Friday, January 31, 2014

Cherry Pepper Poppers - Cream Cheese, Bacon, Cheddar and Sweet Pepper Poppers

My beautiful niece stopped by to help me cook. How cool is that? For our Friday night game night snack, we whipped up some cream cheese and bacon stuffed poppers with a twist. Instead of using jalapenos, we used marinated cherry peppers, the kind you pick up at the olive bar at the supermarket.

I first saw this as a post from Bitchin' Kitchen and I knew I had to try them immediately if not sooner.  I made a test batch of six on Thursday and then decided to go for a full-sized batch on Friday.  They are the most delicious poppers I have ever tasted. Sorry jalapeno poppers, I'm dumping you for someone new.  

Let's get started. Here's what you'll need to make these delicious treats.

Marinated cherry peppers, softened cream cheese, five or six slices of cooked bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, panko bread crumbs, two eggs, flour and salt and pepper. You will also need peanut or canola oil for frying.

I like to brush the bacon with real maple syrup and then bake it on a rack sitting on a foil-lined sheet pan in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes or until crispy. The sweet and crispy glaze is fantastic. You can also coat it with brown sugar.

It looks a little burnt, but it isn't. I thoughtfully tasted it to make sure. Dice the bacon down to small pieces, so it will work well in the filling. You could also just fry the bacon in a pan and dice it if you like. If you still want the maple flavor, you could add about a teaspoon of maple syrup to your cream cheese mixture.

Let's start off by getting the oil going in a Dutch oven. You can also shallow fry these in a skillet like fried chicken. I've tried it both ways and I like the deep-fried method better. The choice is yours.

Put the softened cream cheese in a bowl and add salt and pepper.

Add the delicious maple glazed bacon.

Follow it up with the shredded cheese. Right around a cup. But make it as cheesy as you like. But it still needs to be creamy enough to pipe into a pepper.

Give it a good stir until the mixture is creamy. Taste for seasoning.

Now grab yourself a sealable Ziploc or Glad bag  and snip the end off a corner to make a piping bag. The hole needs to be small enough to fit inside a cherry pepper.

Now fill the bag with the cream cheese mixture. Only fill it about half-way.

The neat thing about these marinated peppers is that they are already cored and seeded. Remove them from the marinade and make sure to shake off any extra oil and vinegar. Turn them upside down to get it all out.

Filling them is as easy as putting the tip of the bag inside the pepper and giving it a gentle squeeze.
My niece gave me a hand! We made pretty short work of filling the peppers.

Neatness was not so important as they were getting breaded soon. You can push the filling down a little and add more to make sure the peppers are completely filled.  Now it's time for breading stations! 

Start by breaking the eggs in a bowl or container. My husband's hands are making a cameo appearance here.

Then beat the eggs just like my lovely sous chef.

I like to take a pan and put flour on one side, eggs in the middle and panko on the end.

Dip the pepper in egg and then roll in flour.

Then dip the pepper in egg again.

Then roll in the panko.

With the able assistance of my niece, we had the messy breading process finished in no time.

The coverage was a little spotty in some places. But I didn't care.  By now the oil was around 400 degrees, just right for frying.

I put them in the hot oil four at a time. My Japanese strainer, also called a spider, is perfect for this job. Hit up a kitchen supply store and get one soon if you don't already own one.

From the moment these hit the oil it only takes a couple of minutes until they turn a golden brown. Give them a stir to get brown on all side. This won't take long at all.

Put them on a paper-towel lined tray after they're ready.

Finish frying in batches of four or five, depending on the size of the pot you're using.

These poppers have a crispy, crunchy outside and a soft creamy inside. Because the peppers are marinated, they are soft and melt into the filling. The sweetness of cherry peppers is just wonderful with the smoky and sweet bacon. The cheese turns creamy, but shouldn't be blistering hot as these don't fry a very long time.

