From Leftovers to Empanadas

Empanadas are hand held pies that are very popular all throughout the Latin and Spanish speaking counties all over the world.  The name empanada comes from the Spanish word empanar, which means to encase in bread.   We think of them as being Spanish in origin, since they are so prevalent in the Spanish world, however, they actually have their beginnings from The Middle East, in what was Persia, or what is now known in the modern day, as Iran.  Empanadas can be traced back as far as 250 BC.  They were used as a way to both preserve the food as well as to make it highly portable for the people on the go.  They were the perfect food for nomadic cultures, shepherds and soldiers alike.  At first, they were made of fillings that were encased in a rustic dough that was not originally meant to be eaten, but that quickly changed and morphed into the whole pocket being edible, as it has been ever since.  Some form of meat pockets are found all over the world, or wherever the Ottoman Empire left its mark.  The British and their “colonies” have pasties.  Italy calls them calzones, Jamaica calls them patties and India knows them as samosas.  In the Middle East, they are called fatays or esfiha, and they are still made in the old traditional ways, with lamb, raisins and spices.  Once these meat pockets found their way into Spain, and from there to all the Spanish speaking lands, they simply became known as empanadas.  They were brought to the Americas in the 1500’s when the Spanish conquistadores first arrived in the New World.  Originally, they were stuffed with the foods found from the land or sea, depending on the location.  Today, they are filled with many types of fillings, both savory and sweet.  They are still loved by all and are eaten everywhere.

I make empandadas all the time.  We love them.  They are easy to make, delicious to eat, and basically anything goes for the filling.  Without even knowing it though, I made them in the very old, traditional way yesterday.  I was just trying to clean out my refrigerator and use up as many leftovers as possible since we leave for vacation tomorrow.  I just started grabbing the leftover little bits of this and the little bits of that and threw everything together to make my filling.  Empanadas can be baked or fried, and I have made them both ways, but I definitely prefer them fried.   They almost melt in your mouth when fried.

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I have made them so many different ways.  There is no right or wrong way to make them or to fill them.  This is but one of countless ways.

I just use my basic go-to-dough. Pie for Pi day,  then roll it out and cut it large circles when making empanadas.

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As I said above, for my filling, I literally went threw my fridge and used up what I had.  I had some leftover rice, pulled pork and a dash a yellow pepper coulis that were my base.  Then I added some fresh spinach, onions, garlic, fresh herbs, jalapeno, Peruvian peppers, and seasonings to make it complete.

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I sauteed the spinach, jalapeno, onions and garlic and seasonings until everything was cooked and the onions were translucent.  Then I combined them with the rest of the filling ingredients and mixed everything together.

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Once my filling was made, I cut out my dough circles and filled the empanadas.  Fill about 2 TBSP of filling in the center of the dough (depending on the size you make.  I made mine about 4×4″ in diameter), dab your finger in some egg wash and rub around the edge of one side, then fold the dough over so the two ends meet.  Press the dough firmly, to lock and seal it, and to make sure no liquid or juices can escape from the pocket.  Crimp or press the edges with the prongs of a fork to make sure the emapanada is completely sealed.  When they are all done, brush egg wash over the tops and sides of the meat pockets.  You can either chill them before cooking, or just cook directly.  You can pan fry them in hot oil for about 5 minutes or until they are golden brown all over or you can bake them in the oven at 350* F for about 20 or so minutes, or until the are golden brown and crispy.  I prefer the fried version, but the baked version is a little healthier.

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Once the empanadas were done, I topped them with some salsa, served some rice on the side and it was time to eat.  Desfruitas!

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Steak Chimichurri

Argentina is famous for its beef and for its steak, just like Texas, Kansas and Colorado are in the United States.  Here in the States, we call the people who tend to the cattle either ranchers or cowboys.  In Argentina, the farmers and farm hands are known as gauchos.  The Argentines are big meat eaters and love to grill their meats.  Very rarely do they eat their grilled meats without some kind of a sauce though.  The most popular sauce to use for their grilled meats is a chimichurri sauce, which is traditionally a mixture of fresh parsley, garlic (lots of garlic) olive oil, oregano, salt and red wine vinegar.  This is the green or verde chimichurri.  There is also a red version, known as chimichurri rojo, which is made by adding smoked paprika, crushed red pepper flakes and cumin.  The chimichurri verde is more popular in both Argentina and Uruguay, where the chimichurri rojo is more popular in Brazil.  Both are used in South America similarly as salsa is used in Mexico.  They are used for everything, and are used often.  Chimichurri is thought of as both a salsa and as a marinade.

