Friday, December 30, 2011

Empanaditas (Mini Empanadas)

Some friends invited my husband and I to a party recently.  Their menu was what I would call heavy hors 'doeuvres. That is one of my favorite kind of party menus because you can usually get many different kinds of small bites in one evening. That makes my taste buds very happy (said in the voice of Marvin the Martian) tee hee hee.  I wanted to contribute to the small bite menu so I decided to make small empanadas, a.k.a. empanaditas. I've actually made these twice now so it's time to record this recipe for posterity.

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Empanaditas (Mini Empanadas)
1 empanada dough recipe
1 lb hamburger
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 small to medium onion, petite diced
1 medium russet or 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and petite diced
3/4 cup of tomato sauce
1/4 cup (or so) of fresh chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
olive oil for sauteing and baking

For the dough (straight from
3 cups flour, plus a little more for dusting
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg
1 egg white
1 teaspoon of white vinegar

1. In one bowl mix together the salt and the flour.  Using a pastry blender or two knives "cut in" a generous 3 tablespoons of shortening.  I use a heaping tablespoon because I don't deep fry the empanadas, I bake them. Set aside.

2. Whip the rest of the wet ingredients in another bowl with a fork.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture.  You can stir the dough-to-be for a little while with a fork or spoon, but after a while you just need to dig in with your hands.  Now after making a few batches of this dough now (one of which I just had to throw away because it was too tough) I have learned not to force more flour into the dough if it doesn't want it.  Huh? You'll know what I mean.  As you mix the dough with your hands there is a point where the dough is not sticky anymore and it is coming together.  If there is more dry flour in the bottom of your bowl at this point, don't force it to be a part of the dough.  My last batch I probably had 1/8 to 1/4 cup of flour that just didn't make the dough ball but it didn't matter, the dough was beautifully soft and pliable without it.

4.  Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the filling (adapted from this Cuban Picadillo Recipe with Ground Beef)

1. In a large frying pan, saute the small diced onions in olive oil.  Add a little salt and pepper, and after 3 minutes add the minced or crushed garlic.

2.  When the onion is softened and the garlic is fragrant add 1 lb of hamburger to the pan.

3.  Break up the hamburger into the smallest pieces possible as it cooks.

4.  Add the oregano, cumin, beef stock, and tomato sauce.  Cover and simmer on medium low heat for 15 minutes.

5.  Add the diced potato, cover, and simmer on medium low until the potatoes are tender and the liquid is evaporated (but the mixture is still moist).

6.  Cool completely and add fresh chopped cilantro.

Putting it all together

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on a flat floured surface to approximately 1/8 of an inch, or as big of a piece of dough without it breaking.  Throw down some flour and flip and rest periodically as you roll out the dough.

2. Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter cut as many circles as possible (I have gotten 30 from one sheet before).

3. Place a couple of tablespoons or less of filling inside each dough circle. *Picture note.

4.  Fold in half and pinch sides together trying to keep all the filling inside.  *Picture note.

5. Using your thumb fold and pinch the dough to make a "pretty seal." *Picture note.

6.  Arrange the first batch on a parchment lined sheet pan, and using your hands gently coat each piece with olive oil.

7.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

8.  Roll out un-used dough and repeat process until you're out of ingredients.  You can end up with 36 or more pieces depending on the amount of tasting and the thickness of the dough:-)

9.  Bake second batch and serve.

*Picture note - My husband demanded a picture credit for this post:-)  So, wherever you see both of my hands appearing in this post you know he took the picture!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chicken Shish Kebab

I really love Mediterranean food. I might go as far as saying that it is my favorite type of food. However, I would need to travel extensively all over the Mediterranean just to make sure ;-)  I hope that in my continued "foodie journey," I will acquire more and more healthy Mediterranean recipes for my online recipe box.  Is "healthy Mediterranean" an oxymoron? My understanding is that Mediterranean food is good for you, providing that you eat lots of fish, vegetables, and fruits. Then at the same time you need to take it easy on red meat, cheese, wine, and olive-oil-soaked bread.  My problem is that I could live on the latter rather than the former.  Sigh.  Until someone invents a red meat, cheese, and wine diet that actually works, I will be very happy eating chicken shish kebabs.  These are completely satisfying.  I should warn you that I made these in my Showtime Rotisserie.  These would also be delicious cooked on a BBQ grill or a cast iron grill pan.

