Pancetta, White Bean, & Queso Fresco Empanadas

My son and I are huge empanada fans. (Now we’ve roped my husband in too!) So, last year we started the tradition of eating empanadas on Super Bowl Sunday. (With our guacamole, of course!) After seeing this version at Fiesta Friday, I knew I would have to choose this filling for one of our empanadas this year. They looked amazing.

The filling recipe was adapted from Bourbon and Brown Sugar Blog. I used a large shallot instead of the onion, added garlic to the filling, and chilled the empanadas prior to baking. I also made homemade whole wheat empanada dough and modified the baking temperature and time. The dough recipe was adapted from Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko. I cut the dough into 5-inch rounds as they were our main course; 3-inch rounds would be a perfect appetizer size. Yummy!

For the Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Dough:

Yield: 18 5-inch disks

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1 /2 tsp coarse salt
  • 18 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 12 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice
  1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours and salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
  2. With the paddle attachment, beat on low-speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
  3. On two large pieces of plastic wrap, divide the dough in half and then gently pat each half of the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle.
  4. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  5. To Finish: On a floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap), roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick.
  6. Using a 5-inch round cutter (I placed the plastic-wrapped dough over a cutting board and cut the rounds using a bowl and sharp knife.), cut 18 rounds out of the dough, reshaping and re-rolling out the dough as necessary.

For the Pancetta, White Bean, & Queso Fresco Filling:

Yield: 18 empanadas

  • 8 ounces diced pancetta
  • ½ jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 large shallot or ¼ onion, finely diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can small white beans
  • 8 ounces crumbled queso fresco
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 18 5-inch disks of empanada dough (recipe above)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Fry pancetta until it begins to crisp up.
  3. Using the pancetta drippings left in the bottom of the pan, sauté the jalapenos, red peppers and onions on low heat about 10-12 minutes (the onions should be translucent).
  4. Add the white beans, and take off the heat.
  5. Add the crumbled queso fresco.
  6. Mound 2 tablespoons of the filling on half of the round and fold the other side over to form a half-moon. Press to seal the dough and pinch at intervals to make pleats. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling. (Alternatively, start at one end, pinch one corner between your thumb and forefinger and fold it over the rim. Pinch the dough next to the fold and fold again. Continue pinching and folding to create a decorative rope rim.)
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to baking but no longer than 1 day.
  8. Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Greens & Chayote Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

These wonderful, vegetarian, no-bake enchiladas claimed to be light and satisfying- a pretty accurate description! Perfect warm weather Mexican fare. Fresh and fabulous. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman.

Inspired by my food blog friends who have made their own birthday cakes, etc., I made this dish for my own birthday dinner!! I prepared the filling a day in advance (no work on the big day!) and we ate them after a relaxing day in the sunshine. My husband made my favorite Huevos Rancheros for breakfast (I am obviously a Mexican-food lover), and I was greeted with a surprise birthday cake from my girlfriend when I got home! ❤ What a great day! Maybe getting older isn’t so awful….

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I’m bringing my special dish to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #74 (belatedly, again…), co-hosted by Loretta @Safari of the Mind and Caroline @Caroline’s Cooking. As another surprise birthday gift, my dish from Fiesta Friday #73 was featured this week! Yay!! Check it out & Enjoy! 🙂

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 pound Swiss or rainbow chard, or a combination
  • 2 medium-size chayote or summer squash (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut in small dice (4 cups diced)
  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 2 jalapeño or 2 to 3 serrano chiles, stemmed
  • ½ white onion, coarsely chopped
  • coarse salt to taste
  • 4 large peeled garlic cloves; 2 whole and 2 minced
  • 12 cilantro sprigs, plus chopped cilantro for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
  • 2 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • About 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta

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  1. Peel and dice the chayote squash.
  2. Strip chard leaves from stems and wash in 2 changes of water. Keep leaves whole.
  3. Rinse chard stems and cut in small dice if wide, or, if thin, slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick. (I cut my wide stems into thin strips and then sliced all of them crosswise 1/4 inch thick.) Set aside stems with chayote in one bowl and leaves in another.
  4. Make the salsa verde: Combine tomatillos, jalapeños and onion in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, until tomatillos have gone from pale green to olive and have softened. Using a slotted spoon or a Chinese strainer, transfer tomatillos, onion and one of the jalapeños to a blender. (I used a Vitamix!) Do not drain water from pot. Let vegetables cool in the blender while you blanch greens and chayote.
  5. Add more water to the pot so it is about 2/3 full. Return to a boil, salt generously, and add the chard leaves. Blanch until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer leaves to a bowl of cold (ice) water to quickly shock, then drain and dry. Chop coarsely and set aside.
  6. Return water to a simmer and add chayote and chard stems. Simmer 5 minutes, or until just tender. Drain through a colander and again on paper towels.
  7. Add whole garlic cloves and cilantro sprigs to ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Taste for heat and add remaining jalapeño if desired. (I only used one jalapeño- and the salsa had quite a kick!)
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add tomatillo purée and partly cover to protect from splattering. Cook, stirring often, until it thickens and begins to stick to the pan, about 5 minutes.
  9. Stir in stock, add salt to taste, and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring often, until sauce is thick and coats the front and back of a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  10. Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat and add minced garlic. When fragrant, after about 30 seconds, stir in oregano, blanched and chopped leaves, stems, and chayote. Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes, until tender, fragrant and coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup salsa verde and set aside.
  11. Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or on a microwave safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel and cover with warmer lid, or with plastic wrap if using a plate. Microwave on high for 1 minute. (Alternatively: Prepare the tortillas: Heat 1/3 cup canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, until oil bubbles around the edges of a tortilla when you dip it into the pan. Place a platter covered with paper towels next to pan. Using tongs, slide tortillas, one at a time, into hot oil. As soon as tortilla begins to puff, about 10 to 15 seconds, flip over and leave another 10 to 15 seconds. Immediately remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Cover with foil to keep warm.)
  12. One by one, quickly dip tortillas into the remaining warm salsa verde, lay on serving platter, and top with about 1/4 cup filling. Roll up tortilla and place seam side down on platter. When all tortillas have been filled, pour remaining salsa verde on top, sprinkle with cilantro and queso fresco (or feta) and serve.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Slow Cooker Pork Tinga Tacos

