Appetizers · Vegetarian

Jalapeño Popper Dip

There are some cultures that believe food preferences reflect one’s personality.

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I learned this from my best friend in college, who I talked a little bit about in this post. She would tell me how in Chinese cuisine, they have five main tastes. Sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, and sour. I already knew about this from a decent amount of reading I’d done on Traditional Chinese Medicine, but what I didn’t know was that many Chinese people believe one can learn a lot about a person by what his favorite foods are.

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A simple example would be, if a person loves sweets, he is likely a sweet natured person. It gets more complex, but it reminds me a lot of palm or face reading. I don’t know about you, but I’m always interested in that kind of stuff.

I think it makes total sense. Because I spend a lot of my time cooking for people, I always take note of likes and dislikes. If I’m being honest, I don’t do this very objectively. A lot of thoughts go through my mind when a person tells me they don’t care for desserts. Lots of thoughts.

While I’ll eat most everything, I have a hard time with spicy food. The heat typically obstructs the other flavors in a dish and after a bite I’m done. Mild for me, all the way. I like my salsa to basically be tomato sauce with cilantro in it. Honey BBQ on the chicken wings. Leave the spicy mayo off the hamachi roll.

So when walking through the grocery store yesterday the words “jalapeño popper dip” crossed my mind, I was blind-sighted. I wasn’t even near the produce, but back I went to grab some of those spicy little green peppers.

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I think it’s been over fifteen years since I’ve eaten an actual jalapeño popper, and the only place I’ve ever had one was Burger King. BK is the best fast food restaurant in my opinion, but I lived less than 500ft from one for four years in Hartford and never once went in. I think I grew to resent it for composing 50% of the view from my kitchen window. The other 50% being filled in by a pizza house, a liquor store, and a KFC.

One day I was lamenting to my neighbor how living in a city, I missed being able to just take a walk through the woods without first getting in my car. He said “Sara, don’t be so negative. Burger King is lovely this time of year.”

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BK was a semi regular stop for my mom and I when I was a kid. I was a big fan of the onion rings and apple pie. That lady loved her jalapeño poppers, eating each in a single bite and tossing away the stems.

When I got home yesterday and started making this Jalapeño Popper Dip, I could hardly believe what I was doing. I couldn’t possibly like the result, considering my opinion on all things spicy. I seeded the peppers and rinsed them. Then washed my hands four times because jalapeño peppers and small cuts do not mix. Ouch. Be careful if your hands are roughed up like mine!

The base of the dip is made from whipping cream cheese to create that fluffy filling I remember being stuffed inside the peppers. I added a mix of mayo and sour cream because that combo has never failed me in dips I’ve made in the past. Along with the peppers I folded in a dash of garlic powder and some shredded Mexican-style cheese. Knowing the crispy fried coating is what makes jalapeño poppers so “poppable,” I opted to use a combo of extra crunchy panko and melted butter, with some parmesan and more Mexican cheese to help it form a “crust.”

A little under a half hour later, I pulled the dip from the oven and let it cool a bit. I went at it with a chip, my glass of water ready, bracing myself to be overwhelmed by the spiciness. Well I forgot all about that glass of water because I got too busy polishing off half of the dish.

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I never could have expected I’d like this so much. I’ve made quite a few dips in the past, but this Jalapeño Popper Dip could really be the best. I’m gonna be bold and say it might even trump Spinach and Artichoke Dip…! My original thought was that tortilla chips would be the best vessel for dipping, but do you know what I ended up doing? I spooned it on top of some leftover spaghetti squash and ate it with a fork. I know, I felt like a serious weirdo even as I was doing it, but it was so good. Because of all that crunchy topping, I found I liked it better on raw vegetables as opposed to adding even more salty crunch from chips. But as I write that I realize most people would love that. Chips, vegetables, bread… spaghetti squash… it really doesn’t matter how you get this dip into your mouth, as long as you do so soon.

Take it from a mild-mannered girl who likes mild food. This Jalapeño Popper Dip is creamy and crunchy with just the right amount of kick. Baked instead of fried, and so much easier to make than stuffing dozens of individual little peppers. Whatever food preferences you have and no matter the kind of person you may be, you are the kind of person who likes loves Jalapeño Popper Dip.

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Jalapeño Popper Dip
Serves 6-8

Everything we love about jalapeño poppers turned into an irresistible dip. Eat it with chips, bread, vegetables, or a spoon!

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened*
  • 1/4 cup (56g) mayonnaise
  • 1/4 (60g) sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Dash each of salt & black pepper
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, rinsed, and minced (a little over 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup (114g) shredded Mexican cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup (28g) panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (30g) grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs. (48g) butter, melted

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Fold in the jalapeños and half of the Mexican cheese. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and even out the top with a rubber spatula.

In a separate bowl, stir together the panko, parmesan, and remaining Mexican cheese. Add a dash of salt, and then drizzle in the butter. Use a fork to mix the crumbs until moistened. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake the dip for 25-27 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbly at the edges. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. This dip is best served hot.


*I recommend you use brick-style cream cheese.

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