Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Right - stuffed jalapeños

In a classic romantic comedy style - I didn't even like them when I first met them. They had such potential to be loved, but fell flat of any of the excitement that their name built them up to be. What's not to love about stuffed jalapeños? At the beginning of this story - plenty.

I had just moved to the east coast and was being introduced to wonderful world of fried snack foods. They sounded sexy. Starting with a scooped out shell of loveliness, they were filled to the brim with cheese then breaded and fried. I'm not normally one to ever be against something being filled to oozing with melting cheese. I should have fallen in love right there, but something had happened to those jalapeños. Something I wasn't prepared for. They were so filled with cream cheese they had no kick left to them and were fried so dark brown they had no texture of their own to stand on. I love jalapeños for what they are - spicy bites of happiness. Mine is a true love and enough cream cheese can take take the spice out of anything. This love story was not heading in the right direction.

I was prepared to love them, but this is act I and the hero is never ready for victory in act I. As with every good love story my champions were destined to overcome and win my heart, but it was a good ten years before I let them back in my life.

I had been ignoring these disappointing flavorless versions of eating peppers (I could barely buy hot salsa in these parts - what's with the obsession with mild?), but all that changed just a few weeks ago. An old roommate set out to make some jalapeños. They blended in some cheddar to their filling and had such failure at frying that they baked them instead. My interest was peaked (as real cheese will always do).

Cheddar? They could be baked? I'd never seen someone make them at home before... maybe they could be inspiring after all.

The pile of jalapeños I bought were sitting on the counter looking so tempting and flavorful. How could something so beautiful and full of potential have gone so wrong? Maybe they had just been mistreated or lead astray. Maybe they deserved a real chance.

A love like this deserves only what is good and none of what went wrong. I dropped cream cheese from the recipe altogether. Why not treat them more like stuffed peppers than the fried snacks everyone thought of them as? My cheese blend starts to get interesting. Cilantro, fresh corn, tomato, red onion in a minuscule dice... Hell - throw caution to the wind! If this could really be love let's just go all in. Bacon is the love potion that can turn this story around.

I mix everything together and fill all twenty of my jalapeño boats. Topped with cheddar to let them be as pretty as they deserve to be, I put them in the oven to work out their magic.

There's always a scene in every romantic comedy when the characters finally realize that they are made for each other despite their fighting and tension of the rest of the film. We already know it's coming. We saw the stars on the poster together. We know they will fall in love, it's just a matter of watching how it happens. We just hope that the scene is written well enough that we can endure the potential cheesiness of the reveal.


Well this story is no different. A girl like me was never meant to be without this love. Jalapeños with cilantro and real cheese? I never had a chance. I was just waiting for them to live up to their potential. The jalapenos actually taste like a vegetable. They still have some spicy left to them but are filled with flavor and texture. They still ooze (no one ever wanted them to loose that precious quality), but now they string out cheese between crisp pops of fresh summery corn and salty bites of bacon. Now I really am ready to go off and watch my sunset with my spicy bites of happiness.

I'll admit it - I'm in love.

The Madness

  • 14-16 jalapeño peppers*
  • 7 strips cooked bacon (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup red onion (tiny dice)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato (tiny dice - discarding the seeds)
  • 1 ear of fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
  • salt + pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • cheddar cheese to top the filled peppers (slices would work more easily that the shredded cheese in my pictures)

The Method
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Slice the jalapeños in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and ribs from each jalapeño with a small pairing knife.

Mix together all the filling ingredients except the cheddar cheese.

Fill each pepper half with the mix and top with a slice of cheddar cheese. Arrange the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, and the peppers are cooked.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 28-32 servings*

The Warning
*I know that this is a potentially excessive amount of jalapenos. I myself was only rescued by a roommate coming home for lunch with perfect timing. I tend to always make too much food. You can actually sit and eat a pile of these - they're almost like tortilla free quesadillas, and is actually a gluten-free meal. I recommend waiting for a party or guests coming over if you're not really prepared for the love-fest that these inspire.

Aw yeah. What's not to love now?


  1. Oh my. Yum and wow are the only words that I can come up with right now.

  2. Perhaps if you save the seeds and add them into the mixture, the jalapeños would retain their spiciness??

    P.S. May I come over the next time you make these?!

  3. Mixing the seeds in could definitely work. I'm interested in playing with some other spices next time too - like coriander or paprika.