If there was ever an excuse to invite friends over for an absolutely decadent meal, it's Mardi Gras. Also known as Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Pancake Day (among other nicknames), the big day — which traditionally kicks off the fasting period of Lent and comes right before Ash Wednesday — happens on March 4 this year. Jump on the excuse to throw a party starring a slew of rich, scrumptious foods and classic Mardi Gras cocktails with these fantastic recipes.
A de rigueur Mardi Gras tradition, king cake usually comes with a small plastic baby hidden inside. Whoever finds the toy might be guaranteed good luck - or an impending pregnancy . Either way, the recipient gets to bring the king cake to next year's celebration. This recipe is for an uncomplicated version of the cake, transformed into individually sized portions.
In Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Mardi Gras is called Fasnachts Day in honor of these fantastic doughnut-like pastries, fried to perfection and dusted in powdered sugar.
Ansonia, Conn., is one of several towns across the county that hosts an annual paczki-eating contest every Fat Tuesday. But don't worry - you needn't be a competitive eater to enjoy these stuffed doughnuts. When you make your own, you and your guests are under no obligation to stuff as many into your mouths as you can within five minutes. Unless you want to, of course.
Beat the heat with frozen grapes, no-bake lemon cheesecake bars
Free-form plum tart: Making it scrumptious is easy as pie!
Lemon meringue pie: Get chef Ryan Scott's easy recipe
Devil's cream pie: This recipe is delicious and simple to make!
In many countries around the world—including Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand—pancakes are a crucial part of Shrove Tuesday celebrations (hence the nickname Pancake Day). Try this recipe for some truly epic pancakes, smothered in hot fudge, bananas and whipped cream, and capped with a cherry on top.
These classic Shrove Tuesday pastries have a hard-to-pronounce name: Laskiaispullat. But it's worth learning how to say it: These sweet buns, filled with jam or marzipan and whipped cream, are a tradition in Finland and Scandinavia—and soon to be a favorite in your kitchen too.
Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans are infamous, but if flashing for beads just isn't your thing, you can still serve up rich, luscious bowls of traditional jambalaya at home. Try this one, loaded with red beans and Andouille sausage.
These shrimp have us totally drooling - and for good reason. All that butter, and garlic, and spice! Something tells us we'll be making this dish year-round.
If there's one thing you absolutely need for a proper Mardi Gras celebration, it's the right cocktail. This easy recipe for New Orleans brandy milk punch whips up a sweet, chilled concoction that resembles a lighter, fresher version of eggnog.
Because who can get enough king cake on Mardi Gras? Not us! We can't wait to whip up this cupcake version.