Monday, October 18, 2010

Barbecue Beef Empanada

Fall is trying ever so hard to be a real presence, I'm really wishing it luck!  One of my family's favorite Fall dishes is Potato Soup.  I don't really have a recipe for potato soup, I just make it like my Mom always has.  If you haven't ever made potato soup and want a good recipe start here, it sounds so good.  My potato soup is very straightforward, potatoes, butter, milk, salt, pepper, and cheese.  We love it especially my Son, Levi who asks for it quite often.  The usual tag along with potato soup is cornbread, but this weekend I wanted to make something a little different and add a little more umph to the meal.  What I came up with was this barbecue beef empanada, which is so easy and really, really good.

An empanada is nothing more than a "stuffed" sandwich.  After I made these, I had a ton of other ideas on how to twist the filling and also change up the bread used, so I'll be playing around with this recipe for a while to see what all I can come up with . After the recipe I'll post some of my ideas on fillings and bread combinations.  This recipe came together right at 30 minutes, which included thawing meat in the microwave.  I did bake the crescent rolls a little longer than called for, in my oven I went a full 15 minutes, because I wanted to make sure the bottom crust wasn't soggy.  The extra baking time was the ticket.  After assembling the pastries, I put about 2 tablespoons (a good pinch) of Colby jack cheese on the tops of each empanada.  I love that crusty cheesy taste it gave.

Barbecue Beef Empanada

1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 cup Barbecue Sauce (my family likes K.C. Masterpiece)
1 1/2 cups Colby Jack Cheese
2 cans Crescent Rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium skillet brown ground beef, adding seasoning salt and black pepper.  Remove from heat.  We use 90% lean so we don't have any fat to drain, but drain if there is any liquid in the pan.  Add the barbecue sauce and cheese, stirring until the cheese completely melts.  Set aside.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.  Let me interrupt this post by saying, "PLEASE start using parchment paper, you'll thank me one day, you really will." Open the crescent rolls and unroll.  Press two triangles together to make one large rectangle.  Place about 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of the crescents, fold over and seal the edges, you can just press them down with your fingers.  Repeat until you have assembled all the crescents (8 in all).  Place a pinch of cheese on top of each empanada.  Bake for 15 minutes at 375, until golden brown.


  • Cordon Bleu: Diced chicken and ham, mixed with Mozzarella and Swiss cheese, add some Dijon Mustard.
  • Pizza: Pepperoni, ground beef, and pizza/spaghetti sauce, with mozzarella cheese.
  • Fajitas: Chicken or beef, with peppers and onions, add salsa and cheese.
  • Add your families favorite veggies to any of the above.
  • White Tuxedo: Diced chicken, crumbled bacon, sauteed mushrooms, peas, Alfredo sauce and cheese.
  • Use Pie crust (use a fork to seal the edges) for any or all the above fillings.
  • Reuben (I really can't stand Reuben but some people really, really love them)
  • Breakfast: Use biscuits if you want adding sausage, bacon, ham, veggies with scrambled eggs.
Have fun with this recipe and use your imagination to come up with your very own.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Banana Bars

I had to have one bite!

 There are certain smells that transport me right back to my childhood.  The smell of Old Spice will always remind me of my Dad, who wore that scent until I went to college.  Food has a way of taking me back in time and kindling fond memories, too. These memories are sharp as the time I was making them because they are of friends and family who I don't  have the pleasure of being around all the time.  I can prepare a dish and immediately be back with that person and, through their recipe enjoy some fond memories.  These banana bars have that nostalgic connection for me.
When I worked in Fort Worth, TX as Children's Minister our church building was sold and we began a two year process of building a new building North of the current location.  This two-year time span was certainly challenging, but also among some of the best times of ministry, personally.  We met in the Keller ISD High School and each week transformed the school into our church building.  Teacher's lounge became the Nursery, Cafeteria and halls became classes for preschool through 5th grade, and the performing arts center (auditorium) was one where the adults Bible class met.  It was during this time that many, many new faces came our way, among them the Cardenas family.  Adam, Gabe, Mari-Kathrine, Dillon, Sharon, and Renan would come rolling in every week.  Usually whisking Dillon off to the Nursery, in a rush, always smiling and enjoying being part of the excitement that was our church experience.

Sharon eventually became my secretary and very good friend.  We became fast friends because we shared a love for cooking and eating.  We talked a lot about food and cooking and would find a recipe online and tear it apart to make it our own.  Ms. Sharon has some great recipes, and these banana bars are at the top of that list.  They cake is super moist, thanks to the addition of sour cream, and has a subtle yet unforgettable banana flavor. Light and tender, with the hint of vanilla and almond (I added almond extract to the recipe) throughout.  You top these wonderful bars with a cream cheese butter cream that I could eat with a spoon.  The cake doesn't last long, but keeps very well, covered on the counter.

If you have some bananas past their prime, give these bars a try.  A simple powdered sugar glaze would also be wonderful on this bar, if you didn't have or want to make cream cheese butter cream.


Here's the batter spread into the pan ready for the oven.
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup Sour Cream
2 bananas, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8th teaspoon almond extract (cap full)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a half sheet pan, set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer: add the butter and sugar mixing well (5 minutes) on medium high heat.  Add the remaining ingredients, mixing each well before adding the next.  When completely incorporated, spread the batter evenly onto the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until set.  Cool completely before frosting with butter cream.

Notes:  I don't mash the bananas because my mixer does a good job of that, it saves a step and a bowl.  I think these would make great cupcakes, you would have to play with the cooking time of course.  If you don't have a half sheet (I get mine at Sam's) baking sheet, you can use a jelly roll pan just fine.

Here it is hot out of the oven.  The white spots are the banana
bits, so good.
Cream Cheese Butter Cream

1 stick room temperature butter
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond
2 boxes of confection sugar.

Beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth and without lumps.  Add extracts and mix to incorporate. Slowly add confection sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.  Frost cake.  If the frosting is too thick add some milk to thin the frosting.

This cake is super simple to whip us and is so delicious, especially when the cake is still just a tad bit warm and the icing is kind of...melty.  You can keep this in the fridge or on the counter, either place is just fine.  If you really didn't feel like making frosting (it's super simple to do, you really can do it) you could crack open a can.  I can't remember the last time I ate canned frosting, it is just so simple to make your own.  I think you will want to keep this cake in your handy file and use it often.  Ms. Sharon also has another great sheet cake called a White Texas Sheet Cake that we tweaked over and over to make it right.  Just typing those words has really made me want to make that cake now...great.