Here's a "holiday" I've never celebrated before - Mardi Gras. Also known as Fat Tuesday. It's a party-all-you-can-because-the-fun-stops-tomorrow kind of day that is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Since Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, when many religious individuals refrain or abstain from any number of vices, Mardi Gras allows a last minute indulgence in those vices.
Apparently, the best place to celebrate Mardi Gras is New Orleans. (I've never been there either.) Other than what I've told you so far, I know very little else about the day — lots of drinking, eating, partying, etc. goes on from what I understand. So you can see why it's not on our usual event calendar.
Why am I talking about this??
Okay, so this past Friday it was my responsibility to plan a date night at home. I checked the menu and saw we were scheduled to have Jambalaya - one of our favorites (hence it falling on Favorites Friday)! Hmm...what could I do for a date theme that could go with jambalaya and was cheap? Mardi Gras, of course! The decorations are cheap and ubiquitous this time of year!
Cheap, easy, colorful, themed...perfect! And we can overlook the typical overindulgence normally associated with the day. We "celebrated" a few weeks early, but if you want to throw your own party of any size, here are some ideas you might be able to use. The actual date is February 21. :-)
MMmmm....Just look at that delicious goodness! (Look for the recipe at the bottom of this post.)
I am not an expert bread maker, unfortunately. This is just a basic French bread recipe from Allrecipes.
Yummy! I sliced the bread and slathered it with some melted butter with crushed garlic and parsley flakes.
For dessert I was inspired by this post to make purple, green, and yellow layered cupcakes. :-)
I followed the directions on a box of white cake mix, then I split the batter into three bags. I tried to get it as even as possible - about 10.5 oz per bag. Then I added some gel food coloring to each - one green, one red+blue, and one yellow.
I let Riley "grump" it. That's what she called it - funny girl. :-)
There they are.
Great thing about ziplock bags — cut the corner off and you've got an automatic dispenser. Works great for deviled eggs, too.
A little yellow homemade buttercream frosting and some purple and green sprinkles, and we had a festive dessert - quite delicious, if you ask me!
Our activity with the kids after dinner was to decorate our own Mardi Gras masks. I found this one:
Print it out on some card stock, decorate as desired, punch out the holes and tie with string. Easy peasy!
Me and Riley in our new masks. :-)
The whole family!! Complete with our green and purple and gold beads (which I picked up at Dollar Tree, of course). We really had a great time!
We thought about watching Disney's Princess and the Frog movie, but it's a little creepy for our young crew, even though the setting is perfect.
Once we got the kids in bed, we had a variety of options to choose for our couple time — cards or dominoes, costume parade...you can use your imagination, especially if you are more familiar with what goes on at Mardi Gras. Let's just say, hubster holds the beads, wifey earns them. :-) Date night fun...
Now for that delicious jambalaya recipe. Story behind this recipe is that someone gave the seasoning and rice mix and directions to hubster's Granny, and my mother-in-law made it for Christmas dinner two years ago. We loved it, and I've made it many times since.
(Makes 16 cups)
2 cups diced green peppers
4 Tbsp butter
6 cups of water
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
3 cups peeled cooked shrimp (or 2 cups chopped cooked chicken)
2 cups polska kielbasa (or 2 cups chopped cooked ham)
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add green peppers and sausage (slice and then cut slices in half). Cook until peppers are tender and sausage is lightly browned. Add water, tomato sauce, and Jambalaya Mix. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 25 minutes. Add cooked shrimp and heat through. Remove bay leaves. (If using cooked chicken and/or ham, add with the water, tomato sauce, and Jambalaya Mix.)
RECIPE FOR JAMBALAYA MIX
2 cups converted rice
2 Tbsp dried minced onions
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 Tbsp dried celery flakes
2 bay leaves
4 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
Combine all mix ingredients; store in an airtight container.
Yield: 3 cups of mix.
Have fun and enjoy!!