Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mini Loaded Baked Potato Bites

When I was at the produce market picking up jalapenos for my Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers I saw some small creamer potatoes and I started thinking of all the wonderful finger foods you could make with them.  For today's post I made Mini Loaded Baked Potato Bites, a perfect make ahead finger food for parties.  I was torn though.  Last week a food website I was browsing posted mini shepherds pies only they used a pastry crust and did them in a mini muffin tin.  My thoughts were that they were totally missing the boat here.  Why not get the small creamers and make the mini shepherds pie right in the mini potato shells?  So watch for that one to be coming up soon!

These are great for parties.  They can be made ahead right up to the point where they are ready to be baked for the final time.  Just add a few minutes to the baking time if they are coming from the fridge.  These came out so good.  I barely had time to photograph the finished product before they were gone!

Mini Loaded Baked Potato Bites

20 small creamer potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons sour cream plus more for topping
2 tablespoons real bacon bits plus more for topping
1/2 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
paprika for garnishing

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut a small slit in each potato so they do not explode like one of mine did.  Bake the potatoes for 20-25 minutes until soft.  Let them cool.

Cut each potato into 2 halves.  Scoop out the centers into a bowl.  Add the butter and sour cream.  Mash into the potatoes.  Mix in the bacon, the coarsely grated cheese, the garlic salt, pepper and cayenne.  Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Lightly spoon the mixture back into the potato shells.  Top each with some of the finely grated cheese.  Sprinkle with paprika. 

Place back into the 400 degree oven and bake on the top rack for 8 minutes and then turn on the broiler for 2 minutes more to lightly toast the tops. 

Let stand for 5 minutes after removing from the oven then transfer to a serving dish and top each with some sour cream, some bacon bits and a dash of paprika. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

I do not usually attend Super Bowl parties but when I do my motivation for doing so is more for the social aspects and, ah, the food.  In fact, of all the glutinous days (Christmas, Thanksgiving), I think the Super Bowl beats them all.  I just can't see "Super Bowl favorites made healthy" as a big draw. 

In the weeks leading up to the big event I browse the internet and drool over pictures of oozing cheese, crisp bacon, glazed chicken wings, etc.  So diet the week before and after.  In fact, diet at Christmas and Thanksgiving and save the calories for the comfort food that counts - the Super Bowl party food.

I will start you out with these Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers.  They are one of my favorites but if you do not like the peppers you can just make the filling and serve it warm with chips. 

For this recipe I started out with 24 jalapenos, 12 green and 12 red.  They were very large, at least 3 inches in length.  There was only a small amount of filling left though not for long because I heated it up and ate it then and there with some chips.

These are best made the day before you plan to cook them so the filling can firm up before you cook them.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 processed American cheese slices
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (or chili powder)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
24 large jalapeno peppers
1 pound thinly sliced bacon

One day ahead:  Put the cheeses in a bowl an set aside to come to room temperature. 

Cut a slit in each pepper from stem to bottom.  Hold the pepper open in your palm and scrape out the seeds.  (I like to leave some membrane for heat).   I use the small paddle end of a lobster pick for this task. 

Blend the cheeses together. Add the chili powder and cumin and continue to blend.  Add 1/2 the beans and stir them in.  Add the rest of the beans and stir them in.  Some will get mashed but you want texture.  Stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture.

Wrap the peppers in bacon, covering the slit as much as possible.  Put in the fridge overnight so the filling and bacon can firm back up. 

Heat a large non stick skillet (or two) to medium.  Add the peppers, filling side down.  Cook and turn so the bacon browns on all sides and the peppers get nice and tender.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Serve warm.