Bright and Happy Galentine's Day Party Inspiration

Bright and Happy Galentine's Day Party Inspiration


Happy Friday and first day of February everyone! I've spent the last few weeks baking and prepping all things Valentine's Day, and I'm so excited to share this Galentine's Day party table inspiration with you. Last year I had a few girlfriends over to celebrate with a fun, casual brunch. That's what I had in mind as I put this table together. I wanted it to be happy, comfortable and inviting!

Valentine's Day often revolves around love and romance, and I'm all about that! But I think it's also fun to use the holiday to celebrate the other kinds of love we have in our lives too, whether it's love for friends or our families. I wanted this table to be light and bright, steering clear of traditional Valentine's Day colors like pinks and reds. And you'll notice there's not a single heart on the table, either! As I was photographing this, I couldn't help thinking this would also be a perfect setup for a Mother's Day brunch or a cute baby shower!

On The Table: 
XO Table Runner, Pink Water Glasses, Floral Plates (Limited stock - I also love these), Light Orange/Coral Napkins, Faux Mini Flower Pots in Yellow and Red


Whenever I'm putting a table together, I always choose one thing to inspire the overall look. Sometimes it starts with a type of food I want to serve, like Greek food leading to an island theme. Sometimes it's the location of the event. For this brunch, my inspiration started with the Pantone color of the year, which happens to be coral!




I instantly fell in love with these adorable mini faux potted ranunculus in yellow and red! I knew that I wanted a bright floral arrangement since the table runner is a perfect backdrop. These work perfectly, because they spread color all across the table and also tie into the color of the napkins. I also like the price point of these faux flowers, because achieving a similar look with live flowers would have been a lot pricier. Plus now I get to enjoy them forever!


I also really loved these floral plates, because they tie into the overall coral color scheme without being overly matchy. Especially next to the orange napkins and pink water glasses, the colors of the plates compliment the rest of the table and create a more cohesive feel.   


Questions? Comments?  Leave me a note below!

I hope this post helps inspire you to put together a bright and fun Galentine's Day party!

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Kirsten Bell
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Homemade Garlic Pretzel Bites

Homemade Garlic Pretzel Bites


Warm pretzel bites, fresh from the oven. Is there really anything better? I always thought that pretzels would be hard to make, and I'm not sure where I got that idea from because they're actually pretty easy! These are so delicious fresh and warm, served with some honey mustard or my favorite beer cheese dip.


Makes about 32 pretzel bites

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package yeast
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted (divided)
5 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water
Sea salt

Directions: 

Whisk together the flour and garlic powder in a mixing bowl, and set aside.

Combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to foam. Add the flour mixture and 1 tablespoon butter to the yeast mixture, and mix on low using the hook attachment until combined. Increase mixer speed to medium, and knead until the dough is smooth and isn't sticking at all to the sides of the bowl - about 5 minutes.

Grease a large bowl with the remaining butter (you may not need to use all of it), and move dough to the greased bowl. Cover with plastic, and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. I like to put mine into the oven, preheat the oven to 170, and then immediately turn the oven off once temperature has been reached.

Once the hour of rising is up, remove the dough from the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Bring the water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a large saucepan.

While the water heats, lightly grease a large work surface. Divide the dough into 8 approximately equal chunks, and divide each of those chunks into 4 smaller (approximately equal) bite-sized pieces. (So you'll end up with about 32 pretzel bites.)

Drop about 5 pretzel bites at a time into the boiling water, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove the bites using a large slotted spoon or spatula, and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Brush the top of each bite with some of the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle generously with sea salt.

Bake the bites until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes.


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Kirsten Bell
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Beer Cheese Dip

Beer Cheese Dip


A few weekends ago, Jordan and I made fresh soft pretzel bites. One of my favorite restaurants in town serves their pretzels with beer cheese dip, and I am obsessed! The smooth, melted cheese with just a hint of tangy yeast from the beer pairs so amazingly with soft pretzels. So I just had to make some of my own!

We loved these with my pretzel bites, and you can also serve this beer cheese dip with a fresh baguette or even raw veggies for a lower carb option.

Ingredients: 

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 cup beer
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions: 

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter. Whisk in the flour. Melt in the cream cheese. Stir in the beer, garlic powder, salt and cayenne, stirring continuously until the mixture is thick and bubbling, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the cheese, and stir until smooth.  Serve hot!

