Pop by for poppers!

Poppers were pledged so poppers it shall be!

Jalapeño poppers are the perfect party food. They’re fun to make and to eat! And fun to pronounce! You try. Say “poppers” without smiling!

I whipped these up for the gang at the saloon as a token of gratitude on Thanksgiving. I wanted light ‘n’ lively figuring everyone’s tummies would be heavy with holiday fare.

Let’s get real. Light jalapeño poppers are an oxymoron!

I drew from this recipe for “Light(er) Jalapeño Poppers” at Gimme Some Oven. Love the site!

I double the recipe to produce 40 jalapeño halves for the saloon patrons. That’ll be reflected in my recipe posted at the end. If you’re not feeding a crowd, merely halve it.

I use the whipped “low-calorie” cream cheese to cut calories & richness. Haha, as if! Truth told, you’d never know by taste or texture.

So let’s get … poppin’!

1. I use turkey bacon to keep these poppers “slim.” Yeah, right!

turkey bacon. because every calorie counts in a popper!

Turkey bacon. Because every calorie counts in a popper!

2. Turkey bacon doesn’t crisp up and crumble like regular bacon. So I dice before pan-frying. Makes things easier later.

diced raw turkey bacon

Diced raw turkey bacon

Pan-fried turkey bacon. 'Tis Thanksgiving after all!

Pan-fried turkey bacon. ‘Tis Thanksgiving after all!


3. 20 jalapeño peppers. Aren’t they beautiful? Plus not pricey!

bootiful!

bootiful!

4. Peppers sliced in half.

peppers overfloweth off my little cutting board

peppers overfloweth off my little cutting board

5. Remove membrane and seeds. The heat lies there. Now, I don’t find jalapeños all that hot so am fine with leaving bits of seeds or membrane.

cleanedjalapeno

6. Jalapeños are small and split easily. I discover this trick to minimize tearing. Clean the insides starting at the top, where the knife’s pointing.

start here to deseed

start here to deseed

5. Now the filling, oh the decadently fatty filling!

You’re gazing upon 2 tubs of reduced-fat cream cheese {hahaha! can’t get over the oxymoron!} … 1 jalapeño, seeds ‘n’ all, diced to bring a lil’ heat … diced turkey bacon … minced garlic … shredded sharp cheddar cheese … chili powder for a smidge more contrast and sharpness. Sidenote: Things do whip up more easily using the soft whipped cream cheese compared to regular blocks.

popper filling

popper filling

6. Filling the poppers. I started with a spoon. Frankly, it was a pain. So I used my best natural tool: my hands. It’s like working with very sticky cookie dough but doable if like me you’re very skilled with your hands. Otherwise, simply stick with the spoon.

Oops, I deleted that pic! Oh well, you’ll get the idea with the next.

7. A true popper has a crunchy coating and is fried.

Now, I do not like fried foods. Neither do I own or want a fryer. The beauty of the baked popper is it DOES trim the fat. For what that’s worth in a snack steeped in cheeseS. Plural.

I consider the crunch mandatory. I’m a fan of panko, a favoritism cultivated in my decade in Japan. However, you could certainly use regular bread crumbs. I’ve seen recipes using crushed saltines (eh, too salty), cornflakes (eh, too sweet). Your call.

The topping of panko and parmesan cheese are mixed in a bowl:

poppers topping

poppers topping


Into the oven they go:

into the oven

into the oven

8. My oven cooks unevenly and I didn’t want the panko-parmesan to burn. So I bake the poppers sans topping for 5 minutes, just until the filling begins to soften and cook. I pull them out, lavishly sprinkle on the crumbs and slide ’em back in.

The recipe calls for baking 15-20 minutes. I couldn’t say but it sounds about right. Because my oven cooks fast and unevenly, I just keep a close eye and nose on ’em.

9. Feast your eyes upon pe-pe-pe-pe-perfect pop-pop-pop-pop poppers!

jalapenosbaked

Gimme gooey greens!

Gimme gooey greens!

ALLYCAT’S POPPERS FOR 40

8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
16 ounces whipped cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chili powder
Dash of salt and pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
20 jalapeños, halved lengthwise, seeds removed; for heat, leave some in

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Deseed jalapeños.

In a bowl, stir cream cheese, shredded cheese, bacon bits, garlic, seasonings.

In a separate bowl, mix panko and parmesan cheese.

Spoon or hand-fill filling into each jalapeño.

Bake about 5 minutes until cheese begins to warm and soften.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle on panko-parmesan mixture. Return to oven.

Bake about 15 minutes or until topping is toasty golden brown.

Serve immediately. Or later. People love poppers piping hot or lukewarm!

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