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Saddling Up for the Kentucky Derby

A girl needs a couple of things in her life to make it complete– a fabulous pair of Louboutins, a vintage Chanel suit, a signature fragrance, a piece of jewel from Tiffany & Co., and an annual trip to the Kentucky Derby in Louisville at Churchill Downs.  Now if you can’t make it to the Derby, you can have your own fabulous Derby party right in your own home.  Here are the must haves for an at home extravaganza!

First you got to have the right hat – this is a MUST! You can’t have just any ole’ hat, you got to have an over the top, eccentric hat that represents your personal style. There’s no place better to get a hat than with someone who actually makes hats. Have your hat custom made at La Hatterie with hat maker, Vanessa Cunningham. Check out her fabulous hats at or give her a call at 404-352-8092.

Then you need the fashions! No party is complete without the right dress and that dress can only be found at your local Macy’s or  With their wide selection of fun and flirty dresses in the season’s best and brightest colors, you can’t go wrong. So when you’re looking for that perfect dress make sure you start with the Magic of Macy’s.

Finally you must have the right food, and no Derby Party is complete with the Mint Julep. Below are all of the recipes for a serious Derby spread that all of your Jersey Girlfriends will truly love.

Mint Juleps – The Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 32 fluid ounces Kentucky bourbon
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish


1.  Combine water, sugar and chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool, approximately 1 hour. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves

2. Fill eight cups or frozen goblets with crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person’s sweet tooth). Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups. Serve juleps on a silver platter.

Mint Tea Punch


  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 12 sprigs fresh mint
  • 4 tea bags
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 5 cups cold water
  • 3 orange slices for garnish (optional)
  • 3 lemon slices for garnish (optional)


  1. Place the tea bags and mint sprigs into a large pitcher. Pour boiling water over them, and allow to steep for about 8 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags and mint leaves, squeezing out excess liquid. Stir in sugar until dissolved, then stir in the orange juice and lemon juice. Pour in the cold water. Serve over ice cubes, garnished with orange or lemon slices.

Kentucky Burgoo


  • 5 pounds bone-in mutton shoulder or leg, cut into 1 pound pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups medium salsa
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup hickory smoke flavored barbeque sauce
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can green beans, drained
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen lima beans, thawed
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen okra
  • 1 (46 fluid ounce) can tomato juice


1. Day one: In a large heavy stockpot, add meat and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, Italian seasoning, and enough water to completely cover meat. Simmer over medium heat for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Remove meat from stock; refrigerate stock for later use. Debone meat, discard bones, and place meat in a roasting pan. Roast meat for 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven or until tender when pierced with a fork. Cover pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate.

3. Day two: Remove stock from refrigerator; skim off and discard top layer of hardened white fat. Pour 4 cups of stock into a heavy stockpot; add potatoes, carrots, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook vegetable mixture over medium-high heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly and refrigerate.

4. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook and stir until onion is transparent, 5 to minutes. Set aside. Remove meat from refrigerator and add remaining stock to pan. Cover the roasting pan with a lid or aluminum foil.

5. Cook meat for 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven. Remove the meat from the oven and pour in the salsa, onion, tomato sauce, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, and 1 can crushed tomatoes. Continue roasting for another 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly and refrigerate overnight.

6. Day three: In a large Dutch oven portable roaster or large stock pot, combine meat with the vegetable mixture from the day before, corn, green beans, lima beans, okra, and tomato juice. Cook for 3 hours at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) if using a roaster, or if using a stock pot, simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Party Cucumber Sandwiches


  • 1 (1 pound) loaf cocktail rye bread
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise


1. Place half of the cocktail rye bread on a clean work surface. Spread each slice with cream cheese.

2. Place 1 or 2 slices of cucumber on each, and then 1 or 2 slices of onion.

3. Spread remaining slices with mayonnaise and place atop onions to complete the sandwiches.

Run for the Roses Pie


  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 prepared 8 inch pie crust


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) Spread chocolate chips and nuts in bottom of pie shell.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter or margarine and sugar together. Mix in flour. Beat the eggs slightly, and mix into the creamed mixture. Stir in bourbon. Pour filling into pie shell (over chips and nuts).

3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes.

Benedictine Dip


  • 1 large cucumber, peeled
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup sour cream
  • Dash green food coloring, optional
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Accompaniments: trimmed baby carrots and sugar snap peas, blanched, raw, trimmed baby radishes


1. Grate cucumber and drain in a fine mesh sieve. Combine cucumber, cream cheese, onion, salt, mayonnaise, sour cream and food coloring (if using) in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add chopped dill. Taste for seasoning. Serve with crudite.

Now, I have given you all the tools to have a great Derby party, so invite your closest girlfriends over, get a fabulous hat, a dress from Macy’s and your Mint Julep and watch the fastest two-minutes in sports, the 137th Kentucky Derby on NBC.

Your J.G.F.,

Marcelle English

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