It occurred to me, as I was making the empanadas today, the last couple of weeks have been an ethnic diversity palooza in my kitchen.  I made a Moroccan chicken tagine with apricots and olives, Asian inspired sticky ginger sesame chicken meatballs, Mexican tostadas with my friend’s pickled pigs feet sauce, a Vietnamese shrimp spring roll bowl with sweet chili mango sauce, Italian chicken parmesan with linguine and marinara, Polish pierogis with polish sausage and cabbage, and Jewish penicillin, chicken soup with matzo balls.  It’s all been good.  A couple recipes were better than others.  But good just the same.  It makes cooking and mealtime much more interesting when you experiment and try new dishes.  A couple weeks ago I got new kitchen gadgets that made pierogis and empanadas more fun to make…a crimper and a roller that cuts the dough into perfectly sized discs to fit the crimper.  The gadgets are the real reason I was inspired to make the empanadas today.  I have a few packages of pierogis in my freezer.  Now I will have a few bags of empanadas in my freezer.  The recipe for the empanadas comes from America’s Test Kitchen, special collector’s edition, The Best Mexican Recipes.  There are a lot of great recipes in that magazine.

Dough ingredients:

3 3/4 cups AP flour (18 3/4 oz.)

1 T sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

12 T unsalted, chilled butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 1/4 cups ice water

2 T olive oil

Process the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined.  Scatter the butter in the processor over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of water at a time, stirring after each addition.  You may not need to use all of the water.  Once the dough sticks together, turn out onto a clean, dry work surface and gently press into a cohesive ball.  Divide the dough into two discs, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.  Let the chilled dough sit out on the counter for a few minutes before rolling.

While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.  I made a vegetarian filling with corn, peppers, and cheese.

Filling Ingredients:

2 T unsalted butter

1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine

3 whole canned mild green chilis chopped fine

3 green onions, whites minced and greens sliced thin

1 small mild orange pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine

2 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

salt and pepper

3/4 cup frozen corn thawed

1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped

6 oz shredded Jack cheese

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook the peppers and scallion whites until softened and lightly browned.

Stir in the garlic and the spices and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant.

Stir in the corn and remove from the heat.  Put the corn, pepper mixture in a bowl and refrigerate until completely cool.

While that’s chilling, slice the scallion greens, cilantro, and grate the Jack cheese.  Once cool, mix all of the ingredients together and now you’re ready to start rolling your dough.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut discs with a biscuit cutter, a glass, or, if you’re fortunate enough to have one of these rollers, roll on.

Fill each circle with 1 T of filling.  Brush the edges of the dough with water to help ensure a good seal.  Fold the dough over and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork.  Or, if you’re fortunate enough to have a crimper, crimp on.

Transfer the empanadas to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush each with olive oil.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Allow to cool and enjoy!

NOTE:  The filling options are endless.  There is a beef and cheese filling in the magazine and many, many more recipes on line.  The empanadas freeze well.  Put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet until frozen and then transfer them to zip lock freezer bags.  Bake them a few extra minutes if they’ve come out of the freezer.  Serve them as is or with salsa or Mexican crema.

Sangria and Poblano-Jalapeño Jellies

I’m not a huge fan of Sangria or hot peppers but love both of these jellies.  You could spread them on your English muffin but I would call these  hors d’oeuvre jellies.  They are amazing on crackers with a little creamy cheese.  Goat cheese is great with the poblano-jalapeño jelly and Brie is wonderful with the sangria.  Any one of your favorite creamy cheeses will do.  Or just spread a little jelly love on a cracker or a piece of Finn Crisp and enjoy.

I found these two recipes in a Better Homes & Gardens special publication.  I love experimenting and trying new things so I gave these a shot.  Loved them both, as did my taste testers, and ended up making two batches of each.  The sangria is the easiest jelly ever.

Sangria Ingredients:

2-3 oranges – enough for 1/2 cup of juice plus zest

2-3 limes – enough for 1/4 cup of juice plus zest

1 bottle dry red wine

5 cups sugar

1 6-oz pkg (2 foil pouches) of liquid pectin

2 T brandy

Remove 2 tsp of zest from the oranges and 1 tsp of zest from the limes.  Squeeze the juice from the fruit and measure out 1/2 cup of orange juice and 1/4 cup of lime juice.

Combine the wine, zest, juice, and sugar in a heavy nonreactive  kettle.

