Goat Cheese Poppers

Goat cheese adds an extra dimension of flavor to these loaded poppers (stuffed jalapeños). Replace a few of the jalapeños with mini bell peppers for guests who prefer less heat.

Goat Cheese Poppers

Goat cheese adds an extra dimension of flavor to these loaded poppers (stuffed jalapeños). Replace a few of the jalapeños with mini bell peppers for guests who prefer less heat.

10 oz. goat cheese, softened
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted*
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
12 large jalapeño chiles, halved lengthwise through stem, seeded, deveined
8 slices bacon, cut crosswise in thirds

1 Combine cheese, walnuts and lemon peel in medium bowl; stir in salt and pepper.

2 Spoon 1 tablespoon cheese mixture into each chile half, mounding slightly. Wrap crosswise with piece of bacon; secure with toothpick, if necessary. Place cheese-side up on foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. (Chiles can be prepared to this point 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

3 To bake: Heat oven to 400°F. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bacon is crisp, filling is bubbly and chiles are tender. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes; serve warm.

To grill: When ready to grill, set up grill as follows. For charcoal grill: Heat coals in center of grill to medium heat. Divide coals, placing half on each side of grill, leaving center open. Place drip pan between coals. For gas grill: Light two outside sections, leaving middle section unlit (three-burner grill). Or light one side and leave other side unlit (two-burner grill). Place drip pan on unlit side. Heat on high until hot. Reduce heat to medium-high. Place chiles directly on grill over drip pan or in disposable foil pan or grill pan. Grill, covered, 20 to 30 minutes or until bacon is crisp, filling is bubbly and chiles are tender. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes; serve warm.

24 appetizers

PER APPETIZER: 65 calories, 4.5 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 3.5 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate, 10 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 1 g fiber