Empanadas Step by Step

One of my favorite dishes to make for special occasions are empanadas, or meat pies.  They are a traditional food in my family during the Christmas season and are always a big hit at parties and pot luck dinners.  When my son was in elementary school his Spanish class looked forward to them every year.  These tasty little meat pies are easy to make and you can tweak all the seasonings to your own taste.  The best part is you can do all the prep work the night before and fry them when everyone’s ready to eat.

Here I’ll take you through the process step by step:

empanadas step by step

Step 1:  The first step is to make the sofrito – this is the seasoning in which you will cook the meat filling.  You can use these measurements as a guide, there are no strict rules when making sofrito – at least not for me!  If you like a little more red bell pepper than green or more cilantro than flat leaf parsley, go for it!

2 red bell peppers

2 green bell peppers

1 Spanish onion

3 Roma tomatoes

2-3 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup  cilantro

Sea salt

Pepper

Ground coriander seed

Ground cumin

Packet of Sazon

I use the food processor to dice the veggies and then add the spices to taste.  I like to make a big batch of this and freeze it in small quantities (about 4-5 tablespoons) for use in soups, stews, beef and chicken dishes – I added 4 tablespoons to a pot of arroz con gandules (yellow rice with pigeon peas) I made for Christmas Eve dinner and it was delicious.

Step 2:  Now for the meat filling.  Start with 1lb. of ground sirloin or meatloaf mix, seasoned with salt and pepper or adobo.   Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan; when it’s sizzling add about 4 tablespoons of sofrito.  Stir that for about a minute and then add your meat, breaking it up and stirring until cooked through.

Step 3:  I use Goya Dough Discs for Empanadas to make the pies.  They’re readily available in most major supermarkets and should be easy to find.

Steps 4 & 5:  Place a disc on waxed paper on a cutting board to keep it from sticking.  Place about a spoonful of meat in the middle of the disc as shown.

Step 6:  Fold over the disc into a crescent shape, pressing down on the edges of the disc with your fingers to seal.

Step 7:  Press the sealed edges of the empanada with the tines of a fork to secure the seal.

Step 8:  Here’s what your empanadas should look like. I usually make them ahead up to this point and put them in the refrigerator until I’m ready to cook them, and make between 12 – 20 empanadas at a time.

Step 9:  When you’re ready to fry them, add enough canola oil to a heavy frying pan to cover the empanadas; heat the oil to sizzling and carefully place the empanadas in the oil; fry until each side is golden brown as shown.

Empanadas also make great appetizers:  cut the dough disc in half, fill and fold into little triangles as shown below.  They are easy to tailor to any taste level from mild to spicy and are always a welcome addition to any table – maybe add them to your Super Bowl menu this year!

empanadas final

Jeweled Candles

This is an easy craft that combines a few of my favorite things – candles, glitter and jewels!  It can be tailored to any color scheme or occasion, and when the candles burn down (if you even have the heart to light them, they’re so pretty!) you can reuse the jewelry components in your next project.  I went with a red, silver and gold theme for the Christmas season.

 

candle collage

 

Supplies:

  • Candles

  • Painter’s tape

  • Mod Podge

  • Foam applicator

  • Jewelry components

  • Hot glue gun

  • Glitter

Tape off your candle and apply the Mod Podge to the space in between; be sure to apply a thin coat – if it’s too thick the glitter will come off when you remove the tape (been there, done that). Sprinkle glitter on the Mod Podge and allow to dry (I gave mine about 2 hours). Carefully remove the tape and then use the glue gun to glue the jewels into place.  Here’s the finished product:

 

candle twins

 

I decorated a small table in my living room using a vase filled with leftover branches from our Christmas tree and two of the candles:

candles8

 

How are you decorating your home for the holidays?  Let me know in the comments!

Memorial Day on Main Street

Who doesn’t love a parade? Due to a family picnic, we missed our town’s Memorial Day parade this year, but here’s a second look at some great scenes from a past parade.  Thank you to all our vets for their outstanding service, and Happy Memorial Day!

