Mini Apple Cinnamon Empanadas

I’ve been thinking about tarts a lot lately. Fruit tarts, savory tarts, chocolate tarts, ugly tarts, pretty tarts, any and all tarts. I came home with every intention of making tarts (three ways, mind you), but at the end of the night I had 25 mini empanadas staring me in the face and not a tart in sight.

I don’t know how that happened. I must’ve been baking on auto-pilot again.

Fear not, fellow tart-lovers, they’ll make their debut. For now, let’s enjoy what tastes like a bite of warm apple cinnamon cheesecake wrapped in a whole wheat blanket. As it turns out, empanadas don’t have to be fried or filled with greasy meat to taste utterly sinful. Waistlines, rejoice!

Mini Apple Cinnamon Empanadas

Dough Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 T stevia (or other dry sweetener)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter or alternative (I use Smart Balance Lite. You can also sub half oil of your choice. And please, PLEASE don’t ever use margarine!)
1/4 cup cold water

Apple Filling Ingredients:
3 – 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 – 2 T butter alternative
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 – 2 tsp agave (optional)

Cream Cheese Mixture Ingredients:
4 oz tofu cream cheese (or neufchatel cheese, non-vegan alternative)
1 – 2 tsp agave (depending on desired sweetness)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Step 1: Prepare your dough. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sweetener, then cut in the butter (or alternative) with a fork or pastry cutter. Sprinkle the water and cut in until the dough is crumbly. Knead the dough lightly for a minute, form into a ball, wrap, and put in the fridge to rest for about a half hour.

Step 2: While the dough chills, peel, core, and chop the apples. Chop small pieces for smooth filling or larger pieces for a chunkier filling.

Step 3: Heat a pan to medium low and add the apple filling ingredients (apples, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and agave). Cook down, stirring frequently, until the apples are completely soft, gooey, and about half their original size. While they’re cooking, preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl, combine all cream cheese mixture ingredients (cream cheese, agave, and vanilla), beat until smooth, and set aside.

This is the beginning of the cooking process; as you can see, they're not gooey yet. The aroma was irresistible, and I was burning my fingers so bad picking out apple chunks that I eventually just got a fork to eat them straight from the pan to spare my scorched fingers. These apples are dessert all by themselves.

(Note: Brandy would be an excellent addition to the apples. I was momentarily tempted to tell my husband that I was taking up drinking so that I’ll always have alcohol on hand just in case a recipe calls for it, but I must have caught another waft of buttery vanilla and lost my train of thought. All this to say that if you happen to have Brandy in the cabinet, please add a splash or two.)

Step 4: Remove the dough from the fridge and roll onto a floured surface until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out as many 4-inch rounds as you can (I used a large jar lid to do this; be creative if you don’t have the right tools!) and line them on a floured cookie sheet. Gather the leftover scraps of dough, knead together, and repeat the rolling and cutting process until all the dough has been used.


Step 5: Top the dough rounds with a spoonful of the apple filling and cream cheese mixture. Fold one side over and seal the empanada closed by crimping the edges with a fork.


Step 6: Brush the tops of the empanadas with a very light layer of non-dairy milk (optional) and add a few more sprinkles of cinnamon (if you’re a cinnamon freak like me). Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until slightly crispy around the edges. Let cool for five minutes and serve warm with a drizzle of coconut cream or a little scoop of non-dairy ice cream if you want to really indulge!

Warm, seasonal, and so darn cute! These little guys just took my cinnamon obsession to a whole new level. I’m beginning to think that in addition to calcium, manganese, and vitamins A and K, cinnamon may also contain a significant amount of crack. Autumn is the season of giving and generosity, so give yourself permission to be generous with cinnamon at all times. It’s critical to your health. 🙂

Here’s hoping autumn never ends!

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

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Pumpkin Brownies

It finally feels like fall! Fifty-degree nights mean Thanksgiving must be just around the corner, and I’m becoming dangerously giddy as visions of sweet potato casserole dance in my head. I’m wearing boots and a sweater today despite the fact that it’s supposed to be 85 degrees this afternoon. I wish Texas weather would cooperate and embrace autumn as wholeheartedly as I have.

When I came across this recipe combining the flavors of my favorite season with one of my very favorite desserts, I knew that these brownies needed to be in my belly ASAP. Brownies have it all; they’re chocolatey, fudgy, gooey, melty, and best of all, they’re healthy! At least, this recipe is. But the fun doesn’t stop there, because we’re adding pumpkin!


I truly hope you’re not tired of pumpkin, because I don’t see the end of pumpkin recipes anywhere in sight for the next few weeks. I’ve still got a few cans patiently waiting to be used in my next bowl of oatmeal and Elesha’s Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bars.

I have to mention that I was housesitting when I made this recipe and was without the ingredients to make the brownies from chickpeas, as I usually do. However, I strongly suggest using the chickpea brownie recipe rather than the original, as chickpeas provide a great fiber and protein boost! Just remember that the brownies pictured are made with whole wheat pastry flour and are more crumbly than those made with chickpeas, which turn out fudgier. I’ve included the chickpea brownie recipe following the original, so if you’ve got beans on hand, I recommend skipping to the bottom first!

Pumpkin Brownies
Adapted from this recipe, makes a 9 x 9 pan

Brownie Layer (from original recipe, pictured)

4 oz  chocolate, melted (I used dark)
1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar (or substitute – please do!)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Pumpkin Layer

1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
2 T cornstarch
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup sugar (or substitute)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground allspice

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 and oil your pan. I like to measure out all the ingredients at the beginning because it makes things easier and more enjoyable. Sipping a hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee while baking is also recommended. 🙂

Step 2 (Brownie Layer): Melt the chocolate (the microwave is the easiest way, in my opinion). In a large mixing bowl mix together pumpkin, sweetener, oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Sift the dry mixture into the wet mixture until smooth.

Step 3 (Pumpkin Layer):  Mix all pumpkin layer ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

Step 4: Spread the brownie layer into the prepared baking pan and pour the pumpkin layer over it. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin layer looks fairly firm and is golden brown.


Step 5: Let cool for 20 minutes and then transfer to the fridge to set for at least an hour and a half. In the meantime, make a delicious spinach salad to offset all the dessert you’re about to consume.

Step 6: Devour a brownie or two with a sprinkling of chocolate chips and store the rest in the fridge. These absolutely must be refrigerated or they’ll go bad pretty quick, which I’m very sad to say I learned the hard way. Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoyed a few of them beforehand!

Below is the alternative brownie layer recipe I promised.

Brownie Layer with Chickpeas (healthiest method!)
Note: this make a large batch, you may not need to use all of it.

  • 2 cans (or 3 cups cooked) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dry sweetener
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave (depending on desired sweetness)
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup cocoa (I like dark)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or canola)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (optional if you want it less fudgy)
  • 1/2 cup (or more!) canned or pureed pumpkin (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions: Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips and walnuts in the food processor until very smooth. Boiling the garbanzos first is helpful because they’re softest when hot, and will be easier to blend, resulting in a smoother brownie. Harder beans make the batter gritty. Add walnuts and chocolate chips if desired and finish with the recipe above, starting with Step 3.

There are more delicious autumn recipes on the way – and I promise they won’t all contain pumpkin! If you’re interested in giving your favorite fall recipe a skinnyfat makeover, just leave a comment and we’ll see what we can come up with. We love a good challenge!

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~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

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