Chile Rellenos/Pepper Poppers

This recipe is kind of a cross between chile rellenos and hot pepper poppers. But no matter what you call them, they sure are tasty! We had an abundance of Anaheim peppers this week, and so I decided to get creative. These weren't necessarily fast or easy, but they were fun to make and turned out delicious. So if you have a few extra minutes or a few extra peppers and want to mix up the same old dinner routine, try these as a fun little appetizer or side dish. I served mine with some quesadillas made from leftover pork chops, black beans, and corn, and then a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables. Yummy!

Chile Rellenos/Pepper Poppers

12-15 Anaheim peppers
1 8 oz block cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1) Fire up your grill or broiler. Wash the peppers and place them, whole, over/under the high heat, rotating every few minutes, until the skin is charred and blistered all the way around and they become very fragrant. Then move them to a paper bag and close it. Let it sit and steam for about 10 minutes. Take the peppers out and run them under cool water and gently strip away the charred skin, being as cautious as possible not to break the flesh. Cut off the tops and scrape out the seeds--again, being careful not to destroy the pepper.
2) When all your peppers are roasted, peeled and seeded, mix together the cream cheese, shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
3) Stuff the peppers with the cream cheese mixture. The mixture will be quite thick, and we found we could kind of form it in our hands and then insert a little ball of the cheese into the pepper. The cheese will help hold together any breaks or tears in the flesh of the pepper.
4) Set up three bowls--one with the flour, one with the eggs (beat them with a fork), and one with the panko bread crumbs. Time to dredge! Roll each pepper in the flour first just to coat, then in the beaten egg, and then in the panko bread crumbs. Place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with a silpat or parchment paper or just sprayed with cooking spray.
5) When all the chiles are dredged, put the whole tray in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to set up the cheese.
6) Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown (but before the cheese totally melts and oozes everywhere). Enjoy!

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