Respectfully submitted by Katie Diffenderfer
One of the amazing things about the Bluegrass Gatherings cookbook is that it has recipes to fit every occasion. Even when you are hosting a relaxed movie night at home, or need a quick and easy recipe that will be an instant hit, Bluegrass Gatherings has you covered!
This past weekend my brother and sister-in-law hosted a movie night in their home for some of our good friends. They had already planned to order in pizza for the get-together, so I offered to bring some snacks to enjoy during the movie.
I didn’t have a lot of time to bake, so I was instantly drawn to short recipe for the Final Four Turtle Bars. This was my first time trying this recipe, and I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was and by how well the turtle bars turned out!
It took very little prep time and really only had 2 main steps: baking the crust (which was super simple), and then adding the topping and baking the bars (which was even simpler). It is one of those recipes that is so simple to throw together, but turns absolutely delicious. My friends did not believe me when I told them how quick and easy it was to make these turtle bars. This recipe was definitely a hit, and I will definitely be making it again very soon! A couple of people mentioned that they thought these bars would be amazing with coconut, and I am a huge coconut fan, so I think that next time I make this recipe I will add in some coconut to the topping. This recipe would be so easy to customize to include your favorite toppings.
What better snack to have for a movie night than popcorn?! With this thought in mind, I decided to make the Kentucky Bourbon Caramel Popcorn to bring to movie night. I was a little (okay a lot) intimidated by this recipe at first glance. But I decided to give it a try anyway. Like I mentioned before, I was running short on time. So instead of fresh popping some popcorn I bought Kroger brand Natural Popcorn and used approximately 4 bags to get to the 20 cups that were needed for the recipe. This microwave popcorn had some added salt, but no other added flavors or butter. So to prevent the popcorn from being too salty in the end, I decided not to add any salt to the topping. I think this ended up balancing out perfectly because it ended up having enough salt, and didn’t turn out too salty.
The only thing I had to buy besides the popcorn was corn syrup. Other than that, I had all of the other ingredients on hand. I also decided to try it with pecans, and I think I will definitely be making it with pecans again next time, even though this makes it a little more expensive. It was definitely worth it!
The movie night was going to be full of bourbon-lovers, so I decided to add an extra tablespoon of bourbon to the caramel topping, making it a total of 4 tablespoons. Again, for this group I think it was the perfect amount of bourbon. You could taste it, but it wasn’t too over-powering.
I’ll be honest, some of us were skeptical about putting bacon in caramel corn. So we decided to only put bacon on half of it. The bacon turned out to be a hit, though, and the caramel corn with the bacon in it was the first to be finished.
Both of these recipes are perfect for a movie night, to bring to a March Madness get-together, or for almost any occasion. I will definitely be making both of these again soon!
Did you know: Bluegrass Gatherings is the Official Cookbook of the Kentucky Derby Festival! Interested in getting your own copy? Contact a League member,or visit the JLL website to order or find a retailer near you!