1. SWEET CHICKEN BACON BITES
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into 1 inch cubes
8 to 12 slices of thin cut bacon, cut into halves or thirds,
¾ cup dark brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, this will save you from having to scrub your baking sheet. Place a cookie rack on top the baking sheet. I used a cookie rack here. Place the sugar in a shallow plate.
Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Depending on your bacon how thin or thick it is, cut each slice in either half or 3 pieces. I cut mine into 3. Wrap each piece of chicken with a piece of bacon.
There is no need for toothpicks, the bacon will stick to the chicken. Roll the wrapped chicken into the brown sugar and make sure each piece is nicely coated in the brown sugar.
Place chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet and season again with more salt and pepper. Bake for about 45 minutes or until bacon is nice and crisp.
Garnish with parsley, so that it looks pretty.
2. CHICKEN ENCHILADA CUPS
24 wonton wrappers
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced
(optional additional ingredients: chopped green chiles, black beans, chopped fresh cilantro, diced avocado)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Press wonton wrappers into the cups of a mini muffin pan to form "cups", being sure that the edges to not fold in. Bake for 7 minutes, then remove.
Meanwhile, stir together chicken and enchilada sauce in a mixing bowl until combined. Portion the chicken evenly into the baked wonton cups until they are full. Sprinkle with a pinch of shredded cheese. Then bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the chicken is heated through. Remove and garnish with sliced green onions.
**If using the optional ingredients, you can either stir them into the chicken and enchilada sauce mixture, or you can use them as additional garnishes
3. BACON-WRAPPED CHEESY STUFFED JALAPENOS
12 fresh jalapeño peppers*
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
12 slices bacon, cut in half
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (best for clean-up) or a silicone baking mat. Place a baking rack on top of the baking sheet. Set aside.
Cut the jalapeño peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds and center membrane. Set aside.
Beat the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, and paprika together until combined. Salt to taste - I add just a pinch. Spoon filling equally among all 24 jalapeño halves.
Wrap each stuffed jalapeño with a half slice of bacon and stick a toothpick through the center to assure the bacon stays in place. Place each on the baking rack and bake for 25-28 minutes or until the bacon is crisp to your liking. I like to turn the oven to broil for the last minute or two to get things extra crispy. Serve immediately. Cover leftovers and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
*Instead of jalapeño peppers, try using those mini sweet peppers often sold in the produce section. Those a great option if you don't like super spicy.
4. JALAPENO QUINOA BITES
¾ cup quinoa, rinsed
1½ cups water (or broth)
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
½ cup chopped jalapeño peppers
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ⅓ less fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1½ cups Monterey Jack cheese
In a medium sauce pan, cook quinoa according to package directions. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, onion, peppers, garlic, eggs, cream cheese and cheese.
Put a heaping tablespoonful of quinoa mixture into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until edges turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes and then gently remove from pan to cool completely.