Meat and potatoes… in a TACO!?!? This may have been my husband’s dream dinner. 🙂 The chipotles and slow cooker cooking were for me! This filling could also be served on its own as a chili. This recipe is from Rick Bayless’ Mexico- One Plate at a Time, Season 7, via rickbayless.com. Delicious!!!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 pound lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces chorizo sausage, about 1 link, removed from its casing
  • 5 to 6 medium (about 3/4 to 1 pound total) red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, sliced 1/4–inch thick
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 2 to 3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chipotle canning sauce (adobo)
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • coarse salt
  • About 1/2 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese like feta or salted pressed farmers cheese
  • 1 avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and diced
  • warm corn tortillas, for serving
  1. If your slow cooker has an insert that can go on the stovetop, heat the oil in it over medium-high heat. (If it cannot go on the stove or you do not have a removable insert heat the oil in a very large (12-inch) non-stick skillet.) Once the oil is very hot, add the pork and chorizo in a single layer and cook, stirring until the meat has browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and place the insert into your slow cooker (if you’re using a skillet, transfer the meat and its juices into the slow cooker).
  2. Add the potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes with their liquid, chipotles, chipotle sauce, Worcestershire, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to mix thoroughly. Cook at the highest temperature.
  3. The tinga will be finished after 6 hours at the highest temperature, though you can hold it for longer. (My slow-cooker can be programmed to switch from high after 6 hours to a keep-warm low temperature for up to another 6 hours. Some slow cookers click to keep-warm automatically; others need to be switched manually.)
  4. After six hours, gently stir the tinga. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a little water. Taste, and season with salt if you think the dish needs it. Scoop into a large bowl, sprinkle with the fresh cheese and diced avocado, and serve with warm tortillas.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Mexican-Style Chicken over Penne

Chipotles, Cheese, Chicken Thighs… mmm… this dish could have just as easily been a taco or burrito filling, but we ate it over penne. 🙂 I had to make a Mexican dish to enjoy my new margarita glasses in the warmer weather!

This dish was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Melissa Rubel Jacobson. I used a combination of cheeses and increased the amount of chicken, garlic, corn, and cheese in the dish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound penne rigate (I used whole wheat)
  •  5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (about 10) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch dice
  •  coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  1 large sweet or yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  •  One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  •  1 large chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and minced, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  •  1/4 pound queso fresco, queso blanco, Monterey Jack, and/or mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (1 1/3 cups)
  •  1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until al dente. Drain the penne.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, chipotle and adobo sauce and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper and cook until the corn is heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the penne and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauce and toss to coat. Add 1 cup of the cheese and toss.
  6. Transfer the pasta to bowls, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the cilantro and serve.

One Year Ago:

Rick Bayless’ Classic Mexican Fried Beans with Onions & Garlic

Refried beans are an essential side dish to every Mexican meal. I am a fan of Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Salsa Style Refried Pinto Beans- I am not sure if I should be embarrassed to admit it. 🙂 They are smooth-textured and tasty.

This dish, Frijoles Refritos, is very different- and delicious as well! The beans are coarsely mashed and thick-textured. I used pinto beans (my preference) but any type of bean could be used and each would have a unique flavor. I also used avocado oil, but I am sure that they would be even tastier with bacon drippings!

This recipe is from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine. We ate them with Tacos of Creamy Braised Chard, Potatoes, & Poblanos. It would be pretty easy to just eat them as a dip with tortilla chips too.

Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 cups, 6 generous servings

  • 2 T vegetable oil, rich-tasting lard, bacon or chorizo drippings
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced or finely chopped
  • 4 cups undrained, seasoned cooked beans, preferably slightly warm for easy mashing (I empty the canned beans into a measuring cup and microwave them, in their liquid, for 2 minutes.)
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • about 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco, or pressed, salted farmer’s cheese, dry feta or Parmesan, for garnish
  • cilantro, for garnish, optional
  • tortilla chips for garnish, optional
  1. In a large (10- to 12-inch), well-seasoned or nonstick skillet, heat the oil or pork fat over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for a minute or so.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to scoop in about 1/4 of the warm beans, leaving most of the liquid behind. With a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, mash the beans into a coarse puree. Add another portion of the beans, mash them in, and continue until all of the beans have been added and coarsely mashed.
  4. Add about a cup of the bean liquid (or water if you have no liquid) and stir frequently over the heat until the beans are still a little soupier than you’d like to serve them (they’ll thicken as they sit). They should have the consistency of warm mashed potatoes. The total cooking time will take 10 to 15 minutes. IMG_7474
  5. Taste and season with salt, if necessary.
  6. Serve sprinkled with crumbled cheese, cilantro, and tortilla chips, as desired.

Notes:

  • It is easier to mash warm beans than cold ones. (I microwaved the beans to warm them before adding to the pan.)
  • Cook the beans softer than you want them because the dish thickens as it cools.
  • If the dish is made in advance, keep the beans warm in a double boiler rather than over direct heat. Check consistency and stir in a little water, if necessary, before serving.

One Year Ago:

Super Bowl Tacos: Tacos of Creamy Braised Chard, Potatoes, & Poblanos

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We really branched out when planning our Super Bowl menu this year– tacos instead of chili! 🙂 We still had guacamole, of course. My husband was concerned that I was going to experiment with a new taco filling but these tacos are really a fabulous vegetarian version of our absolute favorite tacos. They were GREAT! (too bad the game wasn’t for Denver) This recipe was adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless and JeanMarie Brownson. We ate them with homemade Mexican Fried Beans.

Yield: Makes about 4 cups of filling, enough for 12-14 tacos

For the Essential Roasted Poblano Rajas:

  • 4 medium-large fresh poblano chiles (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • generous 1/4 tsp dried oregano (Mexican if available)
  • generous 1/8 tsp dried thyme

Make the Essential Roasted Poblano Rajas:

  1. Roast the chiles directly over a gas flame or 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes for open flame, about 10 minutes for broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Peel, pull out the stem and seed pod, then rinse BRIEFLY to remove bits of skin and seeds. Slice into 1/4-inch strips.
  3. In a large (10- to 12-inch) skillet heat the oil over medium, then add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until nicely browned but still a little crunchy, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs, toss a minute longer, then stir in the chiles.

Note: This portion of the recipe can be made several days ahead, but it it is best to finish the filling shortly before serving.

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Finish the Dish:

  • 12-14 corn tortillas (plus extra, in case some break)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 10-oz red-skin boiling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6-8 cups loosely packed, sliced (1/2-inch thick) red or white chard leaves (a 12-ounce bunch)
  • 6-8 oz creme fraiche or whipping cream
  • coarse salt, about 1/2 tsp
  • 1/4 to 3/4 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or pressed, salted farmer’s cheese (optional)
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the broth and potatoes, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until nearly tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Pour the potatoes and broth into the rajas pan, mix in the chard, and boil over medium-high heat until the broth has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
  3. Mix in the cream and continue to boil, stirring regularly, until the cream is reduced enough to coat the mixture nicely. Taste and season with salt.
  4. Warm the tortillas: I place them in a tortilla warmer (or on a large microwave safe plate), cover with a damp paper towel, and cover with the lid (or plastic wrap). Microwave for 1 minute, until steamed.
  5. While the tortillas are warming, scoop the filling into a warm, deep serving dish, and sprinkle with the queso fresco. Serve with the warm tortillas.

One Year Ago:

Black Bean & Roasted Poblano Tacos

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These tacos are filled with flavorful black beans, spicy poblano chiles, and two cheeses with crème fraîche to off-set the heat. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. We ate this filling on my first homemade corn tortillas- DELICIOUS!!

Total Time: 30 minutes, plus time to cook and soak beans

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1/2 pound black beans, rinsed and soaked 4 to 6 hours, or overnight if possible
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large sprig epazote or cilantro, (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 poblano chiles
  • soft corn tortillas
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella or Oaxacan-style string cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound queso fresco, available in Latino groceries, or feta cheese
  • 8 ounces crème fraîche or Mexican crema
  1. Drain beans, put in medium pot, add water to cover and bring to a boil over hight heat. Add onion, bay leaf, epazote and salt and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 1 hour, longer if necessary, adding water occasionally if liquid falls below surface of beans. When beans are tender, taste and adjust salt. Keep beans warm in their broth.
  2. Meanwhile, roast poblano chiles over a charcoal grill, under the broiler or directly on a gas stovetop burners until skins are completely blackened and blistered. Set chiles aside to cool, then split lengthwise. Scrape away skins and seeds with a paring knife. Cut cleaned chiles into 1/2-inch ribbons, transfer to small bowl and season lightly with salt.
  3. To serve, warm the tortillas on a hot griddle or cast iron pan over a burner. Put 2 warm tortillas side by side on a small plate. With a slotted spoon, place 2 tablespoons beans on each tortilla. Top with a few shreds of mozzarella and 2 or 3 strips of poblano. Crumble a little queso fresco and drizzle about 1 teaspoon crème fraîche on each taco.

One Year Ago:

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