Some of the breading fell off, but these were still delicious. And none of the filling came out. Now you could make a dipping sauce for this. But these are sweet and smoky and creamy on their own.

My lovely assistant gave them a thumbs up! She said sweet and a little spicy.

I am seriously in love with these poppers! Make a batch for yourself ASAP!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dear Percy Jackson Fans

The day before yesterday I shared the exciting tale of how I managed to unintentionally offend a whole lot of Percy Jackson fans.

I was a little surprised by the behavior of these young fans. But today I was pleased to see a flood of apologies appear in my inbox where previously suggestions that I might want to off myself had appeared.

Clearly someone among the reasonable and articulate fans of Percy Jackson had pointed out this incident and these fans wanted to make sure they were not misrepresented by people with bad tempers, poor grammar and potty mouths.

Since I showed some of the negative comments, I'll share some of the heartfelt apologies I received.

I was truly heartened by the sentiment, the spelling and the grammar.

Here a lovely young lady named Sia offers some useful advice for living in general.

Listen pleasant Percy Jackson Fans who get the joke about the blue food, there's no need to apologize. You didn't do anything. And I would never paint the lot of you with the same brush as I would people who get downright threatening and abusive.

Just as I would never lump the people who were just cracking on me for not sharing their taste for blue food in with someone whose wittiest retort is "screw you muggle."

But I do appreciate hearing from polite and articulate people. So thanks for your good thoughts. And thanks for visiting my blog. There are some delicious recipes for non-blue foods. Some of you might appreciate my Marvel Movie Marathon Menu.  And before you say anything, blueberries are purple. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

And I can sympathize with your concern of a few rude apples reflecting badly on a whole group of fans. As you can see from the photo at the top, (taken during the summer of 1987)
I am a fangirl  from the dawn of fangirldom. I bleed TARDIS blue and would gladly eat a TARDIS cake or cookies. Because I really don't dislike blue foods that much. The Blue Food page is just a joke. Inspired by an old George Carlin (Google him if you are 18 or older) routine about blue food. I'd post it here, but since some of the folks I'm talking to are minors, I think I'll set an example by watching the language.

Listen, you don't know what it is to be an embarrassed fan until you've sat at a Star Trek convention and listened to some very strange dudes basically interrogate the widow of the show's creator. CRINGE!

I've been in a scuffle with an obsessive doll collector at a Barbie show. I know bad fans, they are no different from rude, confrontational people in any other situation.

They use excuses like defending a fandom, a team or whatever else they can conjure up to excuse their behavior.

There's no excuse for being rude. Or for bad spelling.

For me, being a fangirl/fanboy is about enjoying the heck out of what you like. There should never be a component of ganging up and attacking others. There's never a reason to look for a fight. It's all in good fun.

Although I do need to give a shout out to the person who said she would report me to Facebook for hate speech! You kind of made my day.

And I don't hold it against Percy and the rest of the Olympians.

Live long and prosper :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Not Eating Blue Food: How I Accidentally Enraged Adolescent Percy Jackson Fandom

