Sunday, October 12, 2008
Pick a Peck of These Poppers!
The chill in the air signals that the holiday season will be popping up soon. With that comes friends, family, festivities, and feasting! Whether you like to go a'visitin or if you open your home to the masses, it's always great to have some great munchies to tame the crowd until dinner time.
One little tasty item that I've come to love is Jalapeno poppers. This is a relatively new development. During my last pregnancy, I developed a love for spicy peppers, and the affinity for them remained after giving birth. Prior to that, I wanted nothing to do with the sweat inducing crunchers, but now, well, I love them.
There are so many great ways to prepare them. Some folks like to wrap them in bacon; others like to batter and fry them. Then there is the cheese debate ... cream cheese filling or cheddar? When it comes to poppers, I'm a cream cheese kind of girl, plus creamy dairy tends to tame the fire of chili peppers, so there you have it.
When the threat of frost was forecast the other day, I quickly harvested what was left in my garden including a handful of jalapenos. As I was putting them in the fridge, I saw some cream cheese and immediately thought of poppers. The problem, though, was that I only had about 8 peppers, and really didn't want to use up all of my pepp's on poppers. I then thought about that artichoke dip/spread that is made with cream cheese, and wondered how it would taste if I substituted jalapenos for the artichokes? A quick internet search showed me that about 1/2 the population had already thought of it, and there were several recipes to try out.
I settled on one that incorporated both fresh and canned chilies. Actually, this combo was suggested in the comments section by someone who made the recipe, and I liked what she had to say. Boy, was this GREAT! It has heat, but not cloyingly so. This was also soooo much easier to prepare than the traditional popper recipe. Don't get me wrong, I still love poppers. However, this dish requires little effort and produces a great result. It will serve a crowd; you may want to make a double batch because it goes quickly! I served mine with asiago bread that I sliced into bite sized pieces, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, and baked in the 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes. So, without further ado, here's the recipe.
Paula's Poppin Popper Spread
2 bricks cream cheese - softened (I softened mine in the microwave)
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 heaping cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 seeded and chopped small finger sized fresh jalapenos
2 tablespoons chopped jarred jalapeno peppers
1 small can whole fire roasted and peeled green chilies - diced
Heat oven to 375. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Don't use a food processor ... you want to have the contrast of creamy and crunchy texture. Pour into a baking casserole dish. This will puff up as it cooks, so leave about an 1" of space to the top. Cook for 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden and starting to brown.
Now, for those of you who DON'T like heat, not to worry. You can easily eliminate the jalapeno's, and just use MILD canned green chilies. La Victoria has a lovely product of WHOLE fire roasted peeled green chilies. Don't buy the prechopped ones. For some reason, when I purchase those, they are tough and very unappetizing. The whole chilies, however, are just lovely. It only takes a snap to slice and dice them.
I should also point out to those of you who DO love HEAT, that this recipe only ranks to just about medium on the fire scale. If you want more heat, use hotter peppers (maybe serranos) and more of them. I like the warmth from the jalapenos, but I don't want it hot enough to clear out my sinuses.
Serve with bread. Make yummy noises.
This tastes so amazing. It has great texture. It really clings to the bread. Doesn't it look pretty? I'm actually going to mix it with some roasted chicken and use it as an enchilada filling. YUM!