Chicken Empanadas

Is there ever a time you think about a certain meal you recently had or just out of the blue have a taste for something? This was definitely the time I was craving something from my cultural roots. Chicken empanadas! That buttery, flaky shell with a warm and tasty filling you just have to pick up another as soon as you finish the first. Well, sometimes I experiment and it comes out tasting awesome. Other times the food comes out tasting blah, needing more or less of a particular ingredient. I’m my harshest critic but for the food blog I think it deserves a chance. Here is how this all went down.

For the dough you’ll need flour, unsalted butter, an egg, sugar, water, salt and baking powder.

For the filling you’ll need diced carrots, sweet peas, diced potatoes, garlic, onion and diced chicken. Have your mise en place set so that adding your ingredients is a breeze!

Use some olive oil and heat up a 12.5in saute pan. Put down your garlic first and get that nice and brown but not too brown.

Next add your onions

Chicken is next. This is where you want to season so use salt and pepper.

Add your diced carrots and potatoes. Dicing your vegetables the same size makes for even cooking time. There’s no sense in cutting up big pieces while the small pieces end up suffering.

Add about 1/2 cup of water or better yet, chicken stock to continue to flavor your food. If you have chicken stock, always use that over water. It makes a difference!

Sweet peas go in next. You can use canned or frozen. I used frozen and just rinsed them and let them thaw a little. These are going to cook fast so it doesn’t need much time under heat.

Here’s your filling! Set that aside. Now you can start the dough!

So I had some trouble with the dough. My favorite types of empanadas are buttery and flaky and a bit on the sweet side. This was NOT the case with my experiment. I come across this sometimes and it’s due to the fact that I’m not a professional so there will be hurdles along the way. It’s okay though. It’s how I learn. I will post an updated version of the recipe below though with corrections. Here’s how my dough was made.

Combine your dry ingredients, flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.

Here I only did 2 T of butter. I cut them up in little tiny butter sticks. You like? I recommend at least 6 T of butter. If you want it awesome though you can do a whole stick!

A 1/2 cup of cold water

1 beaten egg

You mix all that up and you get a ball of dough. You can make about 16-18 empanadas out of this recipe so take your time and be patient. Remember, cooking is supposed to be fun!

Which is definitely the case here. We just moved into our house about a year ago and I’m not a baker so what’s missing from my arsenal? You guessed it, a rolling pin! I had to borrow my daughter’s play one which surprisingly worked wonders in my big kitchen! Here I am below using it in action!


So anyways, you get from the dough these 1 1/2 inch balls you roll up. I was able to attain 16 of them.


Be sure to dust your surface with flour and take a ball and push down on it with the base of your palm. They’ll start looking like little tortillas once you start rolling them out.


Take the filling you made awhile ago and spoon some on. Take the bottom portion of the dough and fold it up to the top like so.


Now to seal it, some people fold up and over to make a braid like shape but for an easier way you can just take a fork and crimp down on the edges like so.

Line them up on a baking sheet lined with some wax paper and take a beaten egg mixed with water and brush the tops of the empanadas with it. This will give your empanadas that golden brown effect once they’ve been baked.

Put them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes and your treats are served!



And of course I thanked my daughter for allowing me to borrow her rolling pin! She wanted ketchup because my initial batch came out dry but the recipe below has been fixed. Enjoy!

Chicken Empanadas
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Ingredients

Filling

  • 4 chicken thighs shredded or diced
  • 1-2 small white or red potatoes diced
  • 1 whole carrot diced
  • ½ onion diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • ¼ c sweet peas
  • ½ c water or chicken stock
  • 1 T sugar
  • Raisins (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Dough

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • ½ t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 T sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 6-8 T unsalted butter
  • ½ c cold water

Directions

Prepare the filling first. Boil 4 chicken thighs and shred or dice them up and set aside. Cut up all your veggies. Use a 12.5in saute pan and add olive oil to a heated pan. Put down your garlic first to slightly brown then onions. Add the shredded chicken or diced chicken. At this time season with salt, pepper and sugar. Add the water or chicken stock and then add your carrots and potatoes. Cook until slightly tender and then add sweet peas. If you like raisins in your empanadas you’re certainly welcome to add them but do them last.

For the dough add all the dry ingredients then butter, egg and cold water. If the dough gets too dry add a tad bit more water like a tsp at a time but your dough should come out manageable. Not dry or sticky.

Roll about 1 ½ inch balls out and dust your surface with flour. With the palm of your hand press down on a ball then use a rolling pin to roll them out into tiny tortillas the size of your entire palm. Add a spoon full of filling in each and bring bottom portion of dough up to the top. Crimp the edges with your fingers followed by a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
Do these for the rest of the empanadas then once complete, use an egg wash consisting of a beaten egg and about 1 T of water to brush the tops of the empanadas. Put them in an oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes and enjoy.

