BACON WRAPPED JALAPENO POPPERS

Bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers finished and ready to eat.
Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers are easy to make and a bit hit at parties!

If you’ve ever been to a gathering of sorts, especially those where watching sports is involved, then there’s a chance you’ve had bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers. These hollowed out peppers stuffed with cheese are always a hit. But wrapped in bacon? Even better. Add a kiss of hickory smoke? Next level. I’ll explain how to make these grilled poppers in quick time.

Prepping the Poppers

For this recipe, you’ll need jalapenos, cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, chili lime seasoning, and bacon. Before you start prepping the jalapeno poppers, preheat your grill to 375 degrees with hickory wood over indirect heat. Now that you’ve done this, grab a cutting board, sharp knife, spoon, and the jalapenos. Cut the stem off the tops of the jalapenos. Next, slice them in half longways and use the spoon to scoop out the insides (seeds, rib, placenta).

Prepped and ready for the grill!

In a medium sized bowl, mix a pack of softened cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese together. Note: if you want to add a little heat to the poppers, mix in some shredded pepper jack cheese. Even hotter? Leave some of the jalapeno seeds in. Take the spoon and scoop the cheeses into the sliced jalapenos. Sprinkle the chili lime seasoning on top. Now grab the strips of bacon and wrap one strip around one jalapeno popper. To keep the bacon from unraveling during the cook, I suggest wrapping the bacon a little tighter. Tucking in the ends of the bacon strips will help. Once this is done, sprinkle a little more chili lime seasoning on top.

Bringing the Poppers Together

Place the bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers on a baking sheet and cook on the grill for 30 minutes. Remember, the grill should be at 375 degrees with indirect heat and smell of hickory. If you have a cooling rack that fits the size of your baking sheet, then put the jalapeno poppers on that while they cook as to not get the bottoms too crispy/burnt.

Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers are easy to make and a winner at parties!

After 30 minutes, the bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers are done. Some folks like their bacon cooked to different degrees. If you want your bacon more crispy, then consider cooking a little longer. With the bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers done, you are now ready to be the hit of the party! That is, if you don’t keep them all to yourself. Note: if you’d like a different appetizer or side dish to try, may I suggest some elotes (Mexican street corn).

The Recipe!

Yield: 24 poppers

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers finished and ready to eat.

Become the hit of the party with this easy recipe for bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers! Simply combine cream cheese and cheddar cheese in hollowed-out jalapeno halves and wrap them in bacon. Keto friendly, too. Easy win!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 jalapenos, halved and scooped out
  • 1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons chili lime seasoning
  • 24 strips bacon

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 375 degrees over indirect heat. Cut jalapenos in half, slicing long ways. Take spoon to scoop out seeds. In separate bowl, combine cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Place mix into each jalapeno half. Wrap filled jalapeno halves with one strip of bacon each. Apply chili lime seasoning on top when done.
  2. Place bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers on cooling rack or baking sheet and place in grill for 30 minutes or until bacon is to desired crispiness. Remove when done.
  3. Enjoy!

Notes

1. Place bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers on cooking rack for more even cook and bacon crispiness.

2. Speaking of crisp of bacon, for each person this differs. This may take longer than 30 minutes to reach your desired crispiness.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24 servings

Serving Size:

1 popper

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120Total Fat: 8.3gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 220mgCarbohydrates: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g

NOTE: Nutrition information isn't always accurate.

Elotes (Mexican Street Corn)

Elotes make a great side dish to your grilled meats or a great snack on their own!

In the movie Nacho Libre, Esqueleto (Nacho Libre’s sidekick) can be seen throughout the film eating corn on a cob on a stick, known as elotes. There’s a particular scene where Jack Black’s character is offered some elotes and Jack Black swats it away and says, “Get that corn outta my face!” to much laughter to those of us watching. But if you knew how good these were, you probably would’ve cried instead!

Corn on the cob (elotes in Spanish) is a classic American side dish that the good folks of Mexico have taken to the next level by putting things such as spices, mayo, and lime on them. Elotes go great with practically any meal you cook on the grill (and goes well with these barbacoa tacos). It’s a fast, simple recipe and will make your friends and family think you’re a grilling wizard!

What ingredients do I need for elotes?

Round up your ingredients for the elotes.

The ingredients for the elotes are simple and go as follows:

  • corn on the cob
  • mayonnaise
  • chili lime seasoning (or your favorite spicy rub)
  • fresh lime juice
  • diced cilantro
  • grated cotija cheese

How do I get going?

