Sunday, December 13, 2009

Party Peppers and Ranch Dip

These cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped jalapeno peppers might be little but they have a lot of personality.

If you've trying to compile a budget savvy party menu make sure to put these apps. on your go-to list.

12 Jalapeno peppers  $1.34
8 oz. Cream cheese $0.98 (Thanks Walmart!)
1 bag of Shredded Cheddar Cheese $2.25
1 package of bacon $2.00
1 packet of Ranch Dressing Mix $1.50

For around seven bucks you can make 24 stuffed jalapenos....actually, you'll have a lot of left over ingredients so to be extra budget savvy use what you already have to make other appetizers. Here are a couple of other recipes to get you started: Spinach Artichoke Dip & Twice Baked Potatoes.

Fun.    Different.    Bold.     Flavorful!


12 jalapeno peppers
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1 tbs ranch dressing mix (I used the Hidden Valley packet)
6 slices of bacon
1 lime

You will also need:
Toothpicks, cookie sheet, cookie cooling rack


Preheat oven to 350F.

  In a large bowl filled with cold water add a hand full of ice cubes.  Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds and put the sliced peppers in the ice bath. (I read somewhere that this step kicks up the heat factor a notch or two - and according to my guests these were very hot! So, I guess its safe to assume this is true.)

**Very helpful hint! Wear gloves!! Well, I didn't have any gloves and had no need to go buy a whole box of them for a single use. I made a poor decision and handled the jalapenos with my bare hands. Perhaps if the tip I read online would have placed more emphasis on how badly your hands would burn if did not use gloves... then I most definitely would have worn them! I can't imagine a box of silicone gloves can be more than a couple of dollars but if you're counting pennies - like a a college student = )) then I'm sure your dentist or doctor would let you have a pair. = D **

In a small bowl use a fork or spoon to combine the cream cheese, shredded cheddar, and ranch dressing mix. Remove the peppers from the ice bath and place them on a sheet of paper towel to absorb the excess water. Use a spoon to fill each pepper half with the cream cheese mixture. Set the stuffed peppers aside.

I found it easiest to use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the bacon but you can use a knife if you'd like.  First, cut the bacon slice in half width wise. Then cut each half piece in half again, this time length wise. You should now have four slender pieces, about four inches each. Continue until you have 24 pieces.

Wrap a strip of cut bacon around each stuffed pepper and secure with a tooth pick. (I used the colorful toothpicks because they're more festive :))

Prepare them for the oven:  Place a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet lined with foil. (If you do not have a cooling rack you can use the little racks from a toaster oven :)  Place each pepper on the rack.  This way the bacon grease will drip onto the cookie sheet. (You could just bake them on the cookie sheet but I saw pictures of this done both ways and I preferred the cooling rack method. The peppers turned out prettier. If they end up swimming the in bacon grease its just a little less aesthetically pleasing.  No worries. You aren't loosing any flavor buy putting them on the cooling rack.)

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until bacon is crispy and cheese is bubbly.

Serve warm or at room temperature with Ranch dip. See below for recipe.

For extra festive peppers:
I love lime (and had some left over from making the most luxurious
Layered Lime Cheesecake you've ever tasted) so I decided to squeeze some lime juice over the cooked peppers for a little extra twist. I am sure some freshly chopped cilantro sprinkled on top would also be a fun way to jazz these up. Or you could try adding some to the cheese mixture.

Ranch Dip

Remaining Hidden Valley Ranch mix (about 1 packet)
8 oz sour cream
1/4 - 1/3 cup milk

Combine all ingredients and whisk together until smooth.  
The packet specifies milk + mayonnaise for dressing-like ranch and sour cream for dip-like ranch.  Well, I wanted something in between and combined the two. I used regular skim milk but I'm sure butter milk would be good too.  Add milk gradually until you reach desired consistency. Best if chilled for a couple of hours (even better over night) to let flavors settle.


Nutritional Facts: (recipe makes 24 halves- does not include dip) 
Calories 45, Fat 3.9g, Carbs .3g, Protein 2.3g
Vitamin A 2% Calcium 2%  Iron 1%

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