Happy Galentine’s Day!

Ah, can you smell that? Mmmm… that’s the scent of chocolate my friends. Tomorrow is 50% off chocolate day, so get ready for some shopping! Today however is Valentine’s Day, or as I prefer to celebrate it, Galentine’s Day!

Since I was about 10 years old I’ve almost always celebrated Valentine’s Day with a group of girls. For me Valentine’s is always about the people you love, not just a single significant other. Luckily, Parks and Rec helped popularize the Galentine’s Day movement! Woohoo! Ladies, gather around, I’ve got chocolate.

This past weekend I threw a Galentine’s Day Party. You may have seen my plate of leftover cookies on instagram! Mmmm. I made a bunch of sugar cookie hearts and whipped up some royal icing which I dyed red, two shades of pink, and a pretty teal blue. I kept plenty of white as well. I like to pop the icing in squeeze bottles like these for easy and less messy frosting. It makes it easier for kids to go at it as well!

Since I’m a pro at over-baking, I had so many cookies left after the party that I ended up spending about 2 hours streaming Netflix and decorating the excess cookies. It was a relaxing way to spend a late Saturday afternoon!

Valentine's Cookies | Land of Laurel

The party was fun and I managed to snap a few pics before everyone arrived. I made a bunch of cupcakes and some biscuits too. A big part of any Galentine’s Day party has got to be the food! I made tons of food – I always do – there was enough for thirty and I had a party of ten! Everyone got to take home leftover though and I even froze some for myself.

Galentine's Day Party | Land of Laurel

I mashed up some re-heated frozen raspberries and added them and their juice to my cream cheese frosting for an simple and natural pink color and a little extra favor. It was so delicious and incredibly easy to get that vibrant pink color! I have half a bag left in my fridge now, so I just might need to bake a cake!

Valentin's Day Cupcakes | Land of Laurel

The raspberry cream cheese frosting could have been a little thicker, but oh well, nobody cared, it was delicious! A bag of Valentine’s M&Ms adds a little party atmosphere. As much as I love fancy chocolate, I have to admit, there is something about M&Ms at a party that is just so right! I cut my biscuit dough into heart shapes as well, because I like to roll with a theme. I whipped some chives, salt, and pepper with some cream cheese for a savory biscuit topping, but I also put out raspberry jam and lemon curd for those with a sweet tooth.

Galentine's Day Party | Land of Laurel

Over all, it was a lovely party and I can’t wait for next year. In the meantime, I’ll just be home drinking hot buttered rum because I over-made the mix for that as well. No harm, no foul there though! There’s nothing I enjoy more than a hot, alcoholic beverage. Mmmm mmmm good!

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What about Galentine’s Day? I can’t get enough of spreading the love to all my lady friends! The move to Portland has been so wonderful because of all the women I’ve met here. I really couldn’t feel more lucky!

(Golden) Delicious Apple Pie

Apple pie is one of the most classic American dishes. It’s the perfect dessert when you want something a little bit lighter that flourless chocolate cake; which for me, is admittedly rare since I’m a crazy chocolate fiend, but even I switch things up now and again! What I love about apple pie is how super easy it is to throw together. All the ingredients are typically ones you have stocked at home and the recipe is pretty fail proof. It’s easier than pumpkin pie to make and just as delicious!

Killer Apple Pie | Land of Laurel

To me, apple pie means fall and Thanksgiving, it means winter and foggy windows, it means filling the house with the smell of cinnamon and cloves, but most of all it means a gathering of friends or family. I like my apple pies tart and spicy, just like my friends, so it’s pretty much the perfect dessert for a girls night. Ha! Plus, apple pie is the perfect house freshener: put an apple pie in the oven 20 minutes before your guests come over and your whole house will smell like heaven! It’s a multipurpose dessert y’all! Check out the recipe below for a super easy and delicious evening.

Killer Apple Pie | Land of Laurel

Ingredients

1 – pie crust

7 – medium, organic, green apples, granny smith is the classic

1 – medium, organic, multi-colored apple, fugi or gala work well

1/2 cup – organic, brown sugar

1  – lemon, zest and juice

1/4 teaspoon – salt

1 teaspoon – cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon – cloves

1/4 teaspoon – nutmeg

4 tablespoons – organic butter

1 – organic egg

Recipe

Split your ball of pie crust dough in two and roll out half, keeping the other half cool in the refrigerator for later as it will form the top crust. Use your rolling pin to help convey the rolled bottom pie crust dough from your counter to you pie pan, then use your fingers shape the dough inside. Leaving half an inch over the edge of the pan, cut off the excess dough. Pop the bottom crust into the oven to pre-bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Once baked, remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn the oven to 425° to pre-heat for the pie.

