Back to the Snow

Leaving California is always hard, especially when I know there’s snow waiting for me back in Pittsburgh. Earlier this week the temperature got down to single digits in the daytime, and we’ve got huge icicles hanging right above our front door! It’s miserable.

strawberry sconeI had a class canceled the other morning, so I decided to make some breakfast for my roommates with some leftover fruit I had sitting in the fridge. These came out great! Perfect use of my extra hour.

Strawberry Scones
Makes 8 scones.

Ingredients
3 C flour
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash salt
1 stick butter, cold
1 egg
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 C milk
~3/4 C diced strawberries

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
3. Cut butter into flour mixture until completely combined. It should be crumbly.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and lemon.
5. Add milk mixture and strawberries to the dough, kneading until combined. Add flour as necessary.
6. Press dough to a disk about 1 inch thick. Slice into 8 wedges.
7. Bake 15-20 min. Serve warm with butter, honey, or applesauce.

scones

Doggy Mama

The past couple weeks have been crazy with my dance show, final exams and projects, and finally packing up and coming home for the break! I’ve been in sunny California for a few days now, never changing out of my pajamas. Perfect.

cookie-cutters

One of the things I miss most about home when I’m away, besides In N Out, is my dogs. Living in a house with no dogs feel so lonely! I made these the other day as an extra special treat for my puppies.

doggy-biscuits

Peanut Butter Banana Dog Biscuits
Makes about 3 dozen.

Ingredients
1 C peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 egg
3/4 C milk
1 Tbsp dried parsley (for doggies with fresh breath!)
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 3/4 C flour

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, banana, egg, and milk.
3. Stir in parsley and baking powder. Gradually add flour, mixing until a thick dough forms.
4. Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick. Cut as desired.
5. Bake for 20 min, flip over, then bake another 15 min.
6. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

munchkin

I think they were a hit!

Tofurkey Day

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week at home where it was 85 degrees and sunny. Perfect.

thanksgivingI didn’t actually eat any Tofurkey though. Just pigged out on sides – stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes…. Mmmmmm. Getting hungry just thinking about it. For dinner I was in charge of the green beans and (of course) the dessert.

pie ice creamI made an easy pumpkin pie, recipe straight off the side of the Libby’s can with a frozen crust. It was delicious, but what really made it special was what we put on top!

Cinnamon Maple Ice Cream

Ingredients
3/4 C milk
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
1/2 C sugar

Instructions
1.
In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except sugar. Gradually add sugar, whisking until dissolved.
2. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn until frozen.
3. Move ice cream to another container and freeze at least 2 hours.
4. Serve alone or on top of your favorite pie – pumpkin, apple, etc.

I did a bit of shopping while I was home and picked up a new donut pan for only $6.50! So exciting. I already had a mini donut pan, which I love, but sometimes you just need some regular sized donuts too. Priorities, right?

baked donuts

It’s still pumpkin season, and will be until I get tired of baking with pumpkin (which will never happen). They still have giant displays of canned pumpkin at the grocery store, which I take as an invitation to post more pumpkin recipes than anyone actually wants or needs to read. Hence this recipe.

pumpkin donuts 2

Pumpkin Donuts
Makes about 1 dozen regular donuts (or 6 regular and 1 dozen mini). Can also be made as muffins.

Ingredients
1 C sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/3 C applesauce
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash salt
1 1/2 C pumpkin puree
1 1/2 C flour
cinnamon sugar

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease donut pans.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugars, vanilla, oil, applesauce, and eggs. Mix until smooth.
3. Stir in powder, spices, and pumpkin.
4. Gradually add flour, mixing until a thick batter forms.
5. Fill pans almost completely full and bake until a tester comes out clean. Approximately 15 minutes for mini donuts and 25 for regular donuts.
6. Once donuts are almost cool, remove from pans. Fill a bowl with cinnamon sugar and coat donuts one at a time. Serve immediately.

pumpkin donuts

I woke up unreasonably early before class on Monday to make these. Needless to say my roommates were appreciative.

Square Root of…

Can you believe I’ve had this blog for a year and a half, called it Square Root of PIE, and never even posted a pie recipe?

I’ve made pies before, but somehow never blogged them. Because I’m silly. So when I got invited to a pre-Thanksgiving potluck, I knew exactly what needed to happen. I needed to bake a pie. Not just any pie, but the pie of all pies. A pie with flaky crust, fresh filling, and a delicious topping. Everything a pie should be!

I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this pie. And by that I mean I didn’t get to go to the grocery store. So I poked around the kitchen until the creative juices started flowing. And by that I mean I found some berries in the freezer.

I’m not real big on pies with top crusts, so I poked around a little bit more until it dawned on me: oatmeal. And thus the pie was born. Baked. Whatever.

Apple Berry Crumb Pie
Crust recipe found here.

