Baked Jalapeno Poppers

I'm not a football fan (sorry, dear husband!), but I absolutely love any excuse I can find to make game day food! To me, the perfect game day food is indulgent without being stuffy: this game day favorite is cheesy, smoky, spicy, bubbly..the perfect addition to any game day feast or just on a Tuesday- that's how we roll at our house!. My mini-obsession started a few months ago with these fantastic baked poppers our family had at a little restaurant up in Chicago. My sister-in-law made an incredibly delicious version for Thanksgiving, and I have been hooked ever since. My version combines four creamy cheeses with smoky bacon. It's baked until bubbly. The mild heat of the peppers is a delicious contrast to the richness of the filling. You can play around with different cheese combinations here; my SIL added goat cheese, and they were fantastic!

I rationalized eating like fifteen of these because I baked instead of fried them.

The ingredient list is pretty simple: 
7 jalapenos, sliced lengthwise seeded (wear WILL forget and rub your eyes otherwise. I promise!)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup of each of three shredded cheeses (I used chihuahua, cheddar-jack and pepper jack)
black pepper
 The hottest part of the pepper is the membrane, so make sure to carefully remove that if you don't want a super spicy snack. We love our spicy foods around here, so I am just careful to make sure there are no seeds left in the peppers.
 Make sure your sous-chef wears gloves too!
 For a little girl who has absolutely no intention of eating these, she sure does love to make them!
 Mix the cheese and bacon in the bowl then season with salt and pepper (remember, your cheese is pretty salty, so taste the mixture before you add any extra salt). Use a spoon to fill each jalapeno.
 So simple!
 The filling stays pretty compact, so pile it into your peppers!
 Bake at 400 for about 15-20 minutes until your cheese is bubbly and brown.
 The best step of them all? 
 I like to serve these as a side dish when I make pork carnitas. The carnitas are bright and acidic from the orange and lime juice they're braised in...with the pickled onions also lending a tartness to this meal, the gooey jalapenos are the perfect pairing!

Stay tuned for more fun and easy game day favorites as the Super Bowl approaches...

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