Baked Jalapeno Poppers - Christmas Appetizer

Holidays in my family are often centered around a meal, and they are always done pot-luck style. I look forward to those events, since I love to cook and it gives me an opportunity to prepare things that are impractical to make in small batches at home. A recent trend of mine has been to take dishes that are common at potluck gatherings and make them better, and for Christmas this year I chose to prepare Jalapeno poppers, but a little differently.

Since I have been working diligently towards weight-loss (to much success!), I decided to bake them rather than deep-fry, and use lower fat neufchâtel cheese in place of the traditional cream cheese. Additionally, I added a variety of ingredients to the filling to make it more interesting. As a final change, I made two batched, one with Jalapenos and one with mini-bell peppers, so there was a less spicy variant for family members with less heat-tolerance.

To start, I made a mixture of andouille and chorizo sausages, pickled red onions, chopped almonds, garlic and shredded radish and mixed it with the neufchâtel cheese. I chilled that while halving the peppers and cleaning out the seeds and veins. Next, I stuffed the peppers with the filling.

Just before cooking, I dredged them in egg and rolled them in panko bread crumbs that were mixed with some paprika and cayenne pepper. Finally, I baked them in the oven at around 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and then browned them for a bit under the broiler on high.

I served them with a raspberry chipotle sauce I picked up at Whole Foods. I sadly don't have any pictured of the final product, but they were a big hit, and several people asked me for the recipe.

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