Nik Snacks

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

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On 5:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    4 comments

50 recipes for the perfect summer get-together! Whether you're planning a barbecue, picnic, or outdoor party, check out everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more to go with your BBQ! #greatbloggerBBQ

Summertime is just around the corner, and to celebrate, Susannah from Feast + West and Erin from The Speckled Palate are hosting the Great Blogger Barbecue! That's right: sizzle sizzle!

There’s no better way to kick off the summer than getting together with friends over food and drinks and these coconut blueberry vodka ice pops :) We’re inviting y’all to join in on the fun. We're bringing you 50 recipe ideas from cocktails and mocktails to casseroles and desserts. Scroll to the very bottom to see and clock on what everyone else is making!


Speaking of desserts, as soon as I was asked to participate in the BBQ, I knew I was doing these pops. It's nice to make stuff for the kids, but these are Adults Only.  


My only problem: I didn't have molds. I went to Target and found some, but they were $12.99. About $8.99 more than I wanted to spend. I spent 2 days looking for them and all I needed to do was go to Marshall's. $6.99. Boom. Insert celebration dance here!


I used some of that very good sweet potato vodka in these little guys.

And fresh blueberries. I'm still into blueberries! I can't help it.

They're smooth, a little creamy and a great finish to a big, grilled holiday meal.  

Coconut Blueberry & Vodka Ice Pops
Yield: 6

1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
3 T Covington Sweet Potato Vodka (50ml or ONE airplane bottle)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries

Whisk together coconut milk, vodka and powdered sugar in a small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside. Place the blueberries in a large bowl and muddle slightly. Spoon blueberries into each ice pop mold. Pour in coconut milk mixture and top with more blueberries and juice.  Freeze 4-6 hours.

TIP:

Because alcohol does not freeze, do not add extra vodka or you'll have a mess on your hands.


With the unofficial start of summer next week, it’s almost barbecue season! In celebration, I’ve teamed up with several fellow bloggers to bring you 50 recipe ideas for a smashing summer shindig. See all the recipes for our Great Blogger BBQ below!
50 recipes for the perfect summer get-together! Whether you're planning a barbecue, picnic, or outdoor party, check out everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more to go with your BBQ! #greatbloggerBBQ
50 recipes for the perfect summer get-together! Whether you're planning a barbecue, picnic, or outdoor party, check out everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more to go with your BBQ!

Appetizers

Korean BBQ Tofu Sliders with Kimchi Slaw by Hello Little Home
Corn, Black Bean, and Feta Dip by Lizzy is Dizzy
Crab, Bacon & Guacamole Crostinis by That Square Plate

Cocktails and Drinks

Blackberry Gin Slush by The Speckled Palate
Homemade Lemonade by Winstead Wandering
Blood Orange Mocktail by Body Rebooted
Fleur Collins Cocktail by Hungry Girl por Vida
Fourth of July Sparkler by Mixplorology
Black Stripe Cold Rum Cocktail by Honey and Birch
Fresh Watermelon Mojito by Twin Stripe
Mint Hibiscus Lemonade by The Little Epicurean

Entrées

Salt Plate Shrimp by The Mexitalian
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Burgers by Simple and Savory
Roasted Vegetable Grilled Pizza with Garlic Herb Oil by Ciao Chow Bambina
Memphis Style Pulled Pork by Two Places at Once
Balsamic & Honey Chicken Skewers with Strawberry-Kiwi Salsa by No Spoon Necessary
Amazing Basic Spice Rub for Grilling by An Oregon Cottage
Mediterranean Chicken Kebabs by PasadenaDaisy
Smoked Porchetta Pork Loin by Tasty Ever After
Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork by Appeasing a Food Geek
Peach Barbecue Sauce by The Beach House Kitchen
Tuna Stuffed Sweet Peppers by SugarLoveSpices
Herb Marinated Steak Gyros Plates with Tomato-Onion Salad and Green Tahini Sauce by Feed Me Phoebe
Marinated Skirt Steak with Sweet Corn and Cherry Salad by Domesticate ME!
Sweet & Sour Chicken Kebabs by Tastefully Frugal

