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Polish Pie Pierogi Bake

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I considered opening this post with a Polish joke. You know, something along the lines of An Irishman, a German, and a Polish man walk into a bar… But, comedy is not my strong suit and I can never quite remember the punchline to jokes. Or, I remember only the punchline, but haven’t the foggiest idea of how to get there. Watching me try to tell a joke is often the funniest part of the joke I’m trying to tell. Either way, it’s probably better that I stick to the food and leaves the jokes to the jokers.

My Polish Pie is not really a pie at all, no more so than a shepherd’s pie or a cottage pie qualifies as pie. But the name just seems to fit. The idea first struck me a few weekends ago, when we drove past a local Polish festival. As we waited at the stoplight, tapping our feet to the catchy tunes of a live polka band, the distinct aroma of kielbasa flooded our car. My husband made some quip about pierogies and kielbasa.

MmmmmmPierogies!!

And in that moment, an idea began to take shape. Why couldn’t I create a baked pierogi dish, starting with frozen pierogies, in the same way that people make baked ravioli casseroles? Seemed like it should work. And it seemed only logical that the dish should include slices of kielbasa. I decided on sweet, caramelized onions and a rich cheddar cheese sauce to complete the dish.

This is not a pretty dish. It’s got that sort of sloppy, mixed up appearance that most casseroles end up having. (I think I’m going to skip the photo I took of it spooned onto my dinner plate.) But, what it lacks in appearance, it more than makes up for with flavor. Best yet, you can use leftover kielbasa and caramelized onions to make the most fantastic frittata!

Polish Pie Pierogi Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 box frozen potato and cheddar pierogies
  • 1/2 Polish kielbasa, halved and sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray the inside of a baking dish (9×13 or smaller) with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the dish with the frozen pierogies.

To prepare the onions, heat one tablespoon of butter in pan over medium heat. Add the onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, sweet, and golden brown. Scatter the onions over the frozen pierogies.

Scatter the kielbasa slices over the onions.

To prepare the sauce, melt the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour until well-blended. Cook for a minute or two. (This is your roux, which will help to thicken the sauce.) Gradually add the milk, whisking until smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until it begins to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Season with a touch of salt and pepper. (Be careful not to over-salt the sauce, since the kielbasa will add a good amount of salty flavor to the finished dish.)

Pour the sauce over the mixture in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for about 40 minutes.

Kielbasa and Caramelized Onion Frittata

Bonus recipe for leftover kielbasa and caramelized onions:

Kielbasa and Onion Frittata

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly beat 7-8 eggs in a bowl with about 1/4 cup milk. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of butter in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Swirl the pan so that the butter coats the bottom and sides. Add the eggs to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom begins to set. The top should still be quite loose. Scatter leftover slices of kielbasa and caramelized onions into the egg mixture. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs have completely set and the top is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

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Sausage, Biscuit, and Gravy Casserole

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Don’t you just love a good breakfast casserole? Something savory, made with eggs and cheese or maybe something sweet, like a French toast casserole, oozing with cinnamon and syrup? There’s just something so satisfying in its completeness.
For some incomprehensible reason, I’d never even heard of breakfast casseroles until well into my adulthood. It just wasn’t something my family ever made. My first experience with a breakfast casserole was at a monthly workplace breakfast. An unknown casserole sat on the table alongside the tray of bagels and bowl of fruit salad. One scoop of this casserole contained bread, eggs, sausage, peppers, and cheese. I thought, What brilliant genius created this complete breakfast in a baking dish? The following month, someone different made something nearly identical. My workplace was clearly dripping with geniuses. And the month after that, someone else made it again. Seriously, Mensa should send an evaluation team to this place.
Over the years since, I’ve enjoyed numerous breakfast casseroles from various coworkers, friends, and family members. It seems that everyone, except for me, was privy to this genius breakfast casserole idea. And I’m pretty sure that everyone is using the same secret recipe, for every one of these casseroles has been nearly identical (and equally delicious).
Recently, I fell upon a different version of a breakfast casserole that sounded too good to resist; a casserole of eggs with sausage, biscuits, and gravy. Ummm…can you say comfort food?? I’ve made this casserole twice now and it does not disappoint. In fact, my brother-in-law’s response to his first bite was something to the effect of, If I wasn’t already married to your sister, I’d marry this casserole. I’d venture to say that he enjoyed it.
I can not take credit for this recipe, nor can I cite the original creator. It’s one of those recipes which is all over the internet in a hundred variations. Perhaps you’ve already enjoyed something like this, but just in case you haven’t, I needed to share it with you. Make it for breakfast, brunch, or breakfast for dinner. Share it with your coworkers, friends, and family. You’ll be happy you did!
***
Sausage, Biscuit, and Gravy Casserole
***
Ingredients
  • 8 large buttermilk biscuits, frozen or refrigerated
  • 1 pound bulk breakfast sausage (without casings)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 envelope country gravy mix
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Directions

