Laissez Bon Temps Rouler!

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Happy Mardi Gras! This, to me, is the most wonderful time of the year. While St. Louis only celebrates the actual day (or the Saturday before for the parade), in New Orleans and Mobile it is celebrated weeks before Fat Tuesday. I went to school in Mobile where the American celebration of Mardi Gras originated. But no matter what they say in Alabama, New Orleans will always throw down the best party. If you’ve never experienced carnival in the South, I encourage you to save your money now and plan your next trip. It is truly something unique and  special, not to mention the only time of year where smelling like cheap beer and wearing so many beads your shoulders feel like they’re going to fall off is acceptable. In fact, it’s encouraged. (I learned last year that you can never have too many beads. I have a 20 gallon size trash bag sitting in my closet from last year’s adventure to prove it.)

Last year, I spent Fat Tuesday sitting in a lake house with a few of my best friends in Waveland, Mississippi. We took a few days after wandering the city streets of New Orleans drinking nothing but Bud Light and Daquris to relax and sleep before school started back up again. (Yes, I had a Mardi Gras break in college.) We also ate as if we hadn’t eaten in a week and a half. More food was consumed on Tuesday than we had eaten all weekend. And none of it was healthy for us because, well, that would defeat the entire purpose of Mardi Gras.

Now that I’m back in St. Louis, where Mardi Gras is still celebrated, I decided I had to continue my tradition of the years past on pigging out. Up until last night, I thought I was working a double on Tuesday so I figured I’d make my planned dinner on Saturday instead. Which ended up working out perfectly because we went to Soulard for a few hours while Cajun smells filled up the crockpot. What did I make you ask? JAMBALAYA OF COURSE! Along with some sweet cheesy biscuits and king cake knots for dessert. Oh yeah, baby. That’s right.

The jambalaya was perfect. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. I COULD have made this healthier (and may do so in the future) but it’s FAT Saturday. I also went grocery shopping at midnight the night before like a crazy housewife, so I was limited on my options. Anyway, back to the jambalaya. Spicy. Mouth-watering. Cajun-y. It made me feel all warm inside. And the biscuits? They were made to be eaten with this dish. With sugar in the recipe, they are the perfect sweet to the spicy jambalaya. Don’t forget to make the king cake knots. They don’t taste exactly like king cake, but they are a close match and much easier to make. My icing didn’t glaze the way it probably should have, but I’m going to blame that on my lack of beaters. I’m sure whipping the ingredients up would thicken it to make it more like frosting. Regardless of the outcome, they were still unbelievable. So much so that I don’t even have any left to eat tonight.

If you’re like me and want to celebrate Fat Tuesday the right way, here’s the perfect meal to do so! I hope you all enjoy and “let the good times roll”!

PS. What are you giving up for Lent? I should be working on that…

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Jambalaya (Crockpot)

adapted from Three Yellow Lemons

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 links smoked sausage, cut into 2 inch slices

2 14oz cans diced tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup chicken broth

2 tsps oregano

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups un-cooked brown rice

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and the tales off

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients except the shrimp and rice in the slow cooker and stir it all up. Cook on low for 5 hours.

Add rice and shrimp and cook on high for about 30-35 minutes longer, until the rice is tender.

Image

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Cheesy Biscuits

from Plain Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Bisquick
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 Tbps sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 425.  Stir together all ingredients just until combined.  Scoop into a muffin pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden. Yields 6 biscuits.
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King Cake Knots

from Plain Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 loaf refrigerated french bread dough
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp milk (may need more to get right consistency)
1/2 tsp vanilla
colored sugar – yellow, purple, green
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Unroll french bread dough into a large rectangle, about 16 by 12 inches. Brush the dough lightly with softened butter. Mix together sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over butter. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into strips about 1 1/4 inches wide. Twist two stips together. Tie each strip loosely into a knot, stretching gently if necessary, and place on baking sheet about 2-inches apart.
Bake for 25-28 minutes. Cool. Mix together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Dip each knot into icing and then sprinkle with colored sugar.
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