These Smoky Cheddar Cornbread Poppers were a huge hit at a recent cook-out we hosted. And it wasn't just because everyone was starving. They are a great alternative for those who do not eat meat (moi) or who do not like cream cheese (my cousin Chad).
If you're a loyal reader, you know about Chaddy Choo Choo. If not, you can learn about Chad (and see photos!) here. He's like my brother, really. We look alike, we laugh alike, we think alike, and we eat alike. And he is one of only a small handful of people who can send me into a painful, ugly, breath-stealing belly laugh. He's truly one of my very best friends in the world. I think it's really saying something when you would still be friends with the people in your family even if you weren't related to them.
At the cook-out (or "barbecue" as they say here in the south, even if it doesn't involve any sort of slow cooked animal or coleslaw), I made poppers from a recipe I found thru Pinterest. It is on a site called Oh Bite It. Here's a link to her original recipe. Chad and I found them to be pretty but really bland, so we experimented until we found what we think is a perfect balance of sweet heat, corn, and spice.
In this recipe, I've listed a boxed cornbread mix as an "ingredient," but feel free to make your own from scratch. I use Krusteaz brand, and it is (I think) a 15 oz box. I prefer the regular cornbread mix but you can use the honey cornbread flavor if you like sweet heat.
Smoky Cheddar Cornbread Poppers
Makes 30-40 appetizers
15-20 jalapenos (depending on the size)
1 box cornbread mix (I use Krusteaz)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1-1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 400*.
Halve jalapenos lengthwise. Taking a small spoon (or even a grapefruit spoon), carefully scrape out the seeds and ribs. Don't touch your eyes before washing your hands well or you'll be screaming bloody murder from the pain.
Make the cornbread mix according to boxed directions. Add garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and salt and whisk. Stir in corn and 1 cup cheddar.
Fill each pepper half with cornbread mixture, paying attention not to overflow. Place on sheet pan coated with cooking spray. (You may need 2 pans)
Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and broil until melted.