monthly recipe class: pierogi

Once upon a time, there was a store called Parma Pierogies. Based on its name, the location and product of the store is obvious. They made some damn good pierogi – even Bill Clinton stopped by while campaigning in the NEOhio area.  When we were looking for a selection for the next Monthly Cooking Class, I wanted a challenge. And something uber delicious.  It was time to make the ethnic dish our suburb was infamous for.  Since I’ve been itching to make something from Michael Symon’s cookbook, we were ready to pinch. You’ll find our recipe adjustments and comments in italics.

Michael Symon’s Beef Cheek Pierogi Dough:

As adapted from Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen by Michael Symon with Michael Ruhlman. Makes about 2 dozen pierogi.


  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives (My mom chose to omit these)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, more for rolling

the ingredients

Note: My mom noted that this dough recipe is almost exactly the same recipe for my grandma’s kolache cookies. With that said, I knew we were in for a good meal.


Mix egg, sour cream, butter, chives and salt. Remember: we left out the chives.

mixing by hand

Mix in flour thoroughly until dough forms.

wet into the dry


the dough is mixed!

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, up to two days.

don't mind the poms

As I am highly impatient when it comes to cooking, we let our dough rest for about 30 – 60 minutes.

To assemble, roll out dough to about 1/8-inch thickness.

roll it out

Cut into 3-inch rounds.

notice our cutting device

Spoon 1 tablespoon of filling onto each round. Fold the dough over and seal the edges into a half-moon shape.

Press edges with fork to seal.

For our fillings, the group decided on the following:

  • shredded beef made “beef stew” style with carrots  & gravy:

  • sweet cabbage (think “cabbage & noodles” without the noodles):

  • potato/cheese and bacon/potato/cheese:

  • sweet potato (with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar):

  • ricotta (with egg, sugar & parsley):

  • apricot (specially requested by Hans): not pictured because I’m awesome and forgot the pic.

Bring a pasta pot full of water to a boil. Add pierogi, 6 to 8 at a time. Cook until they float, then allow them to cook about 4 more minutes. Drain.

In a large skillet, heat butter and saute pierogi in batches until they are brown.

Serve with sour cream mixed with horseradish and sauteed mushrooms. We served the sour cream as is, no horseradish, and mushrooms on the side.

We sauteed onions, obviously – can’t have pierogi without that.  We also had veal brats, kelbasa and green beans for those who wanted the full spectrum of food groups.

Final step: remember to let your dog inside:

Just kidding! He was in and out all afternoon long, but we couldn’t help but make him wait a moment for a photo.

It’s not a party without some dessert. Luckily, Dana’s birthday was earlier in the week, so naturally birthday cake and ice cream was in order! Giant Eagle makes a solid cake if I do say so myself.  Happy Birthday D!

MY THOUGHTS ON THE DAY: making pierogi was EXHAUSTING but totally worth all the effort. I don’t know if it was standing in one place all afternoon or the 70 minute kickboxing class I took earlier in the day, but my calves were screaming at me by the end of the day. However, the exhaustion was well worth it because the end result was quite tasty.  The dough was flavorful, but allow each of the fillings to take center stage. I tried the beef, sweet cabbage and sweet potato versions. The beef was a nice surprise – not at all what you usually get with a pierogi.  The sweet cabbage was my favorite – I love my cabbage and noodles and it tasted just as good.  The girls and I decided that the sweet potato pierogi need something more – maybe more sweet potato. The seasoning was right on, but I wanted more of the potato vibe that you get with a traditional potato pierogi.

I brought home two dozen for Hans: one dozen of the bacon/potato/cheese (YUM) and one dozen of apricot pierogi (don’t knock it til you try it!).  They are waiting in our freezer for a cold snowy night – you know we still have a few left coming our way before spring gets here!

recipe review: cheesy lasagna rolls

I use my email account as a recipe box. Whenever I find a recipe that sounds tasty, I copy and paste it into an email that I send to myself along with the original internet link. Search the term “recipe” and my Gmail pulls up 110 results.  How many of these have I actually made? Probably only a hand full, but I feel prepared if I ever do get around to making Spiced Pumpkin Bisque with Pumpernickel Soldiers.

I emailed myself with this recipe for Cheesy Lasagna Rolls with Spinach and Ricotta from Whole Foods back on June 27, but who really wants to make lasagna in the summer time? The middle of February made more sense to me.  Plus I was feeling inspired to make lasagna as I never have attempted the dish before on my own. So when I stumbled on this recipe in my Gmail, I knew exactly what to make the family this past Sunday.

c/o Whole Foods

You’ll find my recipe adjustments and comments in italics. Let’s roll some meat and cheese, my friends.


