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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Silpat Mat & Beef Empanadas

Check out another wonderful gift that I received from Chris.  It's called a Silpat Mat .  It is a MUST for any home kitchen.  It's a non stick baking mat and is a gift from the gods.  According to the package, NOTHING sticks to the Silpat.  Just like my silicone pans, this baking mat never needs greasing.  It can be used in place of parchment or wax paper, which in turn will save you money and create less waste.  And we all know creating less waste is the in thing these days!

Sunday night I thought I would try making empanadas (and finally use my Silpat).  For those of you that don't know, empanadas are Spanish or Portuguese stuffed bread or pastry.  They call them impanada's in Italy and in the Midwest, they call them Runza's.  Ok, ok... Runza's aren't exactly empanadas, they are called Bierocks and originated in Eastern Europe, but they ARE bread pockets stuffed with seasoned meats, onions and cabbage.  Runza is a fast food restaurant located in Nebraska (I think there may be one or two in Kansas and Iowa now too). Their specialty is, of course, runzas!  Right now, though, Runza's will just  have to wait for another day. Today our focus is on empanadas :)

As you can tell from the pictures, I need a little practice making the actual empanades, but they tasted good and sometimes that's what counts the most.  Chris and I both agreed that this was lacking something.  I personally think it was lacking more moisture inside.  It could have been more cheesy, so I updated the recipe just a bit.  We ate this as a meal with a side of rice and a salad, but you could always makes these as appetizers at your next party.  Serve it with a little warm queso to dip it in and they will be devoured quickly!

Beef Empanadas

1/2 Tbls olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers (depends on the amount of heat you want), seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Roma tomato
3/4 lbs. ground beef (you could also use ground pork, turkey, or chicken)
salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
3 oz cream cheese
2-3 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
2 refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust (of course you can make your own dough too, check out this Empanada Dough Recipe )
Melted butter (about a tablespoon or two)

In a large skillet, over medium low heat, cook the onions until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the jalapeno and let cook for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add the ground beef and cook until the meat is almost finished cooking, about 4-5 minutes.  Drain any excess grease from the skillet.  Add the tomato and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper.  Add cumin and chili powder and stir to combine.  Add the cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat.

Unroll the pie crust and cut into 6 inch rounds (about 10).  Spoon 1-2 Tbls of the meat mixture into the middle of the round.  Brush sides with water and fold over, crimping the edges together.  You can either use your fingers or a fork (or both, which is what I did).  Brush with butter.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until the crust is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two before cutting into them, they will be hot inside!  Enjoy!

You could actually put any sort of filling in this that you wanted to.  Shredded chicken and cheese?  Chorizo, turkey, maybe even shrimp?  The point is, be creative, you don't have to be an "Iron Chef" to create your own recipes :)