Thursday, May 9, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

Jalapeno Popper Pasta

So you might have heard a little news floating around social media the last few days – I am going back to work!  On Monday!  I’m having a hard time explaining the emotions I’m feeling about it.

Let’s back up a bit.  A little over three months ago, Paul and I moved away from Kansas City for his job. I had been in a job that I wasn’t 100% happy with all the time and I truly hoped to pursue blogging full-time at some point in the future.  I think part of me felt like it was just the thing to do: I really love this space, recipe development, writing and photography; another part of me just really wanted out of my corporate job.  Luckily, at that time, I was able to do some blogging and social media stuff during the day, did a lot over the weekend but found that I could juggle it fairly well.

Fast forward to the move in January…I obviously quit my job in KC for the move and we decided that I would try the full time blogging/freelance thing.  I was excited to finally be taking the step that I had wanted for a while.

Jalapeno Popper Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

Except I quickly found that the grass wasn’t so green on this side of the fence…at least not for me.  To be completely honest, I found that my blog going from “hobby” to “job” very, very quickly seemed to suffocate my creativity.  I need to meet new people; need to have goals and deadlines, a job description and a schedule.  I found out I’m just not ready to be a full-time blogger.

So I started to think back to the real reasons I started my blog and to my love of food and cooking.  Jackie summed it up perfectly last week and I resonate so much with this post.  It’s OK to just post what we eat for dinner; it’s OK to not post every day; it’s OK to post something without worrying whether or not it will go viral on Pinterest.

And it’s OK to blog for fun;  to blog to be creative; to create recipes for my family because that’s what I love to do; to improve my food photography because I love it – and have a lot to learn;

It’s OK to go back to work full-time and keep blogging on the side; it’s OK to not read and comment on 100 blogs per day and share on Pinterest and Twitter and Google+.  So that’s what I’m doing on Monday – going back to work.  And to be honest, I have no idea what things will look like around here.  I promise to keep cooking and keep sharing…just stick with me while I figure it all out.

I haven’t said this in a while but I really love you guys.  Thank you for always being here and every word of encouragement you breathe! 

I guess I should mention this Jalapeno Popper Pasta, huh?  You know we love spicy food.  Among the favorite spicy foods of Paul’s is jalapeno poppers – like Sonic-style Jalapeno Poppers.  He could eat them every day!  So I turned them into a simple pasta – a super simple cream cheese-based sauce with onions, garlic and jalapenos, tossed with pasta and topped with toasty, nutty brown butter breadcrumbs to give a nod to the breading of a jalapeno popper.  We loved this pasta – it was flavorful with a good kick from the peppers, but not too spicy as to over-power the other flavors in the dish!

Jalapeno Popper Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

PrintPrint Recipe

Jalapeno Popper Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 30 min

A quick recipe for Jalapeno Popper Pasta - a creamy, spicy sauce with jalapenos and asiago cheese and topped with brown butter breadcrumbs.


8 ounces pasta (I used whole wheat gemelli)

for the breadcrumbs:
2 Tbs. Butter
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

for the pasta sauce:
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, chopped (about 1/4 cup), remove some of the seeds
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup milk
4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) asiago cheese, shredded
1/2 cup pasta cooking water
Black pepper to taste


Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta water comes to a boil, make the breadcrumbs by browning the butter in a small sauce pan. Let the butter melt over medium-high heat until bubbly. Stir with a wire whisk and continue to do so until the color changes and you see brown flakes show up on the bottom of the pan, the butter will have a nutty, almost sweet fragrance. This will take 7-8 minutes. Watch closely because the butter will burn easily.

Remove from the heat, stir in the breadcrumbs and salt and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, along with a small pinch of salt and cook until fragrant and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the jalapenos and stir. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the cream cheese and when it begins to melt, add the milk, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.

After the cream cheese is melted and the milk is incorporated, add the asiago cheese and 1/4 cup pasta water and stir well to combine. Add the additional 1/4 cup pasta water and season with pepper to taste.

Jalapeno Popper Pasta


68 Responses to “Jalapeno Popper Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs”

  1. #
    Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama — May 9, 2013 @ 7:07 am

    Yes! I love Jalapeno popper anything.

  2. #
    Rachel Cooks — May 9, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    How did I miss this news! I’ve obviously been less present on social media these days as well. Congrats on your decision to go back to work! Sounds like you are really at peace with and it that you made the right decision. Hope the first day (and every one after that) goes well!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

      Thanks so much, Rach!