Side Dishes

Caprese Pasta Salad by Club Narwhal
Cranberry Almond Broccoli Salad by Two Sisters Kitchens
Coconut Milk Mac & Cheese by A Little Gathering
Cherry Quinoa Salad by Food Lovin Family
Cheddar, Corn and Bacon Potato Salad by Family Food on the Table
Lemon Rocket Pasta Salad by Lauren Caris Cooks
Green Goddess Potato Salad by Love & Flour
Red White & Blue Watergate Salad by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen
Zesty Potato Skewers by Pamela Salzman
Quinoa Tabouli by A Fork's Tale

Desserts

Banana Pudding Ice Cream Cake by Feast + West
Strawberry Beer Floats by bethcakes
Cherry Cheesecake Dessert by The Little Blonde Baker
Light Berry Angel Food Cake by The Creative Bite
Lemon Cream Tarts with Berries by Girl Heart Food
Fresh Strawberry Muffins by Spiced
Lemon Pie Sundae by Flavours & Frosting
Strawberry Lemon Shortcakes by Dash of Herbs
Grasshopper Pie by 2 Cookin' Mamas
Berry Mango Smoothie Pops by HÄLSA Nutrition
Mixed Berry Vanilla Bean Cake by Cake 'n Knife
No Churn Cookies and Cream Strawberry Ice Cream by The Secret Ingredient Is
Coconut Blueberry & Vodka Ice Pops by Nik Snacks
Strawberry Key Lime Margarita Greek Yogurt Ice Pops by Beer Girl Cooks
Cherry & Rhubarb Tart by Crepes of Wrath
On 4:53 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    7 comments
That's right.
Vodka-soaked gummy bears.
This post is gonna be so much fun...

I'm not reinventing the wheel here nor am I  trying to gain entrance to the wildest frat party on campus. I simply want to share the joy that is contained in each multicolored, gelatinous wiggling bear.

Last month I was invited to speak on a panel of bloggers at the annual meeting of the NC Specialty Food Association. We had fun talking about how to work with bloggers, what we expect and how to form long-lasting and beneficial partnerships and relationships. We were treated to lunch and got to take one-on-one with many of the producers and owners of products made in North Carolina.

As a parting gift, we were all given swag bags with products from some of the guests. The heaviest prize in the bag? A case of Covington Gourmet Sweet Potato Vodka.

A case of 10 airplane bottles. I didn't want to say "box" because that sounds like a mixed bag of anything. Now, I'd had Covington before in drinks and if you know anything about me, you know that I love sweet potatoes. My number one signature dish (right after biscuits) is my Sweet Potato Lasagna. It's classic. What's also classic is how smooth this vodka is.

According to the FDA, vodka is a neutral spirit made and it must be clear and tasteless. Meaning, it should taste like water. In order for vodkas to stand out, distillers have been making "flavored" vodkas or using alternative vegetables and grains to set themselves apart from the rest of the industry. Enter in "the best yam vodka in the planet".

Made in Snow Hill, NC, Covington Vodka is smooth, with a creamy finish (if that's even possible) and it doesn't feel like you swallowed liquid fire when you've finished. It's local and easy to find in the ABC store.
So about these gummy bears?

Well, I was looking for an interesting yet fun use for my little bottles and I'd never had a boozy gummy bear, worm, shark or apple ring so why not?



In as little as 10 minutes you're off to boozy bliss after you soak the gummies. You don't want them to melt away into oblivion so don't marinate... macerate? them for too long. Overnight is good enough.

As far as ratios go, I used 1lb of gummy bears and 150ml or 3 airplane bottles of vodka which is equivalent to 3/4 cups of vodka. You want to make sure the gummies are completely covered by the vodka. If you're lucky, you'll have fruity flavored vodka residue when all of the gummies are eaten.

So get ready to soak those gummies, garnish those drinks, add them to adult snack time (OMG wouldn't they be GREAT on a snack bar themed party tray?) and tell me how you like them.
On 1:21 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    No comments
Four years ago it started. Four years ago the state of North Carolina was turned right side up by the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series. I've watched the series grow and develop and you've watched it, too.


Being asked to be the official blogger for the series has been one of my greatest triumphs and joys on Nik Snacks.

Feeling like I was part of the team and amongst my people (culinary people, that is) really opened up my eyes to what this region of North Carolina has to offer in the realm of culinary arts. Relationships with chefs, farmers, producers and the goodness that grows in the state is one of the best things to come out of Competition Dining. And now we're ready to do it again. May 22, 23 and 25 it begins. Ready to buy your ticket yet?