Bring to a full rolling boil stirring constantly.  Quickly stir in pectin.  Again bring to a full rolling boil stirring constantly.  Boil hard for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat.  Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.  Stir in the brandy.  Ladle the jelly into hot sterilized half-pint jelly jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes starting the timer when the water returns to a boil.  Remove jars from the canner and cool on wire racks.

Poblano-Jalapeño Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups of sugar

2 1/2 cups finely chopped and seeded fresh poblano peppers

1/2 cup finely chopped and seeded fresh jalapeño peppers

1 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup lime juice

1 6-oz pkg (2 foil pouches) liquid fruit pectin

Green food coloring

In a heavy kettle combine the sugar, chopped peppers, vinegar, water and salt.

Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes.  Stir lime juice into the pepper mixture and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Boil one minute stirring constantly.  Quickly stir in the pectin and bring to a full rolling boil.  Boil hard for one minute.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in a little green food coloring.  While the food coloring is optional the jelly is pretty ugly without it.

Ladle the jelly into half pint sterilized jelly jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, starting the timer when the water returns to boiling.  Remove jars from canner and cool on wire racks.

The results are amazing!  Hope you’ll give these a try.

NOTE:  It’s a lot of pepper chopping but food processors tend to turn peppers into liquid mush.  Just get a good sharp knife out and chop chop.  The pepper jelly is NOT hot.  You get the great flavor from both peppers without the heat.

Andouille Sausage, Tomatoes and Rice


Andouilli is a smoked sausage made from pork and seasoned with garlic, peppers, onion, and seasonings.  A little spicy.   It’s very common in Louisiana Creole cuisine.  The organic meat market where I purchase all of my meat makes an especially good andouilli.

One pot dishes are always a treat after a long day when you don’t have a lot of time to put a homemade meal on the table.  This is a tasty dish that’s a little kicked up (you can kick it up a little more if you’d like).  Some of the kick comes from the andouilli sausage.  You can prep and cook this dish in less than an hour.  A little bit of New Orleans on your table and only one pan to wash.


1 T olive oil

1 medium onion rough chopped

1 cup rough chopped pepper (I used an orange bell pepper and a poblano)

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

4 links adouille sausage (a little under one pound)

1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp coarse ground black  pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 pint diced tomatoes

1 T tomato pastee

1 T Franks Hot Sauce


Heat the olive oil in a heavy fry pan or Dutch oven.  Dice the onion and peppers, mince the garlic and slice the sausage links.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

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Measure out the spices and add to the sausage and vegetables along with the rice.

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Stir and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, tomato paste, tomatoes and Franks.


Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow the pan to stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Stir and serve.


I served it with some steamed asparagus and a wedge of buttermilk cornbread.  I’ve always been a little wimpy about spice but my palate is adjusting.  I loved this dish.


If you’d like, you can add some shrimp to this dish.  After the first 20 minutes of simmering, stir in the shrimp, cover, and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

NOTE:  I have mentioned this before but recipes always call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste.  I open both ends of a small can of tomato paste and put the can in the freezer for an hour or so.  Once the paste has firmed up push it out of the can, slice it and freeze individual slices in snack bags.  You always have just the right amount of tomato paste at the ready.


Roasted Tomatillo Salsa


I almost always prefer green salsas to red ones.  Unless the green salsa is very hot and the red is not. In New Mexico they use the term “Christmas” when both red and green chilies are used in a dish…or, if you can’t choose your salsa, just tell them you want Christmas.

I like this mild salsa made with tomatillos. Tomatillos look like green tomatoes with a papery covering.  Apparently ripe tomatillos are red or purple but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ripe one. When you choose them in the grocery they should be firm but not hard and the papery husks should be open but intact. They have a hint of citrus flavor and, like tomatoes, they add acid to a dish.  This salsa is very easy to make.

Salsa Ingredients:

6-7 tomatillos

2 jalapeños (seeded or not)

2 poblano peppers

3-4 garlic cloves whole

1 fresh lime

1 small onion rough chopped

Salt to taste


Wash the peppers and tomatillos, halve them and spread them out on a baking sheet along with the whole garlic cloves.


Roast then under the broiler until they are nicely charred.

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Add the roasted vegetables along with their juices and the chopped onion into your food processor. Pulse until smooth.  Juice the lime and stir in along with salt to taste.


This roasted tomatillo salsa is great with warm corn chips.


Or on your fish taco. Spicy baked cod, queso fresco (mild Mexican farmers cheese), slaw and salsa.