Bake the biscuits according to package directions, using the lower end of the recommended cooking time so they do not overcook. When cool enough to handle, cut the biscuits in half to create a top and a bottom. Set aside.

Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat, until fully cooked. Use the edge of a spoon to break the sausage into small pieces as it cooks.

Spray a 13×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the baking dish with the bottom halves of the biscuits. Scatter the cooked sausage on top of the biscuits. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups of the cheese over the sausage.

In a large bowl, whisk together the gravy mix, milk, and eggs, until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Arrange the top halves of the biscuits over the eggs. Lightly press the biscuits into the egg mixture.

If desired, cover and refrigerate the mixture for a few hours or overnight.

Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 50-55 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the biscuits during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Chorizo and Asparagus in a Deconstructed Hollandaise

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I love eggs. I love ’em boiled, fried, scrambled, or poached. I love ’em with hot sauce or just a touch of salt and pepper. I love them stuffed as cheesy omelets or served on top of a huge pile of corned beef hash. Deviled eggs, egg salad, and potato salad with chunks of chopped boiled eggs warm my heart. And I go gaga for bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches, most especially when they come from any bagel shop in NYC.

I love eggs. I love a slightly runny yolk with a thoroughly cooked white. I anxiously await the burst of the yolk between two halves of an English muffin and find particular pleasure in wiping up the drippings with a corner of bread. I love the little bits of scrambled egg which are tossed in fried rice. Oh, and quiche…I love quiche. Egg pie, perfectly genius. And don’t even get me started on Eggs Benedict! Oh, incredible,edible egg…you make my heart swoon!

Of all the ways I love eggs, there is nothing I love more than finding an egg in an unexpected place; in the middle of a pizza, on a burger, or set atop a mound of crispy fries. Or how about gracing a pile of perfectly roasted asparagus??

I like to think of this dish as asparagus in a deconstructed hollandaise sauce. Asparagus and hollandaise sauce are a classic pairing. Hollandaise sauce is traditionally made by creating an emulsion of egg yolks, lemon juice, and butter. A dash of salt and sprinkle of cayenne pepper complete the sauce’s seasonings. It’s a rich, buttery sauce which has a tendency to be a bit finicky to prepare. (Click here to see my step by step photo guide on how to make Hollandaise sauce.)

Today’s dish combines all the elements of asparagus with a classic hollandaise sauce, without the fuss. We’ll fry our eggs sunny-side up in a generous amount of butter, leaving the yolks smooth and runny for optimal dippability. Then, we’ll set the eggs atop piles of roasted asparagus, drizzled with a touch of fresh lemon juice. Slices of spicy chorizo sausage complete the dish.

Chorizo with Asparagus and a Deconstructed Hollandaise

Ingredients

  • 2 smoked chorizo sausages
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the chorizo sausages in a baking dish and cook for 25-30 minutes, until thoroughly heated through. Slice the chorizo before serving.

Rinse the asparagus and trim off the tough end. (A little trick for determining how much to cut is to hold one asparagus spear by the ends and bend. The point where the asparagus snaps is generally a good place to trim off.) Toss the asparagus in a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place them in the oven for the last 10-12 minutes of the sausage’s cooking time.

