Monday, March 14, 2011

Themed Dinners!

As you probably have guessed by now, I really enjoy hosting themed dinners! I always have!! And this past weekend was no exception. With it being Mardi Gras last week, I decided to cook an entire meal based on Cajun recipes.

We enjoyed Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Red Beans and Rice, Corn Muffins and for dessert, a delicious Bread Pudding. Oh, and I cannot forget the Hurricanes to drink!!

Everything was very good, even if I say so myself. The Jambalaya recipe is courtesy of my favorite food blogger, Brown-Eyed Baker. The Corn Muffins recipe is from my cubemate at work and the Bread Pudding was Paula Deen's recipe, of course!! The Shrimp Creole is my recipe and the Red Beans and Rice came from Southern Living. Oh, and the Hurricanes, from an online source!

I couldn't have been more pleased with how everything turned out and I think my guests also enjoyed the dinner.

Hurricane Drink

1 oz vodka
1/4 oz grenadine syrup
1 oz gin
1 oz light rum
1/2 oz Bacardi 151 Rum
1 oz amaretto almond liqueur
1 oz triple sec
grapefruit juice
pineapple juice

Pour all but the juices, in order listed, into a hurricane glass three-quarters filled with ice. Fill with equal parts of grapefruit and pineapple juice. Garnish with a half orange slice and maraschino cherry "flag".

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

Serves: 6 to 8

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sausage, kielbasa or andouille, sliced
1 pound smoked ham, cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 cup seeded and diced tomato
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced OR ½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons diced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon diced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock
3 cups long-grain rice, rinsed
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 dashes hot sauce, optional
½ cup chopped scallions, divided
¾ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pound medium shrimp, deveined (20 to 24 count)

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the kielbasa and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Remove the kielbasa to a bowl, and set aside.
2. Add the ham to the same pot and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to the bowl with the kielbasa, and set aside.
3. Add the butter, onion, celery and peppers to the same pot and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
4. Add the tomato, garlic, jalapeno or cayenne, oregano, thyme, and tomato paste and cook until all the vegetables and herbs are blended well.
5. Add the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice, and add the sausage, ham, bay leaves, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
6. Add ¼ cup of the scallions, ¼ cup of the parsley, the lemon juice and the shrimp, and stir well. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and allow the jambalaya steam, for 15 minutes, before serving.
7. Garnish with the remaining ¼ cup scallions and ½ cup parsley, and a dash of hot sauce, if desired.

(Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

Red Beans and Rice

Serves: 8-10

1 pound dried red beans
1 pound Andouille
sausage, thinly sliced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
Hot cooked long-grain rice
Hot sauce (optional)
Garnish: finely chopped green onions, finely chopped red onion

1. Combine first 8 ingredients and 7 cups water in a 4-qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 7 hours or until beans are tender.
2. Serve red bean mixture with hot cooked rice, and, if desired, hot sauce. Garnish, if desired.

Shrimp Creole

Serves: 6 to 8

2 quarts water
2 pounds shrimp unpeeled
1 cup onion chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 14 oz cans tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon pepper
sh red pepper
2 cups cooked rice

1. Bring water to a boil in a large Dutch oven; add shrimp and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well; rinse with cold water. Chill. Peel and de-vein shrimp.
2. Saute onion and green pepper in oil. Drain. Combine tomatoes, tomato p
aste, bay leaf, Worcestershire, oregano, salt, lemon pepper, pepper, and red pepper in large Dutch oven.
3. Add green pepper and onion. Simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer until shrimp are heated.
4. Ladle hot shrimp creole over hot white rice.


2 packages Jiffy Cornbread Mix
5 eggs
½ cup sour cream low fat
3/4 cup milk (would go with less than that)
1 15-oz can cream corn

Preheat oven to 350 F., grease a 9 x 13 pan or muffin pan.

Mix eggs. Add sour cream until blended. Add milk to eggs and sour cream until blended.
Add cream corn to mixture. Gradually add in cornbread mixes until blended, but still may have lumps. Pour into greased pan.

Bake approximately 30-40 minutes (or more) until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle. Top should be golden brown.

Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Bread Pudding

Serves: 8 to 10

2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans

For the sauce:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.
2. Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.
4. Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:
Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

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