Or to spice up breakfast.  Potatoes fried with onions and peppers, over easy eggs, crispy bacon and tomatillo salsa.


I love cilantro and, if I had had cilantro on hand, I would have added it to this salsa. Also, I seeded my jalapeños but if you prefer more heat leave the seeds. Whatever modifications you make I hope you enjoy changing up your usual red for a little of the green or opting for Christmas.

Chili Rellenos with Tomato-Pepper Sauce and Refried Beans


One of our favorite vacation destinations is Santa Fe New Mexico. We love all of the arts, the people, the beautiful scenery and the food. Chili Rellenos are one of our favorites. We first had really good rellenos at the La Fonda, a hotel restaurant on the square in Santa Fe, and we loved them. I have tried a few different ingredient combinations and this one has become my make at home favorite. I’d rather go to Santa Fe and order them but mine are the next best thing. It’s a fairly time consuming process so I don’t make them very often.

The first thing I made today were the refried beans.


1 48-oz jar pre-cooked Randall’s pinto beans

1 large onion, rough chopped

2 T bacon fat or crisco shortening

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 jalapeño seeded and in a small dice

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped


Heat the grease or shortening in a large heavy skillet and add the onion.


Cook the onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized. About 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. You want them to be golden and sweet.


Drain and rinse the beans. Add the beans and broth to the caramelized onions and cook about 10 minutes over low heat.


My bean smashing implement of choice is an old fashioned potato masher. Smash the beans and onions together. Add a little extra broth if the beans seem too dry. Dice the jalapeño and chop the cilantro.


Stir the pepper and cilantro into the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the beans to an oven safe dish and cover with Saran Wrap until you’re ready to heat them in the oven.


I sprinkle a little cheese on top of the beans before pitting them in the oven. (Queso fresco, queso Oaxaca, goat cheese or Monterey Jack.). When you’re ready heat in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the beans are heated through.  If you want the beans to be vegetarian use crisco and vegetable broth.

Next I roast my peppers and prepare the Tomato-Pepper Sauce.

I line a large baking sheet with foil, preheat my oven to 425, spread the peppers out and roast them until they have a nice char on each side.


Turn the peppers at least once. It takes about 30 minutes total. Once the peppers are done put them in a covered bowl to steam and cool before peeling.

Sauce Ingredients:

2 or 3 large red or yellow bell peppers roasted or a jar of roasted peppers

1 large onion rough chopped

5-6 cloves of garlic rough chopped

2 T canola or olive oil

1 pint tomatoes in their juices

1/4 cup cilantro

2 T honey

salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions, roasted and diced peppers, and garlic together. Cook until tender, 15 minutes or so.



Stir in the tomatoes and cook until thickened and reduced by half.


Once the sauce is thickened and reduced transfer it to your food processor. Add the cilantro and honey and pulse until smooth.


Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you’re ready to serve the Rellenos. The sauce is served at room temperature.


Last, but not least, we prepare the peppers and the filling.

Poblano Peppers and Filling Ingredients:

4 poblano peppers roasted and peeled

3/4 to 1 cup goat cheese

1 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

1/4 cup cilantro leaves


Peel the roasted peppers and, using a sharp knife make a slit the length of the pepper and remove the seeds and membranes. Lay the peppers on paper towel until you’re ready to stuff them. Put the chickpeas, cheeses, and cilantro in the food processor and pulse until well blended.


Divide the filling into 4 equal parts and shape into ovals.


Put one of the ovals into each of the poblano peppers and, using your hands, gently close the pepper around the filling.


Heat peanut oil in a deep fryer or a heavy Dutch oven to 385 degrees.

Coating Ingredients:

2 large eggs whisked

1 cup beer




Whisk the egg and beer together. Roll the pepper in flour, dip it into the egg mixture, and roll in the cornmeal.

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Gently lower a couple peppers into the hot oil.


Fry until the peppers are golden brown turning once while they are frying. Remove peppers to paper towel to drain. Fry the remaining two peppers.


Serve hot with the refried beans and a generous serving of the tomato-pepper sauce.


Mexican rice and chips and guacamole are both excellent sides with this dish. Garnish with lime wedges if you’d like. Excellent with a nice cold beer or a tequila drink. You might feel transported to Santa Fe.

Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Poblano Peppers


On subzero days nothing is more comforting than a pot of soup. And it seems this is a winter that will require many pots of soup. Potato leek soup is one of my favorites.  And leeks remind me of some of the shenanigans my 87 year old father has recounted from his childhood. Apparently he and his friends would go out into the woods behind school on their lunch hour and pull up all the wild leeks they could find. Wild leeks that resembled little green onions. They would eat enough of them to get breath so bad the teacher would send them home for the afternoon. Eventually the teachers got wise to the pranking and forbade them eating leeks during school hours. This summer I’m going to look in the woods by my house for wild leeks. For now I’ll buy the leeks my grocery carries and sells by the pound when only a third of the leek is actually edible.

Soup Ingredients:

3-4 leeks, white and light green portion sliced

2 pounds or so of golden potatoes peeled and cubed

4-5 cloves of garlic minced

4 T butter

2 poblano peppers roasted, peeled and diced

4 cups chicken broth

2 tsp dried thyme

1 T franks hot sauce

1 cup half-n-half (optional)

fresh parsley rough chopped

salt and pepper to taste


Slice the leeks and wash them well. Leeks have lots of sand and grit.



Melt the butter in your favorite soup kettle, add the leeks and salt and pepper, cover the pot and cook over low heat for about ten minutes. Be careful not to brown the leeks.


While the leeks are cooking roast the poblanos over a flame or in the oven until they have a nice char. Put them into a covered bowl to steam. Once the peppers have cooled peel and chop them.


Add the chopped peppers and the garlic to the leeks and stir for a minute or so until the garlic is fragrant.


Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender; about 20 minutes.


Once the potatoes are done use an immersion blender to purée the soup. Or you can use a standard blender and purée the soup in batches.


Stir in the thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and the Franks. If you choose, a cup of half-n-half will make the soup a little richer and creamier.


Garnish the soup with parsley and some shredded sharp cheddar. Potato, leek and roasted poblano soup. It’s what was for dinner.


NOTE:  I’m not a soup and crackers person but I do like croutons in my soup. I had leftover garlic bread from a pasta dinner a couple nights ago. I cubed the bread and dried it in the oven and it made perfect croutons.


Santa Fe Green Chili with Pork

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks. I’ve been busy with the holidays and I had my 87 year old father visiting for a couple of wonderful weeks around Thanksgiving. My husband was bragging my blog up to my dad and my dad asked if I got paid for writing my recipes on the computer. I told him no, but one day my blog may make me famous. To which my dad replied, what good is being famous if you don’t make any money. Yup!  Ever the practical Finn.

So the possibility of fame is the lead in to this particular blog entry. I entered a Chili Cookoff that was held today. I decided to make my Santa Fe Green Chili with pork. I call it my Santa Fe Chili because I purchased the green chili powder that I use in this recipe on one of our visits to Santa Fe.   This is one of my favorite chili recipes!  And a lot of the chili tasters also liked it. I’m proud to say I placed second in the competition. Hope you’ll like it too.

Chili, like many other soups, tastes best the second day. If possible I would recommend preparing it the day before you plan to eat it. In this particular recipe there is a notable positive difference with the flavors and heat the second day.



2 pounds good lean ground pork

1 large onion diced

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

3-4 poblano peppers roasted, peeled and rough chopped

1-2 seeded and diced jalapeño pepper(s)

1 can mild green chilies diced

6 cups chicken broth

1 quart diced tomatoes

3 T dried oregano

1 T dried green chili powder

1 T cumin

salt to taste

2 cans cannellini beans drained and rinsed

2 15-oz cans yellow or white hominy drained and rinsed

1/4 cup (or more to taste) of fresh cilantro chopped


On top of your gas range or in your oven roast the peppers. Once the peppers have a good char put them in a bowl and cover with Saran Wrap until they are cool enough to peel and dice.




In a large heavy kettle cook the pork, onions and garlic until the pork is no longer pink.



I like to to strain out any grease after cooking and then return the meat and onions to the kettle.


Add the diced poblano peppers, jalapeños, and mild green chilies.


Add the oregano, cumin, green chili powder, and salt to taste. Stir in the chicken broth and diced tomatoes.  Drain and rinse the beans and hominy and add to the kettle.


Bring the chili to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.


Allow the chili to cool down and refrigerate overnight.

On the second day slowly heat the chili over medium heat. Chop the cilantro and stir into the chili.

Serve with fresh grated pepper jack cheese, thinly sliced green onions, and a little sour cream. Chili goes great with a nice slice of buttermilk cornbread. Cornbread recipe was previously blogged.

Thanks to all the folks at the chili Cookoff today who voted for my Santa Fe Green Chili!  You gave me a brief moment of fame, a cookbook and a great apron!