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Chicken Cacciatore

Felt like making a chicken dish so I made chicken cacciatore. A stew like entree slowly simmered in a tomato sauce. It’s is predominantly an Italian dish but the Filipino in me decided to serve it with rice. Here’s what you’ll need.

Start prepping or otherwise called in the culinary world, mise en place (put everything in its place) so that you can easily just throw things together with ease as you’re making this dish.






Below you have chicken breast and chicken thighs. I find that using both makes the meal much more appealing because chicken breast tends to dry out if not cooked properly.


Now that you have a nice little station going, we can begin. Drop some olive oil into the pan and in go your onions, garlic, tomatoes and bell peppers. Once that’s in, chicken is next and season with salt and pepper. Next add your white wine and reduce the liquid by half. Next add your crushed tomatoes followed by thyme and oregano and a bit more salt and pepper.





You’re going to want to reduce the heat from a high to a medium high and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes. Next add your sliced mushrooms and with a different twist than the traditional chicken cacciatore I added some heavy cream. Simmer the sauce for another 10 minutes or until it thickens. Enjoy!



Chicken Cacciatore
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Ingredients

● 2 chicken breasts
● 3 chicken thighs
● Handful mushrooms sliced
● 1 tomato diced
● ½ onion diced
● 4 cloves garlic smashed and minced
● ½ bell pepper diced
● 2 T parsley minced
● 1 28 oz can crushed tomato
● ½ c chicken stock
● ½ c heavy cream
● ¾ c white wine
● 1 T thyme
● 1 T oregano
● Salt
● Pepper
● Olive oil

Directions

First thing you want to do is prep everything for easy cooking. I start with the veggies and small item stuff before I tackle the protein. You can even measure everything out and put into small bowls so that as the preparation of the dish takes place you can just toss them in as you go.

Start by adding some olive oil in large pan on high heat. Saute the onion, tomato, garlic and bell pepper. Next add the chicken and then salt and pepper for taste. Once the chicken pink is just about gone, hit it with the white wine and reduce the liquid by half. Turn the heat down to a medium high and add the crushed tomatoes, thyme and oregano and chicken stock. Let those ingredients marry for a good 10 minutes then add your mushrooms.

Once the mushrooms begin to soften add your heavy cream and a bit more salt and pepper for taste and let that sauce thicken up for another 10 minutes. You can turn the heat down just a tad big more and cover the pan with a lid. If you feel the sauce is not thickening up, let it go on the heat for awhile longer with the lid off. Be sure you stir the sauce too. Serve over rice and garnish with parsley.

Stir Fried Green Beans in Hoisin Sauce

Here’s a simple side dish to compliment your protein. I love Chinese food and it’s simple, quick and easy to make. Throwing a bunch of ingredients into a sizzling wok complimented with a sauce are sometimes my go to meals. Here is what you’ll need.

If you don’t have hoisin sauce, oyster sauce works as it’s perfect replacement. I actually use oyster sauce instead of hoisin for this exact opposite reason but either or could work. If you use oyster sauce though, I find that eliminating salt from this recipe benefits since oyster sauce is saltier than hoisin which is sweet.

Start by boiling some water on the stove so that you can blanch your green beans. While you’re waiting for water to bowl, rinse your green beans and snap the stems off. Set that aside in a bowl and smash and peel 1 clove of garlic. Once the water starts boiling, throw the beans in and blanch for about 5-6 minutes. While that’s going, prepare a bowl of ice water and take out the beans and shock them in the ice water to stop the cooking process. This will allow the beans to stay green and have bite to them.


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While the beans are cooling, grab a saute pan or wok and add some canola or peanut oil. These oils work best for stir frying over the usual olive oil because of it’s high smoke point and it’s neutral flavors. You want to choose high smoke point oils so that your food doesn’t come tasting bitter. A lesson I learned when experimenting oils. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic then quickly follow with the beans and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste.


Once that’s going, add in about 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce and 2 tablespoons of water. Let that go until the sauce starts to thicken up and finish it up on a clean plate. Perfect vegetable side dish anytime of the week!


Stir Fried Green Beans in Hoisin Sauce
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Ingredients

● Handful green beans
● 2 T Hoisin sauce
● 1 Clove garlic peeled and smashed
● Pinch red pepper flakes
● Salt
● Pepper
● 2 T Water

Directions

Rinse green beans and take stems off. Put them in boiling water to blanch for about 5-6 minutes and shock them in ice water to keep crispness and color. In a saute pan or wok, use canola or peanut oil. Add garlic quickly followed by beans and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add about 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce then 2 tablespoons of water. Let ingredients come together and sauce thicken. Serve as a side to any protein of your choice.

Carne Asada Tacos with a Cilantro Avocado Sauce

Let me explain the type of food I like to make. I love savory and sweet. Anything with a kick, tang and a bang to your palette. Most of the food you’ll see is stuff I enjoy eating because let’s face it. You have to create food you love to make. If it looks good and think it’s going to taste good, go for it! Occasionally I will go outside the box and that’s fine too because your taste buds deserve something different. You never know. You might like it!

