Side Dishes
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Making pierogi and eating them on Christmas Eve has been a tradition with our family for over twenty years.  When I first started making them, I used to do so with a friend of mine in town, but as the girls got older, we started doing them together as a family.  Sometimes, Julie, one of our cousins, also helped and you really have to be here to appreciate a handful of women with flour, eggs and dough everywhere, sort of working in an assembly line fashion of mixing dough, kneading dough, laughing and telling stories of Christmases past, filling and sealing the pierogi, boiling them, cooling them and arranging them in recognizable batches to get the full effect.  Recognizable batches are important, so when Christmas Eve comes along, we are able to tell the difference between the potatoes and cheese version from the ground turkey, from the spinach and cheese, etc.  One year, we tried adding food coloring to the dough to tell the difference, but green and pink pierogi just didn’t look right, so we abandoned that tactic.  We do them at least a week before Christmas and usually freeze them.  Then, on Christmas Eve, we take them out of the freezer in the morning and deep fry them just before eating and smother them with sour cream.  Mouth watering!! Especially with Polish ham and kielbasa and pickled herring!!
Dough (for one batch):
(We usually make 2 potato, 1 spinach, 1 mushroom and 1 meat batch.)
3 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water
2 eggs
Potato and Cheese filling (everyone’s favorite):
10-12 potatoes, peeled, cut and cooked with salt
½ stick butter
2/3 cup milk
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
(Cook as if making mashed potatoes, stirring in cheese last)
Meat filling:
1 pound cooked ground meat
(beef, chicken or turkey)
1 small minced onion
1 teaspoon butter
¼ teaspoon cloves
(Sauté onion in butter and then add meat and brown evenly;
If using beef, drain before putting into pierogi)
Spinach filling:
2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 small minced onion
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled 
(Sauté onion in butter and then add to spinach and blend well;
Add cheese, well crumbled and blend well)
Mushroom filling:
1 pound mushroom, chopped
1 teaspoon butter
1 small minced onion
8 ounces cream cheese 
(Sauté onion for one minute; add mushrooms and sauté for two more minutes;
Blend well cream cheese with onions and mushrooms)
Mix salt, eggs and water together first; add half the flour and beat until smooth.  Add the remaining flour and mix well; turn out on counter and knead until elastic.  Cut dough in half and begin rolling out one half at a time.  Using a large round cookie cutter or a tuna can, start cutting rounds.  Pass along to the next person to fill.  Fill with one tablespoon of filling; wet edges and fold over; seal with a fork that has been dipped in flour.  Pass to next person.  Gently place the pierogi in salted boiling water with a slotted spoon.  You can do about a half dozen at a time.  Stir once or twice so none stick to bottom.  When they float to the top, they are done.  Scoop out and place in containers lined with wax paper.  Label well so you know which batch you have.  Can be frozen at this point.  To serve, thaw out and fry in hot oil until they puff up and start browning.  Turn.  They should be a golden brown and puffy when done on both sides.  Scoop out and place on plates that have been lined with paper towels.  Serve immediately with sour cream.  Enjoy!

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