Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spring Roll Empanadas

Do you know what one of the biggest perks to not cooking/baking with eggs is?

You get to lick the spoon... : )

I'm the neighbor who will freely give you anything out of her pantry, but hardly ever do I actually have the things my neighbors are requesting to borrow... No eggs. No vegetable oil. No milk. No butter.

But I have all of the substitutions!

Flax seed, coconut oil, palm fruit oil...

When we lived in Atlanta almost everything in our pantry and refrigerator came from Trader Joe's. And, I used to love their empanadas from the frozen food section. Oh my goodness, so good! With a little dollop of salsa on top and some shredded lettuce... Mmm mmm mmmmm. Many a dinners (and lunches) were just that.

The only empanadas I've had that were better come from the greatest State of all, Texas, in the greatest city of all the cities in Texas, San Antonio, at perhaps, my favorite restaurant in the city, La Hacienda. Their empanadas are amazing!

For a while now I've been wanting to try this recipe for empanadas from SkinnyTaste. But, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself for them to turn out because I knew that if I didn't pull it off, I'd be really disappointed.

But, finally, I just got over myself and added it to this week's menu. I missed the link she provides for making your own dough, so I was crossing my fingers that our Kroger would carry the Goya discs the recipe calls for.

Alas, no Goya discs could be found, even after I asked two very nice Kroger employees to search with me. One employee suggested I return to the organic aisle, because he thought he'd seen pre-cut dough there which might suffice as a substitute. I knew exactly what he was talking about.... The spring roll dough.

So, I made my way back across the store (feeling like a salmon swimming up stream) and passed the Pillsbury crescent rolls... "Those would work," I thought. But, somehow, I talked myself out of that idea and continued on towards the organic aisle.

I picked up the little package of pre-cut spring roll dough and checked out.

Thursday comes around. Not the day I was planning on making empanadas, but David's home for lunch, and I have some extra time, so I say, "Why not? Let's go for it."

Well, the filling is divine. The entire house smells authentically south of the border, in the best kind of way. And then I pull out this silly package of spring roll dough, and it hits me, "This is for spring rolls! Not empanadas!"

But it's too late. I'm hungry. The oven is pre-heated. The Cuban picadillo filling is all simmered. I consider the tv show Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and think to myself, "This is something some restaurant in New Mexico would throw together and pull off, and it would be great, and the blonde guy with the backwards sunglasses would give the cook a fist bump and gobble down the whole thing and call it Asian-Cuban-Tex-Mex-FUSION...."

So, I fill the spring rolls with the empanada filling.

When they come out of the oven 10 minutes later, they look like adorable little spring rolls, like they belong next to a serving of cashew chicken and steamed broccoli. I top them with guacamole, shredded lettuce, a dollop of salsa and take a bite.

So good.

So very good.

But, to be honest, they weren't empanadas... They were spring rolls filled with empanada filling.

The spring roll dough was not a sufficient substitution for empanada dough.

In order for a substitution to work as a substitution, it has to be really similar to the original requirement. Like, really, really similar. Otherwise, it's not a substitution, it's just an adaptation.

It's kind of like being nice to other people, and giving things away to people in need, and standing up for really great causes, and being a good person, and curing diseases, or bringing water to impoverished people... Some of us think that those things will suffice when our days are up.

We think that even though we didn't buy into the whole Jesus thing or even really spend any time to talk to someone about eternity or even talk to God, we think that all of the good things we've done will outweigh the bad things, and that when we get to the end, when we die, and we're looking down the only two road towards where we'll be spending our eternity, God will say, "You were good enough."

But He won't.

Because being good enough isn't a sufficient substitution.

Your life might look really cool! It might be Asian-Cuban-Tex-Mex-Fusion, but it isn't an empanada which is what it was supposed to be. I could make the dough myself or I could use Goya dough- I only had two choices for the recipe to work. I couldn't get away with spring roll dough.

So, we can do death by ourselves. That is an option. We can do that. We can spend eternity separated from God (with all the pain and suffering).

Or we can use the one sufficient substitution- Jesus.

I chose Jesus. How about you?