I was blessed with the opportunity to visit New Orleans over the summer. As a matter of fact, it was my Christmas present from my husband. Years ago I decided I was not going to ask for material things anymore, but for experiences. Visiting New Orleans had been in my bucket list for quite a while so the hubby decided to make it happen for me. He is the best! Of course my daughters got to join in the fun. Princess and the Frog is one of their favorite Disney movies so they were super excited to go. We had an amazing culinary experience there and since then my husband has continued to hone in on his Cajun cooking skills.
I love the Cajun cuisine because it is the most unpretentious comfort food. There is something about it that screams family and friends. Don’t you think? So we decided to invite several friends over to join us for a Cajun evening. Like the good event planner that I am, I was going to develop the theme at a record speed (since I only had a couple of days). We knew that we were going to serve gumbo for dinner, so I decided to go with a bayou inspired table. I guess I could have gone many different ways with it (French Quarter, Mardi gras, Princess and the Frog, etc.), but I had only a couple of days to prepare and I want it to keep the entire evening on a budget.
For the centerpiece I went to my backyard and got moss, bark from different trees and a mossy tree limb. The rest of the accessories for the centerpiece I got at the Dollar Tree. Yes, not lying Dollar Tree. I spent around $10.00 on the centerpiece in total. That included the flowers, Spanish moss, rocks, cat tails, alligator, candle holders, candles, and butterflies. The black lantern and black rope I already had, but I also bought at the Dollar Tree a while back. By the way, the green wine glasses I also bought at the Dollar Tree a while back. I know, I know!!! <*shrieking*>
And because I did so good at spending almost no money on decor I decided to splurge and make a bayou wreath for the front door. So out to Goodwill I go. I found the basket looking thing (I think it is really a lacrosse pocket but don’t believe me) that reminded me of the cages used to catch craw fish or shrimp, so I decided to go with it. I knew I didn’t want a typical wreath and it was only going to cost me $1.51 so why not? The dragonfly and paper I bought at Hobby Lobby BUT I used a 40% off coupon so… ended up pending around $3.50 on the wreath. Not bad, not bad at all!
For cocktail hour we served two appetizers, shrimp and grits cakes with a Scuppernong wine Beurre Blanc topped with a drizzle of blackberry rum reduction and mini muffuletta sandwiches. Hurricane cocktails, Abita Andygators (Louisiana beer), and Pinot Grigio to drink. For dinner, we served mesclun mix salad with a cane syrup vinaigrette and chicken and andouille sausage gumbo as the main course. As sides, we served white rice and also added yellow ripe plantains to cut the spiciness of the gumbo. For dessert, Flambe Bananas Foster a la mode (with aged rum of course).
The Zydeco music on the background added another element to the festive and very relaxed atmosphere. So much fun to be had out there with so little time to make memories. This dinner party shows you that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have friends over and celebrate life. This theme can be easily translated to a birthday party, wedding, etc. You just have to look for an excuse!