Anyone wondering how my wanderlust developed simply needs to understand I spent a chapter of my childhood in Brazil, and trotting about South and Central America and the Caribbean.  By the time I was 14, my brother John and I had visited over a dozen countries (more if you count plane lay-overs).  Not exactly a normal All-American childhood.  (Let me tell you… It was a rough re-entry to suburban Detroit when we returned. I might as well have been from a different planet.)

We spanned the continent from the Iguazu Falls at the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay… im1.shutterfly To the Mayan ruins in Mexico… im1.shutterfly-1And of course, we ate our way across the continent.  There were a lot of weird things on menus along the way, so we’d hunt for familiar options.  One childhood fave that you can find all over the Americas are empanadas… little pockets of pastries filled with meat, cheese, veggies, or some combination of the three.  Oh how I adore empanadas…

John has elevated empanadas to an art form at his restaurant. He creates new varieties virtually every night.  I’m talking crazy creative: chili cheese dog; pork Bolognese; bean burrito; blue cheese and leek; eggplant parmesan; chicken Xim Xim; picadillo; mushroom stroganoff; corn, chanterelles and sweet pepper and romesco with goat cheese, peppers, and almonds.

My daughter’s favorite is the lamb ragu and pecorino. In case you’re in Chicago tonight and want to stop by, the empanadas of the day are: sloppy joe – and kale, chiles, garlic and provolone.

Quite honestly, as an insanely busy mother-of-three, I had never, ever tried to recreate empanadas at home.  I thought to myself: “Really, who has the time to make the empanada pastry?”  Surely someone, just not me.  Then I read that it was possible to buy the stuff… and I discovered La Saltena empanada wrappers at my local latin market (Plaza Latina, Falls Church Virginia)


This is going to open up a whole world of snacking possibilities at House Morell.

I thought I’d start simple… and actually go meatless this Lenten Friday, as a girl can only use the “a-meat-loving-Argentine-Pope-wouldn’t-judge” excuse a couple of times.  I tweaked a Food Network recipe to include the a combo of mozzarella, goat cheese and queso fresco… added sautéed onions, red peppers and corn… and wow…

Oh dear La Saltena Empanada wrappers, this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship…


If you’d like to pair these empanadas with a few other choices, you might want to try my Empanadas with White Beans, Pancetta and Queso Fresco or my Bacon Cheeseburger Empanadas or my Cuban Beef Picadillo Empanadas or perhaps my Merquez Sausage, Haloumi Cheese and Potato Empanadas.  They’re all awesome.

Corn and Three Cheese Empanadas
Serves: 20
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1½ cups frozen corn
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 1 package La Saltena brand empanada wrappers, (hojaldradas)
  1. Directions Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions for 10 minutes, until translucent. Add corn and red peppers; saute for 5 minutes or until the corn is fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, stir in cheeses and sour cream. Let cool.
  4. Place a tablespoon of the filling onto the center of each empanada disk. Fold the dough over to make a half-moon, and seal with a decorative pattern.
  5. Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
  6. Serve warm, or at room temperature.


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21 Responses to "Corn and Three Cheese Empanadas"
  1. Nancy says:

    Next time I’m in Chicago I know where I’m going – John’s restaurant sounds delicious! Your corn & cheese empanadas, look like the perfect thing to hold me over until I get there 🙂 I’m checking at my grocery store for the Goya wraps tomorrow…I never knew I could buy them, and now I really, really want an empanada!

  2. I really love this – I’m always a fan of empanadas, but the corn in these sounds so delicious!

  3. thebrookcook says:

    I LOVE empanadas soooo much!! My husband has had pot luck functions over the years where co-workers have contributed empanadas. So wonderful!! I have said that I am going to make them myself – for YEARS- and haven’t. Seems like a wonderful shortcut to use empanada shells- thank you! 🙂

    • There is a place in Washington DC called Panas Empanadas, and we ordered dozens for our son’s graduation party last year. The teenagers inhaled them. If I knew it could be so easy to make them I might have made them myself! I’ll be experimenting with various fillings in the months to come here at House Morell 🙂

  4. I didn’t know you could buy empanada shells! What great news. Love your narrative as well as your empanada recipe.

  5. SO weird that we were both on a nostalgia trip Manion and this is such a super post, and how I LOVE empanadas too! Karen

  6. I so love empanadas! I tried making them before, using my MIL’s recipe but they took forever and the results were pretty disappointing. I wasn’t as comfortable in the kitchen, then. Now that you’ve let us in on the secret that you can buy these frozen dough discs (who knew, never paid attention before!), it’s time to give them another try. And corn and cheese sound about perfect! 🙂

    • One of my Facebook friends proclaimed the Goya dough disc discovery “life changing.” I think I’d have to agree with her 🙂 Seriously… what else is hiding in the freezer section? I’ll have to go on a hunt someday soon!

  7. I LOVE empanadas, and these look especially delicious!! I am saving this recipe for sure!! Sounds like you had quite the childhood…You’ve seen and lived in places that most of us will never ever get the chance to see!! Wonderful post.. 🙂

    • Thanks… I know, I’ve been SO blessed to have been able to see so much of the world. And I’ll definitely be adding more empanadas to the repertoire now that I’ve discovered those Goya wrappers 🙂

  8. chefjulianna says:

    Wonderful post, MB! I love your photos and stories. I also love your recipe! Empanadas are something I have made a few times, but I will bookmark your recipe and try it the next time I want to make them! I can’t wait.

  9. I am so glad you wandered over to the frozen section, these look delicious and like something my partner would love! I must must try these this week. So glad to have joined Fiesta Friday and to have come across your blog.

  10. I so love the empanadas. These are gorgeous and so yummy.

  11. Patty Nguyen says:

    Your empanadas look perfect! And I bet they taste even better than they look!

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