I’ve been listening to a lot of sports talk radio this week. Specifically, I’ve been listening to a lot of NFL sports talk radio this week in Sirus/XM. The Blitz. The Opening Drive. The Blitz Drive. The Opening Blitz Drive. Drive Opening the Blitz. Like most rational people, I avoid sports talk radio because it’s full of crazy people who like to yell at each other, but the week between the end of the NFL regular season and the playoffs crystallizes the feelings of excitement, panic, frustration and depression fans feel in ways you don’t get to experience at any other time of the year.
Jets fans blaming everyone except the popcorn vendors at the Meadowlands for not making the playoffs. Vikings fans wondering if they’ll get past Green Bay next year. The irrationally optimistic Bengals fan claiming their squad will run the table. The irrationally pessimistic Ravens fan who said, “He’s no Dan Marino, but he’s no Matt Ryan either,” when describing Joe Flacco. The Dallas fan who called in to declare, “The Cowboys have more important things than the playoffs to worry about, they’ve got the draft.” A joy, each and every single fan.
Except for the fan from Pittsburgh who wondered which members of the Steelers staff Bill Cowher will go after once he’s named head coach of the San Diego Chargers. That guy was just embarrassing.
Smoky Habanero Jalapeno Popper Bread
One of my favorite local wine bars (Shut it!) here in Los Angeles shares an open kitchen with their sister restaurant next door. One night over a bottle of pinot, I watched the chef make this enormous jalapeno popper panini with about two pounds of white cheddar and a dozen jalapenos for the grilled cheese night they were hosting. Watching her slice jalapeno after jalapeno, I couldn’t wait try to make a similar cheesy bread at home.
My first attempt was a disaster. Way too much mild cheddar and cream cheese — most of which ended up sliding off the bread, and surprisingly, not enough heat from the jalapenos. Next time around, halved the amount of cream cheese, added some smoked cheddar to compliment the heat of the peppers, used sharp cheddar for the salty tang of cheese and mixed in a few habaneros so it would have some kick. Perfection.
You will need:
1 large loaf of soft French bread (1 lbs size)
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 habaneros, seeds removed and chopped as fine as possible
3 jalapenos, seeds removed and chopped
3-4 scallions, chopped
Preheat oven to 350º.
Toss everything except for the bread into a bowl.
Combine the cheese, peppers and onions all together.
Cut the bread in half and then slice longways so you have four open quadrants of loaf.
Spread the mixture evenly on all four pieces of bread.
Bake at 350º for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown on top.
Let rest for about five minutes before slicing to give the cheese a few minutes to firm up a bit as not to lose all the toppings on your knife.
Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.
The crunch of the toasty bread, the creaminess of the cheese, the heat of the peppers with just a hint of onion makes for not only an easier alternative to making jalapenos poppers at home, but a tastier one.
What is also great about this recipe is that it makes quite a bit of cheesy bread, so you can save some for a later snacking date. This batch was made for a Thursday night game, then the other half was frozen for use on Sunday when we needed an extra game food for our guests. Just flash freeze bread on a baking sheet for 30 minutes to set the toppings and then store in freezer-safe bags until needed, adding about 10-15 minutes to the baking time. Great if you’re still getting through the remaining sixty-seven college football bowl games and need food for multiple nights.
Don’t forget to send your recipes for Super Bowl Guacamole Week, deadline is Monday.
Your 360-interactive-all-media-guide for the Football Foodie and the 28 Days of Super Bowl recipes can be found here, so you can follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and our own new glorious galleries that can be found at the top of this very post!
- 1 large loaf of soft French bread (1 lbs size)
- 4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 habaneros, seeds removed and chopped as finely as possible
- 3 jalapenos, seeds removed and chopped
- 3-4 scallions, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Toss everything except for the bread into a bowl.
- Combine the cheese, peppers and onions all together.
- Cut the bread in half and then slice longways so you have four open quadrants of loaf.
- Spread the mixture evenly on all four pieces of bread.
- Bake at 350º for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown on top.
- Let rest for about five minutes before slicing to give the cheese a few minutes to firm up a bit as not to lose all the toppings on your knife.
- Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.