Tag Archives: food

Mardi Gras Bridal Shower

Have you heard the expression, “Eleventh time’s a charm?”

No? Maybe I made that up, since I will be standing amidst the Bridal Party in my eleventh wedding (besides my own) in April of this year. But, since it is for one of my nearest & dearest girlfriends, Ms. Kelli, it IS a charm! Both my Hubby and I were asked to be part of the wedding party, and I was asked to be the Matron of Honor.

Yes, it’s my first wedding as a Matron. And I am so glad it is for my Soul Sister and her beloved!

OK, stop thinking of me as the real-life version of Katherine Heigl in “27 Dresses” and let’s get to the Mardi Gras party fun stuff!

So, the Maid of Honor, Julie, and I were co-hostesses in this Mardi Gras Bridal Shower endeavor. Shout out to my co-hort, my other half of our A-Team Party Planners extraordinaire, WHAT WHAT?!! (It’s better when we say that in person…sorry…moving on…).

All of the ideas below were either conceived (or respectfully borrowed) by us, The A-Team. They were put into action through weeks of shopping, planning, coordinating, spray-painting, gluing, favor-making, menu-creating, collaborating, and finally executing SUCCESSFULLY this past weekend!

This is the Bride and I towards the end of the shower, and see the big happy smiles? Ok, it’s hard not to smile when you’re about to eat King Cake.

Mardi Gras Bridal Shower

To get into the true Spirit of this post, I highly recommend listening to some real Cajun’s singing the famous Mardi Gras Song. I loved listening to Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys when I lived in Cajun Country, so here’s what it looks like live!

The time: Bridal Shower was held midday, from 3:00-6:00 pm on the Saturday before Mardi Gras

The place: Lafayette, Louisiana at the home of the Bride’s Mother

The theme: Mardi Gras! Everything colored Purple, Yellow, and Green

The invitation said:

A Mardi Gras fan, come, join, as we celebrate the “Bride to Be”.

Dress for the theme, a bon couer, prizes for joining in the revelry!

Wear your best mask, Mardi Gras colors, costume or ball gown,

Join in the fun, making for the most unique Bridal Shower in town!

The good times need not cease, so be not afraid.

If you’re game, let’s continue, until the evening parade!

We gave the guests beads when they arrived. During that time, I enlisted the help of one of the Bride’s relatives, having all the women fill out a card in the Spiritual Bouquet – our group gift to the Bride and Groom. More on that later.

We kicked off the party with food and fun. The women were invited to participate in a mask making contest, with two tables set up with all kinds of glitter, glue, decorations, and paper masks spray painted in the theme colors by Julie.

Mardi Gras Masks

Decorating Masks

Mardi Gras Mask Making

Mardi Gras Mask

We were happy to see so many of the guests participating! While they decorated their masks, Cajun/Zydeco Fais Do Do music played in the background, and they grazed on the large spread of appetizers.

Mardi Gras Food

Mardi Gras Bridal Shower Candy Bar

Mardi Gras Candy Bar

That’s a Mardi Gras Themed Candy Bar, and it was a hit! Julie and Emily worked really hard to find candies that were only purple, green, and yellow (including lemon heads, sour apple licorice pieces, purple chuckles, etc…). My Hubby and I worked on creating favor bags – small cello bags with labels of the name and date of the bride and groom, with the tri-colored ribbon ties adhered on each bag.

Note on the decor pictured above: That’s a panel of curtain that I laid over a counter top, with some purple runners the Bride had given us to use, and lots of theme-colored bows with ties strewn everywhere.

More decor fun facts. I made that sign, “77 days until I Do” out of scrap book paper, foam board, and paint. The same scrap book paper was glued onto white cardboard scrapbook pages and placed around the sign on draped the purple ribbon, held on by clothespins. (After the Bridal Shower, I gave the Bride-to-Be the 3 metal rings to hold the scrapbook together, and the decor has now become a keepsake gift!) Across the top are hung hand painted paper masks, with the names of the couple and their wedding date, strung together with ribbon.

Mardi Gras Bridal Shower

The appetizers could have fed the crew plus some alone, since it was a fabulous lot of food, but the A-Team knew it wouldn’t be a Mardi Gras party without a proper Gumbo – which was served while opening the gifts! With my catering background, I was in charge of the menu. It included favorites of the Bride and theme-appropriate choices such as:

BarBQ Sausage, Mini Muffuletta Sandwiches, Apple Slices with Carmel Dip and cheese tray, Veggie Tray, Hummus and Pita Chips, Tri-colored Tortilla chips & Salsa, Hot Spinach Dip, Boudin Tray, Deviled Eggs…

But what may have surprised the Bride the most, was this little stunt.

Mardi Gras ChickenOne of Kelli’s oldest friends showed up dressed like the Mardi Gras Chicken! This is a Cajun tradition, as the Mardi Gras chase after a Chicken while they run out in the country.

Our Big Chicken handed out golden eggs that held trivia questions inside about the Bride and the Groom. Each person got to answer their question, and all that participated got a pair of Fleur di Lis earrings.

Bride & Groom Trivia

Afterwards, Kelli made her good-sport-of-a-friend do the Chicken dance before departing

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We then had the Bride and her Mama serve as judges in the Mask-making contest, as contest-participants paraded by them while people sang a lively parade song!

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By measure of applause, we picked the winner in the middle. But all the masks showed great creativity and were super fun!

