Hosting My First Galentine's Day Brunch!

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You know those people who are effortless hostesses? 

The people who have everything ready to serve at the right temperature when guests arrive and can put together a good looking cheese plate and also be showered and done-up themselves? Yeah, I'm not one of those people. But my parents are. My entire life they've hosted multiple events every year--Thanksgiving for 30+ people, Super Bowl parties, Tour de France parties, Oscar parties, etc. To be honest, it used to always really bug me as a kid that we always had to keep the house super clean leading up to these parties, and spend the day after cleaning up. But as I've gotten older I've learned that entertaining and being a good hostess is a hard-won skill. I have always wanted to host a Galentine's Day brunch for some girlfriends, and this year being an MSIV and having more time on my hands post-interview season, I decided to take the plunge. I tried to make as much of the cookies and cakes ahead of time as I could, and freeze them which really helped. I also wanted to make a savory food for brunch, but with cooking not being my strong suit, I knew it to be simple. With a little digging I found this recipe for strata that looked both delicious and easy (linked below) and paired it with a citrus salad for a pop of color. The rest of the items I've made posts about and are linked below. The most difficult part was the macarons, which I failed at 4 times before giving up--it was such a bummer, still troubleshooting on what went wrong! However I still really wanted to serve them so I bought frozen Trader Joes Macarons and dressed them up by swiping some white chocolate ganache (I added pink food coloring for the vanilla ones) as well as edible gold leaf. Overall, I am still working on my hostess skills--I didn't have time to put on makeup before guests arrived and I hadn't even made the salad yet! Thank god med students are so proactive...they saw oranges and a bowl sitting on the counter and immediately started slicing them haha. Even so, it was so fun to catch up with girlfriends and celebrate my favorite holiday Leslie Knope style! 

Galentine's Day 2018 Menu 

Strata with Gruyere and Kale

Citrus Salad

Naked Cake

Glazed and Embroidered Sugar Cookies

Heart-Shaped Oreos 

Chocolate & Vanilla Macarons 

Valentine's Day Snack Mix

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The ganache and the gold leaf can be applied most easily with a clean, never-used paintbrush! 

The ganache and the gold leaf can be applied most easily with a clean, never-used paintbrush! 

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My classmate's daughter, Abby, brought the COOLEST polaroid camera and captured these pictures! 

My classmate's daughter, Abby, brought the COOLEST polaroid camera and captured these pictures! 

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One of my med school friends recently had a baby and she stole the show! There was literally a line of people waiting to hold her haha. And she never cried once! #angelbaby. And that BOW! 

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Gotta teach 'em young that cake for the road is a necessity :) 

Gotta teach 'em young that cake for the road is a necessity :) 

Chocolate Pound Cake with Blood Orange Frosting

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Another pink post, are you sensing a theme? 

But in all seriousness I had 4 blood oranges leftover from this tart that I had to use before they became too squishy. I also love a good pound cake/loaf cake, and am totally guilty of splurging on Starbucks lemon loaf and pumpkin bread at the hospital way too often. This recipe, adapted from King Arthur Flour, is a cinch to whip up, bakes up beautifully, and easily comes out of the pan (insert praise hands emoji here). I made it yesterday afternoon when I was done work early and then brought it the next morning to the School of Medicine to share with a couple of my classmates. It's fourth year...interview season is over...it's time to eat cake for breakfast. 

Chocolate pound cake (adapted from king arthur flour)

  • 8 tablespoons butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup cocoa  
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk

Blood Orange cream cheese Frosting

  • Juice from 1 blood orange, strained
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange zest
  • small pinch salt 
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • sprinkles and orange slices for garnishing (optional) 
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Start by combining sugar, baking powder, cocoa, butter, and vanilla. It's easiest to do this with your hands so that you don't have cocoa powder flying everywhere. It should become a crumbly mixture. Add in eggs 1 at a time and beat on medium speed until well incorporated before adding the next. 

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After all 3 eggs are added the batter should look thick, as seen below. 

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Add milk and flour, alternating in 3 batches and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The mixture will finally look like thick cake batter. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees fah for 60 minutes, checking with a knife or cake tester to make sure it comes out clean. Cool cake COMPLETELY before frosting.  

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When thinking about how to decorate the cake I was inspired by this post by one of my favorite food blogs. The only problem was that I didn't have orange or red sanding sugar. Luckily, you can make your own pretty easily with clear sparkling sugar and gel food coloring. Just pour about 1 tablespoon of sprinkles into a bowl, and add a *very* small drop of food coloring. Mix with clean fingers until the color is well distributed in the sugar. You can combine colors to get the exact shade you want, just remember a tiny but of color goes a long way here. 

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To make this sandy pink coral shade I used a combination of "Dusy Rose" and "Terracotta" colors from Americolor food coloring. 

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For the frosting, cream together butter, sugar, and cream cheese until fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon blood orange zest and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix on medium speed. 

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Add strained blood orange juice and mix on medium speed. 

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Slowly add powdered sugar, 1 spoonful at a time until your mixture is thick. It should be spreadable, but not runny. Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in fridge until you are ready to frost. 

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orange slices for garnishing 

orange slices for garnishing 

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To assemble cake spread a generous layer of frosting over cooled cake, and use an offset spatula to make a back-and-forth "wave" pattern on the surface. Sprinkle with colored sugar and place orange slices on top. 

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Ta Da! 

Cake can be eaten immediately or chilled in the fridge for 3 days in glass or plastic tupperware. 

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