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Well, as we say goodbye to February, we say hello to the month of March, and along with that, we welcome Carnevale, Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, 1st day of spring, St. Patrick’s Day, and St. Joseph’s Day. We definitely have a big month ahead of us.
The first day of this new month brings us Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday refers to the last day of events and celebrations for Carnevale.
Carnevale is a traditional celebration with parties and parades where many people used to wear masks and elaborate costumes. The masks were worn originally so different classes of people could mingle without fear of tarnishing their reputations. Venice in Italy still holds a beautiful Carnevale celebration.
Also during Carnevale, rich foods are eaten before the season of Lent and the beginning of fasting and reflection. People used up valuable meat and other supplies that they would be abstaining from during Lent.
You have to celebrate the end of Carnevale with a rich meal. This is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and ushers in a time of fasting. It is also known as Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras.
In my family, at the end of Carnevale, my family usually makes “Lasagna de Carnevale”. This lasagna from Naples is made with meat sauce and layered with mini meatballs, sausage, ricotta, mozzarella, parmigiana, and pasta sheets. We use all the rich fatty meats and cheeses before the 40 days of Lent begins and fasting.
This year I decided to stray a little from my Neapolitan tradition and look to New Orleans and some cajun food for a change of pace to celebrate Fat Tuesday. After all, New Orleans is famous for its celebrations during Mardi Gras. Colorful King Cakes and savory muffuletta sandwiches filled with cold cuts and olive salad and the regional specialties of Po’boys, Etouffee, and Jambalaya all contribute to the celebration.
I love jambalaya for the combination of meats, fish, and vegetables. In fact, the meaning of Jambalaya is “mixed up” so this recipe was easy to put together with ingredients I had in the house and sounded great to make for a change.
I found a new recipe to try for “Sheet Pan Jambalaya” (I love minimal pots and pans to clean) from the website Pinch of Yum by the author Lindsay and I wanted to share it with you. Easy and delicious and consisted of sausage, peppers, onions, shrimp, and cauliflower rice all roasted together.
Of course, as with all recipes I find, I had to tweak a few things. My changes are in red text.
Sheet Pan Jambalaya
- 6 oz of kielbasa sausage, sliced – recommended no sugar added (I used andouille sausage because of the spices and I think it is more of a Cajun sausage)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced ( I used the leftover orange and yellow in my veggie bin. I think this recipe needs 2 peppers)
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 tsp of Cajun seasoning, divided
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 bags of cauliflower rice (I used 2 bags of cauliflower stir fry rice with added peas) 20 oz
- Salt and pepper
- ½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on ( I used 1 pound of shrimp)
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- Fresh parsley, to garnish
- Fresh lemon juice, to serve
- I added scallions, to garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
ADD the sausage, onion, and bell pepper to a large sheet pan along with the olive oil and 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning. Toss the vegetables and sausage to make sure they are all well coated.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes
Remove the vegetables and sausage from the oven, ADD the tomato paste, and stir to thoroughly mix it in with the vegetables.
ADD the frozen cauliflower rice and remaining teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to the pan. Again, toss all the ingredients together until they are all well incorporated and return the pan to the oven.
Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower rice is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Season with salt and pepper and ADD the raw shrimp on the top of the jambalaya and drizzle the butter over the top.
Return the pan to the oven and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and pink. Garnish with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.
The Final result was so delicious…
Bob surprised me with a King Cake today for the holiday and as thrilled as I was to receive the gift; I was also disappointed in the bakery. It was very overpriced and underwhelming and extremely tiny for a holiday cake- barely 6 inches.
Whole Foods make a great King Cake for anyone interested.
Anyway, back to the King Cake. A King Cake is a brioche or sweet roll dough with added cinnamon and is braided, baked in an oval shape, and decorated with icing and purple, green and gold sugars.
King Cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake. The baby symbolizes luck and prosperity to whoever finds it.
If you want to make your own version of a King Cake I was given this recipe by a friend years ago. It is a shortcut to the original King Cake recipe and unfortunately, I do not know where it originated from.
I have never made the cake myself, but I have tasted the cake at my friend’s house and it was delicious. It is a semi-homemade shortcut to the original King Cake.
The original recipe is very time-consuming and this recipe is great if you want to have a nice family Mardi Gras celebration and you don’t have the time to put into baking.
My suggestion is if you use the plastic baby in the cake to TELL your guests before they eat a piece, so no one chokes on the plastic and I would omit it if there are children eating this cake.
CINNAMON ROLL KING CAKE
This King Cake is a semi-homemade version of the traditional Mardis Gras dessert, made with canned cinnamon rolls, icing, and colored sugar.
Prep Time10 mins— Cook time 20 minutes
- 2 cans store-bought cinnamon rolls I used Pillsbury Flaky Cinnamon Rolls with Butter Cream Icing
- Yellow green and purple sugar
- 1 plastic toy baby if desired (cut a hole into the baked cake to insert).
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place cinnamon rolls sideways on a large cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with a silicone mat. Arrange cinnamon rolls in a circular pattern. It should look like a flower when you’re done. Press down on cinnamon rolls with your hand to flatten them slightly.
- Bake according to package instructions. Let cool.
- Frost with the buttercream that comes with the cinnamon rolls. Add yellow, green and purple sugar. Serve immediately or store covered for up to 24 hours at room temperature. It is best when eaten the first day.
I hope you have a wonderful Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebration and try one of these recipes.
Until my next post, make every day a celebration!
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Have a terrific Lenten season