Sunday, July 8, 2012

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

It was a great celebration - friends, food and fireworks for the July 4th holiday this year. We decided to take it easy since it was a work night. We invited some friends to come over to grill and have a few drinks. Everyone brought something and was hard at work prepping for our grill feast before the fireworks!

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers |

With a trip to the Farmer's Market earlier in the week, my friend Virginia and I had gathered all of the sides and fixin's (as we say in the South) for our 4th of July feast!

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers |

We started the evening with a few appetizers, as any party should. I made guacamole and put out fresh salsa. Virginia made Deviled Eggs that were scarfed down in about 2.5 minutes!  

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers |

We had fresh cherry tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, grilled vegetables and corn from the Farmer's Market.

The boys decided to throw a few steaks on the grill to go along with all of the vegetables. The five boys put their head together and incorporated a few new tips for the steaks. First they scored the steaks (to prevent the ends of the sirloins from curling), then they used half an onion to rub the grill grate for extra flavor and to apply oil to the grates. One of the guys even picked some basil from our garden to throw on his steak.

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers |

With all of the grilling going on, we thought it would be the perfect day to bust out our jalapeño poppers! I know what you are thinking, deep fried. But not in this house!!

This is a delicious and healthy version using a whole jalapeño, cheese and bacon (which you can leave off to make vegetarian). Everything can be prepped ahead of time, and thrown on the grill with other things. We had both grills going on this day, so I squeezed them in between the corn and mushrooms.

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers |

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

Yields: 12 poppers
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

12 whole 
4 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
1 cup favorite cheese, shredded (I use a sharp Vermont cheddar or Gruyere)
12 slices of bacon (or prosciutto if preferred) (can leave this off if vegetarian)
* optional ingredients for the filling are chives, garlic, pimentos or red pepper finely chopped, cooked sausage, etc. The possibilities are endless!

First, soak the wooden toothpicks in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Heat your grill to medium-high heat.

Cut the jalapeños in half lengthwise and scrape out the membrane and seeds with a small spoon. If you would like a hotter popper, leave some of the seeds in the jalapeno. I usually do half and half for a variety. Make sure to keep the halves for each jalapeno together so they are matched up.

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers |

In a medium sized bowl, mix the cream cheese and shredded cheese together until well blended. Here is where you can add in any additional ingredients that you wish for the filling.

With a small spoon, fill one half of the jalapeño with the cheese filling until it is slightly overflowing, but can still place the other half of the jalapeño on top so they connect. Fill all jalapeños with the filling. Pull out your bacon and slice the pieces in half. (Note, it is easier to work with chilled bacon). If your bacon is really thin, use a whole piece. You can also leave off the bacon for a vegetarian version, but still use a toothpick to keep the jalapeño closed. Wrap a half a piece of bacon around the popper and use a toothpick to secure it. Repeat for all jalapeños.

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers |

Place poppers on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, that has been sprayed with cooking spray or olive oil. Grill for about 10-15 minutes, depending on your grill**. You want the bacon to be cooked and crisp and the peppers to have a good grill marks. This works best on a charcoal grill.

**You can also bake these at 400F for 15-20 minutes.

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