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!

New Kitchen, Same Breakfast

Living in this new house is pretty fun, although it means I’m know a half hour walk from my Weekend Breakfast partner instead of just up one flight of stairs. It might not be a consistent weekly thing, but we managed to make it happen last weekend! All with easy ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, since we just moved in and haven’t had time to shop for any weird ingredients yet.

Stuffed French Toast with Berry Sauce
Serves 4-6.

Ingredients
for the toast
8-12 slices whole wheat bread
2/3 C skim milk
4 eggs
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
1 package light cream cheese
for the sauce
12 oz frozen mixed berries
sugar (optional, to taste)

Instructions
1.
In a bowl (or even better, an 8×8 pan) mix together eggs, milk, and spices.
2. Soak both sides of a slice of bread in the eggs, and fry over medium heat. Repeat with all remaining slices.
3. While you’re frying toast, start the sauce by putting the frozen fruit with a tablespoon or two of water in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir occasionally, adding sugar to taste.
4. Make “sandwiches” with the toast by spreading cream cheese on slices and pairing together.
5. Serve toast while still hot with berries on top.

My Super Fancy Dinner Party

Sorry for the super late post! I’ve been busy doing so many fun and exciting things, like going to a taping of The Daily Show, seeing Batman, and going to the beach!

Anyway last weekend I had a Super Fancy Dinner Party. With paper plates because I had five people over and only four plates. I went to this super fancy grocery store, Eataly, right around the corner from my apartment, and got all sorts of great, overpriced ingredients.

Fresh pasta…

Ripe eggplants…

And I made…

Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 6. Original recipe here.

Ingredients
2 medium eggplants, sliced about a half inch thick
2 eggs, beaten
breadcrumbs seasoned with basil and oregano
2 bottles tomato sauce
~1/2 C grated parmigiano reggiano
~8 oz shredded mozzarella

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Dip each side of the eggplant slices in the eggs, then coat thoroughly in breadcrumbs. Bake for 5 minutes on each side. (You may have to do this in several batches – don’t stack slices on top of each other!)
3. Spread tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Place down a layer of eggplant slices, and sprinkle with both cheeses. Add another layer of sauce, eggplant, and cheese, continuing until you’ve used all the eggplant. Top the final layer with sauce and cheese.
4. Bake for 35 minutes. Serve on top of pasta.

Now, if you know me at all, you know I couldn’t stop there. Obviously I made dessert.

How delicious do those look? I recently got a super cool mini cheesecake pan from Norpro, which I’ve been dying to use. It’s funny – I think a lot of people think cheesecake is really difficult to make, but these were so easy. The only thing is you really can’t do it without a mixer – you’ll never smooth out all the chunks.

Mini Lemon Cheesecakes
Makes 12. Adapted from here.

Ingredients
for the crust
7 honey graham crackers
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp sugar
for the filling
16 oz low fat cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 C sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Instructions
1. 
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cheesecake pan.
2. Crush graham crackers, either by hand or in a food processor. Mix with butter and sugar.
3. Divide crust between wells of pan (about 1.5 Tbsp each). Press down evenly in each well – I used a shot glass to help since it’s a little hard with your fingers.
4. Bake crusts for 10 min. While they cool, begin the filling.
5. Thoroughly mix cream cheese, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice, using either an electric mixer or a food processor.
6. Fill each well about to the top and bake for 15 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and let cool. Then remove cakes from pan and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
8. Garnish with berries and dark chocolate to serve.

The Last Weekend

I’m still playing catchup on all of my finals week cooking! I have this post and then one more to go, so hopefully I’ll be all up to date pretty soon.

This was the very last weekend breakfast – sad. I think we made it on a Friday, but whatever. When you don’t have classes, everyday is the weekend. In case you want a full wrap up, here’s a list of all the weekend breakfasts successful enough to make it on the blog:

Crepes
Cappuccino Pancakes
Mango French Toast
Blueberry Walnut Muffins
Apple Banana Muffins
Almond Biscotti
Pear and Chai Scones

and last but not least…

Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup
Makes 8-10 pancakes. Adapted from here.

Ingredients
for the pancakes
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 C milk
3 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
3.5 oz ricotta (we used 1/4 of a 15oz tub)
for the syrup
3/4 C frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1-2 Tbsp corn starch

Instructions
1.
 In a medium mixing bowl, sift together dry pancake ingredients. In a smaller bowl, mix together the wet.
2. Pour wet into dry and mix until well combined. Add more flour if needed.
3. Fry about 1/4 C worth of batter on each side until golden brown.
4. For the syrup, bring blueberries and a couple tablespoons of water to a simmer over medium heat. Add sugar and maple syrup to taste, and corn starch to thicken.
5. Serve pancakes still hot with a heaping spoonful of blueberries on top.

These were so good but sooo heeaaavy. We ate four each and felt like we were going to pop.

Did you try out any of the Weekend Breakfast recipes? What was your favorite? I liked the cappuccino pancakes and pear scones the best. Let me know in the comments!

 

Breakfasting Alone

This semester is going by so quickly – I can’t believe it. Only five weeks left in the semester, including this one, and then it’s finals and then my internship. I’m starting to feel like I haven’t done nearly as much cooking as I wanted to. Well, let me rephrase that. I cook everyday, but usually it’s lazy cooking. Pasta, sandwiches, whatever. I haven’t done as much fun and exciting cooking as I wanted.

I’ve been experimenting with tempeh quite a bit, actually. I like the taste and texture better than tofu, and it’s more versatile too. I have a hard time putting tofu in anything that isn’t Asian. I know how to put it with noodles or rice, but anything else and I just feel like it doesn’t belong! The other day I made fake Spam musubi with tempeh, which was pretty good (and super Asian), but you can definitely do more with it than that. For example, my bbq tempeh, or the really great sandwich I made the other day. I cut the tempeh really small and grilled it with some baby bella mushrooms, then stirred it up with some pesto I picked up at Trader Joe’s. Put that with some spinach and wheat bread, and you’ve got yourself a really great meal.

