One of the things I look forward to in the summer is cooking with fresh peppers from our garden. This year we’re growing about a hundred different pepper plants. We have a carnival mix of sweet bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, and purple), chocolate habaneros, jalapenos, pablanos, cayennes, ghost peppers, and a Caribbean mix (hard to say what we’ll get out of this one, but so far we have some cherry bombs and some type of long pepper – possibly a Thai pepper).
One of my favorite ways of using up a bunch of jalapenos, which are always the first peppers to harvest, is to make poppers. Now I haven’t always been a fan of the ol’ jalapeno popper. For the most part, I really don’t like the junk you order off of most restaurant appetizer menus. The breaded and fried version tastes more like hot grease to me than either jalapeno or cheese. And what’s the deal with the ranch dressing? It’s not a salad for crying out loud.
Last year was the first year I made my own homemade poppers. I scoured the Internet looking for recipe ideas and kept coming up with the same kind of thing – a stuffed pepper that was dipped or rolled in some form of breading and fried or baked in the oven until done. Blech. I wanted something different. Something zippy. Something that would enhance the flavor of the jalapeno as well as the cheese. And I definitely wanted something I didn’t have to fry.
After reading dozens of recipes I decided to give it a go on my own. And I must say they turned out splendidly. We ate dozens and dozens of the little flame throwers. And when I entitled this post “Fire in the hole” that wasn’t an exaggeration either. Talk about a trigger food though. Do you know that eating peppers in a very large quantity, even ones that are stuffed to the gills with creamy, mild cheeses and wrapped in a crisp bit of bacon still burn like fire the next day! Wow was that ever a come to Jesus experience.
So yesterday when Sam came toddling back into the house after watering the garden, a grocery bag of jalapenos in toe I started drooling. Oh poppers, how I’ve missed thee. But wait! A tragic though occurred to me….”are poppers South Beach friendly?!” Yikes! I wasn’t sure. I know the peppers are, but full fat cream cheese and regular bacon are both no-no’s. Not to worry though. I’d just try them with low-fat cheeses and some turkey bacon. How bad could it be? The answer my friends is not bad at all. In fact, I think I liked them better than the original version. So tonight we celebrated the coming of summer with a large plate of hot poppers…tomorrow I’ll be cryin’, but tonight I’m smilin’!