A really great snack with lots of variations.
To make twelve Jalapeño Pepper Poppers, you'll need...
6 large jalapeño peppers
4 oz cream cheese (or queso cheese)
4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
12 slices of bacon
* Partially cook the 12 slices of bacon (soft, not crispy!) and let cool.
* Preheat oven to 425°F
* Cut stem ends off the peppers; slice peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membrane (a grapefruit spoon works great for this!).
* Prepare a cookie sheet by covering with foil or parchment paper.
* Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature (don't try to soften it in the microwave!)
* With a spoon or fork, thoroughly mix the soft cream cheese and grated cheddar in a bowl (Warming the bowl by floating it in a sink of hot water will make this easier.)
* Fill the pepper halves with the cheese mixture.
* Wrap each cheese filled pepper half with a soft bacon strip, using toothpicks to hold it in place (the bacon will shrink in the oven!)
* Place wrapped pepper halves on the cookie sheet, not touching.
* Cook in 425°F oven for 15 minutes; check after 12 minutes. If you want the bacon more crispy, cook up to 20 minutes.
* Remove from oven and let cool. (DO NOT try to eat these right out of the oven...the hot cheese will burn the roof of your mouth!)
If there is a lot of melted grease on the cookie sheet (from the bacon and from the cheese), remove the peppers to a paper towel covered plate. Don't let the pepper poppers sit in the grease!
Some folks' variations on this recipe:
* Sprinkle (panko) bread crumbs on top of the bacon...when the bread crumbs are browned, remove the pepper poppers from the oven.
* Use cottage cheese instead of cream cheese.
* For a stronger pepper flavor, use pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar.
* For a spicier flavor, use ancho or poblano chile peppers.
* For an even spicier flavor, mix a FINELY chopped scotch bonnet or habanero pepper into the cheese mixture, or... chop and use the seeds and membranes from the jalapeños.
* For a more southwestern flavor, mix 1 tsp of cumin in the cheese mixture or lightly sprinkle cumin atop each pepper half before putting in the oven.
* If you don't want as much bacon, cut the partially cooked bacon slices into strips the same length as the peppers and simply lay these on top of the stuffed pepper halves.