  3. #
    Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon — May 9, 2013 @ 7:33 am

    Congratulations! Good luck on your new venture, fun for you to know that is where you want to be. And this pasta? oh yum! I absolutely love poppers!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

      Thank you, Lisa!

  4. #
    RavieNomNoms — May 9, 2013 @ 7:36 am

    Oh my goodness does this sound good!! Congrats too! It is always exciting when big things happen, best of luck to you 🙂

  5. #
    Tieghan — May 9, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    Totally missed this news, but way to go you!! Sounds like you are doing exactly what is right for you and that is awesome!! Congrats girl!

    Ok and I love this pasta!! I am all about cheesy, carbs and spice!

  6. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — May 9, 2013 @ 7:42 am

    I totally agree. I post what I eat for dinner and that’s why blogging is still super fun for me! This pasta sounds delightful! Lovely recipe 🙂

  7. #
    Leah | So, How's It Taste? — May 9, 2013 @ 7:48 am

    I so appreciate honest posts like these. I dream all the time about doing something blog related as my “real job,” but often wonder if I would enjoy it as much if it was a job and not something I do for fun. Good luck on Monday! I’m sure you’ll be a rock star! All I need to know about this pasta is that it has cream cheese and I’m sold!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

      Thank you, Leah! It’s so hard to figure it all out!

  8. #
    Deborah — May 9, 2013 @ 8:22 am

    I sometimes long for the day when I didn’t depend on the paycheck, but I am so very grateful that blogging allows me to stay home with my kids. I’m so happy that you have found what makes you happy and keeps the creativity coming.

    Speaking of creativity, this pasta sounds so amazing!!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

      Yes! It’s so hard to try to find that balance. Thanks, Deborah!

  9. #
    Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef — May 9, 2013 @ 8:31 am

    missed this news, but congrats! delicious looking pasta- can’t wait to try it 🙂

  10. #
    katie — May 9, 2013 @ 8:58 am

    Girl I’m so proud of you. Proud of you for deciding what’s right. I’m totally in your shoes circa 6 months ago. I hate my corporate job and yearning for change! I can’t wait to meet you next month! btw… this pasta looks fab!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

      Thanks so much, Katie!

  11. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — May 9, 2013 @ 9:19 am

    Congrats, Cassie!

    Also, where’s my shovel?

  12. #
    Jennifer @ Mother Thyme — May 9, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    Congrats on the new job! I love how Jackie summed it up, it is so true. This pasta looks delicious. I got a peak of it on FB this morning and I couldn’t wait to check it out. 🙂

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

      Thank you, Jennifer!

  13. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — May 9, 2013 @ 9:50 am

    Congrats again, Cassie! It takes courage to know what works best for you and to go for it. Hoping this job is a perfect fit for you!

    Also, this pasta = me drooling. Everywhere. 🙂

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

      Yes it does. Thank you, Stephanie!

  14. #
    Meagan @ A Zesty Bite — May 9, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    YAY I’m so happy for you! I TOTALLY agree with the whole commenting and posting things! I feel it should really come from the heart and not to do it just because you need more hits or views. Blogging is supposed to be fun and if you make money from it so be it but you need to be grounded.
    This pasta looks great by the way and I love jalapeno poppers so in pasta form I’m in!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

      So right. Thanks for your encouragement, Meagan!

  15. #
    Carla @ Carlas Confections — May 9, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    Oh man this looks incredible! I love that pasta shape too. I am super excited for you to go back to work too! That is really exciting for you! I can imagine that it would be hard to go to full time blogging after working full time. I started the blog when I wasnt working, so this is all Ive ever known, but I can imagine it is hard. I hope the job is wonderful 😀

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

      Thank you, Carla!

  16. #
    Aggie — May 9, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    This is seriously making my mouth water Cassie.

    Congrats on the new job, and for coming to terms with what works for you! I love those aha moments that come our way 🙂 Good luck on Monday!!

  17. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — May 9, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    Love this post, Cassie! So happy for you and your new job. This looks so good, I love the brown butter breadcrumbs!

