Celebrating Mardi Gras with Family

By Melissa Moyles

Can you believe it is the last day of February?! This month has been a whirlwind for my family with Girl Scouts, dance, and family vacations.

But tomorrow is Mardi Gras so the celebration continues! I love New Orleans and anything Cajun. My high school bestie went to Tulane for College so I spent my fair share of nights in my 20s in the French Quarter.

Now that I have kids of my own, I still like to bring New Orleans to life at home on Mardi Gras. Here are a few of my favorite ways.

Decorations

I was lucky enough to be in New Orleans last month for work and picked up these adorable masks and beads. But if you aren’t, no worries! Dollar Tree also has a great selection of beads, crowns, and masks to stay festive.

I also encourage my family to dress for the occasion in the traditional colors of yellow, green, and purple.

Music

Hey Alexa, play Jazz music. You cant think New Orleans without thinking Jazz. Put on some classic favorites like Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis and you will be transported to Bourbon Street.

Food

Oh my the food! Beignets, Etouffee, Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp and Grits, Oysters, and on and on on. Every single time I’m in New Orleans I eat 3 huge French donuts (beignets) at Cafe du Monde with their famous Chicory Coffee. I also can never skip a chance for Oyster’s at Felix’s. I could eat Cajun food every day and die happy.

Last night my dad made Shrimp Etouffee over rice with crusty French bread and even my kids loved it! Here is my favorite recipe from Emeril Legasse.

Drinks

Mardi Gras is basically synonymous with drinking! Whenever I’m in New Orleans I have to stop by Pat O’Brien’s for a Hurricane.

At home, I can usually find Louisiana Local Abita Purple Haze at Publix. This time, I tried something new but on theme with New Belgium “Voodoo Ranger”. Here is a great at home recipe for the classic Hurricane.

King Cake

I am saving the best for last – King Cake! If you ask my kids what their favorite part of Mardi Gras is, they will unanimously tell you King Cake. For those who haven’t tried it, King Cake is a pastry ring iced and covered with green, yellow, and purple sprinkles. The fun part however, is a small plastic baby hiding in one of the slices. At my house, whoever finds the baby is deemed Mardi Queen with good luck for the whole year!

You can have local favorite’s shipped to you but my local grocery store Publix also had them in stock. In the past, my kids have also brought them to class to share with their friends.

I hope you have a fantastic Mardi Gras! As they say in the French Quarter – Laissez le bon temps Rouler!

Best, Melissa and Girls

Aunt Paulette’s Chili

By Melissa Moyles

Happy February! This year has been a whirlwind so far. So much vacation and with it terrible eating. I came home from North Carolina this week craving some vegetables. Do you know what I mean? My family however are not big veggie eaters. That is unless I hide them well in their favorite chili!

This recipe is like a big hug from my childhood. My Aunt Paulette would make it when she came to visit from Michigan and now I will share it with you!

I bet you have many of these ingredients already on hand!

I start by browning ground beef in a big cast iron pot but any pan will work.

While the meat is browning, I dice up the Trinity: onions, bell pepper, and celery.

Once the meat is brown, I remove to the side and soften the veggies in the same pot.

Aunt Paulette always used Pinto and Kidney beans but you can really use any canned bean you prefer. Sometimes I will also add black beans. Make sure you drain and rinse them well!

Once the veggies are soft, I add back in the meat, beans, and a large can of crushed tomatoes. I will also fill the can halfway with water to rinse out the extra tomatoey goodness.

I am not known for measuring my spices but use about 3 tbsp chili powder to 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp salt and cracked pepper.

Bring the chili to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook covered for at least 30 minutes.

This Chili tastes best with Trashy Cornbread so if you’re feeling ambitious, check out this recipe while the Chili is simmering.

I like to top my Chili with cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, onions, and avocado but use whatever is your favorite.

I hope you try Aunt Paulette’s Chili! Let me know how it goes in the comments and tag me on Instagram @3daughtersDIY.

Best, Melissa and Girls

Aunt Paulettes Chili

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, diced onions, diced avocado, hot sauce

Directions

  • Brown ground beef wirh oil in large pot, remove
  • Add diced veggies. Soften for 10 minutes over medium heat
  • Drain and rinse beans
  • Add meat and beans to veggie pot. Add can of crushed tomatoes and then 1/2 can of water. Add all the spices and stir
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for at least 30 minutes
  • Serve with toppings and cornbread

Trashy Cornbread

By Melissa Moyles

Hi Friends! After a weekend of eating like trash, I needed some vegetables. In my house, the best vehicle to get veggies into my kids and husband is Aunt Paulette’s Chili. But what is Chili without cornbread? Boring!

Enter Trashy Cornbread – the most fun and easy side to chili you have ever made.

Literally 5 ingredients that you can easily find at any grocery store.

I know the experts say to mix your wet and dry separately but I guess I’m a rebel because in my house, they all just get dumped into one bowl before mixing.

A little pam and pyrex and into the oven she goes.

She thiccc! Just look at this beauty!

I mean I could eat trashy cornbread by itself but again, it’s better with Chili.

I hope you love this as much as my family does. Please let me know how it turns out in comments and tag me on instagram @3daughtersdiy

Best, Melissa and Girls

Trashy Cornbread

makes 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 boxes jiffy cornbread
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 5 tbsp melted butter

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Grease a 9×12 pyrex and add mix
  • Bake for 40 minutes until cornbread is set and brown on top
  • Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Turkeys

By Melissa Moyles

I love Thanksgiving! It is my favorite holiday but man is it busy! Before the day and the cooking fully gets going, I love to sit with an easy breakfast in front of the TV and enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Ever since I had kids, I have been making these Cinnamon Roll Turkeys. Almost a decade! They take 20 minutes to make – including bake time – and are fun for all to assemble. So go grab some cute placemats and let’s begin!

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Ingredients

  • Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls
  • Bacon
  • Candy Corn
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Chocolate Chips
  1. Bake Cinnamon Rolls according to the package.
  2. Cook Bacon either in a pan or in the oven until crispy.
  3. Assemble! Cut bacon in 1/2 and arrange at the top of the cinnamon roll to look like tail feathers.
  4. Place pretzel sticks at bottom of cinnamon roll to look like feet.
  5. Optional step: Place candy corn on top as the gobbler and chocolate chips as the eyes. Feel free to use any candy you have on hand here.

Pour yourself a Mimosa, turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and enjoy a slow delicious start to your holiday!

Best, Melissa and Girls