Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Groupon Tacos: Stuffed Jalapenos Two Ways

Some months ago my beautiful, hip and smart niece in Austin told me about this wonderful site she joined that had amazing deals of the day that you could purchase online and live the good life on the cheap. Hey, sounds good to me. I like living the good life and I’m pretty cheap, so count me in!

I signed up and watched and waited for the perfect opportunity to lose my Groupon virginity, taking this very seriously since at my age I don’t have much virginity left. I passed on dance lessons, massages, teeth whitening, microdermabrasion and family portraits. Then my opportunity came in the form of $40 worth of food for $20 at Lime here in Denver, so I bought two. My daughter had visited their location downtown and had returned with a good review, and since I raised her to appreciate good Mexican(ish) food, I figured I could trust her opinion. I typed in my credit card information and printed off my coupons and waited for the required 24 hours before loading up my daughter and heading over for lunch.

The next day, after running errands which took much longer than we thought they would, we arrived about 1:45 which, as I well know from working in restaurants, is about the time the chef goes home and leaves the dishwasher do the cooking. Since I knew this might be the case, I thought I’d ask our bartender/waiter what he recommended. He liked the chicken sandwich or the Scorpions (or some cute sounding name like that) which was one of their appetizer specialties.

Since I didn’t lose my Groupon virginity for a sandwich I went with the steak fajitas and the Scorpion Bites which turned out to be shrimp stuffed jalapenos wrapped in wonton wrappers and fried. Well, long story short, the wonton wrappers were chewy and tough and the fajitas were baked. To add insult to injury we got to sit in the bar with the manager and listen to her phone in the restaurant’s liquor order way too loudly during most of our lunch.

I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t just this grumpy old woman’s take on things, my daughter was bugged by it too and it takes a lot to rattle her. I think it may have been the off duty waiter pacing around arguing over the phone in the lounge area on the other side of us that pushed her over the edge. Employee rudeness in stereo! Oh well, lesson learned, next time I buy a Groupon I’ll read the reviews BEFORE I purchase it. So here I am with one more Lime coupon left, looking for a silver lining. We figure since we know that they are well stocked for alcohol, we’ll just wait a few more weeks and go have Margaritas with it after my daughter returns home for summer break.

Now that I’ve sufficiently roasted Lime, I’ll get to my recipes. I’ve got two of them for stuffed jalapenos that I know you’re going to love. They are neither wrapped in wonton wrappers nor fried and are pretty simple to make. Beware though you must wear gloves when you are preparing the jalapenos or risk hours of excruciating pain. Believe me I know this one from an experience when I was working for caterer Chris, so heed my warning.

The first recipe is a great warm appetizer for those long lazy summer nights ahead, just perfect with a cold Corona. The good thing about this recipe is the longer you bake the jalapenos, the milder they get so they can also appeal to those who don't care for ultra-spicy food. The second recipe is a cold version that I always include on relish platters for summer barbeques. It adds that little bit of punch that goes perfectly with smoked meat and potato salad.


Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Fresh Jalapenos

8 large fresh jalapenos
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
3 slices crisp bacon, chopped (precooked real bacon bits can be used in a pinch with pretty good results)
2 green onions, white and light green parts finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut jalapenos in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membranes with a small spoon; set aside.

In a medium size bowl, blend the cream cheese, cheddar, bacon, onion, cilantro and garlic, stir well to blend completely.

Spoon even amounts of filling into the jalapeno halves and place on a cookie sheet then into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until they are golden brown and bubbly. For a milder flavor, continue to cook for up to 10 additional minutes, but be advised as they get milder the peppers also soften and lose their shape.


Olive Stuffed Pickled Jalapenos

8 large pickled jalapenos
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pimento stuffed green olives
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or green onion
Paprika for garnish

Cut jalapenos in half lengthwise and scoop out insides with a small spoon; set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the cream cheese, olives, garlic and onion; mix well. Spoon equal amounts of the cream cheese mixture into the jalapeno halves. Sprinkle with paprika before serving.
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