Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Empanadas, Two Ways

apparently i have been on a south american/mexican kick recently. it becomes apparent as i think back on the things i have been making:
vegetable chili
veggie enchiladas (recipe coming soon)
mexican chicken soup (recipe also coming soon)
and tonight . . . empanadas

a craving for empanadas has been creeping up on me the past couple of weeks. it was full-on knocking on my door at the end of last week when i bought all the ingredients. since they are slightly time consuming, i haven't gotten around to making them until today. empanadas aren't something you want to come home to making after a long day of cooking. 
i did make it easier on myself by using store bought pie dough. of course you can make your own empanada dough which i have done before (a traditional recipe and a gluten-free recipe) but sometimes it's just easier to roll out some pre-made pie crusts.

i knew i wanted to make two different fillings - one with chicken and one with ground bison. after some internet searching, i settled on to very different recipes. one is based on a paula deen recipe. i wasn't too sure about this one because she isn't exactly known for her ethnic cuisine. deep fried butter, yes, south american specialties, not so sure. after reading the comments on the recipe i felt better. mostly everyone raved so, ya'll, i had to try it.
this led me to look for a more traditional version for my bison empanadas. i found a beef recipe that i tweaked and used bison. 

these were very different yet both very good. the chicken empandas were creamy from the cream cheese and smooth tasting. they had a little bite from the jalapeno. it was hard to choose a favorite but i think the bison won put by a hair. the bison empanada tasted a bit more like a traditional empanda should taste. i felt like i was instantly back in mendoza - i was just missing a nice malbec. the bison mixture was a little spicier from the serrano chiles and the cinnamon really brought out all the other flavors. i love them both and will be adding these to my regular repertoire.

me thinks you should try both and let me know what you think!

Creamy Chicken Empanadas (adapted from paula deen's chicken empanadas)
(makes about 25 three-inch empanadas)
1 1/2 cup chopped, cooked chicken
1/2 cup low fat shredded mexican cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 of a red bell pepper, diced1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts 1/2 tbs cumin
1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper
2 refrigerated pie crusts
1 egg

preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

in a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the pie crust. unroll 1 piecrust on a piece of parchment paper. roll out the crust until it is very thin. cut out 3" rounds, re-rolling as needed until all the dough has been used. 

lightly brush the edges of crust with water. scoop 1 teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round then fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. repeat with all rounds. the empanadas are now ready to bake or freeze.

brush each empanada with egg wash and bake on parchment lined baking sheet at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Bison Empanadas (adapted from a food network recipe)
(makes about 15 three-inch empanadas)
1/2 lb ground bison
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 roma tomatoes
2 small serrano chilies, seeded
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup shredded mexican cheese
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 egg

puree tomatoes, chilies, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth.
meanwhile, saute ground bison on skillet over medium until browned, about 4 minutes. add onion and cook 2 minutes, them add garlic and almonds and saute 1 more minute. add tomato puree, cumin and cinnamon and cook about 5 minutes until liquid has evaporated. remove from heat and let cool.
unroll 1 piecrust on a piece of parchment paper. roll out the crust until it is very thin. cut out 3" rounds, re-rolling as needed until all the dough has been used. 
lightly brush the edges of crust with water. scoop 1 teaspoon of bison mixture in the center of the round
then fold the dough over the filling,
pressing the edges with a fork to seal. repeat with all rounds. the empanadas are now ready to bake or freeze.

brush each empanada with egg wash and bake on parchment lined baking sheet at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vegetable Chili

my college roomie, N, originally posted this on her blog in the kitchen with nell. besides being one of my favorite people on the planet, N is an amazing cook, nutritionist, pilates and yoga instructor. obviously, she knows a thing or two about living a healthy lifestyle. so, when she told me i had to try this chili, i listened. i actually made this for a client but decided to make a double-batch so i could have some.

i guess it's pretty obvious from the name of the recipe that this is loaded with veggies. it has great chili flavor from the cumin and chili powder. the cilantro and lime give it a nice fresh flavor. i also tried it with some chopped avocado and it added a nice touch. some shredded mexican cheese on top would be tasty as well.

she recommends serving it with spoon bread which i didn't do but it sounds so good, i think i'll try it next time. i wonder if spoon bread is good leftover or if it needs to actually be eaten immediately as the recipe says? N, can you let me know in the comments? thanks, and thanks for this great recipe!!

