Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Empanada Joe's

I always liked Sloppy Joe's growing up.  I wanted to buy my lunch at school every time they were on the menu; I got super excited when a friend's mom would say she was cooking us Sloppy Joe's for us for dinner; my mom even occasionally made us some tasty Sloppy Joe's too!  Even though I love Sloppy Joe's, I realize not everyone does.  Well, at least, they don't until they try my Sloppy Joe's.  My Sloppy Joe's wrapped up in a soft flaky crust.  My Sloppy Joe's wrapped up in a soft flaky crust that are conveniently sized to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.

Yes.  My Sloppy Joe empanadas.  Or, simply put, my Empanada Joe's.

This super easy recipe is based off a recipe I have from a slow cooker cook book.  Did I mention it was easy?  'Cuz it is.  Easy.  Really the hardest part is waiting patiently for all the ingredients to meld together and work their magic.  So without further adieu, my Empanada Joe's.

Empanada Joe's
2 lbs. ground meat (I use beef, but seriously whatever you prefer is fine!)
1 cup chopped onion
1 pint chopped brown onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup chopped bell pepper (any kind really works.  I like green because it adds a nice color!)
1/4 cup (plus a little extra) Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbs. dijon mustard
4 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. cayan pepper (I really just keep shaking the container until it looks something like I imagine 2 tsp. look like)
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package prepared pie crust
1 large egg

  1. Brown the meat with the onions and mushrooms.  If your pan is not big enough for both the meat and the mushrooms, you can suate the mushrooms until they are soft in a separate pan.  Either way, once the meat is browned, drain off the fat.
  2. Combine the browned meat and mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients in a crockpot.  Well, except for the cheese, pie crust, and egg.  Don't mix those in yet.  Stir everything together until well incorporated.
  3. Cook on high heat for the next 3-4 hours.  Make sure you stir the meat mixture every 1 hour to 1 1/5 hours just to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom or sides and burns.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Once the flavors have melded together, it's time to prepare the dough.  Roll the dough out slightly and use a large cup to cut disks.  Re-roll out the scraps until you can't make any more disks.
  6. Lay 1/2 your disks out on a cookie sheet, evenly spaced out.  Place a heaping Tablespoon of the meat mixture onto the middle of each disk.  Then top the meat with a pinch of shredded cheese. 
  7. Top the meat and cheese mixture with another disk.  Press the edges of the dough together, trying to get as much air out as possible.  Take a fork and crimp the edges of the dough all the way around the disks.
  8. Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush over the top of each packet.  Take a sharp knife and make two slits on the top of each packet.  Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (kinda depends on how good your oven is...) looking for the dough to be golden brown and delicious.
  9. I know I shouldn't insult your intelligence like this, but I will.  Just in case.  Let them cool down for at least 5 minutes before you dig into them!  Your mouth and taste buds will hate you if you don't.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Un-Pumpkin Muffins

I love Fall because it has my favorite holidays.  Who doesn't love Halloween where you get to dress up as anything you want and it's ok.  Even if you're 25 and should be acting like an adult.  It doesn't matter.  And then there's Thanksgiving!  Oh how I love Thanksgiving!  The family gets together, we reflect on the year and what we are thankful for, and we laugh and joke and eat.  It's really my favorite holiday because it's so family oriented and there are no expectations except to enjoy each others' company.

And then there's the pie.  I really don't know which type I like more:  apple or pumpkin.  The apple is sweet with a crunchy crust and gooey center.  The pumpkin is more savory and creamy, and with a dallop of whipped cream, it really can't get any better.  And they are both equally delicious for breakfast the next morning.  So I had to come up with a tie-breaker:  muffins.

I love muffins, and I love pie, so it seemed only obvious to create muffins that taste like the pie!  I have made apple muffins (which are LOADED with fiber, so if you aren't well stocked with toilet paper, you should not eat them!) and it was on to making pumpkin muffins.

I found a great recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook, because Betty knows it all!

Unfortunately, she doesn't know how to make very good pumpkin muffins.

Don't get me wrong, the muffins are delicious.  They are nice and moist, good crumb texture, and they are slightly sweet.  They have great flavor, but they don't taste like pumpkin.  At all. And they were not spicy enough for my liking.  Part of the appeal of pumpkin pie is how well the spices play off each other.   And there wasn't much pumpkin.  Or spice.  Back to the drawing board.

So it's my turn to turn up the flavor a bit, Betty.  I just hope that when I'm done, she's not rolling around in her grave.  That would be undesirable to say the least.  This weekend, I will be whipping up a batch of Pumpkin Muffins 2.0.