My husband and I both love New Orleans. For years, we visited there often and I consulted for the university there once a month. (Yes, it was a tough gig, but someone had to go to New Orleans once a month.)
Although we have yet to take our youngest daughter, we talk to her about the area a lot–the food, the culture, the music, the people. It really is an awesome place.
ALSO CHECK OUT: Free Mardi Gras Coloring Sheet Printable
None of us have been to Mardi Gras, but we can appreciate the religious, cultural and historical ties surrounding it (that has little to do with beads and flashing). So, I was happy to discuss it with my daughter during a recent homeschooling session and read her Mimi’s First Mardi Gras by Alice Couvillon and Elizabeth Moore.Mimi’s First Mardi Gras does an excellent job of explaining the entire process–through little Mimi’s eyes and her first Mardi Gras–starting with Twelfth Night, the King Cake, Lent, the parties, the costumes and all the way through the parade day and different Krewes and parades. If you know little about Mardi Gras, this will be an interesting learning tool for you, too!
The illustrations are wonderful watercolors that fill up almost the entire area on every page. They do a really great job of portraying the different things within a Mardi Gras celebration.
Be aware that the book is 32 pages (almost like a short chapter book), so it may be lengthy for younger kids and you may need to break it up into a couple of sessions.
Quick and Easy Mardi Gras King Cake
For our recipe pairing, we decided to make a Mardi Gras King Cake.
A traditional King Cake from scratch can take around four hours, and this seemed unreasonable for a kid’s project. So, we decided to make an easier (“kiddie”) version of a traditional King Cake. Here’s our adaptation.
- 2 rolls refrigerated crescent rolls (in the can)
- 4 ounces (half a block) of cream cheese
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained
- ½ cup pecan halves
- 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
- 4 TBS milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Purple, green, and yellow colored sugar crystals
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1 plastic baby favor
- TO MAKE FILLING: Place cream cheese, brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and raisins in the bowl of a food processor or mixer. Process until combined. Add pecan halves and process until pecans are chopped. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
- Unroll first can of crescent roll dough and lay flat on surface. Do not separate dough. Instead, use fingers to pinch together the seams.
- Melt ¼ cup butter and then add the remaining ½ tsp. cinnamon. Spread half of the melted butter-cinnamon mixture onto the dough.
- Place half of the filling in the middle of the dough and roll the dough to form a tube. Pinch together the seams. Position the rolled dough on the baking sheet and shape into a half-moon to form the top of the King Cake.
- Repeat the above steps with the second can of crescent rolls and form the bottom of the King Cake. Pinch together the edges of the top of the cake and the bottom to form one complete circle.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown, and then cool.
- TO MAKE THE ICING: Whisk together the confectioners sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Make the consistency thick, but still thin enough to drip down the sides. (If necessary, add more milk.) Spoon the icing in a ring over the top of the King Cake.
- Sprinkle wide strips of purple, then green, then gold, alternating until you've covered the icing on the cake.
- Before serving, cut the cake and place the plastic baby either in or under one of the pieces. (Do not bake the plastic baby in the cake.) Be sure to warn your guests so that they are aware of the baby and don't accidentally bite down on it!
Add These to Your Mardi Gras Fun:
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