The Pick-Up: CSA Challenge: Hola jalapenos

As summer slipped into September, I realized I could no longer ignore the bounty of jalapenos in my refrigerator. I think I had about 24. I had lot of recipes that used one or two of the peppers at a time, but I needed something that would put a real dent in the supply.

Jalapeno poppers came to mind. I'd never had one before, despite having lived most of my adult life in Texas, where the jalapeno is as common as Old Bay seasoning is in Maryland.

I found a couple of recipes that looked interesting — one on and one on — and decided to try them both with some modifications. Basically, for a popper, you cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and the veins so you have a little green bowl. Fill the bowl with some kind of cheese-based concoction — or just cheese — and stick it in the oven, where the rich roasted flavor of the pepper develops. These poppers are less about heat and more about a deep flavor. They'd be great as appetizers on a warm night with a cold margarita or on a colder fall day, huddling in with beer and snacks for some football on the tube.

I also whipped up some jalapeno-and-cheddar biscuits that were so good my husband I decided to eat them with every meal for the next few days. Good with eggs! Great with tacos! Just a good snack!

While our CSA pickups will continue through October, this will mostly likely be my last set of community-supported agriculture recipes for the season — unless something surprising pops up in our shares that must be addressed. Meanwhile, here's a brief wrap-up of my experiences as a first-time full share member of Moon Valley Farm in Cockeysville:

•At first, all the veggies every week seemed intimidating. So many of them! Pretty soon, though, I developed some simple go-to recipes for my repertoire. On the weekend, I'd map out what was in the fridge and make a plan for the meals each day of the week.

•Keeping veggies fresh in the fridge is easier than I thought, too. Many times the key to success is a plastic bag with a paper towel inside to absorb moisture.

•Composting is good for the conscience. When we failed to eat something and it went bad, we put it in the compost bucket we got at the farm, and then returned our "slop bucket" to the farm the next week.

•We ate at home a lot more this summer than we usually do. And I had lots of leftovers to take to work for lunch.

•I became a better cook. I cooked with a much wider variety of foods than I was used to. I became braver at going off-recipe and experimenting.

•Consistently eating fresh food changes you in a way that is similar to what happens when you start exercising regularly. Fresh food becomes a part of your lifestyle, and pretty soon you crave it. At some point, I stopped eating snacks from the vending machine at work simply because they didn't appeal to me anymore. My husband and I also became much pickier about food in restaurants. We noticed when food didn't taste fresh. In fact, we'd get a little outraged. Why spend money at this fancy restaurant when the food at home is so much better? What happened, I guess, is that we became addicted to healthy, organic food. I'm in sure in some ways this made us annoying to people who didn't share our obsession and got sick of us using the word "fresh" all the time.

•Fresh is the best. Even fresh jalapenos.


This recipe is super easy. Next time I try these, I might add a little onion to the filling and then add a small slice of Monterey Jack cheese for more flavor.

12 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and veins removed

Whipped cream cheese

6 slices of bacon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stuff each jalapeno half with cream cheese. Wrap a slice of bacon around the pepper and secure with a toothpick.

Cook on foil-lined baking sheet 40 minutes or so until bacon is crisp.


These are tasty even without the bacon. The recipe I used called for twice as much filling, but I only could use about half of it for 12 jalapenos, so I've scaled the amount back here. I also added in some cream cheese, which gave the mixture a better consistency and made it easier to stuff the peppers.

2 slices bacon, cooked and then crumbled

1/8 cup minced onion

1/8 cup cilantro, chopped

Dash of cumin, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste

Salt, to taste

1/8 cup cream cheese

1/8 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

12 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and veins removed

Monterey Jack, small slices for top of each popper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients except jalapenos and Monterey Jack slices together in a bowl. Stuff jalapeno halves with this filling, then top with a small slice of Monterrey Jack.

Cook on foil-lined baking sheet about 20 minutes.


I changed this recipe by leaving out the cayenne it called for and adding more jalapenos.

Makes 10-12 biscuits

1 1/3 cups flour

1/4 cup polenta

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, divided

3 tablespoons jalapenos, diced

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in 1 1/4 cups of cheese and all the jalapenos.

Make a little well in the middle of the mixture. Pour in cream. Stir a couple times, then use hands to get mixture to form into a dough. Dough will be sticky and clumpy. Add more cream if necessary but do not stir — just pull the dough together.

Put the dough on a floured surface. Knead with just three or four pushes. Form into a disk about an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter — or a narrow drinking glass — to cut round shapes from the disk. Keep combining leftover dough to form more biscuits.

Place on Slipat (or parchment) lined baking sheet with at least an inch between biscuits. Brush the top of each with a little cream, then top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 11-12 minutes until golden and the cheese is melted.

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