Bacon Ranch Jalapeno Poppers; My recipe

I’ve been wanting to try this so I made them yesterday for the Halloween party at my daughters. Here are some things to think about;
In the produce dept, the peppers were only $1.48 a pound. I picked out 9 that were about the same size which would make 18 poppers, about 4″ long and were very round to accommodate the filling. I think the total for the peppers at the register was $1.00. So this is a fairly cheap appetizer.
I was aghast at the price of cream cheese. Philadelphia Cream Cheese was $1.96 per 8oz chunk and the off brand was only $1.25. One noticeable difference was the cheaper stuff was much stiffer or hard, I guess you could say. When given a choice, I will always pick stiff and hard. ūüėČ The actual reason here is the poppers were going to be pan fried and the thicker cheese might not melt and run out of the popper as much as the creamer name brand. I bought 2 bars not knowing how much I would really need. I also bought a pound of the cheapest hickory smoked bacon Meijer had at $3.44.
When I order these when I’m out to dinner they are usually breaded and I dip them in ranch dressing. This got me thinking. Why not add ranch dressing to the cream cheese. I have a Sam’s Club size container of Hidden Valley Ranch powdered mix and used that.
The most fun part here (not) was slicing up the peppers and cleaning out the seeds. I could only find one glove. “””Warning Will Robinson””” I started slicing the peppers in half and running them under the tap water to rinse off the seeds and started sneezing so violently I nearly pissed my pants!!! . I’m not kidding. I had to leave the kitchen! Blew my nose hugely 3 or 4 times. My eyes watered and I could not smell anything. God only knows what ended up in the final product. LOL
Like, you know how onions smell? I couldn’t smell the poppers. They must just out-gas quietly like carbon monoxide. Made me wonder why people even eat these things. So, I dried them well with paper towel and let them sit while I recovered and made the cream cheese filling.
I let the cream cheese sit on the counter to soften up and not much of that really happened over several hours. Still stiff. I put the cream cheese, 1/4 cup of the ranch dressing mix, and about a 1/2 cup of milk in a bowl and mixed it with my electric hand mixer.
I took a butter knife and filled each pepper half full and rounded slightly. I started at one end and wrapped each pepper with a slice of bacon overlapping it but making sure that each end was covered so the cheese stayed inside. I ran out of bacon with 4 pepper halves left and only used half of the cream cheese mix. So probably 6-7 whole peppers, one pkg of cream cheese, and one lb of bacon works out about right.
I used a large skillet and placed the now wrapped poppers in the pan. I set the gas to medium heat. You want the peppers to cook and the bacon to crisp, so slow is better. Some cheese did leak out but the cool thing was, the cheese got brown and crispy-gewy. I used tongs to carefully turn them so I didn’t dislodge the bacon or squeeze out the cheese. When the bacon was very crispy I put them on paper towel to drain.
They were amazing and much easier to eat as they cooled. They were crispy outside and creamy inside. Cooking the peppers takes some of the fire out of them but they were just nicely spicy hot. With the bacon and the ranch flavor they didn’t need to be dipped in ranch. Who needs more calories right?
I will definitely do this again with a gas mask and 2 gloves. My left thumb still burns from scraping the seeds out 24 hours later. Remember to wear glasses too in case the juice splashes into your eyes. Tom(my husband) said he once got it on his contact lenses and had to throw them out. There is just no way to get it out and if this was my reaction just smelling it, what kind of agony would you suffer getting it into your eyes? No way Raul. Enjoy and let me know how yours turn out.
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Who Is Really Missing?

I’m going to talk about something that I don’t share a lot. It is¬† very¬† complicated from my end, so bear with me.¬† What seems unrelated in the beginning usually ties in at the end.

I recently have been involved in helping solve a missing persons case. In one evening at my computer, I may have found the remains of an unidentified missing person to match with the name of a known missing person. It still doesn’t register on me just what that can possibly mean to someone who has been missing them for 27 years, but it is exciting.

The remains have been sent for DNA testing which can take a year, so there is no definitive match until that data comes back from Texas, and that’s if they can extract the DNA from skeletal remains. I worked hard on this using my computer, genealogy, and investigative skills, and I’m excited to be a part of solving a mystery of the most heart rending kind.

There may be a way to just about cinch the identification without the DNA, although eventually the DNA match would really be necessary. It would take some extra effort and leg work on my part to do this, and honestly, I don’t leave my house a whole lot. I may be as close to being agoraphobic as a person can be. You know, afraid to leave the house.

I don’t need to leave the house. Ever. I could stay here all day and night and never go out on the front porch. I know how this started about 4 years ago. I used to go out the door every single day and work sometimes 18 hours a day. In fact, Tom and I worked for 7 months straight once without taking a single day off. I was completely out of touch with my home life and worse, my child.

Running a business of your own takes drive and determination, and an incredible amount of stamina. I had that. I used to be able to give 150% to everything I did until I had nothing left for myself. When you consider that, and some incredible personal losses, it isn’t surprising that I failed.

