Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mardi Gras!

Once again this post is a little late, with all the Fat Tuesday festivities I was too pooped to get my blogging done day of!  But to make up for it I've got FOUR recipes for you!

Since high school I've always loved the concept of Fat Tuesday (who doesn't?).  My friends and I used to load up on junk to hide in our lockers and we'd munch between classes.  Now I usually make some treats to send to work for Chris and I then make a cajun dinner with a fun cocktail.  This year of course was no exception.  And what a treat my Daddy and brother joined us!

Unfortunately I haven't been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras but I did visit the city in college.  Talk about a fun and vibrant place!  If you haven't been I'd highly suggest going.  Obviously they know how to throw a party but the food, culture, sights of the city are fabulous!

For Chris and I's work treat I made mini king cake knots.  I did this last year and didn't love the texture of the end result, it was too crunchy.  While perusing through Pinterest I couldn't pick what treat to make so I ended up siding with same as last year but tweaking the recipe.  Last year I used french bread dough (thus making it too crunchy) this year I switched it up and used crescent roll dough and didn't bake them for as long.  They turned out just right!

Mini King Cake Knots
(This made about 16 knots, I doubled the recipe to make 32)
- 1 tube of crescent rolll dough (the seamless sheet works nicely)
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 3 to 4 Tbsp. milk
- green, purple and yellow sprinkles for decorating

- Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, set aside.
- Roll out dough on a flat work surface.
- Brush with butter, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over top.
- With a sharp pairing knife, cut in half lengthwise then cut strips horizontally.

- Take two pieces, twist them together then tie into a knot, stretching if necessary.

- Place on a baking sheet (I line mine with foil for easy cleanup) and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Be carefully not to let them get too brown or they will end up crunchy!

- Remove from baking sheet and let cool (make sure to remove them pretty soon after taking out of the oven, the longer they cool the harder it is to get them off the sheet, that cinnamon and sugar bakes on!
- While they cool, mix together powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.
- You can use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cakes or what I do is take the cake, flip it upsidedown and dunk it in the glaze.
- Sprinkle with colored sugars or sprinkles while glaze is still wet.

- Enjoy!

For dinner we had cajun chicken pasta (side of salad), hurricanes for cocktails and bananas foster for dessert!  The bananas foster idea came about when I was packing my breakfast and realized the bunch of bananas I recently bought was getting ripe very fast!  Plus any excuse to try new cooking tricks and I'm in!  My brother brought his camera and snapped some (much better quality) pictures.

Hurricanes (recipe from The Chew)
Photo credit: Mitch Andrews Photography
- 2 oz. light rum
- 2 oz. dark rum
- 1 oz. orange juice
- 1 oz. grenadine
- splash flat Sprite/7up (the original recipe calls for simple syrup, I didn't have any already made so this was my substitute)
- juice from 1/2 lime

- Mix all ingredients in a shaker or pitcher over ice.
- Pour into hurricane glass or tall glass filled halfway with ice, garnish with an orange slice if you'd like.
- Enjoy!

These were pretty potent but still pretty delicious.  Originally I was going to go get a mix from the store but I'm glad I didn't as those always turn out too sweet.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
(this was dinner for four, if making for two just reduce the recipe by half)
Photo credit: Mitch Andrews Photography
- 8 oz. fettucine
- 3 to 4 chicken breasts, cut in strips
- 2 tsp. cajun seasoning (or just to taste depending on how spicy you like it or the strength of your seasoning)
- 2 medium bell peppers (I did one red and one orange)
- 1 shallot sliced (or 1/2 red onion if you have it)
- 1 c. chicken broth
- 1/3 c. milk
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 3 Tbsp. cream cheese
- garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- olive oil

- Cook fettucine in boiling water until done.
- While pasta is cooking, prep chicken and veggies.  Slice peppers and onion, set aside.  (The original recipe calls for 2 tomatoes and 8 oz. of mushrooms but tomatoes aren't in season and Chris doesn't like mushrooms.)  Slice chicken in strips and season generously with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt.  
- Make a "slurry" (cooking term that just means a thickening agent for your sauce), combine milk, cream cheese and flour.  You can whisk it by hand, I used my immerison blender.  Set aside.
- In a pan over medium high heat, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil, saute chicken until no pink remains, remove from pan and set aside.
- Add a little more olive oil to the pan then saute veggies until tender, season with salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium, add chicken broth and slurry and stir.
- Add chicken and cooked pasta to pan and stir.
- Adjust seasoning to taste and cook till pasta is warmed through and well coated.
- Enjoy!
Note: this also called for three cloves of garlic to be sauted with the other veggies, I left this out.

This is a yummy, lighter pasta.  The cajun seasoning makes it different, with a little kick!
Enjoying our Fat Tuesday Feast!  Photo credit: Mitch Andrews Photography

Bananas Foster
(This made four servings)
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 c. light brown sugar
- 1/4 c. dark rum
- 3 to 4 bananas, peeled, cut in half then sliced in half lengthwise.

- Melt butter in a pan over medium high heat.
- Add brown sugar, mix well until sugar is bubbling but be careful not to burn it.
- Add bananas and cook until carmelized.
- Add rum and catch a flame off the stove if you have a gas stove or catch flame using a BBQ lighter.  Be careful!  Stand back when igniting.
- Let flame die down.
- Serve over vanilla ice cream.
- Enjoy!

For all the hype restaurants/people put around bananas foster, it's really a cinch!  Four ingredients and some kitchen caution and you're all set!  And talk about a delicious dessert, yummmm yummm!

How did you like the pictures my brother did?  Way better than mine right?!  I told him I might have to hire him on full time as my personal blog photog.  Somehow my Dad was not as convinced that I should provide such distractions from his schoolwork.

Well I hope you get to enjoy one or all of these Mardi Gras treats!  Next up, Valentine's Day then Chris and I plus our families are hitting the road!  We're off to Chicago for the Miami vs. Notre Dame outdoor hockey game.  I've got one more Sunday Soup recipe up my sleeve from last week so hopefully I'll get that posted over the weekend.


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