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Any Day Can Be Mardi Gras

Our family Wednesday night theme dinner last week was Mardi Gras.  We were late.  Mardi Gras this year was celebrated 8 days earlier, Fat Tuesday.  But, who cares?  Why can't any day can be Mardi Gras?

James R. Creecy in his book Scenes in the South, and Other Miscellaneous Pieces describes New
Orleans Mardi Gras in 1835:
Shrove Tuesday is a day to be remembered by strangers in New Orleans, for that is the day for fun, frolic, and comic masquerading. All of the mischief of the city is alive and wide awake in active operation.
Fun and frolic is certainly one way to get your kids engaged in enjoying a family dinner together.  Usually celebrated on fat Tuesday, to prepare for lent I feel that you can use this at home to celebrate fun and celebrate being goofy.  Unintentionally, we celebrated it just in time to kick off our beach body readiness. Just about 30 days before spring break this was our last binge before bikini season.  In a way, it was our own Fat Tuesday.

Our menu:
-bayou shrimp
-lobster bisque with crusty bread
-healthier chicken and Andouille jambalaya

To set the stage for a "party" instead of dinner we had the Dirty Dozen Brass Band station on Pandora and fancy kid cocktails.

Healthier Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya

Printable Version
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 pound chicken andouille, sausage, cut crosswise into slices
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cups brown rice
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
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Instructions
  • Heat the oil in a large cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1 teaspoon of the cayenne. Stirring often, brown the vegetables for about 20 minutes, or until they are caramelized and dark brown in color. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pot. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often for 10 to 15 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen any browned particles.
  • Season the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Add the chicken and the bay leaves to the pot. Brown the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to coat evenly. Add the water, stir to combine, and cover. Cook over medium heat for 45 to 60 minutes, without stirring, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
  • Stir in the green onions and serve.
  • Notes: resist the temptation to add additional seasonings. There is something magical about the bay and cayenne combination.
  • This recipe is adapted from www.emerils.com

Hurricane Punch

 
Ingredients
  • 1 6oz can pineapple juice
  • 2 oranges peeled
  • 1 lime peeled
  • maraschino cherries and juice
  • 1 cup ice
Instructions
  • Place juice, oranges, lime and ice in blender and blend until smooth. Add to cocktail glass and top with cherries and cherry juice.

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