Easy Pirogi Recipe

The only bad thing about making pirogies is rolling the dough. So I have found an easy way to make them using empanada wrappers.

12.21 (6)Easy Pirogi

  • one package empanada wrappers (24 individual wrappers)
  • a few small potatoes
  • 3-6 ounces of a hard cheese like cheddar
  • one small onion chopped fine for filling
  • 4 t butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

First I boiled a few potatoes in their skins, grated some hard cheese (it should be Sharp Cheddar but use whatever hard cheese you can find). Saute an onion in butter until the butter is infused with the onion flavor, if you have a ricer, rice the potatoes, if not mash the potatoes with a fork, adding cheese and cooled butter onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Take one of the empanada wrappers and add a teaspoon of potato mixture, with your index finger add a small amount of water to the entire edge and then fold the wrapper to cover the potato mixture. Set aside until all empanadas are filled.

Bring a large pot with water to a boil adding a tablespoon of salt right before you add your pirogies. Drop 6 to 12 of the pirogies into the boiling water. Allow to cook for approximately 8 minutes. They will rise to the top during cooking. Drain and serve with more onions sautéed in butter.

12.21 (9)These can be filled with almost anything from sauerkraut, farmer cheese, fruits and even cooked meat. And you can top the savory ones with sour cream and the sweet ones with whipped cream for a very nice dessert.


Or, add the potato pirogies to your favorite soup – yum! This is something I learned from my friend Eva. What a heavenly and filling soup with pirogies.

Cookie Baking – Christmas 2015

It would not seem like Christmas without just a few of our favorites – cookies and a Christmas tree. So last Monday I made all the batters for several types of cookies and Tuesday it was marathon baking.

On Monday I did sneak in a few batches of the bar cookies and baked the Black Bottom Cookie Bar and Triple Layer Cookie Bar.

12.21 (11)I also made something I have never tried before. These are made with vanilla cookies on the bottom, covered in caramel, baked and then topped with chocolate chips sprinkled with chopped nuts.  Fast and easy and the kids will love them. All chocolaty and sweet.

12.21 (10)Then I made Crane House Pumpkin Breads.

12.21 (14)Here are some of the batters chilling in the refrigerator. These are the Cherry Nut Cookies in the foreground and the Italian Cookies in the background.

12.21 (13)Here are the final cookie trays ready to go

12.26.2015It was a very Merry Christmas.

Budin (Puerto Rican Bread Pudding)

I had several days of stale rolls that we did not eat this past few days so I thought of making them into bread pudding. I am not really into traditional bread puddings but, so much bread, what to do?

Found a great recipe at: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Budin-Puerto-Rican-Bread-Pudding/Detail.aspx?prop24=hn_slide1_Budin-%28Puerto-Rican-Bread-Pudding%29&evt19=1

It is called Budin which is a Puerto Rican Bread pudding. Unbelievable. It is excellent, I made a few changes, like I always do, adding 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, cut the amount of sugar in the recipe to 3/4 instead of 1 1/2 and it is still very sweet – next time I would only use 1/2 cup – also I did not cut off the crusts, I would be here all day cutting the crusts off rolls.

San Clemente 1.3.2014 001It is nice enough for company and if you really want to be even more decadent pour a bit of cream over it before you serve…oh my goodness!!!

Introducting Luis our Pan-Joven

This is the young man who has started to deliver pan in the mornings and again comes back around 4pm with beautiful dessert rolls and cookies. Yesterdays selection of sweets was coconut covered, jelly topped and some that even looked like cinnamon or chocolate rolls.

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I am not sure what is going to happen when school starts next month because this young man should be on his way to school at the exact time he is delivering to our neighborhood.

He is a very hard-working young person. And we so much appreciate him and his family doing this for San Clemente.

Chocolate Brownies

I was on Facebook yesterday morning when I came across this post by my cousin Steve Kowalczyk. I don’t think Steve likes to cook or bake but I think he likes eating brownies so I decided to try the recipe.

Below is the actual post:

Never buy boxed brownie mix again!   Follow the recipe below and make brownies for approximately .30 a mix!  Be sure to save this by clicking “SHARE”! You will be able to find it on your own timeline later! So simple, so easy. Not just frugal but cuts out the unknown ingredients. 1 Cup Sugar, 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour, 1/3 Cup Cocoa, 1/4 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp Baking Powder. At Baking Time Add: 2 Eggs, 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil, 1 teaspoon Vanilla. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes in an 8×8 or 9×9 pan.  OR use the amazing Pampered Chef brownie pan and bake it in much less time – depends on your oven, check after 12-15 minutes of baking and remove when brownies are done! Put mix in plastic bags or mason jars.
LOVE THIS TIP and want to hear more?  Be sure to LIKE my page so get some fabulous recipes, cooking tips and super secret FAN SALES!  Also visit my website at www.pamperedchef.biz/rachaeloSee More
I was confident that if Steve posted it on his timeline that it must be good and it is. And I made three batches of the dry ingredients and stored two of them in one of my new jars.
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Of course I needed to change the recipe a little so below is my recipe.
Chocolate Brownies
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder

the following can be added with the wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 1/4 Cup chocolate buttons or chips or chunks
  • 1/4 Cup desiccated coconut

At Baking Time Add:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla.