The word chimichurri itself is a Spanish word, that is thought to originally come from the Basques, who settled in Argentina and Uruguay in the 19th century.  No one knows exactly how the word came about.  One theory is that the native peoples of both Argentina and Uruguay could not say the English names of Jimmy Curry, or something similar.  However, it is more widely accepted that the word chimichurri comes from the Basque word tximitxurri, which loosely translate to mean a mixture of several things in no particular order.

What is the difference between pesto and chimichurri sauce?   Though they are similar, they are cousins, each with their own characteristics.  Pesto originated in Genoa, Italy and the primary ingredient is basil, and Parmigiano cheese and pine nuts are also used.  The chimichurri hails from both Argentina and Uruguay, and the primary ingredient is parsley.  There is no cheese or pine nuts in chimichurri.  Both are delicious, and both are used a lot in our house.

The gauchos would be proud of this meal.  Steak chimichurri verde , with roasted potatoes, asparagus, and my roasted onion and pepper tart. Roasted Pepper and Onion Tart

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Chimichurri Sauce

Traditionally, the parsley is chopped in a rough chop by hand, but I put everything into my food processor and blended it that way.  I did not add red wine vinegar this time, however, I did add red pepper flakes.  As most of you already know, I play with things and change them around all the time.

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1 cup parsley, chopped

1-2 TBSP garlic

salt & black pepper to taste

1/3-1/2 cup olive oil

red pepper flakes to taste

 

Mix everything together.  The sauce can be used as both a marinade or as a dipping sauce.  I love it both ways.  This time I used it as a marinade for my steaks.

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I let the meat marinade for about 40 minutes before grilling it to a delicious medium rare.  After it was done cooking, I added some sauteed mushrooms, garlic and shallots on top, then added more chimichurri sauce.

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Had I been thinking properly, I would have served it with an Argentine Malbec, but alas, I was not.  I did, however, serve the meal with a delicious, smooth red blend, that still accompanied the meal very nicely.

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And the Winners Are ……..

Well, the first ever Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off has now officially come to an end.  It was a huge success.  I am so honored to have been asked by Mel at crushedcaramel and Gary at  bereavedandbeingasingleparent to participate and to judge this very fun, creative event.  We had so many people send in their cakes along with their fun stories, recipes and photos.  They were all AMAZING!!!  Everyone did a fantastic job.  There were so many creative and delicious cakes. I definitely had my work cut our for me.  I had a tough time deciding the winners.  In my eyes, everyone who participated is a BIG WINNER!!!!!  This could not have been possible without all of you and your delicious entries.  Great job Bakers!

So now …… The moment you have all been waiting for …….

First – For good,valiant efforts, I give the Thumbs Up Awards to:

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  1.  Our first Thumbs Up Award goes to Gary Metcalf from bereavedandbeingasingleparent for his entry – “Houston, We Have a Problem”.  His kitchen had a lot of gremlins on the day he was baking his cake and they were wreaking havoc on his creation.  But he did not let them beat him.  He overpowered them with his ingenuity and creativity, and created a fun and tasty cake.  Great job Gary!

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This was only the beginning, yet it turned out fun and festive.

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2.  Our second Thumbs Up Award goes to Amanda Cade from amadacade.com for her entry “The Birthday Cake”.   You have to read her post about her cake.  It’s hilarious.  She chronicles her baking adventures in a fun, step-by-step way.  You can find her story at https://amandacade.com/2019/03/24/the-great-bloggers-bake-off-aka-why-i-will-never-be-top-chef/Saturday 1

The end result looks delicious!

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3.  Our third Thumbs UP Award goes to SUZE at https://suziland.site/ for her “Hole in one Cake”.  Now this cake can EASILY be doctored up so no one would ever know it was a less than perfect cake.  All you would need to do to make this a BEAUTIFUL cake is to add whipped cream and fruit in the center of the hole, and people would think it was a beautiful, creative masterpiece.  This definitely has potential.  Keep up the good work Suze.

