Monday, August 27, 2012

Christine's Pepper Poppers - UPDATED 8 27 2012

Photo from Taste of Home
LINK:  Original pepper poppers recipe from Taste of Home

Original Recipe came from A Taste of Home BELOW:  Everyone's tastes are different so I altered. (My changes are in red; I have made these at least 6 times and I feel this recipe is the best.  Thanks to Taste of Home for the start.  

The original recipe (without my notes) is available  at the link above.

Prep: 15 min. Bake: 25 min. Yield: 8 Servings

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened (low fat cream cheese; take out of refrigerator 1 hour before making)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or Pepper Jack)
*My addition:  1 cup of whatever you have on hand (original mix was too dry for us) like lite sour cream, fat-free-half and half milk, lite mayonnaise (I only use Hellman's) or fat free Greek yoghurt.  NOTE:  But last time I made them I used fat free buttermilk and it was even better!!
6 bacon strips, cooked, drained and crumbled
1/4 teaspoon salt (omitted salt; they are salty enough and the cheeses & bacon provide enough sodium)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (1/2 to 1 teaspoon to your taste)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon hot Mexican chili powder to your taste; if you don't have Mexican chili power use regular chili powder and add a 1/2 to one TBSN of Texas Pete)
1 pound fresh jalapenos, tops cut off, halved lengthwise and seeded (and veins removed)
1/2 - 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (panko; tried first time with regular bread crumbs but the panko crumbs give the topping more texture!!)
My addition:  1/2 - 3/4 cup Parmesan

For dipping:  Sour cream, Greek yoghurt, onion dip or ranch salad dressing (or use fat free versions)

In a large bowl, combine the cheeses, cup of liquid above*, bacon and seasonings; mix well. Spoon about 2 tablespoonfuls into each pepper half. Roll in bread crumbs. (I did not roll in bread crumbs after the first time because the filling comes out and it makes a mess; I mixed equal parts of panko and parmesan and dribbled over the top of the peppers with a spoon while still on dinner plate and let crumbs fall where they may; you don't want crumbs to burn in the oven.)
Place in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan (I used a cookie sheet instead). (I use foil covered baking pan so I won't have to clean the pan!! And IF you have leftovers just fold up the foil put in frig. and heat up in oven the next day!!) 
Bake, uncovered (in middle rack), at 325° for 15 minutes for spicy (spicy is spicy; we like the medium) flavor, 25 minutes for medium and 35 minutes for mild. Serve with sour cream, dip or dressing. Yield: about 2 dozen.
Taste of Home's Editor's Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face. (My husband does the peppers)
Nutritional Facts 3 poppers (calculated without sour cream, onion dip or ranch salad dressing) equals 273 calories, 21 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 454 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 12 g protein. (The nutritional facts may vary depending upon what low fat varieties you use in the Recipe.)

UPDATE:  Made these again this weekend and used Mexican cotija cheese (Link for what cotija is:  Cotija_cheese info) instead and found when I tasted the panko and cheese mix it was too bland for me. The Parmesan adds a little more punch so I got into my MEGA spice and herb cupboard and pulled out Tajin Clasico Seasoning  (cotija and tajin from Walmart) and added some to the mix.  It gave it a little red color and a little kick.  The Tajin Classico Seasoning is a Mexican spice which includes the following ingredients:  chili peppers, salt, dehydrated lime juice, etc. The recipe was equally good!! 

NOTE:  You could use smoky chili powder or cajun seasoning or any variety of ethnic spices.  Call them Chili poppers or Cajun poppers ............... 

Enjoy this recipe with a sweet red wine. The friend who emailed us this recipe left out the sweet red wine part and I didn't see that until I went to the site today; however, I would personally not drink a sweet wine but would recommend one of these three from

  • American Merlot   First Choice (my choice)
  • Chianti Classico  3rd Choice
  • Australian Shiraz  2nd  Choice

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