Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pop to it with Jalapeño Poppers!

Cheese + Bacon + Jalapeño = The Perfect Appetizer

Let's face it, while things that are cheese-filled and bacon-wrapped may not always be good for us, they are almost always amazing. So imagine if you will an appetizer that is both cheese-filled AND bacon-wrapped. Yes, my friends, that is what you have in the delightfully delicious Jalapeño Poppers.

Jalapeño poppers, pre-pop

I admit, I was a bit dubious about trying jalapeño poppers at first, but mostly because spicy food is one of the few things I can't handle. However, one of my coworkers brought these in to a going away party and they were both mild and delicious! Needless to say, I got the recipe and these have been a favorite of my family, friends and neighbors ever since. 

Jalapeño Poppers
~15 Jalapeños
 1 lb. Bacon
1 box (8 oz.) Cream Cheese

As you can see, a main draw for these poppers besides their epic tastiness is their incredible simplicity. With only three ingredients and very basic prep, there's hardly anything standing between you and some mouthwatering appetizers of your own. 

Dangerous & Delicious!

If you're like me and many peppers are just too hot to handle, it is vital to clean your jalapeños well. Surprisingly, this is a fairly easy task with just a knife and a spoon. Simply cut the jalapeño in half lengthwise, and then use the spoon to scoop and scrape out the remaining seeds and white membrane - the primary contributors of spice. I like to clean them completely, but you can adjust to taste. The more white you leave, the spicier they will be. 

Brother Aaron demonstrates another definition for spooning

Chef General's Warning: Be careful cleaning jalapeños - skin is not immune to the spiciness! Overexposure to the jalapeños' acrid juices can cause irritation for hours, and definitely don't touch your face without first getting a proper scrubbing

How cheesy!

After the jalapeños are cleaned, it is time to fill them with the cheese. In the name of science and lower calories, we experimented with using Neufchatel, the lower fat version of cream cheese, and found they tasted identical in this recipe. Depending on the size of your jalapeños, you can just cut off a slice of your chosen cheese and smooth it into the pepper boat - perfect fit! 

Time to bake the bacon

Once the jalapeños are properly cheese-filled, it is time for the bacon-wrapped part of the recipe. While we were able to get away with a healthier version of the cheese, there is simply no substitution for bacon. In an effort to be health conscious, we did try substituting turkey bacon into the recipe, but the results were not nearly as good. As such, I firmly recommend you go with the real deal - bacon ftw!

Finally, pop the poppers into a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes and await the succulence. While it may be tempting, don't take the jalapeños out prematurely. Make sure the bacon is fully cooked, top and bottom, as the undersides of the poppers cook more slowly than the tops. 

The popper thief caught red-handed

From personal experience, once the jalapeño poppers are done, they will not last long. We have only ever had to wrap up extras when forcing ourselves to save some for those not present. As evidenced from the picture, some will not even wait for an innocent blogger to take her photos before diving in!

Planking Poppers

So there you have it - cheese-filled, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers. There's no way to describe how perfectly these three ingredients compliment each other, but they are truly a trifecta of savory goodness. 

If you're looking for other cheese-filled appetizers, pop on over to the LydMc Olympic blog featuring Mouth Watering Stuffed Mushrooms (curling accouterments not required). Bon appetit!