These photos were taken at our Memorial Day parade down Main Street on Sunday, May 27, 2012.  This year it was attended by 61 naval personnel along with Rear Admiral Tim Alexander, Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.  It was a wonderful way to pay our respects to our military personnel both past and present and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

All photos are property of Mom Meets Blog

Face/Off, Grandma Style

mom's mouth

As moms, we’ve all experienced this phenomenon at one point or another – your kid does or says something, well, kid-like  and you respond with some old chestnut that you’ve heard  pop out of your mom’s mouth a million times – you might even look around to see if you could possibly be channeling her energy somehow because there’s absolutely no way you could’ve just said that, right?  Yep, it’s happened to all of us.

And I can live with that.  I can even live with the fact that, sometimes, some of that stuff actually makes sense to me now, and eventually my kid will probably experience this special joy with his own children. It’s the circle of life.

But now, not only am I channeling my mom’s words, apparently she’s broken out all over my face.

Although I bear a strong resemblance to my mom (again, something I see now, not when I was a kid. As a 15-year-old the last thing I wanted to hear was that I looked exactly like my mom!), I’ve always felt that I had my own unique look, not a replica but more of a mix of features that added up to a new edition in the family library, not necessarily a reprint.

Well, my son dispelled that theory recently while we were looking through some family photos. He turned to me and let me know in no uncertain terms:

“Mom, you look exactly like grandma, not grandma now, but a younger version of grandma. Like maybe when she was fifty.” (Full disclosure, I will be fifty this year).  And did he just say I look fifty?  At that moment I was over the part about looking like grandma and choking over the part about looking fifty.

I then imparted another old chestnut that will serve him well as he gets older: never talk about a woman’s age.  He doesn’t get it quite yet, but at thirteen, I don’t expect him to. The same way our mother’s words sometimes leap out of our mouths today, he’ll understand it later.

dots divider

You don’t know these folks, but can you spot the resemblance?  Let me know in the comments!

resemblance

 

Easter Candy Nest

I’m certainly not one to turn away from a lovely Easter basket, but this year I wanted to make something a little different, and was inspired by a nest I saw in a tree outside my terrace.  With visions of chocolate eggs and chicks gathered cozily in a nest dancing in my head, I was off to Jo-Ann’s  for supplies. This is a small nest (the wreath is only 6″) so I made a couple of them to decorate the Easter dinner table. Remember, the bigger the wreath, the bigger the nest and the more candy it can hold!

To make this super easy little nest (it’s so easy you don’t need to read this, just look at the pictures!), you’ll need (clockwise): a paper plate, moss, a decorative butterfly, a grapevine wreath, and excelsior or raffia:

 

watermark4

 

 You’ll also need a glue gun (and don’t forget the candy!)

First cut out a circle from the paper plate and glue to one side of the wreath to make the bottom of your nest.  Wad up the excelsior or raffia to and glue it to the paper plate to start lining the nest; then, glue the moss on top of that. 

 

watermark2

 

Glue the butterfly onto your nest, add candy and you’re done!

 

watermark1

 

Wishing you all a Happy Easter!

 

watermark5

 

Spring DIY: Lavender Salt Scrub

Lavender salt scrub

Now that spring has finally sprung and chased away this brutal winter, this is the perfect time to buff away that dry, winter-worn skin and reveal the glow underneath.  Reading about the benefits of coconut oil inspired me to try my hand at making a lavender-scented salt scrub incorporating this useful oil.

Here’s my easy DIY salt scrub that will leave your skin soft, smooth and ready for spring:

Ingredients:
Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt (lavender-scented)
Pink Himalayan salt
Virgin coconut oil

I took a really casual approach to making this scrub, so none of these measurements have to be exact; I just played around with it until it reached a consistency I liked. The container I used happened to hold about 1 cup of Epsom salts; then I melted about 2 tbsp of coconut oil in the microwave in 20 second bursts until it liquefied and mixed it well in to the Epsom salt; you can add more or less if you like but just make sure that it’s well incorporated into the salt.  I added about 1 tbsp of coarse Pink Himalayan salt for color (again, add more or less to suit your liking) and stirred with a plastic spoon until well mixed.

