At our house, we have a saying..."Don't yuk my yum!". We are trying to raise kids that aren't picky eaters by exposing them to many different kinds of food. It wasn't that long ago that one of my kids asked "Why can't you cook food like everyone else? Like tater tot hotdish?" The reason? It's not very healthy or creative and I think it's kind of gross. I don't cook like that. I like to use fresh, healthy ingredients to make great tasting good for you dishes. I've created this blog to share my favorite recipes with you.

Follow my kitchen adventures from using up vegetables from our weekly CSA box to baking and creative cooking.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We're popping!

This post could just as well be titled "Things I could buy but I make them instead".  My goal today is to share my recipe for Jalapeno Poppers, but in order to get there, I need to talk about bread crumbs first.  Why buy a can of bread crumbs in the store for $2 when you can make your own out of the heels and leftovers of the bread in your fridge and freezer?  I save up these leftovers until I have quite a few pieces.

I usually try to dry them out a little by putting them in a low oven or leaving them on the counter for a day or two.  When they get a little crispy, I just put them in my food processor and grind them until they are crumbs.  This tray of bread made about 2 c. of crumbs. 

I freeze the crumbs in a big baggie and take them out as needed.  I use them for meatloaf filler, eggplant Parmesan, breading chicken or, in this case, jalapeno poppers.  

Jalapenos are not something I usually buy, but we have been getting an unusually large number of them in our weekly boxes from Red Goose Gardens.  As I showed in this earlier post about tomatillos, I sometimes roast them for later use or use them in salsas. 

Since Phil and I both like to order Jalapeno Poppers in restaurants, I wanted to find a recipe for baked poppers that would still be delicious but not so bad for us.  I hit the nail on the head on the first try with this recipe from Emeril.  I have made it many times and the only problem is that sometimes what I think are jalapenos are serranos and they are way too spicy for me to eat on their own like this.  Luckily, Phil doesn't care if I take a bite and decide they're too spicy, he'll eat my leftovers. 

This recipe is a little putzy, especially if you don't have the "Essence" herb/spice mix on hand, but it's easy to mix and the end results are delicious.  As I stated, this recipe is 100% stolen from the Food Network's website, so  Emeril gets the delicious credit for this one. 

Baked Jalapeno Poppers
12 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, stems, seeds and membranes removed
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. grated Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cayenne, or less, to taste
2 large eggs
2 T. milk
8 t. Essence, recipe follows
1 c. dry breadcrumbs
1/2 c. flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.  In a bowl, cream together the cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, cumin, and cayenne.  In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, and 2 teaspoons of the Essence. In a shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs and remaining 4 teaspoons of Essence. In a third dish, combine the flour and remaining 2 teaspoons of Essence. Spread 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture into the middle of each jalapeno half. One at a time, dredge in the flour, dip into the egg mixture, then dredge in the bread crumbs, pressing to coat. If necessary, repeat the process. Place the coated peppers, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the filling is runny and the crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with ranch dressing.

*Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

2 1/2 T. paprika
2 T. salt
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. black pepper
1 T. onion powder
1 T. cayenne pepper
1 T. dried leaf oregano
1 T. dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Obviously this is too many for the two of us, so I try to make them when we have company or when we are at the lake.  Hopefully, they reheat well because about half the pan is leftover in the refrigerator.  Lunch anyone?  

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