Last weekend I headed to upstate New York to spend some time relaxing with friends in a big old country house. I volunteered to make dinner on Friday which made me a little nervous. Making dinner for Aaron and I is one thing, but making dinner for a group of 13 people—who all love food and have great taste—is another thing. When I got off the train, I still wasn’t sure what I’d be making for dinner that night, but I did come armed with a recipe for homemade jalepeño poppers, because come on, how could they not be good? I put my bets on the fact that the combination of spicy peppers, warm, creamy cheese and childhood memories would be a winner… and I was right.
These Baked Jalapeno Poppers are a bit of a departure from those you order at a restaurant or buy in the freezer section, but I guarantee you the changes are definitely for the better. I sliced and deseeded each pepper, then filled each with a mixture of cream cheese, goat cheese, lemon zest, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper. Then I popped them in the oven for about 15 minutes, until they started to get nice and brown.
Once they were out of the oven, I let them cool for a few minutes, then placed them on the table. They were met with ooohs and aaahs, and then—thankfully— yummms. The peppers retain a hint of spice, but nothing that’s going to hurt (since they were deseeded) while the combination of cheeses with lemon and cilantro brings a cool, richness to each bite. They’re super easy, super tasty and they turned out to be quite the crowd-pleaser. So much so that I made them with peppadews the next evening, which made for a sweeter version.
Baked Jalapeno Poppers with Goat Cheese
makes 24 Jalapeno poppers | adapted from chow.com
12 jalepeño peppers, sliced in half lengthwise and deseeded
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 medium lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 450° and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Place the cream cheese, goat cheese, cilantro, garlic, lemon zest, and salt in a medium bowl, season with freshly ground black pepper, and mix until smooth and evenly combined.
Spoon the cheese mixture into each of the jalepeño halves, letting the cheese mound slightly. Place the filled peppers on the prepared baking sheet an inch or two apart from each other.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes* or until the peppers are starting to char and the filling is browned and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
*The oven that I was using was a little wonky, I believe this should work, but just check on the peppers every few minutes.