Spiced Cheese Empanadas

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Empanadas are filled pies or turnovers that are found in one form or another around the world. This recipe is based on one from Argentina and is tasty, yet simple to prepare.



  • 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese

  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • 4 green onions, chopped including the greens

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon ají chile powder or cayenne

  • Salt and ground white pepper


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening

  • 1 egg

  • Or substitute 1 package prepared, unbaked pie crusts


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine all the filling ingredients and chill slightly.

To make the crust: in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or 2 forks. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.

Add 4 to 5 tablespoons of cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and lightly toss with a fork to incorporate. Add only enough water so that the dough will hold together and can be gathered into a ball.

Separate the egg into small bowls and lightly beat the white. Beat the yolk with 1 tablespoon of water.

Gently roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness and cut circles 2 to 2 ½-inches in diameter. Place a spoonful of the filling off-center on a circle. Brush the edges with the egg white, fold over and crimp the edges to seal.

Note: If using ready-made pie crusts, don’t roll the pastry before cutting.

Brush the empanadas with the egg yolk, place on a lightly oiled baking pan, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Remove and cool on a rack before serving.

Ham and Cheese Tortas with Chiptole Mayonnaise

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Tortas are sandwiches and they are made with Mexican bolillo rolls. Similar to crusty French rolls, they are the most popular bread in Mexico after tortillas. Surprisingly, ham and cheese is a common torta combination although almost anything can be used as a filling, including beans. I’ve taken some liberties with the mayonnaise by adding chipotles, but it tastes so good with any number of fillings, I had to include it.


For the Chipotle Mayonnaise:

  • 2 chipotle en adobo chiles, stems and seeds removed

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

For the Tortas:

  • 4 slices yellow cheese, such as cheddar

  • 4 slices cooked ham

  • 1 4-ounce can sliced pickled jalapenos

  • 4 bolillo rolls, or substitute French rolls

  • Sliced tomatoes

  • Thinly sliced onions

  • Shredded lettuce


To make the mayonnaise: Place the chipotles, lime juice and onion in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Put the mayonnaise into a bowl and stir in the chile mixture. Allow the mayonnaise to sit for an hour or more to blend the flavors.

To assemble, split the rolls lengthwise and hollow out some of the bottom of the roll. Spread the mayonnaise on the top and layer the remaining ingredients on the bottom, cover with the top and serve.

Southwestern Green Chile Cheese Log

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Although it’s easy to prepare and extremely tasty, believe me, this ain’t your grandmother’s cheese ball. Although this type of appetizer has graced party tables for years, this one will soon become a new favorite. I use pecans because they are so plentiful here, but substitute walnuts or almonds if you prefer.


  • ½ cup chopped green New Mexico chile, which has been roasted and peeled

  • 1  8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • 2 tablespoons ground red New Mexico chile

  • 3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped


Combine the chile and the cheeses in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until firm.

Toss the pecans in the ground chile until well coated.

Roll the cheese between 2 pieces of wax paper to form a log. Then roll the log in the crushed nuts and chill for 8 hours before serving.

To serve, place the cheese log on a platter and arrange crackers around the cheese and place a knife on the platter for spreading.

Roasted Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Spiced Goat Cheese

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Poblano chiles impart a distinctive taste to these rellenos and are usually milder than the New Mexican varieties. The filling is a combination of traditional Mexican and New Southwestern ingredients.


  • 2 teaspoons ground red New Mexican chile
  • ½ cup goat cheese
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped fine
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 large poblano chiles, roasted and peeled, stems left on
  • Flour for dredging
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying


Combine the ground red chile, cheeses, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, and cloves to make the filling. Make a slit in the side of each pepper and stuff with the filling. Roll each chile in the flour and shake off the excess.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks and the remaining ingredients (except the oil), then gently fold them into the egg whites to make a batter.

Carefully dip the chiles into the batter and coat well. Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a pan to 350 degrees. Add the chiles and fry until they are lightly browned, turning them once. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Chicken, Chile, and Cheese Chimichangas

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These sweet chicken chimichangas with fruit are lighter than the more traditional beef and bean recipe popular in Arizona.


  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 4 green New Mexican chiles, roasted, peeled, stems and seeds removed, chopped

  • 3 cups cooked chicken, diced

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 small orange, peeled, seeded, and chopped

  • 6 flour tortillas

  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

  • Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying

  • Chopped lettuce and tomatoes for garnish


Sauté the onion in the oil until soft. Add the chiles, chicken, and spices and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add the chopped oranges and mix well.

Wrap the tortillas is a moist towel and place them in a warm oven to soften. Place approximately 1/2 cup of the mixture in the center of each tortilla and top with cheese. Fold the tortilla like an envelope and secure with a toothpick.

Deep-fry the chimichangas, one at a time, in 375°F oil until well browned. Drain on paper towels and remove the toothpick.

Serve topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and your favorite salsa.