Monday, February 4, 2013

Host a Kid-friendly Mardi Gras Party!

Although I've visited New Orleans a few times, it was never during Mardi Gras. However, I loved the food and the music so much, that I wanted an excuse to enjoy it here in New England, far far away from NOLA. So I thought, why not use this fabulous "holiday" as a great party theme?  Since I am a mom, I decided to do a Kid-friendly version of a Mardi Gras Party. Kids have a blast with this theme - they get to try new foods, hear fun new kinds of music, and make masks. Here are some ideas if you'd like to host your own Kiddie Mardi Gras Party:

1) Buy cardboard masks at your local craft store, along with glitter and feathers for the kids to decorate their own masks. This gives them something fun to wear and a cool keepsake to take home.

2) Serve New Orleans foods: Make a pot of Jambalaya ahead of time and then put it in a crock pot to stay warm. Kids may not like Jambalaya, so for them you could serve popcorn chicken bites and call them "Alligator bites." One thing kids will be sure to love is the sweet stuff: King Cake and Pralines can be made the day before, and Beignets can be made during (or right before) the party. For drinks, I serve Cafe au Lait made with Chicory Coffee for the adults and mock Mint Juleps for the kids (made with iced tea and mint). Here are some great recipes to get you started:

I also love Pecan Pralines and they are surprisingly easy to make. Here is a great recipe I use:
 Paula Deen's Pecan Pralines
For Jambalaya and other authentic Deep South recipes, a great source is Deep South Dish

For New Orleans-style Cafe au Lait (Coffee with Chicory) I order from Cafe du Monde. You can also get beignet mix from them if you do not want to make them from scratch. Some specialty stores in your area may actually carry these products so you don't need to order online and pay shipping.

Mock Mint Juleps: Make a pitcher of unsweetened iced tea. Then, in another empty pitcher or a large bowl, place 1/3 cup sugar and a handful of mint sprigs. "Muddle" the mint and sugar together to release the mint flavor a bit. Pour the iced tea over the sugar/mint mixture, then stir. Add more sugar if you'd like, then store it in the fridge. The mint flavor will strengthen as it sits. Garnish each glass with a little sprig of mint when you serve it.

Next, it's time for a PARADE:

Choose some great Mardi Gras Music: We put some Zydeco or Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the stereo and have a "parade" through the house. The adults can give out beads or Moon Pies as the kids go by. It's kind of silly, but the kids have so much fun!

Then, dance dance dance!

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