Nik Snacks

Bite it and write it. That's what I do. Fueled by butterbeans & collard greens.


On 10:13 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    No comments
NC Beer Month isn't over yet. You still have some time to enter the NC Beer Month Getaway contest. The winner will be announced soon! Is it going to be you?

Now that NC Beer month is nearly ended, a new journey begins. The journey to Winston-Salem for you: The month of April was a celebration of local beer, history and opportunity to get in the mood to drink AND cook and dine with beer. Every month is a cause for celebration in the City of Arts and Innovation.

The most unique and exciting partnership I can think of is the relationship between food and spirits. In Winston-Salem, we pair those things together very well.

Photo Courtesy / Foothills Brewing 

Foothills Brewing is the city's most renowned brewpub and boasts to have the longest bar in the county. Brewpub is a portmanteau of "brewery" and "public house", an establishment for everyone. Not only can you attend beer school the first Saturday of each month, you can order some of the best food in the area: fried pickles, hand-pattied burgers, or even apple stuffed trout wrapped in bacon with a lemon caper sauce. There's something for everyone.

Photo Courtesy / Small Batch Beer Co. 

Small Batch Beer Co. is exactly as it sounds: small batches of beer, brewed ONE barrel at a time. Many of which are seasonal and once the keg is tapped, that style of beer is gone within hours. Leaning on house classics like Percolator (coffee stout) , Hefe Vice (Hefeweizen) , and Mr. Lemon Man IPA, upscale bar food is also on the menu alongside its palate-cleansing brethren. Try the BB Burger (BB stands for Burger Batch, a highly anticipated restaurant annex to the brewery) made with local Joyce Farms Grass-fed Beef, American Cheese and a special sauce or the Cluck Norris, a crispy marinated chicken breast garnished Southern style, with pickles.

Photo Courtesy / Hoots Roller Bar 

Hoots Roller Bar & Beer Co is housed in a refurbished flour mill. The reclaimed wood of the bar sets the tone for seasonal brews such as the Gashopper IPA, a nod to the building's neighbor; the Zinzendorf Saison, an homage to an old area hotel; Or the Creekside Pale Ale, another mention of an area landmark. While the brewery does not serve food, a mere 100 feet away, The Porch Kitchen And Cantina serves some of the best Tex-Mex cuisine this side of I-40.
Photo Courtesy / The Porch Kitchen And Cantina

Beer isn't the only spirit on Winston-Salem's mind, as we have two distilleries open to the public as well. Around the corner from Hoots Roller Bar, Sutlers Gin offers tours and tastes of the smoothest, finest gin produced in a century in Winston-Salem.

Located one half-mile away, Broad Branch Distillery is open for tours and samples as well. By importing water from Wilkes County, North Carolina (unofficial moonshine capital of the world), Broad Branch produces four different proofs of grain alcohol for your drinking pleasure.

And speaking of pleasure, I had the fortunate pleasure and opportunity to travel across the state of North Carolina and stop at select Lowes Foods to share the beer story of Winston-Salem and recipes using the best craft beer in the Piedmont Triad.

I formulated a handful of recipes just for this NC Beer Month collaboration with Visit Winston-Salem and Lowes Foods and it was truly a pleasure and a joy sharing my love of craft beer and food. Hopefully you'll continue down the road with me and experience all Winston-Salem has to offer as a beer destination and more.

On 10:00 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    1 comment

I'm putting my culinary contest hat on again and entering another contest! Last time I won, it was for these. The first time I won, it was for these. This time? I'm not putting any eggs in my basket (okay, just three of them) but this recipe could be a winner.

As you all know, I'm going to the Food Wine Conference for the FOURTH year this May (you can come, too; click the previous link). Each year several conference sponsors host contests and giveaways and right now, I'm entering my Curry Chocolate Ice Cream in the 2016 #makeitwithMILK Recipe Contest, provided by Florida Dairy Farmers.

The #MakeItWithMilk Contest requirements included using 1 cup of milk and one other dairy product. Fingers, toes and knives crossed that I knocked this recipe out of the park to make it to the winner's circle.

I started by making my own curry powder blend, which is definitely something I recommend, but if you don't make things with curry often, you'll simply have a surplus of ingredients you won't use ever again in your pantry or spice rack.