First off, fire up your grill and get it to around 400 degrees. While you’re waiting for it to heat up, shuck the corn (if you purchased it in the husk). Pull back the husks and leave them on if you want to have a makeshift handle for your elotes. This is one of the traditional ways to serve it. Another way is to poke a wooden skewer into it to act as a handle. Or you can go without a handle and eat it however you want.

Grill the corn over direct heat at 400 degrees.

Place the corn on the grill over direct heat and rotate a quarter turn every 4-5 minutes. Bonus points if you can get some of the corn kernels a little charred. Keep rotating until you get the desired look for your corn on all sides. Remove from grill and place on cutting board for the finishing touches.

The final steps for elotes

Action shot of me finalizing the elotes. Thanks to Kita Roberts for capturing this shot!

Now that the corn on the cob is grilled and on the board, it’s ready for the next steps! Take mayo and rub it all over the corn (mayo in a squeeze bottle would be helpful here). Next, squeeze some lime over the elotes. Then take a chili lime seasoning (such as Tajin or even Fire rub from Sasquatch BBQ and Spiceology) and sprinkle on as desired.

For your cotija cheese, get a cheese grater and grate over the elotes. You can either rotate the cob and cover completely or just on the tops. If you are unfamiliar with cotija cheese, it’s like a salty parmasean. Since your chili lime seasoning may have a decent amount of salt flavoring to it, grate at your own discretion. Then finally, dice up some fresh cilantro and sprinkle on top of the elotes.

If you’re wondering how many to make for your group, I usually suggest to take the number of people in your group and add a few extra in case some folks want seconds…or if someone pulls a Jack Black and swats your elotes out of your hands.

The recipe!

Yield: 6 servings

Elotes (Mexican Steet Corn)

Elotes (Mexican Steet Corn)

Corn on the cob (elotes in Spanish) is a classic American side dish that the good folks of Mexico have taken to the next level by putting things such as spices, mayo, and lime on them. Elotes go great with practically any meal you cook on the grill. It's a fast, simple recipe and will make your friends and family think you're a grilling wizard!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 corn on the cob
  • 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons chili lime seasoning
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • 4 Tablespoons cotija cheese, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, diced

Instructions

1. Preheat grill to 400 degrees over direct heat. Place shucked ears of corn on grill and rotate a quarter turn every 4-5 minutes, getting some or most of corn kernels with a light to medium char. Remove when fully cooked.

2. In order, apply mayo, chili lime seasoning, lime juice, cotija cheese, and cilantro. Treat yo self!

Notes

1. One option for serving is to keep the husks on the corn, peeled back when they hit the grill. The husks can be used as a handle. Or you can take a food skewer and poke in one end and serve on a stick (like a corn dog).

2. Some of the ingredients can be applied before hitting the grill, such as mayo, seasoning, and lime. Make sure the cotija cheese and cilantro go on at the end.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1 corn on cob

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 300mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2.5gSugar: 5gProtein: 4g

NOTE: Nutrition information isn't always accurate.

Southern Corn Pudding

Southern corn pudding is the comfort food you never knew you needed.

My introduction to Southern corn pudding came when I went up to the From the Ashes BBQ festival up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Anthony DiBernardo, of Swig & Swine in South Carolina, had this side dish he was cooking in a large cauldron and immediately caught my interest.

Combining ingredients such as cream cheese, jalapeño, and, believe it or not, corn, this side dish became one of my favorite things I’ve ever eaten! And with permission from Anthony himself, I now share with you this side dish that will rival your main course at your next cookout!

How do I get started?

The sautéed corn, onion, and jalapeño are key to this recipe.

First things first, make sure to get an 8 oz block of cream cheese and let it sit out long enough to soften. Now to get started on your corn pudding, take four ears of corn and use a knife to cut the kernels off. You can either set them aside or put them right into a skillet. Next, slice about half and onion and cut it julienne, meaning long thin strips. Then dice a small jalapeño (whether or not the seeds are left in is up to you). Put these ingredients in a large skillet on medium heat for sauté-ing. You’re gonna want that little bit of char on there because the flavor and the crisp of it will stand out. Once you have sautéed the corn, onion, and jalapeño, set aside.

The rest of the ingredients

For the next steps of this Southern corn pudding, you’ll need a hand mixer and a medium or large sized bowl. Mix the softened cream cheese and three eggs together until smooth. It may take a little while to mix until smooth depending on how soft you got the cream cheese.

