Post 1.13 - Hal E. Peño

One of my recent food addictions is stuffed jalapeño peppers. Hot peppers of any type, hotter than our usual bell peppers in the US, just didn't agree with me. The heat of peppers comes from organic acids, usually contained in the seeds and more liquid centers of the peppers. Even tomatoes have a certain amount of acidity in their seeds. Having learned that seeded tomatoes do not seem to impact my digestive system, I've tried the same thing with some of the hotter peppers, and a whole new world of flavors has opened up to me.

So stuffed jalapeños are just what they sound like. Most fillings tend to be sweet or creamy, but I plan to experiment with different combinations in upcoming weeks. If you ever bought stuffed jalapeños from a restaurant, they tend to be breaded and deep-fried, and filled with cream cheese, possibly other cheeses, and spices. While tasty, there are are definitely healthier alternatives.

With luck, this will be the last recipe I provide that includes dairy, which I'll discuss more in my next food post. But this recipe is definitely healthier than what you may find in a restaurant. First, it is baked, not fried. Second, instead of breading the peppers, they are wrapped in bacon, and I use turkey bacon for a further savings in salt and fat. Finally, I use reduced fat cheeses in the filling, but with the combination of flavors, you won't miss the calories.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers
12 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 8-oz package of reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup of reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (I use a Mexican blend of cheeses, but use what you like)
1/4 cup diced green onions
12 slices of tukey bacon, sliced in half
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a medium baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. Whip the cream cheese until fluffy and blend in the remaining cheeses and green onion.
  3. Stuff each jalapeño with the cheese mixture and wrap each half pepper with a half slice of bacon.
  4. Arrange the peppers in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake the peppers in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until bacon is evenly browned and crisp.
Some friends who have worked with jalapeño peppers have found that they can give off what I'll describe as heated fumes -- the organic acid gets airborne, essentially, and can result in some difficulty in the scent as well as for the eyes. If you're concerned about this, you can soak the peppers in an half inch of boiling water in a skillet over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, drain and let cool. The peppers will be softer and bit more difficult to work with when stuffing, but it will cut the heat a bit.

Have a question or a suggestion for a future topic? E-mail me at facetsblog@gmail.com.

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