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Tales of the Dinner Belle: Tips for Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Peppers without crying out loud

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Belle's bacon-wrapped stuffed jalepenos

Belle’s bacon-wrapped stuffed jalepenos

Brenda Stanley

After years of cooking, there are some tips that I have learned the hard way. One of the most important tips comes with making one of my favorite appetizers: bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeÑos. They are to die for. However, touching your eye while scraping out the jalapeÑo seeds will literally make you want to die. I gave up making them for a while, just because of the pain. But just like childbirth, you soon forget and find yourself thinking about the prize at the end, not the pain of the journey.

These bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeÑos are unique appetizer that will add spice to any gathering. The combination of spicy pepper, cool cream cheese and smoky bacon has been a favorite at my house for years, and every holiday my guests look forward to this treat when they arrive.

Despite my early troubles with making this appetizer, I found an ingenious way to get the job done — thanks to my husband’s skills as a veterinarian. Being one of the few vets who still works on large animals, he often comes home covered in stuff that shouldn’t be talked about in a cooking column. He has to protect himself from it all, and that is where my idea for working with jalapeÑos comes in.

I wear surgical exam gloves and goggles as I clean the peppers. I look ridiculous, but I get spicy, savory bacon-wrapped JalapeÑos and without swearing like a sailor. You can also use vinyl gloves and regular glasses if you don't have the surgical kind available.

Here are some other tips: At the grocery store, I look for solid peppers that are uniform in size. The cheese spread can be plain or with chives, garlic or other herbs. When you choose bacon, go for cheap. I've found that the thinner the bacon, the better it wraps and the crispier the final product. I don’t use toothpicks, but instead I wrap the bacon so the cut side is down, and it usually stays in place. It sure makes it easier to prepare and to eat when you don’t have to fight a toothpick.

Belle’s Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed JalapeÑos

12 jalapeÑo peppers

1 tub of cream cheese spread

6 slices of thin bacon, cut in half

Remove the tops of peppers and cut them in half length-wise. Scrape out the seeds and veins. Fill each pepper half with about a teaspoon or two of the cheese spread.

Wrap the cheese-filled pepper in half a slice of bacon and place cheese side up in a shallow metal baking pan or sheet with sides. Bake at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until bacon is crisp and peppers are tender.

Makes 24.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of

twins and a grandmother of two. She is a cookbook author and

novelist. Her website is at www.talesofthedinnerbelle.com.