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!

Mardi Gras Inspiration

Mardi Gras is not one of those occasions that everyone celebrates, but it holds certain appeal to me for a reason that I can’t explain.  I love the color, the excitement, the over-indulgence, and just the crazy celebration that goes along with it!  Each year around this fabulous carnival season, I plan our own evening of excess for the family.   When Fat Tuesday rolls around next week, all of us will sit down and feast in our own grand style!


I have put together an inspiration collage of some of the things that I have collected for our own party next week.
Wreath created by myself using sparkle glasses from Dollar Tree, ribbon & beads from Hobby Lobby; coins from Party City; boa & candleholders from Hobby Lobby; Mask from Dollar Tree; Bourbon Street photo by me.


Starting with a wreath on the front door and going to vibrant color in the dining room, I want a party that makes the kids feel happy.  The traditional purple, gold and green of Mardi Gras certainly give the burst of color I want.


Since my table is not set yet (there are plenty of meals between now and Tuesday), I thought that I would share a little inspiration that I have collected to get your own creative juices flowing.
First impressions set the mood for any party, whether it’s just the family or you have invited guests over.  Making an attractive entryway the most logical beginning.  I used a wreath, but don’t you just love this use of Christmas garland and lights with the Mardi Gras touches?




Tables are always fun to set.  Flowers and candles are no longer the “go-to” centerpiece.  Using things from around the house or that go with your theme can really make a table memorable.
TheTablescaper. blogspot.com
From masks and beads to Christmas ornaments that fit your color scheme, it all works together for the perfect table.  When Audley and I were able to visit New Orleans last summer, I collected a few souvenirs that I want to incorporate in my setting.  Make it fun.  After all, Mardi Gras is a Carnival!


b dunn interiors
Color scheme also makes a table memorable.  While I prefer the traditional colors of Mardi Gras of purple, green and gold; black and gold make a lovely setting as well.  Of course any bright color combination goes well with this carnival season just as long as it has a great deal of sparkle and you “over-do” it just a bit!


The Garden Web


wedding & party network
 This inspiration board has a mixture of the traditional decor with the non-traditional.  Color and lay-out often says more than traditional elements of the holiday.



And a final touch for any Mardi Gras table is the perfect dish that fits the theme.  It’s Mardi Gras; think seafood, creole or cajun flavor, rice …. throw on a little Jazz and let your imagination roll!

“Mardi Gras is a state of mind.” 
~ Ed Muniz

Tell me, do you celebrate Mardi Gras?