Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fat Tuesday Fun!

Laissez les bon temps rouler….

English translation: Let the good times roll! Yep, it’s almost Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday is February 12th. Fat Tuesday is THE day to celebrate Mardi Gras. To most of us, Mardi Gras is New Orleans, beads, lots of alcohol, etc…... But it really is a religious event. Fat Tuesday is the last day of “feasting” before Lent starts the next day…..Ash Wednesday. And yes, I had to look all of that up. And btw-there are so many more images of Mardi Gras that I would like to fill your head with…..but this is a family show, people.

I have always loved Mardi Gras because of the food. I love a good excuse to eat some Cajun food! I usually have a Mardi Gras party the weekend before Fat Tuesday. I don’t think I’ll do that this year, but I still want to share with you some recipes that I normally make. Today I will show you how to make delicious “Princess” Jambalaya and Muffaletta Sliders. So whip up a batch of Hurricanes and let’s get started.

According to the smarty-pants at Wikipedia, a Muffaletta Sandwich is the official sandwich of New Orleans. It is usually on a round Italian loaf of bread, and has an olive salad on it that soaks into the bread and makes it all salty and delicious. It usually also contains salami, ham and provolone cheese.

I went a different direction with my Muffaletta. Perhaps this is sacrilegious to those from New Orleans, but I wanted to make mine tiny. I wanted appetizer size sliders. Please don’t be mad if you only like ‘em big….This is just my take on it

I chose little Hawaiian sweet rolls for my bread. True, this isn’t as crusty and thick as Italian bread, but I toast mine to make it crustier. Also, if the bread is a bit crusty….the olive salad won’t make the sandwich soggy.

I also used salami, ham and provolone cheese, which get layered right on top of the crusty rolls.  On top of the meat, I spread a mixture of olive tapenade and “Italian Style” jarred Giardiniera that I had pulsed together in my food processor.  I put the sandwiches lids back on and threw them all under the broiler to melt the cheese.


Just like a Muffaletta but oh so cute and tiny! I think these are perfect for a Mardi Gras party. They scream New Orleans, but they are easy to pick up and eat while you are holding a Hurricane in your other hand.

On to my “Princess” Jambalaya….Jambalaya is a Cajun (actually Creole if you want to get technical) specialty, sort of like paella or stew.  In my house we call it “Princess” Jambalaya. There is a certain Disney movie that features a beautiful “princess” that is from New Orleans. This princess also cooks, and I am sure she loves jambalaya. I am not going to name names because I don’t want to be sued by the good people at Disney. I am sure you can figure out who she is…..

And yes, I call it that because it makes my kids more likely to eat it.

The jambalaya starts with sausage.  If I was feeding adults, I would use Andouille, which is a Cajun spicy sausage.  If I am feeding kids, which I normally am, I use a milder sausage.  I slice the sausage up and brown it in a big pot.  Then, I take the sausage out and brown up some chicken thighs. 

Once all the meat is cooked, I start on the veggies, which are onion, celery, bell peppers and garlic.  I let the veggies get soft and then I add chicken stock, hot sauce, a can of crushed tomatoes, a bay leaf and Cajun seasoning.  Once this delicious mixture comes to a boil, I add some rice and let it go for about 25 minutes.

For the last step, I add some defrosted okra that I found in the freezer section of my grocery store.  I let that heat through for about five minutes.


That’s it!  This is such an easy “one pot” meal.  It makes a ton, and it really is a crowd pleaser.  This is perfect for a party.  This jambalaya really is so yummy and satisfying….and you can finally say you’ve tried okra!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Muffaletta Sliders


12 Hawaiian Sweet Rolls


1 cup olive tapenade


½ cup Italian Giardiniera, finely chopped


9 slices provolone cheese


9 slices deli ham


18 slices salami


Preheat broiler.


Slice Hawaiian rolls horizontally. Spread one half with tapenade and giardiniera that has been blended together in a food processor. Top other half with meats and cheese.


Broil both halves for about 2 minutes, or until bread is crusty and starting to brown. Cheese should be starting to bubble.


Place top halves back on bottom half and pull sandwiches apart. Serve warm.


Makes 12 mini sandwiches


Princess Jambalaya

1 pound sausage, (Smoked, Andouille, Kielbasa, etc.) chopped into bite sized pieces

1 ½ pounds chicken thighs, chopped into bite sized pieces

2 celery stalks, diced

2 bell peppers, diced (any color)

1 medium white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 Tablespoon Cajun or Creole Seasoning

1 can crushed tomatoes, 28 ounces

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup rice, uncooked

1 cup frozen diced okra, defrosted

Hot sauce, to taste

Green onions, for garnish

In a large (5 quart) pot, brown sausage and chicken in a 2 tablespoons of oil, turning frequently. Once meat is browned, remove from pan and set aside. To pot, add garlic, celery, bell pepper and white onion. Add Cajun/creole seasoning. Sauté veggies for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and bay leaf.  Stir. Add hot sauce to taste. Add meat back into pot. Bring mixture to a boil and add rice. Cover and cook, over medium heat, for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, add okra. Cover and cook additional 5 minutes. Garnish with green onions.

Serves 8

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