Turmeric is what gives curry its yellow tinge while the cumin gives spice and the cayenne breathes a bit of warmth while the cardamom whispers floral notes.

Instead of using granulated sugar or even powdered sugar, I used brown sugar, which gives the ice cream a sweeter, deeper flavor and actually matches with the curry powder pretty well.

So if you're feeling a little exotic and you trust me, make this ice cream tonight! And wish me luck!

Curry Chocolate Ice Cream
Makes 1.5 quarts

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup curry powder blend (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
3 large egg yolks

1. In a heavy saucepan whisk together brown sugar, cocoa powder and curry powder until combined and then whisk in heavy cream and milk. Bring mixture just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

2. In a separate bowl, beat yolks until smooth. Add one-third of the hot cream mixture to yolks in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.
3. Pour the newly formed custard into the heavy saucepan.

4. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170° F.

5. Remove pan from heat and add chopped chocolate, whisking until melted.

6. Pour custard through a sieve or mesh strainer into a clean bowl and chill by covering its surface with plastic wrap, at least 3 hours, or until cold.

7. Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker, according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden. Serve.

Homemade Curry Powder
Makes ¼ cup

1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon ground cardamom
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
2 Tablespoons ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne

Beer Cocktails. 
That's right. Beer. And cocktails. Together. In a glass (or a coffee mug, whatever. I'm not judging).
Now that the weather is really warming up and people are spending more time outside, cocktails with fresh fruit and light beers are on the menu. A beer cocktail can be something as simple as a shandy (beer kissed with equal parts lemonade) or complex as a Black Velvet (a stout with a shot of Chambord dropped into it) but BOY, do I have a heck of a cadre of beer cocktails for YOU today! 

I've partnered with NC Beer Month, Lowes Foods and Visit Winston-Salem for the second year in a row, to bring you a series of content AND events throughout the month of April to educate, promote and entice you about the craft beer scene in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

Today I'm bringing a bit of new-age culture and history-making from Winston-Salem to you in the form of couple of original recipes using NC Beer Month as inspiration. 

Winston-Salem is the City of Arts and Innovation. World-famous Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Texas Pete Hot Sauces both originated here. Innovation in culinary artistry is not lost on my favorite city in the world. Launched in 2013, Buck O'Hairen's Sunshine energy drink hit the shelves in Winston-Salem and it's definitely making waves as a part of the city's history. It's touted as "the antidote to moonshine" but now that I've got my hands on some, it's going to be a part of the NC beer equation that never has to be solved.

Sunshine is a lightly carbonated beverage that “Clears the Clouds” with caffeine (only 50mg) and it's only 60 calories. Electrolytes perk you up to keep you hydrated, added vitamins help fight fatigue and the signature flavor—Ginger Berry—has real ginger in it! Blackberries gives the original drink the berry flavor and it’s sweetened with Stevia. Sunshine just released two new flavors, Blueberry Lemonade and Zesty Clementine, both of which can easily be made into beer cocktails on-the-fly as well. 
As seen in Twin City Hive

Sunshine is available at dozens of retail outlets (and by mail!!!) in the city, but my favorite place to purchase it is Twin City Hive where history and innovation have been meeting since 2014. 
One of Twin City Hive's owners, Joey Burdette 

Last year I profiled Twin City Hive during NC Beer Month to highlight the nitro-infused cold brew coffee they sell that pours like a beer but drinks like a smooth, creamy coffee. 

These beer cocktails are smooth, too. They are easy to recreate, go down easy and the carbonation is the perfect palate cleanser. Try one tonight! 

The Blackberry Business 
1:1 ratio of each
Foothills Carolina Blonde (or Light Cream Ale) 
Ginger Berry Sunshine, to taste
4-6 Frozen Blackberries
Mix, pour & enjoy over ice 

The Apple Cart
1:1 ratio of each 
Foothills Hoppyum IPA (or India Pale Ale) 
Ginger Berry Sunshine, to taste
Apple Cider
Mix, pour & enjoy over ice

Blueberry Sunshine Shandy
1:1 ratio of each 
Blueberry Lemonade Sunshine 
Foothills Torch Pilsner
Frozen Blueberries for garnish 
Mix, pour & enjoy over ice

Blue Sunshine 
6 oz. of Brown Ale
Zesty Clementine, to taste
Splash of Orange Juice 
Mix, pour & serve over ice

Don't forget to enter the NC Beer Month Getaway package to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Scroll down a little bit and get the details on how to enter the contest!