While the bottom crust pre-bakes, begin peeling, coring, and thinly slicing your apples. You want your apples to be roughly peeled, so don’t worry about getting every last bit off. I use this awesome kitchen aide attachment I have and love, and then slice the peeled, cored, and spiral sliced apple in half.  The kitchen aide attachment or counter-mounted version are fantastic because they do all the peeling, slicing, and coring at once, but this isn’t difficult to accomplish with a simple knife alone.

Place the apple slices into a large bowl, add all other ingredients except the butter andegg, and use your hands to toss everything together. Once apples are evenly coated, place in cooled, pre-baked pie shell in a spiral pattern, coating the bottom before placing additional layers. Use small or broken slices to fill any odd spaces. Once you’ve piled your mound of apples into the bottom shell, you will have some excess liquid in your bowl, pour about half over the apples in the pie shell and compost the rest. Cut butter into 8 evenly sized pieces and sprinkle over mounded apples.

Roll out the other half of your pie dough and use it to cover your mounded apples. Pinch the edges into the pre-baked bottom crust and remove any excess. Cut openings in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Coat the top pie crust completely with a whipped egg yolk to give it a deep finished sheen. To make decorative leaves, cut leaf shapes out of excess down, using the knife to carve leaf veins into the tops. Coat leaves with lightly whipped egg white mixed with food coloring and place on pie shell.

Bake at 425° degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350° and bake for another 40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving, refrigerate after slicing. Pie keeps well and can be baked and left on counter up to 36 hours in advance, before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for best results!

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Mango Mint Salad

I’m sharing another recipe from the dishes I served at my birthday party today! Remember the spread? The colorful crostini? Here is something equally simple that you can totally make ahead of time! Boom! Easy! My favorite.

 

Party Food | Land of Laurel

 

I’ve always just loved mangos. My mom always gave them to us during the summer when I was little. She’d cut them up into little “porcupines” as we called it and we’d use our teeth to scrape off chunks of the delicious fruit, the juices running down our chins until we were sticky messes. Don’t worry, this recipe isn’t anywhere near that messy.

 

My favorite way to cut mangos — for this recipe and just for eating in general– is to slice the mango on either side of the pit. You should end up with 3 pieces, each about one-third the size of the mango, the pit piece being the smallest. Take each side and slice a grid into the flesh of the fruit with your knife. Then use your fingers to push on the peel side of the piece of fruit until it’s “inside-out” and looks like a series of rectangular projections on a hillside (or a porcupine!). Then use your knife to slice off the projection fruit flesh.

 

This Mango Mint Salad is easy, peasy. It requires only three ingredients and can be whipped up in a few minutes. It’s a great use for slightly over-ripened mangos and can be stored in the fridge for a few days, then brought to room temperature, before serving. It’s great for a side dish at lunch or breakfast. It’s a great dish to bring to a barbecue on a hot summer day. With organic mangos at Berkeley Bowl selling at 10 for $5.00 in the summers, I’m guaranteed to make this dish another half dozen times this season alone!

 

Mango Mint Salad | Land of Laurel

 

MANGO MINT SALAD

Serves as a side dish for 4-8 people

Ingredients:

4 – Organic Mangos

3 – Organic Limes

15-20 – Medium-Sized Organic Mint Leaves (freshly plucked from the stem)

 

Instructions:

Cut the mangos into bite sized pieces no larger than three-quarters of an inch. Place into medium sized bowl. Juice the limes and add the liquid to the mangos. Slice the mint leaves into small pieces and stir into the mangos. Let rest for at least thirty minutes, stirring occasionally, before serving. The rest period allow the mango to absorb more of the lime juice.

 

Wasn’t that quick and easy? I promise it’s so delicious, you have to try! I made it the day of my party and then again this weekend to bring to a crab feed. It’s incredibly yummy. I even paired it with avocado toast for breakfast a couple days after my party.

 

Mango Mint Salad and Avocado Toast | Land of Laurel

 

Does anyone else have a fruit that just screams summer to them? That’s what mangos do for me! They’re so inspiring, I know as soon as they come to under $1/each in the grocery store, it’s time for sand, sunscreen, and some lazy, hazy days of summer!