Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Panko, Spicy Cheese, and Land Sharks

I have an extraordinary love for jalapeno poppers.  I do not however, love the calories that come with them.  Well, I don't mind the calories, but my post menopausal body stores fat and calories like a squirrel stores nuts. As a result I have been looking for lower calorie substitutes for my favorite nuggets of deep fried goodness.

I know I initially stated I was going to review recipes from Pinterest, but I did not find a recipe that I thought I would like and be relatively low in calories.  There was a recipe for baked jalapeno poppers, which on first glance looked yummy, but then they went and wrapped them in crescent roll dough.  Please don't get me wrong,  I do like myself some buttery, flaky, nutritionally worthless, white flour based carbohydrates.  However, if my spare tire gets any bigger I am relatively positive I wouldn't need a life vest should I ever decide to get on a boat.  As a result, I would have to skip the crescent roll recipe.

Presto, chango!  I developed my own recipe for Spicy Jalapeno Poppers.

Yeah, I know "Spicy" and "Jalapeno" would normally be redundant, but not in this case, as you will soon see (insert evil villain laugh here).

***Note:  I do not endorse any specific product.  I use what is in my pantry.  You can use whatever brand you like best. ***

Baked Spicy Jalapeno Poppers

Do not try and substitute regular yogurt for the Greek yogurt. If you do your mixture will be to runny and not pack into the jalapeno bodies.

Cookie sheet
Oven safe rack
4 medium bowls for breading station.

6  large jalapenos
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup low fat sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons Southwest flavored Philadelphia Cooking Cream
2 tablespoons fat free Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1 cup toasted Panko bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Cumin (optional)
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Prep your jalapenos by cutting them in half lengthwise and removing the seeds and the ribs.
I highly recommend you wear gloves when you are prepping the jalapenos. This keeps the oils from getting on your hands which in turn avoids an unpleasant contact lens/bathroom experience.

3. Combine cheeses and yogurt in a bowl.

4. Toast bred crumbs in a dry skillet until golden brown.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

Toasting happens quickly. To avoid burned crumbs stand watch carefully and don't wander off. Yes, I wandered off, I don't remember where, but the first batch burned.

5.  Break egg into a separate bowl, season with salt and pepper and 1/4 tsp cumin.

6. Measure flour into another bowl and season with salt, pepper and remaining cumin. Set up dredging station.

7. Place rack on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray.

I know, this is a grill basket. In my defense my disgruntled dishwasher put the racks... Well, I don't know where he put the racks, hence the grill basket. Improvise! Adapt! Overcome! Huah!
Oops! Sorry. Flashbacks to basic training.

8. Fill hollowed out jalapenos with cheese and yogurt mixture. Dredge first in flour, then egg, then Panko crumbs. Place on rack. Spray with cooking spray before placing in oven.


9.  Cook 10-12 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

10. Serve hot.

I highly recommend you wear gloves when you are prepping the jalapenos.  This keeps the oils from getting on your hands, which in turn avoids an unpleasant contact lens/bathroom experience.

 Also, be sure that if you drop any of the jalapeno guts on the floor,  pick them up immediately.  I didn't notice I'd dropped one (did I mention I am a very messy cook) and my husband's four legged land shark, who, by the way, will eat ANYTHING to include shoes, handbags, teeth guards and cat crunchies.  

Sorry, I digress.  Anyway, if said land shark should get a hold of some jalapeno innards, the result is not pretty.  It involves lots of drool. 

Disclaimer: Before anyone decides to berate me for animal cruelty, she spit it out, but the damage was done.

These came out pretty tasty.  This method results in a slightly crunchy jalapeno. Some people may not care for this. If you don't, I recommend steaming the jalapeno halves 1-2 minutes in the microwave before stuffing. I skipped this step but I like the juxtaposition of the green flavor of the jalapeno and the warm, melty, creaminess of the cheese.

I welcome questions and suggestions.  Please feel free to leave these in the comment section.



  1. I was thinking I would try this recipe, but then I remember how lazy I am and that if it's more than three steps, I usually won't cook it!

    They look delicious though!

    1. It is a little labor intensive. Good thing I have a Sous Chef/dishwasher/official food tester at my disposal. ;D