During the month of April, Nik Snacks will be traveling to Lowes Foods around the state bringing Winston-Salem beer to you in the form of excellent original recipes using beer while promoting a fantastic NC Beer Month Getaway package! 

Find Nik Snacks at one last live demonstration at the Lowes Foods location below alongside recipes that will be showcased: 
12-2 PM 
April 27: Knightdale, Knightdale Commons, 3001 Widewaters Parkway (Store #189)
5 Minute Stout Hot Fudge
Beer, Shrimp And Grits

Don't forget to enter to win the Getaway package and stay tuned for more details about each recipe and more fun facts about NC Beer Month!
On 9:04 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , ,    2 comments
I'm a creature of habit and I tend to repeat or go back to do things I've experienced because it's routine, it makes me feel good and while I can accept change in small increments, it's comforting to know that I can depend on something to help keep me happy. 

For the past three summers, that has been The Food Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida. The first year, I was a complete food blogger's conference novice. I'd never been to one and I didn't know anyone and I didn't know what to expect. I had fun in my own way, but I'd won the Dixie Crystals Brownie Dessert Contest and I couldn't tell a soul until it was announced publicly. That didn't put a cap on my shine, but it helped me really learn and focus on the sessions and make connections with other bloggers. The friendships that I have forged with other food bloggers was unexpected.  The bloggers I've met aren't just friends, they're family. 

I didn't mean for it to happen. I didn't seek it out or know it was coming, but this conference changed my life. I can pinpoint the moment I decided to break out on my own and blog full-time. I was given the tools and the confidence to take my life by the reigns and drive instead of being driven by other people. 

So much fun! 
Now, if you've ever met me, you already know I'm highly independent, quite opinionated, a little bit pretentious with a sparkling sense of humor (which is all just fancy words telling you I'm gregarious) and I am not known to rest on my laurels to watch the world go by. But by hearing the stories of other bloggers, seeing what they were doing, what brands they were working with, I thought "Why not me?"

Well... Why not YOU? 

The 4th annual Food Wine Conference is May 13-15 and I'd love to see you there. The glorious Rosen Shingle Creek Resort is host to the conference. Highly impressive digs, let me tell y'all: The FOOD! The food! GOOD LORD, the food. 

I’m a brand ambassador for the 3rd year in a row and as much as I can't wait for the informational sessions about the business of blogging, I'm REALLY looking forward to spending time with my friends, making new ones and eating all of the foods (and then promptly doing a detox). 

YOU come TOO! You can save $50 on your full 3-day conference ticket when you sign up using the promo code Nik Snacks. I hope to see you in May! 

Let me entice you a little more: Check out on the Food Wine Conference contests like this one and feel free to enter them ALL. There are some fantastic prizes including:
$500 gift cards$200 gift cardsFREE Food Wine Conference passes 
Bragging rights for years to come
I mean, if I can enter a contest a win, SO CAN YOU!
Still not sold?
Bookmark and follow the Food Wine Conference and then you'll see how awesome it is and how you need to attend too!

Complementary accommodations at Rosen Shingle Creek 

Disclaimer: I have received a discounted ticket for being a Food Wine Conference Brand Ambassador, but all opinions and words are my own.
On 1:37 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    No comments
Need some BEERsperation?

I'm bringing the culture and history of Winston-Salem beer to you in the form of original recipes using NC Beer Month as an inspiration while promoting a fantastic NC Beer Month Getaway package! Scroll down a little bit and get the details on how to enter the contest!

I've partnered with NC Beer Month, Lowes Foods and Visit Winston-Salem for the 2nd year in a row, to bring you a series of content AND events throughout the month of April to educate, promote and entice you about the craft beer scene in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Together, we're a perfect beer pairing: I'm a pepper jelly flavored Jelly Bean (new, fresh, a little eccentric while trendy) while Lowes Foods and Visit Winston-Salem are the tried and true American Pale Ale that's reliable and a perfect accompaniment.

