Cathie Campbell

Those tasty jalapenos

Just about every time I go grocery shopping, whether it be at a regular store or a farmers market, I just have to get a few fresh jalapeno peppers. Even though I am going to share some favorite recipes with you, I must admit my favorite way of enjoying these peppers is to just eat them fresh, along with a good piece of bread. I do cut them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and the membranes, otherwise that’s too much heat for me.

If you do this, too, remember to always wash your hands afterward, or else you will be sorry if you happen to rub your eyes (like I did, even though years ago). Most of you probably learned this lesson years ago, too, but there might be some new cooks out there who hadn’t thought of this precaution. I wish somebody had told me, way back in the day.

I have been fortunate that most of the jalapenos I have purchased the past two or three years have been very mild. I am not sure if it’s a particular variety of pepper that makes them mild, or if it is a matter of weather conditions, soil, how much they get watered, etc. Perhaps a bit of both. Whatever the reason(s), I am grateful for the chance to enjoy these tasty peppers without having the skin peel off my tongue. (Sorry for the gross mental picture.) Come with me into the kitchen and let’s see what treats we can cook up with fresh jalapeno peppers. And you know that’s exactly when your eyes will start itching.

Grilled bacon-wrapped poppers

Ha! Six servings? Really? I could eat the entire recipe all by myself.

6 fresh jalapeno peppers (halved lengthwise and seeded)

1 package (8oz.) cream cheese, softened 12 slices bacon

1. Preheat an outdoor grill to high heat. Spread the cream cheese into the jalapeno halves. Wrap bacon around the stuffed jalapenos and secure with a toothpick.

2. Place onto the grill and cook until the bacon is crispy. You will need to turn the poppers now and then in order to evenly cook the bacon, so make sure the bacon is wrapped securely so the cream cheese can’t escape. Makes 6 servings of 2 poppers each.

Jalapeno popper potatoes

Popper flavor in a different style.

3 slices raw bacon, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, sliced

4 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed, diced, and cooked until fork tender

1 cup sour cream

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

2/3 Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, onion and jalapenos until the bacon is crisp and the onions and peppers are tender. Drain and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl combine the cooked and drained potatoes, sour cream and 1 cup shredded cheese. Spoon this mixture into the prepared pan.

3. Cover the potato mixture with the reserved cup of shredded cheese as well as the jalapeno bacon mixture. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes in preheated oven or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are hot. Makes 8 servings.

Jalapeno pepper jack cornbread bites

Sort of like jalapeno hush puppies, but with cheese.

1 cup flour, divided

2 tablespoons cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

1/2 cup milk

1 block (8oz.) pepper jack cheese

Vegetable oil, for frying

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Place 1/2 cup of flour in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the other 1/2 cup flour with cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, jalapeno, and milk.

2. Cut the block of cheese into 12 equal chunks. Roll each piece of cheese in flour and then into the batter mixture in the bowl.

3. Fry for about 1 minute, or until batter is thoroughly cooked and golden brown; set on a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Jalapeno chocolate chip cookies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

1/4 cup diced jalapenos (seeded)

2 cups (12 oz.) chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter, the white and brown sugars and vanilla. Add eggs and mix well.

3. Gradually add flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

4. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen.