Sunday, January 24, 2010

Foodbuzz 24,24,24: MARDI GRAS IN THE CUL de SAC

HOW EXCITING! My proposal was accepted by FOODBUZZ to be a part of their monthly 24,24,24 promotion. 24 meals, hosted by 24 bloggers, all in 24 hours.

But, I am a little torn as to how to cover the event. If it was tomorrow, I would cover the fun and neighborly comradeship that was created by having a neighborhood event. BUT, the New orleans Saints are playing for a birth in the Superbowl tonight. When (OK, if) they win, there will be a HUGE demand for any and all Cajun themed recipes. SO, I decided to cover this as a recipe challenge. 13 Cajun/New Orleans themed recipes all in one convenient spot. It's fun and easy to host your own event. No need to go crazy like I did, just pick a couple and let those good times roll! I also pointed out several dishes that are just a mail order away to create an instant no fuss party. So, here's how we do things in the Cul de Sac's of Kansas... Cajun style.



Long time readers of my blog know that I am in love with all things Cajun and New Orleans! So, my plan was easy... To host a neighborhood Mardi Gras party in my Kansas suburban home. I could never duplicate the revelry of being in New Orleans on Mardi Gras night, but I could sure duplicate a lot of the food and drinks... And in my own way, create the look and feel but mostly the tastes of New Orleans...

My menu for the night...

I greeted my guests with a New Orleans classic as an Amuse-Bouche... A MUFFALETTA Sandwich. Well, with 2 kinds of cheese and 3 kinds of meat, I actually just gave out 1/12th of a sandwich... just something to get the night rolling while I passed out...

Drinks ...I have a well stocked bar, but I had pitchers ready of...

  1. New Orleans themed BEER on ice (Blackened Voodoo and Dixie Lager)
  2. Pitchers of Hurricanes (I am a certified bartender, I made a couple small changes to the classic recipe)
  3. Non-alcoholic Sweet Tea (ala Mary from Deep South Dish)


  1. Spinach/mushroom/pecan pinwheels (an original recipe)
  2. Brie en Croute (ala Arnaud's Restaurant)
  3. Spicy Cajun Shrimp

Main Courses (it looks like lots of rice, but when I plated these I put a scoop of rice in the center, and arranged the meals around the single mound of rice

  1. Red Beans and rice (from a recipe featured on Alton Brown's GOOD EATS TV show)
  2. Jambalaya (from a recipe I learned when I was at the NEW ORLEANS SCHOOL OF COOKING)
  3. ALLIGATOR Etouffee (yeap, gator tail meat, I received mail order from the CAJUN GROCER)
  4. Shrimp Stuffed Chicken (again, I received mail order from the CAJUN GROCER easy peasy, just heat and serve)
And finally, dessert

  1. A Pina Colada Bread Pudding (Adapted from a recipe I learned when I was at the NEW ORLEANS SCHOOL OF COOKING)
  2. And no Mardi Gras celebration would be complete without a King Cake (again, I received mail order from the CAJUN GROCER)
A lucky thirteen items to serve... Only nine that had to be made. Thanks to the CAJUN GROCER, The King Cake, Shrimp Stuffed Chicken were already made, and the beer just needed to go on ice. Everything worked as planned, but it sure did take a lot of planning and to cover it all, I asked for some help from my blogging friends...

First, I set the mood. When I sent out the invitations (email made that easy), I asked everyone to come dressed as tacky tourists. We're Kansans, we invented tacky. I also picked out appropriate music and headed to the dollar store and Goodwill for decorations. In order to keep this LOOOOOOOOONG post a bit shorter, I asked a few fellow blogging friends to allow me to take over their blogs and let me guest post. Martha at MENAGERIE is hosting my guest post about setting the mood. Click HERE to see that post.

I got 12 responses... A dozen friends and neighbors were coming to party Cajun style... Time to get to work.

Next, I did my liqueur shopping. Good thing about booze, if you don't finish it at this party, it won't go bad. All I had to buy that was perishable was the orange and pineapple juices I used in the Hurricanes. I made all the drinks in advance, a pitcher of sweet tea (the house wine of the south, but it is non-alcoholic for my non-drinking friends), and a pitcher of my version of a Hurricane. I got a GREAT recipe (which is now a staple in my fridge) for sweet tea from a real Southern gal, Mary from DEEP SOUTH DISH. She let me guest post on her site today about my original Hurricane recipe and her Sweet tea recipe. Click HERE to see that post.

