As you all know...it's FOOTBALL season!!! I'm just coming down from the euphoria of watching Auburn squeak by Mississippi State tonight. (I HATE those cowbells!!! It was so annoying not being able to hear the commentators over the racket! AND it's against the SEC rules to shake them during plays. But did anyone care? NO!!!) Let me get back to my thoughts...FOOTBALL SEASON means tailgating...whether at the actual GAME or watching the game on TV. And that means...GOOD FOOD!
When MacDaddy and I head to Auburn for games, our friends insist that we bring Cuban sandwiches (something I first did when AU played my alma mater, USF (Univ. of South FL...in Tampa). I brought a little taste of Tampa with me to honor my Bulls (hey...football is still new to USF... Ya gotta celebrate somehow! Guess who won that game...) Sandwiches are fine...and these are delicious. But...you need more than that. So here's a simple recipe that always gets raves...
Jalapeno Popper Spread
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
1/2 jar diced jalapeno peppers*, plus some of the juice (more or less, to taste)
Parmesan Cheese, shredded (I use freshly grated cheese, adding some to the spread and enough to cover the top.)
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs (actually, I just sprinkle on top until the spread is covered)
Fold the peppers and juice into the softened cream cheese. Put the mixture into an oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan Cheese on top, to cover. Sprinkle the Panko crumbs on top. Bake at 350 degrees until warmed through. Serve with pita chips, baguette slices, tortilla chips, etc.
*I use Mt. Olive Diced Jalapenos.
**There are many versions of this dip online...some call for mayo and green chilis, some add cheddar or Mexican cheese blends. They're all very good. Since I am not a big fan of mayo in spreads, I try to leave it out. The result is a lighter version of the spread. Just play with this recipe...make it your own.
(football photo from msnbc.com)