For New Year’s, I thought it would be fun to reflect on how far I’ve come with Casa Bouquet and share 2016 year in review. I’m sharing some of the top posts for 2016. I am so grateful for my readers and the community of bloggers. And, it’s time to start celebrating Mardi Gras, so here is my red beans and rice recipe!
Glow stick experiment has been consistently my top post and pin. I love that you can take an inexpensive item and use it for inquiry and STEM learning (science, technology, engineering, math).
My dear friend, Patty, wrote a wonderful guest post for me about her trip to Sansepolcro, Tuscany. The story of college friends reconnecting is really worth reading!
I loved working with middle and high school students to achieve college dreams. Summer STEM camps were one of my favorite projects and I learned a lot about creating a safe environment. 9 tips for camp counselors and volunteers has my best advice for organizing camp. You may also like Upbeat graduation songs for camp and closing ceremonies.
I’ve put together a series on pies, and the most visited this year was Chocolate chess pie, an old Southern standard. I made it new by using single source dark chocolate from our local chocolatier.
Hawaii is my happy place and if you’ve been following along you know I enjoy writing about adventures there. Sweets of Hawaii was a top post for 2016. It’s so yummy to try the ways Portuguese, Japanese, and other cultures’ sweets have become local flavor in Hawaii.
Lisa’s Home Bijou is my area for writing reviews of classic movies. Meet Me in St. Louis was the favorite in 2016. Judy Garland stars in a nostalgic look at a year’s worth of holidays in 1903.
A project close to my heart was the DIY toddler pillow. I loved making a special lovey for my grandsons.
I hope you’ll check out these posts if you missed them and spend some time exploring my other posts. I’d love to hear about highlights of your year!
And here is another favorite, just in time for Mardi Gras season – red beans and rice!
Monday in the South was laundry day, the perfect day to put red beans and rice on the stove. This dish is a favorite here at Casa Bouquet during Mardi Gras season, which begins January 6, the Twelfth Day of Christmas.
You will need a large pot (or slow cooker), a knife, spatula or spoon, and measuring spoons and cup. (My pot is 8 quarts.)
The night before cooking, rinse the beans and discard any stones or bad beans. Soak overnight. Drain when you are ready to cook. Camellia Brand beans are the absolute best for this (we used to ask The Gardener’s sister to ship them to us from Mississippi!).
Chop the bell peppers into half-inch squares. Chop the banana peppers into ¼ inch chunks. Mince the garlic. Louisiana has its own version of mirepoix called Holy Trinity. It is a chopped mixture of onion, celery, and bell pepper. If you decide to go this route, I suggest taking it easy with the onion and perhaps only use 6 slices of onion so as to not make the taste too prevalent.
Slice the sausage into ¼ inch slices. I like to use Andouille, but the recipe tastes fine with chicken or turkey sausage. Smoked is best. [Note: the sausage can be left out if you need a vegetarian version!]
Heat the pan to medium high (I put a small pat of butter or a half teaspoon of water in the pan to tell when it’s hot.) Add the olive oil and immediately add the bell peppers. Sauté until they lose their crispness. Add the sausage and sauté, flipping occasionally, until cooked, about 5 minutes.
Add drained beans, Cajun/Creole spice (I use Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning), thyme, bay leaves, minced garlic, onion flakes, and enough water to cover the beans plus about an inch. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Add water if the pot contents become too thick.
Remove about ½ or ¾ cup of beans and smash with a fork, immersion blender, or potato masher.
Add back to the pot. Add the Pickapeppa sauce (or other tamarind-based sauce such as Worcestershire). Add hot sauce, such as Cajun Sunshine or Tabasco. In any bean recipe, I always add an acid near the end of the cooking time.
Cook for 1 or 2 more hours. The consistency should be like a very thick soup.
Remove the bay leaves. Serve over fresh hot rice. You will need 6 to 8 cups of cooked rice for this recipe of beans.
Note: this recipe will also work with 5 15-ounce cans of small red beans, drained and rinsed. Add enough water to come up about halfway through the ingredients. Cooking time will be about an hour.
For the slow cooker: cook the beans in water to cover plus one inch for 8 hours on low. Remove ½ cup of beans, smash, and return to pot. Add sautéed vegetables and sautéed sausage, Cajun spice, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, onion flakes, Pickapeppa sauce, and hot sauce. Add additional water if needed. Cook for 2 more hours.
Red beans and rice are a Monday tradition in New Orleans and a must during Mardi Gras season. Red beans and rice is a hearty, comforting Louisiana dish, perfect for Mardi Gras season. Smoked sausage and Cajun seasonings add flavor.
- 1 lb. red beans (Camellia Brand)
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 2 banana peppers, diced
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- 8 andouille sausage, sliced (24 oz.)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Cajun spice blend (Tony Chachere)
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tsp dried onion flakes
- 10 cups water
- 3 tbsp Pickapeppa sauce
- 1 tbsp Cajun hot sauce, or more to taste
- 6 to 8 cups hot cooked rice
- Rinse the beans and discard any stones or bad beans. Soak overnight. Drain when you are ready to cook.
- Chop the bell pepper into half-inch squares. Chop the banana peppers into ¼ inch chunks. Mince the garlic.
- Slice the sausage into ¼ inch slices.
- Heat the pan to medium high. Add the olive oil and immediately add the bell peppers. Sauté until they lose their crispness. Add the sausage and sauté, flipping occasionally, until cooked, about 5 minutes.
- Add drained beans, Cajun spice, thyme, bay leaves, minced garlic, onion flakes, and enough water to cover the beans plus about an inch. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Add water if the pot contents become too thick.
- Remove about ½ or ¾ cup of beans and smash with a fork, immersion blender, or potato masher. Add back to the pot. Add the Pickapeppa sauce and hot sauce.
- Cook for 1 or 2 more hours. The consistency should be like a very thick soup.
- Remove the bay leaves. Serve over fresh hot rice.
Prep time also includes soaking the dry beans the night before. A chopped mixture of onion, celery, and bell pepper can be used for the vegetables. Andouille or smoked chicken or turkey sausage can be used. Omit sausage for vegetarian version. Cajun spice blend can be substituted with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp black pepper. Slow cooker will take about 10 hours on low setting. Five 15 oz. cans of small red beans, drained and rinsed, can be used for a quicker version.
Nutrition facts red beans and rice
- Slow cooker red beans and rice from Camellia Brand
- Red beans and rice with smoked turkey from Serious Eats
- Red beans and rice from New Orleans Online
- Andouille sausage test from Cook’s Illustrated
- Mardi Gras dates from Mardi Gras New Orleans
- Household chores from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library
Let’s talk story
Mardi Gras season lasts until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. These dates change every year, based on the date of Easter. So Mardi Gras is a moveable feast. Some years the season is short and some it is long, but we always want to savor some Cajun and Creole cooking during that time.
Mardi Gras party menu
Hurricanes, Abita and Dixie beer, jambalaya, red beans and rice, muffulettas, remoulade with baguettes, ham, and cheese, King cake.Download a free printable for your Mardi Gras table!
I’ll be looking for comments below, or contact me at lisa [at] thecasabouquet[dot]com.
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