Pierogi with Cheesy Potato Filling

I’m approximately 72.5793% Slovak. Approximate guess. OKAY, random number I made up. But needless to say this fine specimen (me, of course) is mostly Slovak. I may, however, lose some Eastern European credit when I confess that I have never made homemade pierogi before now. I’ve eaten them many a time but never have these hands made them. *Sigh* Yes, I am ashamed.

My grandpa used to help make pierogi at his church and he would bring some back sometimes to eat. I’m pretty sure that when I say he helped “make” pierogi, he actually spent most of the time telling jokes and stories. However, the actual cooks were most likely well entertained during the pierogi-making process. And we were all happy to end up with tasty pierogi.

Since I had little idea of where to start making pierogi, I went to my trusty Slovak cookbook my grandma gave me many years ago filled with a wonderful mix of Slovak recipes and random recipes (I’m just guessing that chop suey is not Slovak…could be wrong). However, when the pierogi recipe called for 1 cup of flour and 1 potato to make 50 pierogi, I knew I probably would need a miracle from God to make that work. So, instead I found my way to the trusty internet and put together a mix of what I saw there with what my parents could tell me about how my grandparents would make pierogi and here is the end result.

These would be really good to make with friends, especially those with good jokes and stories like my grandpa had. I’m not saying they are hard to make, but very time consuming because so much love needs to go into each individual pierogi. Luckily, this recipe makes a good number of pierogi and once you have a system down, it wouldn’t be hard to make more! Just make sure your arms are up for a workout with all the dough rolling! 

*Note: Yes, the plural is actually pierogi, not pierogies as many people say. It may even be spelled pirohy if you are Slovak. Only if you are Slovak can you spell it that way. Sorry non-Slovak friends. Such is life.

Pierogi with Cheesy Potato Filling
Yields 50
Print
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Ingredients for the dough
  1. 3 cups flour
  2. pinch of salt
  3. 1/2 cup warm milk
  4. 1 tablespoon melted butter
  5. 1/2 to 3/4 cups of warm water
  6. chives for garnish, optional
Ingredients for the filling
  1. 5 medium potatoes (I used red potatoes)
  2. 4-6 ounces of cheddar cheese, to taste, grated
  3. 1/2 to 1 onion, to taste
  4. 1 clove of garlic
  5. 1 tablespoon of butter (to saute onion)
  6. pinch of salt & pepper
  7. 1/4 cup cooked bacon, optional
Directions for the dough
  1. Mix the flour and salt together and pour on a flat surface. Form a well in the middle of the flour then add the milk and 1 tablespoon of melted butter to the well.
  2. Start incorporating the milk and butter into the flour until you form a dough. Add water, as necessary, to help form the dough. I ended up using about 1/2 cup of water, but you may need more or less.
  3. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until a ball forms (Yes, you are reading that right. Turn on the TV or have a nice conversation while this is happening!)
  4. Cover the dough ball with a bowl or in plastic wrap. Let sit about half an hour to rest.
Directions for the filling
  1. While the dough is resting, peel and cut the potatoes into about 1 inch pieces. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let boil until the potatoes are fork tender. This process will take about 20 minutes.
  2. Puree the onion and garlic in a food processor (you can also chop them into small pieces but my husband and I don't love onions so I pureed them to hide the texture a bit)
  3. Saute the onion and garlic mixture in 1 tablespoon of butter for about 5 minutes until the onions turn slightly transparent and start to brown.
  4. Drain and mash the potatoes, saving about 1/4 cup of the potato water to thin the potatoes if needed (you can also use milk or regular water to thin the potatoes).
  5. Mix in the cheddar cheese, onion and garlic mixture, salt and pepper, and bacon to the potatoes. Add potato water or milk to thin the mashed potatoes if needed.
To make the pierogi
  1. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces to make it easier to work with. Keep the extra pieces covered while working.
  2. Roll the dough thin and cut into circles with a cookie cutter or glass.
  3. Put about a teaspoon of potato filling into the center.
  4. Wet one side of the dough circle with water to help seal and fold the pierogi in half.
  5. Use a fork to seal the edges (and make it look pretty!)
  6. Place about 8 pierogi at a time in boiling, salted water. Let the pierogi float to the top then cook for one additional minute. Let drain on a drying rack or towel.
  7. Fry in butter until golden brown. Garnish with chives to serve.
Notes
  1. You can also serve pierogi with sour cream on top. My grandma would always finish the pierogi by frying them in butter along with onions (again, not a huge onion fan so I put the onion in the filling instead). I actually used bacon fat from cooking the bacon to fry the pierogi the first time we ate these. Also delicious. Pierogi freeze well after they are boiled. Just let them dry off a bit once they come out of the water so they don't stick together. I put parchment paper between the layers of pierogi before freezing as well. When you bring them out out of the freezer you can just fry them up, even without defrosting prior to cooking.
Adapted from Innocent Delight
Adapted from Innocent Delight
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
 

Mint Extract

Making mint extract is kind of like a long term commitment with a delicious ending. It actually takes a few months to reach minty perfection. I am *seriously* sad I have to wait to use my homemade mint extract because I saw some brownies with mint chocolate chip frosting and I am already salivating. However, it is said that all good things come to those who wait. And I certainly can think of MANY good things in my future with this mint extract.

