My husband loves all things New Orleans, specifically Mardi Gras. He loves it so much that I threw him a Mardi Gras-themed party for his 40th birthday. Every year since I have tried to capture a little of that spirit at home for our family. This year Mardis Gras falls on February 13. So, if you can’t get there for the real thing, here are the ingredients for an authentic Georgia carnival!
The Food (La nourriture)
No celebration is complete without a King Cake. King Cakes are traditionally oval to show unity. They are colored green, gold, and purple, representing faith, power, and justice, respectively. Of course, there is always a plastic baby inside for good luck. You can order them online, but if you like to bake, here is a quick and easy recipe.
- 2 cans store-bought cinnamon rolls (I used Pillsbury Flaky Cinnamon Rolls with Butter Cream Icing)
- Yellow, green and purple sugar
- 1 plastic toy baby, if desired
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place cinnamon rolls sideways on a large cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with a silicone mat. Arrange cinnamon rolls in a circular pattern. It should look like a flower when you're done. Press down on cinnamon rolls with your hand to flatten them slightly.
- Bake according to package instructions. Let cool.
- Frost with the buttercream that comes with the cinnamon rolls. Add yellow, green and purple sugar.
- Serve immediately or store covered for up to 24 hours at room temperature. It is best when eaten the first day.
Beignets – I recommend picking up a box of Café du Monde mix and some powdered sugar (I get mine at The Fresh Market). Café Du Monde is a hot spot in New Orleans and makes its own coffee, too.
You don’t have to be on the bayou to enjoy some yummy gumbo – make it easy on yourself by preparing ahead in the crockpot. Pair it with a virgin Hurricane, the signature drink at the legendary Pat O’Brien’s. Just mix 2 oz. orange juice, 2 oz. cranberry juice, 1 oz. grapefruit juice, 1 oz. apple juice, crushed ice, and an orange slice.
- 1lb Chicken Breast (cut into bite size pieces)
- 1lb Smoked Sausage (kielbasa, farmers sausage, garlic sausage, etc)
- 1lb Shrimp, raw and shells removed (I left tails on for more flavor)
- 1 Onion, diced
- 1 Green pepper, diced
- 1 Hot pepper, (jalapeno, serrano, scotch bonnet, habanero, etc) (optional!!!)
- 3 ribs Celery, diced
- 1 can Diced tomatoes (28 oz)
- 3 tsp Garlic, minced
- 2 C Chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp. Cajun spice (or more if you prefer)
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1 1/3 C Rice (cooked)
- Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker, except for the shrimp and the rice.
- Cook on low for 6 – 7 hours, stirring occasionally
- In last hour of cooking, salt the shrimp lightly, and then add them to the crock pot
- In the last half hour of cooking, add the rice and stir. Replace cover. You want the rice just to warm through and take on some of the cooking flavors.
- Serve with crusty bread, and enjoy!
The Music (La musique)
Get down and boogie with your kids to some of these classics:
Carnival Time – Al Johnson
Show Me That Dance Called Second Line – New Birth Brass Band
When the Saints Go Marchin’ In – Louis Armstrong
Go To the Mardi Gras – Professor Longhair
Jock-A-Mo – Sugar Boy Crawford and his Cane Cutters
Hey Pocky a-Way – The Meters
Do Whatcha Wanna, Pt. 3 – Rebirth Brass Band
Meet de Boys on the Battlefront – Bo Dillis and The Wild Magnolias
Jambalaya (On the Bayou) – Hank Williams
The Costumes (Les costumes)
Beads – Party City is your hook-up for beads – the bigger the better. You can also try Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading Company.
Masks – Again, you can buy these, but making them with your kids could be fun too. Just get some paper plates and popsicle sticks. Cut the paper plate in half, cut out two eye holes, and paste the popsicle to the side of the mask. Color with green, purple, and yellow markers, glitter, pipe cleaners and feathers. The crazier, the better!
Jester Hat – Complete the look with this quirky hat. Click here for the template – all you need is paper, scissors, and tape.
In addition to all of the above, there are Parade Cams online so you can show your kids the pageantry, energy, and craziness of the holiday. Have a great Mardi Gras and let the good times roll!!