Register now for your chance to win a two-night getaway to the birthplace 
of NC's craft beer scene, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Enter to win and you and a guest could enjoy:

*A two-night stay at the Historic Brookstown Inn
*A private Behind-the-Scenes tour at the new Foothills Tap Room Dinner at Foothills Brewing (Up to $50)
*Tuition for two, to attend Foothills Brewing Beer School
*"Your Tour Around the State" Experience at Carolina Vineyards & Hops
*Admission to Old Salem Museums & Gardens (home to
North Carolina's first microbrewery)
*A variety pack of Foothills Brewing Craft Beer
*Foothills Brewing T-shirt
*Lowes Foods sponsored Gift Pack including a growler, growler koozie, 

Beer Den T-shirt and a gift card to fill the growler

Today I'm sharing an exclusive Beer Shrimp And Grits recipe!
Either you love them or you hate them. There is no inbetween. I tell people who say they "hate grits" that they've never had them prepared properly.

Raise your hand if you think of that scene in "My Cousin Vinny" where Joe Pesci asks, "What is a grit?" every time you hear about grits. The South is called the "Grits Belt" in some culinary circles. Originally, shrimp and grits was a breakfast dish eaten in coastal communities. It wasn't until 1985 when Bill Neal of Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina put shrimp and grits, as we know it, on the map.

Essentially grits, cheese, bacon, mushrooms and scallions made a sensation in the New York Times and Food And Wine magazine.

As many people there are in the world, there are variations of shrimp and grits. Every Southern restaurant has it on their menu and home cooks try to attempt it.

It seems that all roads lead to Winston-Salem as the Triad is the anchor that holds the Coastal Plains and the Blue Ridge Mountains together. The City of Arts and Innovation is not only the birthplace of the state's craft beer movement, but the Twin City is also in the center of culinary conversations and quite the compass rose of a culinary destination. The Moravian Cookie Trail, Moravian Chicken Pie Trail, Moravian Sugar Cake Trail, NC Cheese Trail, and NC Wine Trails all snake their way to and through Winston-Salem. Award-winning chefs, restaurants and annual culinary festivals are just the tip of the iceberg lettuce wedge salad of my favorite city in the world as a destination.

Want an opportunity to sample the following Shrimp and Grits recipe for free? Scroll down to see which Lowes Foods locations I'll be sharing craft beer recipes, opportunity to enter the Beer Getaway and hear about the Winston-Salem beer story.

I've updated the classic recipe to include beer, beer and more beer. Specifically, I've used Foothills Brewing Pilot Mountain Pale Ale. This seasonal favorite is named for a popular area landmark, Pilot Mountain (very close to Andy Griffith's real-life Mayberry) and is a classic American style pale ale.

The keys to creamy, smooth grits is fresh, stone-ground grits, time, a 1:1 ratio of stock or water and milk or cream and cheese. Insert beer instead of water and deglaze your pan with beer instead of water and not only are you adding more flavor, you're being creative. Make sure you serve with a lemon wedge to accompany the fresh shrimp and to cut the hoppy undertones of the dish. 

Come visit me and taste these exclusive recipes! 

1-3 PM
April 16: Raleigh, 9600 Strickland Road (Store #191)
*Beer, Shrimp And Grits
*IPA BBQ Sauce

1-3 PM
April 23: Wake Forest, Gateway Commons, 942 Gateway Commons Circle (Store #239)
*Beer Jelly
*Beer, Shrimp And Grits

12-2 PM
April 27: Knightdale, Knightdale Commons, 3001 Widewaters Parkway (Store #189)
*5 Minute Stout Hot Fudge
*Beer, Shrimp And Grits

I know I'll see you at each live event! Don't forget to enter to win the Beer Getaway package and stay tuned for more details about each recipe and more fun facts about NC Beer Month!

Beer Shrimp And Grits
Serves 8-10

Add flavor with beer to this traditional recipe. Pairs well with a light lager or American Pale Ale.

2 cups (1 pint) pale ale or lager
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
3/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup regular grits
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup ham, diced (or sausage)
1 pound 36/40ct shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pale ale or lager
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

1. Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Add Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients. Keep warm.

2. Cook ham in a large skillet until crisp; remove from pan and set aside on paper towels.

3. Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and salt. Set aside.

4. Sauté mushrooms in hot skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add seasoned shrimp and garlic to the pan and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned.

5. Stir in pale ale or lager, lemon juice, hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to deglaze the pan.

6. Serve shrimp mixture over hot cheese grits. Top with reserved diced ham.

On 1:39 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    9 comments
April in North Carolina means NC Beer Month. Visit Winston-Salem, Lowes Foods, Nik Snacks and a few area chefs are teaming up to celebrate and commemorate NC Beer Month in a big way in 2016. Scroll to the bottom to see how!

