If you aren’t on Bourbon Street already, forget about it. You won’t be making this season’s official Mardi Gras but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw a party! If you’re an adult, send out a few texts, hit the tacky bead store, and throw an impromptu party tonight! If you’re just partying with the kids, hit the tacky bead store (don’t forget to buy your plastic baby for the King cake), and don’t worry about anything but a sugar hangover for work tomorrow.
You don’t really have a lot of time to cook up a storm (especially if you’re reading this at work) so consider making a list of what you can do before your big evening of celebrating:
- Masks: What is a Mardi Gras without masks? You can get some plastic masks, beading, feathers, and glue at the local craft store if your guests will be in a crafty mood.
- Gumbo: Whip up a batch of faux gumbo. Here is a recipe of not-quite-authentic gumbo. Hey, faux will do if today is the first moment you’re considering Mardi Gras. Nobody will know. Since you’re starting tonight and don’t have time to make real gumbo, this recipe can do in a pinch.
Faux Gumbo You Can Whip Up in 30 Minutes
1 lb. Spicy sausage (If you used whole sausages, slice it up.) Drain and set aside.
¼ c (½ stick) butter
in a frying pan and slowly add ¼ c flour to make a roux (paste).
½ c onion (chopped)
½ c celery (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour mixture into soup pot (you can remove the onions at this point if you hate onions in your soup but you need to cook them with the celery and garlic for flavor).
The already cooked sausage
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz can – drain them)
1 ½ c chicken Stock (DON’T buy broth as it is too thin)
1 pkg frozen, sliced okra
1 can green beans
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp thyme
Simmer until hot and bubbly.
¼ lb clean, uncooked shrimp
Cook until the shrimp are pink and firm (about 5 minutes).
Spoon the gumbo over hot cooked rice. (We recommend about 6 c of rice.)
- King Cake: The King cake is usually a filled cake baked in the shape of a wreath and drenched in multi-colored icing. But you’re in a hurry so here’s a shortcut: bake a spice cake (add raisins if you’d like) and add a plastic baby to the mix. Cook as usual. To frost this cake – use white icing and use sprinkles to simulate multiple colors (see picture). No, this is not an authentic King Cake but it will do in a pinch. You can find a recipe and make the real thing next year – when you have time. (If you have children joining in your celebrations, help them search for the baby in their slice of cake before they eat it. We don’t want you celebrating Mardi Gras in the emergency room with a tiny choking victim.)
- Plastic Beads: No Mardi Gras s complete without handfuls of tawdry, sparkly beads. Pick some up at the craft store. You can also purchase other types of bling (e.g., crowns, glitter, wands) to help with your celebration. But the beads are a must-have.
- Specialty Drinks: No Mardi Gras is complete without copious drinking. Whether you’re a big imbiber of alcohol or a tee-totaller, you can do this! You drink alcohol? Any alcohol will do. If you want to get fancy mix up a batch of one of these fancy milk punches. If you’re a tee-totaller (or including kids) make sherbet floats to get the party started. They’re easy! Purchase 2 different colors of sherbet (we like raspberry and lime) and a couple of liters of Sprite. Dole out 2 scoops of sherbet into a cup and fill the cup with Sprite. These drinks are colorful and delicious!
- Doughnuts: Everyone in New Orleans will most likely be munching on beignets (prounouced bin' yays) but doughnuts will do. Beignets are (to describe them simply) sweet dough, fried scones. If you’re ambitious, you could make those instead but you’ll miss your party (and the parade)! Do the doughnuts.
Okay. Now you have no excuse to NOT throw your own Mardi Gras today. Have a great time and go get your party on!