Cuban Empanadas with Avocado Mojo Sauce

Happy Virtual Shower day to Jessica at My Baking Heart and her fiance, Chris! Her big day is almost here and I’m so happy to be part of the awesome group of food bloggers to celebrate this wonderful new chapter in her life.

Cuban empanadas are one of my many favorite appetizers to munch on. Cuban empanadas can also be called pastelitos which is spanish for cuban pastries. We usually buy these by the boxful’s at our favorite cuban bakery (Porto’s). They are typically filled with fruits, cheese and meats but I didn’t want to confuse anyone on this tasty treat because empanadas are more recognizable and identical to the pastelito. This savory appetizer always disappears fast at parties and I wanted to share my recipe for the special occasion.

Back to the soon to be bride and groom. Aren’t they just gorgeous? Jessica and Chris’s Argyle, Knickers, Polka Dots and Pearls engagement shoot was totally unforgetable. I may have voted a million times for her to win that engagement shoot, too! I can only imagine how gorgeous her wedding photos are going to be.

I first met Jessica a couple years ago online on a cooking board via the Nest.  She’s one talented Texan cook that I love and she’s even more awesome in person when we met in real life at the Food Buzz Festival last year. It’s funny how much you have in common with your fellow food bloggers, and they totally understand your need to photograph your meals, stage the perfect shot, or stalk Martha Stewart and Tyler Florence in the streets of San Francisco. Jessica was a big part of the awesome friendships that I had made that weekend and I will never forget her sweet smile, too.

Back to the tasty appetizer, these Cuban empanadas are basically meat pies filled with seasoned ground beef (picadillo) and baked to golden perfection. I took a short-cut on making these treats and used store-bought puff pastry sheets instead of making my own dough. Most empanadas are usually fried but I wanted a slightly healthier baked version. Plus, my creamy Avocado Mojo sauce is the perfect dipping sauce to this mouth watering appetizer. Mojo sauce is the typical dressing for most Cuban dishes composed of garlic, lime juice and some seasonings. I jazzed up my go-to mojo sauce with a few extra ingredients to make for one scrumptious dip. I prefer to enjoy the Cuban empanadas the day they are prepared because they are nice and flaky. They can be served room temperature or straight from the oven.
Be sure to check out the round-up posts on Nikki’s (Pennies on a Platter) and Jessica’s (My Baking Heart) blogs so you can see the fabulous array of yummy dishes!

Congratulations Jessica, I’m so happy for you!

Cuban Empanadas with Avocado Mojo Sauce Original Krystal Recipe

Ingredients: For the Cuban Empanadas: 1 package prepared puff pastry Flour, for rolling out pastry 1 egg plus a teaspoon of flour to bind and glaze 1/2 pound ground beef 1/2 pound ground pork (or use all ground beef) 1/2 cup of raisins 1/2 cup of pimento-stuffed Spanish green olives 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil 1 (8 ounce) cans of tomato sauce 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced finely 1 medium white onion, chopped 1 large green bell pepper, chopped 1 tablespoon of cumin 1/8 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of Complete Seasoning

1 bay leaves Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

For the Avocado Mojo Sauce:

1/2 cup smashed fresh avocado 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1/4 sour cream or plain Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon buttermilk 1 teaspoon lime zest 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 to 3 garlic cloves 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preparation:  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Prepare the sofrito, which is the Cuban trinity, consisting of the onions and bell peppers. Saute until softened and tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add ground beef and ground pork to the pan and cook until no longer pink. Make sure to mash any big pieces down. Add the cumin, cumin seeds, complete seasoning, tomato sauce, tomato paste, dry white wine vinegar, bay leaves, pimentos and raisins. Stir to combine. Bring heat to a low simmer and cook until picadillo thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chopped cilantro and discard the bay leaves. Set aside to cool. Prepare the Avocado Mojo sauce. Puree the cilantro and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Add the mayonnaise, avocado, buttermilk, Greek yogurt, lime zest, and lime juice. Puree until fully combined. Add salt and pepper and mix again. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Lay out a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Flour the top of the dough and roll out the puff pastry until it is about 1/16-inch thick. Cut 4-inch strips crosswise and lengthwise making 12 (4×4) squares. Make sure the squares are well floured. In a small bowl, mix the egg with a teaspoon of water and mix until fully combined. Place a heaping teaspoon of picadillo filling onto the floured squares. Dip finger into the egg mixture and moisten the edges of the top half with the egg mixture. Fold the bottom half to meet the edges of the top half. Use a fork to crimp and seal the edges together. Lightly brush the tops with the egg mixture and poke a couple fork openings on top. Repeat process for the remaining squares until finished. Place finished pockets on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and flaky. Yield: 12 empanadas

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