Super Bowl Jalapeno Poppers

Living in Texas, football is kind of a big deal. People are die-hard fans of either high school, college, or professional teams – and sometimes of all three! I became a football fan when I moved to Texas the first time, way back in 1994. High school football is a really, really big deal and my high school was no exception. Home of the “Fire-Breathing Dragons”, we had several state championships we unsuccessfully defended during my four years. High school football is so important in Texas that you will find parents in the stands that haven’t had kids in school for over 20 years!

During football season, we are a house divided. I am a New England Patriot’s fan (haters gonna hate 🤣) and Brad is a Houston Texan’s and a New Orleans Saints fan. Neither of us are Cowboy’s fans, despite the fact we live in Big D. We typically spend football Sunday’s at home, on the couch watching our favorite teams. If it’s a big game, we invite our families over to watch with us. Last weekend, I made a big pot of chili and Brad made chicken wings in the air fryer. We have yet to master anything in the air fryer except for chicken wings, but we are working on it.

The playoffs were really stressful for us. The Texans fell in the first round and the Saints experienced a heart-breaking loss to the Rams. The Pats also had a tough game, finally claiming victory in overtime. I’m always sad the first Sunday after the Super Bowl – our day seems so empty without having any games to watch. But, the weather starts to warm up and it’s not long before we would rather be outside than inside watching TV.

Even if you aren’t entertaining friends or family, you can still have a fun Super Bowl viewing party. If you are having a party, you can serve delicious food that is gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. It can be as simple as homemade guacamole or salsa with corn chips, chili with gluten-free, vegan cornbread, or recipes that require a little more time in the kitchen. Pizza and beer is classic football watching food. You can make gluten-free pizza served with gluten-free beer. Another idea is turkey pinwheels with gluten-free tortillas and Boar’s Head turkey.

We haven’t yet decided if we are going to stay home or go up to my parents house to watch the game, but either way, we will be having Brad’s bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers. He made them for me last year and I was surprised how flavorful they were! I admit, I had never had a jalapeño popper in my entire life before last year. It’s not like I can order jalapeño poppers in a restaurant since a main ingredient is cream cheese. I also was under the impression jalapeño poppers were really spicy but they aren’t since the seeds and insides are removed.

Preparing these poppers takes about 30 minutes. For added flavor, you can brine the chicken breasts before assembling the poppers. Mix 1/2 cup of Kosher salt with 3 cups of water in a large mixing bowl. Submerge the chicken breasts in the water and let soak for 30 minutes. During this time, you can prepare the jalapeños and spice mixture. Once brined, rinse the chicken breasts under cold water. You want to make sure to remove all of the saltwater.

When you are working with jalapeño peppers, it is recommended to use disposable kitchen gloves. It will help prevent the spice from the jalapeños sticking to your hands. Simply washing your hands won’t always remove all of the oils from the pepper and you definitely don’t want to rub you eyes after handling peppers.

If you are lucky enough to live in a state that you can grill outdoors in February, then dust off the barbecue and grill the poppers outside (side note, these are great for any type of party, so these can make an appearance at your summer barbecue, too!).

Brad’s Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Makes: 12 poppers

Serves: 4-6 people (2 poppers each)

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Recommended equipment: disposable gloves for working with the peppers

Ingredients

6 medium-to-large jalapeno peppers, halved, seeds and insides removed

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 package of bacon

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 package of dairy-free cream cheese

Toothpicks

Directions

  1. Remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator to let come up to room temperature. You want the cream cheese to be easily spreadable.
  2. Fill a small bowl with water and soak the toothpicks while you are assembling the poppers. This will prevent the toothpicks from burning when cooking.
  3. To prepare the jalapeno peppers, cut the peppers in half, longways. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and white skin inside the pepper. This is where all the heat lives and by removing this, the peppers won’t be spicy.
  4. Combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground black pepper, cumin, and Kosher salt in a small bowl. 
  5. If you have decided to brine the chicken, wash and pat-dry. 
  6. Cut the chicken into strips that are the length and width of the jalapeno pepper. 
  7. Generously season the chicken strips with the spice mixture. Reserve about 1 teaspoon to lightly dust the peppers once they are fully assembled prior to grilling. 
  8. Using a knife, generously fill the inside of each pepper with cream cheese.
  9. Once the pepper is filled, place one chicken strip on top.
  10. Using one piece of uncooked bacon, wrap the bacon around the filled jalapeno. Once wrapped, poke the toothpick through the entire pepper so that it pokes out the other side. You want to make sure the chicken doesn’t fall out or the bacon comes unwrapped during cooking.
  11. Once all of the jalapenos are ready, sprinkle the rest of the seasoning over the top of the poppers.
  12. Warm a grill pan on the stove under medium heat, between 325-350 degrees. Grill for about 25 minutes, turning every 5-8 minutes to ensure the bacon is crispy all around and the chicken is fully cooked.
  13. Optional: once the bacon is about halfway cooked, you can remove the toothpick so that it is easier to grill all sides. You want to make sure the bacon won’t unwrap during cooking. 
  14. Plate and enjoy!

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