There’s something about this time of year that makes me reminisce. I think about holidays spent with family as a kid, comfort food that filled the table of my Grandmother’s home and I yearn to smell those smells, taste those tastes, and be with the ones that I hold dear. This year is no different and in fact, I’m craving all those comforts more than ever.

When I was thinking about which recipe I wanted to share with you all this week, I couldn’t get that sentiment out of my mind and I kept returning back to a childhood staple of mine and wanting to share it with all of you.

Many of you already know that my father is from Argentina. So, homemade Empanadas have been a part of my food life for as long as I can remember. In case you’re not familiar, Empanadas are hand-sized savory pies that can be found all over South America! In Argentinian culture, Empanadas are a staple of everyday life.  They began as a working man’s lunch – it was like taking a sandwich to work (portable) – easy to carry! So much more delicious than a simple sandwich. More filling and definitely more delicious too.

My grandmother would make them for us all the time! She would take her time to season the meat just right, preparing the perfect dough, and assembling these special pockets of highly flavored meat pies as I would wait impatiently to eat them.  As she baked them in the oven, the scent would fill the entire home. Heavenly scents, tastes and memories.

Eating Empanadas at Argentine restaurants was always delicious too. They are usually deep fried and filled with beef and chicken, so different than the Empanadas my Grandma would make and sooo delicious, just not as delicious as Grandmas.

Today, my boys Harris and Ellis love Empanadas too (so does my husband Jonathan), so the tradition carries on!

In true Janine fashion, I wanted to lighten up these meat patties a bit while still retaining all the flavor of the original Empanadas I grew up eating and loving.  My boys are always the best judges and the biggest critics and they think I got it just right with this recipe!

My Empanadas are small and much lower in calories then the original – so having 2,3 or even 4 is still considered guilt-free to me! The key to this magic is the wrappers I use, TYJ Spring Roll Pastry (see pic below).  You can find them at most Asian Markets and some health food stores as well.   Each wrapper is ONLY 25 calories and it tastes amazing!  One little note to mention when baking these delish little treasures is to try not to over bake the wrappers as they can get pretty crunchy (the are spring roll wrappers so that makes sense). When done right they are perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and bursting with flavor. I hope you take a few moments this time of year to think about what you treasure most from your childhood. Whether it’s a recipe like me or a memory you want to pass on. Spread the love with the ones that you hold dear, they will be forever thankful. I’m thankful for all of you. Thanks for being here and Happy Holidays! Xx Janine

Skinny Empanadas: Janine’s Childhood Fave

Ingredients:  Makes 2 Dozen Empanadas

1 pound ground chuck (free range or organic if you can)

1 Medium onion – diced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon 21 Seasoning Salute (Trader Joes)

2 cloves garlic – minced

2 Tablespoons Coconut Aminos (more to taste)

Ground pepper – to taste

3 hard boiled eggs – shelled and sliced

24 TYJ Spring Roll Pastry (look at the picture)

2 whole raw eggs – separate the yolks and the whites (used at the end for wrapping and topping of the spring rolls)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

In a medium frying pan, put in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped onion.  Saute until golden brown.

Add the meat to the pan and and push down with a fork to loosen up the meat (you will be mincing the meat)  – add the cumin, smoked paprika, 21 seasoning salute, garlic, coconut aminos and ground pepper  – all while pushing down the meat to make it into mince.

Cook the meat until all the pink in the meat is gone – take it off the heat (do not over cook, it may get dry) and leave it covered to cool down for 30-40 minutes.

Slice the hard-boiled eggs into thin slices – set aside.

Spread out a medium piece of parchment paper on the counter, place a Spring Roll Pastry on top. Take a small ice cream scooper full of the cooled meat mixture and place in the middle of the Spring Roll wrapper.  Add 1 slice of egg on top or on the side.

With a brush used for food – brush all the sides of the spring roll with the egg whites (it acts like a glue).

Fold over from one tip to the other tip of the spring roll wrapper – creating a triangle. (look at the pictures)

Then crimp over the sides of the Empanada quiet tightly and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. (look at the pictures)

Repeat this until all Empanadas are finished.

12 Empanadas can be placed on each baking sheet.

With the food brush, paint each Empanada with egg yolk – this gives it a really nice brown color.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until each empanada is gold brown – try not to over bake it so keep an eye on them!