Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let's Talk About Snacks, Baby.

Here's the deal: in some ways I am like a twenty-seven year old toddler. Well, in only two ways really. First, I need a lot of sleep - a solid nine to ten hours per night. And second, if you let me get too hungry, I will melt down*. Just ask Hugh. He has literally made me carry snacks with me, having been on the receiving end of my "Warning. Warning. Too much time has passed between meals. Your wife will now melt the f down," one too many times. Hence the granola bars and almonds in my purse.

Which brings me to my point. Appetizers are not just a fun part of the dining experience; for me they are a necessity. Because they are sometimes the only thing that keeps me from melting down.

Anyway, last year my love of appetizers met my love for gardening when I saw a recipe for Grilled Jalapeno Poppers in a summer issue of Cooking Light. Perfect timing, since my two newly-planted jalapeno plants had recently produced approximately eighty thousand jalapenos each in the span of two days.

Our little Savannah Family was here for the weekend** and I decided to whip up a batch of these peppers. Well, here's the thing: I hadn't actually tasted any jalapenos from these plants of mine. If I had, I would have realized that they had the approximate heat level of not a jalapeno but a habanero. Unaware of the incredibly spicy nature of my peppers, I stuffed them, grilled them, and served them to our unsuspecting guests. As fire shot from their mouths and tears streamed down their faces, I realized the error of my ways. Hell's bells.

However, I really loved the flavor of the peppers, so I persevered. And I have now conquered this appetizer. Hugh and I make these several times a month when it's hot outside. Although, really, they would be lovely any time.

First, buy your jalapenos at the grocery store. Just the way a grocery store tomato has much less flavor than a homegrown tomato (why so delicious, garden tomatoes?), a grocery store jalapeno is going to have a lot less kick. Which, if you are planning on eating five of them, isn't a bad thing.

Second, I cook these in the oven. I find a lower heat and longer cooking time mellows out the spice. So, when all is said and done, you are getting the jalapeno flavor and just enough spice to make you remember you're eating a pepper. Not enough to destroy every single taste bud in your mouth.

Stuffed Jalapenos
Adapted from Cooking Light
serves 4 - 6 as an appetizer (although Hugh and I can polish all of these off in a hot minute, just the two of us)

4oz goat cheese, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature (I use 1/3 fat cream cheese)
1/3 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
16 medium jalapenos, halved and seeded

WARNING: I implore you to wear gloves while seeding and stuffing these peppers. Otherwise you will want to cut your own hands off just to stop the burning.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Combine goat cheese and next 8 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a medium bowl. Mash and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Divide mixture evenly among jalapeno halves. Place stuffed peppers, cheese side up, on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until cheese is golden brown and peppers are soft.

Cool 5 minutes.

Eat them up. So you don't melt the f down.

Also, I think these would be really delicious if you plopped two of them on top of a grilled burger.

*Seriously, I am not even joking about this. I get hungry and if I don't eat in the next fifteen minutes I get a headache, then I get nauseated, and then I'm probably going to start crying. Why so ridiculous, Catherine?

**I know, based on this blog you probably think all we ever do is hang out with those people. Really, we don't see them nearly as often as we like, they are just usually present for my best stories and, lucky them, meals.


  1. These look yummy, but I don't do peppers! =( Perhaps a leaf of endive? or some other substitute. and I laughed out loud when you said you melt down if you don't eat in time. My husband has a similar reaction - we call it "I can't think past food"

  2. Bo loves jalapeno poppers... except he makes his a little differently (wrapped in bacon) and calls them atomic buffalo turds. Some things I just can't even explain.

  3. I'm sorry, but you kill me. I think I laughed out loud at least four times before I just skipped down to the comment section to make sure I remembered to tell you this. xoxoxo