Most of the recipes we’ve shared so far are almost entirely homemade. With the exception of a few ingredients, like puff pastry dough (still working on getting brave enough to do that myself), we try to make lots of our dishes from scratch. But there’s no way around the fact that sometimes we get really busy and pressed for time, and dinner takes a backseat to the million other things we have going on (and then so does our blogging). But of course, we have to eat. So I resort to what Sandra Lee would call “Semi-Homemade” recipes…or, eating lots of pre-packaged foods that have been tricked out slightly. And I’ve been hesitant to share a lot of those recipes here because they feel a little like I’m cheating. But I realized, why not post them? Most of you are just as busy as I am, and everyone is looking for a little semi-homemade action once in a while to make his or her life easier. So here goes.
My "supporting cast" of packaged ingredients.
I came up with this recipe when I was craving both the spiciness of tacos and the warm comfort of biscuits. I called them biscuit empanadas in my head, and was thinking I probably was incorrect on the terminology, but a quick Google search told me “empanada” comes from the Spanish word “empanar” which means “to wrap in bread”. Though traditionally it would be a pie or pastry crust, biscuits are still bread, so I wasn’t too far off the mark! Empanadas can be filled with various types of meats and vegetables, and either baked or fried. Mine are baked – I think I’d go to hell if I tried to deep fry a biscuit (Paula Deen and I, both).
Mushrooms, onions, and my "supporting cast" in the background.
I decided to do the filling just like I would any other taco meat, and got a frozen package of Morningstar Farms ground soy crumbles (the vegetarian version of ground beef) and a package of taco seasoning. To bulk it up and make it fresher, I added fresh onion and mushrooms. Then took a can of refrigerated biscuits and rolled each one out to a flat oval, then filled with the “meat”, cheddar cheese, and sliced jalapenos (from a jar, no less!), then folded them over, crimped the edge, and baked to perfection – or, according to package instructions. Couldn’t be easier. Or more delicious.
Sautéing the onions, meat, and mushrooms. About to add the seasonings.
Obviously, this recipe could be made non-vegetarian by using real ground beef or ground turkey to make your filling. If you decide to go this route, be sure to drain your meat really well because you don’t want your empanadas to be oozy or soggy (On a side note, I was realizing the other day that of all the adjectives used to describe food – and there are some weird ones – soggy is probably the worst. Nothing good is ever soggy.).
Rolling out the biscuits. Ready to fill!
I used the “hot” taco seasoning blend and still added a dash more cayenne pepper to kick it up. If you’re not a huge fan of super spicy foods, feel free to use the mild seasoning and eliminate the cayenne.
This recipe could easily be given a more Southwest feel by adding corn and black beans to the filling, and dipping in a Southwest ranch dip instead of the sour cream. You could also add refried beans to bulk it up.
Filling the biscuit/empanada.
I used the buttermilk Grand’s biscuits, but I’m sure any variety would work fine. Flaky layered biscuits might give it more of a pie crust feel. You could even do mini empanadas with the normal-sized biscuits. Make sure when crimping the edges, you really press firmly – don’t be shy – if you don’t create a good seal, all the filling will seep out while baking.
For the soy crumbles, the brand is irrelevant, though I find Morningstar Farms (in the green bag) to be the best. Boca is a little too salty for my taste. The recipe uses half a bag, but with the rest and the remainder of the onion and mushroom, you can make a delicious meat sauce for spaghetti! Just add some garlic, a large can of diced tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, and Italian herbs of your choice.
Crimping the edges of the empanada with a fork to seal it.
(Makes enough for 1 can of Grand’s biscuits, or 8 empanadas)
- olive oil, for pan
- ½ bag of soy crumbles, or ½ pound ground beef/turkey
- ½ a medium onion, diced
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used cremini, any are fine)
- ½ packet taco seasoning
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- 1 can Grand’s biscuits
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- pickled sliced jalapenos, if desired
Before Baking: Filled, sealed, vented, and sprinkled with cheese.
In a large pan, sauté onion, mushrooms, and soy crumbles in olive oil. Add taco seasoning and cayenne. *If cooking soy crumbles, you will need to add ~1/4 water when you add the seasoning, because it cooks drier than real meat. When onions and mushrooms are thoroughly cooked, remove from heat. Begin rolling out each biscuit to a thin, flat oval. Scoop meat filling into the center of each biscuit (it may take a couple tries to find the perfect amount, but you don’t want too much or it won’t seal). Top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and 3-4 jalapenos. Fold biscuit over to form a half moon, and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Use a knife to score the top to create a vent. Sprinkle the tops with cheese, if desired, and bake on a foil-lined sheet according to biscuit package directions (or until golden brown). Serve with sour cream.
After Baking: Cheese melted, biscuits golden brown and delicious.
The finished product: Plated and ready to go with a side of sour cream. Nom.