Have you always wanted to go to Mardi Gras? Maybe you've always been envious of all that delicious food that beaded partiers get to feast on. This year the character and spirit of the city are stronger than ever and Mardi Gras, to be celebrated on February 20th, is in full swing preparation. Whether you're heading to the "Big Easy" to welcome back Mardi Gras in person or staying at home, these two recipes, representing the best of authentic New Orleans street food, are all you need to get the party started.

Spicy grilled shrimp and sausage skewers have the look, taste and feel of Mardi Gras. Easy for revelers to carry through the streets while watching the parades, the simple preparation makes it ideal for a celebration in your own home as well. The zest of the andouille sausage and shrimp, grilled with hot pepper sauce, are complemented with a scallion swirl running the length of the skewer, adding a festive flair to an already scrumptious treat. Served with a Creole mustard dipping sauce, this French Quarter favorite will be the hit of your block, too.

And nothing screams New Orleans quite like red beans and rice, and this easy recipe, bursting with flavor, continues that tradition. Drawing on ingredients like bacon, onion, garlic and pepper sauce, Bourbon Street rice and beans is perfect on its own or served along-side other festive favorites.

Mardi Gras is meant to be fun and festive, so the recipes you serve to celebrate it should be as well. Try both of these dishes in your celebration this year and laissez le bon temps rouler - let the good times roll!

Creole Mustard Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup Creole mustard or stone-ground mustard
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

Soak skewers completely in water at least 30 minutes.

2 bunches scallions
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound andouille sausage
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce

Combine mustard, orange marmalade and Tabasco sauce in small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat grill or broiler.

Divide scallions into individual strips. Blanch strips in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain skewers. Thread 2 shrimp and 1 sausage slice onto each skewer, twisting a scallion strip around each skewer. Repeat with remaining skewers, shrimp, sausage and scallions. Brush shrimp with hot sauce.

Place skewers on grill. Grill 5 to 8 minutes, turning once until shrimp are cooked through.

Makes 6 servings.