Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Empanada

One beautiful Sunday afternoon, me and one of my best friends ate the most amazing empanada from a food truck, and as is the story of my culinary life, I couldn’t wait to replicate it at home. I created all the filling first, and then my husband and I as a team built our empanadas.

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This recipe makes only six empanadas, so again please double it if you want more. Also, after make it the first time, there are a few things I would change the next time I make it (and there will be a next time!). For one, I would make the empanadas bigger, and maybe added a little more spice to the chicken mixture, and possibly some grilled red onions. This is why food never taste the same twice in our house…

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  • 2 boneless-skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 c buffalo sauce (we used Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Wing Sauce)
  • 1/4 c blue cheese crumbles (add more or less, depending on how you feel)
  • 2 oz cream cheese, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg white
  • salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
  • already rolled, pre-made pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Season the chicken thighs with the salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder mixture. Melt the butter in a heated skillet, with 1 tbsp olive oil, and place the seasoned chicken thighs in the pan. Cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side, aiming to flip the chicken only once.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan, and place on a cutting board, making sure to reserve the juices from the pan. Chop the chicken into small pieces, and place in a bowl. To the same bowl add the buffalo sauce, and the remaining butter chicken juice.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the blue cheese and cream cheese, and using the back of a spoon smash the blue cheese to better mix it with the cream cheese. (Add some more blue cheese or cream cheese if you want, just remember you don’t want to make too much)
  5. On a flour-ed surface, unroll the dough and using a bowl (approximately 4 inches in diameter), use the bowl like a cookie cutter and cut stencils in the dough.
  6. Take each section of the dough and brush the edges with egg white. Place approximately two spoonfulls of the chicken mixture, and one  spoonful of the cheese mixture on half of the dough. Then fold the dough in half, and close the edges using a fork to close the empanada. For additional assistance, please follow this link.
  7. Place a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet, and spray with cooking spray (you really don’t want them to stick, because there is nothing worse then an empanada thats split in two). Lay each empanada on the cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes. Because it depends on the size of the empanadas, and the thickness of the dough, the time may vary a little. Just make sure to remove them when they are brown and flaky.

 

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Pan-Fried Pork, Fried Potato (Hashbrown), and Mushroom Cream Sauce

When I was little, my mom used to take inspiration from all over the world when it came to dinner. Dinner could be Thai, Chinese, Creole, Mexican or even German. While we didn’t eat a lot of German food, my mom made one dish that I absolutely loved. So, as I do with most of my favorite dishes, I had a craving and replicated it at home. Now my husband feels like I did as a child, he never knows what’s for dinner, or where its inspired from.

Traditionally the potatoes in this dish were not hashbrowns, but thats the way my mommie always made it, so thats the way I make it too. Now in full disclosure, this is not the healthiest dish, but life is too short to not mix it up every now and then. Besides, I’m from the south, and we use butter like its water.

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**This dish was made for four small servings, so please double or triple it if you’re hungry, and/or if you have more people who want to eat.**

  • 4 frozen hashbrowns slices (you know, those kind you eat for breakfast)
  • 4 thin cut pork chops (its important that they are thin cut, because you want to make sure the pork doesn’t overshadow the hash browns and mushroom cream amazingness)
  • 2 c sliced white button mushrooms
  • 1 c sliced white onion (slice them per your own liking)
  • 1 tube trader joes chicken bouillon, see here (if you don’t have a Trader Joes near you, after you cry, know you can substitute a regular cube)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • onion and garlic powder (I should give this duo a name, because I ALWAYS use them both)
  1. Season the pork chops with salt, pepper and both the powders (i.e.- the onion and garlic powder), be careful about the salt because they are so thin.
  2. Place all the flour in a bowl, and flour both sides of each pork chop.
  3. Place 2 tbsp olive oil in a heated saucepan (medium/high), and place each pork chop in the heated oil. Cook for approximately 1-2 minute son each side, or until browned on each side. Place each pork chop on a metal rack to drain. (this will ensure the flour crust doesn’t fall off, and stick to something.)
  4. In the same saucepan, fry each hash brown on both sides. If necessary add more oil to the pan to ensure each hashbrown is fried with a nice coating. Remove the hasbrowns and if there is room, place them on the same metal rack as the pork chops.
  5. In the same pan, add a little more olive oil, as well as the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms to the pan; cook for approximately 5-10 minutes on medium until the onions are soft, and the mushrooms are browned. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the butter to the pan, and stir until melted. Add the cream to the pan, and stir until the mushrooms mixture is completely distributed throughout the cream.
  7. Add the concentrated chicken broth, and stir until completely mixed together.
  8. Bring to a boil, then reduce and allow to simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Your sauce should begin to thicken.
  9. Taste the sauce, if it needs more salt, pepper, onion powder, or garlic powder, now is the time to add it.
  10. To plate, place the hashbrown on the bottom, add the pork chop on top, and pour the sauce over top.
  11. Enjoy!

