Janet's Notebook
Let the Good Times Roll With These Easy Recipes for Mardi Gras


Miniature King Cakes


Mardi Gras begins on the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and ends on Fat Tuesday which is always the day before Ash Wednesday. It's a festival filled with parades and, of course, great food before the Lenten season begins.

King Cakes are found everywhere during Mardi Gras. It's thought the cake was brought to New Orleans from France in the 1800s. Decorated in the official Mardi Gras colors of purple (for justice), green (for faith) and gold (for power), they're festive and delicious.

To make the perfect King Cake can be a process. Kim Phillips-Randolph (Centralia, IL) takes a shortcut for her Miniature King Cakes recipes that make these easy to prepare.

She uses canned buttermilk biscuits that create a nice, soft cake. The filling is slightly spicy thanks to the nutmeg (but not overpowering). With a slight citrus flavor, the glaze is fantastic.

You can't go to New Orleans and not have a beignet. Dough is fried and coated in powdered sugar. They're a bit messy to eat and, along with a cup of chicory coffee, a tasty treat.

Donna Morales (New Orleans, LA) grew up eating them and shared her Authentic Beignets recipe. Light and fluffy, this recipe is heavenly.

"I used to cook at an old-fashioned family-friendly general store and every year around Mardi Gras I always made jambalaya," explains Gary Bannon. "It was always a favorite and although I haven't worked there in years I still get requests to make it."

Gary's Jambalaya will be a hit at any Mardi Gras party. He puts his twist on Creole (red) jambalaya. The combination of seasonings (like cayenne, oregano, thyme) add tons of flavor to this recipe. With the hot smoked sausage and spices, there is definitely a kick to this meal.

A yummy way to kick off Fat Tuesday would be with Robert Priddy's (Tahlequah, OK) Bayou Breakfast. C'est si bon!! (That's Cajun French saying for "It's so good!")

"Make some good ole fashion biscuits to go with it and you got yourself a meal," says Robert. This breakfast casserole is bursting with Cajun flavor.

"The Crawfish Balls are very rich and filling, but delicious," shares Dina Breaux (Morse, LA). "They were a hit the first time I made them and get better every time." The sweet crawfish tails mixed with the onions and parsley is perfect.

I really like that these are baked not fried. By rolling in the bread crumbs before baking, the crawfish balls come out of the oven with a slight crust.

"Born in Louisiana it is mandatory you know how to make a good gumbo," jokes Levy Vegas. His Vegas Chicken and Gumbo recipe is delicious.

The aroma of the roux as I was whisking it made me know this was going to be a good dish! Gumbo begins by making a dark roux. A roux is made by mixing together fat and flour (in this recipe it's butter and flour). As it cooks and becomes darker, the flavor increases. Filled with pieces of chicken and smoked sausage, serve this delicious gumbo over white rice for a hearty meal.

Since not everyone can make it to Mardi Gras, these full-flavored recipes bring the taste of New Orleans to your kitchen. If you want to learn about Mardi Gras, check out this article. Happy Pinching!



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