Today I’m sharing a recipe for giant beef empanadas from my friend, Karen Branscum. I’m thrilled to share a recipe from Karen because I have a theory (which has been proven true time and time again, so I’m about to just start calling it a fact) that good people make the best food. Now if my theory/fact is right, that means Karen’s food is PHENOMENAL.
Seriously. She is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet and I have no idea where she gets the energy to be so kind. She volunteers endless hours for her church, delivers food with meals on wheels, fundraises for meals on wheels (The photo to the right is from last December when she was giving away coupons for free pies in exchange for a donation to meals on wheels at her local grocery store), and she is also a deeply devoted wife and mother who truly cherishes her family.
I’m sure I’m not even touching the surface here but let me tell you that anytime I have mentioned wanting to help someone in need to Karen, she is immediately on board as a partner in crime. The only bad thing I can say about her is that she lives too far away.
But that is probably for the best. I’d be down for the count in one day if I ever tried to tag along with her.
Anyway, I wanted to thank Karen and all of you out there who are just like her. And even the folks who are more like me and help when you can but can’t quite seem to manage the epic-ness that Karen does. God didn’t make us all to be Karens but we are still serving a purpose and helping to lift up our brothers and sisters.
Which brings me to my little writing for the day. I wrote this as the opening letter in my newsletter yesterday. I generally start out by saying “Hi” and then move on into whatever is on my mind. Well lo and behold, once I finished my letter yesterday I thought “Hmm, that makes sense. I think I’ll share that in a post.” And here ya go…
I hope you’ve had a good weekend and are planning on having a great week – as opposed to planning on having a bad week, which a surprising number of folks do.
“Oh, I have to work all week.” might be the oft heard grumble. Well, does that mean it has to be a bad week? There are opportunities for a good week in a hard week’s work. There are people to interact with, tasks to accomplish, and a life still being lived whether we are clocked in or not.
“Well, I’ll have kids all week.” Well good gravy, smile a bit then! Kids can bring a joy to our lives unlike anything else, no matter who the kid is.
I won’t get very much sleep this week… I’ve got to pay bills this week…go to court this week…drive a long ways this week….
You and I both know folks who complain like this all the time. Every now and then I get sucked into a back and forth with them with them lobbing a complaint while I toss back a reason to be grateful and they seem bound and determined to outgun me. There is a wonderful Southern saying that always comes to mind in these situations but I dare not say it out loud during one of these determined to be grumpy/determined to be happy altercations, with thanks to my “Aunt” for the wisdom:
“Get down off the cross, honey, somebody needs the wood.”
There will always be plenty of things to bemoan and complain about just as there will always be a group of folks lined up to bemoan and complain about them.
How’s that working out for them?
Looking on the bright side. Seeking the joy, now THAT is where a life of the supposedly mundane becomes a life worth living.
I will smile today. I will notice the sun. I will pause a moment, close my eyes, and lift my face until I feel it’s warmth on my cheeks. I will squeeze you for all your worth when you come in for a hug rather than the usual “pat and go”. I will drink my coffee for pleasure, not just for caffeine. I will look you in the eye when you speak to me and see you as a person with a spirit seeking and hoping just like mine.
I will take this day that has been given to me and recognize it for the gift it is.
And you know what?
I’ll do the same tomorrow.
It’s hard to see the silver lining when we spend all of our time pointing out the clouds so I will adjust my focus until the silver nearly blinds me with it’s glory.
Our lives are worthy of no less.
Now here is Karen’s recipe for delicious Beef Empanadas. Karen is from Texas so she knows her stuff here. A flavorful and savory filling inside a tenderly flaky crust. What’s even better is that this recipe is an easy one and y’all know those are my favorites. Life is complicated enough without bringing all that mess into our kitchens!
You’ll need: Pie Crusts (You can make your own or use store brand roll out crusts), Cheddar Cheese, Salt, Diced Tomatoes, Pepper, Onion, Chili Powder, Cumin, and Ground Beef.
Brown your beef and onion in a large skillet over medium high heat, breaking it up really well as you do.
Add your tomatoes and seasonings and stir together. Return to heat.
Simmer uncovered stirring occasionally for 20-25 minutes until mixture thickens and most of tomato juice is absorbed.