This recipe can make however much extract you want. I made about a cup, which I can only imagine will keep me coming up with mint flavored goodies for quite a while. You can make more and give it as presents, or less if you don’t see yourself using that much. Either way, this stuff really doesn’t go bad sitting on a shelf so it’s totally worth it to make it!

Talking about being worth it, making extract is SO cheap. I just did the calculations and the base of the extract (I used vodka) cost me about $1.63 for about a cup. We’re using the cheap stuff here. No need to buy the best, most expensive liquor because the mint flavor will be the star flavor! I have fresh mint in my yard so that was free but it’s not that expensive in the store either. I looked up mint extract and they are definitely selling 2 ounce bottles for much more than twice what I spent to make a cup. Go me!

Also, as if being cheap wasn’t good enough…it’s super easy to make! Really this is barely a recipe it’s so simple. Check it out:

Mint Extract
homemade mint extract in a couple of months!
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup mint leaves, taken off the stem
  2. approximately 1 cup vodka
Instructions
  1. Place the mint leaves in a mason jar or container that seals very well and use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the leaves a bit and let out some of the oils.
  2. Fill the remainder of the jar up with vodka (I used a 1 cup mason jar so I ended up putting in a little less than a cup of vodka). Make sure to cover all the mint leaves.
  3. Seal the jar and shake it up a bit. Leave it in a cool, dark place like a cabinet, shaking it up a bit every few days. In about 1-2 months, or when it reaches your desired flavor, strain the leaves out and the extract is ready to use!
Notes
  1. I *think* I have peppermint growing in my yard (it was given to me so I'm not certain). Needless to say, you can use any kind of mint for this. You will get slightly different flavors depending on what you use but all should be delicious! Make sure the leaves end up covered after you shake it so it doesn't mold. If after 2 months the flavor is not as strong as you want, you can let the extract sit for longer or strain the mint leaves and add fresh leaves.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
P.S. Keep an eye open for my lemon extract recipe pictured below! It will be just as difficult to make as the mint extract…meaning it will take 5 minutes to make 🙂 *UPDATE* Lemon extract is up! Check it out here!

Tips & Tricks: Peeling Ginger Root

I never bought ginger root before about a year ago. No reason except that I thought I was perfectly content with the little dried jar stuff. WRONG. Don’t do it!! Buy the real stuff! It’s cheap and simple to use. I’ll even show you how peel it!

Ginger root kind of looks alien-like. Kind of scary. Looks like there’s a chance it could bite you if you touch it. Don’t worry…I’ve used ginger root many, many times in the past year (for recipes like Veggie Packed Peanut Butter Pasta) and I swear to you that it does NOT bite. You can quote me on that one.

So you buy the ginger root from the store (you can find it almost anywhere now) and bring it home. Simple, right? You got this. Next, you get a spoon. Everyone has a spoon. This is seeming easier and easier. That’s because it is. Take the spoon and scrape the skin of the ginger off. Ginger root is a little flexible so you can even get around the little knobbies pretty well. That’s it. Nothing scary. All you need is ginger root, which remember I said doesn’t bite, and a spoon. And a trash can for the peels if you want to get technical on me I guess. The peels could even be composted though so a trash can is actually not essential in this process.


To use the ginger, prepare it by grating it with a microplane or chopping it into whatever size you may need. Put what you don’t use in a freezer bag and freeze. The ginger root will last in the freezer for about 3 months and grates beautifully frozen. I just pull it out, grate the amount I need, then stick it back in the freezer until its next adventure awaits. Simple, folks. So go get some ginger root and make something!

Peach & Blueberry Crumble for Two

This one was inspired by my garden. My teeny tiny garden that doesn’t get any sun because of the massive maple trees we have in both our front and backyard. I love the shade from the trees…do not love that I have about one square foot of sun in my yard to try to plant the many fruits, vegetables, and herbs I want to plant.

However, even with sun at a premium in our yard I DID actually produce the herbs that went into this delicious crumble! We also do have a peach tree and blueberry bushes (see picture above). Note that I said “inspired by” when I started this story because as you can see, there are no actual peaches on the tree. Also, the blueberries you see in the picture are THE blueberries on the bushes we have. I ate one. In fact I ate the blue one you see there. Not even good. It was such a sad moment in my life. I think I need some help in the blueberry arena. Any suggestions, let me know. Anyways, the peaches and blueberries had to come from the store if you couldn’t gather that from my ramblings. Luckily they were both in season!
 
The peach tree, despite being peachless, was actually started from a peach pit! My husband’s grandma started it a few years back and gave it to us to plant in our yard. The tree grows like crazy! It’s a little lopsided but it’s wonderful. Travis already told me that we are digging it up and taking it with us when we move someday. I’m totally cool with that. Someday, maybe there will even be peaches! Wouldn’t that be great? I think so.
 