To cook the eggs, heat butter in a nonstick or cast iron pan over medium heat. Crack two eggs into the pan, being careful not to break the yolks. (If desired, you can first crack the eggs into a small bowl or ramekin to ensure that the yolk remains unbroken and then carefully transfer to the pan.) Cook for a few minutes, without flipping, until the whites are cooked, but the yolk remains runny. Season with a dash of salt.

To serve, arrange several asparagus on a plate. Drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Carefully place the fried egg on top of the asparagus and arrange the chorizo slices on the plate. Garnish with fresh lemon slices.

Serves 2


Kielbasa and The Hecklers

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Every year, on a Saturday near St. Patrick’s Day, a 15k run takes place in my hometown. The route of the race takes the runners up the road of my childhood home. For the past few years, my parents have been enjoying this annual spectacle seated on lawn chairs at the foot of my neighbor’s driveway, Bloody Marys in hand. As such, when this year’s big day arrived, my parents made their way over to the neighbors at the appropriate time, took up their annual seats, turned up the music, and awaited the sprinting masses.

This year, they waited for longer than usual for the first of the runners to pass. When, at last, the frontrunners arrived, they turned up the music, cheered and waved their Blood Marys in spirited support. A short time later, they repeated this routine as another pair of runners made their way up the steep, windy road. Moments after that, the third group of runners ran past; a man, two women, and two children. They were struggling their way up the challenging incline of my parents’ road. This was certainly not the type of group you’d expect to see leading the pack during a 15k race, gasping for breath, backs arched in weary fatigue. It was at this point that my parents began to suspect that something was amiss. But, as the group struggled to pass, my parents and their neighbors rose from their lawn chairs, turned up the music, and shouted cheers of encouragement, Bloody Marys raised in supportive salute. You can do it! Keep going! One of the women gave up her struggled run and switched to a walk as she passed.

I know from my running experiences that loud, peppy music and cheers of encouragement can be quite motivating during a race. I’m equally certain that the runners who passed my parents that morning would have been brightened up by their support…had it actually been the morning of the race. But, no…There was no race scheduled for that morning. The race would take place the following Saturday. My parents had not, in fact, spent their morning encouraging racers. They’d spent their morning drinking in their neighbor’s driveway and heckling innocent health-minded joggers.  My parents; the hecklers.  The following Saturday, on the actual morning of the race, they repeated their well-practiced routine.

This story is neither here nor there in regards to the following recipe. But I’ve been giggling for weeks over the thought of my well-intentioned parents harassing random joggers. This is what happens when all of the kids grow up and move out.

Today’s recipe is one-dish meal, which makes me think of camping, for some reason I can’t fully explain. Slices of kielbasa, potatoes, peppers, and onions are tossed in a bit of olive oil and roasted together in the oven; so simple that it’s more of a meal idea than an actual recipe. Enjoy this dish as a family-pleasing weeknight meal or make it for a crowd! It would even make a tasty snack to keep you well-nourished on those mornings where you find yourself heckling joggers from the comfort of your driveway. Serve with a spicy Bloody Mary.

Kielbasa with Roasted Potatoes, Peppers, and Onions

Ingredients

  • 1 Polish kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 3 pounds baby red potatoes, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine kielbasa, potatoes, peppers, and onions on a baking sheet. Drizzle and toss with olive oil until evenly coated. Arrange the mixture in an even layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the peppers and onions are tender and the potatoes and kielbasa are golden brown. Occasionally turn the mixture with a spatula to promote even browning as it cooks. Season with additional salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve with a warm, crusty baguette.

Pork with Pork, Pork, and Pork

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Happy Fat Tuesday! Put those Lenten resolutions of abstinence and chocolate deprivation on hold for one more day. Tomorrow, we fast. Today, we feast!

Recently, during a particularly lucid early-morning shower brainstorm, I developed a recipe which is either my most genius creation or proof that I’ve completely gone insane; pork stuffed with pork and pork, wrapped in pork. I’m calling it The Whole Hog. We’ll start with boneless pork chops, then stuff them with a sweet and savory filling made from bacon and sausage, and wrap them in prosciutto for the final touch. This is a dish to send the three little pigs running for the hills.

