September 16, 2015

Fall Garden Harvest: Jalapeno Poppers and Basil Pesto

Football season has returned! And while it's a strange time of year when football and sailing season overlap, I so enjoy the return of fall Sundays spent inside watching TV, eating hearty football fare, and drinking a few beers in the afternoon. 

This past Sunday was actually not sailing weather out on Casco Bay, so we were free to enjoy the games guilt-free. As has become an annual tradition, we harvested our garden's jalapeno plant and made poppers out of our spicy, bountiful pepper harvest. 

Purple gloves and jalapeno poppers means football - go Ravens!

First, A. squeezed his man hands into my gloves and began preparing the peppers - slicing and deseeding them. I prepared the filling of cream cheese and shredded cheddar. 

Is it just me, or is the availability of cream cheese-filled jalapeno poppers diminishing? I have no time for cheddar cheese-filled peppers; the one true, correct option for stuffing spicy peppers with is cream cheese. 

We then just coat the stuffed peppers in egg wash and breadcrumbs and freeze some for future football games. Just thinking about a freezer full of poppers for snowy football Sundays makes me feel cozy. 

While frying is obviously the best way to cook a jalapeno popper, baking is a nice sane substitute. (Maybe Santa will bring me a Fry Daddy? Hello, football Santa?) Bake them at 350*F for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden and some have started to ooze. 

Try topping your poppers with seedless raspberry or blackberry jam - far superior to serving them with sour cream or Ranch dressing, since that verges on creaminess overkill. 

I also pulled up half of my gigantic basil plant (tree) to make some pesto for the freezer. 

I whizzed up a relatively small batch (about a cup) in my food processor with Parmesan, walnuts, garlic, and olive oil. But there's still tons left in the garden, so I'll make another batch and freeze it...but then what? 

I don't find pesto heats well (cheese melts, the oil breaks) and it often becomes mealy in the freezer. I don't particularly enjoy pasta salads tossed with pesto - they're always dry and lacking. Which is too bad, because when it's fresh, basil pesto is amazing. If you have good pesto uses, please let me know!

These frozen herb silicone starter trays are made by Ball and are available online or in some big box stores. You can also use an ice cube tray - either way, I transfer the cubes to a freezer-grade plastic ziptop bag, labeled and dated, after they're frozen.