For the love of Perogies

This past year, I married into a Polish family and boy am I lucky! Lots of traditions and delicious food. Another plus; since I married a military man, we have had the “luxury” of traveling and discovering new traditions through new friends. The not to great part of living in different places, is not being able to be at home for the holidays. So, what does a good wife do? She brings those traditions wherever we go! Now I am no professional at perogie making but over the past several years of living away from our hometown, I have practiced and am willing to share my recipe with you! I only made potato and cheese filling but there is also a sauerkraut filling that we both do not care for.

Perogie Dough & Filling

Makes Approximately 40

Dough

  • 4 cups AP flour (plus extra to remove stickiness)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Eggs ( 2 whole eggs, yolk of 3rd)
  • 1/2 cup Sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Warm milk

 

Potato with Cheese and Onion Filling

  • 3 Medium Baking potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1/4 cup Sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Whole milk
  • S & P
  • 1 Chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 tbsp Green onion ( chopped)

*Boil potatoes in a pot of water with the bouillon cube. Drain and mash. Mix all the ingredients together and set aside. (mashed potatoes) *

 

Ricotta Cheese Filling

  • 1 Small container whole milk ricotta cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (grated)
  • 1 tsp AP flour
  • S & P
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Parsley (chopped)

Mix all the ingredients together.

The dough can be made and used right away or you can freeze it up to one month. Also, you can mix by hand or with a mixer and the hook attachment.

First mix the dry ingredients together and add the sour cream. The dough at this point will be lumpy. Add the milk and eggs and mix. If mixed by hand, pour the wetter dough onto a floured surface and knead until a non sticky ball forms. If you are using a mixer, mix for about 3 minutes on low and add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a non sticky ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside will making the filling or if you are freezing the dough, put the dough in a Ziploc bag.

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When you are ready to roll out the dough, cut the dough into quarters and flour the surface liberally. Roll the dough out until it is an 1/8 inch in thickness. Use a circle cutter, about 3 inches in diameter to cut circle out for the perogies. (I used a plastic cup) Cut out as many circles as you can per sheet of dough rolled out. You can re roll the dough but the dough is tougher to roll out.

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Once the circles are all made, use a tablespoon and fill one of the halves of the circles. Take the other side and pull it to attach it to the side of the circle that has the filling. Pretty much you want to close the filling in and make a half moon shape. Pinch the dough together to bind the seam. Continue with both fillings until all the dough circles are gone and your perogies are made.

*The perogies can be made fresh or frozen. If you freeze them, freeze them on a sheet pan lined with wax paper and then transfer them to a Ziplock bag.*

Once you are ready to eat the perogies, boil water in a large pot with plenty of salt. Add the perogies about 6 at a time. If you overfill the pot, the perogies will stick together and break. Boil until they float for about 2 minutes and have double in size. Approximately 4-5 minutes.

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Now that the perogies have boiled, remove them and pat them dry with a paper towel. Heat up a large pan, on medium heat. Add butter or olive oil so they don’t stick, and cook each side of the perogie until golden brown. Keep warm in the oven after fried if you are making the entire batch. Serve with onions and fish. Enjoy!

 

 

Easy Peasy Pesto

 

If you want to indulge and not feel guilty, pesto with whole wheat pasta is your ticket! A handful of ingredients can make enough pesto for two meals. Plus, you can freeze it up to 3 months. It is great with red meat, white meat, seafood, or just great on it own with vegetables. You can serve pesto with a warm dish, cold dish, or an appetizer. Forget buying it from the jar where there are preservatives in it, make it from scratch in just a couple minutes. Plus, my husband has deemed this as his favorite thing to eat.

 

Pesto and Steak

Serves 4

  • 1 Sirloin steak (1 1/2-2lbs seasoned with S&P and 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • 1 lb Whole wheat pasta
  • 1 Package pre-washed spinach
  • 3 tbsp Chopped parsley (separated)
  • 3 Garlic cloves (skin peeled off)
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (evoo)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated and halved)
  • 1/4 Unsalted almonds (walnuts or pine nuts can be used)
  • 1 cup Reserved pasta water (optional)
  • 3 tbsp Lemon juice
  • S & P for taste
  • 3 tbsp Water (to thin pesto if desired)

First, season the steak and let it rest for 1 hour. Heat up a skillet on high heat, add butter and cook until melted. Add steak and cook on each side for 2 minutes. Depending on the thickness of the steak, this should cook the steak to medium rare. Add a minute to each side if you prefer medium. Remove the cooked steak from the skillet and let rest at least 5 minutes before cutting. Once the steak has rested the time allotted, slice into thin strips.