In honor of Fat Tuesday, I proudly present you with The Whole Hog: Pork with Pork, Pork, and Pork.

Genius or insane? You decide.

The Whole Hog

Bacon, Sausage, and Apple stuffed Pork Chops wrapped in Prosciutto

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 4-5 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped*
  • 4-5 breakfast sausages, removed from casings**
  • 1 granny smith apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • Salt and pepper

* Regular bacon can be substituted

**Use an apple flavored sausage, if available

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and sausage. Cook until bacon begins to crisp and sausage is fully cooked. Use the side of a spoon to break up the sausage as it cooks. Add the apple and cook for a few minutes longer, until softened. Add the panko and stir until the panko crumbs absorb the excess fat and pan juices. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper, as desired.

Split each pork chop almost all the way through, to create a pocket for the stuffing. Generously stuff each pork chop with the bacon and sausage mixture. Scatter any extra stuffing on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the pork chops on top of the extra stuffing. Season the outside of the pork chops with salt and pepper. Wrap each pork chop with prosciutto. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked.

Serves 2

Roasted Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

You’ve probably heard of those pregnant women who find themselves craving odd combinations of foods like dill pickles with peanut butter. Or the ones who squirm at the scent of onions or eggs. And then there are those who strangely crave non-foods, like dirt or chalk. I am none of these women while pregnant. For me, pregnancy only serves to heighten my already existing cravings. I have no food aversions and morning sickness is something I’ve only read about in books. My pregnancy diet is simply my normal diet, in overdrive.

Take spicy food for example. I’ve always loved spicy food. This is nothing new. But while pregnant, my desire for spicy food hits new highs. I order my burgers with pepperjack cheese, hot sauce and jalapeños. (Add some extra hot sauce on the side for dipping my fries.) I accidentally forget crucial ingredients for Saturday’s dinner so that I can have my Indian food takeout one night early. I make omelets for lunch so I have something to dip in tabasco. My desire for spicy foods is boundless.

So, on a day, which I’d spent baking and decorating dozens of turkey-shaped Lemon-Ginger Sugar Cookies (recipe coming soon), I needed a quick fix for my spicy food obsession. I turned to one of my favorite easy weeknight  meals; Roasted Sausage, Peppers, and Onions. This recipe hardly even qualifies as a recipe. It’s just a few simple ingredients joined together in perfect flavor harmony. As a child, huge trays of sausage, peppers, and onions were a staple of family party buffets. Served over rice or wrapped in a loaf of Italian bread with provolone cheese, this dish makes a simple, satisfying meal, any night of the week.

As you may imagine, I like to prepare this dish using spicy Italian sausages, but sweet Italian sausages work just as well! By cutting the sausages part way through the cooking time, we allow some of the tasty juices to escape in order to mix and mingle with the peppers and onions. The resulting dish simply oozes with delicious Italian flavors.

Roasted Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Ingredients

  • 6 Italian Pork Sausages (spicy or sweet)
  • 3 Green Bell Peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 Onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the peppers and onions in the olive oil. Place in a baking dish. Arrange sausages on top of the peppers and onions. Cook for 20 minutes. Then, remove the baking dish from the oven, cut the sausages in half and place them back with the peppers and onions. Toss to combine the sausage halves with the peppers and onions. Continue cooking for another 30-40 minutes, occasionally tossing the mixture for even cooking. Serve over rice or create sandwiches on Italian bread with provolone cheese.

Serves about 4

Cranberry Orange Sauce, Super Stuffing, and Other Thanksgiving Sides

It’s Thanksgiving Week here at The Gourmand Mom. Yesterday we started talking about the side dishes; my personal favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast. Today, we’re going to continue looking at a few easy and delicious dishes to complete any Turkey Day buffet. We’ll start with a fresh cranberry sauce, accented with freshly squeezed orange juice and zest. Then, we’ll take a look at my favorite Sausage, Apple, and Leek Stuffing recipe. After that, we’ll take a glance back at several other previously-posted Gourmand Mom recipes which would work beautifully for this occasion. Pick and choose what works for you.

