Savory Beef Empanadas

Empanadas are a savory treat that have been a favorite of mine since I was a young girl. My mother would make them often, as a midday snack or sometimes for dinner, filling them with chicken, beef, seafood or cheese. I usually preferred a combination of beef and cheese, biting into the flaky crust while it was still hot, then watching the cheese ooze out.

For those of you not familiar with empanadas, they’re basically turnovers filled with meat. In some Latin American countries, they’re often referred to as pastelitos. I grew up calling them empanadas, so that’s what I continue to call them! They make a great appetizer, snack or side dish. Many people make their own dough, but there are so many great, pre-made doughs out there that I save myself the time and purchase Goya Discos. Empanadas are also a great way to use up any leftover meat — shredded chicken, ground beef, pork — the possibilities are endless! Give this recipe a try. I guarantee your mouth will water at the sight of these flaky turnovers packed with flavor.

Savory Beef Empanadas Over Moros y Cristianos

Beef Empanadas

Beef Turnovers

What You’ll Need:

1 cup picadillo
1 14-oz package Goya Discos, thawed
vegetable oil, for frying

On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll out each disco until about 1/2″ larger in diameter. Place 1 tablespoon picadillo in the center of each disco. Moisten the edge with water, then fold the disc in half, using a fork to crimp the edges and seal it.

Fill a deep frying pan with 2 inches of oil, then heat over medium-high heat. Fry the empanadas until golden brown, turning only once. Make sure not to crowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop, resulting in greasy empanadas. Fry in batches, if necessary. Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain. Serve hot. Pairs well with moros y cristianos.

Note: These empanadas can also be baked, if preferred. After assembling each empanada, brush the tops with an egg and water mixture. Bake in a preheated, 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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Five Layer Dip

Nothing says “party” like chips and dip! This five layer dip has a combination of all the essentials, guaranteed to be a hit with everyone. I had eaten about half the plate before my husband even got to try it!

Five Layer Dip

What You’ll Need:

1 15 ounce can refried beans (recommended: Goya Ranchero Style Refried Pinto Beans)
1 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup guacamole (for killer guacamole, try the New York Times recipe for Traditional Guacamole)
tortilla chips, for serving

Using a small pan or skillet over low to medium heat, cook the refried beans until heated through. Spread the beans on the bottom of a plate or platter. Top with half of the shredded cheese mixture. Spread the sour cream over the layer of cheese, being careful not to disturb the layers. Spread the guacamole over the layer of sour cream. Sprinkle the remainder of the shredded cheese over the guacamole. Serve immediately with a side of tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Ooey, Gooey, Cheesy Quesadillas with Tangy Dipping Sauce

Believe it or not, I don’t like meat in my quesadillas. No chicken. No beef. Just cheese. Ooey, gooey, stringy cheese. Quesadillas are the perfect anytime snack. Heck, you can even make it a meal. They’re definitely perfect for game day, like today. I like a combination of different cheeses in mine – extra sharp cheddar for some bite, mozzarella for that smooth taste and cheesy stringiness (see above), and habanero cheese, for that essential kick in the taste buds.

Before I go forward, I need to write some more about Cabot’s Hot Habanero Cheddar Cheese, my new-found love. I came across it in the imported cheese section of my local supermarket, while I was searching for Cabot’s Chipotle Cheddar. The chipotle cheese was nowhere to be found, and I stood there for a moment, contemplating if I was bold enough to give the habanero cheese a try. I decided to buy it.

Later that evening, I cracked open a bottle of wine (Cannonball, the hubby’s favorite), and placed a few slices of cheese onto a plate. Immediately after my first bite, my tongue was on fire. I felt an insane amount of heat permeating my taste buds. My eyes watered a bit. I drank a sip of wine and waited for the heat to die down. Then, I went back for more cheese. I was obviously insane. This cheese brought a five alarm fire to my mouth, yet I wanted more. I was hooked.

Cabot’s Hot Habanero Cheddar is now a regular in my fridge. I shred a little to top my mac and cheese, slice it for my burgers, and pair it with crackers for a simple snack. Yum.

Back the quesadilla. Even though my sister isn’t a fan of habanero cheese (or anything too spicy, for that matter), this recipe is for her. As a kid, my sister ate two things: pizza and quesadillas. When we had a family night out, if one of these two things was on the restaurant menu, she’d order it. If it wasn’t – watch out! So, Arelis, lover of ooey, gooey, cheesy quesadillas, this one’s for you!

Cheesy Yumminess

Ooey, Gooey, Cheesy Quesadillas

The Butcher’s Daughter original recipe

What You’ll Need:

For the quesadillas:

5 large flour tortillas (preferably Mission brand)
1 cup shredded extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ habanero cheese (preferably Cabot brand)
pico de gallo (optional)

For the sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise
6 slices jalapeño, minced (the kind in the jar)
10 teaspoons jalapeño juice (from the jar of jalapenos)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
First, make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. If making the sauce ahead of time, be sure to refrigerate.

Before you assemble the quesadillas, heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. I prefer my Cusinart Grill Pan, because it gives the quesadillas nice grill marks. If you don’t have a grill pan, a large skillet will work just fine.

Combine all the cheeses into a bowl. Spread some of the sauce onto a flour tortilla. Make sure to keep it within about an inch of the edge of the tortilla. You don’t want the sauce to ooze out when your press down on your quesadillas. On one side of the tortilla, sprinkle some of your cheese blend. Make sure it’s spread out evenly. You want each bite to be filled with some cheesy goodness. Fold the tortilla over. Place the quesadilla on the grill pan (or skillet, if that’s what you’re using) and let sit for 3 to 4 minutes before flipping. When you flip over the quesadilla, press on it lightly with a spatula to ensure the cheese “glues” the tortilla shell in place. While the quesadilla is achieving that spectacular level of cheesiness, assemble the remainder of your quesadillas.

Once all the quesadillas are cooked, allow to cool for about one minute before cutting into triangles. Serve with the remainder of the sauce on the side and some pico de gallo (optional). Enjoy!