Beef Empanadas

One of the things that we were told that we had to try during our recent trip to Ecuador were empanadas. We got a sampler platter of them, which was a great way to try several varieties. Empanadas are dough stuffed with chicken, beef, cheese, or other fillings, usually they have some spices like cumin and chili powder that can be baked or fried. They can also be sweet and made with fruit for a dessert. We decided to make ours using ground beef and peppers, which made for a nice flavor profile. Although you can make your own dough, you can also choose a pre-made dough or even phyllo dough. You can make the stuffing as spicy as you like, but we found the ones in Ecuador to have spice, but not be spicy. They are usually served with some sort of dipping sauce like guacamole, salsa, or we made an adobo aioli. They might not be the prettiest, but they were very tasty. We made a small batch, but you can certainly can increase it to feed a larger crowd.

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Empanadas in Ecuador
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Our Version of Empanadas with Aioli Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 lb Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/4 tbsp Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
  • 1 Clove Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Green Pepper – chopped
  • 1/4 Red Pepper – chopped
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion – chopped
  • Vegetable Oil
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Peppers and Onion
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Stuffed Empanadas

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a medium frying pan to medium-high heat with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Brown the ground beef with the garlic salt and drain off the grease and set it aside. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil and then add the tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, chili powder, oregano, seasoned salt, minced garlic, bell peppers, and onion. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the beef back to the pan and heat for another 5 minutes. Put the mixture aside and let it cool to room temperature. Roll out the dough on a cutting board with flour to keep it from sticking. Cut the dough into 4 to 6 inch rounds. Spoon filling onto each round making sure not to overfill them. Wet the edges with either water or egg so that it will stick when pressed together. Carefully fold the dough over and press the edges together with a fork or with your fingers. At this point, you can deep fry the empanadas until golden brown or bake them in the oven. We did a combination of the two where we fried them in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until the sides were golden brown and then finished them in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees.

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Sautéing Filling
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Frying the Empanadas
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Ready to Eat

Sampling Food in Steamboat Springs

As per usual, we mostly ate small bites while we were in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, over the weekend. There are so many restaurant options and food styles that choosing a restaurant to visit wasn’t easy. When dining in a resort area in Colorado, regardless of how upscale the restaurant may be, dress is usually casual. It is not uncommon to go to even the most expensive of restaurants and see people in jeans and sports coats, about as dressed up as people get.

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Casual Dining
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Deviled Eggs with Pickled Okra
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Red Curry Mussels

We enjoy finding places with different takes on classic dishes or food that we can’t necessarily find in other places. Colorado is known for its steaks and burgers, but we didn’t want anything that heavy, so we chose some simpler options. We found a restaurant that served American classics with a southern flair. The jalapeno cheese cornbread and deviled eggs with pickled okra were definitely different and certainly hit the spot.

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Chilled Glasses and Beer on Tap
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Jalapeno Cornbread
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Western Influenced Artwork

Colorado is also known for southwestern food, which is Mexican inspired. We enjoyed a zippy southwestern cheesesteak sandwich with sautéed poblano peppers. They also featured a variety of dishes with international influences and we enjoyed a bowl of red curry mussels that had a nice, mild heat. Sticking with the southwestern theme, we enjoyed a pork con carne burrito that was definitely large enough for the tow of us to share.

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Con Carne Burrito
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The Red Curry Sauce
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Relaxed Atmosphere

Unfortunately, we only had a couple of days in Steamboat Springs, so we will have to return to enjoy more of the food options that are available. There is nothing like eating food in a relaxed atmosphere where people are on vacation and no one is in a hurry to finish their meal.

The Food of Scottsdale

The number of restaurants in the Scottsdale area is almost overwhelming. Since it is a resort area there are options to suit any food craving or dining style from formal to casual. When visiting Arizona, having some authentic Mexican food, or even just some southwestern food, is a must. There are also plenty of outdoor patio options, but during the summer heat, most people stayed indoors. There are also several brewery options that offer good pub food with a variety of local beers that were perfect on a hot afternoon, although not as many options as we have in Colorado.

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Crab and Shrimp Stuffed Chili Relleno
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Picante Macaroni and Cheese with Sausage
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Mussels in White Wine Sauce

We should have known that this trip was going to be full of good food when we arrived at our resort on Saturday night to find out that the restaurant was offering a prime rib special. Two prime rib dinners, starter salads, and a bottle of wine for $40 and the prime rib was cooked to perfection. We almost always share a single dinner, so it was way too much food for the two of us, but it was too good of a deal to pass on.

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Prime Rib Dinner with Corn and Potatoes
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Sautéed Green Beans
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Chili Pork Verde

We definitely took advantage of the many Mexican restaurants that are in the area. From a traditional pork carnitas burrito served enchilada style with fresh ingredients to a half of chicken with oregano, lime, and aji rocoto that was spicy, but delicious. We also had a wonderful pork and green chili queso and crab and shrimp stuffed chili rellenos. We love good Mexican food and we certainly were not disappointed with what we had in Scottsdale.

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Carnitas Burrito Served Enchilada Style
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Roasted Chicken
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Guacamole Variation

Obviously, we had more than just Mexican food over the seven days that we spent in Scottsdale. One of the things that we found interesting was that almost every menu had some variation of macaroni and cheese on it, some with meat, some without, so we had to try one of each during the week. Another interesting treat were the pork wings appetizer that were bone-in pork shanks with a spicy barbeque sauce. We also had some salmon cakes and an interesting devilish egg dip as appetizers and really unique burger.

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Devilish Egg Dip
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Burger
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Pork Wings

We definitely enjoyed the food that we ate while we were in Scottsdale. Clearly, with all of the restaurant choices available, you can spend quite a while in Scottsdale and never eat at the same place twice, but some of them are so good that you just have to go back again and again. Perhaps we will revisit Scottsdale in the fall at some point so that we can eat our way through more of the many choices.

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Local Beers on Tap
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Spicy Macaroni and Cheese
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Salmon Cakes
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Cold Local Beer