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!

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