Brie en Croute

Baked brie is something I have spotted on blogs and in magazines for many years.  I always knew I would enjoy it, but I guessed that Tim never would.  So I had to wait for an occasion where it could be enjoyed by a crowd.  Well, the opportunities finally came this year.  I prepared it for Thanksgiving at my house and for Christmas at my mom and dad’s.  It was excellent.  Gooey, buttery pastry, tart cranberries, and flaky are a few ways to describe it.  I definitely recommend it!  I hope you don’t wait as long as I did to try it!

Brie en Croute

source: adapted from Pepperidge Farm

Ingredient measurements are approximate:

1/2 package of puff pastry {one sheet}

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries

1/4 cup finely chopped nuts – almonds, pecans, or walnuts

1 wheel of brie – approx 1 pound {I cut the rind off}

egg wash {one egg + 1 Tbs water}

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thaw pastry sheet at room temp for 40 minutes, then unfold and roll into a 14″ square.

Place nuts, dried fruit, and honey in center of dough.  Place brie on top, fold the dough to close and press seems to seal, cutting off any excess dough.  Invert and decorate with pastry scraps.  Place seam side down on baking sheet.  Brush with egg wash.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden.  Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving {or up to one hour}.

Serve with crackers, apple slices, crusty bread, etc.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Hand Pies

I have wanted to make hand pies for about 2 years now and never got around to it until now!  I’ve seen the little hand-held pies all over the blogs that I read, so I finally took the plunge.

Because it seems I have to adapt every recipe I make for one reason or another, I adapted this recipe by not using the pastry dough listed below.  I had to do this for a couple of reasons.  For one I was a little short on time, and I already had some of my go-to pastry dough in the freezer.  And two, I thought I was going to share them with my brother-in-law who can’t have milk.  My standard pastry dough does not contain milk and the one shown below does.  But as it turned out, I didn’t share these with him after all. 😉

Just for comparison, I do want to make them again using the recommended dough recipe listed below.

Strawberry Hand Pies

Source:  adapted from Beantown Baker, filling recipe originally from Smitten Kitchen

Pastry Dough
9-1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 2 cups
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2-1/2 ounces shortening, approximately 6 tablespoons
3/4 cup milk

Egg Wash

1 egg mixed with 1 to 2 teaspoons water

Filling
2 pounds of strawberries (~4 cups, chopped)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Make the Filling
Hull and cut strawberries into small pieces.  Mix them with the flour, sugar and pinch of salt, and add vanilla.

Make the Pastry Dough
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Pulse for a few seconds and then pour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the shortening and knead it into the flour with your hands until it is crumbly.

Add the milk all at once and mix in with a spatula until it begins to come together.

Lightly flour your hands and the countertop and turn the dough out onto the countertop. Knead the dough ball, folding over 10 to 20 times.

Using a rolling pin roll the dough to 1/3 to 1/2-inch thickness, then cut into rounds using a 2 1/4-inch ring. Roll each round as thinly as possible or to 5 to 6 inches in diameter.

Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling onto the dough, brush the edges of half of the dough lightly with the egg wash, fold over and seal the edges together with the tines of a fork, dipping it into flour as needed.  Gently press down to flatten and evenly distribute the filling and snip or cut 3 slits in the top of the pie.

Brush a little bit of egg wash on the outside of the pie and sprinkle with coarse decorating sugar.

To bake pies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place finished pies onto an ungreased cookie sheet {I used parchment paper} and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Beef Empanadas

I served these empanadas as a meal by themselves, but due to their size I think they would be better suited just as appetizers.  Or, they need to be made larger to be served as an entire meal in my opinion.

I had way more filling that I needed, so I’ll cut that in half {or more} next time or I’ll double the amount of pastry and freeze half of them.  I think I’ll also add a few tablespoons of salsa to the filling next time as well.  To cut down on prep time, I made the filling the night before.

Sweet Corn and Beef Empanadas

{heavily adapted from a Cuisine At Home magazine}

Note – Below is exactly how I made them which yielded way too much filling.  We used the leftover filling in soft tacos for the next few day’s lunches and dinners.

Filling Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small can roasted diced green chilies

1 can Mexi-corn, drained

4 scallions, sliced

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp or more ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne or to taste {can sub paprika for less heat}

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For the empanadas:

1 pkg refrigerated pie dough (2 sheets)

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp water

paprika

salsa for dipping

Directions:

Brown ground beef with garlic and chopped onion until cooked through.  Drain fat.  Mix meat and onions with chilies, corn, scallions, and seasonings.  Chill thoroughly {or overnight}.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unroll 1 sheet of pie dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll with rolling pin to smooth and thin out (about 1/8″).  Cut circles in dough with a 3.5″ or larger biscuit cutter (I’ll definitely make them larger next time).  Place rounds of dough on prepared baking sheets.  Repeat with second sheet of pie dough and re-roll scraps as needed.

Add shredded cheese (and some salsa?) to the meat filling and then place one tablespoon of filling on each small circle of dough.  Fold in half and crimp with fork to seal.  {You may freeze them at this point if desired.}

Blend egg yolk and water and brush it on the top of each empanadas.  Sprinkle with paprika and bake until golden, 15-18 minutes.

Serve with salsa on the side for dipping.

Chicken Squares

This was a very quick and easy meal that I fixed for lunch the other day.  They are very filling and really hit the spot.  🙂

Be sure to evenly distribute all of the filling onto the squares so that they bake evenly and you don’t have filling left over.   As I was making these I had the idea to make them into appetizers using one triangle of dough and less filling, creating 16 smaller pockets.  I’ll have to try that soon!

 

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Chicken Squares from Vintage Victuals

2 tubes of 6 Pillsbury crescent rolls – I used reduced fat
1 10-ounce can of chicken breast meat, drained
8 ounces of cream cheese – I used the 1/3 less fat kind
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Apply cooking spray to a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. 

Roll out the crescent dough and divide into rectangles, pinching the seam of the 2 triangles together to form oblong rectangles of dough.

In a medium bowl, combine chicken, cream cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper, creaming the ingredients together.

Spoon a dollop of the chicken mixture onto one side of each crescent rectangle. Fold one end of the rectangle over the filling to form a square. Pinch the dough together around the edges to seal, and place the squares on prepared sheet.

Bake the chicken squares for 20-25 minutes or until the crescent rolls are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Yields 8 squares.