When I heard that Foodbuzz was taking this month’s 24×24 event and focusing it on the Gulf Relief, I knew I had to participate! Lance and I have been to New Orleans twice and our first trip was for our honeymoon. So New Orleans is very near and dear to my heart and it’s unsettling to hear what the oil spill has done to the gulf area and their ecosystems. Naturally, I was more than excited to jump in a do a little something to aid in the relief and being a “Foodbuzz Gulf Ambassador” will give me the chance to do just that. For Bloggers who participate, FoodBuzz will donate $25 in their name to the Greater New Orleans Foundation For me the “gulf inspired” theme was simple – I knew I was going to create a New Orleans inspired dinner menu.
Since we just moved into our new house, this dinner was our first chance to have friends over and to do some entertaining. Of course I will always take any excuse to have my friends over for dinner, but getting to make some authentic New Orleans cuisine was the icing on the cake. My menu was as follows:
Hot Crab Dip
Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
I absolutely love fresh flowers so the purple arrangement I made worked perfectly. I like to keep my flowers in low vases so we can keep the conversation flowing while dining. Since there were only 5 of us for dinner I decided to go ahead and make menu cards, which was a first for me. I found this adorable template from Martha Stewart and it took about 5 minutes to type them up then print them. I think I’ll definitely use them again since there were so easy and I printed these matching place cards.
First things first – these Hurricanes were the life of the party! I don’t think I could have found a more authentic New Orleans Hurricane recipe. They were quite strong, but still sweet enough.
This crab dip ended up being a pleasant surprise. I was looking for a quick appetizer for my guests to snack on while they arrived and give myself some time to cook the shrimp right before serving the main dishes. I decided to flip through my Betty Crocker cookbook and stumbled upon this. I made a few additions and it come out wonderful!
I think the star of the night was this jambalaya. I kept it on the mild side, knowing that some of my guests wouldn’t want anything too spicy. It had just the right amount of flavor.
This gumbo was a challenge for me. The entire time I was cooking it, I wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together and taste good. It just didn’t smell amazing like the jambalaya, so it had me worried..until I tasted it. I served it over white rice and it was fantastic. Something magical happened in that pot while it was simmering and it couldn’t have been better.
I have come to realize that it’s okay to not make everything from scratch when you are entertaining. When eating in New Orleans I always enjoyed having some red beans, so I knew I wanted to include them, but I didn’t want them to take away from the more important dishes. I decided to use a pre-made spice packet from Zatarans for the beans and it turned out to be a lovely complement to the meal.
Mmm bread pudding! This stuff was so yummy! I definitely should have made a half recipe, my fridge is full of these leftovers (not that I’m complaining!). I went a little easy on the whiskey for the sauce and it ended up with just the right amount of flavor. This was a really easy dessert to make and I’m glad I went with an Emeril recipe; it came out tasting very authentic.
In general it was a lovely night, with tons of good food! I know a few of these recipes will make repeat appearances in my house. Since this post is already so long, I will post the recipes from my menu as individual posts.
On a related side note: I came across this video recently and thought I’d share it. I always like original and quirky ideas, and this is one of them! It’s such a clever way to tackle the oil spill while reusing something we throw away! Check it out: