Jalapeño and Bacon Poppers

Looking through my last few posts I wanted to try some different flavours. Jonathan recommended jalapeño and bacon poppers. I reluctantly agreed, seeing as I had never purchased jalapeño peppers in my life. My Dad still has trouble saying the word “jalapeño” even though he took a brief Spanish lesson with my sister Sarah in Mexico. He says it “jal-ap-ino” and there are many other versions of his mispronunciations.

I did not grow up with spicy foods and so I was a bit nervous, but I was pleasantly surprised that with all the seeds out jalapeño peppers are NOT super spicy (my mouth was not burning, yay!)  There was still a pleasant amount of spicy flavour though.  Jonathan tried to convince me that jalapeño peppers taste like bell peppers (which they do not).  Just in case the jalapeño peppers were going to be too spicy for me, I decided to make four stuffed mushrooms. Jonathan and I have different versions of the meaning of ‘spicy.’ I’m sure we would both agree that these jalapeño and bacon poppers are delicious!  Slowly I am working up my spice tolerance.  These were not as spicy as a curry dish from the Pinto house.  As Jonathan accurately advised me, jalapeño peppers and hot chili peppers have very different flavours.

The cream cheese, garlic and bacon part of the recipe I knew I would love and the jalapeño flavour complemented the other flavours quite well. Another part of this recipe that I like is that the poppers are not deep fried like they would be at a pub. The Panko crumbs that I dipped the cream cheese, garlic and bacon mixture in, gave the tops of the poppers and nice crispiness.

Ingredients
250g container of Western Light Cream Cheese – Western brand is nice and fluffy
1 clove of minced garlic
6 slices of bacon – sliced into small pieces
4 or 5 jalapeño peppers and 4 or 5 mushrooms if you so desire
1 cup of Panko crumbs
1/4 cup of canola oil to drizzle on the baking sheet

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Cook the bacon until crispy or however you like your bacon. Chop the bacon into small pieces. Dry off the bacon with a paper towel and then add to a bowl.
3. Mince one clove of garlic with a garlic press and add to bowl.
4. Add Light cream cheese and stir until combined.
5. Slice the jalapeño peppers in half. You may want to wear gloves to remove all of the seeds and the vein part of the inside of the pepper.
6. If you are making a few stuffed mushrooms – wash the mushrooms and take out the middle stem bit so that there is space for the cream cheese, garlic and bacon mixture.
7. On your baking sheet cover with tin foil and then drizzle with a bit of canola oil (you could also use cooking spray).
8. With a small spoon evenly distribute the cream cheese, bacon and garlic mixture onto the jalapeño and mushroom halves.
9. Roll the cream cheese top part in Panko crumbs and then place on the baking sheet.
10. Bake for 10-15 minutes on the middle rack (I did 10min). Then place the baking sheet on a top rack so that the Panko crumbs will brown a bit for 5-10 minutes (watch them to see when they have turned golden brown on top – I took mine out after 7 minutes). Oven temperatures will vary.
11. Enjoy!

Afternoon Snack – Cucumber Rounds with Red Pepper Jelly

This recipe is an easy and tasty appetizer or afternoon snack.  It was simple to prepare and refreshing to eat!  I received the red pepper jelly from Jonathan’s Mom and was excited to use it.  The red pepper jelly was sweet and really quite lovely.

I used a Pampered Chef crinkle cutter to slice the cucumber.  If you don’t have one you can just slice the cucumber with a regular knife.  However, if you would like to buy a fun kitchen gadget, this could be for you.  It makes slicing vegetables more fun and gives them texture.

Ingredients

1 cup of whipped cream cheese

1 minced clove of fresh garlic

1/8 tsp of black pepper

1/8 tsp of dried basil

1/8 tsp of oregano

1 cucumber sliced with crinkle cutter (depending on how many you would like to make)

Enough red pepper jelly for a pea-sized amount on each cucumber

Instructions:

  1. Cut cucumber with a crinkle cutter, like shown below.  It will help the cream cheese stay on the cucumber better.
  2. Mix whipped cream cheese with minced garlic, pepper, dried basil, and oregano.
  3. Spread cream cheese on cucumber round.
  4. Add a pea-sized amount red pepper jelly on each cucumber.

Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin Bread

Warm pumpkin bread is just the thing for a chilly February day.  My sister Victoria first discovered this recipe for pumpkin bread here.  It is moist and flavourful.  For best results use Stokeley’s pumpkin purée.  The bread tastes like banana bread, except it has the warmth of pumpkin pie.  It tastes like a Canadian Thanksgiving at the cottage, with fallen red, orange and yellow leaves.  What gives the pumpkin bread its richness is the cream cheese.  In this recipe cloves and walnuts can be added for extra flavour, but mine is made without the last two ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease one 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
  2. Put softened cream cheese, margarine, and sugar in mixing bowl. Cream together well. Beat in eggs one at a time until blended. Mix in pumpkin.
  3. In another bowl combine flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour all at once over batter. Stir just enough to moisten. Turn into greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-70 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove to rack to finish cooling.