Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chorizo Empanadas

For the next several posts I'll be bringing up topics like food budgets, couponing, choosing recipes/menu planning, writing out grocery lists, and going grocery shopping. These things relate to everyone, but are especially time consuming and tedious for the food blogger.  If nothing else, this is my way of confessing for all the somewhat psychotic, obsessive/compulsive, over the top things I do related to food and food shopping.

Let's begin with the food budget.  When I say food budget I mean a ballpark figure spent on food items every week, two weeks, or monthly.  Do you have a food budget?  If so, (and you feel comfortable sharing) how much is it?  Also, how many are you cooking for? And, finally..if you do have a food budget, do you stick with it?  

I'd say my food budget, for a family of four, is about $400 to $600 per month, definitely not over $600.  This includes all the meals (we almost never eat out), lunches packed for my husband and daughter, and special meals for my son who has all kinds of food allergies. 

My husband likes to tease me that I spend more than the average amount on groceries because I'm a food blogger.  When he does that I just call his bluff.  This recipe for chorizo empanadas is a perfect example of how inexpensive it really is to make things at home.  A little flour, a little butter, leftover cheese and some chorizo and you have a plateful of appetizers, an on-the-go breakfast, or you can add some veggies and call it dinner.  Either way, this whole batch of empanadas cost me about five to six dollars.  Making food from scratch is always going to be healthier, tastier, and way more cost effective. Are you with me?

Chorizo Empanadas
Adapted from The Homesick Texan by Lisa Fain
Makes about 16
For the Crust
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Filling
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound Mexican chorizo, removed from it's casing
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (2 ounces)
1/4 cup pitted black olives, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, seeds and stems removed, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and black pepper, to taste
For the Empanada
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
sesame seeds for sprinkling (I omitted these)
salsa, for dipping

To make the crust: Mix together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt until a smooth dough is formed.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make the filling: Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet, preferably a cast-iron skillet, on medium-low heat.  Crumble the chorizo into the skillet.  While occasionally stirring, cook the chorizo until it's done, about 7 to 10 minutes. Drain the excess fat and in a bowl mix the cooked chorizo with the grated Monterey Jack cheese, black olives, garlic, diced jalapeno, cilantro, and cumin.  Taste and add salt and black pepper.

To make the empanadas:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet.  Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured surface until it's 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into 5-inch rounds and then gather the scraps, roll out again and cut more 5-inch rounds until all the dough has been used.

To assemble: Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each dough circle and fold the dough to the other side so it forms a half-moon shape.  Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.

For the topping:  Whisk together the egg and milk.  Brush this on top of the empanadas and then sprinkle the empanadas with sesame seeds (if desired).  Bake for 25 minutes or until top is browned.  Serve with salsa on the side for dipping. 
Notes:  These chorizo empanadas are perfect in every way.  We loved the spicy chorizo filling and found the crust to be perfectly golden and crisp.  The dough is really easy to work with and can be mixed in mere minutes with only your hands or a spoon (no getting out a mixer).  I didn't have a 5-inch dough cutter so I used a small cereal bowl to cut out the circles and it worked perfectly.  If you have leftover filling go ahead and add it to your eggs in the morning.  I'll definitely make this recipe again!


  1. ooh, these look so yummy!

  2. I am bookmarking so many chorizo recipes - including this once. There's something about that delicious heat in winter. I do have a food budget. I do stick with it. And I buy some spendy meats - local and organic and offset it with meatless meals and the wonders of legumes. I don't clip coupons anymore - because they are always for processed foods.

  3. These look so yummy! I grew up eating chorizo for breakfast, so I'm going to have to try these myself. I might try adding egg to the mixture just because my kids don't like things too spicy.

    Also, I think you're right on budget. We have a family of 4 and I usually spend about $400.00 a month, but this covers all 3 meals for everyone. :-)


  4. I am a huge empanada fan and these look amazing,Kim!Empanada and Chorizo.....It sounds like home to me :)

  5. Good for you. That's a great food budget. We spend more and it's just two of us but that includes a few tanks of gas and some wine. I like to use coupons too. And we are like you, we eat at home 99% of the time. It's healthier, it's cheaper and relaxing!
    Love your empanadas. A must try.