  18. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — May 9, 2013 @ 11:15 am

    Love this post Cassie!!! So proud of you and so excited for this next journey in your life!!! Thank you for your honesty and opening your heart to all of us. 🙂 I really relate to your post and Jackie’s post because I very rarely post pin-worthy, drool-worthy, viral Pinterest recipes. And you know what, I’m ok with that! The fact is, I eat oatmeal and smoothies a lot so that’s what people will find on my blog. A smoothie will never go viral but like you said – it’s what we love to make and cook that is what matters most. Thank you friend. 🙂

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

      Thank you for your support, Liz!

  19. #
    Aimee @ ShugarySweets — May 9, 2013 @ 11:21 am

    Woah. I’m so in love with this recipe!!! Congrats on the new job, very excited for you!!

  20. #
    Megan {Country Cleaver} — May 9, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    I love this post an 11/10 Cassie!! Good luck with the new job!! XOXO Also – I need this pasta STAT, I’ve been wiping drool off my keyboard since I started writing this comment. 🙂 XOXO!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

      Thank you, sweet friend!

  21. #
    Amy @Very Culinary — May 9, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    Yes. Yes to all of that.

  22. #
    Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes — May 9, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    Love this so, so much, Cassie! Both for the pasta and for the straight talk. It is so easy to get sucked into the numbers when it comes to blogging, and I have learned through hard experience that when you get sucked in, all your creativity gets sucked out. And sitting in front of a blank recipe calendar feeling totally uninspired and wigging out trying desperately to think of something that will get pinned is NO WAY TO LIVE, and no way to blog. Sorry for the long-winded blather, but basically I’m trying to say that I completely agree with your comments and I think you should be so proud of your process, figuring out that you needed to work full-time and blog on the side and then having the confidence to implement your decision. Bravo! And congrats on your new job!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

      Thank you for your encouragement, Meagan! You are awesome!

  23. #
    Gerry @ foodness gracious — May 9, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

    Glad you feel you made the right decision. Blogging can be tough in all aspects from financial to emotional, crazy right? But we do it because we love to do it! Good luck on Monday!!

  24. #
    natalie@thesweetslife — May 9, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    I appreciate the honesty of this post and, having a full time job myself, can completely relate! While I’m nowhere near talented enough to be a full time blogger, I can see the appeal so it’s nice to hear a different perspective, esp when we see so many FT bloggers out there with these seemingly amazing lives! I love the freedom I have in keeping my blog a hobby-best of both worlds if you ask me! Enjoy your new job–exciting!

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

      thank you so much. You are exactly right!

  25. #
    Jackie @ the Beeroness — May 9, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    Totally agree Cassie! for me, working part time is the perfect balance. Full time blogging is just too much pressure to bring in an income rather than just loving it. If I’m going to resent my job, I might as well work for someone else and get health benefits! I also like being around other people, having a reason to wear heels, go to Starbucks and take meetings. Working and blogging is a great balance for me and I’m refusing to see “full time blogging” as superior to the work and blog model. but that is also like motherhood, some people see stay at home motherhood as better than working motherhood, and I refuse to buy into that, everyone and every family, and every blogger, needs to find what works best for them, full time at home, full time at work, half of each, everyone has a different “perfect set up.”

    • Cassie replied: — May 9th, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

      You are so right! Thank you, Jackie!

  26. #
    Cookin Canuck — May 9, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

    Cassie, you have found the balance that works for you and that is the most important thing. I have gone back and forth with this same question, and will probably change my mind several more times over the years. For now, I am content to work part-time in a completely different area, hang out with my kids and help with their activities and homework after school, and still be able to blog. Even though I still put the expectation on myself to blog on certain days, I’m more relaxed about it and have come to realize that no one really notices or minds if I miss a blog post.

    As for this pasta, I love the spicy/creamy comfort feel that it has.

  27. #
    Ashley — May 9, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

    Congrats on your new job Cassie! This really hits home for me – I work full-time and started my blog just as a creative outlet. Sometimes I dream about doing it full-time but then it hits me that maybe that’s just because I’m not happy with my current day job. And that the reason I love blogging so much is because it truly is for my own fun and enjoyment and nothing else : ) Hard to figure things out!

  28. #
    Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray — May 9, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

    Congratulations on the job, Cassie! And thanks for taking time to share with us what a struggle it was for you…I hope your choice makes you feel balanced again! And know that we all love whatever you post, because you’re so awesome. 🙂

  29. #
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry — May 9, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

    Congrats on the new job! It sounds like you really figured out what you want to do. And this pasta needs to get made for dinner tonight!

