Friday, January 10, 2014

Mushroom and Fontina Cheese Empanadas

Before this year, I have never had an empanada.  They seem to be the cat's meow these days so naturally, I had to try them out.  I was lucky enough to find this gem on Pinterest.  My favorite part of this is the raisins in it, as weird as that sounds.  The original recipe calls for using a dipping sauce such as aji criollo or spicy cilantro hot sauce.  We couldn't find that at the store and didn't notice the recipe for that, so we opted for a green salsa with cilantro in it.  I'm sure it's not as good as it could be.  I personally think these are great without that sauce.  I made some changes to the recipe as I saw fit.  This would be excellent to have with a fresh bean salad on the side.


20 Empanada Discs (about 5 inch diameter, found in the frozen section with ethnic foods so be sure to thaw before using)
2 Tbsp Butter
16oz Sliced Baby Portabello Mushrooms
2 C Sliced Shallots (about 7-8)
1/2 C Raisins
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 C Grated Fontina Cheese (or more if you love cheese like I do)
1 Egg, Yolk and White separated and lightly whisked

Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat.  Add Mushrooms and Shallots.  Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.  Add Balsamic Vinegar and Raisins and cook for 3 minutes.  Take off heat and set to the side to cool down.

To make the Empanadas, place a spoonful of mushroom mix in the center of the empanada disc.  Top with cheese. Brush edges of the empanada disc with Egg Whites.  Fold over one side and seal edges with a fork.  Curl up edges and pinch to look like pie edging.  This helps them to stay sealed in the oven.  Store the empanadas in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  This also helps the empanada stay sealed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees f.  Lightly brush empanadas with the Egg Yolk.  Bake in oven to start with 15-20 minutes or until golden.  I baked mine for about 26 minutes as it depends on what oven you use.  Serve warm.

The original recipe came from  I increased the amount of mushrooms and rasins I used.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Pecan, Squash and Cranberry Speckled Wild Rice

For the past year, my husband and I have been trying our best to eat healthier while trying new things.  The only way I ate squash before our adventures were to roast it and add butter and brown sugar.  I didn't know how awesome it would be to add squash in other dishes.  It made sense to try out this idea as squashes generally are very healthy for you.  We came across this recipe, again on Pinterest (my favorite cookbook).   I would like to note that this recipe wasn't the clearest and I think I got more rice than expected since I made mine from scratch.


1/2 C Brown Rice, dry
1/2 C Wild Rice, dry
2 1/2 C Water
1 Small Acorn or Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 C)
2/3 C Pecan Halves
1/2 Shallots or Sweet Onions, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
2 Small Carrots, peeled and sliced at the bias
2 Stalks Celery, chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
1/2 C Dried Cranberries
A Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a rice cooker, prepare Brown Rice and Wild Rice with water.  It takes about 30-50 minutes to cook rice depending on your cooker.  I also like to butter the sides of the pan the rice goes in to cook so nothing sticks.  I add a little bit of sea salt as well to enhance the flavor.  When done cooking, add to a large mixing bowl.

In a greased jelly roll pan, roast squash in the oven at 450 degrees f for 20-25 minutes or until browned. When done, add to bowl with rice mix. While squash is cooking, heat a large skillet on top of the stove at low-medium heat.  Add Pecans and cook until aromatic.  Watch these closely as they go from a nice toast to burnt within a minute.  Transfer nuts to a chopping board and allow to cool.  Chop nuts and add to rice mix.

With the same skillet, turn the heat to medium-high heat.  Heat butter.  Add Shallots or Onions and Garlic and saute until soft. Add Celery, Carrots and Red Pepper Flakes.  Stir briskly and cook for 2 minutes.  Add to rice mix.  To the rice mix, add Thyme, Cranberries, Salt and Pepper and toss to combine.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  The flavors mix well with time so it gets better if you let it sit and then serve it slightly warmed.

Recipe from (suganya is the name?).  I made my own Wild Rice mix with Brown Rice.

Kiwi and Fuji Apple Applesauce

I got a new toy for Christmas.  I was so excited as I wanted a food processor for years!  Since I got it, I've been slicing, chopping and pureeing anything I can get my hands on.  The other day, I used it to make a marinade for some squash that I'd normally just chop everything up by hand and put it all together.  I told my husband that I just couldn't handle that and used that as my excuse to use the food processor.  He laughed.  When I got this food processor, I looked up some of the recipes that use a food processor.  I came across a kiwi and fuji apple applesauce recipe on Pinterest.  I made it like it said, only I doubled the recipe as it made a small amount.  I tried it and it was very tart and needed a little bit more kiwi flavor.  So I altered their recipe a little bit.  I added the sugar to calm down the tartness a little bit and I added the kiwi to give more depth to the flavor.  I hope to make a Kiwi Strawberry Fuji Apple Applesauce sometime.  I would just omit one of the kiwis and replace it with some strawberries.  The best thing about this recipe is that it's fast and tastes really fresh and doesn't take a whole lot of effort to make.  No cooking required!


3 Kiwis, peeled
2 Fuji Apples, cored, peeled and chopped down to big hunks for processing
Juice of 1 Lemon
Sugar to taste (I did about 2 tsp)

Put all together in food processor with chopping blade.  Let it go until it gets blended into a nice smooth applesauce.  Then it's ready to eat!

Original recipe came from Chef Haji on  I added a kiwi and added in the sugar.