First off, I will be basing my Beef Empanadas off of this recipe. I first had empanadas when a roommate of mine who had served an LDS mission in Argentina made them for me. We would go down to the Mercado Latino to buy the emapanada shells. She made this traditional version, but you can also use the "shells" to make your own "pizza pockets" or calzones at home.
Second, if you are looking for substitutes when a recipe calls for alcohol, check out this link. It is the most complete list I have come across. One of those things to file under "good to know" information in your personal cookbook.
And, finally, speaking of personal cookbooks . . . this is a great way to organize all of those stray recipes you may have. I have started mine. I think the greatest idea in here (well, there are a lot) is to have a list of where to find "family favorites" at the beginning of each section. Genius, good luck!