Bake @ 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes in an 8×8 or 9×9 pan. Remove when brownies are done!

Put dry mix in plastic bags or mason jars.

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Thanks Steve it is a very easy recipe, it came out moist and chewy and was a hit with Joe and our friends Libby and David.
Extremely delicious!

Baking Goodies from Todo Hogar

Joe, our visitor Harlan and I had a lovely walk through Todo Hogar in the Multiplaza (Kiwi/SuperMaxi) Shopping Center in Portoviejo. I was so happy to find some great baking items that I have not seen there before.

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What I found were baking sheets that will fit my small oven (I have used pizza trays for baking cookies), they also had parchment paper great for making a baked fish en papillote no cleanup just toss the parchment in the trash, and teflon cookie liners. I looked at the wonderful assortment of silpat but they were all too big for the cookie sheets and what I found out later is you cannot cut or bend them without ruining them, so these teflon ones will work just as well. I also found an avocado slicer and a handheld orange squeezer – a bigger version of what we use to squeeze limons. A great shopping day for sure.

Sidenote: It was interesting to note that this store name, Todo Hogar, translates to whole home.  In San Clemente we have a store we love with a sign that says something like Aqui, Casi de Todo. That translates more or less to Almost Everything Here. And it’s true! How cute is that.

Our 1st Christmas in San Clemente

Today a group of expats gathered at the home of Mary and Lou Defrain for a lovely Christmas feast hosted by Mary and John McDonald and Mary and Lou Defrain.  What a special affair it was.

When I spoke to my brother John and sister Linda in Pennsylvania this morning they had gotten a light coating of snow but it was bright and beautiful looking out onto my brother John’s patio, what did we ever do before SKYPE and an IPad.  Here we had the sun shining, the breeze was blowing off the ocean and the temperature was in the  80’s. Just perfect for an outdoor gathering.

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Upon our arrival Lou offered to make us a drink and then we would be on our own for the next. He had a beautiful bar set up with a great looking rum punch that looked to pack a heck of a punch, red and white wines, a selection of liquors and mixers of your choice. Out on the deck we found a huge trashcan filled with ice and beer…an ice cold Pilsener, that hit the spot for Joe and I.

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A beautiful platter of sliced salami and several different cheeses with crackers was set out to whet our appetites.

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Then we were invited into the house to find the entire counter filled with delectable treats. After a beautiful blessing over the food given by John McDonald we found a veritable feast including beautiful roasted turkey along side smoked tenderloin of pork. Let the feasting begin as you followed the counter to the end you found a variety of salads, my favorites were the broccoli and the linguine, well maybe you will need to fit in the cole-slaw and the quinoa OH I just can’t make up my mind, they were all fantastic.

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After most of us needed to unbutton that top button on our pants, well maybe that was just me, desserts were set out. Again, they looked fabulous and I did try a few, like the fruit kabobs, oh my, and the lemon squares…we sure do have some wonderful chefs here in San Clemente. This also was a very difficult decision because everything looked so wonderful and well I couldn’t fit too much more at that point.

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The conversations covered a multitude of topics and all seemed entertained just visiting with this eclectic group of people.

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It was a wonderful afternoon visiting with friends, meeting new friends and just having a great time.

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It is very difficult especially this time of year to be so far away from family, I want to take this opportunity to thank Mary and Lou and Mary and John for making all of us Expats feel like we were with family. Thank you for opening up your home and your hearts to give all the Expat community in San Clemente and San Jacinto a very Merry Christmas indeed. And Jackie – great picnic table!

Chocolate Brownie Cake

If you want something totally sinful this is the cake for you. It is like a brownie in the center, chewy and it will stay moist for days, that’s if it can last that long in your house.

I found the original recipe on one of Donna Hay’s cooking shows. I needed to change it because I am unable to find Hershey’s Cocoa Powder here. What they sell in the supermarkets is called Cocoa but it has milk solids and sugar added so the chocolate flavor is lost compared to regular old Hershey’s Cocoa. What I did was replace the cocoa powder with a Superior Chocolate bar. If anyone knows where I can find Hershey’s Cocoa in Guayaquil let me know and I will make a detour there the next time we are taking a trip up.

Chocolate Brownie Cake:

  • 150 g or 1 1/2 sticks of butter (do not use margarine this recipe needs the butter)
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 180 grams or 3/4 of a large 240 g Superior Chocolate Bar

Melt butter (do not boil just heat) and add sugar to dissolve add crumbled chocolate bar and mix until well blended – The sugar will not completely dissolve.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla

Combine eggs and vanilla and add to the chocolate mixture

  • 1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon of white all-purpose flour

Add the flour and whisk until well blended. Spoon into an 8″ spring-form pan where the bottom has been lined with wax paper. I use a bit of vegetable shorting under the wax paper and around the sides of the pan as well.

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 160c until a toothpick/skewer inserted in the center comes out pretty clean, it should not be really wet but a few crumbs may stick and that is okay. Cool, remove from spring form pan, remove wax paper from bottom and serve with vanilla ice cream. Or just sprinkle with powdered sugar (Azucar Impalpable).