Recipe for Pierogi that can’t be beat!

Actual Pierogies frying in a pan.

When I was about eight or nine my grandmother tried to teach me how to make perogies.  I was not a willing pouch of dough waiting to be stuffed with potatoes and cheese. I was more like an adolescent who wanted to be stuffed with potatoes and cheese but was too lazy to help make that happen.  I helped anyway and I sure am glad that I did. Here is my version of that recipe.

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup water

Filling

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • ½ finely chopped or crumbled bacon (save the grease) – Vegans should avoid this ingredient
  • ¾ cup old cheddar cheese or Ricotta or any flavourful cheese of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons milk – Vegans should use oat milk, it’s yummy and the oats hardly mind the handling
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Filling

  1. Boil the potatoes until cooked, not too soft.
  2. Drain the potatoes. As you are mashing them add the milk, garlic, bacon (including the grease), salt and pepper. And the cheese slowly to avoid clumping and to give it a chance to melt.
  3. Taste the filling, you want it to be seasoned slightly stronger than you would expect, the second boiling seems to leach out some of the flavour. But don’t go overboard. 

Dough

  1. Start by making a mountain with the flour on a clean surface. Then make a low sided volcano by creating a depression in the center.
  2. Pour the olive oil into the valley you have created.
  3. Stick your finger into the center of the lake of olive oil. Make circular motions with your fingers touching where the lake meets the valley until the oil is absorbed. 
  4. Next start slowly adding the water to the valley a few tablespoons at a time while continuing to make circular motions.
  5. Continue adding water until all the flour is used up and you are left with a stiff dough. Roll that into a ball, cut that in half.
  6. Roll the dough out on a well floured surface until it reaches a thickness of 1/16th of an inch (2mm).
  7. Use a wine glass to cookie-cut circles from your dough.
  8. Take a small spoonful of the potato mixture and put it in the center of a dough circle.
  9. Fold the circle in half, and then pinch it closed. Try not to leave any air in the pierogi or any gaps in your seal when pinching. *If you want to freeze some, lightly flour them and set them aside for an hour or so, until they aren’t sticky to the touch first. ** If pinching is too tiring or you are finding your pierogi are misshapen check out these awesome pierogi presses on Amazon.
  10. Boil the perogies until they begin to float – 6 to 8 minutes. Warning – this is the time you find out if you did a good job pinching in the last step.
  11. Are we almost there yet? Strain the boiled perogies. Heat a non-stick or cast iron frying pan to a medium heat, with the oil of your choice. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

We like to top these with caramelized onions, extra bacon, sour cream and more cheese. My heart is pounding just thinking about it.

Try adding half seasoned ground beef and half potato mixture to the dough for a Shepherd’s pie pierogi. Or, we have even had dessert perogies!  Add a slice of apple or peach to your dough, dust with a little cinnamon and seal it up. Fry it like normal, dab off any excess oil and dust with powdered sugar! Yum! 

Bourbon chai latte recipe

Bourbon chai latte

This bourbon chai latte recipe will keep you warm and cozy until next summer. Photo courtesy Vine Styles.

Fall is here but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a cocktail (or two)! Calgary-based wine and liquor shop Vine Styles shared this amazing bourbon chai latte recipe that will keep you all warm and cozy. Vine Styles gave me permission to share the recipe below.

Here is the bourbon chai latte recipe (takes about 25 minutes and makes two large mugs).

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz Bourbon (Blanton’s Original recommended)
  • Chai Tea (store bought or homemade)
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cm piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 2 slices of fresh turmeric or a generous pinch of ground turmeric
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 bags of good quality black tea (preferably Darjeeling)
  • Brown sugar or honey (to sweeten to taste)

Directions:

Place cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and star anise in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a heavy skillet. Alternatively, you can place these spices in a mortar and grind with a pestle, just until spices are bruised.

Add crushed spices in a saucepan with the cinnamon sticks, ginger, turmeric, milk and two cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, add tea bags, cover and let steep for another 10 minutes.

Strain into cups, add sweetener to taste and then add 1.5 oz’s of bourbon to each mug.

What it tastes like:

The creaminess, the spice and of course the boozy touch will make this your cozy, cool evening beverage! The whole cloves are particularly prominent on the palate and the marriage of the spicy chai with bourbon is magical.

For more great cocktail recipes, visit Vine Styles online at vinestyles.ca or hit them up on Facebook at facebook.com/vinestylesyyc.

Do you have a great cocktail recipe? Share it in the comments below or over at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Ungava cider sour recipe

Ungava cider sour

A refreshing cider sour recipe made with Ungava Canadian premium dry gin. Photo courtesy Vine Styles.

It’s a long weekend in most parts of Canada and what better way to enjoy it than by sitting on a patio or deck with a refreshing gin cocktail! Calgary-based wine and liquor shop Vine Styles shared this very nice cider sour recipe that is sure to keep you cool all weekend long (it also uses Canadian-made Ungava premium dry gin, which is a bonus). Vine Styles gave me permission to share the recipe below.

Here is the Ungava cider sour recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Ungava gin
  • 1.0 oz Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider
  • 0.5 oz lime juice
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice

Directions:

Dry-shake the egg white in a martini shaker, get it nice and frothy. Add the gin, ice cider and lime juice and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a glass with fresh ice, garnish with lime and enjoy!

