Nik Snacks

Bite it and write it. That's what I do.

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On 1:24 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    No comments
I was invited to be one of the first to try Winston-Salem’s newest steakhouse, Butcher & Bull, at an exclusive media dinner. All words & opinions are my own.

Located in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem, Butcher & Bull isn't the traditional, formal steakhouse. First of all, it's located inside the Downtown Winston-Salem Marriott and turns restaurant dining on its ear by providing a warm atmosphere, authentic hospitality and elevated dishes featuring the freshest ingredients possible. 


Providing diners with an adventurous take on traditional fare is what sets Butcher & Bull above other restaurants in the region. 


The menu boasts a diverse steak selection (scroll to the bottom to see what's available) including Certified Angus Beef, wagyu and  a FORTY OUNCE tomahawk steak. A variety of entrées pepper the menu such as tableside smoked shrimp, lobster and grits and an elevated wagyu burger, and an extensive, yet approachable wine list and cocktail program. 

Click to enlarge menu


As a North Carolina-based restaurant, Butcher & Bull reminds diners of this by sourcing fresh ingredients from local Triad farmers and artisans like Harmony Ridge Farms, Joyce Farms, Fair Share Farm and Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork whenever possible.


During the dinner event, we were able to tour the new restaurant space and enjoy the newest culinary creations by award-winning Chef Richard Miller. 


Chef Miller and I go way back to Competition Dining days where he swiftly whipped and battered the competition to win regional and state awards. These days, he and his sous chef, Tim Gallione are slicing, dicing and elevating quality food one plate at a time.


One example of elevated cuisine is the smoked shrimp appetizer. Presented tableside under a glass cloche, this was the most impressive of all the dishes we tried.

Whether you're a denizen of the City of Arts and Innovation or a visitor to our fair city, give Bull & Butcher a try. You will not be disappointed.




On 6:14 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    18 comments
These pretty, perfect cupcakes are soft, rich and creamy with lots of flavor and topped with a fun candy popsicle. With optional sprinkles, they make for a fun and special treat for any cupcake lover on any day.

I love a good cupcake. Somebody is always making one. They're easy to eat, cute to look at and even easier to make. 

Happy Cupcake Lover's Day! June 13 is one of those food holidays that you did not know exist until someone tells you. Today I'm sharing a new recipe with a fun twist along with over 30 other bloggers.

Valentina at The Baking Fairy organized this round-up and I am happy to share this space with her and dozens of other cupcakes. Scroll to the bottom of this post to check out some new cupcake ideas and look at some pretty pictures of cupcakes.


Remember those frozen confections advertised by JELL-O and Bill Cosby? These aren't those.

These are cupcakes made soft, flavorful and moist by adding instant pudding mix to the batter and decorating with candy made from a NEW Wilton DIY-lish popsicle kit!


With step-by-step instructions and all of the candy melts and candy molds you'll need, the candy is ready to eat in less than 20 minutes.

Because not everyone is into eating big hunks of candy with their cupcakes, a simple piping of frosting and a little sprinkle decoration will do.


The candy is pretty heavy so be careful when you place it on your delicate cups. I cut a slit in each cake to make sure it would not fall over.

Best laid plans, right? That stick is crooked. But guess who doesn't care? The kids are about to eat it in 5 minutes anyway.


Enjoy these Pudding Pop Cupcakes. Even though the originals don't hold a candle to these, you'll enjoy making them!

Pudding Pop Cupcakes
Yield 12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (3.4 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup buttermilk

Frosting or buttercream, for decorating

½ cup sprinkles, for decorating

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pudding mix and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Try not to over mix. Gently fold in ¼ cup sprinkles. Divide batter evenly among prepared cupcakes liners (3 Tablespoons is a good measurement)

4. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcakes comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.


5. Once cupcakes are completely cooled, cut a diagonal slit in the center of 6 cupcakes. Push 1 popsicle candy into eat slit. Decorate with frosting and sprinkle generously with the ½ cup of sprinkles.

6. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator.



Cupcakes for Cupcake Lovers Day!

