Mardi Gras Recipe Round-up: BBQ Shrimp, Gumbo, & Shrimp Creole

It's no secret that I go crazy for spicy food. So it should also be a given that Cajun fare is near and dear to my heat-loving palate. It may just be my favorite "American" cuisine. (Like that was much of a competition) From perfectly dressed, meaty muffulettas to Jambalaya loaded with andouille, rabbit, tomatoes, and everything between, to a lusciously flavorful crawfish etouffee, I go nuts for it all.

Oh, and the charbroiled oysters. My goodness, those charbroiled oysters.

Enough with my salivating and day dreaming about a trip to N'awlins. Today is Fat Tuesday so while I can't provide you with a play by play of the delectable dishes I'm (not) currently eating in NOLA, I can share a few of my most-loved, tried and true, Cajun/Creole staples. 

Mr. B's BBQ Shrimp (Get the Recipe Here)

My, oh, my how this devastatingly decadent shrimp captures my soul. So, so, so buttery and so ridiculously flavorful too.  With a sauce that I could swim in, this dish is a match made in heaven with some fresh basked French bread. Mr. B's is a one of the *many* food havens in NOLA and it's this recipe that they're the most famous for. Eat this on a "cheat day," ideally after a very long and strenuous work out. 

Patrick's Chicken and Sausage (Dark Roux) Gumbo (Get the Recipe Here)

Guys, my brother's gumbo could cure the plague. Seriously, it's better than any gumbo I've ever had...and yes, that includes traditionally prepared gumbo varieties in Nola. His famous rendition is requested at parties on end...and he often obliges....because he may be modest, but he also knows just how amazing it is, too. He gets the roux super dark so that the Cajun soup boasts an extreme depth of flavor. Creating a black roux is a talent, friends. A talent that he's certainly mastered. See if you can do the same. It's definitely worth a shot.

My Simple and Spicy Shrimp Creole (Get the Recipe Here)

If you want a simple weeknight meal that's sure to delight your tastebuds, then go no further. My Shrimp Creole is about as uncomplicated as it gets and is packed with tons of flavor. With a trinity base (celery, onion, and green bell pepper), tomatoes, Worcestershire, cayenne, hot sauce, and plump shrimp...this dish will give you a delicious taste of Mardi Gras without all the fuss. 

My apologies for the terrible photo on this one. Was from a time when photography was definitely not my strong suit. Need to cook up this dinner again soon and actually remember to take some pictures before scarfing it down.

Just in Time for Valentine's Day: Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Can I just get something off my chest? Valentine's Day is my least favorite holiday. There, I said it. I'd take early morning Church and deviled eggs galore on Easter Sunday any day over the cheesy candy hearts and all things chocolate hallmark holiday. I also prefer the beer fests and green-dyed rivers of St. Patrick's Day to the "lovey dovey" 14th of February.

Chris and I don't even really celebrate Valentines Day. He's pretty fortunate that I don't mind that either - since my birthday falls just a few days before. We've rarely acknowledged the event and when we have, I'm fairly certain it was just an extension of my birthday festivities. 

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But, as a food blogger, there are just certain things I must oblige to. So, I'm sucking it up and making something festive. Because while I don't love Valentine's Day....I do love...love.

I also freaking adore chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. My, oh, my how they are my most favorite sweet treat to indulge in. And, they're everywhere these days. So on those rare occasions when I have that serious sweet tooth, they're one of the first things I think of when choosing a bad...but oh so good dessert to devour.

I never ever bake. Like, never. But, since it's Valentine's day and since I do love those ice cream sandwiches so much, I decided to give it a whirl.

I can't believe how good these scratch-made beauties came out. After baking the cookies and letting them cool completely (I waited an entire night), I used a sharp serrated knife and cut "discs" from a pint of vanilla bean ice cream. I found this little trick on Pinterest and it actually works beautifully - like magic! Then, I simply sandwiched the ice cream between the two cookies and like, that, I had picture perfect Valentine's Day sweets.

Eat them the second they become sandwiches or wrap them up and freeze them for later- either way, you can't go wrong. With a recipe for an ultra sturdy cookie, you can be sure there will be no crumbly mess.

Happy Valentines Day all you love birds!!!

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
13 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons beet extract (or 1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring)
1 1/3 cups chocolate chips

1 pint Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Set aside.


2. Add butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or use a quality hand mixer) and mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk and mix until combined. Then add vinegar, vanilla and food coloring. Mix until well blended.


3. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop dough out and roll into golf ball sized balls. Place balls on greased baking sheet. 


4. Bake cookies for 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Later on, add to an air-tight container.

5. The following day (or several hours later), prepare the ice-cream sandwiches. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut 1/2 inch directly into ice cream container. I twist the container as I'm cutting to be sure it's an even "disc" of ice cream. Then, carefully make a small cut into one edge of the container and unwrap the ice cream disc from the carton. (Photo of the trick here)

6. Using two cookies, sandwich the ice cream. Eat right away or tightly wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for later.

7. ENJOY!!!


Wedding Woes: Choosing the Perfect Thank You Card

I'm quite aware that what I'm writing about today has nothing to do with delicious fare. And if you're not interested in beautiful stationary and custom-made cards - whether it's for a birthday, shower, or announcement...then you're probably not going to be interested in my most recent wedding decision- making conundrum. 

You see, when the wildly popular indie-style stationary/card website, Minted asked that I review their save the dates, wedding invitations, or thank you cards, I hesitated. I don't ever post anything arts and crafts related or share details on my wedding planning for that matter. But, I figured many of my awesome readers are females who enjoy picture perfect pieces of mail. So why not? Plus, since I'm on that wedding diet...my eating behavior has been rather...well, rather lackluster. 

You haven't heard much about my wedding. So let me give it to you in a nutshell. It's a mix of old and new, Southern belle and boho...and comes with sunflowers and daisies galore. Held at the beautiful Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota, the ceremony will take place under an enormous banyan tree with a reception at the lovely mansion on site. It's vintage Florida with lemons and lace....pearls and whiskey barrels...and a gorgeous backdrop of the sparkling Sarasota Bay.

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I wanted thank you cards that went with the overall vibe of my big day but didn't look overly trendy. Luckily, Minted's wedding invitations, save the dates, and thank you cards are all pretty unique. So needless to say, there were definitely some charming options for this ultra feminine (and slightly hippie) bride.

Which one do you like best? Which one screams "Vintage but also Southern...but not exactly rustic...oh, and girly too?" Yes, I'm crazy. And I apologize.