I guess it all started with a blue Popsicle sometime in the late 60s or early 70s. I don't like them. They taste goofy and leave you with a bad taste of blue tongue. It was exacerbated by a series of disgusting supermarket bakery cakes with globs of blue frosting foisted on me at birthday parties. I don't do blue food. Nothing in nature is blue. Don't say blueberries or blue corn or blue potatoes. All of those things are purple. Let's flash forward 40 years or so.
About four years ago or so, I created a Facebook page. I did it as an example to show some people how you create a Facebook page. For fun I called it "Not Eating Blue Food." I thought it would be fun to see that so and so likes "Not Eating Blue Food."
I put up a few posts and photos and then pretty much left it alone. I think there were about 15 likes for the page.  Yesterday morning that changed. I started getting notifications on my phone that there were messages for "Not Eating Blue Food."  The first one I read said, "U need to die."
That seemed a bit extreme for me coming from a page that's basically only opposed to artificial food coloring.
So I checked out the page and saw posts like this:
To quote my husband, "WTH is a Percy Jackson?"  I actually have heard the title before. I do know it's a series of books for young readers and also a movie series. While I'm more than 30 years beyond being a young reader, I have read Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight and most importantly, A Series Of Unfortunate Events. Never did get around to crossing Percy Jackson off that list. Now, I don't think I'm going to.  Because frankly, his fans seem a little tense.
I mean, really tense.
But I give them credit, they are organized.
And indeed it was. Check out how many new likes my poor unloved page picked up in a couple of hours.
Uh thanks kids.  I think. I worry that you don't quite get that this page is just a joke.
I worry that the blue food coloring is harming your grammar and spelling.
Actually, I've never avoided reading anything because of the food contained within, well perhaps with the exception of "The Road." I also worry that they aren't teaching about cause and effect these days in the schools.
If a bunch of you like a page in order to yell at someone, the page will get more likes. 
I was accused multiple times of being a "smelly Gabe," whatever that might be. After a bit of research, I discovered that the character of Percy Jackson likes to eat blue food. And that somehow my page was taken as an assault on all fandom.
I admit I poked the bear a little this morning.
The response was swift.

As a long-time fangirl of Dark Shadows, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Fringe, Lost, X-Men, Smallville, X-Files, Sleepy Hollow, Sherlock Holmes in all forms, Buffy, Firefly and too much stuff to name here, I worry that some of these kids are picking up that nasty, gang-up on the other guys type of fandom that is more about forming a pack and picking on others than just enjoying the heck out the stuff you love. Maybe not, I know a lot of the posting was just in good fun like this from Keep Calm and Eat Blue Food.
But I'm not too happy with the private message suggesting I ought to kill myself. Over blue food. Really kid? From your Facebook profile, you look like a pretty normal 12 or 13 year old. Not a nice thing to say. So I will be getting hold of your parents. Yes, I can find them. I've worked in the news business for a lot of years. Finding folks on the Internet is kind of a thing I do. I won't be doing  it because I want to get you in trouble, but because I'd like to keep you out of trouble. If you'd say that over blue food, what might you say to some kid in your class who ticked you off. And how would you feel if he or she took your advice?
So that's the story of how I accidentally enraged the tween set with something I did years ago. Want to know something funny? I don't even care that much about blue food. You won't find me swilling blue Gatorade, but I've never turned down a blue M&M. And TARDIS blue is my favorite color.
And that's why I will likely never read Percy Jackson, despite the fact that it's apparently the greatest book  in the history of ever.
 And Percy Jackson, I ain't scared of you. As you can see above, I have a friend with a magic blue box that's bigger on the inside. And while I love blue skies and blue flowers, have an entire palette of eye shadow in glittery blue, have worn blue lipstick and have a dark blue living room, I stay away from blue food coloring. I think you should, too.

Live long and prosper
UPDATE 1/24/2012:  The olive branch has been extended from Mt. Olympus

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Saying Bad Things vs. Doing Bad Things

I've been pondering the reaction to well-know people saying unpleasant things versus the reaction to them doing unpleasant things.

By reaction, I don't mean from individuals in general, but from the press and from showbiz types.

Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty made some sexually graphic comments about not seeing what dudes saw in other dudes when ladies were available and spoke of his religious belief that homosexual behavior is a sin. He also said that black people seemed happy to him under segregation. Which I suppose it is possible it may have seemed that way to him, he probably wasn't spending a lot of time with any black know segregation and all. But you would think he might have picked up that wasn't the case when people began to protest.

Then this Juan Pablo guy from the Bachelor gave an interview where he said that he didn't think gay guys would work for the bachelor because "gays were more pervert" and people wouldn't accept it. He later blamed the comments on his poor grasp of English, saying he was looking for a word that meant inclined to public displays of affection. Again, it's possible. I don't know how well he grasps English. I find just about everything about The Bachelor to be pretty icky, so I don't know what would cross the line for Bachelor Viewers.

