Dinner For Two: A Sultry Southern Jambalaya Recipe For Mardi Gras

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Take a big bite of the Big Easy. (After all, they don't call it the Fat Tuesday for nothin'.)

 

It's date night at your place tonight — so what's cooking for dinner?

Before you ransack your kitchen pantry in desperation ... or worse: resort to your go-to (read: boring) chicken alfredo pasta, there are plenty of easy-to-whip-up dishes perfect for a relaxing, romantic at-home dinner for two. There's no need to make dinner reservations at an expensive restaurant.

We think staying in is the new sexy. That's why we've cooked up our own Dinner For Two series by serving up a mouthwatering menu that's sure to impress your sweetheart — sneakily flavored with aphrodisiac ingredients, like this Mardi Gras-themed feast in celebration of the holiday itself.

Mardi Gras is known around the world for partygoers partaking in all of the parades, floats and festivities in New Orleans. But aside from the booze, beads and carefree debauchery, the holiday is about one thing: the food. Fat Tuesday is the last hurrah before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, an excuse to pig out on traditional Southern dishes like Creole chicken and sausage jambalaya, muffaletta sandwiches packed with meats and, of course, the hallmark of the holiday: the cinnamon-spiced, almond-glazed, tri-colored king cake. Throw it all together and you've got yourselves one sexy meal!

The Drink: King Cake Martini
By Christine Dionese of The Best Craft Cocktails & Bartending With Flair
(Image credit: Tricia Seigne)

dinner for two king cake cocktail recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 oz vanilla vodka
  • 1/2 oz Amaretto
  • 1/2 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
  • Amaretto & cinnamon infused whipped cream
  • Cinnamon for dusting garnish
  • Red, green and purple sugar for glass rimming optional
  • Lime wedge
  • 1/2 tbsp Heath Bar crumbled
  • Ice

Directions

1. Prepare whipped cream ahead of time. In an ASI whipper combine 1-2 ounces amaretto and 1/2 tsp cinnamon with 1 cup heavy cream. Prepare and cool ahead of time.
2. Rim a chilled martini glass with colored sugar if desired. Slide lime wedge around rim of glass, then dip into separate dishes of colored sugar.
3. Add crushed Heath Bar into the bottom of the glass.
4. In a shaker combine ice, vodka and Baileys. Shake vigorously and pour into martini glass.
5. Spray Amaretto & cinnamon infused whipped cream in the middle and dust with cinnamon. Instead of finding a tiny plastic baby in your drink, we swapped in Heath Bar crunch as your big surprise!

 

The Appetizer: Muffaletta Sandwiches
By Del Rey Deli Company

dinner for two muffaletta sandwich recipe

Ingredients

  • Slices of capocollo, mortadella, salami, pepperoni, ham, swiss, and provolone
  • Housemade mufffaletta spread

Directions

1. Stack meats as desired.

 

The Main Dish: Creole Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
By Lisa of Creole Contessa

dinner for two creole chicken and sausage jambalaya recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb andouille sausage, or smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 lb chicken breast, boneless, skinless, cut into 2" chunks
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato sauce
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 3 cups long grain rice, uncooked
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of green onions
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp creole seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions

1. Mix seasoning blend and set aside. Slice sausage and set aside. Rinse, pat dry chicken, dice into 2 inch chunks, place in a medium bowl. Season chicken with 1 tablespoonful of seasoning blend, mix well and set aside.
2. In a large pot add butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and brown for 5 minutes. Add chicken and brown for 10 minutes more. Add all the vegetables to the pot, except garlic and season with half the seasoning blend.
3. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add rice to pot and toast for about 4 minutes. Add remaining seasoning blend and mix well. Add broth, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Mix well. Bring mixture to a boil, stir, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. Discard bay leaf.
4. Reduce heat to simmer, cover pot and  cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, stir mixture, scarping the bottom of the pot, cover and cook about 10 minutes more.
5. Remove pan from heat and allow food to rest covered for about 10 more minutes. Serve with some nice toasted garlic bread and enjoy.

 

The Dessert: King Cake
By Marcelle Bienvenu & Judy Walker of Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans

(Image credit: Three Points Kitchen)

dinner for two king cake recipe

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115F)
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm milk (105 to 115F)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs

Cinnamon Filling

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 red bean, pecan half, or small plastic baby figurine

Frosting

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 to 2 tbsp milk
  • Purple, green, and yellow paste food coloring (or other colors depending upon the occasion)

Directions

For the dough: Pour the warm water into a large warmed bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir until it dissolves. Stir in the warm milk, butter, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Add 1 cup of the flour and blend well. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Lightly flour a flat work surface, and turn out the dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding more flour if the dough sticks. Put in a large greased bowl, and turn to grease the top of the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For the Filling

Punch the dough down. Transfer to the lightly floured work surface and use a rolling pin to roll into a 30-by-9-inch rectangle. Brush with the melted butter. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Beginning at the long end, roll up tightly, as for a jellyroll. Pinch the seam to seal. With a sharp knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise, and carefully turn the halves so that cut sides face up. Join the ends, pinching them to form one ring, keeping the cut sides up so the filling is visible. Transfer the ring to a large greased baking sheet.

If using a red bean or pecan half, push it into the underside of the dough to hide it. (A baby charm will go in after baking.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the cake from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack. If using a plastic baby figurine, push it into the underside of the cake.

For the Frosting

In a small bowl mix together the sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth. Divide among three smaller bowls. Tint one mixture purple, the second one green, and the third one gold, mixing each one well. Drizzle each color over the top of the cake.

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