Nik Snacks

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


On 1:30 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , ,    2 comments
This post is coming to you from sunny, yet chilly Albuquerque, New Mexico! I'm here with my family on a well-deserved, long-awaited vacation. I'm looking forward to sleeping (a lot), eating (a lot) and taking in the sights and sounds of the desert high country.

Since Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, I bet you're thinking about going to the pool. buying flip flops, sunscreen and firecrackers; collecting recipes for cookouts, planning vacations with the whole family and summer camp enrollment for the kids.

The real reason behind Memorial Day is to remember the members of the American armed forces who have fallen while serving. A simple way to commemorate this federal holiday is to flood the 'net with recipes that bleed red, white and blue--our nation's flag's colors.

This week I'm sharing a new recipe that I was inspired to create by one of America's newest citizens, Simon Majumdar.

"OMG, I know him!"

Simon is best known as the big, bad, bald judge on Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America and a myriad of other network culinary shows. I had the pleasure of meeting Simon last fall in Las Vegas and I kept his business card he handed to me under the twinkling lights of Downtown Las Vegas. Fast-forward to 3 months ago and Simon announced an impromptu book tour to promote his newest book, "Fed, White and Blue". I jumped at the chance to invite him to my hometown and show him how really amazing Winston-Salem is.

I created two events: a laid-back plated dinner and an informal, backyard barbecue featuring a couple of the city's great chefs that I respect and admire. Let me tell you: IT WAS A SUCCESS!

My goal was for 40 people to pre-pay for tickets. I got 44 AND we had some people walk-up and purchase tickets the day of the cookout, too. Simon and I came up with an excellent menu:

*Tandoori Chicken Skewers
*Pork Vindaloo 
*Pickled shrimp with grilled ciabatta and spicy aioli
*Hot Smoked Salmon Fillet atop Ragout of Pork Belly, Black-Eyed Peas, Charred Corn, & Caramelized Fennel; with Fiery Sweet Tomato Jam
*Paprika Potato Salad
*Macaroni Salad
*Baked Beans
*Red, White And Blue Coleslaw

So this coleslaw--let me tell you about it:

I live in a part of North Carolina where Lexington-style barbecue is king. It's always pork shoulder, or pork butt and cooked in or drizzled with a vinegar-based sauce that is seasoned primarily with ketchup, vinegar, and black pepper. It is most common in the Piedmont or central and western parts of the state. The same sauce for the barbecue is used as the seasoning base for the "red slaw" (also called barbecue slaw), that accompanies the barbecue. Instead of mayo, we season our slaw with ketchup or barbecue sauce and it's the best coleslaw in the world. Now, this red, white and blue coleslaw is a play off Simon's book title "Fed, White, and Blue". I added red wine vinegar, sugar and dried blueberries to chopped cabbage to play off the spicy undertones of Simon's pork vindaloo and tandoori chicken. It worked. It worked so well that I keep getting messages and emails from people to ask for the recipe.

So here you go:

Red White And Blue Coleslaw
Yield 5 cups, Serves 8

4 cups finely shredded cabbage
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups dried blueberries

Place the cabbage into a salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, ketchup, sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the dressing over the cabbage, toss thoroughly, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

I'm not the only one commemorating and celebrating Memorial Day today. Celebrate red, white and blue with the rest of the Sunday Supper crew and remember the real reason for the day!

Food Using One Color Red Food
White Food
Blue Food
Food Using Two Colors Red and White Food
Blue and White Food
Red, White and Blue Food
On 9:45 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , ,    No comments
Remember that time when I did a whole month of NC Beer Month posts? Yeah, me too.

Well, the recipe that kicked it all off in my test kitchen was this one right here. I discovered that brining chicken breasts and coating them in a spicy, sweet flour mixture and deep frying it can bring joy to the masses.

Add beer (or soda for adults, as I like to call it) and it becomes a party. Put it on a biscuit, and you get marriage proposals.

