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Come Party With Me: Mardi Gras Bash - Menu (Savory Appetizers)

This week I had a very tough decision to make: should I host a Chinese New Year dinner party and invite a select group of intimate friends or a blowout Mardi Gras bash and tell everyone I know to come party with me? If you caught yesterday's do-it-yourself masquerading invitations, you know what I chose (I guess it says in the title above, doh): Mardi Gras blowout bash. I need a break from planning dinner after dinner and want to host a party where I can let my hair down, wear something a little scandalous, and dance dance dance. A party without food is non-existent in PartySugar land, so I will be making a few bite sized nibbles in both sweet and savory varieties. To see what Creole inspired dishes, I'll be making read more

I'll arrange the food at different stations around my house so guests can grab a taste when the hunger urge hits them. I'll serve a round of a classic meaty New Orleans sandwich called

and a
Cajun Crab Dip

. You can't have a Louisiana style menu without some sort of shrimp (I keep thinking of that scene from Forrest Gump) and I'll be making forkless
Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

. Check back later today for the sweet treats I'll be plating up next to these delicious dishes.

From Giada De Laurentiis

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
10 large pitted green olives, chopped
1/3 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) round bread loaf (about 7 inches in diameter and 3 inches high)
4 ounces thinly sliced ham
4 ounces thinly sliced mortadella
4 ounces thinly sliced salami
4 ounces sliced provolone
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 ounces arugula leaves

  1. Whisk the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Gradually blend in the oil.
  2. Stir in the olives and roasted peppers. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  3. Cut the top 1-inch of the bread loaf. Set the top aside. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread.
  4. Spread some of the olive and roasted pepper mix over the bread bottom and cut side of the bread top. Layer the meats and cheeses in the bread bottom.
  5. Top with the onions, then the arugula.
  6. Spread the remaining olive and roasted pepper mix on top of the sandwich and carefully cover with the bread top.
  7. You can serve the sandwich immediately or you can wrap the entire sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator a day before serving.
  8. Cut the sandwich into wedges and serve.

Serves 6-8.

Cajun Crab Dip
From Cooking Light magazine

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced green onions

  1. Spoon yogurt onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl using a rubber spatula; cover and refrigerate.
  2. Combine cream cheese and next 8 ingredients (cream cheese through hot sauce), stirring well with a whisk. Stir in yogurt. Add crabmeat and remaining ingredients; stir gently to combine.
  3. Serve this dip with baked tortilla chips, vegetables, or crackers.

Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
From Taste of Home magazine

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, curry powder, ground cumin and ground coriander
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
18 uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
9 bacon strips, halved lengthwise

  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, lemon juice, oil and seasonings. Pour 1/4 cup marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add the shrimp. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting.
  2. In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until cooked but not crisp. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade.
  4. Wrap each shrimp with a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  5. Coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray before starting the grill. Grill bacon-wrapped shrimp, covered, over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, turning and basting with reserved marinade.

Makes 1-1/2 dozen.

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