Ladies Night Out Cooking Class at Healthy Living Market & Cafe

by Kimberly Hickok

Healthy Living Market and Cafe has a wonderful Educational Center. Some friends and I recently went to a Ladies Night Out cooking class where we got step-by-step instructions on how to make empanadas from Shannon Beckwith, Chef Instructor/Food Educator at Healthy Living Market .  Shannon shared her food philosophy with us, “make it from scratch, it’ll be 1000 times better for you.” I couldn’t agree more.

Healthy Living Marketing Saratoga Shannon Beckwith - Kimversations

Learning Center Coordinator, Shannon Beckwith. Yup, she went to the Culinary Institute and has a degree in Elementary Education. As a former personal chef, she knows a thing or two about food and how to teach others to have confidence in the kitchen.

Shannon uses the ‘watch then do’ method when teaching a class. Our class made empanadas. Shannon would have us gather around her while she demonstrated, step by step, what she was doing. Then we would go off to our work stations so we could do what she just showed us.

Healthy Living - Educational Center - Kimversations

Each work station can accommodate one or two.

Healthy Living Market - Empanada recipe

The recipe for tonight – empanadas.

We made cinnamon scented beef empanadas with black currants and chicken chipotle empanadas. We started off by making the dough. Shannon showed us how to mix the dough so that when you add the shortening, it’s the right texture. Having someone show you exactly what to look for when making pastry dough is nice – especially if you don’t have much experience. The other thing I liked about the class was how informal it was. I’ve included the empanada pastry recipe below.

Shannon showed us how to seal our empanadas.

Shannon showed us how to seal our empanadas.

Empanadas are a good way to use up leftover meat and vegetables you have in the house. They’re easy to make and because they’re little ‘packets’ they’re also kid friendly. Make the empanada pastry, refrigerate for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the filling, assemble (have the kids help you) and fry up.

Healthy Living - Beef Empanada Filling - Kimversations

The ingredients for the beef empanadas. I was surprised how the cinnamon added a sweetness to the beef mixture.

Healthy Living - Chicken Chipotle Ingredients - Kimversations

The ingredients for the smoky chicken chipotle empanadas with queso fresco.

Chicken Empanada filling

Here’s the filling for the chicken empanadas. So tasty.

Another tip we learned is the best oil to use when frying – Shannon likes canola – and how to tell when your oil is hot enough for frying. Insert a wooden spoon in the oil, if bubbles appear around the spoon, your oil is hot enough.

Healthy Living - Empanadas - ready to eat - Kimversations

My plateful of freshly fried empanadas. Ready to eat.

The result? A nice flaky pastry with a savory, flavorful filling inside. See what I’m talking about?

Healthy Living - Chipotle Chicken Empanada Inside - Kimversations

If you’ve never made empanadas before, give them a try. Our Ladies Night Out was a blast. There are lots of other classes and demos offered at Healthy Living Market’s Learning Center. Click here to learn more.

Empanada Pastry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A recipe for flaky empanada pastry which can be filled with whatever you like.
Cuisine: Latin
Serves: 3-4
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ up ice water
  1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a food processor fit with a blade.
  2. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture is a fine meal.
  3. With the machine running, add the water slowly until it forms a ball (you may not need all the water).
  4. Refrigerate 20-30 minutes and then roll dough on a lightly floured counter - about ⅛" thick.
  5. Cut dough into 12 - 4" circles.


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