Avocado Cupcakes with Lime Frosting by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Brown Cow Cupcakes by Palatable Pastime
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cupcakes by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Busy Bee Honey Vanilla Cupcakes by For The Love of Food
Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting by A Little Fish in the Kitchen
Cheesecake Cupcakes by Walking on Sunshine Recipes
Cherry Limeade Cupcakes by That Recipe
Cherry Vanilla Cupcakes by The Freshman Cook
Cookies & Cream Cupcakes by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Creamsicle Cupcakes by Red Cottage Chronicles
Honey Lemon's  HoneyBee Cupcakes by Simply Inspired Meals
Lemon Lavender Blackberry Cupcakes by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Lost Princess Cupcakes by Seduction in the Kitchen
Orange You Glad Cupcakes by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes by The Beard and The Baker
Pineapple Coconut Cupcakes by Crumb Top Baking
Pink Lemonade Cupcakes by Bowl Me Over
Pudding Pop Cupcakes by Nik Snacks
Strawberry Cupcakes by Confessions of a Baking Queen
Strawberry Jello Cupcakes by Kelly Lynn’s Sweets and Treats
Sweet Summertime Cupcakes by Cooking with Carlee
Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes by Simple Family Crazy Life
Watermelon Themed Cake & Cupcakes by The Mandatory Mooch
White Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes by Triple Chocolate Kitchen




On 9:32 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    3 comments
Elderberry is my jam.


Elderberry is very special to me because it LITERALLY changed my life. Back in 2004, I contracted bronchitis and after THREE rounds of antibiotics, nothing could touch it. I was desperate. I went into my personal Facebook page to lament. A friend suggested elderberry syrup as her husband swore by it and was cured of his respiratory illness soon after adopting a regimen. I tried it. Within 48 hours, my lungs were clear. Any and every opportunity I can to extoll the virtues of elderberry, I can. And do.

Founded in 2013, Norm’s Farms is located in the Piedmont of NC, in Pittsboro. The family-owned business has developed a line of products featuring home-grown elderberries that have a great taste and top-notch efficacy. You can find elderberry and elderflower jams, jellies and syrups in co-ops, independently owned health food stores, Whole Foods and a host of other grocery and specialty markets in over 20 states.



Fluffy swirls of elderberry-laced cream are layered with spicy gingersnaps in this summery, no-bake confection. The deep elderberry flavor comes through in the whipped cream and in dollops of jam.


Norm's Farms elderberry jam provides an immune system boosting, cold and flu busting, additive free supplement to any dessert but this icebox cake is perfect for Father's Day, Flag Day or any holiday and occasion that doesn't require heating up the oven.

I used store bought ginger snaps, but any brand should work, as could vanilla wafers or molasses cookies. This cake is best made the day before you want to serve it, giving the ginger snaps a chance to soften into a luscious, soft cake.


You not only can freeze icebox cake, but you should! Because whipped cream is used for the “frosting”, it won’t hold up as well in the refrigerator. The cake will need to be thawed slightly once removed from the freezer to make it sliceable and to give it a better texture.

Ingredients

1 quart heavy cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, more as needed
8 oz Norm's Farms Elderflower syrup
1 8 oz jar Norm's Farms Elderberry jam
1 lb bag ginger snaps (about 135 cookies)


Directions

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer set on low speed, whisk togetherand confectioners’ sugar, elderflower syrup, 3 Tablespoons Elderberry jam, heavy whipping cream . Once the cream mixture is combined, but not fully whipped, taste and add more confectioners’ sugar if necessary. Add elderberry jam and whip on high until stiff peaks form.

2. Place ginger snaps in a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle with 1/4 cup elderflower syrup, just until all are slightly moistened.

3. Line a 9" springform pan with plastic wrap (or aluminum foil). Pour 1/3 of the elderberry whipped cream into pan, spreading to the edges. Place 1/3 of the ginger cookies over whipping cream, leaving a border on the outside. Layer elderberry jam on top of the whipped cream in tiny dollops or 1/2 teaspoons. Pour in 1/3 more whipped cream spreading to edges then add more dollops of elderberry jam and another layer of cookies. Finish with a final layer of the remaining cream, spreading it like frosting. Decorate the top with crushed cookies. Tap the pan lightly on your work surface to let the cake settle. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

3. Unmold cake and carefully remove saran wrap, then place cake on serving platter.

Serve immediately or allow to thaw slightly then serve.


This post is sponsored by Norm's Farms.
I was compensated for this post, but all photos, words and opinions are my mine.
On 2:27 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    No comments
This Southern Onion Comfort Food post is a part of a paid promotion with the National Onion Association. I was compensated for this post, but all photos, words and opinions are my mine.