The coconut oil tends to harden after a while; just stir it again with a plastic spoon before you use it.  I like this scrub because it has a firmer consistency, and it’s not goopy like some scrubs where half of it slips through your fingers and ends up on the tub floor before you’ve had a chance to use it!  The heat from your hands liquefies the scrub nicely and it’s easy to apply to the body – I love using it on my hands, it’s makes them super soft and it smells heavenly!

before and after

From these before and after photos it’s obvious that someone needs a manicure – what better way to jump into the season than with a vibrant nail color – any suggestions? What beauty routines do you indulge in to spruce up your winter skin?  Let me know in the comments!

lavender

How Do You Handle Your Kid’s Middle School Crush?

broken heartWith Old Man Winter forcing yet another snow day today, my 7th grader will miss out on all the middle school drama surrounding Valentine’s Day.  He’s been able to stay on the periphery of most of the angst, managing to move on from his own recent crush unscathed. Others have not been so lucky, like his friend who recently asked the girl he’s been pining over for months out on a ‘date'; she turned him down and he’s devastated, explaining his friend’s inability to finish that week’s Spanish homework!

While I’m happy my son feels comfortable enough to share his crushes and news of the latest adolescent happenings, I feel that 7th grade is too young for traditional ‘dating’, although I hear through multiple sources that this does happen.  I’m fine with him heading out in a boy/girl group to the pizza shop after school for an hour – it’s a way for the kids to socialize in a fairly controlled setting with a defined start and end time – but one-on-one dating or boy/girl groups at someone’s home unsupervised after school is off the table at this age.

Crushes are just fine for now – it’s a way to explore feelings and learn how to deal with them, both the happiness and the disappointment.  Learning to deal with rejection can be a fact of life at this age just as much as a growth spurt or a deepening voice.  How do you deal with your kid’s middle school crush? Through the fog and haze of middle age, I’ve been trying to remember how I felt during middle school; here are some do’s and don’ts I’ve been employing to deal with this sensitive subject:

Do:

Keep the channels of communication open.  Teach your child to be respectful of his/her own body, and let them know that even though it’s natural to be curious, feeling pressure to do something (especially if it makes them feel uncomfortable) doesn’t mean they have to act on it.  If a crush isn’t mutual, let them know it’s okay to politely refuse the other person’s unwanted attention.  And conversely, to graciously accept the fact if they are on the unrequited end of the crush.  It’s a painful lesson, but can save a whole lot of heartache if it’s learned early on.  Keep an eye (and ear) out for any behavior changes arising from a crush – learning how to keep a crush in perspective and not let it affect school work, friendships and family life is also important.

Don’t:

Don’t belittle or trivialize your child’s feelings – even though as adults we already know that this too shall pass, remember that they certainly don’t feel that way!  And nothing will close down those channels of communication faster than your child feeling that Mom or Dad can’t possibly understand what they’re going through.  Don’t ever, ever, mention a crush’s name outside the ‘circle of trust’ (mainly, that’s me) you’ve developed with your child. Discussing the identity of a crush with other parents is a tremendous no-no.  I’ve been on the receiving end of such information from parents with their kid standing right there – it’s embarrassing for me, so I can just imagine how the poor kid must feel.  You might think it’s cute, but I can guarantee you your kid does not – keep it zipped.  I know if my son doesn’t feel safe telling me about the little things, he won’t come to me with the big things – and right now, everything is a big thing!

Well, that’s it – it may not be much, but that’s all I’ve got so far. Please feel free to share any suggestions or tips you have in the comments, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo courtesy of flickr.com