If you want to be a Potluck Rock Star, this is your Gateway Dish!
This winter, while we were keeping warm in Florida for a few weeks, we were invited to a house party. The price of admission was a platter of finger food.
I had just picked up a huge bag of multi-colored, baby bell peppers, rarely found in the mid-Atlantic. So, I stuffed a dozen of them with a creamy-yet-slightly-lumpy bleu cheese concoction, wrapped them in bacon and asked Mr. Nest threw them on the grill.
When we arrived that evening, they were added to a serving table already groaning with platters of yumminess. Within three and a half minutes, our bleu cheese poppers had completely disappeared.
Two nights later, close friends were hosting their own party and we were asked to bring “those pepper appetizers you brought to Joni’s!” So, we doubled the recipe and watched people close to the table devour every one of them in 4 minutes. Flat!
Ever since then, everybody’s been asking for “those bleu cheese popper thingies”.
Months later, we were asked yet again to bring them to be served at a neighborhood gathering on the mid-Atlantic coast. While preparing this truly scrumptious treat, it occurred to us that some of you might like to know how we make these very popular bleu cheese poppers!
WARNING! Grilled Bleu Cheese Poppers with Bacon are addictive!!! Bring this dish to one party and you’ll be making it repeatedly over the next year, or so, for every party invitation you receive. The Good News is you’ll become very popular! The Bad News, people might not be loving you for you. Oh, well! At least you won’t have to perfect your mingling skills to be invited to a full season of shindigs!
Grilled Bleu Cheese Poppers (with Bacon!)
Number of portions of this recipe are easily adjusted up or down. The trick with larger quantities is to grill them in batches.
Serves: 24 pieces; 8 people; 3 stuffed peppers per person
What’s in it …
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4+ cup chunky bleu cheese dressing
5-ounce package crumbled bleu cheese
1/4 teaspoon unrefined, coarse salt (I use Aztec Sea Salt or Celtic Sea Salt, grey)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black or mixed pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Ground white pepper, to taste (optional)
24 mini-bell peppers (the small ones, roughly 1.5 inches wide by 3-ish inches long)
. . . (click here just to see the size and color peppers we use)
12 slices (uncured) bacon, cut in half (for 24 pieces)
Special equipment to make things easy …
You might notice that there is (unfortunately) nothing Dairy-Free about these babies! Since I must stay away from all cow milk products, they are off my diet. Yet I still get requests for these every month or so!
BTW … I always use organic ingredients and uncured bacon whenever possible. Even for something as blatant as this.
BTW2 … I am working on finding a great way of making these with no cow milk products. If you’ve seen the list of ingredients, you know this is a challenge. When I find a delicious rendition that is dairy-free (these are already gluten-free), you can be sure I’ll share it with great excitement!
How to pull them together …
30 minutes before starting, put the toothpicks in a small bowl with warm water. Anchor them under the water by putting something heavy on top (like a mason jar, filled with water and capped, or an unopened can of baked beans). Let soak at least 30 minutes before using.
Place softened cream cheese into a medium-sized, glass mixing bowl. Add dressing, salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Whisk until the mixture is creamy with some small lumps of bleu cheese.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your preference. We like the slight heat from white pepper and usually add a bit at this point. If the filling tastes great now, it will taste great at the end!
Prepare a large bowl of lukewarm water with 2 to 3 drops lemon essential oil*. Swirl the water to (temporarily) mix in the lemon essential oil, and drop peppers into the water. Let peppers sit in the water for a few minutes, occasionally swishing them around., then rinse each pepper, rubbing under warm water. Remove to a drying pad or paper towels.
* Lemon Essential Oil will help release dirt, and dissolve wax and pesticides.
Stef’s Note …
I often substitute 1/4 white vinegar when I don’t have lemon essential oil handy.
Cut about 1/3-inch to 1/2-inch off the tip of each pepper, leaving the stem end intact. I use a blunt table knife to gently release the seeds and ribs inside, then shake them out of the pepper into the sink or trash. Lay peppers onto a sided baking sheet in rows. Set aside.
Prepare and assemble the pastry bag and tube. Spoon mixture into bag and close top of the bag so the cheese mixture won’t back up onto you.
Insert the end of the pastry tube into the opening of a pepper where the tip used to be. Squeeze mixture into the pepper until it is about 3/4 full of cheese. Set back onto the baking sheet. Repeat until all peppers are filled.
Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight, covered lightly with cloth or plastic wrap.
THIS IS WHERE MR. NEST STEPS IN:
Preheat grill to low heat. Put aluminum foil onto the grill and cut a few slices along the grid to allow escaped juices and cheese to drip through.
Wrap stuffed, chilled mini-peppers with 1/2 slice bacon, securing it with a skewer pushed through and out the opposite side.
Once the grill is heated, lay the stuffed peppers in rows and close the top. Grill, covered, for about 5 to 10 mins (check the peppers after 5 minutes) until the peppers are starting to blacken on the bottom. Rotate so the cooked side is up and continue grilling another 5 to 10 minutes (again, check after 5 minutes). My Grilling Master (Mr. Nest) says it usually takes roughly 15 to 20 minutes total.
Arrange on tray and serve. Or wrap appropriately for transport.
AND THIS IS WHERE THE TWO OF US SHARE THE CREDIT:
You have now become the most popular cook at the party!
(For maximum effect, place your Popper Platter on the food table with Great Flourish so Everyone knows it was You who brought their Favorite Party Food.)