Making perfect pierogi, freezer storage, cat training

Martha Stewart /

Q: Do you have a good recipe for pierogi dough and advice on how to make it?

A: The consensus among the food editors at Martha Stewart Living is: Try Big Martha's Pierogi Dough recipe (listed below) — a basic one that can be filled with sweet or savory contents — and be sure to let the dough rest.

Housebreaking a cat

Q: How do I train an older, adopted cat to use a litter box?

A: Cats are very practical. If a litter box seems to be the most convenient place to relieve itself, the cat will likely use it. Katie Watts, senior feline behavior counselor at the ASPCA's Adoption Center, suggests outfitting your house with more than one box and setting aside a kitty-friendly room to encourage it to stay indoors and to pick the obvious, easy place to eliminate. Gradually restrict the cat's access to the outdoors as it acclimates to the box; as a last resort, confine the cat in the room if it does not. To make the transition easier, you can even set out more than one kind of litter at a time to discern the cat's preference.

Organizing your freezer

Q: What is the best way to organize a freezer?

A: The key to keeping order in your freezer is knowing what exactly is going in and when exactly to take it out. Use freezer bags or containers marked with freezer labels, such as the preprinted kitchen labels from Martha Stewart Home Office With Avery (available from staples.com), and record the contents and freeze dates of everything you store. This makes cleaning out your freezer, which should happen four times a year, a breeze.

Depending on the food, it can be kept in the freezer from a month up to a year; after that, it should be thrown out.

This will prevent overcrowding and view obstruction. Lastly, make sure you keep like foods together: red meat with red meat, sauce with sauce, and so on. It's much easier to find what you need if you don't have to rummage through every other food group on the way.

For additional ideas on how to best organize your freezer, Lucinda Scala Quinn, food editorial director at Martha Stewart, recommends “Can I Freeze It?” by Susie Theodorou.

Big Martha's Pierogi Dough

1 lg egg, lightly whisked

2 TBS sour cream

1 C whole milk

1 C water

5 C all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting

Cornmeal, for dusting

Whisk together egg and sour cream. Whisk in milk and water. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, until a loose and sticky dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Using a bench scraper, turn and fold dough to knead, dusting with flour and needed, until elastic and no longer sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to add too much flour, which will toughen the dough. Cover with an inverted bowl, and let dough rest 1 hour.

Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a kitchen towel and dust generously with cornmeal to prevent sticking.

Roll out 1 piece of dough on a lightly floured surface until 1⁄8 inch thick. (Keep other pieces covered with plastic wrap.)

Cut out circles very close together, using a 3-inch round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent dough from drying out. Repeat with remaining dough. For a twist on the traditional potato-and-cheese pierogi, try filling the dumplings with fruit, such as blueberries or Italian plums. Visit marthastewart.com/pierogi for recipes.