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Southwestern Chicken Empanadas

There has been a Mexican food frenzy at my house lately. Homemade quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos…

I don’t know why I’ve gotten on this kick, but I sure do love it. Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines. I love spicy foods, cumin, cilantro, tortillas and dulce de leche! There are a few great Mexican restaurants in town, but nothing beats whipping up a Mexican feast for yourself.

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I ran across this delectable appetizer in an old Pillsbury recipe booklet. It’s wonderfully easy to make, what with the premade ingredients and all—but it still has insanely good flavor. It’s great to make for parties & sports gatherings, and you can shape the empanadas anyway you want. I like to make little football empanadas during football season; just use a fork to make the lace impressions in the dough.

Classic empanadas are stuffed with beef or shredded chicken and typically fried, but these are stuffed with corn and black bean salsa (which you can easily find near normal jarred salsas in the Mexican aisle of a grocery store), jalapenos and diced chicken and then baked to golden perfection. A new twist on a classic South American recipe!

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Southwestern Chicken Empanadas

  • 1 jar (16 oz.) black bean and corn salsa
  • 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn, thawed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 3 TBS. minced fresh cilantro, divided
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 package (9 oz.) ready-to-use Southwestern chicken strips, chopped
  • 2 packages (14.1 oz each) refrigerated pie pastry
  • 4 oz. quesadilla or Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Corn salsa + cilantro + chicken
Corn salsa + cilantro + chicken

1. In a large bowl, combine the salsa, corn, jalapenos, 2 TBS. cilantro and lime juice. In another bowl, combine the chicken, remaining cilantro and 1/2 cup of your salsa mixture; set aside. Reserve the remaining salsa for serving.

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2. Unroll and pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface. Using a floured, round cookie cutter, cut 4 inch diameter round shapes out of the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough, chilling and rerolling scraps if needed

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3. Transfer half of the cutouts to a greased baking sheet. Place 1 TBS. of the chicken mixture on each cutout and top each with a pinch of cheese. Brush edges of pastry with egg. Top with remaining cutouts and press edges with a fork to seal. Brush tops with egg.

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4. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with reserved salsa mixture.

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Not the prettiest things on the planet by any means, but freaking delicious. You can find refrigerated, ready-to-eat Southwestern chicken strips near the lunch meat aisle in a grocery store in a Ziploc type bag. Also, using fresh jalapenos is so much better than using jarred or pickled jalapenos. As is using fresh cilantro! NEVER buy dried cilantro! I cannot emphasize that enough…fresh cilantro is wickedly better than dried.

Happy feasting!

 

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