Easy and Fast: Baked Jalapeño Poppers

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I think more often than not (and I’m as guilty as anyone mind you), people overlook spicy peppers as always the “part” but never the “whole.” They’re something to be used to enhance something else, but never appreciated for how well they stand up on their own. I think this is because while they have endless possibilities when it comes to their use in other things, people have a hard time coming up with ways to enjoy them on their own without burning their faces off.

I rescued the last of our peppers last week before a particularly cold night and wanted to use them and not freeze them like the rest of our hot peppers. We’ve been trying to use up some stuff in the fridge/pantry, and I just happened to have cream cheese, cheese, bread crumbs and one egg. It was like the universe was calling to us to make our Baked Jalapeño Poppers. We learned a lot from our last venture into popper-dom: warm ingredients equal mush. So everything was right out of the fridge, including the peppers. By the way, can you believe it’s been almost a year since we bought our little corner of the internet!?

Ingredients:

12 fresh jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise with stems, seeds and membranes removed
1 8-ounce bar reduced fat cream cheese (not softened!)
1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (we used Monterrey jack)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon mild ground chili
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup wheat flour (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray or use a non-stick sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, mozzarella, cumin seeds, mild chili powder and black pepper. In a shallow dish, whisk egg and milk. Spread the breadcrumbs out on a sheet of wax paper or into a separate shallow bowl. If you’re using flour, also pour into a separate dish or onto a sheet of wax paper.
3. Fill each half pepper with a tablespoon of the cream-cheese mixture. Then, one at a time, dredge in the flour (if using), dip into the egg/milk, and roll in crumbs until coated. Repeat with the rest of peppers. Place the coated peppers, on the baking sheet, and bake until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy immediately!

I love having appetizers for dinner! We popped toothpicks in them this time around to make them not only easy to eat but to keep the tops from sliding off as they baked in the oven. These have just the right amount of bite without being over the top and too spicy, and if you take away the cheese they aren’t too awfully bad for you. Neil was reading up on jalapeños as we ate and it turns out they are excellent sources of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. They are also good sources of Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus.

Is that enough to negate the cheese AND the fact we baked them?

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