Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

September 30, 2010

Chicken Empanadas & Guacamole

This is Paula Deen's empanada recipe. I chose it for my class because it uses prepared refrigerated pie dough (easily purchased at most grocery stores). You can make your own pie dough (or various empanada doughs), and also make different fillings. This filling is pretty simple to prepare, and can be made ahead of time. Unbaked empanadas can be frozen and baked at a later date.

3 cups chopped, cooked chicken (see preparation below; make a day ahead, or at least 1 hour ahead)
8 ounces jalapeno jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts

Remove 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs from their package; rinse in cool water, and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle lightly with olive or vegetable oil. Heat a large frying pan and add the chicken. Cook the first side on medium heat, until the chicken is brown on the bottom and starts to cook around the sides. Flip the chicken, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook until the chicken feels firm at the thickest part (about 4-5 more minutes). Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to cool on a plate. If using the next day, store the cooled chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed.

Preheat oven to 400'. Lightly grease a baking sheet (or line with foil).

In a large bowl, combine the chicken and next 7 ingredients. Unroll 1 pie crust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15-inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter (or a glass). Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining pie crusts, making 12 to 15 circles total. Arrange 1 round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of crust with water (if you don't have a brush, use your finger). Place 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining rounds and chicken mixture. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month). Arrange empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

If you have one, use a molcajete. Otherwise, use knives to chop the garlic & onion, and a fork to mash the avocado.

2 large avocados, peeled and seeded
2 cloves of garlic, mashed or finely chopped
3 tablespoons onion, finely diced
1/2 a lime
salt & pepper
cumin (about 1/4 teaspoon)
diced tomato (about 1/2 of a tomato)

Combine the avocado, garlic and onion in a bowl. Mash the avocado, but leave it somewhat chunky. Stir in lime juice, and season with salt and pepper, and cumin to taste. Top with diced tomato and serve. Refrigerate leftover guacamole in a tightly sealed container. A layer of plastic wrap pushed down onto the guac will help keep it from getting brown. Store up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

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