Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

Jalapeño poppers are a favorite snack and tailgate food. Here's an easy recipe that can be grilled or prepared in the oven. Prep can be done ahead of time making them a great dish for a large gathering. Since we have several friends who don't like anything hot I use the same ingredients and process with the little multicolored sweet peppers and they are a hit too.

8 oz. softened Neufchâtel cheese (or cream cheese)
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 t. garlic powder
a few drops of favorite chili sauce, red or green, to suit your taste
1 1/2 c. shredded Mexican cheese mix (or just use Cheddar if you prefer)
optional - 1 T. bacon bits
16 whole Jalapeño peppers with stems, and a few multicolored sweet peppers if you want them for variety

NOTE: If your peppers are fresh and very green they may not have yet developed the expected heat. Buy them a few days ahead and let them ripen on the counter before you remove the seeds to allow them to develop more flavor.

1. Soften the cheeses and mix all cheeses and the seasonings. Set to the side for flavors to blend.
2. Wash and dry peppers. Slice carefully from tip through the stem, leaving a little stem on each.
3. Using a sharp knife or a small melon ball maker remove the pulp and seeds from the inside of each pepper. Wear gloves for this part of the process, and wash your hands when you are finished or you'll carry the hot capsicum oil to whatever you touch.
4. Fill each pepper with cheese mixture. I find it easiest to transfer all the cheese mixture to a pastry bag or a large baggie (cut off the corner of the bag) and squeeze it into the peppers like frosting.
* The filled peppers can be arranged in a storage container or on a tray and refrigerated at this point, up to a day ahead of cooking. Just take them out of the frig and proceed with the cooking when you are ready.
5. Grill on a medium hot part of the grill for 20-30 min. (or place peppers on a rack on a cookie sheet and roast at 425 for 15-20 min.) until the cheese is browned and the peppers are soft.

If there are any left over they keep in the frig for a couple of days. . . or chop them up for omelet filling!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Thanks to one of our favorite cooking blogs, Simply Recipes, for this fantastic recipe. I've made only very slight changes, as it was wonderful as it was in the original. What could be more perfect for St. Patrick's Day than a cake made with Ireland's favorite beer? The cake is moist and rich, with an old-fashioned texture.

Chocolate Guinness Cake


1 c. Guinness (or other Stout variety)
10 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 T pure vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2  t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cream cheese frosting recipe

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 8 or 9-inch springform pan with butter or cooking spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In a large saucepan place the beer and butter. Place over medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Add the cocoa powder and sugars and whisk together. Take off heat and allow to come to room temperature.

In another bowl beat together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract until fluffy and somewhat homogenized. Add to the butter and beer mixture and whisk together.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the beer-butter mixture and whisk together until it just comes together. Pour into the prepared pan and give the pan a few short drops onto the counter to shake the larger air pockets in the batter to the surface and out of the cake. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Touch the center of the cake lightly to test doneness before testing with a skewer or it may cave in. If it doesn't bounce back to a light touch give it another five minutes or so before testing again.

Allow to cool on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pan and pop the ring off the springform. Leave the cake on the pan bottom when placing it on the serving plate. If the pan bottom tends to slip around on the plate use paper doilies under it to minimize the slipping.

Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese frosting on the top of the cooled cake and serve.

Makes one 8 or 9-inch cake