I've said it once and I'll say it again: onions are the foundation of so many recipes; Nearly every classic, savory recipe out there. Onions are the aromatic start to a great finish. That is definitely true for Southern Chicken And Dumplings. Chicken and dumplings is a classic dish that is easy to make (and easy to mess up). It starts with a deep, rich broth where bits of chicken are added and flour-based dumplings are added slowly on top of the bubbling soup and it all comes together in a symphony of deep, rich flavors.



So there's two kinds of dumplings you'll find in a soup-based recipe like this: the fats and the flats.
If you're interested in the rolled, flat dumplings, stop right here and visit my friend Jenni Field's blog and check out her perfect recipe.

If you're interested in getting, being and maintaining your fat--read on:

The fat dumplings are essentially pieces of biscuit that have been dropped out like a drop biscuit. Some are misshapen, some are big, some are small, but all of them have one goal: to be fluffy on the inside and doughy on the outside, thus creating a perfect contrast of texture to soak up some of the broth you've created with your aromatic vegetables and herbs.


The flat dumplings are the popular girls. They're the ones everyone wants to be. Carefully rolled out and dusted with flour. Carefully cut into strips and laid out perfectly into the bubbling broth. The outsides and the insides of these strips meld perfectly into the soup. They do have a fatal flaw: sometimes they disappear do to the roiling of the broth, making the broth thick and creamy, like a gravy. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just that when that happens, the dumpling doesn't get to be the star.

I took an informal poll on Facebook, asking people which dumpling type they preferred and the fat dumplings barely eaked out past the flat or slick dumplings (30-28). Neither style is wrong, but if you want long, flat dumplings, just get yourself some chicken noodle soup. That's what you really want.

Southern Chicken And Dumplings

3-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 or 10 pieces
kosher salt and pepper, for sprinkling
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 carrots, diced small (1 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
1 onion, diced (2 cups)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth/stock
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried, plus more for garnish
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Season chicken on all sides with kosher salt and pepper. Heat oil or butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, sear chicken, skin-side down, until deeply golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until it is browned on the other side, another 5 to 8 minutes.

2. Transfer chicken to a large plate or bowl, and pour off all fat into a cup. Debone the chicken, discarding the bones and skin. Shred chicken pieces with two forks or by hand.

3. Add butter to the Dutch oven and let it heat up. Saute the carrots, celery, and onions until soft (about 3 minutes).


4. Add chicken broth (4 cups) and bring to a boil.

5. Turn the heat down to simmer and add the chicken.

6. Meanwhile, to make the dumplings, mix together the 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fresh parsley. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, melted, until flour mixture is crumbly looking. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and stir until just combined.

7. Using a spoon, drop generous dollops of the dumpling dough into the pot, spacing them apart as much as possible (it’s okay if they touch). Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, undisturbed, until the dumplings are puffed and totally cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. (Test a dumpling by cutting it in half; it should look slightly biscuity, but with no raw bits of dough. If it needs more time, continue to cook.)

8. Divide among serving bowls; Serve garnished with extra fresh parsley, salt and fresh ground pepper, if desired.


This Southern Onion Comfort Food post is a part of a paid promotion with the National Onion Association. I was compensated for this post, but all photos, words and opinions are my mine.

Kimchi is one of those things I have never pictured myself making.

Kimchi is one of those things that I really don't care for in restaurants. 
Kimchi is ALSO one of those things that is more technique than recipe. You can mix, match and substitute ingredients and use trial and error to produce a pretty stellar recipe.

After doing a little research, I realized have dabbled in the art of fermentation based on the basics of the sweet sriracha butter I made to slather on ham-stuffed biscuits. And since I am a Southern lady and this is the Southern Onion Comfort Food Series, I had to come through and make this Korean side dish and condiment with a little twang as well. 


Essentially, kimchi is made from salted and fermented vegetables. A paste or sauce is made from a variety of spices, a little fruit, a little miso and a little time. Cabbage kimchi is the most popular, bu it can be made out of ANYTHING. According to Food52, 'kimchi' is a term that encompasses a whole genre of food—like "sandwich." Along with the sweet onion, I added carrots (for color and crunch) and okra (for Southern authenticity). My kimchi "sandwich" is a taco piled with pulled pork, crispy wonton strips and diced jalapenos. It's a whole mood, y'all.

