Hola! I apologize (to no one really) of my absence for a while. I did not give up on this budding blog. I was taking a break…spring break that is. I went to visit a dear friend in Nashville, Tennessee (also known as “Music Capital of the USA”) and had just gotten back today. I am relaxed but not rested but very much so dreading work and school in my upcoming weeks.
Ah well, not everything can last forever huh?
Although we both love food, we did not have the budget to go out eating at every restaurant out there. So we ended up just sampling a few and cooking whatever we can at home. Unfortunately, I was usually starving at the time we had gotten to the restaurant that most of the time, I did not take the few seconds needed to take pictures of the beautifully designed dishes. But then again, why torture you guys huh?
When my friend and I decided to make something, it was a challenge mainly because he is the pickiest eater you will possibly meet. He does not like chicken, seafood, red meat (unless it is a all-beef hot dog from Nathan’s), various vegetables, and tends to stick with “what he knows he likes”. Most times I had visited him, we ended up just making the typical box and jar pasta and sauce for dinner with TONS of cheese (if there’s one thing he’ll have an excess of, it would be cheese. I don’t blame him really). This time, he suggested making something outside of the norm. Of course, I jumped at the chance – experimentation in the kitchen? Oh boy, move over and let me take over please. Essentially, that is exactly what he did. We decided on spicy black bean empanadas – replacing the pork with Mexican-style rice.
Cooking it was simple enough – it was just a very involved process that probably took up at least two pans (and I usually hate using up more than one pan). However, the end result was definitely worth it. I ended up eating about six or seven of them (or eight or nine, haha). Our problem was that we started cooking at 10 pm and completed it by 1 am (possibly later) so at that point, we did not care about appearances and the proportionality of it all.
Without further ado…
Spicy Black Bean Empanada with Mexican Rice:
- Pepperidge Farm’s frozen pastry sheets – thawed (we used the two in the box)
- 1 15 oz. can of black beans – washed and drained (we ended up using the one flavored with chipotle and saving some of the sauce)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 red onions
- 1 small red pepper – diced
- About a tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
- 1 box of Mexican style rice by Rice-a-Roni (we were lazy)
- A few dashes of pepper and garlic powder
- First, after everything was chopped and diced, we sauted the onions, red pepper, and garlic together for about 5-6 minutes or until softened.
- We added the tomato sauce, cumin, crushed red pepper, and chili powder into the vegetable medley and cooked it down for a while until it is almost a paste.
- We took it off the heat and added some snipped chives on top while waiting for it to cool down.
- Meanwhile, we cooked the rice according the directions.
- When the rice was done (in a matter of 15 minutes), we combined the tomato sauce and the rice together along with the shredded cheese and mixed it until it looked like one gooey, cheesy mess of deliciousess.
- Again, we left it alone while we attacked the task of the pastry sheets. My friend did not have a roller or flour (tragic I know) so we had to make do with the sticky mess we had on our hands.
- We spread out the sheets and cut out circle about 3 inches wide. I attempted to flatten out the dough further so it would be easier to fold over but to no avail. At this point, I have already accepted that while it may taste good, it will probably look like crap.
- After the circles have been cut out and flattened out onto two baking sheets (sprayed), we spooned the mixture onto the circles and folded it over as best as we could. We pinched the edges (again the best we could) with a fork and prayed that it would come out looking at least somewhat decent.
- Making an egg wash out of the egg and the water, we spread the mixture on top of each messy empanada and popped it into the preheated oven (of 375 F) and baked it for about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Surprisingly, they did not turn out looking all that bad. There were a few rebels but generally, it looked good. My friend commented on them, saying they look like Pac-Men which, you cannot deny they do, but they were scrumptious Pac-men! Oh that leaves a disturbing image…
After that night though, we gave up on cooking anything more complicated than pasta and resorted to eating out if possible. We (being Indians and craving good old homeamde Indian food) ended up at dining at one of our favorite restaurants in the area called Woodlands – a vegetarian Indian restaurant. What I particularly loved about the place was that they served a lot of South Indian dishes (especially dishes unique to Kerala). It is usually unusual to find a restaurant like that. Most Indian restaurants seem to serve the “modern, Americanized” version of typically north Indian dishes – which is all fine and dandy but sometimes, I want the taste of what my mother would make at home.
First off, we ordered mango lassi – a sort of smoothie made with mangos, mango puree, mango juice, yogurt, and sugar. It has always been a favorite beverage of mine. However, I am usually picky about it because many that I sampled usually turned out to be too sweet. Woodland’s served a mango lassi that even Terra (of Terra Recycled) would be proud of:
For the main entree, I ate onion masala dosa – a large dish that is very popular in southern parts of India. Dosa is basically a savory crepe – eaten at breakfast as well as other meals, and it can be served plain or “stuffed” with masala – traditionally vegetarian – consisting of potatos, dahl, and a few other ingredients. It is usually served with a side of maybe two curries/sauces – coconut chutney and sambar (a sort of spicy vegetable curry that has more like a soup-like consistency to it).
It would be considered ambitious to be able to finish the entire dosa because the dish was bigger than the actual dish itself. But I am a pig and I was hungry so I feasted on this delicious monstrosity. The “food baby” I experienced shortly after was totally worth it.
It was a great time – I cannot wait to go back! 🙂