Mix it all together…but don’t forget the shredded cheddar cheese!

Once the cream cheese and eggs are blended together in smooth harmony, pour in a cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of self rising cornmeal, two teaspoons of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. Oh, and the shredded cheddar cheese. You’ll want at least two cups of that. Mix all of these ingredients together, folding in the corn, onion, and jalapeño from earlier.

Time for the dutch oven!

Cooking outdoors in a Dutch oven is ideal, but this dish will also turn out just fine in your oven, as well.

Pour your mixed concoction of Southern corn pudding from the bowl into a greased dutch oven. Since I’m putting this on the grill over indirect heat (or hung about a foot above a fire as seen in this picture), I’m doing this in the cast iron dutch oven. Cook uncovered at 325F for 30-40 minutes. You can tell when it’s done by digging a spoon in and it comes out mostly clean. Pull off the grill and let it sit out for a few minutes before serving. This will serve about 8-10. Feel free to double the recipe for a bigger group. In fact, you may want to double it anyway so you can have seconds…or leftovers!

The recipe!

Yield: 8-10 servings

Corn Pudding

Corn Pudding

Corn pudding is the comfort food you never knew you needed. It is the perfect compliment for any BBQ main dish. Combining ingredients such as corn, cream cheese, and jalapeño, you may just want to make a batch to eat by itself!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1/2 onion, julienne
  • 1- 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup self-rising cornmeal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Shave ears of corn, dice jalapeño, and slice half an onion julienne. Put these ingredients in a skillet and sauté. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, use a mixer to combine softened cream cheese and eggs until smooth. Add heavy cream, sugar, cornmeal, salt, pepper, shredded cheddar cheese. Mix until incorporated. Fold in sautéed corn, jalapeño, and onion.
  3. Pour mixture into greased cast iron dutch oven and cook on grill over indirect heat at 325F uncovered for 30-40 minutes.

Notes

1. If you can't find self-rising cornmeal, combine almost a 1/2 Cup of cornmeal with a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Makes the ideal substitute.

2. You can make this in your oven and not even use a dutch oven.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8-10

Serving Size:

6 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 170gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 477mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 9g

Nutritional information isn't always accurate.

Smoked Jalapeño Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

This smoked jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese is ready for its closeup.

While the BBQ meat is the main event on the plate, you can’t overlook the supporting cast: the side dishes. I’d like to think the sides you make should be good enough to eat on your own after the BBQ is all gone. This smoked jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese has been a hit with my friends and I think it’s worthy to share.

MAKING THE MAC

Mixing it up in the Instant Pot!

You may be wondering if you cook the smoked jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese all on the smoker. While there may be some recipes out there that call for it, this one does not. You can cook this indoors either on the stove or in the Instant Pot. For the Instant Pot, take a 16 oz bag of elbow macaroni (I prefer the large elbows), four cups of water, three tablespoons of butter, and two teaspoons of salt. Set the Instant Pot for four minutes and when you are done with the venting afterward, remove the lid and switch to sauté. Then add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups of medium cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 cups of pepper jack cheese, and a diced up jalapeño. Mix until cheese is melted.

SMOKING THAT JALAPEÑO PEPPER JACK MAC AND CHEESE

Now that the mac and cheese is done cooking, it’s time to add that smoked flavor! Pour your jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese into a foil pan, preferably a little larger than 8×8 (I’ve tried that and not all of it fits. But if you want something to snack on while the rest of it smokes…). Feel free to top with something like bread crumbs to give it a little more texture. I used some jalapeño cheddar pork rinds and crumbled them up and poured over the mac and cheese in the foil pan.

Substituting bread crumbs for chicharrones (a variation of pork rinds) can alter the flavor.

Put the soon-to-be smoked jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese on the grill at 225 degrees over indirect heat. We keep it that low because the mac and cheese is already cooked and you don’t want to dry out the noodles. For the smoke flavor, I prefer to go with hickory wood on this one. Let it cook for 30 minutes. Remove from grill and dig in!

THE RECIPE!