The onions are sliced thinly, julienne style and it's the easiest way to cut an onion. Just follow the lines in the onion with your knife. But to get some live action shots of an onion being cut, please visit National Onion Association's site to see it in all its allium glory.


Sweet Onion Kimchi
Yield: 1 32 oz jar 

Ingredients Course salt
2 lbs Sweet onions (Vidalia, White or Sweet onion varieties are acceptable)
Carrots (peeled, shredded and/or sliced)
Fresh whole okra pods
Miso paste (red or yellow)
Dried shrimp
Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
2 apples or pears
10-20 cloves of garlic, peeled
Fresh ginger root, peeled 

1. Create a single layer of julienne strips of onion, carrots and okra into a large container. 


2. Sprinkle vegetables with coarse salt and repeat until you’ve layered in and salted all of your vegetables. Use enough to remove some moisture and clean the vegetables. Let the salted vegetables sit for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature.


3. In a food processor of blender, add apples and a couple of tablespoons of miso, 
fresh ginger, about the size of two thumbs and 10 or more peeled garlic cloves. Process. Add a little bit of water if the mixture is too pasty (1 Tablespoon at a time). When finished, your mixture should be about the consistency of applesauce. 


4. Add 1 or 2 cups of gochugaru. Let the kimchi sauce sit and marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours—the longer the better—at room temperature.


5. Rinse the salted vegetables to remove the excess salt and pat dry. In an additional container, jar or other vessel, layer vegetables in the bottom and then cover generously with the sauce. Mix, stir or use your hands to gently massage the sauce into the vegetables, if need be. Rubber gloves will be handy here.

Repeat until you’ve used up all of your marinade. Cover the jar’s opening with a layer of plastic wrap (it helps to contain the odor) and place the lid tightly on top.

6. Leave your kimchi outside of the refrigerator overnight to kickstart fermentation. And then transfer to your refrigerator. 


Pro tip: After a few days, flip the jar upside-down and to distribute the goodness; just make sure the lid is secured tightly to prevent kimchi juice from spilling. Flip back to right-side up a day or two later. 

Some people believe kimchi never goes bad, but if you taste it and there’s an unpleasant “fizz,” you might want to skip that part. 

I think this is probably a good time to tell you that making tacos is easy and if you need some guidance, feel free to look here:

Spicy Marinated Steak Tacos
Curried Fish Tacos
Mushroom, Shallot & Wilted Arugula Tacos
Walking Tacos



Sweet Onion Kimchi Tacos with Pulled Pork
Ingredients
  • 2 cups leftover smoked pulled pork
  • 8 flour or corn tortillas, 2 per person
Suggested toppings:
  • Sweet Onion Kimchi
  • Diced tomatoes 
  • Sliced avocado
  • BBQ sauce
  • Crème fraîche or sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced scallions
Instructions
  1. Warm up your leftover pulled pork in a skillet. If dry add some water or apple cider vinegar to help re-hydrate (about 1 tablespoon at a time).
  2. Heat up your tortillas. Brush the tortillas with olive oil, drape them over the side of a baking dish, bake at 350°F for 5 minutes
  3. Load the tortilla with as much pulled pork and other toppings as you can possibly fit into it. Squeeze some fresh lemon or lime over the top. Enjoy!


On 10:39 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , ,    No comments
This Southern Onion Comfort Food post is a part of a paid promotion with the National Onion Association. I was compensated for this post, but all photos, words and opinions are my mine.


There's nothing like a Friday night fish fry with a big ol' table full of whole fried fish, crab legs, scallops, oysters, pinto beans, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, collard greens... need I go on? And a baskets of piping hot hushpuppies.



The National Onion Association takes pride in educating consumers about the multiple benefits of onions and promoting onions for their member growers. They are a resource for everyone who has ever encountered an onion. If you want to learn some cool, fun, unique facts about onions and where to find them, visit the website. While you get educated about onions, I'm going to educate you about these hushpuppies...


Calabash-style seafood is lightly breaded and fried and typically served buffet style.  The seafood is always accompanied by hushpuppies. Typically, cornmeal is used instead of flour to give the seafood a light coating.  The seafood is then fried in hot oil until it becomes golden brown. And crispy. And delicious.

Calabash, North Carolina is where this style of seafood originated. Calabash has been known for its distinctive style of fried seafood since the 1940s, which has come to be known as "Calabash Style."