Next, I started making everything in advance that I could.

Some of the things had to be made a long time in advance. The red beans and rice features a couple pounds of pork butt that needed to be pickled for at least three days. I am very proud of that recipe, and this is the BEST red beans and rice I have ever eaten. It is also the first recipe I made that originated on GOOD EATS, my favorite show on the Food Network. The fun people at OUR KRAZY KITCHEN allowed me to guest post this recipe on their site today. Click HERE to see that post.

Min from The BAD GIRL's KITCHEN is helping to cover my post about the MUFFALETTA Sandwich I made. Click HERE to see that post. The "MUFF" sandwich, as the locals call it, is a wonderful cold cut sandwich, but the beauty is the olive spread. If you head to the BAD GIRL's KITCHEN you'll see a recipe to recreate that spread.

My personal favorite of the night (and a BIG hit) was my recipe for PINA COLADA BREAD PUDDING! I made the bread pudding earlier in the day, but when I served it, I warmed it up a bit in the oven. I also made the whiskey sauce fresh, which was warm, so the dessert was served warm. This bread pudding features white chocolate chips, pineapple, coconut, pecans and that hard sauce. It is not to be missed, and would be the hit of your Mardi Gras/Superbowl party. Tamy, the host at 3 SIDES OF CRAZY let me guest post this recipe on her site. Click HERE to see that post... You will not be sorry, a very easy recipe that is a real crowd-pleaser!

During the next 4 days, I will post my recipes for Jambalaya,
Spinach/mushroom/pecan pinwheels (an original recipe), Brie en Croute (ala Arnaud's Restaurant) and Spicy Cajun Shrimp.

But for the rest of this special 24,24,24 post, I want to give you the best advice possible to make your Mardi Gras/Superbowl party a success... T
he CAJUN GROCER website. If you head to their website, you will find plenty of recipes and an amazing assortment of spices and specialty foods needed to make an authentic Cajun night in Kansas (or world wide). The TONY CAHACHERE's SHRIMP STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST came mail order from the CAJUN GROCER website. It certainly made that main course easy, just heat and serve! But I also got two of my biggest hits of the night from them. Items that you can not easily get in Kansas (or outside of Cajun Country...

Here's what The CAJUN GROCER website says about their Mardi Gras King Cakes...

We offer two delicious styles of King Cakes. The first is the popular Mardi Gras King Cake. This cake starts with our signature recipe of fresh brioche dough. The dough is formed into a ring and then filled with your choice of cream cheese, fruits, nuts or a combination of these fillings. The cake is then baked and covered with our homemade icing and colored sugar in purple, green and gold. The cake is packaged with Mardi Gras Beads and a plastic baby that you can insert before serving. Our king cakes are produced by Poupart's Bakery in Lafayette, LA. Poupart's is an authentic French Parisian bakery making the freshest pastries daily for over 40 years. Their king cake is one of kind, we guarantee you'll love it.

AND WE DID LOVE IT! It made a very festive centerpiece for our party.

But the real star of the Main courses I served (at least the course that everyone was most interested in, and they continued to talk about the whole night) was the Alligator Etouffee! Again, I got my alligator from
the CAJUN GROCER website. I used a recipe I found on Mary's site, DEEP SOUTH DISH. A asked her advice on cooking Alligator, and she suggested this recipe for shrimp Creole...

Shrimp Creole
Posted at

1 pound of medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
(I Substituted Alligator for the Shrimp)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of Land O'Lakes butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 (28-ounce) can of whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of water
Cajun seasoning, to taste
Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Couple dashes of hot sauce, optional, to taste
1 green onion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Hot, steamed rice

Peel and devein the shrimp, rinsing well. Pat dry with some paper towels and set aside.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil and butter together over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, green bell pepper and celery and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Whirl the tomatoes through the food processor until crushed, add to the veggie mixture. Add the salt, cayenne pepper, garlic and bay leaf and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until reduced and thickened.

Make a slurry of the flour and water and stir into the tomato mixture. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning and add immediately to the tomato mixture. Add a couple of shakes of the Worcestershire sauce and the hot sauce, and stir together. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes, or until shrimp is opaque and cooked through. Stir in the green onion and parsley and keep on low until well incorporated and heated through. Serve over hot, boiled or steamed rice.

If you click HERE, you will get to Mary's original posting of this recipe with lots of photos and tips to make it work for you.

So, there you have it. We had dancing and drinking, we ate more than we should have, we enjoyed each other's company and made the neighborhood a more friendly place to be.

cajuns have a saying ...

