Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies

Most people think Mardi Gras is just a New Orleans thing, but that could not be further from the truth. Mardi Gras is huge in Mobile, AL and in Pensacola as well. I would list all the krewes we have here, but the list is long enough to make you bored.

Season starts on 12th Night, the day the 3 Magi brought their gifts to the baby Jesus and goes until Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday – the day before Ash Wednesday, when we all start trying to behave a little better. Carnival gives us something to do when it is cold and miserable outside – drink copious amounts of alcohol and be loud.

We won’t even get into the Moon Pies. I just cannot explain that to even my own satisfaction.

Well, I know I make these cookies every, um, yes, every year, but they are fun and this sugar cookie recipe is just the absolute best. As much as I hate roll-out cookies, these always work. Simple and done. I keep buying different colors of sugar all year long – hey, you never know when you will need them.

dd_11801 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer,  cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Sift flour into butter mixture, 1 cup at a time until just combined. Dump out onto plastic wrap and shape into a disk. Cover with plastic and chill 3 to 4 hours (*or overnight or even a day or two).

Roll out dough until 1/4 inch and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Brush and sprinkle with colored sugars. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 – 10 minutes until edges are slightly golden. Remove cookies to a rack to cool completely.

You do have to be careful with such large cookie cutters because those sized cookies can break easier than smaller, more compact cookies.

Here are the cutters. Reasonably priced from King Arthur Flour. They do require hand-washing and drying immediately, but that is not a huge deal since there are only 5 cutters. They are sturdy and easy to use.

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Bill E’s Bacon – Fairhope, Alabama

You know I love my husband. The other day I asked him to go to the Apple Market which is not close to our house, but not terribly far either. It is just one of those place I do not get to often enough. I wanted some ham salad for Easter and it was great ham salad. [See post about letting others do things if they can do them better than you.]

Well, since the MotH had not been to Apple Market in donkey’s years, it was like a field trip for him and he just kept sending me photos at the office. One really struck a cord – Bill E’s bacon out of Fairhope, Alabama. It wasn’t ridiculously priced and, well, I am a sucker for local foods of all sorts. “Serenaded by Songwriters. Savored by Carnivores.” Interesting, if nothing else. Still not sure what it means. D&D_1831

Damn, I fried up a few strips to adorn the deviled eggs and the German potato salad for Easter brunch. That is totally gilding the lily.

Now, what do I do with the rest of it. Ah, we shall see. I love bacon-wrapped dates (or any dried fruit for that matter) stuffed with cheese, or even better some other piggy parts. Although that may be over kill.

This bacon is really smoky, so I think going with a dried fruit and some kind of neutral cheesy-ness that I think might be just amazing.   D&D_1833

Sometimes others do things better than I do. German potato salad –

I have finally given in for real to the fact that sometimes other people do things much better than I do.

Case in point,I have been trying to make German potato salad as good as the Creamery for years. It seems to be an effort in futility. I would love to find someone in the family to give me the recipe, but that, I doubt, will happen.

So my lack-luster versions or even decent versions, have been just that, to me – lack luster compared to the Creamery. I thought about it so much before our Easter picnic luncheon and realized that be beloved father-in-law loved a canned German potato salad. And, honestly, it was the first German potato salad I had ever had too. So, damn it, I just did that.

Read German potato salad is what I went for – I mean, why not? My in-laws like it, I like it the MotH likes it. The Boy likes it. Why make things more difficult?D&D_1846

That is not to say that I did not “decorate” it. I added minced chives and some amazing local (Fairhope, AL) Bill-E’s bacon. Because, um, again why not gild that lily?

Mardi Gras

Well Carnival season is always a fun time here in Pensacola. Everyone associates Carnival with just New Orleans, but in this country it started in Mobile, Alabama – and moon pies are involved. Yep. Moon Pies. Pensacola has a vibrant krewe tradition and a host of parades and balls from 12th night (6th of January) on – there is not much else to do in January and February after all. It is cold and rainy most of the time so any excuse to drink like fish and dress up is appreciated. I would join a krewe, but I just do not like people. Nope.

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Yes, I have carnival cookie cutters. So?

Throws (beads, cups, and, whatnot) vary, but Moon Pies are in the mix. I am so not sure why, but hey, what is wrong with a chocolate Moon Pie once a year. Apparently this year there were calorie count moon pies – like tiny little things – who does that? This season is for indulgence, so let us just have a regular old-sized moon pie – like the kind I ate when I was a kid. I do not like the vanilla ones and really do not like the banana ones – ugh. Go chocolate (which is odd for me) or do not bother.

So today I wear beads to work – just like I wore beads this weekend when the major parades were going on. Monday was red beans and rice day and while that is a traditional Monday thing, but this is the important Monday. Today is Mardi Gras – the crazy day and then Ash Wednesday changes everything.

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Hood – my Mardi Gras pup

Brown Sugar Pecan Scones

I have had this recipe for donkey’s years. But I finally got around to making it. But to be honest, even though I lived in England for a year, I am not sure what scones are supposed to be. They seem a bit dry, in a shortbread kind of way. Is that why the English smother these things with clotted cream (do love that stuff) and perhaps jam? Not sure. But I am a huge fan of brown sugar and pecans. Though after trying these, I think more sugar needs to involved and maybe some tea as well. Although at this point for me it is decaffeinated. But dunking something in tea is very appealing.D&D_1392

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs whipping cream
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans*
2 Tbs whipping cream, to brush on top of the scones

Preheat oven to 450°+. Stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Freeze 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs cream and pecans, stirring just until dry ingredients are just moistened.

Turn dough out onto wax paper; gently press or pat dough into a 7-inch round (mixture will be crumbly). Cut round into 8 wedges. Place wedges 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops of wedges with remaining 2 Tbsp. cream just until moistened.

Notes: + I did this in a 425 degree oven for 14 minutes.

*1 cup Renfroe’s Pecans – local pecans (read: fresh and sweet) – pretty good thing that I like to keep celebrating. We are kind of stupid lucky to have those pecans, not everyone does. Maybe in the South you have a better chance, in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, North Florida – it really makes a difference to have local pecans. Those things you get at the grocery store are so inferior.

Source: Southern Living December 2010