Bacon, Bacon, Bacon!

Respectfully submitted by League member Liz Bornwasser

As the commercial says, “It’s bacon!” Topped with bacon or wrapped in bacon, The Tip-Off Poppers and Bacon Wrapped Dates are already two of my favorite recipes from Bluegrass Gatherings. I work with mostly men, so you can imagine anything with bacon is an instant crowd pleaser at work potlucks. Try making these for your next party, potluck, or tailgate, and you and your guests will not be disappointed!

Tip-Off Poppers

20 fresh jalapeño peppers
10 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound regular slices bacon, crisp-cooked, and crumbled
1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Variation: You may use fontina, Monterey Jack, Havarti or goat cheese instead of cream cheese.

Cut the jalapeño chiles in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and white membrane with a small spoon. Leave a small amount of seeds and white membrane if you prefer more spice.

Fill each jalapeño chile half with equal portions of the cream cheese. Arrange on a greased 10×15-inch baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 16 minutes. Top each with equal portions of bacon and barbecue sauce. Bake for 7 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: Wear food-handling gloves when working with hot chiles.

Serves 10.
Liz’s Tips: As the recipe says, be sure you wear gloves when slicing and scraping the jalapenos; I also wear the gloves while stuffing the peppers with cream cheese. If you don’t, you will regret it later! Short on time? Just buy pre made bacon bits. One can never have too much bacon, so I top each popper with bacon bits both before and after adding the barbecue sauce. The poppers may be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

24 large Medjool dates, pitted
4 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed
24 Marcona almonds
12 slices bacon, cut into halves crosswise

Make a lengthwise slit in each date. Cut the cheese into 24 equal pieces. Insert one piece of cheese and one almond into each date. Wrap one piece of bacon around each date and secure with a wooden pick. Arrange the dates on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 15 minutes or until the bacon is cooked through, turning over the dates halfway through cooking. Remove the dates to paper towels to drain and remove the wooden picks. Arrange in a serving bowl.

Serves 12.

Liz’s Tips: You may substitute the Brie cheese with cream cheese or goat cheese. The baking instructions leave the bacon still somewhat soft, so if you prefer crispier bacon, bake the dates a few minutes longer until cooked to your liking. The dates are delicious as is, but a good sauce topping or dip is sriachia or another hot sauce mixed with honey.

Contact a member or visit to order Bluegrass Gatherings or any of JLL’s other cookbooks.


Bluegrass Gatherings, awarded “Best Cookbook” in two categories by USA Book News

Bluegrass Gatherings Cover Front
LOUISVILLE, KY (November 2013) — The Junior League of Louisville’s (JLL) cookbook, Bluegrass Gatherings: Entertaining through Kentucky’s Seasons, was recently named “Best Cookbook: General” and “Best Cookbook: Regional” by the 2013 USA Best Book Awards.

The annual Best Book Awards, hosted by USA Books News, recognizes titles from all areas of the publishing industry—mainstream, independent, and self-published. Entries are judged on design, content, and overall appeal. As a winner, Bluegrass Gatherings will receive a ten-month book listing on, national media and industry exposure, promotion on social media sites, and the honor of being an award-winning title.
Bluegrass Gatherings—the official cookbook of the 2014 Kentucky Derby Festival—
is a seasonal, menu-based cookbook that features fresh, local ingredients. It includes recipes from celebrated Louisville chefs and restaurants, a wine pairing guide, highlights of local farms and events, entertaining tips, and a Kentucky produce buying guide. It also includes photography of 20-plus recipes and scenes from around the Commonwealth.

100% of the proceeds from cookbook sales support JLL’s mission of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. You can support the JLL’s mission by purchasing a copy of Bluegrass Gatherings.

Founded in 1921, JLL is dedicated to the betterment of women, children, and families through volunteerism and leadership training. League members contribute countless hours of community service, and influence thousands of lives, through numerous hands-on projects every year. For more information about JLL and its charitable initiatives, visit the League’s website.

My Old Kentucky Cooking

Respectfully submitted by League member Liz Bornwasser


During this League year (2013-2014), I’m going to take you on a culinary adventure through JLL’s newest and greatest cookbook, Bluegrass Gatherings. I hope you will find inspiration and maybe some motivation to step outside your cooking comfort zone and try these new recipes especially as the holidays approach.

One of my favorite ways to cook is with bourbon and beer, so when I found these two recipes in Bluegrass Gatherings, I had to try the Bourbon-Spiced Pecans and the Beer Cheese. Do not let the recipes fool you. They are surprisingly easy to make, and once you do, I am confident they will become some of your go-to entertaining recipes. They certainly were a hit at the Nominating Committee meeting!


