A Not-So-Fat-Tuesday

If you have read my blog for a while, you know that I love to “play” with holidays and flavors in our home.  While I will probably NEVER go to New Orleans or Rio and celebrate Mardi Gras (a little to much partying & nudity for my taste), I just love the color, the happiness, the fun and flavor that accompanies the carnival season.  Each year I plan a little something fun for the family, and despite the changes in our diet over the last eight months, this year was no exception!

When I first started planning for our traditional Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras meal with the family, I felt rather silly.
After all, “Fat Tuesday” and “healthy” are really contradicting terms!
But, after toying around with ideas and skimming through my New Orleans cookbooks I came up with a healthy Jambalaya to serve that combines crisp, fresh veggies with great flavor that really turned out quite delicious!
So welcome to “Not-So-Fat-Tuesday 2013”!

Four cups diced chicken breast
1 pound Red Snapper, cut into 1 1/2 pieces
1 bunch of green onion, sliced
1/2 cup diced sweet onion 
1 can of Del-Monte no-salt added basil, oregano, garlic tomatoes
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes, more if you would like
2 cups unsalted chicken broth 
1 1/2 cups sliced okra
1 1/2 cups rice
1 Tablespoon Tony Chachere’s no-salt seasoning, more if you like it spicy
Olive Oil
In a large skillet or cast iron Dutch over, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Cook your diced chicken about five minutes, turning while cooking so that you have it evenly cooked.

Add the green onion (save a little for garnishing later), sweet onion, tomatoes, pepper, celery, and garlic and cook long enough for the vegetables to soften…. about 3-4 minutes.

Add the rice, chicken broth,Tony Chachere’s, and red pepper flakes; cover and simmer on medium about 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked through, stir occasionally.  Add your okra about 15 minutes into cooking the rice.  If your jambalaya is getting to dry add a little water, maybe a 1/4 cup. After 30 minutes (or the rice is cooked through), add the Red Snapper, cover and cook another 5 minutes to allow the fish to steam until it is done (it’ll be flaky).

Serve up with a lemon wedge and garnish with sliced green onion.

I’d love nothing more than a delicious bite of King Cake, but I’m going to behave this “Not-So-Fat-Tuesday”!

Jambalaya for lunch & supper?
Enjoy your day as well!

Fat Tuesday Flavor

While I have never attended Mardi Gras (and I probably never will), I am quite fascinated with all of the color, celebration, and culture that surrounds this lavish season each year.  It’s a lot of fun to bring some of that to our own dinner table as the kids discuss the celebration in school and catch glimpses of specials on the Travel Channel or Food Network.
Many times I go all out, decorating our entire dining room, but this year I kept it, while festive, rather low-key yet colorful, using masks Audley & I purchased last summer while in New Orleans.

Our menu for the evening was actually quite simple and consisted of Shrimp Creole and rice, Crab cakes, French green beans, and Dijon deviled eggs.  
It was a lot of fun to fix and was devoured by the entire family as a little New Orleans jazz played in the background.
This was the first time I have ever attempted crab cakes, a dish my husband has never been fond, or have my children tried.  I wanted crab cakes though, and despite my reservations made them anyway.  
1 6.5 ounce can crab meat
3/4 cup Panko (Japanese) bread crumbs, unseasoned
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 green onions, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon seafood spice rub* (I used Potlatch seasoning from Williams-Sonoma)
1 egg, slightly whisked
salt to taste
**You can replace the seafood spice rub with creole seasoning for another unique flavor**

In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients, mixing well.  

In a skillet heat 1/2 inch of canola oil until it sizzles.  Cooking in batches, shape your crab patties into 3-inch rounds and gently place in the skillet as to not splash yourself with the hot oil.

Cook on each side about two minutes and remove from hot oil to drain on a paper towel.

Garnish with slivered green onion and lemon.