Ingredients
for the crust
1 1/4 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, chilled and diced
1/4-1/3 C ice water
for the filling
4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 C frozen mixed berries
1/2 C brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp orange juice
for the topping
3/4 C oats
3/4 C flour
1 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
dash salt

Instructions
1.
Start the crust by combining flour and salt in a large bowl. Slowly mash in butter with a fork until crumbs form.
2. Add water about a tablespoon at a time, mixing until you can form the dough into a ball with your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
3. Remove dough from fridge and let thaw while you make the rest of the pie. Preheat oven to 425 F.
4. In a large bowl, stir together all filling ingredients. Set aside to marinate while you begin the topping.
5. In a medium bowl sift together dry ingredients for the topping until combined. Pour in melted butter and stir until crumbly.
6. Roll out pie crust. (I prefer to do it in between two sheets of plastic wrap – no need for extra flour and no mess to clean up!) Press evenly into pie plate.
7. Spoon filling evenly into the crust. Top with the oat mixture.
8. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 min. Then remove foil, reduce heat to 375 F, and bake another 35 min.
9. Let cool at least 15-20 min before serving.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Cheesecake Party

I’ve gotten behind on my blogging again :( But I’m SO excited for all of the cooking I’m going to do over Thanksgiving! Since I’m so behind, I’ll make this a double recipe post just to make it up to you. The first one is a dessert you can definitely have at your Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s pumpkin. Of course.

A couple weeks ago, we had a party at our house. I’d been wanting to use my mini cheesecake pan again, so I thought, why not make cheesecake for the party? My roommates said, “WHAT? What kind of college party has cheesecake?!!” The best ones, of course. And everyone appreciated the cheesecake, so I win.

If you don’t have a mini cheesecake pan, you can still bake this in a regular springform pan, but scale everything back to 2 packages of cream cheese.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake
Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Ingredients
for the crust
26 regular (not Double-Stuf) Oreos – 2 rows in the package
4 Tbsp butter, melted
for the cheesecake
3 8oz packages cream cheese
3 eggs
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cheesecake pan.
2. Put Oreos in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Pour in melted butter, stir. Press about 1 1/2 Tbsp into the bottom of each well in the pan (I found a shot glass works best for this – it’s really difficult with your fingers).
3. Bake crusts for 10 min. While they are cooling, begin the cheesecake.
4. With an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla until completely smooth.
5. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.
6. Pour into each well, filling completely to the top. Bake 20-25 minutes until set.
7. Let cool about 15 minutes then remove from pans. Chill in fridge (or on your porch if it’s cold enough and your fridge is full like mine…) for at least 1 hour before serving.

So to go with all that cheesecake, I guess you might need some real food… maybe… Sometimes…

Quinoa Risotto
Serves 2-3.

Ingredients
1 C uncooked quinoa
2 C vegetable broth
1/2 C sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 C diced red onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 C white wine
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1/4 C goat cheese
3/4 C fresh spinach
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
1.
Cook quinoa in vegetable broth, either on the stove top or in a rice cooker.
2. Saute mushrooms and onion in oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add quinoa and cook a couple more minutes.
3. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Turn off heat.
4. Add cheese and spinach and stir until cheese is melted and spinach leaves are wilted. Serve immediately.

Boozy Baking

Happy Halloween everyone!! This recipe isn’t super festive, but the colors are a bit Halloweeny, so that counts, right?

This was my first time experimenting with alcohol and baking, and I really liked the effect! Don’t worry – you’d have to eat about a million of these before you get any sort of a buzz ;) But I love drinking orange juice with amaretto, so I thought it would make a nice flavor for a cake. The orange definitely lightened up the heaviness of the pound cake.

Orange Amaretto Pound Cake Cupcakes
with Chocolate Amaretto Ganache

Makes one dozen.

Ingredients
for the pound cake
2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
1/3 C amaretto
zest of one orange
for the ganache
3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp amaretto

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a smaller bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt.
4. Pour wet into dry and combine. Stir in amaretto and orange zest.
5. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full (these puff up a lot!) and bake 22-25 min.
6. When cupcakes are completely cool, begin ganache by pouring chocolate chips and amaretto into a bowl.
7. Over medium heat, simmer cream. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.
8. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the ganache. Garnish with orange peel.

They were so pretty when the ganache was fresh and shiny! Not quite as pretty when it dried dull, but they still tasted great. The chocolate works really nicely with the orange and amaretto.

My Favorite Grocery Store

Trader Joe’s, hands down. At least for awesome vegetarian options. They don’t always have everything I want for baking, but they never let me down for dinner.

A little while ago I picked up a package of TJ’s Soy Chorizo to try. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do with it, and then I found this amazing website, Cooking with Trader Joe’s. I’ve seen Trader Joe’s cookbooks before, but as a vegetarian I found most of the recipes useless to me. But a website, where you can search for recipes with specific TJ’s products? This is the greatest thing on the internet, my friends. Besides this gif I made of myself morphing into Beyonce for my computational photography class.

This recipe is super easy. Like, 10 min prep time, 15 min cook time, eat leftovers for days easy. And it calls for no spices. What?! WHAT?! I know. Because the soyrizo is just that delicious enough on its own.

Soyrizo Chili
Vegan. Serves 3-4. Adapted from Cook TJ.

Ingredients
half package Trader Joe’s soy chorizo
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can corn, drained
14oz canned diced tomatoes
1/4 red onion, diced
~1/3 C carrots, diced
olive oil

Instructions
1.
In a medium saucepan, saute onions and carrots in olive oil until softened.
2. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 min.
4. Serve hot, topped with cheese, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, etc.

Look at how chunky that chili is! Just how I like it. I wish I had thought ahead and bought Frito’s to make Frito Pie!