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Mardi Gras Party - BeignetsMardi Gras is right around the corner and will be here on Tuesday, March 8th. I’m not sure we’ll get to it this year, but I’d love to host a Mardi Gras party next year. In fact, Tired Dad Dave and I used to have people over for parties all the time, but in the last couple of years our hosting duties have lapsed. Now that Kora & Logan are a bit older, I hope to start having parties again for them and for us. I always enjoy reading good party tips and keep a collection.

I found a great some great Mardi Gras party tips and recipes recently and I thought I’d share them here. Laissez les bons temps rouler and have fun party planning!

How to Host a Mardis Gras Party

Colors: The palette of Mardi Gras is purple, green and yellow or gold. Anything sparkly or frilly will fit: Think masks, feathers and beads. You might not even need to go shopping. Dig out the boxes of Christmas trimmings and string purple ribbon through green or gold Christmas ornaments.

Music: For the perfect Mardi Gras party upbeat Jazz will get everyone moving.

Drinks: Some suggestions include: Hurricanes, Bourbon, and Mimosas. Mimosas with orange juice and white grape soda are perfect for the kids.

Recipes: If you’re planning a Mardi Gras party, these recipes will transport you and your guests straight to New Orleans!

New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

Prep time – 10 min
Total time- 14 hr 40 min
Makes – 8 servings, 1-1/2 cups each


1 lb. dried red beans
12 slices  OSCAR MAYER Bacon, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 large  green pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1   smoked ham hock (3/4 lb.)
3 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup  minced fresh parsley, divided
1 bay leaf
2 tsp.  Cajun seasoning
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp.  ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 cups long-grain white rice (preferably converted), uncooked


RINSE and pick through beans, discarding any misshapen beans or debris. Place beans in large bowl. Add enough water to cover beans by at least 2 inches. Let stand overnight.

DRAIN beans, discarding soaking liquid; set beans aside. Cook bacon in Dutch oven or deep large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon, reserving 2 Tbsp. drippings in pan. Drain bacon on paper towels. Meanwhile, add onions, peppers and garlic to reserved drippings; cook and stir 5 min. or until crisp-tender.

RETURN bacon to pan with beans, ham hock, broth, 2 Tbsp. parsley, bay leaf and seasonings. Bring to boil; simmer on low heat 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until beans are tender and liquid is thickened, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook rice as directed on package during the last 30 min. of the bean cooking time.

REMOVE ham hock and bay leaf; discard bay leaf. Shred meat from ham hock; discard bone and any fat. Stir meat into bean mixture. Serve over rice; top with remaining parsley.

Mardi Gras Jambalaya

Prep time – 15 min
Total time – 1 hr 10 min
Makes – 8 servings


3 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp.  dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. each ground red pepper (cayenne) and black pepper
8   bone-in chicken thighs (2-1/2 lb.), skinned
1 Tbsp. oil
1 large  onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
4 cloves  garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz.) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup  BULL’S-EYE Texas Style Barbecue Sauce
1 pkg. (9 oz.) fully cooked andouille sausage, sliced
3 cups  fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
1/2 lb.  uncooked deveined peeled large shrimp
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley


MIX flour and seasonings in shallow dish. Add chicken; turn to coat both sides of each thigh. Heat oil in Dutch oven or deep large skillet on medium heat. Add 4 chicken thighs; cook 4 min. on each side or until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to plate, reserving drippings in pan; set aside. Repeat with remaining chicken.

ADD onions, green peppers and garlic to drippings in pan; cook and stir 5 min. Stir in tomatoes, barbecue sauce and sausage. Return chicken and any juices from plate to tomato mixture; simmer 25 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF), stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, bring broth to boil in medium saucepan. Stir in rice; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat 20 min. or until broth is absorbed and rice is tender.

ADD shrimp to tomato mixture; simmer 8 min. or until shrimp are done.

SPOON rice into shallow bowls; top with chicken mixture and parsley.

Sour Cream Beignets

Prep time – 5 min
total time – 2 hr 45 min
Makes 4 doz. or 24 servings, 2 beignets each


1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast (not instant)
1/4 cup  granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 cup  milk
1 cup BREAKSTONE’S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp.  salt
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour, divided
Oil, for frying
3/4 cup powdered sugar


SPRINKLE yeast and 1 tsp. granulated sugar over warm water in large bowl; stir until dissolved. Let stand 5 min. Add remaining granulated sugar, milk, sour cream, vanilla, baking soda, salt and 4-1/2 cups flour; beat with mixer until well blended, stopping occasionally to scrape bottom and side of bowl. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form soft dough.

PLACE dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 10 min. or until smooth and elastic, gradually adding remaining flour if dough is too sticky. Place in well-greased bowl; turn dough so top is greased. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

PUNCH down dough; place on sheet of lightly floured parchment paper. Roll into 12×9-inch rectangle. Use sharp knife or pizza wheel to cut dough into 48 (1-1/2-inch) squares; separate to allow 1 inch between squares. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

HEAT 1/2 inch oil in electric skillet to 350ºF. Gently stretch each square of dough lengthwise into rectangle. Carefully add in batches to hot oil. (Do not crowd dough.) Cook 2 min. or until each beignet is golden brown on both sides, turning after 1 min. Place in single layer on paper towel-covered baking sheets. When all beignets are cooked, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Beignet Tips

How to Keep Beignets Warm
Place pan of cooked beignets in a 200ºF oven to keep warm until ready to serve.
If you don’t have an electric skillet, you can cook the beignets in deep large skillet or saute pan instead. Use a candy thermometer to test the temperature of the oil and adjust the stove-top heat as necessary to keep the oil at a constant 350ºF temperature.
How to Easily Coat Beignets with Powdered Sugar
Use a fine-mesh strainer to sprinkle powdered sugar over beignets.