Bourbon-Spiced Pecans

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped dried rosemary
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Stir in the bourbon. Stir in the brown sugar, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Cook until the pecans are cooked, stirring constantly. Spread the pecans evenly on a baking sheet. Cool completely, stirring occasionally to break apart the pecans.

Serves 16.

Liz’s Tip: To save on time while the nuts are cooking, mix all of dry seasonings together before adding to the nuts.

Beer Cheese

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup lager
1 cup cream
8 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix the beer and cream in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Whisk into the flour mixture 1 teaspoon at a time and cook to desired thickness, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, a small amount at a time, stirring until the cheese is melted before adding more cheese. Season with salt and pour into a serving bowl. Serve with baguette slices for dipping.

Note: If the dip seems to thick, thin with a small amount of beer or cream.

Serves 12.

Chef Brian Morgan, Eiderdown

Liz’s Tips: Be very careful when the beer and cream start to boil. If you have any doubt that it might be boiling, go ahead and remove from heat before it boils over and makes a big mess. I used 1/2 1000 day aged Gouda and 1/2 smoked Gouda, but you could probably use any cheese you want. However, Gouda is a great cheese because it is somewhat sweet and melts easily. Lastly, the recipe made as is will end up with the consistency of a spread and not a dip. If you want a thinner, more dip-like consistency, use the entire bottle of beer and entire pint of cream. As you can see, I also kept mine in a crockpot for serving warm.

Contact a member or visit to order Bluegrass Gatherings or any of JLL’s other cookbooks.

Hollydays is just around the corner!

An exciting change is on the horizon for the top JLL fundraiser of the year – Hollydays Art & Gift Market 2013 will be held at Louisville Slugger Field! Join us downtown for the eighth annual event which will take place Friday, December 6 through Sunday, December 8. The change in venue is sure to deliver great new energy to what is always a fun outing for members of the Louisville community and visitors alike.

The weekend line up is not to be missed! Friday night kicks off with Blues, Brews & BBQ: A Night in the Bluegrass, featuring live entertainment by CheKane, barbeque compliments of Mark’s Feed Store, bourbon from Heaven Hill, and Falls City beer. General admission shopping kicks off at 9am on Saturday with special events throughout the day, including a Princess Tea sponsored by Christmas at the Galt House, and painting with Uptown Art and Paint Spot.

Don’t miss Saturday Evening’s Girl’s Night Out: Candy Canes & Cocktails, which includes an exclusive silent auction, spirits by Heaven Hill, Falls City beer, wine from Chrisman Mill, appetizers, SWAG bags compliments of Café Press, and great shopping! JLL members will receive a general meeting credit for attending on Saturday night, and a fundraising credit is available to members who spend $200 with our vendors over the course of the weekend – time to multitask ladies!

General admission each day is $5, with a full weekend pass available for $25. Be sure to watch the membership calendar for shifts with opportunities to fill fundraising credits. See you there!

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Past Presidents Luncheon: Delightful Company and Delicious Dishes

On October 30, President Elect, Hala Ziady, hosted the annual Past Presidents Luncheon at Kosair Charities in the Community Room. Thirty of JLL’s leading women were in attendance.The Luncheon is held for the past presidents’ to be able reconnect with each other annually, for the incoming president to share what exciting things are going on currently with the League as well as a way to share a little bit about herself and her goals for the upcoming league year.

October 30, 2013 Luncheon
Past Presidents  (from left: Anita Barbee, Alice Baron, Christi Lanier Robinson and Paula Campbell)

The menu for the event was full of delicious recipes from Bluegrass Gatherings.  The cookbook was one of the topics discussed during the event and the afternoon concluded with the ladies walking out the door with a purchased cookbook in hand!  JLL is fortunate that our Past Presidents’ actively support our fundraising efforts.

Food from Bluegrass Gatherings that was served at the 2013 Past Presidents Luncheon.
Dishes from Bluegrass Gatherings were served at luncheon.

The agenda topics included updates on our Flexible Leave Program (formerly Leave of Absence), how the DIAD program will work this league year, Hollydays and our partnership with the Kentucky Derby Festival for 2014. A big thank you to Chrissy Evans – President, Kate Ratliff – V.P. Community Impact and Beth Grammer – A.V.P. Fundraising for providing several of those updates.

According to President Elect, Hala Ziady, her favorite part of the event was “…having everyone go around the room and introducing their self, what year they were President and their favorite memory or best advice.” Dede Jones (President of JLL in 1959) shared that being involved in JLL helped ‘make her who she is today.’