Nik Snacks

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

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On 11:40 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , ,    9 comments
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CarnationSweepstakes #BetterBreakfast #CollectiveBias

Breakfast is considered “the most important meal of the day” but more often than not, it's the most neglected one. I'm absolutely guilty of that. It can be hard with my local celebrity/food blogger/night owl lifestyle to make it a priority, but all of that changes today.


The convenience and nutrition of Carnation Breakfast Essentials® is here to save my day! I've been drinking it intermittently since I was 5 years old. In primary school, it was the only thing I could fix myself and now that I'm super grown and my palate has matured, I can upgrade my Carnation Breakfast Essentials®. Just watch.
My first day of kindergarten . I totally made my own breakfast this day. And dressed myself, too. 

Is your morning routine as unbalanced as mine? Typically I dont do anything before 10 AM. At 9:58 I'm either dead asleep or watching the minutes tick away until the appointed hour. I physically cannot rise before that time. If I'm awake before 10, its either for a lot of money, or "for the kids" (read: volunteerism). When I do get up, it's a mad dash to throw on my clothes, whip my bird's nest of hair into shape, slick on lip gloss and head out the door to my various appointments, consultations and work engagements. No coffee, no juice, no semblance of a breakfast in sight. But no successful businesswoman can start her day that way, so I'm challenging myself to improve it.


The challenge of eating healthier breakfasts for 7 days with Carnation Breakfast Essentials® is real and apparent. I'm on a mission to complete a self-imposed program called "35 by 35". I plan to lose 35 pounds by the time I turn 35 on April 27. Skipping breakfast or eating unhealthy things is not going to cut it. Nutritious smoothies, shakes and breakfast beverages will start me off on the right foot to meet my goal. Namely this Chocolate Covered Blueberry Smoothie.


I bought my Carnation Breakfast Essentials® in Rich Chocolate at Sam's Club, a big ol' 30-pack box so I can continue the challenge all month long! There is also Vanilla and Strawberry, too.


Carnation Breakfast Essentials® is encouraging everyone to get into a better breakfast routine. Yes, that means you. Take the 7-Day Breakfast Challenge and enjoy a nutritious breakfast every day for 7 days. I'm on Day 4 today and I can happily report that it's 8:25AM right now and I've already been up and awake for over an hour.

Ready to get started? Follow these easy steps:

1. Sign up at CarnationBreakfastChallenge.com.
2. Complete a simple yet fun breakfast mission for a chance to win. New prizes will be revealed every day!
3. Come back any day in February to complete missions and see new prizes.

The prizes range from a Fitbit to a GoPro and other awesome stuff!

4. Head to your favorite store to purchase a Carnation Breakfast Essentials®Nutritional Product and upload your receipt for five extra entries per day.

Ready to make your best smoothie yet?

Chocolate Covered Blueberry Smoothie
Serves 1

Ingredients

1/2 envelope Carnation Breakfast Essentials in Rich Chocolate
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Instructions

1. Place all ingredients in a blender
2. Pulse ingredients until smooth.
3. Pour smoothie into a glass or to-go cup of your choice.
4. Drink and enjoy!


On 4:54 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , ,    1 comment
People always ask me what my favorite snack is. Without question, it's Doritos. Original Nacho Cheese Doritos. All other flavors are imposters.

But because I'm Nik Snacks, I can't JUST have plain ol' Doritos.

I have to have tricked out, fresh-to-death, super clean Doritos. Also known as Walking Tacos.


Basically crunch up the chips, add your favorite taco toppings and eat. Who doesn't like portable food?

Walking Tacos
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 can chili (with or without beans)
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
4 (2.5 ounce) packages chips (I use Doritos)
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream

Instructions

Place chili in a microwaveable bowl. Mix the taco seasoning and heat in the microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds, at 30 second intervals,  stirring between each one.

With the bags unopened, gently crush the corn chips. Snip the corners off the bags using scissors and slit open the bags along the side edge. Spoon equal amounts of the bean mixture, lettuce, cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream into the bags on top of the crushed chips. Serve in the bag and eat using a fork or spoon.

On 12:26 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    8 comments
I've been totally obsessed with Nashville Hot Chicken since I ate some at a local restaurant here in NC last summer. I'd never heard of it and needed to know every thing about it.

We had tiny chicken wings tinged electric fire-hot orange, that burned the soul of my tongue with each and every bite. So juicy, so greasy, so crispy, so exhilarating. Everything you didn't know chicken could be. Slices of white bread with the crusts cut off and housemade cucumber pickles decorated the inside of the bowl.

The very next day, Twitter lead me to read about it on Bitter Southerner. I researched over 5 similar recipes and combined what I liked to make my own Nashville Hot Chicken. The secret is a mop (dip) of a melange of spices (lots of cayenne, a little sugar, paprika, garlic powder) that is whisked into hot lard (or oil) and the chicken is served with white bread and dill pickles.