North Carolina is one of the best states for craft brewing. We have more breweries than Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia COMBINED. And new ones are cropping up and popping up every day. We have award-winning breweries that boast multiple medals from the Great American Beer Festival and The World Beer Cup, a rich craft beer history and potential to set standards for the future.

All roads lead to Winston-Salem for NC Beer. Beer, culture and history meet you in the middle of the Old North State to greet you with hospitality and comfort just off the interstate. Winston-Salem is full of opportunities to sample North Carolina beer.

Foothills Brewing, Hoots Beer Co. and Small Batch Beer Co. all anchor Downtown and West End neighborhoods with a plethora of museums, bottle shops, restaurants and opportunities to sample.

FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW, (!!!!) during the month of April, Nik Snacks will be traveling to Lowes Foods around the state bringing Winston-Salem beer to you in the form of excellent original recipes using beer while promoting a fantastic NC Beer Month Getaway package! Details on how to enter can be found here.

Find Nik Snacks travel schedule below alongside the recipes that will be showcased:

April 6: Knightdale, Knightdale Commons, 3001 Widewaters Parkway (Store #189)
Veggie Dip Quesadillas
Beer Jelly

1-3 PM
April 16: Raleigh, 9600 Strickland Road (Store #191)
Beer, Shrimp And Grits

1-3 PM
April 23: Wake Forest, Gateway Commons, 942 Gateway Commons Circle (Store #239)
Chocolate And Beer Truffles
Beer Jelly
Beer, Shrimp And Grits

12-2 PM
April 27: Knightdale, Knightdale Commons, 3001 Widewaters Parkway (Store #189)
5 Minute Stout Hot Fudge
Beer, Shrimp And Grits

I know I'll see you at each live event! Don't forget to enter to win the Getaway package and stay tuned for more details about each recipe and more fun facts about NC Beer Month!
On 9:53 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    2 comments
Spring is coming. I can feel it. At any moment, it will be time for parties on the back porch (or front porch, if you're bold and don't care what the neighbors think) and the refreshing cocktails will be flying. I've got the perfect cocktail for YOU.

The Tom Collins is a Collins cocktail made from gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water or soda. Essentially this is a gin and sparkling lemonade drink is typically served in a Collins glass over ice.

I don't know who Tom is, but I like his drink. I'd never had one before a few months ago. I'm slacking on my drink game. A Collins glass is typically a tall cylindrical glass used to serve mixed drinks. Well, I mostly have pint glasses from my various exploits around America and I don't have a proper Collins glass. Or so I thought.

Pom Wonderful used to sell its pomegranate juice in tall, embossed glasses and anyone raised in the South can tell you they have had many a drink out of a jar that used to have jelly or jam in it. Well, these had pomegranate juice in it. Tall, thin, cylindrical... Well, I'll be! It's the perfect Collins glass! When I was doing research on the drink and figuring out what glass to put it in, I realized I had all the tools I needed right at home. Including one special ingredient: Bittermilk

No, not buttermilk. Bittermilk.
Bittermilk's non-alcoholic mix cuts out most of the middle man and all you have to do is add vodka, gin and soda to make your own Tom Collins at home.

Bittermilk is handcrafted in Charleston, South Carolina and is taking the drink world by storm. Featured in publications like Food + Wine Magazine, Real Simple, The Wall Street Journal and Imbibe Magazine, the handcrafted cocktail gets upgraded by the company's mix of ingenuity and ingredients. Compound No. 2 or Tom Collins with Elderflowers and Hops is intensely citrus and then the Centennial hop mellows out that citrus profile by adding another dimension of flavor. Who knew gin, lemon juice and water could get so fancy?

Not a Tom Collins fan? That's okay! Bittermilk has 5 other signature cocktail mixers that are perfect for you: Smoked Honey And Whiskey Sour? How about an Old Fashioned? The sky's the limit, guys. The sky's the limit.

Tom Collins with Elderflowers and Centennial Hops
Adapted recipe from

1 Part Gin or Vodka
1 Part Soda Water

Build in a tall glass with ice. Stir with straw. Garnish with a slice of lemon.