This weekend involved a ton of work, and… not much of everything else. But I did take a break on Saturday night to throw my annual Mardi Gras fete (“Party Gras!”), so let’s recap that, shall we?
I made basically the same menu as last year, except I cut the King Cake from the rotation. Even though it’s a classic Mardi Gras dish, and the tradition of baking a baby into it is fun, I’m not really a big fan of King Cake. However, that made the prep a lot easier, since the only thing I had to make ahead of time was the banana pudding, and everything else came together quickly.
I started cooking at 5:00pm, with guests set to arrive at 6:00pm. That was a bit later than I had intended, but I ended up having everything ready by 6:15pm – so not too bad! Here was my lineup:
Healthy crab dip – this got rave reviews this year, and was really quick and easy to put together. Mix Greek yogurt and cream cheese, add in some spices and crab, bake, and top with parmesan. I served it with baby carrots and Triscuits.
Cajun corn maque choux – simple and tasty side dish; just chop and saute the peppers/onions, toss in spices and corn, and it’s ready.
Jambalaya – I doubled the amount of meat (and used chicken and chicken sausage) and broth, but forgot to double the veggies. Oops! That made this dish a lot more soup-like than stew-like, which I tried to fix mid-party with some extra cornstarch. That only partially worked; however, it was still delicious when ladled over…
Red beans and rice – I almost took a shortcut and grabbed a few boxes of Zatarain’s, but then told myself not to be silly and just make it from scratch. Rice + spices + red beans = why on earth would I buy this prepackaged when it’s so easy to put together??
Southern banana pudding – My first boyfriend in New York was obsessed with Magnolia Bakery’s banana pudding, and I grew to love it too, so this copycat recipe was a fun way to recreate the deliciousness. This year, I used banana pudding mix instead of vanilla, and it made it much richer – highly recommend that swap.
Hurricanes – I remembered that last year’s mix was way strong, so this year I cut back further. My variation on the recipe this year: 1 cup dark rum, 1 cup light rum, 1 cup pine-orange-banana juice, 1 cup fruit punch, and a splash of Grenadine. I used these carafes to pre-mix the drinks, which also made it easy for people to have tastes of the hurricanes rather than full glasses, or even to mix the base with extra juice or seltzer. They were a big hit! And everyone made it home safely afterward 😉
In all, Mardi Gras is one of my favorite theme parties of the year – so I’m glad I didn’t cancel it like I was thinking on Friday I might need to do! The prep was easy and the company was fantastic – I’m already looking forward to next year’s fete.