I have friends who live in and have visited Music City, but NONE of them have ever had this famed yet flamed hot bird. The article explains why and hopefully that will change. Rumor has it that there's a hot fish, too. I want some. Come Friday night, I'm having it. We've been calling it "Hotville" at my house lol

Hot sauce and chicken wings as well as hot sauce and fried fish are common law marriage in a black household, I feel. It's never been a secret, but now the master key is in your hands.


I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs because that's what was in the freezer. And now my mouth is on serious fire. I'm in love. Serious chicky-chicky burning love.

Nashville Hot Chicken 

Ingredients

For dry brining:

8 pieces chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs)
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

For egg washing :
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce

For dredging:
2 cups all-purpose flour

For frying:
Vegetable oil

For the spicy dipping:
1 cup hot frying oil
3 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper

Sliced white bread, for serving
Pickle slices, for garnish

Dry-brine the chicken: In a bowl, toss the chicken pieces with 2 Tablespoons kosher salt and 2 Tablespoons black pepper; cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

Make the egg wash and the dredge and spicy dip:
In a bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and hot sauce. In a second bowl, add the all-purpose flour. In a third medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the cayenne pepper, sugar, paprika, onion powder and garlic salt

Dredge the chicken in the flour, then dip in the egg wash mixture, then in the flour mixture again, shaking off the excess after each step.


Heat the vegetable oil in a deep cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottom pot to 350°F. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Working in batches, lower the chicken into the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 13-16 minutes or until a thermometer in the chicken registers 165°F. Remove the chicken and let it drain on the rack.

Finish the spicy dip: Carefully ladle 1 cup of the frying oil into the cayenne pepper dip bowl and whisk the spices together. Baste the spice mixture over the hot fried chicken and serve immediately; Serve with white bread and garnish with pickles.

On 4:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , ,    6 comments
I'm not into smoothie bowls, protein shakes, grain-free desserts or 2-ingredient dinner ideas, but I'm totally into after-school snacks that are super easy.


When I was a kid, I don't remember being into food or cooking. Snacks were either popcorn or dry cereal. As a teenager, the snacks were upgraded to English muffin pizzas or baby carrots and ranch dressing. I wish I knew about Hot Fudge Cake 20 years ago.


It's easy.
Open, pour, mix, bake.

You can experiment with dozens of flavor combinations (white cake mix and orange soda is a favorite; so is spice cake and cream soda, tastes like graham crackers & marshmallows) but this one is my favorite. It reminds me of the hot fudge cake from Shoney's.


Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

Ingredients

Dark chocolate cake mix or devil's food cake mix
12 oz. Cherry cola or cherry Dr. Pepper

Optional toppings: whipped cream, cherries, nuts, chocolate sauce

Instructions
Combine the cake mix and cola in a large bowl. Use a spoon or whisk to mix ingredients until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake cake according to the cake mix package directions. Allow cake to cool before cutting. Add optional toppings. Serve.
On 4:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks   7 comments
It's Mardi Gras season, y'all! 

Over the years, I've made
Creole Jambalaya Mix and
Crawfish Etoufee in celebration of the most festive time of the year (at my house).

As a grandchild of New Orleans, it's my duty to share alllll of the recipes in my Creole arsenal with you. This time around, it's Chicken And Sausage Gumbo, one of two recipes I'm sharing this season. 


All gumbos are not the same and I truly believe a REAL gumbo always has okra in it and if it doesn't have okra, it's just a stew. But this recipe does NOT have okra. I'm not backpedaling... I'm merely embracing a new (and completely wrong) outlook on this cultural dish. And attempting to not polarize gumbo lovers who hate okra. I'm not doing a good job with that part, am I? LOL

EITHER WAY... this recipe still has all of the usual suspects and a little surprise of simplicity. After you make the roux, it's smooth sailing from there on out. Add the vegetables, herbs and spices, meat and you'll be celebrating eating in no time at all. 

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Ingredients 

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1-2 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
6 cups chicken stock or water
1/4 lb andouille or other smoked sausage, minced
2 to 3 cups chicken breast
freshly ground black pepper to taste



Instructions

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large stock pot. Whisk in flour and  continue to stir constantly until roux turns a deep, dark chocolate brown (or another shade of your liking). This should take around 30 minutes. If you sense that your roux is in danger of burning, reduce heat immediately and continue to stir.

Once roux has reached desired shade, carefully stir in onions, bell pepper, and celery, and continue to stir about 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to wilt. When the vegetables hit the roux, be careful of the cloud of steam. Add salt, cayenne, chicken, sausage and continue to cook about 5 minutes.

