Monday, February 23, 2009


Mardi Gras: 2009

Just because you are on a budget doesn't mean you don't deserve to have a sinfully good time on Fat Tuesday! As a wallet-friendly alternative to a night on the town, consider hosting your own Mardi Gras soiree. Anticipating the anxiety of Recessionistas trying to celebrate on a budget/short notice, we at Recessionista Roadmap have created a suggested plan for the holiday that is budget-friendly, hostess-friendly, and patron-approved! Trust us, your guests will never suspect that you threw this party on the cheap!

Budget: <$150 to entertain 10 guests (That is under $15 dollars/person for my arithmetic-challenged friends!!!)

Recommended Menu:
*Caveat: If you participate in Lent, I suggest you throw out this menu and indulge in those vices you are giving up for the next 40 days because, darn it, that is longer than how long many Recessionista romances last!

  • 1 signature cocktail (along with beer/wine options)

  • 3 appetizers

  • 1-2 fabulous host/hostess(es)

Cocktail: Fancy Panties

  • 2 oz Vodka

  • 2 oz Pink Lemonade

  • 4 oz Prosecco

This tasty number is certain to please your naughty little crew. Just remind everyone that Joe Francis and the Girls Gone Wild crew will not be attending, so tacky behavior has no place at this Celebrationista Bash!

Appetizer 1: Cajun Shrimp Cocktail

  • 2 lb Shrimp

  • 2 cups water (Free: Score!)

  • 2 heavy Tbs of Zatarain's Shrimp & Crab Boil

  • Ice (like its alternate H20 form: free!)

  • 1 Lemon

  • 1 bottle of Cocktail Sauce

Add 1 Tbs. Zatarain's Concentrated Shrimp & Crab boil to 2 cups water. Bring to boil. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Immediately put them on ice to stop the cooking process. Serve garnished with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce. (For an extra kick, add a couple shots of tabasco to the cocktail sauce, but, Recessionistas should remember to add only a little at a time - does not take much to kick it up to Emeril Lagasse hot!)

Appetizer #2: Stuffed Cajun-Style Mushrooms

  • 1 pound large, fresh mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, pressed

  • 2 cups crushed Ritz brand cracker crumbs

  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*

  • 1/4 teaspoon tabasco*

  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano*

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper*

  • 1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 325*F (160*C). Wash mushrooms and dry; remove stems, set caps aside and chop the stems. Melt butter in a skillet; add onion and saute 5 minutes. Add green pepper, garlic, and chopped mushroom stems. Cook 10 minutes, until tender. Add crumbs, cheese, salt, oregano, and pepper. Mix well; stir in broth. Spoon stuffing into mushroom caps, rounding the tops. Place in a shallow pan with about 1/4-inch water. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Appetizer #3: Cajun Corn

  • 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon paprika*

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder*

  • /2 teaspoon garlic powder*

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
Pour butter over warm popcorn. Combine remaining seasonings and sprinkle over popcorn; toss to mix.
* Spices, especially when used infrequently, are a costly purchase for the party-on-the-budget crowd. This Recessionista recommends that anything not already in your cupboard offers a great opportunity to mingle with your neighbors, while graciously soliciting a pinch or two from their spice rack. Be a savvy hostess though -invite your generous, spice-wealthy neighbors to swing by your bash. Not only will this show your impeccable manners, but they will likely be more forgiving if that one friend of yours starts singing "When the Saints Come Marching In" at the top of his/her lungs.

Special Extras:

Mardi Gras Beads: No Fat Tuesday Celebration would be complete without this staple. Head out and shell out a buck at the local dollar store or order online in advance of your party.

Festive Music: Put together an mp3 playlist that does New Orleans proud. My Mardi Gras mix (admittedly much tamer than what I might have included 10 years ago!) includes Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jr., and Charlie Parker among others, but play whatever you think will get your guests singing and sinning (so, it is probably best to put those Celine Dion tracks away for the evening.)

Shopping List (NYC prices = most expensive):

  • 1 bottle respectable Vodka: $27

  • 3 bottles Prosecco: $33

  • 1 container of Pink Lemonade: $2.50

  • 1 bottle respectable red wine: $10

  • 1 six-pack of high end beer: $9

  • 1 bottle Tonic water (for the purists who don't play): $1.50

  • 2 lb. Shrimp: $30

  • 1 bottle Zatarain's Crab and Shrimp Boil: $3.00

  • 1 Lemon: $. 69

  • 1 Bottle Jack Miller's Cajun Cocktail Sauce: $3.50

  • 1 box of Orville Redenbacher Microwave Popcorn (yes, we're suggesting the easy way out): $3.50

  • 1 container of Butter: $2.69

  • 1 pound large, fresh mushrooms: $4.00

  • 1 onion: $.89

  • 1 green pepper: $.89

  • 1 garlic bulb: $ .89

  • 1 box Ritz crackers: $3.00

  • 1 canister of Parmesan Cheese: $4.00

  • 1 container of chicken broth: $2.50

  • 1 order of 10-20 Mardi Gras beads:$1-2.
Total: $141.05 ( I have left you $8.95 to spend creatively: Channel Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart if you must, but Recessionista, what makes a celebration is your trademark so find it now, under a ten spot!)

Recessionista Tip of the Day: This tip comes from fellow Recessionista, Miss Ashley:

Take control of your finances and barter like you are in a Roman flea market. Identify absolutely every automated monthly payment you make (rent, car, credit cards, cable, etc.) and map it out in MS Excel. After you stop hyperventilating at the sheer grossness of the expenses, let go of fear, pride, and shame and prepare to negotiate with Corporate America. Miss Ashley is going undercover to negotiate for fellow Recessionistas in order to see who is willing to deal (lower interest rates, special packages, etc. ) and who resembles that demanding, stubborn ex you should have forgotten about years ago. This expose, which has already saved Miss Ashley hundreds of dollars, will debut in a future entry, so keep reading and start haggling.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out! Tomorrow's job..haggling your way out of an overpriced gym contract. It's called walking shoes!