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Chicken Shish Kebab - (for two but can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.)
2 chicken breast halves
2 green peppers
1 red onion
2 - 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
3 tablespoons of low-acid white rice wine vinegar
2 shallots, minced
1 bunch of parsley, minced
1 teaspoon of Greek spices
skewers (I like metal but if you don't have any, soak store-bought wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes).

1) Prepare the marinade by mixing all the following ingredients.  Note this is my lemon vinaigrette recipe, plus 1 teaspoon of Greek seasoning.

For the Marinade

2 - 3 lemons, juiced
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
3 tablespoons of low-acid white rice wine vinegar
2 shallots, minced
1 bunch of parsley, minced
1 teaspoon of Greek spices

2) Cut green peppers in 10 equal pieces, and cut onions into 10 two-layer pieces about the size of the green pepper pieces.

3) Cut each chicken breast in half diagonally to create 4 pieces as equal in size as possible.

4) Cradle green pepper pieces on top of the onion pieces, and place one of the vegetable combos concave side up onto a skewer. Repeat on the second skewer.

5) Take one of the pieces of chicken, folding it in half if you have to, in order to make it more like a cube, and skewer on top of the first onion-pepper layer, so that the chicken nestled inside the vegetables.

6) Continue adding a layer of onion-pepper concave side up, and a layer of chicken until there is no chicken left.

7) Cap off the shish kebab with the last piece of onion pepper concave side down, so that the first and last set onion-peppers act as a parentheses.

8)  Place skewers into a glass dish (or a large zip lock bag) and pour the marinate over the skewers.  I would still use this amount of marinade up to 6 skewers.  Note, I held back about 1/8 cup so I could serve the shish kebab with a salad.

9)  I cooked the skewers in my rotisserie for 35 minutes.  However, if I didn't have a rotisserie my second choice  would to cook these on a BBQ grill. My third choice would be a cast iron grill pan.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pan Seared Mahi-Mahi with Black Bean and Tomato Salsa

I bought Mahi-Mahi from the store without having any clue what I was going to do with it.  I threw the frozen package in my shopping cart feeling good about myself that I would cook something healthy;-)   So, even though I had visions of "deep fried" fish tacos resembling something that you would get from Rubio's (a lunch I miss since moving from Escondido, CA to Loveland, CO) I was determined to quench my craving in a healthy way.  The result is what you see here.

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Pan Seared Mahi-Mahi with Black Bean and Tomato Salsa
2 Mahi-Mahi fillets, thawed
5 limes
1 recipe for chili powder based dry rub - the same one from the Spicy Pork Loin Chops recipe
1 recipe for Pico de Gallo, plus an extra garlic clove, and 1 cup of black beans
5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1) Prepare the marinade.  With a damp paper towel pat any moisture off the fillets, and place in a small dish with the marinade.  Marinate the fillets for 15 to 30 minutes.

For the Marinade
the juice of 4 limes
2 tablespoons of olive oil

2) Prepare the black bean and tomato salsa (even better if you can make earlier in the day).  

For the Black Bean and Tomato Salsa
2 medium tomatoes
1 jalapeno
1 medium to small onion
1 bunch of fresh cilantro (about 1/2 cup of leaves)
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup of black beans, rinsed and drained
juice of one lime

3) Prepare the dry rub in a small ramekin.

For the Dry Rub
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1/8 teaspoon of onion powder
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
pinch of cayenne (or more - which will determine the kick)

4) Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Sprinkle half of the spice rub on the top side of the fillets, and place spice side down in a hot pan.  Sprinkle the other half of the spices on the other side of the fillets. Cook for 5 minutes and flip.

5) Cook on the flip side for another 4 to 5 minutes.  Serve immediately with the salsa.


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