Nik Snacks

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


On 5:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , ,    15 comments
You're running late. You've got soccer-ballet-flute-choral practice and you don't have much time to put anything resembling dinner together. Well, I've got you covered with this easy, super simple #WeekdaySupper meal idea. Turn breakfast into dinner with these potato pancakes! Pair with some chicken nuggets and frozen broccoli florets and you've got a meal that will please the pickiest critic at your house!

Bacon Cheddar Potato Pancakes with Dijon Maple Syrup
Makes 15 pancakes

4 cups cold leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 Cup white onions, finely chopped
1/2 Cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
8 Strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled (about 1 cup)

Mix the mashed potatoes, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, butter and egg together in a bowl; stir in the onions, crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese.
Heat a large pan or skillet to medium heat and spray it with non-stick spray.
Scoop 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle.

Cook each pancake until you start to see the bubbles forming on top then flip it over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side (or until the outside is golden brown). Repeat for each pancake until the batter is gone.

Dijon Maple Syrup
Makes 3/4 cup

1/2 cup Pure maple syrup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Stir together mustard and syrup until well-combined.

NOTE: Use instant potatoes and pre-cooked bacon to make the pancakes come together faster. For additional flavor, cook your own bacon and then cook the pancakes in the bacon grease.

Don't forget to follow along and check out more inspiration for your #WeekdaySupper:
12/15/14 - Monday - Vodka Cream Pasta by MealDiva
12/16/14 - Tuesday - Bacon Cheddar Potato Pancakes with Dijon Maple Syrup by Nik Snacks
12/17/14 - Wednesday - Vegetable Mac & Cheese Casserole by Momma's Meals
12/18/14 - Thursday - Hearty Chili with Beef, Beans, and Roasted Red Peppers by The Perfect Brownie
12/19/14 - Friday - Kimchi & Sausage Pancakes by kimchi MOM

On 2:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    27 comments
It's time for Sunday Supper, y'all!

I am a beer aficionado. I drink beer. A lot. I even have an app for that. I spend a lot of my free time at the oldest brew pub in my city and researching what beer I should drink next. 8 out of 10 women I meet "don't like beer" or "don't drink beer" and that bothers me a little bit. OKAY--it bothers me a lot. There is a beer for EVERYONE. Whether it be an ale, lager, stout, porter, sour, lambic, or a beer cocktail--there is something for everyone to enjoy. It's just like water. Water with hops, grain or fruit and yeast in it.

That being said, I think I've come up with an idea that will turn any red-blooded person into a beer lover. I've turned beer from my favorite brewery in North Carolina into [DRUMROLL] Craft Beer Jelly.

It MUST be jelly 'cause jam DON'T shake like that!

What is craft beer?
Craft beer is beer produced in a microbrewery that produces a small amount of beer. The exact terms vary, but typically breweries that are much smaller than large-scale corporate breweries and are independently owned fall under this category. Craft beer is characterized by emphasis on quality, flavor and small-batch brewing techniques. In North Carolina, anything that produces less than 50,000 barrels of beer a year is considered a microbrewery. There are a little more than 2 kegs in a barrel and a little more than 15 gallons in a keg.

When the topic of libational recipes came up for #SundaySupper, I had no other ideas except to make jelly from beer. I've heard urban legend about this stuff and I wasn't sure I could pull it off. My first thought was to use a light lager because it's pretty, golden and yellow but then I said,"Screw that. I'm going for flavor." I used a porter which is similar to a stout. Normally, I don't like porters or stouts. At all. I don't care for beer that tastes malty, caramelly, or like drinking chocolate or coffee. Sometimes you have to take one for the team for the good of the collective and trust me--this is VERY GOOD.

When you pour the hot jelly into your jars, there will be a little foam and it will look like a simple glass of beer. You can skim off the foam, but I think it looks a little more authentic this way. I used sample glasses from a couple of my favorite NC breweries to make the jelly. You can use any kind of jar or glass you like. Also, using jar lids isn't necessary. Just as long as your vessel is clean and sterilized, you should be good.

It's sweet, with a little tang from added lemon juice with the beer flavor hitting your taste buds in the back and finishing with a light alcoholic lift with lots of malty flavor from the beer. So what do you put it on? I'm sure you've been asking yourself that for the past minute or so. Well, it's perfect to spread on your favorite sandwich bread with peanut butter or even hot, buttery biscuits fresh from the oven. You could also put it on pork, chicken wings, or even toss it with fried shrimp for a Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp kind of situation.

If you're in the mood to collect more boozy recipes from a talented group of people, check out nearly 4 dozen recipes from the Sunday Supper crew from around the web.

