Beef Empanadas

beef empanadas

Jonathan and I went to a Spanish tapas bar for our date night last week and it was delicious!  I love grazing on my dinner like cattle…truly I do, and tapas give me an excuse to try a bit of everything. I’ve been scheming ways to make some at home every day since.  While our schedules don’t currently allow for hosting a tapas party, I knew I needed to make something at home to satisfy my urges.

Enter stage right: beef empanadas.

empanada filling

I tend to shy away from making pastries or frying food at home because it can be a lot of work.  However, I happened to have a few pie crusts hanging out in my freezer that needed love and attention.  You can easily use Pillsbury crescent rolls if you want to cut out a few steps and save time.  As for the frying?  Well, you can bake these puppies instead, but why would you do that to yourself?


These beef empanadas are packed with flavor and have a perfect flaky and buttery crust.  I love that they are only three bites, which makes me feel a little better about eating fried foods.  So if I’m doing my math right, eating 6 of them is practically a health food.  Math is hard!

Beef Empanadas

Makes approximately 20 empanadas with beef filling to spare!

  • 2 tsp. bacon grease (optional)
  • 1/2 jalapeño minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste (Please taste it!  Salt and pepper are the key to tasty meat! I used about 1/4 tsp. of each.)
  • 3 Tbsp cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c. shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • No Excuses Pie Crust or Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • approximately 20 oz. frying oil such as Canola
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onions, jalapeño, and garlic in bacon grease (or olive oil) for 2 minutes or until slightly soft.
  2. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking it up into tiny bits.  Drain fat from pan and set back on heat.
  3. Mix in the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Taste the beef mixture and add more seasonings as you see fit.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a heavy-bottomed pot or a dutch oven, heat fry oil until 375 degrees.  Give it at least 10 minutes over medium heat to come to temperature.  Adjust until you get to 375 degrees.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it’s approximately 1/8 of an inch thick.  Use a large cookie cutter or whatever tool you have on hand (I used an empty 28 oz. can of pumpkin as an empanada cutter) to cut circles out of the dough.
  7. Dip your finger in the beaten egg and spread it around the outer edge of each empanada.  This is the “glue” for the dough and prevents the empanadas from bursting open in the fry oil.
  8. Place approximately 2 tsp. meat mixture, 1 tsp. cheese, and a pinch of cilantro into the center of each empanada.
  9. Gently fold the dough over the filling and crimp the edges together.  You can use a fork or your fancy fingers to crimp it closed.
  10. Fry empanadas three at a time, flipping after about 2 minutes…just keep your eyes on it…when it’s golden brown, it’s ready to flip.
  11. Use a slotted spoon to move the empanadas to a plate with a paper towel to allow it to drain off excess grease and cool.
  12. Enjoy!

Notes on this recipe: I’ve been saving bacon grease in a mason jar in my fridge lately.  It feels a little Howard Hughes-esque, but my life has significantly improved now that I have bacon grease on hand for sautéing vegetables and other things.  If you happen to keep a jar of the stuff (you are a champion), then feel free to use it to sauté the onions, but you could easily substitute olive oil.

You should buy tortillas to go with this recipe because you will have extra filling, but lucky for you, the filling tastes great as tacos too!

empanada cutter

beef filling

empanada collage

One more little note…crimping the edges of empanadas, and any pies for that matter, is my kryptonite.  I would like to show you my two trial run empanadas just to stay humble:


#FAIL They still tasted damn good.

Do not be like me.  Be delicate and graceful and an empanada savant.

Do not attempt to glue the rips in the dough together with more dough.  Your food will look like a burn victim and it will appetize no one.

There’s a solid chance I rolled out the dough too thin.  Don’t do that.

If you are like me (bless you!), don’t worry.  Hot fry oil cures all ails.  Pop those bad boys in their little jacuzzi until golden brown!

frying empanadas

Can you hear them sizzling?

I already miss them.  Their poor little lives were cut too short.  Until we meet again, my fried friends.


Two Second Salmon Dip

This weekend marks my last weekend of summer freedom before the second year of graduate school starts again.  Not that I really had “summer freedom”, as I was in summer school up until last week.

The point is, I am living it up as much as possible until Tuesday evening hits like a ton of bricks.

Which is what brings me to this salmon dip.  I brought it to a friend’s backyard BBQ and ate like it was my last supper.

This recipe takes anywhere from two to ten seconds…total.  It’s that easy.  If you love salmon, you’ll love this…I promise.

The cast of characters:

We bought the fancy salmon this time around, but cheapo salmon works in a pinch.

1 package cream cheese (I always use 1/3 less fat without any ill effects)

1 package salmon in the pouch – shredded

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup capers

Splash of hot sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

Simply combine all ingredients and chill until you are ready to serve with crackers or veggie sticks.

Use about this many capers…or more if you’re feeling frisky…or less if you’re feeling capered-out.

This recipe is in our stash of family favorite recipes, but we got the original from our friend, Ginger.  The family favorites are tried and true, never fail to please a crowd, and taste delicious served with love.  You know those recipes…the ones that have tattered corners and get passed around at every major holiday?  Yup.  mmmm

Shred the salmon a little bit with your weirdly angled thumb. I swear my right thumb isn’t normally this disfigured.

We ended the bonfire with an outdoor movie and popcorn and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the summer!

Two Second Salmon Dip

What are you doing to celebrate the last few days of summer?



Taco Dip

This recipe was originally given to me by my friend, Sarah.  I ate pretty much the entire tray of taco dip and then looked at her with sad puppy-dog eyes, begging for more.

Warning: You may eat the entire tray of taco dip.

My favorite part about this recipe is that it takes 3 minutes to whip together.  3 MINUTES!

The party starts with 1 pkg. softened cream cheese, 8 oz. sour cream, and 1/2 packet taco seasonings.

Made for each other.

Mix those bad larrys together until all the lumps are gone, and then spread on a pan.  I used a cookie sheet, but I also double the recipe…

A double batch fits perfectly on a cookie sheet.

Bust out your taco sauce and drizzle a fair amount on top.

See?  This recipe is so easy, it doesn’t even need precise measurements.

My drizzle looked like this:


Ok.  Now sprinkle the top with shredded lettuce (~1/3 cup) and shredded cheddar (~1/3 cup).

Sorry about this pic. Nighttime fell, which happens in real life, but not for real food bloggers. I apologize for not being a real food blogger.

If you want to get fancy, you can add all sorts of toppings…tomato, black olive, beans, etc.

Full recipe:

8oz. package of cream cheese

8 oz. sour cream

1/2 packet taco seasoning

Drizzle of taco sauce

Sprinkle of shredded iceberg lettuce

Sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese

Combine cream cheese, sour cream, and taco seasoning until smooth.  Spread on serving dish.  Drizzle with taco sauce.  Sprinkle with lettuce and cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips and veggies.

What’s your favorite party dish to make?  What recipes do you fall back on in a pinch?  

Don’t say I didn’t warn you about eating the whole pan.