Carnitas Empanadas with Avocado Crema

These carnitas empanadas are the perfect handheld snack or dinner recipe! They're loaded with rich carnitas and dipped in an easy avocado crema!

This is a little uncomfortable for me this morning, but can I get a little real for a minute?

I feel like, for the last year or so, I’ve been holding out on you guys. You know, not exactly being real. Everything is happy and shiny or it’s self deprecating humor. I try to keep things light and entertaining and that’s certainly a good thing. Nobody wants to come and listen to me sob into my Cheerios.

Except, you know what? This last year has been really hard in my world and I miss connecting with you guys on a more real level. I’ve struggled to talk about anything with you other than food, because the one thing that’s been on my mind 90% of the time, is the one thing that I didn’t think I should talk about publicly.

Well, you know what? No.

These carnitas empanadas are the perfect handheld snack or dinner recipe! They're loaded with rich carnitas and dipped in an easy avocado crema!

I mentioned that my husband and I were going to Cedar Point (the roller coaster capital of the world!) for our 15th wedding anniversary and I’m just struggling with not talking more about that. I feel like it’s time.

Going to a roller coaster park for our wedding anniversary seems so weird, except that a) we’re basically just overgrown children and b) last year around Christmas my husband and I were going through some things. Some not great things. Some hey, maybe we should think about divorcing and hey, do we really love each other and hey, is this the life I was meant to live type of things. Yeah. Told ya, I was getting real.

Anyway, every single conversation we had seemed to revolve around roller coasters. Not the fun kind that make you scream in excitement, but the metaphorical kind. The kind where you say, this marriage and this life is like a roller coaster with lots of ups and downs and lately we’ve had a lot of downs and I’m not sure I want to keep riding with you. That kind of roller coaster.

These carnitas empanadas are the perfect handheld snack or dinner recipe! They're loaded with rich carnitas and dipped in an easy avocado crema!

We held on tight though. We toughed it out. (It was hard.) We waited it out. (It didn’t take as long as I thought.) We made some major life changes including moving back home to be near family and changing jobs from one that took up my husband’s whole world to one that is just that: a job. One he kicks butt at while he’s there, but doesn’t seem to bring home with him every night. (It’s glorious.) I started focusing on being more present, because apparently just feeling nice things about someone isn’t the same as saying and doing nice things for someone and maybe that someone starts to question whether or not you’re really feeling those nice things. (I did, I do, I hope I always will.)

I’m not going to say everything is perfect now, but it’s as close as I think it ever can be after all the mistakes we’ve made and the crap we’ve put each other through over the years. We’re good right now. We’re in love. We’re happy. And we’re holding on tight and screaming in excitement as make our way up up up the roller coaster, knowing that when a drop comes we’ll be ready. I feel like we’ve learned, over the past 15 years, how to make it through the drops and the flat parts and the boring parts and the oh my god, let’s just get off this ride parts. I really, really hope so anyway, because I love my husband and I’m really hopeful that we have another 15 or 30 or 45 years together.

These carnitas empanadas are the perfect handheld snack or dinner recipe! They're loaded with rich carnitas and dipped in an easy avocado crema!

Also, my husband is a man and I have no doubt that the significance of going to a roller coaster park right now was completely lost on him. He’s thinking ROLLER COASTERS OMG I LOVE ADRENALINE and I’m thinking, well doesn’t this just sum up our whole life. But, that’s cool. I’m perfectly fine being the only one who gets it. I’m actually quite used to it. (Just kidding, love you, honey!)

Now that I’ve gotten a little too personal with all of you (yes? no? are we still friends?), I’d like to share some food. Carnitas Empanadas, y’all. My husband loves my carnitas and I love empanadas, so these are the perfect little marriage of good things. <—Aren’t I clever?

The empanada dough is super simple to prepare and you really can’t mess it up. That said, you can use a pie crust if you absolutely hate making your own dough.

I filled these with nothing but carnitas, because I love the citrus-y, rich flavor of the pork. You could toss in a bit of cheese if you felt the need.

These carnitas empanadas are the perfect handheld snack or dinner recipe! They're loaded with rich carnitas and dipped in an easy avocado crema!

Carnitas Empanadas with Avocado Crema

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • pinch paprika
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover carnitas
  • 1 medium ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Heat the water and butter together over low heat in a medium saucepan until the butter is melted. Allow to cool a few minutes, until cool enough to touch.
  2. Mix flour, salt, and paprika in a large mixing bowl, making a well in the center. Pour the butter/water mixture into the center of the flour and mix with your hands until you get a wet, oily dough. I did this in my stand mixer with no problems whatsoever.
  3. Shape dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
  4. To assemble to empanadas, break off about 20 golf ball sized balls of dough and roll them out in a thin, flat disc about 5 inches in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Place a couple tablespoons of warmed carnitas in the center of each disc of dough and fold over to make a half moon shape. Press edges firmly to seal them and crimp with a fork or your fingers. Place empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. In a food processor or blend, blend together the avocado, sour cream, and lime juice until smooth and creamy. Serve alongside the empanadas for dipping.