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!

I’m old!!

Hooray! I’ve been super late on posting because I’ve been far too busy to bake… Seeing as I spent last weekend in Las Vegas! Twenty-one. Finally.

So normally I don’t like to bake things that are so… plain. I don’t know, maybe that’s not the right word. I guess I mean normal. Oatmeal raisin cookies? Everyone has heard of those. I like trying new things. But there’s a certain someone on my team at work who won’t eat anything else when it comes to dessert. I bring everything I bake into the office and he always turns it down. He’s a crazy person. So I decided to bake him a special batch of cookies.

I asked him if it was okay if I put chocolate chips in them. He said, “Why would you ruin them with chocolate?!” Like I said, crazy. So I only put the chocolate chips in half the batch.

I actually wanted to use golden raisins, which I thought would be good with the chocolate chips. I went to the market, bought a box of raisins that had a picture of green grapes on the front… And there were PURPLE raisins inside. What?! I was so mad. Why put green grapes on the box if there aren’t golden raisins inside?!!

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3-4 dozen.

Ingredients
1 stick butter, softened
1 C white sugar
1/4 C brown sugar, packed
2 tsp agave
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
2 C rolled oats (NOT quick oats)
1 C combined raisins and chocolate chips (ratio is up to you!)

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a cookie sheet.
2. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugars. Mix in agave, eggs, and vanilla.
3. In another bowl sift together flour, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gradually stir into the butter mixture to form a thin batter.
4. Fold in oats, raisins, and chocolate.
5. Drop spoonfuls on the sheet at least 2 inches apart – they spread out a lot! Bake 10 minutes until browned. Let cool before serving.

Sweet and Salty

I’ve really been enjoying the city, and since I’ve been here a few times before I’m mostly ignoring the touristy things and trying to really live here. I want to check out lesser known places and little things you might normally overlook.

Last week I went to Momofuku Milk Bar in East Village. I tried their Pretzel Milk, Birthday Cake Truffles, and a Compost Cookie. The Pretzel Milk tasted just like it sounds – so good! They really soak pretzels in milk to make it. The Birthday Cake Truffles, which are apparently kind of a big deal, were actually kind of gross. They’re basically just cake pops, but the were way too sweet. I couldn’t eat more than a couple bites of one, and the package came with three!

The Compost Cookie, on the other hand, was absolutely amazing. The combination of sweet and salty has always been one of my favorites, like chocolate covered pretzels! The cookie came packaged with a label listing all the ingredients, so yesterday I made my first copycat recipe.

Compost Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen.

Ingredients
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp hot water
1 C flour
1/4 C quick oats
1 tsp coffee grounds
1/4 C corn flakes
1 single serving bag potato chips, crushed
1 1/2 graham crackers, crushed
10-12 mini salted pretzels, crushed
1/2 C chocolate chips

Instructions
1.
 Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine oats, coffee, corn flakes, chips, grahams, and pretzels. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Mix in egg and vanilla.
4. Dissolve baking soda in water. Stir into butter mixture.
5. Mix flour into butter mixture. Slowly add the compost mixture until a dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Drop spoonfuls 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes until browned.

I’m pretty happy with the result. They’re not quite as chewy as the ones from Milk Bar, but they probably have about half the butter… Meaning I can eat twice as many!

Stress Baking part 3

I made these for my BFFL’s birthday when I could have been studying for a Chinese exam and preparing for a presentation. But it’s okay because I got an A on the exam and did great on the presentation. And they made his birthday super awesome (obviously, since my cookies make everything awesome).

I gave half to the birthday boy and took half to rehearsal to give to my dancers. Not to brag or anything, but people were fighting over them. And someone asked me for the recipe. That always makes you feel great.

There are so many different things going on in this cookie but I think all the flavors complement each other really well. I hate when you put too many things and the cookie just gets really heavy – these are actually really light. They’re sort of cake-y, not a dense cookie at all, but not so cake-y that they’re not cookies anymore.

Again, they all got eaten very quickly so I’m not sure how well they keep.

Everything Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies. Adapted from here.

Ingredients
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1 ripe banana
1 stick butter
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C applesauce
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C quick oats
~3oz chocolate chips (adjust the amount to your taste – I think less is more)

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375. Toast walnuts for a few minutes (watch them – they burn easily!) and mash banana. Set both aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add egg, vanilla, applesauce, and banana.
3. Mix in flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir in oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
4. Drop spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 12-13 minutes until set.

Yum yum yum. I want to make eat these again. You should make them and give me some.

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.

Back to the Grind

I’ve been in Pittsburgh for a week now, and it still feels weird. I haven’t been here since May, and it’s surprising how much I’ve forgotten. Not important things of course, but just little things like where certain classrooms are or what street that one restaurant is on. It’s nice to be back with my friends, but I miss Hong Kong. And LA. Mostly just warm weather.

I always say I hate snow. That’s a lie. I mostly just hate cold. I don’t mind snow when it’s like this:

Beautiful. Clean and white and all the sidewalks are nicely shoveled so I don’t have to walk in any of it. What I don’t like is this:

Gross. It’s disgusting and brown and dirty and slushy and you have to walk through it to cross the street and your shoes get all wet and blahblahblah I hate it. Unfortunately the entire walk from my new apartment to campus is gross snow like that.

Speaking of new apartments, my kitchen is tiny. Not that I was expecting anything fancy, but honestly I don’t think I could possibly have any less counter space. We’ve got a decent number of cabinets, but drawers? Try two. TWO DRAWERS IN THE ENTIRE KITCHEN. I wish I could take out the dishwasher and replace it with drawers.

I’m going to share with you my delicious breakfast from this morning. I’ve made it before, but this time I actually took the time to measure out the ingredients. It’s really filling, so I eat it on days when my schedule is weird and I know I won’t get lunch until 2 or 3 o’clock or if I know I’ll need extra energy, like today! Today we had dance auditions, so I needed the extra fuel AND I’d be getting late lunch. So it was a perfect day for this.

Quinoa Oatmeal

Ingredients
1/2 C dry quick oats
1/2 C cooked quinoa*
1 Tbsp brown sugar
dash cinnamon
dried cranberries (as many or as few as you want)
2 tsp flax meal
1 tsp chia seed
2/3 C soy milk

Instructions
Mix together all dry ingredients in a bowl, then pour in soy milk. Microwave for 1:00-1:30.

*I usually keep a big container of quinoa in the fridge since I go through it so quickly, so I just have it on hand in the morning for breakfast. It cooks 2:1 with water in a rice cooker, or you can do it on the stovetop.

Strawberry Raspberry Muffins

Yesterday morning was unbelievably productive. I woke up at 9, went for a run, and made muffins all before my roommate woke up. Ha.

These are so summery! And not too sweet, which is a problem I have with a lot of muffins…

Makes 12 muffins. The original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (I used soy)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries

Instructions
1.
 Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, flax, oats, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, beat together butter and sugar.
4. Beat the egg, milk, and vanilla into the butter/sugar mixture.

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until a batter forms.

6. Stir in the fruit.

7. Evenly distribute in muffin pan and bake for 17-25 minutes. (Mine took closer to 25.)

I love these silicone liners! You just put them onto a cookie sheet when you bake. Super easy.