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While the steak is cooking, heat up a large pot of salted water for the pasta. The pasta should cook about 9-11 minutes or until el dente.  Before pasta is drained, reserve about a cup of water to thin out the pesto once it is added to the pasta. It can turn a thick pesto into a thinner sauce.

To make the pesto, combine the spinach, almonds, parsley, almonds, EVOO, lemon juice, S & P, half of the parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Run on a slow speed for about a minute. It should look like a paste at this point. Add the 3 tablespoons of water, one at a time for your desired thinness. Pulse thru food processor or blender to combine. You can add more water if necessary but I would not add more than 5 tablespoons.

Once the pesto is complete, add it to the drained pasta and toss with tongs. This would be when you add the reserved pasta water. Add a little at a time until you turn the pesto into a thinner sauce. Plate the pesto pasta and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese and parsley. Add the steak to the top and add any remaining pesto. Enjoy!

 

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** Grilled lemon pepper seasoned chicken and shrimp are delicious as well**

 

 

 

 

 

Orange and Coconuts

You either love coconut or hate it. I love it especially if it’s in a cookie! Coconut macaroons have been a guilty pleasure of mine for years. Crispy on the outside, ooey gooey soft and chewy on the inside. Combining coconut with chocolate and orange will take you to a whole other level. My senses opened along with my mouth and my entire batch of these sweet treats were just about gone!

Chocolate Dipped Orange Coconut Macaroons

Make approximately 40 (depends on size)

  • 5 1/4 cups Sweetened flaked coconut (1 large bag)
  • 14 oz Sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
  • 2/3 cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Almond extract
  • 1 medium Orange (zested and juiced; separated )

Chocolate Dipping

  • 1 pkg Semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp Shaved canning wax

 

Preheat the oven to 350°, and set up a double boiler for the chocolate and wax. The wax is optional but it does help to solidify the chocolate on the macaroon. Mix together, in a large bowl, all the ingredients except the orange zest and juice. Add as much or as little zest from that orange to flavor the dough. I used about 1 teaspoon since zest is very strong. * Add the same amount the chocolate when it is melted.  Add 1 tablespoon of orange juice and mix completely. Use a table spoon to form the cookie into a bite size ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Put the macaroons on a rack to cool completely before dipping the chocolate.

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Once the macaroons have cooled, dip the top of the cookie into the chocolate. Shake it gently once and place back on the rack to dry. Both the chocolate and the macaroons have orange in them so you should be able to smell it throughout the baking process. Also, try lemon and mint as well. (they’re awesome!) As always, enjoy!

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Now That’s Pasta!

I first started making carbonara a few years ago. I had started working a full time job and didn’t get home until almost 7 p.m. daily. I didn’t want to be bothered going to the store or standing in the kitchen until bed time just to have a decent meal. Depending what protein you put in the dish, determined how long it will take. Shrimp is the shortest and is done from start to finish in about 20-30 minutes. Chicken and beef take about 10 minutes longer. Also, a dish with a raw egg didn’t sound appealing but the way the dish is cooked, the egg becomes a creamy sauce that is gently cooked by the heat of the pasta.

 

Shrimp Carbonara

Serves 4

  • 1 lb Large, uncooked, tail removed, deveined shrimp (you can use smaller if preferred)
  • 1 lb Whole what pasta
  • 1/2 lb Bacon (chopped)
  • 1/2 White onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 Garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Frozen peas
  • 2 Eggs (separated, keep only the yolks)
  • 3 tbsp Parsley (chopped)
  • S & P to taste
  • 1 Cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 Lemon (reserve juice, zest half)
  • 4 tbsp Grated parmesan cheese

 

In a large stock pot, fill 3/4 with water and season generously with salt. Put on the stove on high until boiling and place pasta in and cook about 9-11 minutes or el dente. Reserve a cup of the hot water, the pasta boiled in.