I'm sure you're well-versed in the brining process. You've been brining your Thanksgiving bird since 1991 and you swear by it, right?

Well, I don't like the way brined birds taste. The texture is too soft and denatured. It tastes fake to me. Chick-fil-A chicken. Blech. But they make up for it with that yummy, fried coating.

And so do I. With this recipe. Beer and a killer fry mix. Go ahead. Try it. And then cover it with gravy. You won't be disappointed.

Beer Brined Chicken

2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2.5 cups beer

Fry Mix
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
vegetable oil for frying

Mix cold beer, kosher salt, and sugar in a large, resealable bowl or container; stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Add chicken breasts, and weigh them down with a plate to keep them completely submerged. Cover entire bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove bowl from refrigerator; Combine Fry Mix in a separate bowl and coat each chicken breast in Fry Mix until well covered on all sides; place flour-coated chicken breasts on a cooling rack to dry for 15 minutes. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet to 350 degrees F. Cook chicken breasts until browned and no longer pink in the center, about 10 to 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F. Transfer chicken to a cooling rack; allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve with sliced pickles.

On 12:05 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in ,    No comments
$20 Challenge at the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market 

Once again, we're back. Take two. Recipe two. 
What goes great with Five Onion Soup? Inside-out Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from episode one. 

Watch $20 Challenge here and get ideas on how to stretch your dollars further to create great meals for your family.

The $20 Challenge at the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market proves you can eat locally grown food AND stay within your grocery budget, the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market and the City of Winston-Salem is sponsoring the $20 Challenge the first Saturday of the month through September 2015.

Five Onion Soup
6 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons oil
2 small yellow onions, chopped
2 small red onions, chopped
1 bunch chives, chopped
2 spring onions, sliced (white part only, save greens for the garnish)
1 head of garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons vinegar or white wine
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 quart water

Heat a large skillet on medium-high and add 2 Tablespoons of the butter and 2 teaspoons of oil.
Sauté the yellow, red, chives and white part of the spring onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper until the onions start to caramelize.

Deglaze with the vinegar or white wine and add Worcestershire sauce to the skillet.

Transfer onion mixture to a large stock pot and add the water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Transfer to a blender or food processor. Hold the lid down with a kitchen towel, start the blender on low, and slowly bring it up to high speed. One piece at a time, add the rest of the butter to help emulsify the soup.

Garnish with reserved green onions and serve.

On 1:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    22 comments
It's time for Sunday Supper, but first: I have a confession. 

I've mentioned it in passing before, but I'm laying it all out on the table today. I love "Gilmore Girls"

I'm a SUPER fan. The show has been off-air for longer than it was on, and I act like it's a fresh new episode every time I watch it.

The way I fangirl over Gilmore Girls is the same way some adults do over Disney. Or Walking Dead. Or Game of Thrones. I make all of my major life decisions based on WWLGD (What Would Lorelei Gilmore Do), similar to how Lorelai employed WWTBFCD (What Would The Barefoot Contessa Do), even though we know 'barefoot' is one word. 

The show parallels my life at every turn. From Stars Hollow High to Chilton to Yale, I was there. From Dean to Jess to Dean again and Logan. Yup, that's my life. Probation for stealing a boat? Mmm hmm. 

I watch "Gilmore Girls" every day. And I do mean EVERY. DAY. When the power was out at my house during a snow storm, I convinced the bartender at a bar to change the channel from Sportscenter to ABC Family. 

I know what happens. I know every line, every beat, every nuance and characterization of each character and it's sickening. It's like I have a disease. I've pulled my friends into my web by regaling them "Gilmore Girls" story lines as examples of the real-life situations we find ourselves. I can guarantee that I've sabotaged dates because I can't keep my awkward obsession a secret long enough to get past drinks. Not unlike the awkward date Rory went on in season 5 with her classmate. I mean, who calls their mom while on a date? Rory. Yup. Me. Yup. That's happened. 