Browned Gnocchi in a Wine, Vegetable, Cream Sauce

I went to a restaurant in DC and had this amazing gnocchi dish…I didn’t even think i liked gnocchi, but this was amazing. Needless to say, I came home and attempted the replicate the dish. I’ll be honest, this was my second try, but as with everything, practice makes perfect right? So here is my second try, and I must say, it is very yummy. My husband had never had gnocchi before (he kept calling it ‘nookie’ but thats a completely different story), but he thought it was great, and even asked for seconds! Success!

As with everything, there is always room for your own interpretation, feel free to add a little more of all the vegetables, deepening on what you like. Also, I found that browning the gnocchi ensures that its not gummy in the final product, and instead like a nice morsel of heaven.

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  • 3 c of pre-made gnocchi
  • 1 square inch of parmesan, rind on
  • 1/2 c of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 c of reserved gnocchi water (don’t worry, I’ll explain this later)
  • 20 spears of asparagus, follow these instructions on how to correctly buy and break asparagus
  • 3 c raw spinach
  • 4 slices of pancetta, chopped  (I would have added more, but thats all I had)
  • 2 cups wild mushrooms, (I used baby bella and shitake)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 of chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 1 tbsp flour mixed thoroughly into 1/2 c of water
  • 2 cups worth of concentrated bouillon (I like this one from Trader Joe’s, unfortunately you can’t buy it online though)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small sauce pot boil 5 c of salted water, once the water begins to boil add the gnocchi. Continue to cook the gnocchi until they begin to float and rise to the top of the water.  Approximately five minutes or so. Reserve two cups of the gnocchi water, and once they all rise, remove from the water and place in a strainer to drain.
  2. In a separate sauté pan place 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1/3 of the cooked gnocchi. Cook for five minutes until browned, and then flip each individual gnocchi over, to allow to brown on other side (I used chopsticks to flip them over because I felt it was much easier that way.)  Repeat with the remaining gnocchi until it is all cooked. Set aside.
  3. In a small pot boil5 cups of salted water, once boiling add the asparagus. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until asparagus turns bright green. Remove from pot, and let cool. Once cooled, cut at an angle into 1 inch sections. Set aside.
  4. In a separate sauce pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and the chopped pancetta. Stir periodically until browned, and then remove from pan. Set aside.
  5. In the same pan add the chopped onion, cook for three minutes, then add the chopped garlic. Continue to stir periodically, after five minutes add the chopped mushrooms. Continue to stir until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Add 1 tbsp butter to the onion/mushroom mixture and stir until butter is all melted.
  7. Add the wine, and gnocchi water and cook until reduced by half. (Watch the water lines on the inside of the pot, you’ll be able to tell when its reduced.)
  8. Once reduced, add the cream and flour/water mixture to the pan, stirring quickly until evenly mixed and not clumpy.
  9. Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper as apporpriate.
  10. Return the pancetta to the pan, making sure to stir in completely. Add the spinach to the sauce, and stir until it begins to wilt. Add the chopped asparagus to the sauce, and stir.
  11. Add the gnocchi, toss again, and enjoy!