  30. #
    Monet — May 9, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

    Ah! What a big decision! Congratulations on the job. And this pasta looks just perfect. I could totally do a bowl for dinner tonight. Thank you so much for sharing!

  31. #
    Abby — May 9, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

    I’m so encouraged! And so impressed that you’ve got a good blogging head on your shoulders. Blogs are creative spaces where your thoughts and creativity should be exactly what you want it to be… nothing less and nothing more.

  32. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — May 9, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

    Cassie, I’m so happy for you and this big decision. I went through a time in my life when I just needed structure as well. That’s why I took my ofice job 4 years ago. I like the routine and getting out there. Blogging full time now, I have to remind myself to have fun with it. I don’t pressure myself at all. If I want to post somethign about my life, I will! There are no rules or restrictions and that is the best part about running YOUR blog. It’s YOURS. and yours to do with it what you want. I feel anxiious when I don’t post all the time or when my photos are 100% perfect. Then I remind myself that I love to bake and that’s why I blog. And that’s the end of the story. CONGRATS to you!

    And PS: This is me floating away into heaven with a huge bowl of brown butter breadcrumbs. And a side of jalapeno popper pasta.

  33. #
    Tara @ Unsophisticook — May 9, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

    Congrats on the new job, Cassie! And this pasta looks amazing…

  34. #
    Kari@Loaves n Dishes — May 9, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

    I adore jalapeno poppers & pasta is one of my favorite foods in the whole wide world; so I am totally loving this pasta!
    Congratulations on the new job, I hope you love it and will be totally blessed in it!

  35. #
    Tracey — May 9, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

    Love this post Cassie – I’ve struggled a lot with the same question. Congrats on figuring out what works for you, and best of luck with the new job – can’t wait to hear all about it! 🙂 And this pasta? It just sounds all kinds of amazing, and it looks so creamy and delicious!

  36. #
    Cat Moore — May 9, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

    Ok, I probably shouldn’t say this in the comment section where everyone can see, but when I first opened your blog and saw the picture, I thought it was some fancy sort of pretzel sticks covered in white chocolate! ha! But, what they really are looks and sounds AMAZING and DELISH! can’t wait to try this. I’m a pasta fanatic. Could eat it every night. 🙂

  37. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — May 9, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

    Thanks for writing this post – I actually really needed it. I think you and I are very similar in goals and aspirations. For a very long time, I wanted to quit my job and do blogging & freelancing full time. Obviously, I haven’t had the chance to do that because here in the DC area, the living prices are extraordinary so we would not be able to be on one income. I hope one day to be able to do it – but then after reading this post, not that it changed my mind, but it allowed me to think real hard. I love blogging as a hobby, could I really do it full time? Maybe one day, but as of right now, I think you hit the nail on the head – definitely probably not ready yet. I still love what I do at work and you’re right, we need to meet people & have that stir up creativity. I’m so glad you were able to discover yourself through this. Congrats on the new job 🙂 I hope nothing but success and amazing things for you, friend!! xoxo

  38. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — May 9, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

    Congrats on going back to work! You will find time for blogging, just like you did before! You have to do what is right for you, so happy you are branching out and going for it!

  39. #
    Jess — May 9, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

    Cassie – good for you. I think so many of us who write blogs are curious about what it would be like to have it one day, miraculously turn into a job, but there are certainly two sides to that coin. I love blogging, but there is something great about a normal 9-5 job that you can leave behind at the end of the day and that has very clear structure and expectations. (A dependable paycheck isn’t so bad either.) Hope the new job is great, and (selfishly) hope that you are able to find time for this space too! 😉

  40. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — May 9, 2013 @ 11:58 pm

    Cassie, I just love this post. I am so glad that you had time to figure out what you really wanted and what would be best for you. I think I will always need to have my job outside of blogging. My job really challenges my mind and I love being able to interact with people on a daily basis and I love working with children. My husband often has to remind me that I first started my blog as a way to relieve stress. I sometimes feel bad when I don’t have time to read and comment on everyone’s blogs and I always feel so behind on social media. We just have to remember that we started our blogs to have FUN! Best of luck to you with your new job!

    Oh, and this pasta?! Totally adding it to my list of recipes to make soon!

