This post is by contributing writer Lori Hernandez of Third Day Farms.
This past September, I found myself staring at a half bushel of jalapeño peppers on my kitchen floor.
I had to do something with them, and quick! I whipped out the canning pot and supplies, and canned more jars of pickled jalapeños than one family should ever need…and I still had countless peppers left.
Then I remembered seeing a friend post something on Facebook about making and freezing jalapeño poppers. Was is actually possible? I had to try it!
What a perfect solution! I could make the jalapeño poppers ahead of time and pull them out of the freezer as needed. I plopped the basket of peppers on the counter and got to work.
Safety First! Jalapeño Safe Handling
Once upon a time, when I was younger and foolish, I spent an afternoon chopping and freezing jalapeño peppers. Within about 20 minutes of finishing, my hands were ON FIRE. Oh, the burning! The agony! For the next 24 hours, I spent a ridiculous amount of time with my hands in a bowl of ice water. I could hardly sleep that night!
I learned my lesson the hard way – always wear gloves when handling hot peppers! Since that incident, I keep a pair of rubber gloves AND safety goggles in my kitchen that are dedicated for use around hot peppers. The goggles protect my eyes from splattering pepper juice when removing the seeds (and yes, I found that out the hard way too! OUCH!).
If you don’t have gloves and goggles available, then use extreme caution. DO NOT touch your eyes or your face after touching the peppers! Wash your hands immediately when done handling the peppers.
That said, these delicious peppers are well worth the safety risk!
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A Flexible Jalapeño Popper Recipe
After searching on-line for jalapeño poppers recipes, I decided to make up my own recipe. My husband always laughs at me – I tend to think of recipes as “suggestions,” not instructions (maybe I just don’t like anyone telling me what to do. Ha!) . I always like to do things “my way”. So feel free to change it up!
Think of this recipe as a foundation, something you can build upon if you so desire. The poppers taste great with the basic ingredients, or you can kick it up a notch by adding some extras.
The recipe is simple and easy – simply cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds, fill the peppers and bake them.
- About an hour or two before beginning, pull cream cheese out of the fridge to soften.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Protect your hands, using food handling gloves (and maybe eye protection).
- Wash peppers, dry and slice each pepper in half lengthwise.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and membranes. Arrange peppers, hollow side up, on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.
- Mix softened cream cheese, shredded cheese and Worcestershire sauce in a medium sized bowl. If adding optional spices, add just a pinch at a time and adjust to taste.
- Add a scoop of the cheese mixture to the hollow of each jalapeño pepper half. Press into place.
- If using bacon, cut the bacon slices in half, making 24 strips of bacon.
- Wrap each strip around a cheese filled jalapeño and secure with a toothpick.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to turn golden (and bacon is cooked, if using bacon)
You can make these poppers ahead of time and freeze them, as I did, or you can make a fresh batch as needed. For those of you that garden and find yourselves overrun with jalapeños, this is a perfect way to preserve them.
I made a huge batch of poppers and froze them on cookie sheets. Once they were frozen solid, I transferred them to freezer bags. If you have a Food Saver System, this would work beautifully to freeze them in perfect serving sizes.
I love having these jalapeño poppers on hand at all times. When I need a quick appetizer, it’s easy to grab a handful of them, pop them in the oven and have a great snack 20 minutes later. They are always a hit at parties and the recipe is so simple, it’s easy to recite it from memory! Enjoy!