Bluegrass Gatherings Parties!

What could be a better way to prep for another dreary winter weekend than checking out the Junior League of Louisville blog? How about learning great recipes, courtesy of Bluegrass Gatherings, that you can make while you are rain/sleet/ice/snowed-in to keep you warm and happy!

As part of a contest for JLL members to win a cookbook credit, the Cookbook Committee asked members to share some of the recipes they made from our newest cookbook, Bluegrass Gatherings.

Caroline Wheat was one of the lucky winners! Caroline Wheat got together with her friend, Maggie Heely, to host a potluck brunch. Caroline made the Bourbon Bacon and Cheese Grits. Caroline stated both dishes were easy to make and were a hit at the brunch. Everyone raved about the grits. She has even made the grits a few more times and has made it her “go-to” breakfast party dish.

Here is a teaser recipe for the Bluegrass Bourbon Maple Bacon:
3 ingredients: ½ cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon Kentucky Bourbon and 2 pounds of thick cut bacon
This serves 6 to 8:
Mix the maple syrup and bourbon in a bowl. Line a shallow baking pan with foil or baking parchment. Place a stainless steel baking rack in the pan. Arrange the bacon slices on the rack in a single layer, Brush the bacon with the maple syrup mixture. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon begins to brown. Brush the bacon with the maple syrup mixture again and bake for 3-5 minutes longer.


Laura Crahan hosted a dinner party and made the Pear and Blue Cheese Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette and Sage Sausage Minestrone.


That soup looks hearty, delicious and perfect for all the cold weather we had. Laura said she had trouble finding sage sausage and substituted regular sausage instead. All her guests mentioned it still tasted great. Perhaps adding some sage herbs to the soup would amp up the flavor as well when using regular sausage.

Did you know? Bluegrass Gatherings is Official Cookbook of the 2014 Kentucky Derby Festival. Be sure to check back here for more information about our sponsorship as we go through this Derby season.

If you are interested in purchasing any of JLL’s fine cookbooks, check out the League’s website, or contact a member!


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

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.

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.’

Louisville Stoneware: The Art of Living!

As mentioned in our “Louisville Originals” post, Louisville Stoneware offers an excellent aray of products and is truly a cultural icon of the city.
The richness of raw materials. The perfection of a basic form. The poetry of a hand-applied brush stroke. In our machine-driven age, these natural and simple essences seem to have become a lost art.
Since our early beginnings, we have been dedicated to the craft of transforming clay into enduring, functional stoneware pottery art forms. Working with the basic elements of earth, water, air and fire, skilled artisans create timelessly beautiful dinnerware, bakeware, serving pieces, collectibles, and artisan that can be enjoyed and cherished for many generations.

Some designs are subtle—others are more striking and exuberant—but what they all have in common is an underlying belief that humble, everyday objects have an important place in our lives and homes.

As one of the oldest stoneware manufacturers in the U.S., Louisville Stoneware has been a part of the lives of generations of customers, neighbors, friends and business partners. While our company has grown over the years, we still source our clay from local suppliers and employ the talents of regional artisans.

Louisville Stoneware has a Retail Showroom where they sell Bluegrass Gatherings.  They are one of our best accounts in town.  The showroom is located at 731 Brent Street, directly off Broadway. Their hours are  Mon – Fri 10 am – 6 pm, Sat 10 am – 5 pm.  Show them your support by visiting today.
The richness of raw materials. The perfection of a basic form. The poetry of a hand-applied brush stroke. In our machine-driven age, these natural and simple essences seem to have become a lost art.
Since our early beginnings, we have been dedicated to the craft of transforming clay into enduring, functional stoneware pottery art forms. Working with the basic elements of earth, water, air and fire, skilled artisans create timelessly beautiful dinnerware, bakeware, serving pieces, collectibles, and artisan that can be enjoyed and cherished for many generations.