A little extra squeeze of a lemon slice at the table made for a wonderful little crab cake.  Everyone, including dear Audley, devoured them.  
{As for me, I loved how they turned out!}  
They’ll make a perfect appetizer for any occasion, which adds variety to any menu.  
Linking up with Foodie Friday this week.  Be sure to check out all of the other recipes posted this week.

A Little Flavor of New Orleans

It’s always fun to try out new flavors at the dinner table.  It is really easy to find yourself stuck in a rut when cooking for the family, especially when they have their favorite dishes or your not eating supper until 8:30 or 9:00 at night!  Throwing our own little Mardi Gras party last week allowed me to add a little spice (that thankfully wasn’t Mexican!) to our supper. 
Our Mardi Gras Menu consisted of Shrimp Cocktail, Red Snapper Courtboullion, Rice, Succotash, and beignets for dessert.  The courtbullion was a combination of several recipes, but it turned out great!  It was also a great way to utilize some of the tomatoes I canned late last summer.  Nothing like homegrown goodness in the winter!  
Here is the version of courtbullion that I made for our family dinner.
Red Snapper Courtboullion

2 slices fresh ginger
Zest of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves
2 fresh sprig of thyme
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sweet onions, wedged
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes
1/2 cup Chenin blanc
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (less if you do not like the heat)
3 T. sugar
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
4 Red Snapper fillets
sliced chives or green onion tops for garnish
1. In a large dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery to the melted butter and cook about five minutes, until the onions begin to turn a pale golden color.  Stir often for even cooking and to prevent burning.  Add the garlic and sautée about a minute to release the fragrance.
2. Make a bouquet garni using the ginger, lemon zest, thyme and bay leaves:  Crush the ginger slices first to release the flavor.  Arrange the seasonings on a small square of cheesecloth and secure it with kitchen string.
3.  Add the bouquet garni to the dutch oven along with the wine, tomatoes, and cayenne pepper.  Raise the heat a little and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently , stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes. 
4.  Add the sugar, salt and pepper.  Taste for bitterness.  You may want to add a bit more sugar.  
5. Salt and pepper the fish fillets.  Arrange them on top of the courtboullion, spooning some of the sauce over the fish.  Cover the pan and continue cooking until the fish is cooked through and beginning to flake.  This will take about 10 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish.
Discard the bouquet garni and spoon the courtboullion over hot steamed rice.  
I’ll be honest with you mine was not a juicy as it should have been as I lost track of time and let too much of the juices evaporate.  Despite that mistake, the courtboullion tasted really fabulous.  This would also be delicious made with shrimp as well.
I thought that I would share my beignet recipe here as well……..
I found this delicious mix at World Market, Chattanooga
If you are ever in New Orleans, Cafe du Mode is THE place for beignets.  Since I figured that there was no way to mimic these, I would shoot as close to perfection as possible!

Our Own Mardi Gras Table

We don’t celebrate Mardi Gras as a religious holiday in our home, nor is it a drunken party, but instead the color, the music, and the culture of New Orleans are the purpose behind our celebration.  I took the time to set a fun table for my family and prepared the most authentic supper I could for us all.  We really had a lot of fun laughing and sitting down to supper together, which is often difficult with four children all going different directions and a hubby who travels for work.  Making this evening special for us was my number one goal.
Enjoy a peek of our colorful evening.
The masks, beads, and coins are from Party City, The candle holders from Hobby Lobby.
The colorful “table runner” are actually green and purple placemats overlapped from back when I sold Tupperware.  The short glasses that we served non-alcoholic Hurricanes from are purple fleur de lis glasses from World Market.
I served our shrimp cocktails from the Tasting glasses that I found at Pier One back before Christmas.
I have been blessed with children who are not picky eaters, so it makes planning meals so much fun!  They are always up to my crazy ideas and plenty appreciative for the crazy whims I indulge in.

Our menu for the evening:
 Shrimp cocktails
 Red Snapper Courtbullion

In the next couple of days I will share some of these delicious recipes with you, so be sure to stop back by!