Savory and Sweet Libational Dishes
Libational Desserts
Craft Beer Jelly
Makes 32oz
Adapted from

3 cups beer
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1 (3 oz) package of liquid pectin (I used Certo/Sure Jell)

In a large stock pot bring the beer to a boil, then lower the temperature so the beer is just barely simmering. Add sugar one cup at a time, stirring to make sure each cup has fully dissolved before adding the next cup. Once sugar is dissolved, add pectin and bring back up to a boil and let cook for 3 minutes. The beer will roll and foam. If need be, remove from the heat periodically so the pot doesn't boil over. Add lemon juice and pour into warm sterilized jars or glasses. Clean up rims and place on lids, if using. Loosely tighten bands so they will hold but will not leak, turn jars upside down for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes has passed turn jars right side up and let finish cooling. If not using lids, simply let the jars cool and cover tops with wax paper and seal with string for gifts.
If the jelly doesn't jell, simply re-heat jelly until simmering and add half a pouch of pectin and 3 more tablespoons of lemon juice. Re-jar and so forth.

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.
On 12:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    27 comments
I have a black thumb. Literally and figuratively.

I tell my farmer and food artisan friends if they care to grow the food, I'll take care to cook the food. It's not my job to cultivate it. That being said, I have tried to maintain an herb garden for years. I thought I had it in the bag this year when I purchased some mint at the farmers market during one of my $20 Challenge shows. That was in July. It is now December and the mint is dead. I'd show you, but I'm not into embarrassing myself on the Internet. On purpose.

At my last cooking demo of the season, I received a beautiful homemade window herb garden full of two kinds of basil, two kinds of parsley, oregano and sage. Guess what?--dead. I bought chives at the grocery store just last month, hoping I could keep them alive. I can remember to water them once a week right? NOPE.
I travel way too much and clearly cannot maintain life in my kitchen. I should be ashamed. But I'm not. Not anymore!

Enter the AeroGarden 3SL.

I recently got one of these bad boys and I'm COMPLETELY OBSESSED. I've had it for 2 weeks and two of my three herbs are sprouting like mad and I DIDN'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING.

It took 10 minutes to set up and basically I've forgotten about it. OKAY--that's not true. I'm really enjoying watching the basil, parsley and dill sprout up. If you've been following me on Instagram, you have seen the progress of my little herbs and hopefully shared in the miracle of plant-life with me.

This sucker is fool-proof! Its so easy and compact, perfect for any home or apartment. I love that my house is about to have fresh herbs year round, and yours can too!  Or flowers.  Or tomatoes.

If you're a subscriber to my email list, you've seen this before. As a matter of fact, you got a jump start on entering and big ol' list of other contests going on around the Web with more chances to win. Enter to win one of 4 ULTRA LED units on the Kitchen PLAY Facebook page now through December 23, 2014

Find AeroGarden online here:





To enter an EXCLUSIVE Nik Snacks AeroGarden Giveaway contest, click on the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Follow the directions and be on your way to winning your own AeroGarden 3SL!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLAIMER: Compensation and an AeroGarden 3SL was provided by Kitchen PLAY via Kitchen Witch, LLC. The opinions in this post (and every post) expressed are mine, and are not indicative of the opinions of anyone except me.
On 5:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , ,    38 comments
The holidays are a time to gather family around the table for quality time. As I get older, when the holidays come around, the emphasis on family is more important to me. For as long as I can remember, we have had a set menu for Christmas: ham, lamb, potato salad, green beans, macaroni and cheese, rolls, pineapple upside down cake, apple pie and gingerbread with lemon sauce. The preparation may change (I made lamb ribs one year and melted our outdoor grill) but the menu never changes, not even if we vacation away from home.

This year, I'm going to add a little something special to our holiday meal. The Sunday Supper family is partnering with one of our favorite families, Gallo Family Vineyards, to share recipes, ideas, and inspiration for pairing the new Gallo Family Vineyards holiday wine blends with memorable holiday meals and traditions. Take one of the the best parts of Christmas dinner– sweet glazed ham fortified with rich red wine–top it with a rich, flavorful gravy and you have all of the makings of a new twist to a family classic.

What makes your holidays so memorable?

Red-eye gravy is typically a thin sauce often seen in the cuisine of the Southern United States and associated with country ham. The gravy is made from the drippings sausage, country ham, bacon, or other pork, sometimes mixed with black coffee. The "red-eye" part supposedly comes from the ring of grease in the pan when the gravy is finished, but I think it's from the fact that coffee is used to deglaze the pan and make the sauce brown.

In this version, I use coffee to fortify the full-bodied, velvety richness of the Gallo Family Vineyards Red Berries & Chocolate Wine.