Vegetable Chili (adapted from 'in the kitchen with nell' recipe)
serves 6

2 tbs olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 red peppers, cored, seeded and cut into squares
2 zucchini, cut into cubes
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
28 oz diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
15oz  kidney beans, drained
15 oz  chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped coriander
2 Tbsp lime juice

Heat the oil in a deep casserole over moderate heat and add onion, garlic, and red pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and continue to saute for 3 more minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin and stir for a minute. Add the tomatoes, roughly chopped, with their juice. Season with salt and pepper and stir in chickpeas and kidney beans.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until vegetable are tender. Lastly stir in parsley, coriander and lemon juice to give the dish a fresh taste.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Food-Filled Family Fun

seriously good weekend full of family and food. i feel like i have been eating straight since friday night!

i did notice something today though - i have been eating 3 meals a day and no snacks. i guess bigger meals really do keep you fuller longer.
started out the weekend with crab stuffed mushrooms (which is really just a huge crabcake on top of some mushrooms) at mo's when W arrived from bwi. they serve such big portions there it's almost improper. luckily my meal was just an appetizer (i also got a side of steamed broccoli and had one of dad's onion rings) but i still had to take some home.
saturday morning i made a huge plate of scrambled eggs with the leftover veggie hash plus a couple pieces of turkey kielbasa. it was sooo good and filling. it's always great to sneak veggies into breakfast too. the eggs held me over until lunch with E and W at san sushi. no pictures but we ordered a bunch of sushi rolls  and nigiri and also had some miso soup and salad with ginger dressing. i think my favorites were the shrimp tempura roll and the eel nigiri. yum!

W was speaking at a fundraiser that night so we ended up having dinner there. typical fire station fare - fried chicken, pasta and potato salad, green beans, sliced beef and ham. they did have maryland crab soup which is always full of veggies so i had some of that with some green beans and 2 slices of beef with horseradish and bbq sauce. (it's also possible i had a couple bites of cake too:) W did a great job speaking - he is quite the public speaker:) he talked about the beauty of the whittington center and the plethora of activities it provides. if you are ever in new mexico, it's a must see!
after the fundraiser, we headed back to meadowvale and played the board game quelf - the unpredictable party game that gives random a new name! if you have not heard of or played quelf, you are missing out. it was seriously one of the best games i have ever played. we had so much fun laughing and just making fools of ourselves. i highly recommend it. (we got ours at target but they also have it at

not sure if i still have your attention, this post is becoming longer than a harry potter book.

if so, for breakfast, we met C and L at miss shirley's cafe on cold spring lane. the food was excellent but the prices were pretty high. if you are looking for a great brunch spot when friends come into town though, i highly recommend it!
finally, for lunch we headed to the corner stable. W can't make a trip to MD without a stop for ribs and fries at the corner stable. in my opinion, hands down the best ribs i have ever had. i'm sure lots of people disagree with me. perhaps someday i will take a bbq tour around the country to solidify my assessment. but for now, corner stable baby back ribs are #1.

after all that food E and i were very happy to just have a green monster for dinner.
this one included:
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3-4 cups raw spinach
1 medium very ripe banana
1 medium navel orange
8 large frozen strawberries
2 tbs of twister mix (ground flax seeds, chia seeds, and brown rice powder)
1 cup ice

whew! this concludes my food filled weekend. hope yours was great!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour 2010

help support earth hour 2010 by turning off all your lights from 8:30-9:30pm tonight! 
want to know why?? 
for more information go to

Friday, March 26, 2010

Eggs and Vegetable Hash

even though it's a dark, rainy day, it still feels like spring inside thanks to the daffodils mom and i picked wednesday.

i also finally changed the dining room table from st. patrick's day to easter - it's right around the corner!

for lunch i had something so easy yet so wonderful - over easy egg on vegetable hash.
i just sauteed up some onions, mushrooms, garlic, haricots verts, and zucchini in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. it was so good! i had a leftover whole wheat buttermilk biscuit with some olivio butter on the side. this was amazing - so simple yet delicious. i'm not sure why i haven't thought of this before but it was a great post-workout meal with some good protein from the egg.