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Starting from 3rd and finishing with first place, here are the winners of the Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off, 2019.  There are no honorable mentions, because EVERYONE who participated is honorable and should be recognized.  EVERYONE did a fantastic job!  I applaud you all.

Our 3rd Place Winner is Ribana from posiclesociety for her entry “The Naked Cake”

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This “Naked Cake” is pure simple elegance and is presented beautifully.  Please check out her blog and read her story about her “Naked Cake” at https://popsiclesociety.com/2019/03/23/my-naked-cake-for-the-great-bloggerss-bake-off/

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For 2nd Place, we have a tie.  It was so hard to choose, and they both looked fabulous, so, they both get the award.  Our 2nd Place winners are:

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  1.  Carolyn from hawkfeatherstories.com for her Tiramisu Cake.  This cake just looks perfectly decadent.  I LOVE tiramisu.  Carolyn was a little shy about posting her story, but fortunately, Mel from crushedcaramel  wrote about it on her blog post

    The Tiramisu Cake

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2.  Our second 2nd Place winner is  Michelle Thomas from thecatlady’skitchen.com for her entry “Ginger Lime Sponge”.   Ginger and lime ….  a perfect summer cake.  YUM!!!!! You can read all about Michelle’s cake experiences on her blog post http://www.thecatladyskitchen.wordpress.com/.

 

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Before annoucing the winner for the 2019 Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off, I would like to show  the other cake entries we received and give EVERYONE honorable mention.  As I stated above, I was very impressed by all the entries, and EVERYONE did a fantastic job!  Keep up the good work Bakers.  I am pretty sure there is going to be am upcoming sequel.  So until then, just keep baking.

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Orange Almond Cake

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Choosing the 1st place winner was the most difficult decision I had to make for this contest.  There were two cakes I absolutely loved.  They were both perfect and so beautifully presented.  But in the end, there can only be one winner, for this round, and I had to choose.  Both were fabulous.  You are both winners in my book.

The first runner up is Michelle Barry from teacupsandsugarlumps.com for her Lemon Meringue with White Chocolate Chip Ganache Drip Cake.  I live in Denver, which is known as being the “Mile High City”.  This cake is definitely a “Mile High” of pure lemony deliciousness.  It is  mouth-wateringly decadent.  I can almost taste all the lemon and white chocolate now.  YUM!!!!!  Great, great job Michelle.  This is one AWESOME looking cake.

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And now …….. The moment you have all been waiting for ……  Our 1st Place Winner for the 2019 Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off is …….

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Sheree D. Whatley from Viewfromtheback.com for her entry, Gateau du Chocolate et Framboises  (chocolate and raspberries).  The quality of the picture is not the best, but I enhanced it as much as I could on my computer, however, I know exactly what she was trying to present.  This is a very complicated, detailed cake.  Sheree presented it beautifully.  The raspberry colored ribbon is a perfect accoutrement to enhance the raspberries on the cake.    You can read all about Sheree’s beautiful cake on her blog post Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off.  Can you believe Sheree said this “was my first fancy cake and went down a treat”?  WOW!!!!  If this was her first time to ever make such a beautiful cake, she is one very incredibly talented pastry chef.  I don’t know if I could make a cake like this today, but especially not on my first attempt.  This cake is SPECTACULAR!!!!!!  AWESOME job Sheree.

 

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CONGRATULATIONS to Sheree and to all the other bakers.  You all did a phenomenal job!  Keep up the good work everyone.  And a very special thank you goes out to both Mel at crushedcaramel and Gary at bereavedandbeingasingleparent  for creating and hosting this fun bake-off.  They both did a fantastic job of putting all this together.  It would not have happened without them and all their tremendous efforts.  Until next time ……..