But the reaction from the people who employ these guys was pretty swift. Robertson was suspended and Juan Pablo publicly rebuked. And they both got a ton of criticism. Robertson was reinstated after a backlash from fans who argued that everybody is entitled to an opinion and that they have crazy old people in their family as well.

Then I look at the reaction to Woody Allen. Here's a dude that took up with the sister of his children, the child of his current girlfriend. She had just turned 18 at the time, but it appeared the relationship had been going on prior to that.  His girlfriend Mia Farrow discovered the relationship when she found nude photos of the girl at his apartment. The dude was having sex with a girl, who for all intents and purposes was his stepdaughter. Allen never denied it, in fact he went on to marry Soon-Yi Previn. He's also never showed an ounce of remorse for his behavior.  In fact, he's always seemed puzzled that anyone would care.

The reaction? He's still a highly respected director whose work gets nominated for Academy Awards. In fact it's his children who no longer speak to him who are criticized. Allen and certain circles seem puzzled as to why you'd quit speaking to your dad just because he married your sister.

His daughter publicly claimed that he molested her when she was seven. Did people call for boycott of Allen?  Should cable networks pull Woody Allen movies?

What about Roman Polanski. He was accused of drugging and raping a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with statutory rape, but if you've ever read the complaint, there was nothing statutory about that assault. But the girl had previous sexual experience and the D.A. thought that would hurt her in court, so they got Polanksi to agree to a lesser charge in exchange for a guilty plea. The he fled the country. He's continued to make critically acclaimed movies, win awards and spend time with a lot of young women.

The reaction from most of those showbiz types, is "Why is law enforcement picking on such a talented artist? Why can't he come back to the U.S?

Huh?   Is saying bad things somehow worse than doing bad things?

I'm tempted to wonder if it's because The Bachelor and backwoods Duck Dynasty guy aren't considered high-class and Polanski and Allen's work is. Or more disturbingly is it because Allen and Polanksi's behaviors involved young women and maybe they don't take that particularly seriously. Hollywood is all about sexualizing very young women.

Take the Mel Gibson example. He was pulled for driving drunk and went on a bizarre manic rant about Jews and also dropped the N bomb. When the audio of that arrest was made public, it launched TMZ and also hurt Gibson's career.  It wasn't the DUI that had Hollywood angry. If stars went employable because of DUI arrests, sets would empty.  It was the awful things Gibson said.

Now this can't be because Mel was considered low-rent. He was a well-respected actor and director. He was fired from a planned cameo in Hangover 2 and replaced with...convicted and generally unrepentant rapist Mike Tyson.

I don't mind coming down hard on people who say bad things. Free speech doesn't mean freedom from the reactions of others.  And a network like A & E will also have to deal with viewer reactions if it does something like suspending Robertson. That's how the free speech thing works.

But is doing awful things somehow not as bad as saying them. You might say that Allen didn't do anything illegal (well that depends on how old she was when he took those photos), but neither did Phil Robertson, Juan Pablo or Paula Deen.

And Polanski certainly did. Yeah, I know he wasn't convicted (cause he skipped town), but he's never denied sex with a 14-year-old, he just didn't like the sentence his plea-bargain was going to bring.

In this day of social media, it's impossible to make any kind of comment anywhere without having it go anywhere. And being short on money and staff, news outlets love to whip up controversy by taking something like a Tweet or a Facebook post and then just getting reaction to it. Save a lot of time on leg work.

It's certainly not like I'm saying that people who say bad things don't deserve bad reactions. I'd just like a little uniformity in the system. Does great talent get you a pass for the kind of behavior that would cause you to disown a relative?

Is there some point where people should forgive and forget assaulting a kid and never paying any kind of legal price? 

I'm just askin'.... seriously... I don't have the answer.