Every Friday night, my husband comes home from work to a sparkling, just-been-cleaned house and asks the same question: What’s for dinner? And every Friday I steer him towards the freezer and let him choose. Ok, so dinner isn’t cooking when he comes in, there’s no fabulous aroma of a meal simmering on the stove, but he’s a mere twenty minutes away from something that’s guaranteed to be delicious.
My freezer is always packed with the foods I’ve been busy making throughout the weeks with friends. There’s usually a choice of a few kinds of empanadas, dumplings, chicken tenders, ravioli, a chicken parmesan dinner or even lasagna. There’s no need to order take out, spend fifty dollars and wait up to an hour for something that’s not even that good to get delivered. Instead, the oven gets pre-heated just as my husband is about to come home and then he gets to choose his Friday night dinner.
Our end-of-the week routine may seem a little 1950’s to some, but it’s actually a very modern scenario that works. But fear not. I’m not resentful and I haven’t been slaving away solo in the kitchen in a cute little apron, but rather spending worthwhile time with my friends and having fun! The food in the freezer is actually just a huge bonus.
If you’re curious, this past Friday my husband started with a first course of mushroom ravioli (which took less than ten minutes to prepare) while his second course of Smokey Southwestern Vegetarian Empanadas were baking to a golden finish in the oven. The best part: there was hardly a mess to clean up!
Smokey Southwestern Vegetarian Empanadas
Makes 40 empanadas
Each pastry is bursting with flavor and packed with veggies and protein. These hearty, smoky empanadas are a great hors d’oeuvres or meal and will even satisfy your meat eater. Serve them with salsa and light sour cream or guacamole.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
4 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 14.5 ounce can petit diced tomatoes
1 29 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 jalapeno pepper, diced finely (optional)
Juice from 1 lime
Pepper to taste
2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese
40 empanada wrappers
Make the filling:
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.
2. Sauté the onions and garlic for a few minutes on medium heat.
3. Add the peppers, jalapeno peppers and corn and cook for about five minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, black beans, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, lime juice and jalapeno.
5. Combine well and add the cheese. Stir well and cool.
1. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of an empanada wrapper.
2. Fold one side over the other and crimp the edges together, using the rope or fork method.
3. Repeat until finished with all of the wrappers and filling.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash (one egg lightly beaten with a dash of water) and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Serve with sour cream or guacamole.
1. Crimp each empanada and lay on a baking sheet lined with wax paper (making sure not to overlap or stack the empanadas.)
2. Place uncovered in the freezer for several hours until the empanadas are frozen solid.
3. Transfer to a freezer bag and seal, squeezing out excess air.
4. To cook, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, brush the tops of each with egg wash and bake on a non-stick baking sheet for 30 minutes until golden.