Next, we served Gumbo, rice and potato salad while the Bride opened her gifts. The gift that moved her to tears was presented at the end: The Spiritual Bouquet that we all made for her. I decoupaged/painted a pine heart-shaped box (see link to my previous post on that) and printed off cards for all the women to fill out with their Spiritual offerings they would make for the happy couple during their engagement.

Spiritual Bouquet

We had some Bridal Shower silliness after that, and ate King Cake and delicious Mardi Gras cupcakes provided by dear friends of the Bride. The Bride gave her thanks to all at the end.

Credits: The Mother of the Bride graciously offered her home, so that was our location. Thank you, Ms. Gwen. We had about 3 other lovely ladies offer assistance in various ways, and we took them up on it – thank you, Jeanne, Cherie, and Emily!

As for my attire, I had gotten a bit daring. I stopped by the Thrift Store a few weeks before the Shower. I found a Banana Republic 100% Silk purple dress that was 50% off, so $4.99. The only thing was it was apparently made for someone 7″ taller with Pamela Anderson-like features.

DSC02852 Mardi Gras Dress

I cut off the triangled-tops, and moved the elastic part up that was the empire waist to become the top. I took in the sides, cut down the straps, and sewed a sash with purple, yellow, and green ribbon that I bought at Michaels. I never got a great picture of me in it, since I was so busy that day, but here I am sitting down in my repurposed $4.99 Banana Republic dress, indulging in some King Cake!

King Cake

It certainly was a unique Bridal Shower – befitting a woman who always loves unique ways to celebrate life! Everyone joined in on the fun, and the Bride and her Mom had an amazing time, which was our goal.

Mission accomplished! Chalk it up for a WIN, A-Team Party Planners!

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Mom’s Christmas Goodies: The Best of Her Best

If there was just one thing that my Mother was renown for, it was her Christmas baked goods. Whether they were fresh out of the oven, on a Christmas platter wrapped and ready to travel to a party, or still frozen out of the huge chest freezer in our basement — they were never “un” anything — and by that I basically mean, uneaten or unloved.

We are at my Dad’s, and I asked the 3 men here – Husband, Brother, and Father – which cookies were their top picks for me to bake.  All three of the fellas heartily agreed that the Peanut Butter Blossoms with the Hershey Chocolate Kisses needed to be near the top of the “must-bake list”. Betty Crocker’s version is wonderful.  To enhance them with a touch of Christmas cheer, I roll the peanut butter dough balls in the red and green sugar prior to baking.  After pulling them out of the oven – you press the Hershey Kisses into the hot cookie, and let them cool for a good while.  The kisses will take quite a while to re-solidify atop the cookie as they both cool.

Betty Crocker Peanut Butter BlossomsI even love how the Peanut Butter Cookies crack a bit when you put the Hershey’s Kisses on top. Yum yum!

But, if you’re a chocolate lover, and a Paula Deen type of butter advocate, this next Christmas recipe is definitely for you.  I have no idea where Mom originally got the recipe, so I don’t know who should receive the credit for this masterpiece, but thank you to the ghost-chocolatier who graced us with Napoleon Creams.

Napoleon Creams  

Yields: (1) 9×13 pan; These are cooked on a stove-top & chilled in the fridge – no baking required.

Ingredients for Crust (Bottom Layer):

1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg, slightly beaten
2 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
2 cup flaked sweetened coconut

Ingredients for Filling (Middle Layer):

1 cup butter
6 Tablespoons milk
2 (3 1/2 oz) packages of vanilla instant pudding mix
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Ingredients for Topping (Top Layer):
1 12-oz bag of semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter

Directions:

How to make the Crust:

  1. In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the butter, cocoa, sugar and the vanilla extract.
  2. Cook over the simmering water in the bottom pan, stirring until the butter melts.
  3. Add the eggs.
  4. Continue stirring until thickened, about 3 minutes.Layer 1: Napoleon Creams
  5. Add graham crackers and coconut, mixing well.
  6. Press into a greased 9×13 pan (you can use butter or cooking spray). I use a piece of waxed paper and my hand to pack it down into the pan firmly.

Layer 1: Napoleon Creams

Your crust will look something like this when it’s pressed in the pan. You can see that I have some chunkier bits of Graham Crackers in there.  The Coconut adds a wonderful flavor, even if you’re not a big fan of Coconut.

Set aside the Crust, to work on the Filling:

  1. Cream the butter well with a mixer.
  2. Stir in the milk, dry pudding mix, and powdered sugar.
  3. Beat until fluffy.
  4. Spread evenly over crust, but don’t mess with it too much, or the crust will start to break up and mix in with the filling.
  5. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until firm.

Layer 2: Napoleon Creams

Butter is the central ingredient here.  The pudding mix gives it a rich color and flavor.  I let my butter soften on the countertop for at least a 1/2 hour to make it cream nicely.  Make sure to chill this layer spread over the crust well, or it will blend with the top layer – not good.

Make the top layer (it’s almost like a frosting)

  1. In the top pan of a double boiler, melt semi sweet morsels and butter over the simmering water in the bottom pan.
  2. Cool slightly.
  3. Spread over pudding layer.

Napoleon Creams

The semi-sweet chocolate chips & butter create a type of frosting topping. I like using the semi-sweet, as I think with the decadence of the dessert, the milk chocolate would be too much or the dark chocolate would be too harsh.

To finish off the Napoleons

  1. Chill until set.
  2. Cut into small bars to serve.

Layers of Napoleon Creams

Look at all those lovely layers of Napoleon Cream goodness! These take some time to prepare, but will not disappoint.

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