but the nearest restaurant is about 3 hours away. We decided to try our hand at the recipes we found on for these burgers. Not only did we make each of our favorite burgers, but we also made Bobby Flay's Southwestern fries we devoured at another one of his top notch restaurants - Mesa Grill in NYC.

All this week, I'll be sharing the three recipes we made, including:
  • Dallas burger - spice encrusted and topped with BBQ sauce and coleslaw
  • Santa Fe burger - covered in peppered queso and blue corn tortilla chips
  • Southwestern fries - double fried and seasoned with ancho chili pepper and Kosher salt
I'm starting off today with the delicious Dallas burger (my personal favorite)! I was so excited to try this recipe, but there was just one problem - the amount of ingredients required!

My husband and I are trying to experiment and incorporate more fresh ingredients and spices in our cooking. We are slowly building our spice collection, and try to increase the supply with spices we plan on using again and again. But, this burger recipe had a ton of ingredients we didn't have. There were ingredients for the BBQ sauce, spice rub, AND the coleslaw... The cost of this meal was quickly adding up. 

I started looking around the grocery and found two products that helped us achieve the flavor profile, but for a fraction of the price. Now obviously there's a reason that he includes this many ingredients, his food is amazing! But, for a quick burger at home, I found some shortcuts to get a similar flavor.

Instead of making my own BBQ sauce (which I definitely want to do sometime), I used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle sauce. It's not a perfect match, but contains almost all of the ingredients in Bobby Flay's Dallas sauce including honey, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, molasses, vinegar, chipotle pepper, sugar, and onion! For the spice crust, I found Mexene chili powder that includes the main ingredients of Bobby Flay's spice crust including salt, chili pepper, cumin, and oregano!

With these cheat ingredients, and some deli coleslaw, the burger was simple to make. I mean, it's not quite Bobby Flay level, but it's a good substitute until we can get back to his restaurant (or he opens one near us!).

Dallas Burger ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
  • Mexene Chili Powder
  • Cole slaw
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Canola oil
Dallas Burger instructions:

  • Preheat a skillet with oil to medium-high heat
  • Shape ground beef into 3/4 in thick patties with a small indentation in the center (this keeps the burger from doming up)
  • Season both sides of the beef with Kosher salt, ground pepper, and Mexene Chili Powder (only one is seasoned in the pic, because the other is for the Santa Fe burger)

  • Place burger into preheated skillet and cook for approximately 4 minutes
  • Flip burger and cook for an additional 4 minutes
  • Check temperature of burger using a meat thermometer to get the burgers the way you want (we cooked longer to get to well done)
  • For the best burger, lightly toast the buns in a separate pan with a little butter
  • Cover burger with some BBQ sauce and top with coleslaw 

If you love BBQ, and a little spicy kick, then you are going to want to try this burger! If queso is more your thing, check back in a couple days for the Sante Fe burger (my husband's favorite). Then later I will share the DELICIOUS, spicy ancho chile fries. I'm hungry all over again!

Fiesta Stuffed Peppers

I have a new savory recipe to share today, but first I have the results of my March Madness contest. If you didn't check it out, I had a March Madness style tournament to determine the best sweet treat recipe on my blog. I started with 8 of my favorites and slowly narrowed it down to the champion dessert. I got a little distracted during the actual March Madness tournament, though, since my team did better than expected! Sadly the KY Wildcats didn't win the tournament, but I'm excited to announce the winning champion dessert.

Drumroll please...

The winner is - Copycat Orange Julius

This copycat recipe is so close to the real thing! Orange Julius is one of my husband's favorite treats, and he LOVES this recipe.

Back to something more savory.

A couple months ago, I made some delicious stuffed peppers. It was one of my favorite meals I've made lately, and I decided to try a twist on the dish. This recipe replaces Italian seasoning and marinara sauce for Mexican flavors and salsa! I replaced the white rice from the recipe with Spanish rice (you could also use Mexican).

It's easy to make, and so flavorful! Here's the recipe -

Stuffed Pepper ingredients (yield 6):
  • 6 green peppers
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1 cup cooked Spanish (or Mexican) rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper
Stuffed Pepper directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Start cooking rice per directions
  • Slice the top off of green peppers and remove the seeds and membrane from inside the pepper
  •  Boil peppers for 4-5 mins
  • Brown hamburger meat 
  • Drain excess grease and return the meat to the skillet
  • Add taco seasoning packet and amount of water called for on packet
  • Simmer meat and onions for 3-4 mins
  • Mix in rice and salsa
  • Place green peppers in Pyrex dish
  • Fill the peppers with meat/rice/salsa mixture
  • Pour extra salsa over the top of the peppers and pour into the bottom pan
  • Bake 10 mins with 

Blue & White Muffins

I'm feeling a little blue...

Blue and White that is! The UK Wildcats (my alma mater) have made it to the NCAA basketball championship game with yet another buzzer beater 3-point shot by Aaron Harrison. Before the game on Saturday, I shared a recipe for Blue and White cookies. This treat was delicious and helped calm our nerves during the nail biting game. The UK Wildcats will be playing for their 9th National Championship tonight! I decided to make another blue and white themed snack. This weekend was busy, though, and Mondays are so hectic at work. So last night, I tested a recipe that was quick and simple.