Glazed Ham
Serves 6-8

1 smoked, bone-in ham (8-10 lbs)
1/2 cup Gallo Family Vineyards Red Berries & Chocolate Wine
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of allspice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove any packaging or netting from the ham. Trim away any excess fat, leaving about a 1/4-inch layer all over.
Line a baking sheet with several sheets of aluminum foil and place the ham, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Tightly cover the ham with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

When the ham is ready, remove it from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Discard the foil.

Pour the glaze over the ham and return it to the oven. Bake uncovered for 55 to 60 minutes total. Let the ham rest 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.

Red Eye Gravy
Makes 2 cups

2 Tablespoons pan drippings from glazed ham
1/4 cup minced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dark coffee
1 cup Gallo Family Vineyards Red Berries & Chocolate Wine
1 1/2 Tablespoons red currant or grape jelly
3 tsp cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, warm drippings over medium-high heat, and then add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Once the onions are cooked, add the coffee and wine and allow the liquid to come to a boil. Add 1 tsp water to cornstarch to make a slurry. Pour it into the saucepan and whisk vigorously. Once the gravy thickens and can coat the back of a spoon, season with salt and pepper, to taste and remove from the heat. Use the whisk to stab the butter and slowly swirl it into the pan, to finish the sauce. Hold warm until time to serve.

To serve Gallo Family Vineyards wine at your holiday feast, click HERE to find your own bottle or two. After you've located your local vendor, click HERE for a $1 off coupon.

Connect with Gallo Family Vineyards to help you plan your own holiday celebrations.


Continue to make your holiday memorable with recipes and ideas from the rest of the Sunday Supper crew:

Cheerful Beverages: Holiday Brunch: Memorable Main Dishes: Delightful Desserts and Sweets:
Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed are mine, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.
On 2:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    10 comments
So sad you can't get Chick-fil-A on Sundays. You can make your own Chick-fil-A inspired chicken at home, ya know.

A Chick-fil-A biscuit made by me Circa 2011

True story: I used to work for Chick-fil-A. I was a marketing director. I helped plan those fun dinners, events, and sampling. And no--I never dressed up in the cow costume. That privilege was reserved for very enthusiastic, tall, thin, teenagers. Every location has a marketing director. The best perk: Having Chick-fil-A every day for lunch. Nuggets, strips, waffle fries, salads, cole slaw, wraps, lemonade... man, it was the best! And for breakfast? The ubiquitous chicken biscuit. I'd clock in, grab a biscuit (with no butter brushed on top, that's what makes the biscuit taste so good) and start my day while munching on one. McDonalds has one--no, two actually, and neither of those are as good as these.

So, my Southern Style Chicken Biscuit is special because it's accented with local pickles made by Miss Jenny's Pickles. North Carolina is known for a few things: Pepsi, sweet potatoes, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Texas Pete hot sauce, Mt. Olive Pickles and Miss Jenny's Pickles. Jenny and her business partner, Ashlee, left their jobs in corporate America to embark on this business venture. Their story is amazing and so are their pickles. My favorite are the bread and butter habanero pickles. They are the spiciest things! The only thing more amazing than their signature salt and pepper pickles is this chicken I'm about to tell you how to make. It's a must have. Really, it is. As for the biscuit part, I've more biscuit recipes on this blog than anything else. You can pick one. Or find your own.

Southern Style Chicken Biscuit
Yield: 4 biscuits

2 cups pickle juice brine
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 pieces
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 quarts peanut oil
4 warm biscuits, sliced in half
sliced pickle chips, for garnish

Place chicken breasts in a reusable container, bowl with a lid or resealable plastic bag and add pickle brine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 8 hours.
Meanwhile, combine paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cornstarch, powdered sugar and flour, in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together milk and eggs in a second medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
In a large cast iron skillet, deep fryer, or Dutch oven, preheat oil to 350°F.

Remove chicken breasts from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Dredge each breast cutlet in the milk mixture and turn to coat. Dredge each cutlet, one at a time, then dredge each piece in the flour mixture. Pile extra flour mixture on top of cutlet, and press down firmly to adhere as much mixture as possible to the meat. Lift cutlet, shake off excess flour, then lower into hot oil. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

Cook, turning breasts occasionally until golden brown and crisp on all sides, and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Place fried chicken cutlet on bottom half of sliced biscuit. Top with pickles and place top biscuit half on pickles. Serve immediately.

I really like pickles. I always add extra.

On 7:46 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , ,    21 comments
Today is my first post for #TwelveLoaves. And I couldn't be more excited. I get to share my grandmother's recipe for gingerbread. Every year around Christmas, my grandma would bake dozens of cakes and deliver them to all of her friends and my granddad's work colleagues. My mom likes to tell the story of how she and her two siblings would be buckled in the backseat of the car, all bundled up in their winter's best, each with a cake on their lap.

