First, a quick digression on the BEST way to spend a Sunday evening:
Sundays can easily turn into a day of laundry, grocery shopping and watching reality TV marathons you’d normally ignore (but for lack of anything better to do — or just a compelling desire to procrastinate — you sit through an entire afternoon of it). All too often, this was my Sunday.
Not too thrilling, right?
Thankfully, my friends and I started Sunday Potlucks. They were a way to relax, unwind and enjoy great food — or just experiment and revel in how things could go so incredibly wrong. They bring life to an otherwise mundane Sunday, and the weekend before last, my friends in New York and I decided to bring back the trend.
That’s what spurred the creation of these empanadas. Sunday’s potluck involved an early Cinco de Mayo theme (mostly so I could test out recipes for you guys — see, it’s a labor of love! What sacrifice! What dedication!). Nate (The Boyfriend) and I swapped ideas for an easy-yet-delicious take on the dish, and we’re happy to say that our guests were drooling over the results.
Utensils required: cutting board, knife, stovetop, frying pan, spoon, mixing bowl, oven, baking sheet, oven mitts, fork
Ingredients (makes 16 empanadas):
- 1 onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 1 package of regular-flavored pork breakfast sausage
- 3 cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls
- 1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
- 1 bag of shredded Mexican cheese (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (optional)
- 1 egg (optional – for egg wash to “glaze” empanada)
Time commitment: 20-25 minutes to prepare, 12-14 minutes to cook
1. First things first: Rinse those peppers, then dice them — and the onion — finely. Once you’re done, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
TIP: Rubbing your fingers on stainless steel, like the kitchen sink, will get rid of the onion smell on your hands.
2. Chop up the sausage into small balls, then dump ‘em in the frying pan. Let the sausage sizzle over medium heat until they’re no longer pink. Once you’re done, drain any excess juice and add in the peppers and onions, cooking them until the veggies are soft and the onions are slightly translucent.
3. Next, pour the sausage, peppers and onions into a mixing bowl. Add in the shredded cheese and cream cheese, stirring everything together thoroughly. Add in a “sprinkling of onion powder and a hearty shake of Italian seasoning,” Nate recommends, which to me is roughly a tablespoon of each. For added kick, stir in two to three tablespoons of hot sauce, too.
4. Now, pop open the crescent rolls. Aside from appreciating the monstrous way they explode and gush out of the canister, take this moment to pull all of the dough out of its cans, keeping them in their tube-like form. Ignore the perforated crescent cuts — instead, take a knife and cut them into half-inch coins.
4. Take a rolling pin (or a can/jar that’s been wrapped in foil) and flatten each coin out. It should be about as thick as a nickel when rolled out.
5. Spoon out a little over a tablespoon of the meaty, cheesy, vegetable mixture just off-center on each flattened circle of dough. Then, fold over the dough, forming a crescent shape. Flip over the edges and press the tines of a fork into the edges, creating a crinkly crust that seals in the sausage and cheese.
6. In a separate bowl, crack an egg and scramble it with two tablespoons of water, forming an egg wash. Roll up a paper towel and dip the edge of it in the egg wash, using it to gently brush the tops of the empanadas, coating them in it and creating a nice glaze over the top.
7. Finally, place the empanadas in the oven, letting them cook for 12-14 minutes. (13 seemed perfect for us)