  41. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — May 10, 2013 @ 1:36 am

    I’m so happy for you, Cassie! I know we kind of talked about this at BTP but I’m glad you’re going back to work. I’m honestly at a full-time job that I”m so UNHAPPY with and I can’t wait to do the full-time blogging thing but who knows – maybe I’ll be wanting to go back to work too!

    And dude, this pasta – YES! You know I can’t resist anything remotely involving jalapeno poppers.

  42. #
    Kathryn — May 10, 2013 @ 4:54 am

    One of my best friends asked me a few months ago if I would ever want to turn the blog into a full-time job and I said no. The reason that I love my blog is precisely because it’s not my job. Having a full-time job gives me the security to do whatever I want with the space and not feeling like I have to make compromises so I can still pay my bills. I love your honesty in this post!

    So congratulations on the new job and good luck on Monday. Sending you lots of good thoughts for this new opportunity.

  43. #
    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles — May 10, 2013 @ 8:51 am

    Such an excellent and wise post. I’ve had that same talk with myself off and on over the years, completely get where you’re coming from! And awesome looking pasta!! 🙂

  44. #
    Courtney @ Neighborfood — May 10, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    Thanks for this reminder. After all, if we aren’t in this blog stuff for the fun of it…for the sheer joy of sharing and learning and growing…what’s the point, right? I hope you really enjoy your new job! We’ll all be along for the ride as you figure stuff out! 🙂

  45. #
    Joanne — May 10, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    I am SO happy for you and really that you gave it a shot. i feel like I spend a lot of time berating myself for not being a “good enough” blogger and comparing myself to others…but really what does that mean? And why is there even a “good enough” when this should be fun. I am so in love with this pasta! The.Boy and I are big jalapeno poppers fans and this is so happening in our kitchen ASAP.

  46. #
    Heidi Larsen (@foodiecrush) — May 10, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

    Knowing you were going back and forth, I’m so glad you have made the decision to do what you love because you DO love it. I’m just hoping this full-time job mojo still allows you to come on fun blogging trips 🙂 Congrats on the move and excited to see how your new adventure will bring new life to you, and the blog. XO

  47. #
    Anna (Hidden Ponies) — May 11, 2013 @ 2:22 am

    I am only reading this now because I am also way behind on the blog reading and commenting, but I’m happy you’ve come to this decision you seem comfortable with! I hope the new job works out well and the creativity comes back in force. I had a similar realization around the new year, remembering why I started blogging and the sheer fun/hobby side of it and how quickly being involved in reading other blogs/social media can sway you into focusing so heavily on the monetizing/traffic side of things…now I try to post when and what I feel like, and it turns out that means I feel like doing it more often!

  48. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — May 11, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    Congrats on the new job, that is so exciting. I know I put the wrong kind of pressure on myself a lot of times. There is something to be said about doing things you love because you love them and not because you feel you have to. The pasta looks amazing and I know my boys would love it.

  49. #
    Jenny @ BAKE — May 13, 2013 @ 7:52 am

    congrats on the new job! this was such a good read and made me feel so much better about my position as a blogger, I really need to get back to blogging about what makes me happy rather than things that I think might be popular! this past looks incredible too!

  50. #
    Meghan — May 13, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

    Great post, girl! Hope your first day at the new job went well! And the pasta – I’d like it to magically appear in front of me 🙂

  51. #
    Julie — May 14, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    Congrats on the new job!!

  52. #
    Whitney @ The Newlywed Chefs — May 18, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

    Cassie, I can totally relate. When I started putting up ads and really focusing on posting at least x amount of times per week etc., blogging became a job. But it’s not my career! And I don’t want it to be. I’m a music therapist and love it. Once I stopped focusing on how many comments I was getting, how often I was posting, or how much money the blog brought in, I found that the blogging was FUN again! People will read your blog because you have great content and amazing photos. Enjoy life away from the computer and don’t blog because you have to. Blog because you want to. And blog WHEN you want to. Love to you! 🙂

  53. #
    nessa — May 19, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

    Good luck with everything! The pasta looks delicious, and just what my family needs to get out of the weeknight dinner rut!

  54. #
    Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies — May 20, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

    Good luck with the new job! After taking a few days off last week, I started playing around with the idea of going back to work again too. There’s definitely something to be said for having a job that you can leave at 5 everyday. And you’re right, having all the pressure to blog full-time can really suck the fun right out of it. :/

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