i'm off to have a crab cake with my parents and brother (who is in town for the weekend!) before i pick E up at the airport.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Chicken Salad

my triceps were sore today! i'm not quite sure what exactly G had me doing yesterday that made them sore but i could feel them during every chaturanga in power yoga today. i love sore muscles!
anyway, after a nice run outside (beautiful day today!!) i was craving chicken salad for some reason. luckily, we had all the ingredients. i used greek yogurt (a great mayo substitute in dressings), lemon juice, salt, pepper, chives (that i got out of our front yard),
and a little mrs. dash garlic and herb (can you tell i love mrs. dash - she has so many great seasoning blends all without salt). after i whisked that together, i added in chopped celery, cherry tomatoes, and 1/2 the breast meat of a rotisserie chicken. stir it all together and scooped it into french endive leaves. it made for quite the pretty presentation. plus, it was healthy and a serving of veggies.
i then took E to the airport and mom and i decided to go out to dinner since we were both sans husbands for the evening. before we headed to the cheesecake factory, we picked some daffodils that had popped up around meadowvale. spring is in the air!
look at all the daffodils to come!
our loot
patiently awaiting our return
the magnolia at meadowvale about to pop!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oldie but Goodie - Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms

i haven't made this dish in a while but it's an all-time favorite around the wasti household.
shrimp stuffed mushrooms are quick and easy and nice enough for an impressive company dinner. the recipe can also be scaled down and used as appetizers with baby bella mushrooms. just make sure you chop the shrimp up even more.
tonight, i served it with some whole wheat buttermilk biscuits - yum . . .

Shrimp Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
(Serves 4)

4 portabella mushrooms, stems and gills removed
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 tbs chopped parsley
2 tsp minced thyme
1 tsp minced rosemary
2 tbs white wine
1 tbs olive oil mayonnaise
4 tbs grated parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

saute onion and garlic in 1 tbs of olive oil with salt and pepper to taste until tender and starting to brown. remove from heat a set aside in medium bowl. add parsley, thyme, and rosemary to onion mixture.
heat remaining 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat and cook shrimp until just cooked through (approx 1 minute per side). remove from heat and chop shrimp into bite sized pieces. add cut up shrimp to bowl of herbs and onions.
in separate small bowl, whisk together white wine and olive oil mayonnaise. add mixture to shrimp and toss well to coat. divide mixture among 4 mushrooms, filling them and packing the shrimp down.
place filled mushrooms on lined baking sheet and sprinkle 1 tbs of parmesan cheese on each mushroom. bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is browned.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rainy Day Chicken Noodle Soup

it's only fitting that it is a rainy day on world water day. in addition to the last post i made about using refillable water bottled with tap water, i have one more suggestion . . .

so, in honor of world water day, i can't think of a better way to celebrate by urging your congress member to do away with bottled water in their offices and in session and use filtered tap water instead. it's such and easy change to make that can make a huge impact globally! go here to send an email to your congress-person to urge them to make the switch.

ok, no more links to other websites today, promise. since it is, in fact, a rainy day, i decided chicken noodle soup was in order. i had a rotisserie chicken from wegmans (lemon garlic, yum!) and i find that they taste best in soups because they are slow cooked and have so much flavor. they are actually usually cheaper than buying a whole chicken and roasting it yourself.
i started by sauteing some minced carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in about 2 tbs of olive oil. i added a bit of salt, pepper, and mrs. dash onion and herb along with the zest of one small lemon. after the veggies were nice and tender and slightly browned, i added the juice of a lemon, 6 cups of low sodium chicken stock and 2 cups of water.
once the stock came to a boil, i added in whole wheat spaghetti (broken into thirds) and the shredded chicken. as soon as the spaghetti was finished the soup was ready to eat. and, it hit the spot. i love the little something extra the lemon gives. so good!

