I might have shared with you before my love for Tex-Mex. Some of my favorite restaurants are back home in Oklahoma, where the chips, salsa, queso, and homemade tortillas are freely flowing. It is hard to describe why I love the food so much, but there is just nothing like it! The only close alternative to Tex-Mex here is On the Border; sad, but true. The problem is that On the Border happens to be in Jersey, so even that has become a “special occasion” place. When I need a little jolt of Mexican inspired food, I go for empanadas. Empanadas are a quick solution for an easy fix. Typically empanadas have a flaky, pastry outside with meat and melted cheese tucked away inside. They make a great appetizer, but could also pass for a meal. I prefer to use chicken, but you could easily substitute for ground beef. They would also be great served with the homemade salsa I shared with you last week.
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
8 oz Colby and Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
15 oz package refrigerated pie crust
water (for assembly)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine chicken, Colby and Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, red bell pepper, jalapeno, cumin, salt, and pepper. Unroll 1 piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15 inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining pie crust, making 12 to 15 circles total. Arrange 1 round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of curst with water. Please 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with remaining rounds and chicken mixture. Place empanadas on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.