Sunday, May 29, 2011

We're gonna ride on a double decker bus!

So- a week ago, we started weight watchers which means there will be fewer recipes for fried things in the next few months on this blog. We still will eat well because I am determined to create delicious variations of the things we love that I can have for fewer points.  So... I give you:  Zucchini with Orzo and Feta.  We'd had a ww recipe for a version of this- but I've changed it a little to make it my own.  And before I give you that recipe--- I am including here a few pictures of what we did yesterday-- a double decker bus tour with a few of our dear friends.  I love our city.  And our friends.  What a great day.

Zucchini with Orzo and Feta

  1 Box of Orzo
4 Medium Zucchini cut into small pieces
1 small block or container of Feta cheese
1/2 a sweet onion chopped
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2-4 Tablespoons of parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to directions on package.
heat olive oil over medium heat.  cook onion until softened- add zucchini, oregano, salt and pepper.
Cook zucchini until bright green and softened- toss the zucchini and onions into the cooked orzo-- add parsley and feta and toss well.  Enjoy hot or at any temp. It's good cold- at room temp- or whatever...of course, I like it hot.  :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Family favorite: Empanadas

One of our favorite things to do when we lived in Lancaster was to go to Central Market.  We'd go around 11 am, and get iced tea or chai from Mean Cup, then we'd go get fresh veggies and chicken or some other protein to grill for our Saturday night dinner from whichever stands had the nicest produce.  We'd wander around a little and buy cheese from Weaver's and chat with the "sub ladies".  We'd look at the chocolate and the cookies from Wendy Jo's and wish we were eating some.   We'd then go buy white and chocolate milk in glass jars from Maplehoff Dairy.  And just before we left to walk up to Binn's park-- we'd grab empanadas from the cheesy little family run empanada stand.  They were delicious and most likely broke a number of health or sanitation codes, and so- the stand didn't last long, and soon, we could no longer enjoy that very delicious treat.   We LOVED those emapanadas.  Pork, beef or chicken, they were all delicious.

So we haven't had empanadas in close to a year, and last week,  I couldn't take it anymore and decided to try to make them myself.  They weren't the same, but they were TOTALLY DELICIOUS!

Here's an approximation of the recipe:

The Dough Recipe from


  • 3 cups flour (plus a little more for kneading)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons shortening


1. In a bowl, beat the water, egg, egg white and vinegar together. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the 3 cups of flour and salt.
3. Cut the shortening into the flour mix with a pastry blender or two butter knives. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and pour the liquid ingredients from the first bowl into the center.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients with a fork until it becomes stiff.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it just until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth.
6. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but never more than 24 hours.
Tip: If you want to keep the dough longer than 24 hours, you can freeze it.
Servings: Makes approximately 10 six-inch empanadas.

Filling is slightly adapted from a recipe on
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lb ground chuck or ground beef
2 tablespoons chopped raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped pimento stuffed olives
1 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes (reserve 2 tablespoons juice)

3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

About 4 Cups Canola Oil
  • a deep-fat thermometer

Cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
Add raisins ( I chopped these very finely- Scott would suggest you leave them out entirely)
olives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Spread on a plate to cool.
Preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle.

Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a dampened work surface (to help keep plastic in place), then roll out an empanada disk on plastic wrap to measure about 6 inches. Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture on disk and top with cheese if you like it. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork. Make more empanadas in same manner.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer. Fry empanadas, 2 or 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 4 to 6 minutes per batch.
Transfer to a shallow baking pan and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 360°F between batches.