  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound (8 to 10) uncooked lasagna noodles (I made the full 1 pound box and used about 17 noodles)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (I used about 15/16 of a 15oz container)
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce (I didn’t measure: I had two opened marinara sauce containers that equaled one large jar that I just threw into a pot to heat up)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed baby spinach (only used about 1/3 cup, as I only made four spinach lasagna rolls)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • approximately 3/4 pound ground meat – half ground beef, half ground turkey.  I just pulled out two ziplock containers of meat that I had in the fridge and went with it.  Didn’t use it all in the rolls – the leftover meat went into my meatball sauce. I added this for the men in my family. Baby spinach freaks my dad out. True story.

Method from Whole Foods’ website:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add noodles and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and gently transfer to a clean work surface. Grease a small roasting pan or casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside. Working with one noodle at a time, spread with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta and 2 tablespoons of the marinara then top with spinach. Starting at one end, roll up noodle snugly then arrange in pan either seam-side down or with the rolls close enough together to hold each other closed. Pour remaining marinara over assembled rolls then sprinkle with mozzarella and bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.”

There was no chance of photo-documenting this process. It was a very messy affair. After spraying the dish with the cooking spray, I covered the base with a layer of sauce then started rolling.  I made the first four rolls with the spinach, then about 13 rolls with the ground meat mix (no spinach). Since I didn’t have toothpicks to keep the rolls nice and tight, I decided to cram them all into one round baking dish.  Once out of room, I topped the entire thing with the leftover sauce (there wasn’t much – just enough to cover), covered the dish with foil and popped it in my oven for 25 minutes.

My finished product:

my baking dish of lasagna rolls

Yes, I promise there are rolls of lasagna under the sauce. It was served with this pot of goodness:

turkey meatballs? don't mind if I do.

In that pot, which just got thrown together and simmered for 30 minutes, contained:

  • one bag of Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs (in the freezer section)
  • one large jar of Trader Joe’s tomato basil marinara sauce
  • one 15oz. can of Del Monte diced tomatoes with garlic & onion
  • approximately 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • a dash ground black pepper

I served these with a couple bags of Birds Eye Steamfresh veggies: corn, peas and broccoli. I also made some reduced fat Pillsbury Crescent rolls.  My dinner plate was piled high with lasagna, turkey meatballs and veggies – too bad I didn’t remember to take a picture. I did, however, get a shot of this guy who wasn’t too pleased that he didn’t have a plate himself:

Grady wasn't too happy with me.

On the Hans scale: the lasagna rolls were an 8.2. He is realizing he’s not a fan of tomato basil marinara sauces. He said that if I used his favorite – three cheese – it would have been closer to a 9.   My Italian father, on the other hand, had two huge plates full of lasagna rolls and meatballs. He said it was “very good”, which means “awesome” in Dad speak. Overall, a success!

Would I make this recipe again? Hmmmm probably. Hans did have a good point: whatever your choices in sauce and cheeses really make or break this recipe.  I would suggest investing in some fancy cheese selections and take the time to make your own sauce for an extra special meal.  Don’t have the time? Whatever you pick up at Marc’s will do just find.   As for assembly part, the labor in making this was a bit ridiculous in nature when I could have just made a traditional layered dish. However, the rolls were fun and a surprisingly good way to portion control your lasagna intake. Come on – you know you go back for seconds on lasagna every time – I’m not the ONLY one!

mac & cheese

TODAY’S POINT OF BALANCE: Today On Serious Eats, they have a poll asking readers “How Do You Like Your Mac and Cheese?” My question: is there a wrong answer to this question?!  Check out the comments to the SE post: I was interested to see how many people don’t like breadcrumbs on theirs – I thought I was the only one! 

c/o Serious Eats

 Speaking of Mac & Cheese: Dave over at Live to Cook… At Home is sponsoring a fantastic giveaway: Dave recently made Michael Symon’s Mac and Cheese with Roasted Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary recipe. You might remember I tackled this same recipe on Thanksgiving for my family to rave reviews. I highly encourage you to try this recipe out when you are looking to spoil yourself on a good meal at home. 

Two lucky readers will receive a gift certificate good for two people to take a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School!  How awesome is that prize?! To enter to win simply leave a comment about your favorite mac & cheese on the post.  Bonus entries are available! He’ll announce the winner next week. 

Giveaway or not, make sure to check out Live to Cook…At Home as Dave cooks his way through Michael Symon’s “Live to Cook” cookbook (which is an EXCELLENT read BTW).  His posts have been really enjoyable and informative. Plus, he’s a Clevelander, so how can you go wrong?!

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