Karen says it is important to place your pie crusts exactly where you want them because once you put the filling in there will be no moving without tearing. So I hung each over a bit on a large cookie sheet. That way I can just flip the top over and be done.
Place one unrolled pie crust at one end of greased cookie sheet. (If baking both giant empanadas on same cookie sheet think ahead about placement. Once beef is added you cannot move empanada).
Place half of beef mixture on half of pastry leaving one inch border around edges.
Note: This is way too much filling. You can read about why below. 🙂 You should use about 2/3 of what you see here. If you have extra you can freeze it and have Empanadas for another day…
Sprinkle with about ½ of cheese (careful not to over fill with either beef or cheese) Carefully pull remaining dough over, covering meat and cheese meeting the edge of bottom crusts.Spoon your filling into each one.
And now more about the blow out…
Karen says not to overstuff your pie crust or you’ll have a blow out. These photographs are excellent examples of me overstuffing. I did have a blow out. Don’t overstuff. You need about 2/3 the amount of filling shown here.
If you do have a blow out you can patch it with more pie dough or cook it as is, it will be fine and still taste wonderful.
It drives me crazy when folks tell me something didn’t turn out perfectly and they threw it away. Seriously. I actually gasp in horror whenever I read one of those comments. Threw it away? Even my goofs get eaten. To this day I have never had a meal so bad that we couldn’t manage to eat it and call it supper.
Every now and then someone will say something along the lines of “The stew was too salty, we had to throw it all away…” and as my eyes bug out of my head I stare at my computer screen and silently scream “ADD MORE LIQUID TO THE STEW! TOSS IN A POTATO TO ABSORB THE SALT!
JUST DRINK A GLASS OF WATER FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!! DON’T THROW AN ENTIRE POT OF STEW IN THE TRASH!”
It is a different mindset from a generation too far removed from hunger, I know. But it takes a few beats away from my heart even now, just thinking about it.
Lord help us all if the day comes again when folks can’t waltz into a grocery store and fill our baskets with whatever our persnickety pallets desire. I’ll be happily live off weeds, critters, and things I grow and raise in my back yard and “digging up a little supper” as my great grandmother used to call it.
Okay so you fold your beautiful pies over and then fold the edges up and press them to seal a bit. You can use a fork or just your fingers. Then, beat an egg and brush that over it, too.
Wanna see my blow out?
I patched it up with a little dough and smoothed it over a bit. A little meat and such popped out when I was cooking it but you know what?
It still ate just fine!
The world did not end.
No one felt the least bit horrified at the supper table when they saw it. They smiled and said it looked good and ate it up.
And if anyone had of thrown it away or acted horrified at my house…. well lets just say they know better because they were raised to know better :).
Bake these at 400 for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with your choice of toppings. After one bite of these, I can see why it is one of her husband’s favorite recipes. My husband said “WOW! This is amazing!”
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 cup green pepper chopped
- 1 can 14.5oz Diced Tomatoes, undrained
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
- 2 refrigerated ready made pie crusts Karen uses Pillsbury
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tablespoon water Optional
- Cook beef, onions & green pepper in skillet until meat is no longer pink; drain.
- Return beef mixture to skillet and stir in tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt, & pepper.
- Simmer uncovered stirring occasionally for 20-25 minutes until mixture thickens and most of tomato juice is absorbed.
- Place one unrolled pie crust at one end of greased cookie sheet. (If baking both giant empanadas on same cookie sheet think ahead about placement. Once beef is added you can not move empanada) Place half of beef mixture on half of pastry (like half moon shape ‘D’ ) leaving one inch border around edges. Sprinkle with about ½ of cheese (careful not to over fill with either beef or cheese)
- Carefully pull remaining dough over, covering meat and cheese meeting the edge of bottom crusts. Crimp edges with fork to seal all around.
- Brush top with yolk mixture. (You should have a half moon shape) Repeat above with remaining pastry.
- Bake at 400 for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole.
Notes from Karen: I rub a little water with my fingers around border of pastry. This will help the dough seal together, then crimp with fork. I caution about planning ahead on the positioning of dough on pan…you can’t move it once filled! Also don’t overfill or pastry will break. Pull dough slowly to try and slightly stretch it as you go over. To help with this you can roll dough a little bigger with rolling pin prior to placement.
“Good people bring out the good in other people.”