What it tastes like:

This is a frothy, refreshing and easy sipping cocktail. Citrus notes balanced with rose hips, juniper and a kiss of sweetness, the egg white gives the drink a nice, round mouthful. We’ll take another please!

For more great cocktail recipes, visit Vine Styles online at vinestyles.ca or hit them up on Facebook at facebook.com/vinestylesyyc.

Do you have a great cocktail recipe? Share it in the comments below or over at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Quick and easy mini (naan) pizza recipe

Mini naan pizza

Your kids will love these mini naan pizzas!

One of the duties I handle in our household is making lunches for my kids to take to school. Since it gets very boring whipping up sandwiches every day, I like to spruce things up and have a variety of goto meals that are healthy and easy to make (cause who really has time with two kids running your life!?).

I recently discovered these mini naan rounds President’s Choice make (they also come in whole wheat) and immediately had the idea to use them for mini pizzas. They take no time to put together and cook, the kids love them and they travel well in their school bags. It’s a win-win all around and has become a staple of my lunch menu.

Here is my quick and easy mini naan pizza recipe.

Related: 4 reasons you should get a toaster oven

Ingredients:

  • Pack of President’s Choice naan rounds (traditional or whole wheat)
  • Package of Piller’s Toppings pepperoni (free of gluten and MSG)
  • Fresh basil
  • Pizza sauce
  • Grated cheese (mozzarella or cheddar)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F/175C (you can also use a toaster oven for these if you prefer).

Place three or four President’s Choice naan rounds evenly on a baking sheet.

Spread a small amount of pizza sauce on each naan round.

Add a small layer of cheese and place a few small pieces of fresh basil on top.

Add three pieces of the Pillar’s Toppings pepperoni to each naan round (I use this brand because it’s free of gluten and MSG and I find it’s quite tasty. Any other pepperoni or meat substitute will work just fine).

Add more cheese on top of each and place tray on middle rack in oven.

Mini naan pizzas

Mini naan pizzas before going in the oven.

Cook for 8 – 10 minutes (or until the cheese is fully melted on top).

Let cool and cut in half to serve.

Note:

This recipe works for my kids and is the easiest to make in the morning before school. You can add green peppers, mushrooms or any other type of vegetables your kids will eat to make it healthier. You can also substitute the pepperoni with another kind of meat (such as ham) or just make it all veggie if you wish.

Have a great school lunch recipe? Share it in the comments below.

Gluten free banana muffin recipe

Gluten free banana muffins

Yes, you can have a moist and delicious gluten free banana muffin.

My mother has celiac disease and there is a possibility my youngest son and I both have it as well (we’re in the process of being checked). This is devastating news as I am a huge fan of bread, pizza, cookies, muffins, cake (you get the idea) and the thought of having to go gluten free scares me (no more beer!).

Most gluten free baked goods are dry, crumbly and bland and they usually cost about three times as much as the gluten variety. In an effort to come to terms with my potential gluten free future I’ve been testing recipes to see if I’ll be able to enjoy some treats without breaking the bank. That’s how I came across this very simple and tasty gluten free banana muffin recipe.

The great news about this recipe, which is actually based off a gluten free banana bread recipe I found on Allrecipes.com, is that both my kids love them, as does my wife and mother. And they really are tasty and moist! It’s a winning recipe all around.

Here is the gluten free banana muffin recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 6-8 ripe bananas
  • Chocolate chips (optional)

Gluten free banana muffins

The ingredients needed to make gluten free banana muffins.

Directions:

In a large bowl mash six ripe bananas together and set aside (use eight bananas if you don’t want to add eggs).

Sift the gluten free flour into a separate bowl and mix in the baking powder and salt.

Thoroughly mix the brown sugar, butter, maple syrup and eggs into the mashed up bananas.

Combine the flour mixture and banana mixture and gently stir together well.

Add muffin liners to two muffin trays and spray each cup with PAM (NOTE: Do not use PAM Baking as it is not gluten free. PAM Original, PAM Butter and PAM Olive Oil are all gluten free).

Use a spoon to fill each cup just above the halfway mark (gluten free flour doesn’t rise that much so the more full the muffin liners are the better).

You can add a few chocolate chips to each cup if you wish (make sure they are gluten free of course). To keep them safe for school lunches I don’t recommend adding nuts.

Add the muffin trays to a preheated 350F/175C oven and cook for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes check a muffin with a toothpick. If the toothpick is clear the muffins are done. If the toothpick is not clear cook for another 5 minutes and check again.

Once the muffins are done set the muffin trays on cooling racks and let cool for 5 minutes.

Store in an airtight container and eat and enjoy within two to three days.

Gluten free banana muffins

A tray of tasty gluten free banana muffins.

Notes:

Depending on your level of experience in the kitchen this recipe will take between 45-60 minutes to make (plus clean-up).

You should be able to get two dozen muffins out of this mix but it will depend on how much you add to each cup.

It’s normal for the muffins to feel heavy. If you find it’s too much you may want to use less mix in each cup when you make them again.

These are also nut and lactose free and if you opt out of using eggs they are vegan.

Have a great gluten free recipe? Share it in the comments below.