This evening was lots of fun for me.  Hubby took me on a date!  No kids or anyone else…just us.  We went to our favorite German restaurant and had a wonderful time.  The food was great as it always is.  I love the braised then roasted fresh pork hock that they serve with a really flavorful pan dripping sauce.  The outside is so crispy and delicious while the inside is falling of the bone tender.  The only problem with the whole thing is the size…it’s huge!!!!  The leftovers are so good that’s really not a complaint.

As parents we just don’t get the chance to be alone at dinner very often.  It was really nice to have an evening to just enjoy each others company.  We got to talk and not be interrupted by requests to go to the bathroom….or to answer a question they (the kids) already have the answer to….or to hear one child accuse the other of having hit them in the head… hard and on purpose (that’s at home of course).    Then there are the constant forks being dropped…drinks being spilled and the all important (forgive me) stupid question.  I don’t know about your kids but my kids love to wait until I am in the middle of a conversation with Hubby or on the phone….that’s when they simply must ask me a question that they feel is a total emergency and cannot wait another minute!  It is always ok maybe 98% of the time….(forgive me) a stupid question.  You know the kind that make you look at your kids and wonder if your spouse dropped them on their head and didn’t tell you?

Anyway, the point is that this evening I got to eat my food while it was hot.  I got to finish a thought.   It was wonderful!!!!  Hubby and I went to the mall after dinner for a little Christmas shopping and we got to hold hands (each others not the wee ones)….he opened my car door for me (why had he stopped doing that?)….it was such a nice evening.  Best part…I was so happy to see my kids when we got back!  It turns out a little break from the two tiny loves of my life is a good thing!!!  Oh, and Hubby still makes a pretty good boyfriend.  What a treat!

Let’s make some empanadas shall we?  The pictures I have are of full size empanadas because we were eating them as a meal.  Ok, actually we stood around the kitchen with the bottle of hot sauce and ate them as fast as I could fry them but you get the idea.  To make these hors ‘d oeuvre size simply cut each of the dough rounds in half.  They become the perfect size for a party!

Homemade Empanadas (fried spicy beef hand pies) ~ Tamatha Mavraides

2lbs.  lbs Fresh ground chuck

1 Large spanish onion chopped

4 cloves of garlic (if they are very large make it 3) minced

1 Sweet pepper I used anaheim seeded and chopped

4 tablespoons organic tomato paste

pimento stuffed green olives in brine (yes the ones in the jar)

1 tablespoon of the brine from the olives

your favorite hot sauce (I used crystal)

onion powder

garlic powder


crushed red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

2 -3 tablespoons water

olive oil (for sautéing)


Here we go….

In a large sauté pan over medium high heat caramelize the chopped onion, garlic and pepper.  Season the vegetables to taste.  We like our food quite savory…

Onions, peppers, garlic and spices (season liberally)

Once the vegetables are nicely browned and the spices smell nice and toasty add the ground beef.

adding the ground beef

Season the meat as well.  Don’t over do it here, you can always add spices you can’t remove them but there is no substitute for flavoring as you go.  Let the meat brown nicely.  When the meat has browned make a “well” in the center of the meat.  This is where you will caramelize the tomato paste.  This step really does matter, please don’t skip it.

creating the “well”

Tomato paste being caramelized

Stir the tomato paste around in the fat to give it a nice toasting.  This step deepens the flavor of the tomato paste.  Once you have done that go ahead and combine the tomato paste with the meat mixture. Next add the olives.  If you like olives add more if you don’t like olives reduce the amount or leave them out.  They are here to introduce a complex saltiness to the dish.  Its wonderful.  I always pour in a couple of tablespoons of the brine from the bottle.  It’s really good!

adding the olives

Add a few dashes of hot sauce to the mixture, I like a flavorful hot sauce not one that is only heat and little else.  This is of course to your taste.  Taste filling, correct spices as needed.  If the mixture seems dry add a couple of tablespoons of water and give it all a good stir.  We are not looking for a loose mixture we just want it to be pleasantly moist.  The  filling should be very tasty and savory….NOT BLAND. Cool this meat mixture down completely before assembling your pies.

