Recipes for Kentucky Derby party, Pickled shrimp with cucumber

Top 5 recipes that will make your weekend Kentucky Derby party a success

It’s Kentucky Derby time and the Run for the Roses is about to begin!  If you aren’t able to cross off actually attending the most prestigious sporting event in the world, Shonal’s Kitchen can help you plan a fabulous home party.  It may be the most exciting 2 minutes in sports, but let’s make this house party a day full of good food and good friends, that’s sure to be remembered.

While traditionally, the Mint Julep is the most popular drink served at the Derby, we’re changing it up and making Spicy Bloody Mary’s!

You can’t go wrong with a Bloody Mary and it’s always fun to dress it up with your favorite garnish! This recipe is for ONE drink, so you’re going to want to make a lot of these!  The Bourbon Bacon Salted rim makes every sip more and more amazing.

Bloody Mary

Spicy Bloody Marys

  • 1 part Vodka
  • 2 parts Bloody Mary Mix
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Splash of Hot Sauce (or more if you like it really spicy!)
  • ½ teaspoon of Horseradish
  • SplenDishes Bourbon Bacon Salt
  • Garnish: Celery, Olives (on toothpicks)

Dip the rim of a tall glass in water and then in SplenDishes Bourbon Bacon Salt, then fill with ice.

In a shaker, combine all ingredients (except garnish). Shake well and pour into salt rimmed glass.

Garnish with celery stalks and olives.


Let’s get rocking with some food.  To create the full Kentucky Derby Experience, traditional Southern fare is a must!  Of course I have to put the SplenDishes spin on pretty much everything I make, and these Pickled Shrimp with House Made Hummus served in Cucumber Cups are pretty fancy.  Make an extra batch of the Pickled Shrimp and serve them in a bowl with lemon and lime wedges.  Your guests will love noshing on these addictive little bites of heaven.  If you’re not up to going all the way out and making your own hummus, store bought hummus is more than ok!

Pickled ShrimpPickled Shrimp with Cucumber

Pickled Shrimp with House Made Hummus in Cucumber Cups

Ingredients to Pickle Shrimp:

  • 1 pound 16/20 count Argentine Pink Shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave tails on)
  • 3 Lemons, juiced and zested
  • ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup dry White Wine
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon SplenDishes Signature House Blend
  • Directions:

Poach shrimp in 2 cups water plus 1 cup white wine until opaque and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to colander and run under cold water to stop cooking.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl, then add shrimp.  Cover and marinate for 4 hours or overnight.

Ingredients for House Made Hummus:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • ½ teaspoon SplenDishes Rosemary Lemon Salt


Combine ingredients in food processor and blend until creamy.  Season to taste.  Keep in sealed container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Additional Ingredients Needed:

  • 2 English cucumbers, cut into ¾” slices and top center (seeds) scooped out
  • SplenDishes Rosemary Lemon Salt
  • Fresh Dill

To assemble:  Drain shrimp and place on paper towels to absorb excess liquid.  Place hummus into pastry bag and pipe into each cucumber cup. Sprinkle a pinch of Rosemary Lemon Salt over each and place a shrimp over hummus. Garnish each with a small sprig of fresh dill.


Time for something hot with oozing cheese (I never fail with this!). The Kentucky Hot Brown recipe originally came from the Brown Hotel in Kentucky in the 1920’s. A pillowy cushion of toasted bread, topped with sliced turkey, and an avalanche of cheese sauce broiled to a golden brown, then topped with crispy bacon and tomato. Seriously. Can this sandwich get any better? I’m going to try….while the traditional sandwich has to be eaten with a fork and knife (unless you’re a savage, and that’s ok, but not so proper or Derby-like), I’ve decided to make bite size Hot Browns. They’re still happy and cheesy and full of crispy bacon goodness, you’re able to eat them with your hands and be civil while doing it. Pumpernickel or rye bread toasts are great to use, I couldn’t find them (I probably didn’t look hard enough), so I decided to use Melba toast. It holds up to all that cheese sauce goodness, that makes you think, “Is this what heaven is?”….

Mini Hot Browns

How to make Kentucky Mini Hot Browns

Mini Hot Browns


  • 24 Melba toast crackers
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ½ pound smoked, sliced turkey
  • ¼ teaspoon SplenDishes House Blend
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced


Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth. Whisk in milk over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened, then add Cheddar cheese, whisking until cheese melts. Season with House Blend and red pepper flakes.

Top bread with sliced turkey. Spread cheese mixture over turkey. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and half the bacon.

Broil at 500° for 2 minutes or until Parmesan is melted. Top with tomato slices, and sprinkle evenly with remaining bacon.


It’s finally time to treat your guests to an amazing dessert! Strawberries are ripe and in season and Bourbon is the booze of choice at the Derby, so why not marry these 2? It’s a match made in heaven, I think…Strawberry Shortcake kicked up so far, you might lose your sight for a second. Think Bourbon and honey marinated strawberries with creamy vanilla bean ice cream, slightly sweet shortbread biscuits and light and heavenly whipped cream with a dust of fresh nutmeg. Need I say more? Probably not very kid friendly, but why does everything have to be kid friendly, anyway? We adults need some indulgence, so here goes…

strawberry shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake


  • 2 ½ cups Bisquick
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 pound strawberries, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Whipping cream
  • Fresh nutmeg


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine honey and bourbon together in a small sauce pan over low heat. Simmer until honey is dissolved. Cool and stir in lemon juice. Combine with strawberries and keep chilled.

In a mixing bowl, combine bisquick, sugar and milk until roughly mixed.

Using an ice cream scoop, spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheet and slightly flatten.

Brush with melted butter and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

To serve, place shortcakes in bowls, top with ice cream, whip cream and spoon strawberries over top. Grate fresh nutmeg over top.

Appropriate Attire and Decor for the party

Photo courtesy of

By now, your guests are fat, happy, tipsy and possibly a little richer. Good job. Let’s talk about how to make your pad, Derby worthy. Whether or not you’re going totally formal, keeping it casual or a little in between, here are a few tid bits on how to decorate your place with some Derby spirit.

  • Use colorful silk tablecloths to resemble the jockeys bright jerseys;
  • Place trophy cups in the center of tables, filled with rose petals and scatter additional petals along tablescape;
  • Fill crystal vases with red roses as homage to the winners wreath of roses;
  • Ask your guests to wear traditional formal Derby attire; the ladies can wear summer dresses with fancy hats and the men can wear suits with bowties and suspenders;
  • Use white wooden crates to place flowers or food on;
  • Instead of real roses, make crepe paper roses and place along table;
  • Find free printables online and make fancy food cards and guest place cards;
  • Set up special drink stations where guests can make mint juleps, using different flavored simple syrups.

Well my sports loving friends, may the best horse win and be off to The Preakness!

Cheers, until our next sporting event!


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