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birthday empanadas for Peggy!

So, before we get to today’s recipe – how about that picture above? Those are just 3 of about a dozen cool cocktail napkins I have which have fun riddles for parties to work out. When using them, it is best to have guests try and solve them before too many beverages are consumed –  just a helpful little FYI.  Study them and leave me a comment if you figure out all three! (And just in case the top one isn’t completely visible – it reads, “52 C in a D +2 J’s”). Plus if you are a fan of the Les Petites Gourmettes Fan page on Facebook, you already know something special, so put on your thinking caps and comment as soon as possible!

Last night I had two of my very best friends, Peggy and Anne, over for a little happy hour to celebrate Peggy’s upcoming birthday, which is actually on February 26th. Happy Birthday, Peggy-Sue! Now that all of our kids are teenagers (and beyond, in Marissa’s case!) – we just don’t get together as often as we used to or anywhere near as often as we would like. So when we do – men and children, be forewarned -watch out! As the aforementioned kids know, all too well, we love to be together! I made these spicy little empanadas, crab cakes (that recipe is to be posted tomorrow), and grapefruit-cranberry martinis … love you, girls! (and even with all the love I have for you both – you may not comment on the riddles – although I would still love to get a comment of any other sort!) xoxo

Birthday Girl Peggy, me, and Anne with delish pink martinis plus a camera with a timer – what more do you need?!

Mini Chorizo-Chipotle Chicken Empanadas

2  1/4 cups flour
1  1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder (optional)
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup Spanish chorizo
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced oregano
1 cup finely minced cooked chicken
1 finely minced chipotle pepper with adobo sauce
Egg wash made with 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Dough: Place flour, salt, and chile powder into the bowl of a food processor and blend with a few pulses. Add in small butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with some (pea-size) butter lumps. (as pictured below)

Add the egg and vinegar and pulse of couple times. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and pulse until the mixture almost begins to come together, but do not allow it to form a ball. Test to see that dough will hold together by grabbing a handful and squeezing. You can see the piece I tested on the right below.

Empty out dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to bring the dough together and form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, enclosed in the plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour. (Although you will be rolling out little circles, by forming the dough into a rectangle, it is easier to divide into 24 equally pieces than it would be if you formed it into the usual flat disk)

While the dough is chilling, make the filling: Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add oil and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 12 minutes. Add garlic, bell peppers, salt, and oregano; cook, stirring frequently, until peppers are very soft, about 8 minutes. Add chorizo and stir to break up, until cooked through about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, blend together minced chicken and chipotle. Add to skillet and stir to blend. Cool filling to room temperature.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use a pastry scraper or knife to divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. Working with 4 pieces at a time, form each into a small flat disk, rounding out the corners by squeezing them in. Keep the remaining pieces covered in plastic wrap to prevent drying. Roll out the 4 disks on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into 3 1/2-inch rounds.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the center of each round and fold the dough in half, enclosing the filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp with the tines of a fork. Transfer empanadas to a baking sheet. Make 20 more empanadas in the same manner, arranging them on 2 baking sheets.

Lightly brush empanadas with egg wash. (may be made ahead at this point and either refrigerated for up to one day or frozen on baking sheets, then transferred to freezer zip-lock bags for up to 1 month.)

Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 24

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1 Linda Hopkins { 02.23.10 at 10:41 AM }

Soooo, my super smart daughter, Marissa, already texted me and gave me the correct answers, but she kindly refrained from commenting with them here…. so you are all still able to guess…

2 Karen { 02.23.10 at 10:51 AM }

Here they are!…
7 wonders of the world;
52 cards in a deck plus 2 jokers;
three blind mice…see how they run

3 Linda Hopkins { 02.23.10 at 11:00 AM }

Karen! You are right! And so very smart…. maybe I’ll do this little game again in the near future, now that everyone gets the drift.

4 Amy Kilpatrick { 02.23.10 at 6:25 PM }

Count me in… I love contests! : ) although I never win, but I do love to play!

5 Dave Hopkins { 02.23.10 at 7:21 PM }

Looks like everyone had a good time! Happy birthday Peggy!

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