Today is Mardi Gras, which means if you're not in New Orleans right now, it's officially time to get out the cocktail glasses, gumbo dishes, and some skillets to fry up some homemade beignets. However, Mardi Gras (meaning "Fat Tuesday," in English), is also a big celebration in other locations across the globe as well, areas which historically consisted of large Roman Catholic populations, such as Venice and Brazil, where the celebration is typically called Carnival. This celebration comes the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the religious season of Lent. Historically, in the days leading up to Lent, those who were preparing for the time of fasting would indulge on all their favorite things before they had to give them up. It is believed that the first Mardi Gras celebration took place in America when French explorers settled on the coast of what is now Louisiana. The rest is history, as they say. Today, New Orleans still celebrates Mardi Gras with traditions such as a parade through the French Quarter, tossing colorful beads, wearing masks, and of course, eating king cake. To learn more about this day in history, check out some great information here. For some tasty festive recipes, see the deliciousness happening below! From authentic beignets out of one of New Orleans' best known cafes, to a scrumptious hot crab dip, we've got your celebration covered this year.

Craving beignets? Follow Morgan Murphy in his series "Off the Eaten Path" as he travels to New Orleans to the legendary Cafe Beignet to learn more about one of the city's best known indulgences.


To serve a crowd, this hot crab dip is absolutely incredible, and really brings that Big Easy flavor with some hearty creole seasoning. No Mardi Gras table would be totally complete with some kind of seafood or gumbo dip, and this one definitely gets our pick. *(Hint: if you're a fan of spicy dips, double the hot sauce in this recipe!)

Did you end up finding the baby in the king cake this year? Whichever your favorite Mardi Gras treat, we hope you have a wonderful celebration today. Join us on Facebook today to see some more great Mardi Gras recipes. See you there!