Mary Anne here. These were created in the heat of July, when Mariel still had the glazed look of a zombie, and Lil Man was on a feeding frenzy 18 hours out of 24. In need of quick meals that could be delivered as fast as take-out, I conjured up these “emapanadas,” which more than met all of the criteria for a nutrient-rich grab-and-go meal. Packed with protein, beta carotene, dairy, and carbs, these are homemade “Hot Pockets,” but so much tastier. While I made these back in July, life has been hectically happy so it literally took us a month to defrost half a batch for a photo-op. But if you think I’m crying like a ….you know what…. y’all would be wrong! Although we’ve been a bit stretched and sleepless in our neck of the woods, this has been my best summer ever. Period. I go to work each day and give my patients all that they need and deserve, and then I race to Mariel’s with a grin of joyous anticipation smeared across my face! Immediately upon arriving at my own suburban Nirvana, I grab that bundle of beautiful boy. My beloved first-born girl truly needs the break and this “old mother” needs to feed her a hot meal that she can actually sit down and TASTE. Mariel has begun the age-old mama stance of leaning against the kitchen sink, shoveling cold, possibly expired food into her empty stomach when left to her own devices. Been there. Quite the badge we all don. And as she takes a well-earned breath, I get to cuddle, soothe, and play with my glorious grandson! Recipes can be written anytime, but catching Lil Man’s first smiles? Priceless.
“Empanadas” Stuffed with Lamb, Sweet Potatoes, and Montrachet Makes 12
My rendition of empanadas freeze beautifully and whip up in under 45 minutes of hands-on-time. The lamb and currants definitely put a Greek spin on these south-of-the-border treats, and we dished them up with some of Mariel’s Tzatziki sauce. Mango Salsa or Peach Relish would also be dee-lish with these bad-boys. Incredibly versatile and totally guest-worthy, you can double the recipe and freeze half for a tailgate party this autumn or cut the actual size of the pastry in half and serve as an hors d’oureve! Ingredients: 2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock 1 small Vidalia onion – $0.48 ½ lb. sweet potato, peeled, cut into ½“ dice and then parboiled for 4 minutes until soft – $0.69 3 cloves garlic, minced – stock 1 lb. ground lamb – $6.17 3 Tablespoons red wine – stock ½ cup currants or raisins – $2.29 1 cup Montrachet cheese, crumbled – $3.99 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted – stock ½ Teaspoon cumin – stock ½ Teaspoon ginger – stock 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped – $0.99 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets – $3.39 Egg Wash: 1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water, lightly beaten – stock Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $18.00 Total Per Empanada: $1.50 Directions: 1. Defrost the puff pastry according to package directions. Keep cold in the fridge until ready to use. 2. Prepare the filling: In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high flame. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes. 3. Add the lamb and sweet potato and continue cooking until the lamb is no longer pink and the onion is soft. 4. Pour in the red wine, currants, and ground spices. Simmer, uncovered, over low flame for about 10 minutes. 5. Stir in the walnuts and Montrachet and cook an additional 2 or 3 minutes. 6. Remove from the flame and add the fresh cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cool completely before assembling the empanadas. 7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. 8. On a lightly floured surface, unfold each of the puff pastry sheets. Using a floured rolling pin, lightly roll out each of the pastry sheets just enough to smooth the seams. 9. Using a sharp knife, cut 6 squares from each of the sheets. Using a pastry brush, paint the 4 edges of each square. 10. Place a heaping spoonful of the cooled lamb filling on one half of each pastry. Fold over to form either a triangle or a rectangle. Seal the edges by pressing all around with the tines of a fork. Brush the top lightly with more of the egg wash and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until all of the dough and filling is used. Tip: The empanadas should be a couple of inches apart on the cookie sheet, as they’ll puff up during baking. 11. Refrigerate the unbaked pastries for about 20 minutes before baking. 12. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature with Tzatziki or Mango Salsa or Peach Relish.