Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Winner!

I feel really bad for Laura...I think I ended up getting all of the good recipes!! Tonight's recipe was a delicious empanada recipe. If you aren't from Texas, these are regulars on every Tex Mex menu. Typically they are deep fried and super greasy! I was really surprised when Paula's recipe didn't call for deep frying.

When buying all of the ingredients, I decided to be a little lazy and pick up canned chicken. I feel a little hypocritical simply because I talk to my patients about choosing fresh or frozen items over canned. I think the biggest issue with salt intake is that we often look for the easiest option. What isn't easy about pre-cooked, chopped chicken? Good news is that we didn't add anymore salt to the recipe.

Once everything was all mixed together I started filling and folding the empanadas. This is really where the recipe gets to be a little time consuming. You put a tablespoon sized dollop of chicken mixture in the middle of the pie crust circle. Before you start to fold, I recommend rubbing the pie crust with a little water and then pressing your finger down around the chicken mixture. This helps spread out the crust so it will fold a little better. I decided to also close the empanadas with a fork. Most of the empanadas I have seen have those neat little fork marks and mine were no exception!

These little pockets turned out just right. One thing you could try, would be brushing the tops with a little egg white and turning the oven to broil for a few minutes to give them that crispy brown look.

I decided to put my empanadas on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped them with some fresh diced tomatoes. After I started eating I ended up adding a little low fat ranch. I know that may sounds weird to some of you ... ahem Laura ... but there is a great restaurant, Chuy's, that has a jalapeno ranch dip that is delicious on everything Mexican.

That stats are a little confusing. If you read Paula's original recipe, she makes 16 - 2" circles and only fills them with 1 tsp of meat. Even though I added an extra 1/2 cup of veggies, I had a ton of mixture left over. I made about 18 circles and filled them with 1 tbsp of chicken. I had about half leftover. Not sure where Paula gets her portions from but my calculations are based on her original recipe and serving sizes.

Baked Empanadas (amounts for 16-18 Empanadas w/ 1tbsp filling)

2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup low fat Mexican blend cheese,
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, sauteed
1/4 medium onion, sauteed
2 ounces fat free cream cheese, softened
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped, optional (aka I didn't use this)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt substitute
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken and next 8 ingredients. Unroll 1 pie crust onto wax paper. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining pie crusts, making 16-18 circles total. Arrange 1 round on the baking sheet. Lightly brush the edges of crust with water. Place 1 tbsp of chicken mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining rounds and chicken mixture. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month). Arrange empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy!


  1. Oh these do look good! My husband and I love empanadas, but we hate having to eat the deep fried variety. This looks like a lovely adaptation.

  2. Ugh... you left out the jalapenos and didn't tell me!!! I feel abused!

    I must say that these were DELICIOUS... I had eight of them. Kudos to the chef :) Next time, we should make half of them with jalapenos (which probably means that I'll have to play sous-chef for once).

  3. These look so good! That sauce from Chuy's is amazing!