I've also sucked my mother into my "Gilmore Girls" black hole. My beautiful, intelligent, no-nonsense mother. You see, I live with my mom and even though we lead separate lives, we come together at the end of the day to talk about what we've done and what we're going to do the next day. My day's recap is usually how what I did is similar to what Rory Gilmore did. I'm friggin' weird.

I'm telling you all of this because my obsession has come to a fever pitch. June 7, 2015 my life will be complete. The ATX Festival is where I'll be in the same room as most of the cast of "Gilmore Girls". The first reunion since the show was cancelled in 2007.

It's my pilgrimage. This is my 3am set at CBGB (see Gilmore Girls season 4, episode 11) . 

And I'm taking my mother with me. Only she doesn't know yet. But maybe she does now because one of you told her.

And I don't plan to tell her until she's finished eating this cake. I hope she'll go for it... Austin AND this... 

Inspired by the Valrhona Cœur de Guanaja Chocolate Soufflé at The Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro, NC, I made this cake/soufflé/bombe in honor of my mom. 

We were watching North Carolina Weekend on PBS a few weeks ago and the soufflé came into our lives. I have no idea if this recipe is anywhere close to the original, but I really don't care. It looks good and tastes even better.

The cake is a dense, rich chocolate genoise dome filled with sweet, silky homemade marshmallow cream. The entire bombe is covered with Stout Hot Fudge. The most difficult part of this is the waiting. Make it for the special lady in your life soon. Or take her to Austin. Either way, you'll get lots of hugs and kisses.

For the cake
Cooking spray
1 cup unsweetened chocolate, chopped 
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar 
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature 
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the marshmallow filling
2 egg whites
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat egg whites, corn syrup, salt and lemon juice in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until mixture is thick and doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in sugar until thoroughly combined. Beat vanilla extract into creme just until incorporated. Chill in refrigerator or use a small scoop and portion the creme on a lined sheet tray and place in the freezer.

For the chocolate fudge glaze
  See 5 Minute Stout Hot Fudge

Make the cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the inside of 5 2-cup stainless steel bowls with nonstick cooking spray and lightly coat with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk to combine the eggs, yolk, and sugar. Whip at medium-high speed for 3 minutes. 
Sift the cocoa powder and the 1 1/2 cups flour together into a medium bowl. With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until no streaks remain.

Fold in the milk and melted butter until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared stainless steel bowls, filling 1/3 of the way. 

Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of marshmallow creme into the center of the batter in each ramekin. Spoon remaining batter equally over marshmallow, completely covering.

Place the bowls on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes and check the cake by inserting a cake tester into the center. Once the tester comes out clean, remove from the oven and immediately invert the cake onto a cooling rack.

Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. (Well-wrapped, the cake will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator, or up to 1 month in the freezer.)

Assemble and glaze the bombes

Transfer chilled Stout Fudge to a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring.
Pour the glaze evenly over the bombes to coat them completely. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. 
Let the bombes sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.

Camilla of Culinary_Cam is hosting this Sunday’s roundup. Check out all of the Mother's Day inspired creativity below:
Celebratory Sips
Starters and Salads
Hearty Mains
Treats 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.
On 6:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    8 comments
And we're back. Take two. Season two. 

The $20 Challenge at the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market is back in full swing. I'm proud and happy to be able to do this project all over again! 

The message is still the same: To prove you can eat locally grown food AND stay within your grocery budget, the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market and the City of Winston-Salem is sponsoring the $20 Challenge the first Saturday of the month through September 2015.

Beginning at 10 AM, I will stage a live cooking demonstration in which I will prepare a meal that can feed a family of four for $20 OR LESS only using ingredients I buy at the market that day.

Did you not make it to the market on Saturday? Watch the $20 Challenge on WSTV-13 on Time Warner Cable (Channels 74.3 and 1303) OR subscribe to the City of Winston-Salem's You Tube channel. 

Behind-the-scenes action (ie. Me getting mic'd up)

One of the challenges that many families face is food insecurity and how to rub two pennies together. With ideas and tricks from the show, you can alleviate some of that stomachache (and headache, too)

This month: I made out like a bandit and made a simple three course meal that any family would be happy to have.