My grandma isn't with us anymore, but I get to carry on the tradition tenfold by sharing her recipe for gingerbread on my blog and adding my own twist on it with a light lemon buttercream icing. It's like a flat icing because it doesn't have to be whipped, but it accent's grandma's gingerbread with fresh lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest. The gingerbread loaf itself is dark from molasses and spicy from ground AND fresh ginger. The fresh ginger is my addition, too. Every time I post a recipe, I try to do my grandma proud and I think she'd be proud of this one. Especially since it's hers.

I love you, grandma xo

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and run with the help of Heather of girlichef, which operates smoothly with the help of our bakers. Our host this month is Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake, and our theme is Holiday Breads. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month’s mouthwatering selection of #TwelveLoaves Pumpkin Breads.
If you’d like to add your bread to this month's #TwelveLoaves collection, here’s what you need to do:
  1. Post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, making sure to mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post (this helps us to get more members as well as share everyone's posts).
  2. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of this blog. The bread MUST meet the Twelve Loaves theme (enter theme). 
  3. Share your Twelve Loaves bread (must be baked and posted this month) on your blog by enter the last day of the month.
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Grandma's Gingerbread
Yield: 2 loaves

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup dark molasses 
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 cup very hot water

Lemon icing
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Finely grated lemon zest

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two (8 x 4) loaf pans.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat together butter, molasses, sugar, eggs, and fresh ginger with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until smooth, then add hot water and mix until combined.

Pour batter into pans and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool to warm in pan on a rack.

When loaves are completely cool, stir together heavy cream, powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl. Pour icing over cooled loaves. Cut and serve or wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator.
The 2014 holiday season is here! It's time for bundling up in winter coats, drinking hot chocolate, singing carols, spending time indoors with friends and family and sharing and exchanging gifts. Sharing recipes for homemade gifts to give to family and friends for the holidays is a fun, economical way to show you care.

Gifts From the Kitchen is this week's Sunday Supper theme and Renee from Magnolia Days is this week's gracious host.

This week I'm sharing a gift that's near and dear to me. A Creole Jambalaya Mix.

I am a grandchild of New Orleans. My grandfather was born, raised there and came to North Carolina in the 1950s to attend college. To make a long story short, recipes and traditions from New Orleans have been passed down to me and it's my job to share them with you. Jambalaya is one of five dishes that my my mom taught me (she's not the best cook in the world) and this version that I'm sharing with you is a pared-down, yet still flavorful recipe that can feed an army.

Usually, fresh onions, bell peppers and celery would be cooked down and added to rice with tomatoes. In this "gift" version, everything is dried, but the flavors are still there. I layered mine in this novelty jar shaped like a snowman, but generally a quart-sized glass jar will do. Also, I love the colors of the different layers, but that isn't necessary. Everything goes into the pot at the same time, so if you mixed it up, you'd probably fare better!

Creole Jambalaya Mix
Serves 12 with 1/2 cup rice portion

Jambalaya is believed to be conquistador Spaniards' attempt at making paella in the New World. Paella is seasoned/colored with saffron and can be considered a hodge podge with seafood, meat, and vegetables. In the New Word, tomatoes were used to give the rice color in lieu of saffron.

When you make your gift, don't forget to include instructions and a little handwritten note

3 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup tomato powder
2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons dried onion powder
1 Tablespoon minced onion, dried
3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried celery flakes
4 teaspoons dried shrimp
2 tablespoons dried chives
1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves

2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
12 ounces Italian or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
12 oz chili sauce
32 oz. chicken stock
1 (14 1/2 oz) can no salt added tomatoes, chopped with juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown chicken and sliced smoked sausage together in a skillet on medium-high heat. In the same pot, add chili sauce, the entire Creole Jambalaya Mix jar and deglaze the pan with 8 oz of chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix up any browned bits, and stir until smooth, making sure the seasonings and rice are incorporated and mixed thoroughly. Add the can of tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining stock and stir. Season to taste. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through. Reduce heat to low-medium. Uncover pot and stir frequently for an additional 10 minutes.

Another great idea for this time of year is to create a gift basket for your loved ones and add edible gifts and non-edible food gifts, too. Two Sunday Supper contributors have written books that would make fine additions to any gift from the kitchen:

Make Ahead Bread: 100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day by Donna Currie

An Appealing Plan: A Year Of Everyday Celebrations by Krayl Funch

Don't forget to check out all of the other gift ideas from the rest of the Sunday Supper Crew!

Beverages: Bread: Appetizers and Snacks: Condiments and Sauces: Savory and Sweet Mixes: Desserts and Sweets: Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.