  6. Oh wow, how delicious! I just told my fiance if I get the chance again to make dinner for him before we're married then I'm making this as an appetizer. Soooo good!

  7. This recipe looks amazing! I love empanadas and usually make them with crab... which emphasizes the fact that I don't generally stick to a food budget. I'm cooking just for two. My husband's kids are grown and I don't have children, so we've got a little extra to spend. Cooking is one of my main hobbies and I tend to buy just what I am craving at the moment or whatever I feel like blogging about. I started making a serious effort to cook at home about 4 months ago, and I do know we are saving money compared to what we had been spending in restaurants. I am also making a conscious effort to eat everything I bring home, so I at least get my money's worth. It would be an interesting experiment to add it all up and I think I will try that next month. :-)

  8. You can blow a whole week's grocery budget by eating out one night. Eating in is definitely cheaper, even if you are a food blogger!

  9. Oh, my gosh! These look sooo good. Will have to make a vegetarian version of it, but thanks for sharing this! I will be making this this weekend! :D

  10. Bowing...what else is there to say?

  11. Well...I have a family of one. And I probably spend just slightly less than you do. but...I DO live in NYC where prices of everything are jacked up big time. And i have no other expenses (other than rent) and I'm getting paid to go to that's what I tell myself so I can sleep. I do TRY to be frugal with all the bean eating I do! Sigh. Perhaps I should make more empanadas.

    Loving the new layout by the way!

  12. I am with you on food budget and cooking from scratch. We limited our monthly spending to $500 a month (food, gas, and all the necessities) for 3 people.
    Great empanadas!

  13. your recipe looks amazing!! and i my food budget is the same as yours and i am cooking for 5- 2 adults and 3 kids. i like cooking from scratch when i have time but with 3 teenagers ranging from a senior in high school down to a 7th grader- i am lucky to get us all to the table 2-3 times a week.

  14. Love the blog and need to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing.
    My husband and I love to cook and we love to try a lot of new things. On average we spend about 100$ a week on groceries to get us through the week. We cook just about every night and will go out to eat at least once on the weekend. Its just the two of us now.

  15. I'm with you! I'm not a great cook or food blogger, but it's true that everything is better and cheaper when you make it yourself.

    Except French fries. I haven't yet mastered those...

  16. I knew where you drew the inspiration for these bad boys...I love them! We pretty much never eat out, either. I spend more than that each month on groceries, but there are 5 of us. Food seems super expensive these days. Sigh.

  17. Those look amazing. I usually use Goya discos when I make empanadas, but this crust sounds easy and delicious, so I'm pinning it. We love chorizo, so I will definitely try this. I'm amazed at how low your food budget is for a family of 4. Here in NY, my groceries for 2 are way too high.

    1. i cook for 3 and only spend 50 a fortnight(not by choice tho), the trick is to buy when on special, even when out of date (its still edible)and preserve everything, by canning or freezing.

  18. I don't really have a food budget but I need one! I shop at Walmart primarily since it's the only game in town and it's not even in my town! We have a little grocery store in town but pricey and so I try not to shop there too much. The problem with this is that I don't buy JUST food at Walmart...I buy food and then some! I need to really sit down and figure out what I spend on food alone or food and then some and stick to it! Going to the grocery store nowadays is like going to's scary checking out...sometimes I'm relieved and sometimes I am just never know and I NEED TO KNOW! I am retired and live alone but love to cook and eat good food but the cost of medicine is neck and neck with groceries now! LOL! Actually...meds have pulled ahead!

  19. hi, my fortnightly budget is $50 and sometimes i cook for up to four people. but usually i have to make enough to feed 3. my fiance eats enough for too, he is always hungry :).
    i would much prefer to spend more on food. but $50 is a bit much already.
    all my recipes are about making more with less :)

  20. The empanadas look amazing. I need to be better about budgeting and couponing. I have noticed a definite decrease in my eating expenses since I stopped with meat and dairy which helps. ;-)

  21. Your sharing has just made my day. Thank you a lot. I learn so much from you post.
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