Now this may shock you…. I buy the special dough for these pastries!  I have tried to make it several times but it never is quite right.  This dough is readily available in the freezer section of most supermarkets.  It will look like this….

You will need oil for frying, I use canola but feel free to use what you like.  You cannot use olive oil as these are deep fried and that would just be a huge waste and the oil would burn horribly.

Below is the method for filling the pastries in photos…it makes more sense I think….

Just a tiny bit of water along the edge of half the circle helps seal the dough completely. I use my (very clean) fingertip.

Once you have all the pastries filled and sealed heat your oil to 350 degrees and fry 2 at a time until they are nicely golden brown.  Don’t fry them too fast or they will not cook through evenly.  That crust is so good!!!!!  Once the pastries are perfectly deep golden brown drain them on paper towels and keep frying until they are all cooked.

I made 20 pastries ( i have another tray not seen here).

The filling is so nice and savory…the dough is truly perfect (so much so I gave up trying)…all you need is some hot sauce to sprinkle on the outside (at least that’s how I like it).  If you make these in the smaller size set them out on your platter and watch them disappear….very very quickly.  Yes, they are that good!


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22 Responses to The Holiday Collection ~ Scrumptious Empanadas….a perfect hors d’ oeuvre for a party

  1. Mary Anne says:

    no fair!!!!They look so tasty! They would be gone in a flash!

  2. Charlotte Moore says:

    YUMMMY!!! These look wonderful. Never have seen this dough in any of our stores though. I need to look. I think my whole crew would like these.
    It reminds me of the meat mixture that is in Johnnie Mozetti. It has pasta and cheese and makes into a casserole. I got this from a woman from the Canal Zone and have never seen this exact recipe online. It has the green and black olives.

    Now don’t you feel much more relaxed after your date? That is just what you needed. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    • Charlotte, would you share that recipe? It sounds very good.

      • Charlotte Moore says:

        Sure will. Not sure how to get it to you since our email addreesses are not listed.

      • Tamatha says:

        Hi Darlene, I just asked Charlotte to share her recipe here in the comments box so we can all enjoy it. She is a wonderful cook and baker. I bet the recipe is scrumptious!

        • Charlotte Moore says:

          Here is the recipe for Johnnie Mozetti:

          1 med.onion, diced
          3 lg. ribs celery leaves also, diced
          1 med. green bell pepper,diced
          1 lb. lean ground beef
          1 can tomato soup
          1 sm. can tomato sauce
          2 cloves garlic, diced
          1/2 cup pitted black olives, drained
          1/2 med. jar stuffed olives, juice also
          1/8 tsp. oregano
          8 oz. small flat noodles(cooked)
          1/2 lb. cheddar or longhorn cheese, shredded

          Saute onion, pepper, and celery in pan big enough to hold everything. Add meat and brown, drain fat. Add soup, sauce, garlic, oregano, and olives. Simmer while you cook noodles;(cook a couple mins. less than directions say) drain, add to meat mixture. Turn all together, layer half in a 13×9 dish, top with half the cheese. Add remaining meat mixture then rest of cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until bubbly.

          ( I put my onions, peppers, and celery in the food processor for a few seconds. Saves lots of chopping time. I do not know why it does not say to add the garlic to the sauteing, but I am sure you could.) Also I have not been able to find small noodles so I use medium. Of course if you make your own that would even be better. I have never ventured there.

        • Thank you for following up on this!
          It looks really tasty.

    • Tamatha says:

      I don’t know the recipe you are mentioning but I saw other reader were curious too, please share it.. I love new stuff!

      As to the date….we had such a great time. Yes I do feel better. I took a night off and really enjoyed it. :)

  3. yolanda says:

    yes I will be making this for Mecca and Nicole.yum yum

  4. This looks delicious!

    Did you use any cumin in this? One of the photos looks like there’s some in there. Or is that just black pepper (which I usually leave out of recipes as I don’t much care for the taste of it)?

    • Charlotte Moore says:

      I live in North GA too. Where are you from? I am close to Ball Ground and Jasper

    • Tamatha says:

      I don’t have cumin in this recipe but cumin would be very at home in it. You are right, what you see there is pepper.

      Food should be just the way you like it….if you don’t like an ingredient by all means change it or leave it out. I’m a fan of fiddling with recipes. :)

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