Add bay leaves, thyme, stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Adjust seasoning. Thin out with more stock or water if necessary. Serve with/over white rice, if desired.
On 11:25 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , ,    3 comments
Happy New Year! The first post of the year sets the tone for the rest of the year, right?

If that's the case, then my tone is 'pretty freaking DELICIOUS'.

Winter is not known for its abundance of produce, but that doesn't mean you can't have vibrant colors and flavors in your lunchbox.


I generally don't make salads on the blog. Salads are a personal preference and generally uninspiring.


I made this salad because it's really just a bunch of hot root veg that has been tossed in a simple vinaigrette. The vinaigrette soaks into the vegetables and provides a little bit of sweet, a little bit of tang and a whole lot of room for additions to make this simple recipe your own. I mean, that's why we go to salad bars: to put what we want on it and make it our own!

I added my Gingerbread Croutons to this bad boy and laid it on a bed of fresh kale, just for show.

What's your favorite thing to add to a salad?

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad 

1 pound potatoes, halved and quartered
3-4 carrots peeled and cut into cubes
3-4 turnips or parsnips, peeled and cut into cubes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 450°F
Toss all ingredients for roasted root vegetable salad together and place on a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Roast for 30-40 minutes. Toss with prepared cranberry vinaigrette (see recipe below). Serve.

Cranberry Vinaigrette
Yield: 1 cup
½ cup prepared cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons mustard
¼ cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions
In a large bowl, whisk together cranberry sauce, vinegar and mustard. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the cranberry mixture while whisking constantly, to create an emulsion. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley. Pour over Roasted Root Vegetable Salad. Serve.
On 6:19 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks   8 comments
Have you ever traveled to a foreign country just by reading a book? I'm sure you have. What about a cookbook?

I was asked to create a recipe inspired by Chef Pierre Thiam's new book: Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes From the Source to the Bowl


I combined two recipes into one to create the ultimate recipe: Goat cheese stuffed lamb meatballs with Yassa onions.

I love lamb and I couldn't resist sharing a old, yet new twist on Senegalese cooking.

These meatballs are paired with The House of Mandela Wine. That's right.
The House. Of. Mandela. Nelson Mandela. These are fair trade wines produced by the granddaughter and daughter of Nelson Mandela.  The wines are meant to be enjoyed with food and I can think of no better time than the week long holiday celebration of Kwanzaa.

The House of Mandela Chardonnay pairs perfectly with the meatballs. The tang of the citrus and the onions of the meat are the perfect foil to the buttery notes of the wine. Another acceptable pairing would be the comparable cabernet sauvignon.



'Tis the season, y'all!

Pierre Thiam is a chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author. He was raised in the capital city: Dakar, Senegal, a bustling and culturally diverse metropolis on the west coast of Africa. This cookbook and most everything in it remind me of my ex-husband who was from Senegal. I have talked about our kitchen and how it influenced my cooking style in the past. Fast-forward nearly 10 years and I've been transported to the center of Senegalese food culture and its people. I never made it to Dakar as a tourist, but it's definitely on my bucket list. The colors, the people, the beauty, the exotic expectations... I'm definitely planning for a bucket list excursion.

Senegal has a vibrant, diverse food scene that boasts a rich, multifaceted cuisine. If it's not freshly caught fish it's a flavorful stew full of succulent accompanied by super healthy ancient grains and leafy greens. Fresh, bright and fiery are the words I'd use to describe the depth of Senegalese cooking. The recipes are Pierre’s own creative, modern takes on the traditional Senegalese dishes.

And below you'll find mine!

Recipes

Goat Cheese-stuffed Lamb Meatballs

Ingredients
1 pound ground lamb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
grated zest of 2 lime,
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese

Instructions
Place the lamb in a large bowl and add garlic, onion, lime zest, lime juice, parsley, cilantro, mint, salt, cayenne, cumin, and egg. Mix until well blended. Tightly cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 24 hours, to let the flavors meld.

Using your hands, make a round meatball the size of a golf ball, then slightly flatten it into a disk. Pit a pinch of goat cheese in the center and carefully wrap the meat around it, gently reshaping it into a ball.

Repeat until all meatballs are filled with goat cheese. Refrigerate until you're ready to cook.

Prepare yassa onions.

Grill the meatballs or place them on a baking sheet to broil. Cook, turning a few times, until all sides are browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately with the yassa onions.

Yield: 16 meatballs

Yassa Onions

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons mustard

Instructions
Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and bay leaf and stir well to coat the onions with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook undisturbed for 10-15 minutes, until soft. Add mustard and stir well. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, raise the heat to medium-high. Cook the onions uncovered for another 10 minutes more, stirring to avoid scorching, until the onions are a nice golden brown. Remove bay leaf. Serve with goat cheese stuffed lamb meatballs.