While the pasta water is heating up, heat a large, deep frying pan on medium to high heat. Place the bacon in and cook until it is crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to remove the excess grease. There should be enough grease in the pan to cook the remaining ingredients. Turn the heat to medium and place the onions in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes or until they are softened. Add garlic, peas, lemon juice, zest, and half the parsley.

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After a couple minutes of cooking and stirring occasionally, add the shrimp. The shrimp should be added about 2 minutes before you remove the cooked pasta from the water. If you over cook shrimp, it becomes tough and rubbery. When the shrimp begin to turn pink, add the bacon.

 

After you have reserve the cup of pasta water, drain the remaining pasta completely and add to the frying pan. Turn the heat from medium to low. Once the pasta is added, put to egg yolk on top, add the pasta water and toss the pasta with the shrimp quickly. This makes the creamy sauce since the yolks cook by the heat of the pasta. if you let the egg yolk sit, it will cook where it is placed and turn your dish into scrambled eggs. move quickly at this point Once the carbonara is made, add the parmesan cheese, S & P, and remaining parsley. Plate, serve with Italian bread, and enjoy!

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Updated TV Dinner Classic

Have you ever watched a commercial for TV dinners and a pressed Salisbury steak is front and center? Yuck! It takes me back to the early 90’s when that meal was a staple in most households. Now, I am aware that TV dinners has been around for decades but over the years they have made improvements. The improvement I made, is to make it from scratch in less than an hour! So you can have this nostalgic meal, on the table, ready to eat, and more delicious than ever in less than 60 minutes! And guess what? If you love it, like I do, it can be frozen and reheated later just like the typical TV dinner!

Salisbury Meatballs with Onion Gravy

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 lbs Ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion (half chopped and half sliced)
  • 1 pint White mushrooms (sliced)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (1 grated, 1 finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp Fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 2 Beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • S&P to taste (up to 1 tsp each)
  • 1/4 cup Grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp Bourbon
  • 1/2 cup Sweet red wine
  • 3 cups water (1/2 cup mixed with 1 tbsp corn starch *thickener*)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (half for meat, half for sauce)
  • 1 tsp Gravy master

Preheat the oven to 400° and line a cookie sheet with foil. Do not spray with non stick. The meatballs produce plenty of fat for them not to stick. Combine the meat, bread crumbs, egg, chopped onion, grated garlic, eggs, parsley, spices, bourbon, 1/2 the worcestershire sauce, and parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly and make into 2 inch balls. I have found, if they are too small, they will be tough. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes. You are welcome to pan fry the meatballs, but why bother with the mess when you can bake them

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While the meatballs are baking, in a deep frying pan on medium heat, place 1 tablespoon of butter and the sliced onions. Add S&P for flavor and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the onion are turning translucent. Remove the onions. Do the same with the sliced mushrooms, cook until they have started to brown and are half their normal size. Add the onions back into the pan. Then add the wine and with a wooden spoon, scrape the bits of onion and mushroom pieces off the bottom of the pan. This is added flavor that only you can produce by pulling the bits off the pan. Add the 2 bouillon cubes, 2 1/2 cups of water, grated garlic, remaining worcestershire sauce,and gravy master. Cook for 10-15 minutes on low heat. * Additional S & P and onion powder can be added for taste*

Once you have pulled the meatball from the oven, let them rest. Turn the heat up on the stove to medium high. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of water and corn starch, in a separate bowl, until there are no lumps. Add this to the sauce and stir as you do so. This will thicken the sauce to a gravy texture. Add the meatballs and remaining parsley. The gravy will begin to boil. Pull the pan from the heat. Plate the meatballs and serve. I have always served this dish with mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

You can freeze the meatballs before they are cooked. They are good for up to a month in the freezer.

 

 

 

 

 

Warm me up!

Whether you’re being hammered with snow, feeling sluggish, under the weather, or just craving something delicious; soup is always the answer. I have had French onion soup many ways but in my opinion, the heartier the better. I add sirloin steak and mushrooms to my recipe but please, feel free not to add them. It’s yummy either way and it’s totally a preference. And for those who think soup is too hard to make on a week night, try it in the crockpot! I have and the longer it cooks, the better!