I have this bizarre obsession with vegan baked goods. I’m not a vegan, of course, but I love baking things and then saying GUESS WHAT THAT’S VEGAN! What I hate, though, is “vegan” recipes that call for “vegan butter” or “vegan cream cheese” or whatever. Taking a regular recipe and subbing in vegan versions of the ingredients doesn’t make a real vegan recipe.

This past weekend my Weekend Breakfast partner in crime was busy, so I decided to go vegan just for fun.

Blueberry Walnut Muffins 
Vegan. Original recipe here. Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients
1 C quick or rolled oats
1 C soy milk
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)
1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 2 tbsp water)
1 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C chopped walnuts
1 1/3 C fresh or frozen blueberries

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, milk, agave, and almond extract.
3. While the oats are soaking, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, chia, flax, salt, and sugar.
4. Stir in the flax egg, walnuts, and oats. Last, add blueberries.
5. Spoon into muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes.

I used frozen blueberries, which was fine I think. As soon as I stirred in the berries, the batter turned a crazy greenish color. They looked like zombie muffins but they tasted great! Not too sweet – perfect for breakfast. Although I will say you have to eat them fast. Since there’s no oil in the batter, by the second day they’re already pretty dried out. I wrapped them in a damp paper towel and zapped them in the microwave for 15 seconds, which helped, but these are definitely meant to be eaten the day of.

What Month Is It?

I’ve been back in sunny Southern California for about two weeks now, loving this weather and absolutely dreading my return to Pittsburgh and the snow. It’s “cooled off” a bit here, down to about 75 everyday, but it was high 80s last week. Feels like summer. I hate snow.

I’ve got a couple recipes for you. It’s been so hot that I’ve been making smoothies almost everyday for lunch. This one has hidden veggies in it, but unlike my Tropical Green Monster it doesn’t have a scary color.

Berry Green Smoothie

Ingredients
1 C frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1/4 – 1/3 C milk, as needed (I used soy but any milk would be fine)
1 Tbsp chia seed
1 Tbsp flax meal
soy protein powder
1 large handful fresh spinach leaves
agave nectar, to taste

Instructions
Blend until smooth and serve.

Then the other day, my mom and I tried out a new recipe for vegetarian chili. It was really delicious but it took a lot of work. It wasn’t difficult but just cutting the vegetables took forever because there was so much. I must say, though, this is a pretty substantial chili. Some of my meat-eating friends seem to think there’s no such thing as vegetarian chili – I think they should try a bowl of this. It’s got some really interesting ingredients – coffee and chocolate – that give it a really unique flavor.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Original recipe from Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp adobo seasoning
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
1/2 C brewed coffee
1 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes, crushed
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 head cauliflower, grated
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, onions, corn, etc. for topping

Instructions
1.
 In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, carrots, and salt, stirring frequently for 8 minutes or until carrots are soft.
2. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
3. Stir in chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle, adobo, tomato paste, and tortillas. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick.
4. Add coffee and let simmer 30 seconds until almost completely reduced.
5. Reduce to low heat. Add tomatoes, cocoa powder, beans, and 2 1/2 C water, and let simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in cauliflower and let cook an additional 10 minutes.
7. Dig in!

How do you eat chili? Just in a bowl? My mom puts it over rice, or sometimes we put it on baked potatoes, but my first choice will always be the Frito Pie. How do you make a Frito Pie, you ask?

Just like that. Asian noodle bowl is optional.

I need to stop making “B” foods.

Seriously. Look at my recipe index. Everything starts with B.

I’m not really a fake meat person. I eat it sometimes, but it makes me feel a little awkward. I mean, if you’re a vegetarian for moral (not health) reasons, it kind of defeats the purpose if you spend all your time eating “chikn.” That being said, I am absolutely in love with Tofurkey Italian Sausage.

This stuff is magic. I don’t know if it tastes like meat – it’s been too long for me to really remember what meat tastes like besides what I get from the smell. But something about the spices they put into this stuff is just phenomenal. That’s all I can say.

Anyway, on Saturday night I whipped up an easy dinner of pasta, bottled red sauce from TJs, veggies, and the Tofurkey. And it was kind of amazing.

That was just really simple though, and it didn’t fill my cooking void. We had a container of blueberries in the fridge, so I decided to do something with them.

This recipe is SUPER easy. Honestly. And it’s so delicious and actually pretty impressive looking/tasting. Maybe it’s just me, but I always find crumbly topping to be very impressive, but this one is easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Omnomnom. I love berry season.

Blueberry Cobbler
(Original can be found here)

Ingredients
2/3 C brown sugar, divided
1 1/2 C + 1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter
1 egg
2 C (or more) fresh blueberries – I just dumped out the whole (almost full) container

Instructions
1.
 Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray an 8×8 baking pan.
2. Combine 1/3 C brown sugar, 1 1/2 C flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl.

3. Mash in the butter until the mixture is sort of crumbly. I found this to be easiest with a fork. It’s a nice arm workout too.

4. Lightly beat the egg and mix in until incorporated.
5. Press two thirds of the dough into the pan and bake for 5 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.

6. Reduce oven temperature to 375F.
7. Mix together blueberries with remaining flour and brown sugar. Spread evenly over crust.
8. Crumble remaining dough over blueberries.
9. Bake for 30-35 minutes until crumble topping is golden brown. Let cool before serving.

I had a lot of fun playing with my new camera.

And eating. You know, for the photography.