Recipes for Mardi Gras Celebrations

In honor of Mardi Gras, I'm listing a melange of recipes that have everything, nothing, and a little bit to do with the celebration of excess.
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Jambalaya is believed to be conquistador Spaniards' attempt at making paella in the New World. Paella is seasoned/colored with saffron and can be considered a hodge podge with seafood, meat, and vegetables. In the New Word, tomatoes were used to give the rice color in lieu of saffron.

2 Tbsp oil
1 pound of boneless chicken breast , cut into small cubes
1/2 cup onion chopped
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz chili sauce
1/4 cup water
1 (14 1/2 oz) can no salt added tomatoes, chopped with juice
8 ounces polish sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 tsp dried leaf thyme, crumbled
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Hungarian (hot) paprika
16 oz chicken broth
1 cup long-grain rice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 Tbsp hot pepper sauce
  1. Brown the chicken and sliced smoked sausage together in a skillet with 1 Tbsp oil.

  2. In another pot, sauté onions, garlic, peppers, and celery in remaining oil until onions begin to turn transclucent.

  3. In the same pot, add the chili sauce and let it brown. Stir frequently to keep sauce from burning.

  4. Once the vegetables are translucent and the sauce is a marroon brown, deglaze the pan with 8 oz of the chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix up any browned bits, and stir until smooth, making sure the vegetables are incorporated into the sauce.

  5. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes.

  6. Add the meat. Add the remaining stock, check seasonings, and stir in the rice, combining thoroughly.

  7. At this time, add the thyme, paprika, cayenne, hot pepper sauce to jambalaya. Season to taste.

  8. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through.

  9. Reduce heat to low-medium. Uncover pot and stir frequently for an additional 10 minutes.

Vegetable Gumbo
Basically, if it doesn't have okra, it isn't gumbo. The word gumbo comes from the Angolan word kingombo, meaning okra. Again, gumbo MUST have okra. All other ingredients are interchangeable and optional. Gumbo has as many variations as there are people in this world. In addition to the okra, the base is dark (made by cooking a roux: a 50/50 mixture of fat and flour) and rice is used to sop up the good juices of the hearty stew.

2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth
4 jalepenos, diced with seeds and ribs intact
1 14 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups okra, sliced
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
dash black pepper, to taste
dash hot pepper sauce, to taste
3 cups rice, pre-cooked

  1. Heat oil in pan until shimmering.

  2. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps.

  3. Cook the roux until it's the color of a roasted nut and smells equally as nutty.

  4. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, jalepenos and okra. Season with salt, hot pepper sauce.

  5. Mix in the tomatoes and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the vegetables are soft.

  6. Pour in the stock and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat.

  7. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the gumbo is dark and thick.

Muffaletta Sandwich
The Olive Salad:

2/3 cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Pimientos
1/4 cup cocktail onions, drained

3 Cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon Capers, drained

1/3 cup parsley, no stems
1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp Oregano

1/4 tsp Black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Mix all the ingredients and place into food processor or blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Cover and allow to marinate overnight

The Sandwich:

1 large Loaf Italian Bread

1/4 pound Hard salami, sliced thin
1/4 pound Ham, sliced thin

1/4 pound Provolone, sliced thin

Slice loaf in half horizontally and slightly scoop out insides. Spread on olive spread at least 3/4 inch thick. Layer on provolone, salami, and ham. Replace top half of loaf and cut into serving size pieces.

Tofu Quiche Lorraine Serves 12

Pie Crust:

6 Tbsp Spread, Smart Beat, super light, w/o sat fat, very cold
1 1/4 cup Flour, whole wheat
1/8 tsp Salt
2-3Tbsp Water, ice-cold


1/2 lb Healthy Choice, deli-sliced Lunchmeat ham or turkey, diced
3oz Grated Gruyere cheese
1 lb Tofu, silken, patted dry
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1Tbsp Dried basil or marjoram
1Tbsp Dried thyme
1Tbsp Dried chervil or dill
1Tbsp Dried tarragon
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper
1/2 cup Soy Milk, plain

For Crust:
1. Cut or scoop the margarine into tablespoons.
2. Mix the whole wheat flour with the salt in a medium bowl or a food processor.
3. Add the cold butter pieces and cut in using a pastry blender, fork, or by pulsing in the food processor.
4. Add ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time until dough forms into a ball. Gather up and pat into a disk. If possible, refrigerate dough for 30 minutes before rolling out.
5. When ready to use, roll dough out on a lightly floured board.
6. Place dough in pie plate and carefully unfold, fitting loosely and then pressing into place. Trim the edges and crimp for a decorative crust.

OPTIONAL: Do not refrigerate. Do not roll out dough. Instead, press dough into springform pan using fingers and make sides slightly higher than the middle. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing filling.

For Filling:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a blender or food processor, blend the tofu, herbs, spices, salt, and soy milk until smooth.
3. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted just off-center into the quiche comes out clean.

Apple Charlotte Serves 12
4oz Jell-O Pudding, vanilla, fat free/sugar-free
3 cups Milk, nonfat/skim
1 each Gelatin envelope (Knox)
4 each Apples, Golden delicious /cored/peeled & 1/4”dice
1 each Cake, angel food, store-bought
Fat free Reddi-Wip Topping, for garnish


8 each Splenda packets
8-12 Whole Peppercorns
2 Whole Cinnamon sticks
4 each Cloves

1. Take knife and cut out a “well” in the center of the angel food cake. Set aside.

2. In a 2 qt saucepan bring 2 1/2 cups water, the sachet, and 8 packets of Splenda to a simmer.

3. Cook apples until “al dente,” about 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Drain apples and pat dry with paper towels, if necessary.

5. Set aside two cups of the fat-free milk.

6. Heat the remaining cup of milk in the microwave for 1 minute, thirty seconds

7. Add one packet of the Knox gelatin to the heated milk.

8. Whisk vigorously until all gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.

9. Follow remaining directions on the box.

10. Fold apples into pudding mixture and spoon into hallowed-out angel food cake.

11. Place Charlotte into refrigerator for firming up.

12. Garnish with Fat-Free Reddi Whip just before serving.

*To keep apples from oxidizing, submerge pieces in acidulated water (water with a squeeze of lemon or lime)

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. Wonderful jambalaya! Can't wait to make it myself for dinner!


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