Inside-out Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Five Onion Soup
Spring Salad with French Vinaigrette

That's right. Inside-out grilled cheese. Cheese on the outside AND the inside. The top is a cheesy, crunchy, buttery layer that is melted into the fresh bread and the inside is ooey, gooey beautiful cheese that begs to be made over and over againbin the skillet. 

So I don't overwhelm you with recipes, the soup and the vinaigrette will be posted tomorrow. I want you to focus on watching the video below. Because it's good. I actually captivated myself while watching it! 


Inside-out Grilled Cheese Sandwiches 
Yield: 4

4 Tablespoons butter, softened, divided
8 slices artisan bread
6 oz. Habanero cheddar cheese, sliced thin (¼ in. slices)

Use 1 Tablespoon of butter and spread it on one side of each slice of bread. Set aside.
In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter. Lay two slices of cheese in the butter and place the bread, butter side down, on top of the cheese in the butter.

Put some cheese on top of the bread slices and top with the other bread slice, buttered side up.

As the cheese side is cooking and crisping up, which will take about 3-4 minutes, flip the sandwich to finish grilling the other side, another 3-4 minutes.

Repeat the process to make the additional sandwiches.

On 11:46 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , ,    No comments
Just like I promised, I'm posting the recipes I developed for Lowes Foods during NC Beer Month

I know jow to deliver on a promise.

And I promise this recipe takes only FIVE MINUTES.
And then you can put it on cake, waffles, ice cream, spoon or just lick it out of the container. I'm not here to judge. Just share. This fudge.

5 Minute Stout Hot Fudge Sauce
3 Tablespoons butter
½ cup stout beer
¼ cup corn syrup
⅓ cup chocolate chips

Add butter, stout, corn syrup to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add chocolate chips and stir or whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Cool slightly before using or refrigerate up to 4 days in a jar or airtight container. To re-heat, slowly warm in a saucepan or in 30-second intervals in a microwave.
On 4:15 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , ,    No comments
Did you enter the NC Beer Month Getaway contest? The winner will be announced soon! Is it you?

Now that NC Beer month has ended, a new journey begins. The month of April was a celebration of local beer, history and opportunity to get in the mood to drink AND cook with beer. I'm going to talk about cooking with beer, because--guess what?! This is a food blog!

I had the fortunate 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 gave up beer for Lent and when NC Beer Month began, I couldn't have beer. Even if it was temporary, I'm weak. Mostly for beer.

I formulated 4 out of 5 recipes just for this NC Beer Month collaboration with Visit Winston-Salem and Lowes Foods. It was truly a pleasure and a joy sharing my love of craft beer and cooking. EVERY day this week, I'll be sharing those recipes. You're gonna absolutely flip. I promise.

In Winston-Salem, we have a vibrant culianry arts scene and since craft beer is part of our story, a handful of local restaurants use it in recipes and daily specials. Below is a recipe from Foothills Brewing, using Stout. You can use any dark beer, but for some additional tips on how to cook with beer from ME, click HERE.

Foothills Hunter’s Pie
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoons oil
1 large potato washed and diced small
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 celery, stalk diced
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon rosemary
½ pound lean stew meat (sirloin)
½ pound sausage (preferably smoked)
½ pound ground buffalo (or beef)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup stout
5 cups beef stock
2 cups mashed potatoes
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Add all three meats to the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Dust the meats with the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the stout and the beef stock. Add the bay leaves rosemary and thyme. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for ½ hour, or until tender.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Remove pan from the heat and cool. Pour the mixture into a deep 9-inch oval dish. Place spoonfuls of the potatoes over the meat mixture. Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with the Parmesan. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are golden. (The baking sheet under the dish is in case the pie starts to bubble over.) Remove from the oven, garnish with parsley and enjoy.

Recipe from Shane Moore of Foothills Brewing

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