I don’t like to read novels. There I said it. Don’t hate me, but I don’t care for the Harry Potter series or any other fiction (not that I hate any of it). I just can’t sit and read things that aren’t true. That said, I do enjoy reading non-fiction. I love it when someone writes true, heartfelt things that have really happened to them. I think that is one of the things I love about most of the blog world. We are all here writing about things we love and find important in each of our lives and sharing it with others.
This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I had the pleasure of getting (randomly selected) one of my favorite food bloggers. Will Suzanne of Thru the Bugs on My Windshield please stand up and take a bow? I got to meet Suzanne last year. She lives in Texas, but through her and her husband’s travels all over the country, sometimes on motorcycles with bugs on their
teeth windshield, Suzanne came to Utah last year. We met---
in Salt Lake and had lunch at a fabulous Mexican restaurant, Red Iguana. Before that, I hadn’t actually been acquainted with Suzanne’s blog for very long—she hadn’t been at it that long. But food bloggers become friends very quickly I’ve learned and the chance to meet any of them is always such a fun, welcome thing. It only seems right to meet for food’s sake!
Suzanne is warm and friendly and she’s witty, thoughtful and just one of those kinds of people who are wonderful to just sit and chat with (over chips and salsa, of course, hehe). She’s got a great sense of humor, too! Suzanne made me feel like I was meeting up with an old friend.
I have spent the last month, since learning I had Suzanne’s blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, reading pretty much every post Suzanne has written (she started her blog in March of 2010). I know, why would I bother reading all her posts? For the Secret Recipe Club, all I needed to do was pick a recipe from her blog and make it. As I was looking at all her yummy posts and great photography, I couldn’t stop. Suzanne’s writing is entertaining, thoughtful, and REAL stuff. None of that magic wand wizardy stuff. She writes in a charming way and always throws in just enough and the right kind of humor—like this---
This Dairy Queen photo (from Suzanne’s blog), has a little caption under it that says “Texas Stop Sign”. If you’re on the road, wind in your hair, riding your bike and you see one of these signs—STOP!
Maybe you’re on a hundreds of miles empanada run on your motorcycles. That’s what Suzanne and her husband did all in the name of some empanadas. That’s dedication and determination and well, just a little bit crazy! I love it! While on this bike ride through New Mexico, they ate at a place that Suzanne described as having a tasty morsel that never pleased her palate more—and they were apricot empanadas. She later recreated them and sold me on the deal as well. (You must read this post (Empanada Run) and see all of Suzanne’s photos. She’s got leather boots on and is sitting on a bike for the first time when she was a teenager and then tells about how she became crazed with motorcycle riding. She’ll reel you in hook, line and sinker and you’ll spend a few hours trying to read all her posts. They are that good. THAT is my kind of reading. Real stuff. Real people.
Ready for the oven, my pretties!
I followed Suzanne’s recipe for the sweet dough exactly as she had written and it is a great dough to work with and simple to make. I’m happy that the dough is put into two disks—because I have one of those ready in the freezer for when I just need another apricot empanada (or two)—and then I’ll need to run, run, run after that!
Suzanne’s apricot filling is made with reconstituted dried apricots, but I had some fresh ones from last summer in the freezer and decided to use those and make a filling with them. That stuff is good and could be used for all kinds of things! I also made a thick blueberry compote to try in a few of the empanadas, but although good, they don’t hold a candle to the apricot filled ones. I almost need to stop talking about them or I’m liable to get that extra dough out of the freezer sooner than later.
Apricot Empanadas, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, from Suzanne, Thru The Bugs on My Windshield
Empanada Sweet Dough: (Made the dough exactly as Suzanne did)
3 cups all purpose flour (360 grams)
¼ cup sugar (50 grams)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons ice water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Add the flour, ¼ cup sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few times for each one. After 8 tablespoons have been added, add one egg and pulse together. Add remaining butter one tablespoon at a time, then add the second egg. Pulsing a few times after each, add a tablespoon of the cold water at a time just until the dough starts to form a ball.
Remove the dough from the food processor and form it into two disks. Wrap each separately in parchment paper and chill them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
2 cups frozen apricots, (or fresh, pitted and cut into quarters)*
½ cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
*You can also use dried apricots—the amounts and directions are different, you can get that on the link to Suzanne’s blog
In a medium sized saucepan, combine all of the filling ingredients. Stir together. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Mash with a fork when the fruit is soft. Stir occasionally while the filling is simmering. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut circles 3 to 5 inches in diameter, depending on size you’d like. Set each round on a baking sheet, then fill each with just a teaspoon or so of filling. (Don’t overfill.) Fold over and secure edges with fork tines. Be careful not to press down too hard. If the dough is really soft, set the baking sheet in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to firm the dough. (You can freeze empanadas and have them ready to bake, just add a few minutes to the baking time and bake them while still frozen.) Fix about 12 to a baking sheet.
Mix together the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle the tops of each empanada with it. Pierce each with a fork so they have a little steam room inside. Bake for 25 minutes or so. You can also store a disk of the sweet dough wrapped in parchment and then a zip lock bag in the freezer to use later.
You know, I’ve actually made a number of other recipes from Suzanne’s blog—like this Fresh Crispy Pear Salad—loved it and so did the company we had over that I served it to a few months ago!
I have also made a version of her Very Southwestern Stuffed Poblanos. I didn’t get those blogged, but check out her post!
I could not have been more thrilled with my secret blog this month and would love to get together with Suzanne again sometime. That is what this wonderful world of food blogging is all about. Thanks to Amanda for her hard work in getting this fun group up and running. She’s even put it all together on a new website—check it out! Secret Recipe Club