As a child, I was a jellied cranberry sauce girl, through and through. I can not tell a lie; I still love the stuff. But, over the years, I’ve also learned to love fresh, whole berry cranberry sauce. It’s delicious paired with a bite of turkey or spread on leftover turkey sandwiches. I’ve even used it to make cranberry linzer-style cookies and baked it with brie wrapped in puff pastry. Spread some on top of a cheesecake for a seasonal touch!

Fresh cranberry sauce can be as simple as simmering cranberries in water with a bit of sugar or you can get creative incorporating other flavors. Most commonly, other fruit flavors are added, though I once made a cranberry sauce which featured caramelized onions. And I’ve got to admit that it was pretty spectacular. But, a cranberry-onion sauce might not be up everyone’s alley, so today we’re sticking with a basic Cranberry Orange Sauce. We’re replacing part of the water with fresh squeezed orange juice, then mixing in the zest of the orange skin. Simple and delicious.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce bag Fresh Cranberries
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • Juice from 2 Oranges (about 1/2 cup)*
  • 1/2 cup Water*
  • Zest from 1 Orange

*Use 1 cup of liquid total.

Directions

Rinse cranberries and carefully examine for any stems or overly mushy berries. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Lower heat and continue simmering for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely before serving.

The Stuffing

A few months ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving in June; a prelude to Christmas in July. For our summertime Thanksgiving meal, we enjoyed an open-faced turkey sandwich. On that sandwich, we piled on my favorite Thanksgiving stuffing. The secret is the sausage. My mom’s traditional stuffing incorporates the turkey giblets. You know, that pouch of organs which comes stuffed inside the turkey. The thought of it makes my skin crawl. Though, to be completely honest, I really enjoyed the texture which those giblets added to the stuffing. Regardless, I just can’t bring myself to use the giblets. For me, the perfect stuffing addition is ground sausage. The sausage adds such an incredible flavor and that great texture I was so fond of as a child. To the sausage, we add some mild leeks, sweet apples, and a generous handful of dried cranberries. Herb-seasoned bread cubes and chicken stock complete the mix. You won’t need more than a little salt and pepper after that.

The original idea for this stuffing comes from the Food Network recipe, found here. Over the years, I’ve adapted and simplified the recipe to suit our tastes. The recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, or stretched by adding more bread cubes and stock. Add the stock gradually until it reaches the right consistency. The mixture should be moist, but not mushy.

Sausage, Apple, and Leek Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Bulk Breakfast Sausage
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cup Leeks, finely sliced (about 1 large leek)*
  • 6 cups Herb-Seasoned Bread Cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock (approximately)
  • 1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
  • Salt and Pepper, if desired

*To see my photo guide on leeks, click here.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a pan, cook the sausage until fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes. As it cooks, use a spoon to break up the sausage into small pieces. Remove the cooked sausage and place it in a large bowl. In the same pan (no need to clean it out) melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and leeks. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the apples and leeks to the bowl with the sausage. Add bread cubes and dried cranberries. Stir to combine. Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring between additions to give the bread a chance to absorb the stock. Continue adding stock until the stuffing is moistened but not mushy. Most of the bread cubes should still appear as cubes. (2 1/2 cups of stock should be about right, but add a little less or a little more, as needed, to get the right consistency.) Place the stuffing in a baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes, until heated through and the top feels firm.

Serves 8-10

*The stuffing can be fully prepared ahead of time, refrigerated and then baked before serving.

A Few More Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas

Over the past few months, I’ve shared a few recipes which would work wonderfully for a Thanksgiving feast. Here’s a round-up of a few Gourmand Mom Thanksgiving side dish ideas.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts


Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Green Beans Almondine

Sweet Honey Cornbread


Shaved Apple-Fennel Salad


Autumn Harvest Salad
Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Tomorrow, we’re moving on to the desserts! Yummy, yum, yum!

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