Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bacon Cheddar Ranch "Skins"

(Hat tip to Lucy, whose Jalapeno Poppers reminded me of cheesy potato skins and inspired me to whip these up for dinner.)

What would you get if you took a sliced-up green pepper, spread it with ranch-flavored cream cheese, and topped it with bacon and cheddar cheese? Reminiscent of both jalapeno poppers and crispy potato skins, these super easy Bacon Cheddar Ranch "Skins" can help to fill the void left by your local dive's high-carb appetizers.

Green peppers were what I had on hand, but you could easily use red or yellow bell peppers, or even halved jalapenos as the base.

Ranch Cream Cheese Spread:

This makes way more than enough for one or two peppers, but it's just so much easier to use full packages of things. Plus, it will keep for a long time in the fridge, and it doubles as an excellent veggie dip or sandwich spread.

-8 oz. cream cheese, softened (or any combination of cream cheese, sour cream, & mayo equaling 8 oz.)
-1 packet, ranch seasoning mix (I used Hidden Valley)

Mix ranch seasoning into cream cheese until smooth and thoroughly combined. (A spoon gets this job done pretty easily, but I won't judge if you break out the hand mixer.)

Bacon Cheddar Ranch "Skins":

-1 or more peppers, cut lengthwise into quarters or eighths
-Ranch Cream Cheese Spread (see above)
-Bacon, cooked crispy (I used a half-strip per "skin")
-Shredded cheddar cheese

Lay pepper sections with the inside part facing up on a baking sheet or on a microwave-safe plate, depending on your cooking preference. Spread the inside of each piece with Ranch Cream Cheese Spread, top with bacon, and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Broil, watching closely, or microwave in 20 second increments until cheese melts. Enjoy!

Variation: Cut your peppers into thin strips and smother with cheese and crumbled bacon, ranch dressing, or chili to make your own loaded "fries". Microwave or broil to heat through until cheese is melted.