Healthy Comfort Food for Cold Winter Nights

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Last week I had a few hurdles that I had to jump before I even started cooking dinner. I had a pre-made pie crust that was about to expire (usually I use these to make chicken pot pie, but I wasn’t feeling that tonight). I also had black beans that I had soaked the previous night and a whole bunch of sweet potatoes. So I did what I normally do when I’m faced with a kitchen ingredient conundrum – just start cooking!

When I started I knew that I would be looking for some Southwestern and Mexican flavors. Sweet potatoes are nutritious and packed full of flavor! They’re also sweet so of course I had to pair them with something spicy – that’s where the chipolte in adobe sauce comes in. How to use the pie crust? Make an empanada of course! Let’s just say this recipe came from cooking with ingredients that I know and love, just going step by step and tasting your way through each bite!

Spicy Sweet Potato Empanadas (makes four)

Ingredients:

1 pre-made pie crust (or homemade if you prefer)

4 large sweet potatoes (peeled)

1/2 large onion (I used a Spanish onion)

1 can black beans or 1/4 lb dry black beans (rinsed)

1 tablespoon chipolte in adobo

1/4 cup pepper jack cheese

1 bunch chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 clove garlic

1 jalapeño

1/4 cup frozen corn kernels

1 tablespoon butter

1 lime

salt/pepper

olive oil

Putting It All Together:

~ Chop the peeled sweet potatoes into chunks and put in a pot of salted water. Turn to a boil. Cook until fork tender.

~ If using a pre-made crust, follow the instructions on the label for preheating the oven.

~ While the sweet potatoes are cooking, in a frying pan combine a tablespoon of olive oil, the 1/4 cup diced onions, diced garlic, jalapeno, chipolte in adobo, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir until fragrant. Add the beans and 2 tablespoons cilantro to the pan and take off the heat.

~ Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, drain and put back into the hot pot. Add salt, pepper, butter, and the cheese. Smash until chunky/smooth consistency.

~ Take half of the mashed potatoes and combine them with the onion mixture.

~ Cut the pie crust into four equal pieces. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, put 1-2 tablespoons of mixture in the middle. Wet the sides of the dough with water and close up like a little wonton (bring all four edges together so they meet in the middle over the mixture). Score the top of the mini empanadas so the steam can be released. Follow the package directions to bake (normally 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes).

~ While the empanadas are cooking away, take the rest of the cilantro, 1/4 diced onions, salt, pepper, zest and juice of 1 lime, and olive oil and combine in a food processor or get an arm workout with a mortar and pestle. The consistency should be slightly chunky with no large pieces.

~ When the empanadas are finished, plate with a scoop of the mashed sweet potatoes, then the empanada, and finish with a drizzle of the cilantro sauce. Enjoy!

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