If there’s one thing I love about summer, it’s grilling.
Unfortunately, grilling in 20 degree weather isn’t really ideal—hence why people grill when it is warm outside. There’s nothing better than a burger sizzling over glowing charcoal, hot dogs with dark brown char marks, and jalapenos dripping with melted cream cheese…
Wait, have you ever heard of jalapeno poppers? They’re a favorite of mine. I can’t go more than a few weeks without these morsels of jalapeno heaven. They’re the simplest little things—just made up of jalapenos, cream cheese, and bacon—but they are one of the most delicious things you’ll ever taste in your life.
So imagine my surprise when I found out I could condense that bold flavor into a 13×9″ Pyrex pan. What?!! I don’t have to shiver my long-john’s off by standing next to a grill just so I can get my popper on?!! Color me impressed.
Cheddar cheese and penne pasta are basically the only other ingredients added to the normal popper lineup, plus a quick bechamel. The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe was having to use so many pans—one for the pasta, one for the sauce, and another to cook the chicken. Although, having to wash extra dishes is a welcomed compromise to having instant jalapeno popper flavor outside of the warmer months of the year.
Jalapeño Popper Pasta
A spicy, cheesy casserole that envelopes you in all of the flavor of jalapeño poppers.
- 1 lb. chicken breast tenerloins, cubed
- salt & pepper
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 TBS. olive oil
- 8 slices of bacon
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 TBS. butter
- 2 TBS. flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 1 (8 oz.) box of cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces
- 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- 3 jalapeños, 2 diced and 1 sliced
- 16 oz. penne pasta
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and smoked paprika and rub all over the chicken. Add chicken to pan and cook until no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
- In a large pot, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in another large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Crumble bacon once cooled and set aside.
- Add onion to bacon drippings and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute. Add butter to the pan. When melted, sprinkle flour into the pan. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and milk. Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes until mixture is slightly thickened.
- Add cream cheese to milk mixture in pot and stir until well melted. Remove pan from heat and add a 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir in diced jalapeños and half of the crumbled bacon. Pour in pasta and chicken and stir together until everything is well combined.
- Pour mixture into a greased 13×9″ baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese, bacon and sliced jalapeño on top and then return to oven (uncovered) to cook for 10 more minutes.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink (3-4 minutes). Remove chicken to a plate and set aside. Meanwhile, in another large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and crumble once cooled.
Cook onions in bacon drippings until translucent (3-4 minutes). Add garlic and saute for another minute. Melt butter in the skillet and then add flour. Continue cooking, while stirring, for 1 minute.
Add chicken broth and milk and whisk until slightly thickened. Add cream cheese and stir until melted.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.
Add diced jalapeño and half of the crumbled bacon. Stir in cooked penne pasta and chicken.
Transfer mixture to a greased 13×9″ baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, top with remaining cheddar cheese, jalapeno slices and crumbled bacon. Return to oven (uncovered) and continue to cook for 10 more minutes.
This masterful dinner truly is hard to resist. I almost ate two huge bowls of the stuff the first night I made it. Fortunately for me, I had a ton leftover to take for my lunch for a few days after I made it. Yum!