I had some leftover corn tortillas that are made fresh daily at this local Mexican supermarket called Rancho San Miguel located in Lodi, CA. Let me tell you. Fresh is the BEST!

I decided I wanted to do something with avocado and cilantro before it starts going bad so I thought of a cream sauce that would be pretty universal to salad dressings, pasta sauces and dips depending on consistency of how it’s made. Let’s begin.

First gather your ingredients:

Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
2 T sour cream
1/4 bunch cilantro
1/4 onion
1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 peeled avocado
1/2 jalapeno (optional)

Now I won’t tell you how much salt, pepper and olive oil to use because usually that goes by taste and consistency you’re trying to achieve. I will say that when making this sauce, you will use about half a size bottle I use below on olive oil. Throw that in a food processor and you get the following.

Alright so now that you have the sauce, you can set it aside or refrigerate it for later use. Time to get your carne asada ready. I use a simple dry rub for carne asada. Most hole in the wall spots I’ve been to boil the meat, pressure cook it or saute it. For this recipe I like it fajita style so charing it on a grill works best to give it that zip on the outside while at the same time locking in the juices on the inside so when you take that first bite you get that vicious sensation!

Skirt steak. Don’t worry about trimming any of that fat on there. It’s mainly connective tissue so it’ll char up and sear nicely you won’t even taste it. Season both sides of the steak with the following:

Cumin
Granulated garlic
Chili powder
Pepper
Salt
Onion powder

Sprinkle a good amount equal parts on both sides of the meat and throw that on the grill. I’ll try to discuss perfect grill marks in another post or video at a later time. You want to cook the steak until they are medium rare. Take them off the grill and let it rest for about 15 minutes before you start carving into it. You want the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat so that it doesn’t dry out and you get a bunch of meat juice running all over your cutting board and plate.

So you’ve let the steak rest, slice the steak on the bias. That means slicing your steak at a 45 degree angle into manageable strips. Cut those strips in half if they are too long. You can finally begin assembling your first taco. Mouth salivating yet? Take 2 tortillas to start (if you can eat more, be my guest) and put them on a plate with a damp paper towel on top. Heat it in the microwave for about 15-20 secs. My basic toppings in the taco were lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese or queso fresco, and my homemade salsa (at another time). Don’t forget the cilantro avocado sauce and you have your finished product! Enjoy!!!

Carne Asada Tacos with a Cilantro Avocado Sauce Recipe
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Ingredients

● Corn tortillas
● Carne asada (ie., skirt steak)
● ½ tsp cumin
● ½ tsp chili powder
● ½ tsp granulated garlic
● ½ tsp onion powder
● ½ tsp pepper
● ½ tsp salt
● ¼ onion diced
● 1 whole avocado sliced
● ¼ bunch cilantro chopped
● 2 T sour cream
● ½ c olive oil
● ½ lemon juiced
● ½ jalapeno (optional)

Directions

To start the sauce, you’ll need a food processor. In the food processor add the onion, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, lemon juice, jalapeno (optional) and olive oil. Use salt and pepper to taste and blend that up until smooth. Depending on consistency you want the sauce to be a little runny but still be able to hold its own in the taco but not thick like guacamole or mayonnaise. The olive oil will determine the thickness of your sauce. I put the sauce in a squirt bottle and set it aside.

For the steak, season both sides with cumin, chili powder, granulated garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper. I used a grill to char and cook both sides of the steak but if you don’t own a grill you can pan sear it in a saute pan with some olive oil and finish it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5-6 minutes. When the steak is done, let it rest for about 15 minutes so the juices can redistribute.

While you’re waiting for the steak to rest, think about what toppings you would like to use. I did lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese. My salsa is a homemade salsa consisting of tomatillos, ancho chili peppers, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Warm your tortillas on a plate with a damp paper towel over it for about 15-20 seconds. You want the tortillas to be pliable so they do not break once you fold them. After the steak has rested, cut the steak into slices on the bias (45 degree angle) and add all your toppings. The cilantro avocado sauce drizzled on top as well as the salsa.

Welcome To My World!!

Well, I finally did it. Welcome to my first ever food blog where I’m taking all those mouth watering dishes I’ve created and posted on Facebook and bringing them here to discuss and share recipes with you all…well maybe not ALL recipes =P.

I hope you stay tuned to what lies ahead and you too can learn how to make dishes that taste great! What I look to gain from this food blog is an opportunity to share my passion as well as document dishes I have created throughout the years. Not only will dishes be prepared but cooking techniques and skills as well. Something as easy as using a knife to how to test your palettes to figure out what’s missing from your winning dish! I also invite you all to share any of your recipes.

This is a food of love creation sensation baby and if you find yourself eating to live, you need to experience a live to eat mentality. Food nourishes our minds and our souls and simple dishes bring back fond childhood memories that can last forever! With that said, let’s cook!