Hearty French Onion Soup

Serves 4

  • 1 Sirloin steak (about 1-1 1/2 lb cut into small cubes)
  • 2 medium Vidalia onions (halved and cut into slices; half moon shape)
  • 1 pint White mushrooms (sliced)
  • 4 thick slices of Italian bread
  • 12 slices Provolone cheese (3 per person)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (finely diced)
  • 2 tbsp Fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3 tbsp AP flour
  • 2 Beef boullion cubes
  • 5 cups Water
  • 3 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • S&P to taste (approx. 1 tsp each)
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 3 tbsp Marsala wine
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Browning sauce (used for gravy flavoring)

Note: if you don’t want to add the steak and mushrooms, begin browning the onions first and skip the first two steps.

First, heat a deep pot to medium to high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and the diced steak. Add s & p to season the steak if you desire. Cook the steak for just a couple minutes. When you remove the steak from the pot, it should be about medium rare. Place it in a bowl and set aside.

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Next, add another tablespoon of butter and as it melts, scape the bottom of the pot with a spoon to remove the cooked on steak. This is added flavor and only enhance the dish. Lower the heat to medium. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until they start to soften and turn brown. Stir every minute or so. Remove the mushrooms and place in the bowl with the steak bits.

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Once the steak and mushrooms have been cooked and are resting, place the final tablespoon of butter in the pan and add all of the onions. Let them cook for about 2 minutes, stirring so they begin to brown. Sprinkle the flour on top along with the garlic powder, onion powder, s & p, and diced garlic. Continue stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. The onions will brown and start to soften.

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At this point, add the water, bouillon,  bay leaf, worcestershire sauce, browning sauce, and marsala wine. Lower the heat slightly, stir, and cover. This should cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the onions become slightly translucent and soft. Before you put the soup in a bowl to cook in the oven, sprinkle with a teaspoon of parsley.

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After the soup has had time to cook, heat the oven to 400°. Ladle the  soup into oven safe soup bowl. Fill 3/4 of the bowl with soup, place 1 piece of cheese onto. Then add 1 thick since of bread and 2 more pieces of cheese to the top of that. Make sure the two pieces are slightly offset from each other. Who doesn’t want more square footage of cheese. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and about the bubble. Remove from the oven carefully and let cool for 5 minutes before serves. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

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**If you make this recipe in the crockpot, brown the mushrooms and steak the same as instructed and then put all the ingredients in the crockpot to cook. Also, the cheese part has to be done in the oven. Cook in the crockpot for up to 8 hours on low.

 

 

The Cherry on Top!

Cherries! Chocolate! Say what?! These cookies scream Christmas, yummy, and eat me all at once! They are super simple and take about an hour (total, start to finish) to make. Personally, I am not a fan of cherries but this cookie has made an exception on my taste buds. Also, ingredients can be added. When I whip these little delights up again, I will be adding chopped almonds to the dough. Cherries, chocolate, and almonds! Say no more!

Chocolate Cherries Tumbles

Makes exactly 30

  • 1 stick Unsalted softened butter
  • 1/2 cup White sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Almond extract
  • 2 tsp Cherry juice (from the jar)
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2/3 cup Cocoa (Nestle preferred)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 Jar of Maraschino cherries (drained, do not rinse)
  • 1/4 Finely chopped almonds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Semi sweet chocolate chips (glaze)
  • 3 tbsp Sweetened condensed milk (add more if you want it thinner; glaze)
  • 2 tbsp Cherry juice (glaze)

In a mixer, with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars and butter. Add the eggs, extracts and cherry juice. The dough will separate slightly. Add the dry ingredients and mix until a thick dough forms. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. It will help solidify the dough and make it easier to roll into balls. Heat the oven to 350° degrees. After 10 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and make into 1 inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Bake for 9-10 minutes. While the cookies are baking, in a bowl combine the glaze ingredients. Heat in the microwave several times at 15 second intervals. Each time you remove the bowl from the microwave, stir the glaze. At first it will seize up but after the second time in the microwave, it will thin out. Once the cookies are removed from the oven, place a dried cherry in the middle and push down slightly. This will keep the cherry in place.

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Put the cookie onto a rack to cool for about 5 minutes. Use a fork to distribute the glaze over the cookies. You can put as much or as little as you would like on the cookies. After they have dried, you can store them in a closed container. Tip: keeping them in a cool place will make them last longer, if they aren’t ate right away. Enjoy these little delights.

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