Refillable Water Bottle - Thermos Intak

 as i was filling up my water bottle (with filtered tap water from our fridge) this morning before i leave for wegmans and the gym, i thought of an email my uncle G sent me.
he sent a link to the food & water watch website. it's a very informative site with information on everything from food safety to water conservation to seafood guides explaining what fish is safest and sustainably caught.

if you are trying to drink more water as part of a healthy lifestyle, please, please use a refillable water bottle and help reduce waste from water bottles. and while you're at it, sign the pledge to use tap water out of a reusable container whenever possible. it's a small change you can make in your daily life that will make a huge impact. take a second to watch this video too. very insightful.

stay hydrated the right way:)

p.s. i got the above bottle (a green one for E too) from target for just $10 - it's an intak by thermos, holds 22oz of water, seals tightly enough to throw into a bag and not worry about spillage. i love it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Caramel Rice Pudding

E and i had such a good time in nyc last night.
we got into the city just about sunset and sat in a ton of traffic but finally arrived at bubble lounge. it was so great to see some old friends and L's family who i haven't seen since college graduation.

i drank plenty of bubbly and had a couple of the passed hors d'oeuvres. a mini grilled sandwich of cheese and portabella mushrooms was my favorite!

the best thing about last night was catching up with some old JMU peeps and hanging out with L:)
E and i are really excited for L & L's wedding in october. should be a great time!

on the way home, E stopped at rice to riches as promised and i ran in to grab to goods. E had raspberry and i had caramel. unfortunately, i had one too many glasses of bubbly and we stayed much longer than we thought we would so i couldn't fight the heavy eye lids on the way home. E is a saint and drove all the way home.
i am the luckiest girl for so many, many reasons! we finally pulled in the garage about 3:45am and headed straight to bed.
today, we had a nice nap and the best part, leftover caramel rice pudding. this stuff is so amazingly creamy and caramely. i just know there will be a rice to riches open 24/7 with no line in heaven!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

1 Fail + 1 Success

 i finally tried the chocolate cherry bomb bloggers have been raving about and i have to say i was disappointed. perhaps it's the old my-expectations-were-too-high problem but i just wasn't impressed.
maybe if you really love chocolate a cherry together (it's not my absolute favorite) you may love this smoothie. it's worth trying which i why i am posting the link to the recipe. i will admit that i changed it a little bit (perhaps that was the problem). i used almond milk instead of water and added 1/2 a scoop of chocolate dessert protein powder. i also didn't have raw chocolate powder (can i admit, i'm not really sure what this is??) so i used cocoa powder. now that i am typing this, maybe all these reasons are the problem. i will try again (after a search for raw chocolate powder).
i did have a success today though - kale chips! i tried changing the sauce a little. i was hoping for a sour cream and onion kale chip. i think i can pretty close.

Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale, wash, dry, remove the stem, and tear into pieces
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 1-3 hours
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbs mrs. dash onion and herb
2 tbs minced fresh chives
2 tbs olive oil

puree all ingredients in food processor until smooth. be sure to scrape down sides several times.
toss with kale leaves and use hand to rub sauce into all the leaves.
spread kale leaves onto parchment lined baking sheets. bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour. flip kale leaves and bake for an additional 1 hour. turn oven off and keep chips in the oven for an additional hour.

store in airtight container. (one bunch made about 70 chips for me - but i like to break them up into bite-sized pieces)

i have packaged a bunch up for our road trip today. speaking of road trips, i have a terrible time being healthy on the road unless i do a little pre-planning. it is so hard to find healthy food at gas stations or quick grab and go places and don't even get me started about fast food places.
however, a little pre-planning and you can have a healthy and happy trip. i have packed up some of my coconut chocolate chip granola bars, kale chips, grapes, oranges, water, triscuits, and string cheese. i even have a little treat in there for E - gummy bears:)
there are lots of things you can pack for a trip no matter the length. all you need is a cooler and a trip to the grocery store with healthy snacks in mind. here are some other great, portable ideas:

  • apples (you can even pre-slice them)
  • grapes
  • oranges (peeled)
  • whole wheat crackers
  • lara bars
  • granola bars
  • glo bars
  • unsalted nuts (almonds, pistachios, peanuts, cashews, etc.)
  • raw veggies (carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, etc.)
  • small containers of dips (peanut butter, almond butter, hummus, etc.)

and we're off - to nyc. E and i are heading to an engagement party for L & L at bubble lounge.
i am excited to celebrate at this champagne lounge. healthy snacks on the road will allow me to cheat on bubbly without the guilt. there will also most likely be a stop at rice to riches for some caramel rice pudding (my favorite nyc treat!) on the way home. mmmmm:)
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