This crumble is kind of a mix of many crumbles I’ve made. Not too sweet and the herbs make you stop for a minute and ponder what might be making that delicious combination of flavors. It can be our little secret. But you can also share the secret. It’s really up to you. I wouldn’t have shared this recipe if I really wanted it a secret. Either way, I hope you enjoy this little sweet treat perfect for two!
 
Peach and Blueberry Crumble for Two
Serves 2
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Fruit mixture
  1. 1 heaping cup of peaches (about 1 large peach)
  2. 1/2 cup blueberries
  3. 1/2 teaspoon mint leaves, minced
  4. 1/2 teaspoon basil, minced
  5. 2 teaspoons honey
  6. 1-2 tablespoons flour
  7. pinch of salt
Crumble Topping
  1. 1/4 cup oats (old-fashioned)
  2. 2 tablespoons flour
  3. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 2 tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together fruit mixture ingredients in a medium sized bowl. The flour should just coat the fruit to help make a thicker syrup. Use 1-2 tablespoons depending on how wet the fruit you use is.
  3. Place the fruit mixture into 2 small ramekins. I filled mine up most of the way with fruit.
  4. Mix together the crumble topping ingredients until the butter is mostly incorporated with pea size bits remaining. I find it easiest to use my hands for this.
  5. Place crumble on top of fruit mixture in ramekins. I went all the way to the top, but do not push the crumble down too much.
  6. Place ramekins on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (to help with drips) and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the crumble is lightly browned.
Notes
  1. You can really use any fruit with this recipe. When trying to figure out how much fruit to use, I will often put the fruit in the ramekins as I am cutting it up then transfer it back to a bowl to add the other ingredients. This way I am sure I have the exact right amount! If you are making more of this recipe you can certainly use an 8x8" pan (or any size pan)! When cooking, look for a bubbling fruit mixture and lightly browned top to tell when it is finished.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/


Veggie Packed Peanut Butter Pasta

This pasta dish is CRAZY good. Seriously. Don’t believe me? My sister and her husband along with my *adorable* niece were here a couple weekends ago from Ohio and we made this pasta dish together. While eating, the conversation went something like this:

Sister: This is soooo good. The best thing I ever ate.

Me: I know, right?

Brother-in-law to my sister: Steph sent you this recipe, right?

Sister: Yeah I should have it in my email.

Brother-in-law: Ok, good. Just wanted to make sure.

Then, silence. While eating. And eating. And eating. The only one who wasn’t silent was my niece but that’s because she’s a baby and was hungry. Can’t blame her really. She is only just starting to eat real food and doesn’t understand the concept “CRAZY good” yet. All she knew was that she was hungry so she’s exempt from the silence while eating I speak of.

Needless to say, my sister and her husband ate the leftovers the next day before they went home. They also made it about 2 days later. Actually, every time we’ve talked since then my sister says they are eating it for dinner. I’m starting to wonder if this is all they eat.

Well to add to the fun, my sister and brother-in-law apparently told my parents about this pasta gold and my parents ended up coming a couple weekends later. I’m pretty sure they came for the pasta. Forget their daughter. Forget their son-in-law. Forget their cute grandkitties. They came for this pasta. What is this world coming to?? Delicious pasta…that’s what it’s coming to. I’m okay with that honestly.

Why is it so delicious? It’s probably the homemade pasta. Or maybe the abundance of colorful and delicious vegetables. Or maybe the creamy, salty, sweet, tangy sauce that goes on top. You’ll have to decide why you love it so much. All I know is this recipe is worth the time. Now go make it. Thanks. Actually, you should be thanking me for giving you the recipe. It’s that good.

Veggie Packed Peanut Butter Pasta
Serves 4
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
30 min
Pasta and veggie ingredients
  1. 1/2 of fresh homemade pasta recipe (or 1 pound of dried pasta)
  2. 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  3. 1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  4. 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  5. 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin sticks
  6. 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  7. 1 bag frozen shelled edamame (10 ounce bag)
Peanut butter sauce ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
  2. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  3. 2 tablespoons honey
  4. 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  6. 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  7. 1 clove garlic, minced
  8. 1 teaspoon sriracha, or to taste
  9. 1/4 cup pasta water, as needed
Instructions
  1. Whisk all the peanut butter sauce ingredients (except the pasta water) together in a bowl. This can also be done in food processor, though I like the crunch of the crunchy peanut butter we used.
  2. Prepare pasta by cooking al dente. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta water to help thin the peanut butter sauce.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a large saute pan, then add the bell peppers and carrots. Saute for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the red cabbage and edamame. Saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until edamame is heated through.
  5. Toss the peanut butter sauce, sauteed veggies, and pasta together in a large saute pan or pot. Add the pasta water, as needed, to thin the pasta to desired consistency.
Notes
  1. You can add peanuts, sesame seeds, or scallions to garnish if you would like, though I did not. I enjoy using crunchy peanut butter because it adds a crunch to the pasta along with the vegetables. I honestly have never made this recipe with dried pasta. This may be because I have not eaten dried pasta since I got my pasta maker. We're officially pasta snobs I suppose. If you can make the pasta from scratch, go for it! Otherwise, my sister informs me that it is also delicious with dried pasta.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/