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Everyone has their own special way of celebrating Valentine’s Day, be it canoodling with a significant other or baking a phallic-shaped cake decorated with the names of your men-emies… If you’re feeling lovable this year, cooking a romantic dinner for two is another viable option.  I’ve incorporated my favorite Latin flavors into an original recipe using ground lamb courtesy of the American Lamb Board. Please try the recipe then vote for it between February 14-28 as I compete against other bloggers in the Lamb Lovers Month Recipe & Photo contest!
The dish: flaky lamb empanadas topped with a refreshing mango-avocado salsa.
The sexy part: a smoky, chocolatey mole sauce for drizzling and/or smothering. While store-bought Rogelio Bueno or Goya mole sauce will suffice, try my recipe below to make this a true labor of love (though really, your boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate/cat won’t know the difference).

So por favor–vote for me, and I’ll come cook for you wearing this cute little number.

Lamb Empanadas

1 lb ground lamb
2 tbsp capers, drained
½ green pepper, diced
3 dried bay leaves
½ large white onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 box of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 egg
1 cup white wine
2 tbsp water
1 handful of raisins

In a large skillet, cook ground lamb. Remove lamb from skillet, leaving about half of the grease. Saute pepper, onion, and garlic in lamb grease until translucent. Add lamb, tomato sauce, and white wine to skillet and simmer until wine is reduced by half. Add raisins, capers, bay leaves, salt and pepper and continue to simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Beat egg and water together. Using a bowl or wide-rimmed glass, cut puff pastry into 4-5 inch circles. Spoon lamb filling onto half of the pastry circles and brush edges with water. Gently fold the pastry over and seal with a fork. Brush with egg wash and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

1 avocado, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 mango, diced
Juice of 1 lime
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
Pinch of salt
½ red onion, diced
Pinch of garlic powder

Combine and stir all ingredients in a bowl until mixed well.

1 white onion, diced
4 tbsp peanut butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1½ tsp cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
3 dried California chiles
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
3 cups chicken stock
3 handfuls of tortilla chips, crushed

In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.

Place chiles in a covered microwave-safe container and cover with water. Microwave for 1-2 minutes then remove stems and seeds. Add chiles, onion, garlic, chicken stock, tortilla chips, peanut butter, cumin, and oregano to a blender or food processor and puree until mixed well.

Pour mixture into a large saucepan and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add chocolate and continue to simmer covered, gradually stirring in water until desired silky texture is reached.