 

The Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off – Crunch Time

I am getting so many wonderful pictures of cakes.  Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the first ever Great Blogger’s Bake-Off.   You have all sent in so many great photos can cakes.  Every single cake is made with the very best ingredient – LOVE!!!!!  I am going through all the entries at the moment, and it is going to take me while to go through them, so I will give you a little extra time.  You have until the end of the day to get your cake pictures in to either me at ajeanneinthekitchen.com, Mel at crushedcaramel@gmail.com or Gary at comment-reply@wordpress.com,  before I make my final decisions.  I will have my results and make the announcements tomorrow, Monday, March 25.   So stay tuned ……. I most definitely have my work cut our for me.  And just by looking at all these fabulous cakes, I have already put on 10 lbs.  Thanks Mel and Gary.  🙂

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Great Bloggers Bake-off

Show us your best, or your worst. Let’s see those masterpieces. Tell us your stories behind them, good or bad. It’s all in good fun. Let’s see what you can do,

A Dad trying to cope with the loss of his Partner and becoming a single parent.

It’s less than 24 hours (Sunday 24th March) to the Great Bloggers Bake-Off.

The big question is – what type of baker and you going to be?

Are you going to be like the fabulous Mary Berry.

Or are you going to be more like Baron Frankenstein.

Whatever your inner baking self – please send your sponge cake photos to

crushedcaramel@gmail.com

Let’s have fun gang.

For more details why not visit the brilliant Crushed Caramel (Learner at Love) or for cracking baking tips visit our special guest judge A Jeannie in the Kitchen

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The Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off Is This Sunday!!!

The Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off is this Sunday, March 24. Get ready, set, …. BAKE!!!!!! Send us your pictures, tell us your stories. We want them all. Don’t be shy.  Even if your cake is less than great, send it in.  Tell us all about it.  Often times, those make the best stories.

 

 

Crushed Caramel (Learner at love)

Are you ready?

This weekend…

Bereavedandbeingasingleparent

and Crushed Caramel (Learner at love)

would like to invite you to join us for

GBBO7

with our special judge ajeanneinthekitchen

SUNDAY 24TH MARCH 2019

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Lighten Up, It’s Spring

It is now officially Spring.  Winter is behind us for the time being.  Now it is time to celebrate Spring and all it has to offer.  I love Spring.  I love all the new blossoms and blooms that are beginning to peak out from below.  I love all seeing all the birds and hearing them sing.  And I also love all the fresh Spring vegetables that are available, just ready to be made into delicious recipes and dishes.  One thing that really brings out all the fresh flavors of spring is lemon.  I love cooking with lemons, limes, and lemon and lime juices.  Using lemon or lime juice in recipes just makes everything come to life, as well as lightens things up.   Winter is done, so we don’t need those heavier sauces at the moment.   We’ll save those for when the mercury drops again.  But for now, let’s lighten things up.

To mark the beginning of Spring, I made a versatile lemon vinaigrette, with lots of fresh.  Right now, I want as much of that fresh lemony flavor as possible.  I just can’t seem to get enough of it at the moment.  Maybe it has just been a long winter and I am ready for something lighter and fresher, but it just seems to hit the spot like nothing else right now.  I used basil, chives, oregano, sage and thyme to make my vinaigrette, but you can use any kind of herbs you like.  I love cooking with all kinds of fresh herbs and these are some of my favorites, particularly for spring and summer.

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Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

1 TBSP each fresh basil, chives, oregano, sage and thyme, chopped fine – or herbs of your choice

1 heaping TBSP garlic

salt & pepper to taste

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2-2/3 cups olive oil

dash of sugar or honey if the vinaigrette is too tart

 

Whisk everything together and serve.  You can use it as a dressing for a salad, a marinade for chicken or fish, or as a sauce to add to pasta or rice.

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When I first made the lemon vinaigrette, I used it is a marinade for chicken, to make a fresh lemon-herb chicken.  I let the chicken marinade for about 2-3 hours before grilling it.  The chicken was very tender, juicy and flavorful.

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When I made the vinaigrette, I had enough left over for another dish and needed something quick and easy to make for dinner, since as always, particularly lately, I was pressed for time, so I used it as my sauce for a lemony shrimp pasta primavera.

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Lemony shrimp pasta primavera with my roasted pepper and onion tart; a perfect beginning of Spring meal.  Roasted Pepper and Onion Tart

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I still have some lemon-herb vinaigrette left.  It would a perfect dressing for a salad, when the weather warms up just bit more.  When you make it, make a lot, because I think you are really going to like used in many different ways, just like I do.