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Baked Crab and Corn Empanadas with Roasted Poblano Sauce

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I’ve been really into fruit salsas this summer and when the hot, steamy weather last week left me craving watermelon, I decided to make a Latin American style meal featuring light and fresh summer flavors. These crab and corn empanadas were a huge hit! The crust was crispy and flakey and, while the flavor of the filling was unexpected, it just worked. The smokey and complex flavor of the poblano sauce paired perfectly with the rest of the meal – I based it off the enchilada sauce that I made for my pork and pineapple stacked enchilada and I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be good without being baked with cheese, but it definitely held its own in this dish. The pool of sauce under the empanada made for a gorgeous plate and I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this to guests. Actually, it would make a perfect dinner party dish, since the prep work is very quick and can be done ahead of time.

The empanadas were also great left over! I think they may have even gotten better after spending the night in the fridge. To reheat them, I just popped the in the toaster oven on “light” for 2 minutes – just enough to crisp up the outside and warm them through.  

I served these with sauteed plantains and watermelon salsa (watermelon, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt). The meal was light and refreshing. If you want a more substantial dinner, they would also be great with a side of black beans.

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Cajun Jambalaya with Okra, Andouille and Shrimp

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The other day, I was thinking about the way I used to eat. Back when I was in college and shortly after I graduated. Let’s just say it wasn’t very healthy or very delicious. Looking back, I think there was a period of time where I just completely forgot that I knew how to cook a decent meal. Plus, I couldn’t really be bothered. Like a lot of people, I had the misconception that cooking a real dinner out of real ingredients would be too expensive and take too much time. So we’d boil a box of pasta and mix it with a jar of sauce and some sausage. Or we’d try to be “healthy” and make a chicken stir-fry, but we would totally ruin it by using store-bought marinades that were loaded with sugar. For a special treat, we’d buy a box of zatarain’s mix and make jambalaya.

I don’t miss the other stuff at all, but I do kind of miss the jambalaya. And with Foodbuzz pledging to donate $25 to the Greater New Orleans Foundation (helping fishermen who were effected by the oil spill and their families) for every Gulf-Inspired post this weekend, it seemed like the perfect excuse to make it. Of course, I wasn’t going to resort to using a box – I know better than that now! (And a quick look at the back of the box confirmed my suspicions — 21% of your RDA of sodium? MSG? Sodium dioxide?? No thanks!) No, this jambalaya is 100% real food and 100% real flavor. Sure you have to spend a few minutes chopping vegetables, but other than that it really isn’t any more difficult or time consuming than the boxed stuff. And the final product is so much healthier and so much more delicious that there really isn’t any excuse to take “shortcuts”!

Looking for more Gulf-inspired flavor? How about a nice, steamy bowl of gumbo? Gumbo is very similar to jambalaya, but it’s prepared as a soup enriched with a roux. In gumbo, the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients and added in the final step instead of cooking along with everything else and absorbing all of the flavors.

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Click to get the recipe for Cajun Jambalaya with Okra, Andouille and Shrimp –>