Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Mardi Gras is a time of celebration in many cultures. The phrase, ‘Mardi Gras’, is French for Fat Tuesday. This ’Fat Tuesday’ refers to the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the fasting of the Lenten season begins. The Lenten season lasts for 40 days (not including Sundays). Most of us attempt to rediscover those New Year’s resolutions we have left behind. Others attempt to truly ‘fast’ by giving up something very important to them, like chocolate or caffeine.
Now that the history lesson is over, let’s get to the good part. The food!!!
Each of the Everyday Girls chose a true Cajun or New Orleans inspired recipe. My mom made her famous Shrimp Creole, which can be found in the January 21st post. My choice was jambalaya. I love it, but have never attempted to make it. Every recipe I have come across has about 20 ingredients. When I see there are more than a handful of ingredients, I usually just try to find something easier. This time, I wanted a true classic. This particular recipe would be considered a ‘Creole Jambalaya’ because we are using tomatoes as part of the cooking liquid.
The only way I know to find a recipe that is true to its roots, is to find a true New Orleans resident and ask for the recipe. This recipe was sent to me from a college friend who grew up in Covington, LA just across the Pontchartrain. I have had the pleasure of visiting and dining on true Cajun favorites from this family. Love them!!
We talk about this every post, but this recipe, in particular, it is very important to prep your ingredients. Doing this will make everything so much easier when you are ready to begin cooking. All the veggies can be chopped the night before and stored in the fridge.
To see the full recipe, check under the recipes tab. Please note that I am posting the full recipe. I divided this in half and there was more than enough to feed 9 adults at lunch plus lots of leftovers.
1. Start by heating a large pot over med-high heat. Render the bacon and sausage with the butter, stirring occasionally to keep the bacon from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the pot. Cook chicken about 5 min.

2. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery to the pot and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook an additional 5 minutes.
3. Add all the spices and rice to the pot, stirring often for about 3 minutes.
4. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 15 minutes.
5. While the rice is cooking, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Once the rice is done, turn off the heat. Stir in the green onions and shrimp, cover and the shrimp will cook in about 10 minutes. Remove lid, fluff, and serve.
This was so delightfully yummy, words cannot describe it. You are able to taste each element of the recipe; andouille sausage, bacon, chicken, and shrimp. The spice mixture was perfectly spicy without being overpowering. I loved it! However, if I were to make this again, I would take into account the large quantity even the half recipe makes

Kirby here. 
My Mardi Gras dish is a true classic; however, it might not be as difficult as you would expect.  I cooked beignets, and they were a hit!  Want to know the secret?  They were made from a box.  This goes to show that you can have a great Mardi Gras meal without having to go overboard.  Stephen said his mom made the best beignets, so naturally I wanted her recipe.  When word came back that they were prepared from a mix I was slightly hesitant. Then, I read through beignet recipes and saw where I would have to get yeast and let things rise…whoa! Stop right there! I don’t like my food moving around once it comes indoors, so let’s check out that mix a little more.
 When looking for this mix, I became slightly panicked because I couldn’t find it.  I was in one of the largest grocery stores in my area, and if they didn’t have it who would?!? My sweet, calm boyfriend suggested we try World Market.  Bingo! They had it, and at around 4 dollars, too. 

Ingredients: Mix, vegetable oil, water, powdered sugar
To make the batter mix 2 cups of mix with 7 ounces of water.  Put a few inches of oil in your pan and begin to warm this up.
 Now, bring out your flour; you’ll need lots because this is a very sticky batter. 
Flour your surface and your batter, bring together, and then start to roll this out.
Cut your dough into squares.

Drop them one by one into the oil, but no more than around 4 depending on the size of your pan.  Once you drop them in, they should rise to the top after a few seconds.
Flip them constantly until they are puffy and golden in color. 
Once you take them out of the oil, drain on paper towel and immediately coat in powdered sugar.  Since I was traveling with these, I stopped at this step.  We liberally coated them right before dessert!

Check out pics of Andie's King Cake!  Her recipe will soon be posted! It's one that won't want to be missed!

Who found the baby?! Check back to find out!

Throw on your best Mardi Gras costume and Laissez les bons temps rouler!! (Let the good times roll!)

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