Are you ever in one of those moods where you just need to have the ooey, gooey, cheesy richness that can only mean Mexican food? I was having some fabulous friends of mine over for dinner a few weeks ago and I was in one of those moods. They were being fed Mexican food whether they liked it or not!
I was looking to put out a little picky snack while the steak for steak fajitas was grilling outside, so I found this recipe for Emeril’s BAKED JALAPEÑO POPPERS. I thought stuffed jalapeños would be a cool change of pace from the expected chips and salsa. Plus, I kind of wanted to test this recipe out because I thought it would be equally as great for an app during football season (which I’m super psyched is coming up quickly).
I’m pretty impressed by celeb chefs that opt to bake instead of fry. Let’s face it, a jalapeno pepper that’s filled with creamy cheese, crusted with breadcrumb and fried to a deep golden brown is basically irresistible. The fact that my buddy Emeril decided to bake these instead made me happy. It’s an easy little substitution that can save a whole lot of calories.
Emeril even opts for panko breadcrumb that he spikes with his own seasoning blend instead of the typical Italian stuff that comes pre-seasoned. Panko is definitely lighter and after making these, much crispier. I was even able to dig up the appropriate spices from the depths of my spice cabinet to make the blend. I basically followed the original recipe to a tee except for using reduced fat cream cheese instead of the full-fat version.
This was a great little Mexican themed snack. The peppers were a little spicy and I didn’t cook them to complete mush. I like when peppers have a little bite to them. The filling was rich and cheesy without the “I need to put on sweat pants and vegetate in front of the TV” effect that Mexican often has. The baked crust was nice and crispy but didn’t leave a yucky oily residue on your cocktail plate. I’m definitely going to be making these again when the Jets hit the field in the fall!
* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.