Monday, February 24, 2014

Mardi Gras Tablescape

By now, y'all realize that I am wearing my New Orleans theme slap out.  It's just that we had so much fun shopping, sight seeing, eating and eating and eating!  
Celebrate Magazine has had some absolutely wonderful Mardi Gras recipes over the years.  To kick off our New Orleans trip, I enjoyed making several of these recipes. We've sampled Jambalaya with Cheesy Olive Bread and a particularly good and easy Crawfish Etoufee from past issues.

We had the Crawfish Etoufee this weekend and while De did admit that The Acme Oyster House's was a little better, (ha!) he said this was still good.  

I gussied up the dining room table with some mardi gras colors... and then we ate from plastic bowls in the kitchen!

Tablescape elements:
Runner: Thrifted
Green napkins: Sur La Table
Purple and Gold napkins and Placemats: Pier 1
Flatware: Gorham, Golden Ribbon Edge
Stemware: Fostoria Moonstone
Napkin rings: made from mardi gras beads and Christmas ornaments
Dinner plate, salad plate and soup bowl: KMart

Celebrate Magazine's Crawfish Etouffee
Winter 2012
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup seeded and chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups seafood stock
1&1/2 Tablespoons Creole seasoning
2 pounds frozen, crawfish tail meat, thawed
1&1/4 cups water 
12 cups cooked white rice
In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic to melted butter. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until onion is translucent, but not browned, stirring frequently.  Add flour to celery mixture, stirring to combine.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture begins to thicken.  Add seafood stock and Creole seasoning to flour mixture, stirring to remove any lumps.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add crawfish to celery mixture, stirring well.  Cook for 5 to 6 minutes stirring frequently.  Add water to pan, stirring well and cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through.  Serve over rice.

And one more thing... I live in the Crawfish part of the world.  We say Crawfish.  I realize that others say Crayfish and still others say Crawdads.  I'm guessing those are the poor souls who also say, "yous guys".  No matter how you say it, this stuff is pretty good!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Orleans (Part II)

New Orleans proved to be a great place for teenagers.  I can't say I wasn't worried about a lot of Bourbon Street exposure - especially given the fact that the NBA All star game was the weekend we were there. Things were a little crazy in the French Quarter on Sunday. I will say that like most cities, you can find what you're looking for.  I wanted John and Julia to experience the culture that New Orleans offers - and some of it is, to quote Julia, "cray-cray". They also got a peak into the Garden District and the gorgeous homes and architecture there.  Now that college is looming ever closer, I thought it was a bonus that they got to see Tulane and Loyola.
A beautiful home on Charles Street decked out for Mardi Gras

Mom and Jules on the St. Charles Trolly

The city itself is steeped in history, but we loved the museum that showcases American involvement in
World War II.  De could have spent two days there, but the rest of us cried, "Uncle".

John and Julia at the World War II Museum

If De's thing is history, John's is definitely movies. John spied "Zoltar" from the movie,
BIG, in the French Quarter.

During a ride on a carriage that was pulled by Jenny....

... we were serenaded by Grandpa Elliott - a street musician who was featured in the documentary,
Playing for Change. He sang "What a Wonderful World" and "The Girl from Impanema".
We celebrated our ride and mini concert with - what else -
 another round of Beignets from Cafe Du Monde!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Orleans 2014!

After a week of having the flu, getting together a trip and a treasure hunt  for Valentine's Day was just. too. much.  So, I got together the trip...and what a fantastic destination it was. While I was sad that this was the first year ever we didn't have a Valentine's Treasure Hunt, no one else complained.  At all.

St Lois Cathedral is right across the street from the Cafe - a beautiful view for the gluttonous :-)

Cafe Du Monde was quite a highlight of our trip. We all devoured an order of beignets and cups of cafe au lait or hot chocolate.  We liked it so much, we went there three times!  While traveling, I was reading Dan Brown's book, Inferno.  It occurred to me that Dante himself would have added an sub layer of hell reserved just for this kind of Cafe Du Monde gluttony.  Don't worry, we didn't reserve this behavior for the Cafe only. We pretty much ate New Orleans.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Super Sunday

We really aren't much on the NFL.
Of course, I do like those Manning boys, 
so if I cared, I'd pull for the Broncos.
But really, I don't care.  I'm in it for the commercials -
and the food - like these blondies:

Butterscotch Toffee Blondies 
from Southern Lady Magazine, Sept 2013

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1&1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 (11-ounce) package butterscotch morsels
1(8-ounce) package toffee bits

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.  Spray foil with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add vanilla, beating to combine.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.  Stir in butterscotch morsels and toffee bits.
4. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean..  Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Enjoy the game... and try to forget that the groundhog says 6 more weeks of winter...