Smoked Jalapeño Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Smoked Jalapeño Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Kick your basic mac and cheese up a notch by adding some jalapeño and pepper jack cheese. Top with jalapeño cheddar pork rinds and give it a kiss of hickory smoke to complete the side dish!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 oz large elbow macaroni noodles
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • OPTIONAL: handful of crushed pork rinds for topping

Instructions

  1. Place water, macaroni noodles, butter, and salt together in Instant Pot. Seal vent and set on Manual for 4 minutes. Preheat grill/smoker to 225 degrees on indirect heat with hickory wood.
  2. Once the Instant Pot beeps when the 4 minutes is up, turn the top knob from sealing to venting. Once venting is completed, remove lid and set to sauté. Pour in heavy whipping cream, both cheeses, and diced jalapeño. Stir until cheese is fully melted.
  3. Pour mac and cheese into a foil pan (preferably something a little bigger than 8x8), top with crumbled pork rinds (optional) and put on grill for 30 minutes. Remove and serve.

Notes

  1. The pork rinds (or chicharrones if you prefer) are optional, but do add to the flavor and provide some texture. Substitute bread crumbs if you prefer.
  2. Check noodles after 15-20 minutes to make sure they don't dry out.
  3. If you want to kick up the heat, you can do one of the following: include the seeds from your diced jalapeño; substitute pickled jalapeño; or substitute for a serrano pepper.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1 Cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 425Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 675mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 10g

Smoked Chicken Wings

 

Smoked chicken wings...and drumsticks!
Smoked chicken wings…and drumsticks!

I’ve been looking for an excuse to smoke chicken wings because my family isn’t big on eating them. Wings always remind me of watching sports with friends and family and I figured the best time to make these is when we gather for a big game. But it’s March and being a baseball and college football fan, neither of my favorite sports are in season.  Fortunately, the NCAA basketball tournament came to the rescue! Since most of us who fill out brackets pay little attention to college hoops and suddenly think we’re experts and tune in once March Madness begins, this would be a great time to have people over and cook up some wings. I had those intentions, but life’s been a little crazy ever since my wife and I welcomed our newborn twins into this world earlier this month. After a little bit of effort, I convinced the Mrs. to let me do a food experiment with them. I’m sure it had nothing to do with her being exhausted at all. I followed a chicken wing recipe of Jeff Phillips at www.smoking-meat.com and deviated just a little from it.

Meat: 3.5 lbs. Chicken wings (and drumsticks)

Ingredients (marinade): 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup rub

Ingredients (glaze): 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup ginger ale, 2 Tablespoons of honey

Wood: Pecan

Smoke Temp.: 240°F/115.6°C

Time: 2 hours

Broiler (optional): 2-3 minutes each side

Finish Temp.: 170°F/76.6°C

When looking for chicken wings, I just went to my local grocery store and picked up a package of Tyson brand, although any brand should do. I like the meat on drumsticks and they are easier for me to eat, so I picked up a pack of those, as well. All in all, I have about 3.5 pounds of meat.

As long as they're not expired, any brand of wings will do.
As long as they’re not expired, any brand of wings will do.

I brought these home and tossed them in a gallon-sized ziploc bag, which fit all the meat with room to spare. Next, I tossed about 1/3 C olive oil and 1/2 C of rub, which I did a mix of both Plowboys Yardbird Rub and Loot N’ Booty Gold Star Chicken Rub because…well, because I can. I zipped up the bag and put it in the fridge overnight.

These wings are in the bag.
These wings are in the bag.

Next, I went out to the smoker, heated up some coals, threw on some pecan wood, got it to about 240°F, and put the wings in.

Ain't no thing but a chicken wing.
Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing.

At about the 90-minute mark, I made a glaze that was a simple mix of BBQ sauce, honey, and ginger ale.

Here are the three amigos I used for the glaze.
Here are the three amigos I used for the glaze.

Thirty minutes later (two hours total), and moving them a little closer to the firebox, the wings got to the temp I was looking for, which is between 170-180°F. This is a little warmer than the 165°F that poultry is considered done at, but heating it up to the 170-180°F range gives it more of a fall-off-the-bone chew to it. Even though these are now technically done, I pull them off the smoker and put them in the broiler to get more of a crispy skin that wings usually have.

On the tanning bed ready to get a little crispy.
On the tanning bed ready to get a little crispy.

I put them in for a couple of minutes on each side to get more crisp. However, it didn’t seem to do much. I’ve come to learn that smoked wings won’t get the same crisp that good old-fashioned wings do, but the flavor of your favorite wood infused into your chicken will more than make up for it. I chose pecan because I love that mild, tasty flavor it brings. Feel free to use your favorite, but I do recommend at least trying the pecan.

Smoked chicken wings...and drumsticks!
The finished product tasted just as good as it looked!

Give it a shot and feel free to share what you think!