Thursday, February 2, 2012

'Laissez les bon temps rouler!'

For those of you who don't know, the title of this post, 'Laissez les bon temps rouler!' translates into the following ... 'LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!'  This I have heard a lot in my life, as I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States.  I know, I know, most of you equate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, but the truth is, it was in Mobile first!  So, it's no wonder that I am eager to share it with Maggie, though we no longer live in an area that celebrates it.  All of Maggie's friends were unavailable for a Mardi Gras play date when we were hoping to have it, so we did the next best thing ... we had a play date with Mom's friends instead!  Maggie wasn't upset.  She loves her Aunt Lainey and she was excited to help me plan a Cajun-themed dinner and decorate for our dinner party.  She also was amped because a few days after our party, she knew she'd be headed back to Mobile for a visit with her grandparents and a much anticipated trip to a Mardi Gras parade! (Homeschooling is awsome.)  Anyway, enough chat ... Laissez les bon temps rouler!

I thought I'd share some music to set the mood of this post ... and Mardi Gras itself!  I LOVE this song!  Enjoy!
Of course, we couldn't celebrate Mardi Gras without a King Cake!  The King Cake represents a jeweled crown, with Mardi Gras' three famed colors, purple, green, and gold, as the carnival season begins on Three Kings Day, in honor of the three kings who brought gifts to Jesus after he was born.  To be honest, I had never had a homemade one before, just the ones that you can get in the Bakery area at grocery stores (which are flat and somewhat lacking in taste, if you ask me!), so I was determined to make one from scratch.  I was thrilled to find a recipe in my February 2012 issue of Family Fun magazine (page 88).  (Their recipe is also on the web at  Here, Mags is preparing the dough ...
... and kneading it!  The recipe calls for lots of kneading and rising, but it's all well worth the effort!
 Once we had made the filling the recipe called for, and rolled it into our bread dough, we made the cake's traditional round shape, and cut slits into the same, one of which will hide the cake's famed plastic baby.  (The baby represents Jesus, and tradition says that whoever finds the baby in their piece shall host the next King Cake party.  Some also say that it will bring the finder luck.)
 Looking great after baking!  Now, time to hide the baby in one of the slashes and ice and decorate it!
 Our masterpiece!  I was so excited that it came out so well!  Our first King Cake, and certainly not our last!  And the baby was hidden so well!  It tasted even better than it looked!  (A couple of our guests even compared it to a Cinnabon cinnamon roll!)
Then, we made the 'Red Beans and Rice' recipe from the same issue, also seen here:  It tasted great, but here's a tip:  Make it a day early and reheat it for your guests.  It tasted so much better the second night after it had time to sit.  My husband raved it about it and for those of you who don't know, he's a professional chef!  A great recipe!
This is the picture from the magazine, and quite an accurate photo if you compare it to how mine looked.
And, of course, we topped the meal off with our famous 'Sour Cream Cornbread' recipe.  This recipe was taken from an old cookbook, The Farm House Cookbook, from a restaurant of the same name near here that closed years ago.  (Thanks to my friend, Melinda, for passing this book on to me!)  This cornbread is to die for.  It is the best cornbread you'll ever eat in your life, I swear it.  (And here is where I admit to you that the picture below is not from the Mardi Gras party.  For the first time EVER, something happened when I made the cornbread from Mardi Gras night and I somehow messed it up, but it's hard to do.  Normally, it should look like the one below, which I made for a country-themed movie party we had, hence the rooster plate.  I apologize again to my Mardi Gras dinner guests that they didn't get the cornbread they were used to and hoping for!)  Here is the recipe:
1 1/2 cups self-rising corn meal 
2 tablespoons sugar 
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned cream style corn
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup sour cream
Directions:  Mix all ingredients well.  Grease a 9-inch round cake pan well.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake in 400-degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until set and lightly brown.  Let cool a bit before serving.
And, of course, no dinner party is complete at our house without themed decorations ...
... or a craft!  We bought these foiled masks at Dollar Tree (6/$1) and added feathers, glue, sequins, and rhinestones to the table so everyone could make their own while we waited for dinner.
At each person's place, we put their mask, a festive horn, and some beads so they could get in the spirit!  (It was Maggie's idea to write everyone's name in paint pen on our plastic tablecloth at each place setting!  Like mother, like daughter ... I love it!)
 Here's everybody, working on their masks!
 Aunt Lainey!
 Mags was crowned Queen of Mardi Gras after she got more trivia questions right then any other guest!  (I did rig it so that she would win!)
 We had so much fun!  Rebecca, Lainey, Melinda, Danny, and of course, Queen Mags!
 The next morning, she was still sporting the mask she made!
And, of course, here are a couple of pics of Mags, enjoying her trip to Mobile.  Here, she's playing with Grandma, waiting for the Mardi Gras parade!
And after the parade, on her way back to Grandma's house, moonpie in hand and 41 strands of beads richer!  
We hope this post gives you ideas to celebrate a little bit of Mardi Gras in your own home!  But the most important thing to remember when celebrating?  

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