Plantain empanadas and tips for engaging with your inner hater

Alexander Hardy
Published in
4 min readDec 21, 2021


Green plantain empanadas with chicken, by Katashi’s Kitchen Cuisine

Welcome to installment #58 of GetSomeJoy’s Daily Breakfast Situation, a weekday check-in with recipes, joy-flavored stories, and tools for thriving.

It’s hand pie week around here. Whether baked, fried, crimped, rolled, store-bought, or handmade, there are no losers in the portable pie game.

(Unless you find a chicken bone in yours like I did that one treacherous Harlem afternoon. All hand pies ain’t baked with love.)

Before I was introduced to samosas, pastelitos, or spanakopitas, I was blessed with the glory of handheld meat-filled pockets of flaky bliss via my grandmother’s famous patties. She is the Panama-born daughter of a Jamaican woman, and learned to make her beef patty-inspired empanadas sixty years ago by watching other women in her community cooking and selling food to support their families.

The golden, crescent-shaped, fork-crimped gifts from her two bountiful ovens have since been a staple of my life and parties in her home or at Gold Teeth Clan gatherings from Hampton, Virginia to Kileen, Texas to Panama City, Panama.

Gifts from a Grandma: a clear plastic tray of golden beef empanadas that bring joy to all who touch them.

I recently had to check myself and remember those sixty years of practice while kicking myself after a sloppy but motherfucking delicious test batch of glazed blueberry empanadas. I also learned by watching her, the one time in history she allowed someone to behold and transcribe her two-day empanada-making process.

I hold the keys to the kingdom.

I’ve only seen my Grandma make beef or turkey patties. They’re typically baked, but every now and then she would give them a loving grease bath and they’d puff up like her fried bakes. The baked ones are identical, sealed and browned to perfection each time. A high bar to meet.

To lessen my stress, I’ve been doing my own thing, experimenting with all kinds of fillings and dough flavors, doing the most with roasted winter squash, berry, and cheese-filled patties whereas Grandma usually stuck with savory meat ones.

I also had to remember her admission that, decades in, she still made mistakes and told me that “I just eat the ones that don’t come out right. They taste just as good as the pretty ones.”

They sure the fuck do.

While I marinate on what kind of empanada I’ll make for my family this weekend, I’ll leave you with this chicken-filled green plantain empanada from Katashi’s Kitchen Cuisine to start the hand pie party.

Boiled, mashed, flavored, and flattened green plantain makes a great empanada disc without the stress of making a flour-based dough.


A few things to moisturize your spirit:

When I think of bell hooks I think of a mirror being held ever so rightly toward a better future, a mirror held up to each other, a reflection of a language that we will spend years unpacking. — Joel León

  • Bernice L. McFadden wrote about an unexpected connection in the land of Mardi Gras.

I’d learned Mr. Joshua was homeless quite by accident. One morning I came down to smoke earlier than usual, and there he was, sound asleep, right where I’d left him the night before.

Being self-critical comes naturally for a lot of people. It’s easy to focus on the one bad review or the tiny flaw in an otherwise perfect presentation. Psychologist Joy Harden Bradford walks us through some strategies to quiet down those negative thoughts, including how to monitor and interrogate your negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk.




Alexander Hardy

Grits-powered writer, home chef, & mental health warrior. Founder: GetSomeJoy + The War on Spiritual Ashiness. +