Happy Holiday Entertaining

Respectfully submitted by League member Liz Bornwasser

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  Fa la la la la!  La la la la!  The holiday season is in its home stretch, so this week’s entry perfectly highlights the entertaining foods and drinks in Bluegrass Gatherings. I took both the Buffalo and Blue Meatballs and the Sidelined Cider to a party and received rave reviews.  Perfect for your next festive occasion or even just a more relaxed night at home.

Buffalo and Blue Meatballs

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup hot red pepper sauce
1 pound ground chicken, preferably thighs
1 egg
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cool an 8×8-inch baking dish evenly with the vegetable oil.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Cook over low heat until hot, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and cool completely.  Combine the chicken, egg, celery, bread crumbs, celery salt, paprika, salt, and hot sauce mixture in a bowl and mix well with clean hands.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and fit snugly into the prepared baking dish.  Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 20 minutes or until firm and cooked through.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving with the blue cheese dipping sauce.
Serves 6


Liz’s Tips:  Soft bread crumbs are made by running bread through a food processor.  Add extra hot sauce for more heat.  You may also serve the meatballs with store-bought ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing.

Sidelined Cider

4 (12-ounce) bottles lager, chilled
1 (25-ounce) bottle sparkling apple cider, chilled
1 cup cranberry juice

Pour the beer into a pitcher slowly.  Add the sparkling cider and the cranberry juice gradually.  Pour into frosted glasses and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6


Liz’s Tip:  For a more festive drink or different flavor, you may use 1 bottle of dry white wine or champagne instead of the beer.

Interested in learning more about the League or wanting to purchase Bluegrass Gatherings, or one of the League’s other wonderful cookbooks? Contact a League member or check out the JLL website.


Comfort Food

Respectfully submitted by League member Liz Bornwasser

In the spirit of the recent bitter cold and nasty weather we have been experiencing lately, this week’s blog entry is dedicated to baking comfort food–perfect recipes for staying in.  I made these dishes for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, and they were a hit!  Next time you are stuck inside, or looking for a good dish for entertaining, I strongly encourage you to make deSha’s Corn Bread and the Pumpkin Brownies from Bluegrass Gatherings!

deSha’s Corn Bread

3 cups self-rising cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
6 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sour cream
2 2/3 cup cream-style corn
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup honey

Combine the cornmeal, sugar, eggs, oil, sour cream, and corn in a bowl and mix well.  Pour into a nonstick 9×13-inch baking pan.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.  Combine the butter and honey in a bowl and mix well.  Serve the corn bread with the honey butter on the side.

Serves 15


Note:  Recipe compliments of deSha’s

Liz’s Tips:  2 2/3 cups cream-style corn translates to 2 cans.  If you only bake the bread for 30 minutes, the middle remains soupy.  Plan to bake it 45-60 minutes for the desired consistency.  Also, you may purchase honey butter from the grocery instead of making your own.

Pumpkin Brownies with Ice Cream and Caramel

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 (heaping) teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce (page 141)
Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves together.  Beat the butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in the brown sugar gradually and beat for 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Beat in the dry ingredients until well combined.  Beat in the pumpkin.  Stir in the pecans.

Spread the batter in a buttered and floured 8×8-inch baking dish.  Beat the cream cheese, granulated sugar, egg yolk, cream, and 1/2 teaspoon in a bowl.  Dollop the cream cheese mixture over the batter.  Swirl through the batter gently with a knife to create a marbled effect.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is firm and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Warm the Caramel Sauce in a saucepan over low heat.  Cut the warm brownies into squares and place on serving plates.  Top the brownies with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with warm Caramel Sauce.


Note:  You may purchase caramel sauce rather than making it.  The brownies can be made one day ahead.  Keep covered with foil at room temperature.  Warm the brownies in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Liz’s Tips:  I was out of cloves, so I used allspice, which has cloves in it.  Everyone raved about the brownies and could not tell anything was missing.  Pumpkin Pie Spice would work well too.  Other substitutes for the nuts are cinnamon chips, raisins, or dried cranberries.

To purchase Bluegrass Gatherings or another JLL cookbook or to inquire about membership, contact a League member or visit http://www.juniorleaguelouisville.org.