Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

Not to long ago I went out with some friends to celebrate my birthday and we went to a great tapas restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, VA called La Tasca. They have great sangria, good food and some BOMB empanadas.

Ever since I went there and enjoyed some fried beef empanadas, that’s all I’ve been craving for the last couple weeks.

So I made some. Instead of frying them…I baked them…and they were tasty…not La Tasca tasty…but good enough to make again.

The only thing I didn’t do was take enough step by step pictures. So I apologize…but they are so easy to make and you can add pretty much whatever you want to these things.

…and yes you can fry them…if you are not concerned about your waistline (frying instructions are at the bottom).

Baked Beef Empanadas
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes about 12

3/4-1 pound of ground beef chuck
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste or use some season salt
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed olives (optional)
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 package frozen empanada pastry disks, thawed

1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 400’F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat silicone mat.

Over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet , stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the olives, cheddar cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir for a few minutes until well combined. Turn off heat and set aside.

Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a dampened work surface (to help keep plastic in place), then take out an empanada disk one at a time,  lay it on the plastic wrap. Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture on disk. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork and place on baking sheet. Repeat the same method until you have no more empanda disks.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes.

If you want to fry them….

Preheat oven toe 200’F degrees.

Heat 4 cups of vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer. Fry empanadas, 2 or 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 4 to 6 minutes per batch.

Transfer to a shallow baking pan and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 360°F between batches.





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Here is something easy and absolutely delicious to try for dinner this week. I make it almost every other week and its great to eat the next day.

Pasta with Chicken and Tomato Cream Sauce
slighty adapted from Ree a.k.a the  Pioneer Woman

Serves 4- 6 hungry people

1/2 box of Penne Pasta
2 -3 boneless chicken
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth (regular works fine too)
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon of dried Parsley
1/2 tablespoon dried Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and pat chicken dry w/ paper towel. Season with your favorite chicken seasonings ( I use McCormick Montreal Chicken seasoning and sprinkle a little kosher salt of my chicken) or/and salt and pepper. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium casserole dish (big enough to bake your chicken in), place seasoned chicken in dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and when cut the juices run clear. Depending on how big your chicken is cooking time may vary.

* If you don’t want to bake your chicken, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil in a skillet and cook the chicken until fully cooked.

Once your chicken is done, chop it up and set aside.

Cook Penne pasta until al-dente( fancy word alert!), about 11 minutes (read the box for correct cooking time).

While the pasta is boiling, start making the tomato cream sauce. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Now add the chicken stock. Let is boil for a few minutes (let some of the liquid evaporate), give it a stir or two. Next add the tomato sauce, stir until combined, then add the cream,stir until well combined. Add some salt and pepper to taste (you can do this at the very end once you add everything in the pot together). Turn heat to low and let simmer for a few minutes. Stir occasionally.

Once your pasta is done. Drain and add it to the tomato cream sauce. Add the chicken, parsley, and basil, stir it all together. Add some shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese.

Serve in bowls and enjoy the goodness.

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The first time I had Shepherd’s pie was right before Christmas. Some dear friends of ours bought us some after I had my baby and it was delicious. I know I should have asked my friend for her recipe but I found one in a Kraft Foods magazine that tasted just as good. I love that its really easy and quick to make.

I’ll walk you through it with some pictures…(Hey sis pay attention!)

Peel, chop and boil some potatoes (2 cups worth).

Brown  1lb of ground beef or ground turkey. Drain and set aside.

Once potatoes are done. Drain them and mash them up.

Then add 4 oz of cream cheese, 2 cloves of garlic minced, dash of salt (to taste) and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Stir it up until nice and blended. If you’re not a fan of cream cheese, or garlic just make your mashed potatoes the way you like them.

Mix one cup of gravy and a bag of thawed mixed vegetables into the ground beef.

Spread the ground beef mixture into a 9×9 or medium sized casserole dish.

Spread mashed potatoes over the ground beef mixture. Don’t worry about being neat with it.

Sprinkle a little more cheddar cheese on top and bake your pie at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Once its cooked. Whip out some plates and serve it up and enjoy the goodness.

See how easy that was? Now its time for you to try it for yourself. This recipe can easily become a weekly dinner meal…one that makes for good left overs.

Shepherd’s Pie
adapted from Kraft Foods magazine

Makes 6 servings


1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey (lean beef is great too)
2 cups  hot mashed potatoes
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
1 cup  KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups  frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup beef gravy

To Make

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Brown meat in large skillet. Drain.
2. Mix potatoes, cream cheese, 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and garlic until well blended.3. Stir vegetable and gravy into meat.
4. Spoon into 9-inch square or medium sized baking dish.
5. Cover with potato mixture.
6. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Bake for 20 min or until heated through. 

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Happy New Year! 2010 was whack and I’m sure 2011 will be too. So on that note…here is a recipe for a delicious meat sauce that will have you and your loved ones doing a little happy dance.  You can prepare it up to 2 days in advance and it can be stored in the freezer up to one month. Oh…and its fool proof…you can’t jack up this sauce…unless you’re one of those people who can’t even boil an egg…then you might need someone to help you.

Big Fat Bolognese
recipe by Mario Batali adapted from Joy the Baker

Makes 8 cups

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 celery ribs, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, finely chopped

5 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, ground by butcher or thinly sliced and pulsed in a food processor until finely ground

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork (not lean)

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes

1 cup dry white wine or beef stock

1 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 tsp of dry thyme works too)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)

1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper ( or to taste)

1 cup heavy cream

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic and sautee over moderate heat until softened.  This should take about 5 minutes.

Add the pancetta, veal and pork and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat as it cooks.  This should take about 6 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, heating it and mixing it in the cooked meat.  Add the white wine and deglaze the pan.  Add the water, canned tomato and thyme and gently simmer the sauce, covered, until it thickens and reduces, about an hour to an hour and a half I let mine simmer for an hour and a half.  Once thickened add salt and pepper and heavy cream.  Stir to blend.

Eat with fresh pasta and a side of good garlic bread.

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