Calabash-style buffets are common in many eastern Carolina coastal towns. As a kid, we'd vacation down in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and we'd see restaurant after restaurant named "Calabash #10" or "Calabash #8" indicating the number of restaurants in succession in the area. These restaurants are literally a dime a dozen and #1 Is just as good as #38 (usually). For more information and where Calabash got it's name, click HERE.

For *my* hushpuppies, not only do I use cornmeal, I use stone-ground grits and self-rising flour to give the pups a boost in flavor, texture and optimum fluffyness in between the bits of tender diced onion. Any frying oil will do, but I have used vegetable oil, shortening and overall I prefer peanut oil to fry up these little guys.

A little late-night snack of hushpuppies

Hushpuppies are small, deep fried morsels of cornmeal batter that are served with tartar sauce, ketchup or honey butter.

honey butter in the ramekin on the left; ketchup in the ramekin on the right; not pictured: tartar sauce, which I don't care for with my hushpuppies

I spent over 30 years of my life, eating hushpuppies as part of our weekly fish night dinner. Typically, they're made with yellow or white cornmeal, but the addition of grits gives texture and bite to an otherwise unremarkable piece of fried dough. Some put sugar in the batter. I don't. Sugar caramelizes and makes the puppies dark and too sweet. If you feel compelled to add a little sweetness, I won't judge. I promise.



My favorite part of the crispy, piping hot hushpuppy is always the little treat of diced onion inside. A dash of onion powder or garlic powder amps up the onion flavor. Chopped white onion is the best onion for the task of hiding inside these fried delights. Whenever I order hushpuppies at restaurants and they DO NOT have onion, I'm disappointed. It really is the best part.

Calabash Fish Fry Hushpuppies
Yield: 14-16 hushpuppies

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup grits
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup self-rising flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup white onion, diced
1/4 tsp course sea salt
Shortening or peanut oil for deepfat frying

1. In a bowl combine the grits, flour and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Add the egg, milk and diced onion to the grits and flour. Stir together just until moist.

2. Heat the shortening or oil until it is hot and shimmering (375°F is ideal). Drop the batter by tablespoons into the deep hot fat. Alternatively, spoon batter into a plastic zip-top bag, seal it and snip one of the bottom corners of the bag with shears and use it like a piping bag to drop dollops of batter into the hot fat. Fry about 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning once.

3. Drain the hush puppies on paper towels and season with additional, to taste. Serve with honey butter, ketchup or tartar sauce.




This Southern Onion Comfort Food post is a part of a paid promotion with the National Onion Association. I was compensated for this post, but all photos, words and opinions are my mine.




There's nothing like a big savory bowl of soup covered with creamy, melted cheese and bread to make you feel like a real person while you're sick, if you're well, after a hard day's work or just because you want to be a little decadent and enjoy yourself.




I don't think I've ever ordered a bowl of onion soup at a restaurant. It's not something I want people to see me eating as I'm hunched over the table lapping up the savory bits of onion and twirling the cheese around my fingers. That show is best reserved for me at home with no potential cellphone videos catching the action. At home, it's just me, the cats and this big ol' slow cooker full of caramelized onions, beef broth and a few more aromatic additions.


The mark of a good cook is not the fancy theatrics you conjure up with pricey ingredients and dishware. It's what you do with simple ingredients, Make friends with your knife and a bag of onions. If you're not sure where to keep onions in your kitchen or even how to go about cutting one, read this info sheet from our friends at National Onion Association and find out how.
In the meantime, set it up, eat it up and be sure to share your onion soup pics and videos with me on social media!


Slow Cooker 5 Onion Soup
Yield: 8 servings (plus a little more for lunch in your favorite vacuum sealed container)

INGREDIENTS

4-6 lbs white, yellow, sweet and red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
salt and pepper, to taste
optional: 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup cooking sherry or other dry, white wine
7 cups beef broth, low-sodium
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf 
1 clove garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Bay Leaf
8 slices dry french bread
3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/2 cup chives, for garnish 


1. For steps 1-5, refer to THIS recipe and then continue with steps 2-7. 

2. Continue to step 3 or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months.

3. Stir sherry, Worcestershire sauce and beef broth into the remaining onions in the slow cooker bowl. 

4. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaf and set on high for 4-6 hours OR low for 8-10 hours. 

5. Discard bay leaf and ladle the soup into bowls. 

6. Top with dry bread slices and distribute Gruyere cheese evenly over each piece. Broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned.