Meat Recipes

Baked Empanadas

foodblog-22

This is a take on traditional fried empanadas, except these are baked – eliminating a lot of grease and fat, but they are still equally delicious! My mother-in-law, who is from Brazil, first introduced this recipe to me and they’re so good, I was always asking her to make them. The recipe is fairly simple & even easier if you make the filling in advance. If you can, try to find the frozen Goya empanada discs since this dough really does taste the best compared to other brands we’ve tried. I can find these frozen discs in Mexican grocery stores, or even large local grocery stores may carry them in the freezer section. You can eliminate the hard-boiled eggs if you like and typically I do if I’m making the filling in advance and freezing for later (you can add the eggs to the meat filling just before preparing the empanadas). I think these taste best when prepared & immediately baked – & they really don’t take that long to prepare if the filling is done. I like to serve these with ketchup and Tabasco sauce for dipping.

Baked Empanadas

Ingredients

  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup seeded, chopped tomato
  • ¼ cup sliced green olives
  • 3 tblsp chopped parsley
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 packages frozen Goya empanada discs, defrosted
  • Cooking spray
  • Ketchup & Tabasco sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook for about 15 minutes until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the tomato, olives and parsley and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer the meat mixture to a bowl and mix in the chopped hard-boiled eggs, if using.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Lay out several empanada discs on a large baking sheet. Spoon about 2 tblsp of the meat filling onto one half of an empanada disc. Fold the other half of the dough over to form a half circle. Tightly seal the edges by crimping with a fork. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat with the remaining filling and empanada discs.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and golden. Serve with ketchup and Tabasco sauce for dipping.
  7. Freezer Method: Prepare filling, cool and freeze in a freezer bag. Defrost before cooking and prepare empanadas. Bake as instructed.

foodblog-21foodblog-23

Pasta & Grains

Refried Beans

foodblog-33

Whenever we have family over for tacos, they’re always raving about how delicious these refried beans are.  Serve them as a side dish for tacos or enchiladas, or whip up some nachos supreme. You can easily adjust the seasoning to your taste by adding more cayenne, and even an addition of minced jalapeno would be a great way to kick up the heat.

This recipe is super freezer friendly too – why not whip up a huge batch while you’re at it & freeze half for later?  Then when taco night rolls around you simply defrost your deliciously awesome refried beans – you’ll never buy the canned ones again!  An easy freezer method I use is to freeze these beans in ice cube trays, then pop the cubes into a large gallon freezer bag.  That way you can easily take out individual ‘bean cube’ portion sizes as needed and simply microwave.  I learned this method from making homemade baby food & it was so convenient, I started doing this with many other recipes such as this one.  Enjoy!

 

Refried Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 medium finely chopped onion
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tblsp salt
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 lb cooked pinto beans (about 2 cans)
  • 1-2 cups reserved bean cooking liquid, or water

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion & cook for about 7 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, then add seasonings. Cook for a few minutes to ‘warm’ the spices.
  3. Add cooked beans and 1 cup reserved cooking liquid or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. If the consistency is too thick add more of the reserved cooking liquid or water.
  4. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash beans to desired consistency with a potato masher. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Pasta & Grains

Chicken Lasagna

foodblog-59

This delicious chicken lasagna recipe is a simple spin on your classic lasagna – & it is SUPER good!  My mother-in-law introduced this dish to me – she is from Brazil and they make many different types of lasagna, even one with ham & cheese that I’ll have to try sometime.  This chicken lasagna differs from the traditional recipe since it incorporates a white bechamel sauce and a red sauce.  You could also easily improvise by adding any veggies you like such as mushrooms or spinach.  My mother-in-law usually makes her own tomato sauce for this recipe, but I took the easy route and used my favorite jarred variety.  You could simply this dish even further by using a rotisserie chicken.  As with any lasagna, this freezes very well.

 

Chicken Lasagna

Ingredients

  • Lasagna:
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 tblsp Italian seasoning (I like Penzey's pasta sprinkle)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 1/2 jars tomato pasta sauce (or use your own homemade: about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • White Sauce:
  • 3 tblsp butter
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles for about 9 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Reserve 1/2 cup of tomato sauce on the side.
  3. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat; add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the chicken breasts. Add Italian seasoning and salt & pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, then deglaze with white wine, if using, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. When chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan, shred with two forks, and return to pan. (If using a rotisserie chicken, saute the onions & garlic, add cooked shredded chicken & deglaze with wine, if using.) Add remaining tomato sauce to chicken and stir.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the white sauce: Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, stir in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes until it is very light brown. Then slowly stir in the milk and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. When the milk is bubbling, turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in the Parmesan until fully incorporated into the sauce.
  5. Prepare the lasagna: Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with olive oil. Spread reserved 1/2 cup of tomato sauce over the bottom of the dish. Layer 3 noodles, then top with chicken mixture, and pour 1/3 of the white sauce over the chicken. Repeat with another layer of 3 noodles, chicken mixture and 1/3 of the white sauce. Finish with the remaining noodles, top with remaining white sauce and top with mozzarella.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.
  7. Freezer Instructions: Prepare lasagna, cover with foil and freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge, then bake at 375 as instructed above. If the lasagna is not defrosted, bake for an additional hour or until fully heated.