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Kirsten Bell
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Quick & Easy Homemade Tomato Basil Soup

Quick & Easy Homemade Tomato Basil Soup


We've been having really cold, foggy days for the last week! Cold, crawling fog that seeps straight into your bones. Perfect dementor and/or white walker weather. AND, it's also perfect warm soup weather! Whenever I really feel chilled and cold, soup is my go-to dinner. I love that this homemade tomato soup recipe is so quick and easy, I can have it on the table, start to finish, within 30 minutes! And the best part is that it tastes like you worked on it all day. One spoonful of this homemade tomato basil soup, and you will never buy canned tomato soup again!


What I love most about this soup is that there are so many different flavors. Tomato, obviously, but also peppery basil and aromatic rosemary, all tied together with the sweet onion and caramelized garlic. In other words: savory flavor explosion! It's also really easy to make this into a vegan/vegetarian tomato basil soup - just swap out chicken stock for vegetable stock and you're good to go!



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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock for vegetarian version)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions:

Drizzle olive oil into a large stockpot or dutch oven, and add onions, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until the onion is cooked and translucent. Add the tomatoes (including juices) and chicken stock. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are all soft. Add the basil leaves. Puree with an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender and blend in batches. Serve hot with grilled cheese, cheesy pesto rolls or alongside a big green salad! Enjoy!

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Kirsten Bell
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Cheesy Pesto Rolls

Cheesy Pesto Rolls


Your average dinner rolls just got a major facelift! This cheesy pesto roll recipe may take a little time, but the payoff is more than worth it! Full of delicious cheese and rich pesto, these rolls are sure to be the talk of your dinner table. The best part? They freeze easily, so you can make a batch over the weekend and pull a few rolls out whenever you need! These are perfect served with a big salad, or my Tomato Basil Soup.


I'd recommend reading through the directions before getting started on these. They actually are really easy, but it helps to familiarize yourself with the steps before jumping in. I secretly love making bread, because of all the different pauses to let it rise! In college I used to bake homemade bread while studying, and found it really calming and therapeutic.




These days I use the time between each stage to clean the kitchen, do a load of laundry, feed Charlotte lunch - the list goes on haha! And with the hands on time so spread out, these delicious  pesto rolls end up feeling like they were no work at all! Added bonus: your house smells like freshly baked bread. Pretty sure there's not a candle in this world that smells better than that!



Ingredients: 

3 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 packet dry yeast (I use Red Star)
1 teaspoon cane sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (115-117 degrees)
1/2-1 teaspoon olive oil
1 (7 oz) container of fresh basil pesto
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese

Directions: 

Combine the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook attachment. Measure the water into a microwave safe measuring cup, and microwave for about 1 minute. It should be warm, almost hot to the touch. Pour the water over the flour mixture, and mix on medium speed until the dough clumps together into one mound. If the dough seems dry, add more water a teaspoon at a time.

After the dough has formed together, knead for about 5 minutes in the stand mixer, or 10 minutes by hand on a floured surface. The dough is ready when it's soft and almost feels bouncy. Drizzle the olive oil into a large bowl, coating the sides of the bowl as well. Lay the dough into the bowl, turning it a few times to cover all the dough with olive oil. Cover, and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour. I put the covered bowl into my oven, and then preheat the oven to 170. The minute it reaches 170, I turn it off. Don't forget to turn it off - I did that once and it kind of weirdly cooked the dough. Oops!

Lightly grease a 9x9 casserole dish. Remove the dough from the oven, uncover it, and punch the dough down a few times to pop any air bubbles that may have formed. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and dust the top of the dough with a little flour too. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 12 inches by 15 inches. Remember that it doesn't have to be perfect, just as close to a rectangle as you can get. Add extra flour to the work surface as needed to the dough doesn't stick!

Spread the pesto evenly over the dough, and then top with both the shredded mozzarella and parmesan. Carefully roll the dough, with the longer side facing you. Cut the log into 12 even pieces using a serrated and/or sharp knife, and lay each piece into the 9x9 casserole.

Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap or foil again, and place into the oven. Again, I like to then preheat the oven to 170, and turn it off immediately when it reaches temperature. Allow to rise for about 45-60 minutes, or until the rolls are roughly doubled in size.

Uncover the bread, leaving it in the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 f. Bake about 30-35 minutes, or until the tops off the rolls are just beginning to brown, and the centers don't look doughy anymore. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

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Kirsten Bell
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