“Laissez les bons temps rouler”
Every year right before Mardi Gras – aka Fat Tuesday – I throw a party for my friends in Nashville. Growing up in Louisiana my family always celebrated Mardi Gras.
My family is filled with incredible cooks. My dad and my Gigi have seriously influenced my love for cooking Cajun food. Here are my must-haves for a Mardi Gras or New Orleans themed party and a couple of my favorite Louisiana recipes!
Festive decor is a MUST. For every party I host, I order anything I can on Amazon or Etsy so I can find items that are personalized for my event. Mardi Gras decorations are not always the easiest to find, but I absolutely love what I’ve gathered over the past couple of years.
Mardi Gras masks are great to decorate with and fun to wear! I always set up a photo booth (see below for details) and we use the masks as props. I also love having tons of beads for everyone to wear during the party.
Garland has been a new favorite of mine. Usually you can find it super cheap and a little goes a long way. It makes the space look super festive, but is easy to clean up too.
Balloons are always a great filler. They make the room look more full and put together. I always grab about a dozen at the party store by my house in whatever colors go with my theme and place them throughout the party space.
Arguably the most important detail of a Mardi Gras party is the food. Cajun food is in a league of its own and there’s nothing like it. I switch it up each year, but this time I made red beans with rice, jambalaya, crawfish pies, and hushpuppies. I picked up the king cakes at my local grocery store to cross one thing off my to-do list.
The jambalaya mix I use is a family favorite that I grew up eating in Louisiana (OAK GROVE). I buy my hushpuppies frozen when I want to save time and throw them into the oven right before the party so they are warm when guests start to arrive. If you have time, these are great for frying up on your own (HUSHPUPPIES). My dad always made red beans with rice whenever I was a kid and it’s one of the easiest Cajun dishes to make. You just have to be patient and let the beans cook most of the day over low heat. I will be sure to share my recipe for that some other time. Meanwhile, my crawfish pie recipe below is to die for – and it’s so incredibly easy. Want to impress a guest? Make this pie!
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees and take your pie crusts out of the fridge. You want the dough to be closer to room temperature when you start to work with it. Take your crawfish tails out of the freezer and let them thaw out by running room temperature water over them.
- Make your rice. I always use Minute rice because it’s quick and easy. Follow the directions on the box, but my tip here is to season your water. Sometimes I’ll add a couple drops of crab boil, Tabasco, or just Tony’s seasoning. Also, always add a bit of butter to the boiling water before you add the rice.
- Once your rice is done cooking and your crawfish are thawed out, toss them both into a large mixing bowl. Add the Rotel, sharp cheddar cheese, bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic, and Tony’s seasoning. Melt one tablespoon of the butter and add it into the mixture. Using a large spoon, gently toss the mixture until it is nicely combined.
- Press one pie crust into the bottom of a deep pie dish, fill the crust with the mixture you have created. Now add the second pie crust to the top of your pie and press the edges together using your hands. Follow behind with a fork to seal the pie completely and create the classic pie crust look.
- Bake until the crust is golden brown (about 30 minutes). When it looks almost done, pull the pie out and brush it with the other tablespoon of butter that you’ve saved. This will give the crust a buttery flavor and make it look extra golden and delicious! Place to the crawfish pie back into the oven for another five minutes.
- Remove the pie from the oven and let it rest for 25-30 minutes before diving in! Then, ENJOY! Note: It is extremely rich and filling so sharing is recommended.
It would not be a Mardi Gras party (or any kind of party for that matter) without a great drink. Whenever I think of cocktails in New Orleans, I immediately think of hurricanes. If you’re ever in NOLA, be sure to grab one at Pat O’Brien’s. Pat O’s makes the best hurricanes. But whenever you need a hurricane fix and can’t hop on a flight to Louisiana, here is my fail-proof recipe.
This hurricane recipe is VERY straightforward. Simply, add all of the ingredients to a pitcher and mix it up! Serve over ice.
My favorite must-have for every single party I have, is a photo booth. If you follow me on Instagram (@nicolenotrichie), then you know that I LOVE a photo booth. I create my own with just a few simple things. Streamers or a curtain for the backdrop, a banner to go across, and a ring light. The ring light is a little bit of an investment, but I use mine all the time. You can buy one here: RING LIGHT
Last, but not least, you need a themed playlist! I typically search on Spotify for ‘Mardi Gras’ and use an already curated playlist. There is always some Jazz and Zydeco music that will get the party started. If you have time, make your own. Otherwise, Spotify has you covered.
Now you have all the things you need to throw the best Mardi Gras party ever! Have a great time with your friends and don’t have too many hurricanes!