Peppers are easy to grow and plentiful at the end of summer. In my garden, I planted sweet bell peppers, bull horn peppers, and jalapeno peppers. There are plenty of recipes for using peppers. One of my favorites is Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers.
The jalapenos start out green and turn red if they stay on the plant to fully ripen. The longer they stay on the plant, the hotter they are. The red ones are hotter but also have a hint of sweetness. The green ones are milder and crisper. (Tip: As jalapenos ripen, small white lines appear on their skin, like stretch marks. The more striations a jalapeno has, the hotter it is, and then it will start turning red.)
After washing the peppers, blanch them in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes to soften them. Then drain them and rinse them in cold water to prevent further cooking. Next, you're going to slit open and de-seed the peppers. (Caution: Wear vinyl or rubber gloves when handling hot peppers. I learned the hard way many years ago that when the oils and seeds inside come in contact with your skin, it can feel like you've been badly burned for hours!)
Here's the best way I have found to prepare jalapeno peppers for stuffing: Using a small, sharp knife, begin below the cap and cut a long, curved slit down the length of one side. Then you can give the pepper a little squeeze to open it up to scrape out the seeds and membrane with a small knife or spoon. (I use an infant spoon.) If the flap breaks off, that's ok; you can set it back in place after you stuff them.
Make a mixture of softened cream cheese and shredded mozarella cheese. You can add 1/4 tsp. of ground red pepper if you want a hotter flavor. (Tip: You can warm the mixture in the microwave at half power for 30 seconds and then stir it. Repeat this until it is well combined and a good consistency for handling.)
Stuff each pepper with the cheese mixture and then replace the flap.
In a small bowl, beat two large eggs with two tablespoons of milk. In a second bowl stir together equal amounts of dry bread crumbs and panko. (The panko gives the breading a crisp texture, and the bread crumbs help the coating stick to the peppers better.) Put some flour in a third bowl.
Dip the cheese-stuffed peppers in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs. Dip in the egg and bread crumbs a second time. (Oh yeah, double-dipping!) Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Place two tablespoons of butter in a shallow baking dish and melt it in the oven as it pre-heats. Place the breaded stuffed peppers in the heated pan. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the peppers over, and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Serve hot, with pasta sauce or ranch dressing for dipping, if desired. These Poppers are amazing! Not too hot for my mild taste. You can always turn up the fire with seasonings if that's your thing! Just amazing! I'm glad there are lots more peppers in the garden! You get a lot of jalapenos from just one plant. (Oh, by the way, I leave the caps on to help keep the cheese in and for ease in handling, but as you're eating them, beware as you bite closer to the stem where they are much hotter.)
Tip: After the poppers are baked, you can freeze them for later use! Arrange the poppers on trays and let them cool down a bit. Put the trays in the freezer overnight so that the poppers freeze. Then place the frozen poppers in plastic freezer bags and store in the freezer. These will keep for a whole year. When you want to serve tasty poppers for an appetizer, place the frozen poppers on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, turning the poppers over halfway through the baking time. Keep an eye on them, though. If the cheese starts to ooze out, they may be done
14-16 jalapeno peppers
6 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozarella cheese
1/2 cup flour
2 T. milk
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup seasoned panko
2 tablespoons melted butter
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