As I mentioned in my Blue & White cookie post, we no longer live in the center of the Big Blue Nation. We moved and now live in the heart of a rival team's gets interesting sometimes. We still miss Lexington and some of our favorite hot spots. One of those was a local sports bar with an amazing breakfast menu. My go-to dish? The sweet and fruity (and delicious) Blue & White pancakes. Blueberries and white chocolate? Yum! I still crave those pancakes, and we stop by there any time we are in town. I decided to try my hand at a muffin version of the UK fan favorite.

If you've looked at my blog much, you know I do a lot of baking from scratch. Occasionally, though, there are some mixes that I am more than happy to use. I usually like to doctor the mix in some way, elevating it with fresh ingredients, or adding new flavors. While I have made some scrumptious muffins by scratch (such as these Zucchini muffins), I also enjoy an easy mix for blueberry muffins. Trust me - they are simple AND delicious! I recently doctored this mix to make lemon blueberry muffins. Today, though, I'm adding white chocolate chips to make a sweet Blue & White twist!

The mix I use yields 6 muffins. For the mix, I added 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. You can increase the amount of white chocolate chips for mixes that yield more muffins.

Blue & White Muffin ingredients:
  • Blueberry muffin mix
  • 1/2 cup milk (or whatever ingredients are called for in mix)
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips (for every 6 muffins)
Blue & White Muffin directions:
  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Mix together ingredients for muffin mix
  • Fold in white chocolate chips
  • Spray cupcake pan (or use cupcake liners)
  • Fill pan 2/3 full
  • Bake 14-17 mins
The white chocolate chips add a sweet surprise to the classic blueberry muffins. It's sure to be a hit with your friends and family! 

Check back later this week as I share a new savory dish, and my first cake in quite a while! Oh and one more thing...sorry to any UConn fans, but GO BIG BLUE!

Blue & White Cookies

We are nearing the end of March Madness, and my alma mater (University of KY) is in the Final Four! Now I'm not usually much of a sports fan, but the tournament has peaked my interest this year. My husband is an avid UK basketball fan, so we've been watching the games. The KY Cats were ranked #1 during pre-season, but hadn't really lived up to the hype until tournament time. They've beaten some top teams and are now just one game away from being in the Championship!

My husband and I lived in Lexington for years and were surrounded by the fans, dubbed the Big Blue Nation. There were Big Blue celebrations everywhere you looked during game time. Now, though, we live in a different college basketball town where UK isn't well liked. Trust me that doesn't stop my husband from sporting his blue and white! Since we aren't surrounded by Wildcat fans, we have to make our own celebrations. I decided to get creative and make a festive snack for us to enjoy during the game. You may recall I've made a basketball court themed cake before, and a basketball shaped cake. But, I decided to make something a bit simpler for the game. Since our team's colors are blue and white, I figured I'd try my hand at a blue velvet cookie with white chocolate chips. 

I should probably confess something before I share the recipe. This was not my first attempt at the cookies. Last weekend, when the Cats took on Michigan, I attempted my first batch. They turned out...well not very good. The taste wasn't bad, but the cookies were a strange grayish color. Thankfully, though, the Cats were victorious and I got another shot at the cookies. This time went better! True they aren't exactly royal blue, but the idea is there! The trick was the recipe I used, and using royal blue food gel, instead of liquid food coloring.

If you are not a UK fan, don't worry! These cookies work for more than just celebrating KY Wildcat basketball. Whether its for another sports team, a kid's favorite color, or for Autism Awareness Month, there are so many great excuses to make blue velvet cookies!

Blue and White Cookies (yields 36 cookies):

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick lightly salted butter
  • 6 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • White chocolate chips
  • Blue gel coloring
Blue and White Cookie instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and baking soda
  • Cream butter, shortening, and sugar for 5 mins until it is smooth and creamy
  • Add in the egg, egg yolk, vinegar, and vanilla
  • Beat for 3-5 mins, until creamy
  • Add in royal blue flavoring
  • Add in the dry mixture, mix until just combined
  • Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Form tbs size balls of dough
  • Place 4 or 5 white chocolate chips onto dough
  • Bake 11 mins

Here's hoping the Cats pull off this win and I have an excuse to try another treat!

Hibachi Steak and Veggies

My husband and I love hibachi, it's one of our favorite meals! In our old town, we had the perfect Hibachi date night spot, we really miss it. There's a spot in our current town, but it's not the same. Plus, hibachi can be pretty expensive! So we decided to try our hand at making it ourselves. 

To say our expectations were high is an understatement. But, we were really pleased with the results! We might not have had any fancy knife work, the food was surprisingly close to what we were used to! We even had an onion volcano...sort of. I didn't light it on fire, but couldn't keep from building on of the infamous tricks from hibachi restaurants.

You may recall we recently made some tasty beef and broccoli stir fry. We basically followed the same method for the rice. Instead of a marinade for the beef, though, we just used some teriyaki sauce. The veggies were cooked in a little butter and seasoned with soy sauce and a small amount of garlic powder. We kind of experimented with the amount of seasoning, but it tasted just like the ones at the restaurant! 

Now all we need is the soup and salad dressing recipes, and we'd be set! Let me know if you've tried either of those hibachi staples and have a recipe you'd like to share.