Our business, Tom’s and mine, ended badly, very badly. You could compare it in some ways on a small town level to CNN getting a hold of your most embarrassing moment and chasing you down the road in a helicopter. Now honestly, that didn’t happen. It was really only a news truck setting up a satellite feed in front of my store to broadcast it all over the county. I’m dead serious.

It was such a devastating loss in some ways, I can’t even go into it here. Owning a business¬† is like having a baby, and we lost the baby. I was betrayed and I betrayed myself. It wasn’t one thing that caused our business to fail. It was a convergence of many things all happening at one point in time. After, we waited about 2 years for¬† our daughter to graduate from high school. We sold our house and we left that town, no looking back. I don’t dwell on all of that history a whole lot. It’s all in the past and I can’t change any of it, but to protect myself, I have built walls around myself for privacy¬† and safety. Keep in mind that I was actually threatened with bodily harm in my own driveway and later the same person tried to run me over with her car.

That whole time before we moved was spent sitting in a recliner staring out at the lake. It was soothing and I needed to rest and gather myself. I spent many hours in therapy with a wonderful counselor and very generous man. It wasn’t until we moved 75 miles away, a year and a half ago, that I finally got out of my recliner and made any effort to have a life again, in my house. Tom was luckier to have redeemed himself by getting a fairly good job 2 years ago and saved our ship, and himself, so to speak.

I have to say at this point in my story, and my life, that I am not depressed. If you have spent any time with me you know that. I have moments when I’m down like everyone else in real life, but I laugh, I love, I sing, and I have a different problem.

After many¬† lifesaving¬† counseling sessions for myself, I decided at some point to cultivate the relationships with friends and family that I had neglected my whole life. My health prevents me from doing anything at times (I tell myself this), but I can’t describe how good it makes me feel to relax and enjoy the people in my life. I have needed my daughters, my friends, and my cousins more than they really know.

My home has now become my fortress. I feel comfortable here, and safe, and it takes great effort to get me out the door. Once I’m out I’m fine. I would just rather not expend the effort it takes to get me out the door. It’s not easy to do.

I could pad around these halls in my slippers bumping into walls indefinitely. It’s actually more like haunting a house than living in it. Ask Tom about why he is doing all the grocery shopping, and the bill paying, and the yard work, and anything else that involves being outside of my front door. Oh, and he works full time too. He runs around all weekend trying to make sure everything is done so he can leave me alone for the week while he works, fed and watered like a houseplant before a vacation. The operative word here is vacation. He has never uttered a word of complaint.

I have realized I don’t want to do anything that’s too difficult anymore, like leaving the house. Like getting out of my comfort zone. Like leaving the house to solve a missing persons case? But wait… Isn’t this task about discovering who a person is and how that person’s life ended, so they can be buried with their name? Isn’t the end of a person’s life sacred to me? What could be more important? Aren’t Michigan’s over 4000 missing persons something that matters to me more than most things?¬† I call myself a missing person’s advocate. How much discomfort exactly am I willing to feel to get this done? A realization is dawning on me…

This was the defining moment; A friend recently announced that she was moving her business into a bigger place. I don’t think I gave her the response that everyone else did. I think she was puzzled, and probably angry. I didn’t congratulate her. Really I thought, ‘oh my gosh that sounds like so much work. Hard work. I hope she knows what she’s doing. It’s so risky.’ I was actually frightened for her. This was coming from me, a woman who moved her business a total of 7 times!

That really surprised me. It began to dawn on me.¬† Maybe I need to get back into the game soon, or I never will. Even though I do run a small eBay¬† business from my house, its not using my best skills. It’s not living or giving at my potential. It’s hiding. Obviously, I have accomplished some things from Donna Central. That infers that it’s all about me. I know from past pursuits that you feel the most joy and sense of accomplishment when you forget yourself and give to others. Being agoraphobic in my opinion is very self-centric, like hoarding.

No one ever said, “The world is an unsafe and cruel place and I’m going to become a recluse.” It starts slowly and due to denial and enablers, you wake up one day and realize what has happened to your life. Hopefully you do wake up. Just like no hoarder ever said, ‘I’m going to start today and fill my house up¬† 3 feet from the ceiling with junk because I am suffering from loss and detachment.’

We are looking into buying a new home, or an old home, probably in a different town in SE Lower Michigan to accommodate Tom’s new job. This will likely happen in the next 6 months. Sometimes a time frame helps us set a limit on how long we are stuck or maybe I mean that I can plan my way out of here during this time.

I’m not sure how all of this will play out, but I do know that I need to take a hard look at where I’m at emotionally in relationship to the world outside. I can’t stay where I am at, but I am stuck. I am surely stuck (smh). Realizing you are stuck is the first step toward the door, and then out the door. One step at a time… and I will be seeking help. (she says to herself while looking out the window)

Postscript;

I know that anyone can relate to this somehow, and this, writing, is one of my skills.

I welcome your comments.