Laissez les bons temps rouler
translated for Kansans,


Mardi Gras or the Super Bowl, what a great excuse to have a party!

I got my love of New Orleans from several vacations I have taken. This last year, I had such an incredible n ight of fun at Arnaud's restaurant. The good folks at Arnaud's are helping to make my party memorable with a give away... A copy of their cookbook. Double click the photo of the cover to the right to learn how to enter this wonderful freebie contest!

THE Cajun Grocer ... Mail order supplier for all your Mardi Gras Party Needs! I want to thank the good folks at CAJUN GROCER for helping to make this possible, and for FOODBUZZ 24.24.24 for covering the fun.

And of course, I love my fellow bloggers for letting me guest post. Take a minute and visit their sites and drop em a comment... Tell em Hi from me!


I need a nap.


  1. Wow! That looks amazingly delicious. Thanks again for the sandwich recipe! And congratulations!

  2. Oh I wish I was in Kansas too!!! Everyone looks like they had a SPECTACULAR time! I love that Kansans invented tacky!

  3. I hosted a New Orleans themed party a couple of years ago (not as extensive as yours) and wanted to make Turtle Soup. I was going to ship in some turtle meat and couldn't find any. Wish I would have known about Cajun Grocer back then. Your party sounds fantastic Dave and if I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times "I want to move to your block"

  4. Congratz on getting a 24! I've been wanting to submit one, but I haven't been able to think of a good idea. Looks like a good time, wish I could have been there!

  5. Wow this is such a whirlwind of Cajun food. Everything looks delicious, I wish I could have been there to party with you and eat all of it!

    If I were you. I would need way more than a nap. Possibly a few months' worth of sleep.

  6. I think I can hear snoring from here! You did an excellent job Dave! Everything looks absolutely delicious and I can only imagine what a good time was had by all! We may have to change the name of your blog to The Party King!

  7. Wow, wow, wow! I am soooo making that bread pudding!

  8. LMAO @ "We're Kansans, we invented tacky".

    Sounds like a very fun night. What time did the police arrive? (ha ha)

  9. What a wonderful party. The food looks amazing. You will be catering before you know it!

  10. Great job Dave! Looks like it was a success. Congrats!!

  11. Holy Shit - what a great post and what a great time!

    I worked in a law firm in Chicago once, and our local counsel was from New Orleans - I took a piece of King Cake, not knowing about the hidden baby bringing luck to anyone who got that piece.

    I bit down, and out popped this tiny naked baby. I had visions of a toddler in the bakery throwing it in the dough when no one was looking!

    GREAT JOB and CONGRATS on the Food Buzz 24!

  12. Wow, Dave, I'm ready for a nap just reading about your festivities! I was raised in Kansas and have to agree about the tacky. Love it!

  13. What an awesome time!!!!
    Your Saints may win too!

  14. Are you going to post your Hurricane recipe? I need a good one!

    Go Vikes!

  15. WHOO WHOO The Saints just won their ticket to the big show! The Good times are rollin now!

    And Tamilyn, the recipe for teh hurricanes I posted on Mary's site...

  16. I totally understand why you need a nap! What a wonderful Cajun bash! Everything looks fabulous and Alligator Etouffee? You've outdone yourself again, cher! And the Pina Colada Bread Pudding is "to die for"! Great cookbook, too! Black and Gold- SUPER BOWL!

  17. Sounds like a lot of fun! You can't go wrong with Cajun goodies. Yum! Everything looks and sounds delicious!

  18. Tsau Party King!
    I really think I miss something very, I mean very tasty and special living here not there - I'm in Egypt!
    Maybe I should take the next flight and we could party together??!! :)

    Martha sent me here! and what a party we had - thank you Dave!

  19. I adore Cajun and Creole cooking. And for that kind of spread, I might have considered moving to your neighborhood to get me some! ;)

    As a side note, have you ever read "Real Cajun", a Cookbook by Donald Link? I loved the stories, photos and recipes. Check it out if you can.

  20. FANTASTIC spread! what a fun themed party, congrats on getting to participate! and good luck iwth your move, what exciting news!

  21. Congrats on 24-24-24, Dave! You deserve it. I'm so very happy for you! What a feast!!!

  22. Lucky, lucky you to be moving to the Virgin Islands! I am jealous beyond words. Now you can truly grill year round.

  23. That's a whole lotta food. And fun! Great 24 post.