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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Pierogies a delicious swish in the pan

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Tested by Suzanne Martinson

This week's Countdown to Dinner recipe from Becky Filipek came nameless, so we called it Bro's Pierogies.

The recipe, you see, was invented by her brother, Dan Filipek, who lives just around the corner from her in Highland Park.

The recipe was nothing if not minimalist, but we asked Becky to provide some more specific amounts. It starts with a box of frozen pierogies (we used the 1 pound, 1 ounce box of Mrs. T's potato-cheese, but sauerkraut might be good, too) and commences with the traditional onion, which is sauteed in olive oil.

Once the pierogies are browned, the recipe is to be topped with Parmesan cheese and bacon bits. (We had hoped to use this recipe as an excuse to try the already-fried, microwavable bacon, but our designated shopper couldn't locate it at the store, so we microwaved 3 or 4 slices of regular bacon for 3 minutes, blotted off the fat and added that at the end of the cooking.)

Becky describes her brother's recipe as "one of his favorite meals to cook when he is in a hurry, and now I enjoy it as well."

To be sure, it is done in a hurry. By multitasking the pierogi boiling, the bacon microwaving and the onion sauteeing, ours was done in 15 minutes. (If you eat fast, you can cook and eat dinner within a half-hour, though we would recommend a chance to savor it a little more than that.)

Becky, a 28-year-old single, is a group supervisor in the day-care center at the Ellis School, Shadyside. She got her bachelor's degree in political science at University of Pittsburgh and then did graduate work in secondary education social studies, but she wanted to stay in Pittsburgh and found it hard to get a job in that field here.

So she took a job in day care. "I fell in love with the kids and now I can't leave," she says.

Becky says she loves to bake, especially desserts, having most recently made tiramisu.

Her favorite project? "Pies. Everybody always tells me I make a great pie. I make my crust from scratch -- that's what people like, my flaky crust." (She uses vegetable shortening.)

Her brother just got a new job with a company that does closed captioning for the hearing-impaired in Southpointe, Washington County, so new recipes for the time-starved could be coming Countdown's way. We welcome them -- and yours, too.

Bro's Pierogies

1 package frozen pierogies (we used about 1 pound)
Olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of a pan
Garlic, chopped, to taste (fresh or jarred -- she uses about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Bacon bits to taste, precooked
Parmesan cheese to taste

Boil pierogies in lightly salted water -- add garlic salt if you wish -- according to package directions.

After draining, place them in a frying pan with the olive oil. Over medium heat, fry the pierogies. Add garlic to taste. Add chopped onions to taste.

Finally add the bacon bits, regular cooked bacon or bits out of a jar. Usually the frying takes about 15 minutes, but this will vary depending on your crispy preference. The longer you fry them, the crispier they become.

When finished, top with a few sprinkles of cheese.

Note: Vegetables can be substituted for the garlic, onion and bacon bits. Microwave some frozen mixed vegetables (she likes broccoli florets, cauliflower or carrots) -- the stir fry kind work best -- and add them to the pierogies instead of the onion mixture.

Serves 3 or 4.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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