In 2016, the series welcomed and encouraged "dream teams" to apply to compete. Each team consists of 3 chefs from different establishments with fun team names to distinguish themselves from one another. Restaurants aren't being pitted against one another this time. It's chefs against chefs in SIX different markets: Winston-Salem AND Greensboro; Raleigh AND Durham; Charlotte AND Wilmington all have separate battles with 4 teams each competing in a single-elimination bracket series.
Example of the quality of Competition Dining Series fare

All this being equal, some things remain the same:
Nightly featured ingredients will be revealed on the day of each competition and diners will not know who prepared each course and will be able to vote on each course via mobile app. Each team will create three dishes incorporating featured ingredients for a total of 6 courses for us, the diners to eat. Ready to buy tickets NOW?

The 2016 Winston Salem dream teams:
Miller Time
Vidalia Boom
El Jefe
Phoenix Brevard

Read each team's bio here

Of course, I'm biased and I want team Miller Time to take it all. And to see that happen, you should click here to buy your tickets!

I was compensated with a complementary ticket to the event in exchange for this post. All opinions and words are my own. 
On 5:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , ,    3 comments
It's time for Sunday Supper! This week I'm in sunny (and hot) Orlando, Florida for Food Wine Conference.

This weekend has been so uplifting and eye-opening. It's like a family reunion here, seeing old friends and connecting with new bloggers.

This gazpacho is an old friend that I've updated to make new.


This week's theme is tapas and I'm attending a live Sunday Supper event at Tapa Toro in Orlando which is a Spanish tapas restaurant. My favorite seasonal Spanish dish is gazpacho, so why not? 


Gazpacho has become one of my signature dishes, I think. I make it multiple times each summer to rave reviews from everyone who has had the opportunity to sample it. 

I first made it for the public, last summer during a $20 Challenge episode.

But this version is better. Much better. 



I've been asked if it can be heated to make a hot soup. Of course it can, but I don't recommend it. The subtle fresh flavors of the tomatoes and cucumber will probably be ruined by the heat. If you want some heat, make some fried avocado bites! 

The star of the show is simple: cool, creamy center paired with the hot, crispy exterior is the perfect foil to the chilled soup. I've recently discovered that I'm allergic to avocado so even though I can't indulge, it's good to know that you can.


Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post to check out the rest of my Sunday Supper family and see what tapas-inspired dishes they have shared.

Tomato Gazpacho

4 large red tomatoes (4 cups) 
1 small cucumber (1 cup, diced) 
5-6 sprigs Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup Sherry or red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons cubed bread
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste 

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, vinegar and bread in a blender or food processor until blended and thoroughly mixed. 

2. Sprinkle in granulated sugar, season with salt and pepper and with the processor running, slowly pour in the extra-virgin olive oil.
3. Taste and season accordingly. 

Fried Avocado
Serves 4

1/2 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons hot sauce
1 firm-ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and each sliced into 8 even pieces 

 
Peanut oil, for frying (vegetable and canola work just fine)
1 1/2 cups fine yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
Lime wedges, for garnish


In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, hot sauce and avocado slices. Soak for 30 minutes.

In a medium Dutch oven or deep-fryer, fill oil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches (no more than halfway up the sides of the pan.) Heat oil to 375 degrees F over medium-high heat.

Combine cornmeal, flour, chili powder and salt in a shallow dish. Dredge soaked avocado slices in the cornmeal mixture, shaking to remove excess cornmeal.

Place avocado slices in the hot oil and fry until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes each side. Using a slotted spoon, remove slices and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Season with additional salt. Serve immediately with a squeeze of fresh lime.


Para Empezar, Las Tapas (Appetizers/tapas) -
Postres (Desserts) -
Bebidas (Drinks) -
Plus Alcachofas al Ajillo – Garlicky Artichokes – and Spanish Tapas Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement
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
On 6:30 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , , , ,    1 comment
Today for #BrunchWeek I'm bringing you Curried Fish Tacos. I originally made a version of these for a private cooking class back in February, but honestly: I like these better.


Brunch Week isn't over! Have you been enjoying all of the drinks, breads, eggs, cakes and platters my friends have showcased? Have you entered the #BrunchWeek contest? Want to win a blender? How about a set of knives? A baking dish? Well, what are you waiting for, grasshopper?!


I made my own curry powder to season flaky Atlantic cod topped with a fresh grated carrot salad tossed with Nielsen-Massey lemon extract and garnished with cilantro leaves, all wrapped in a double layer of warmed corn tortillas.


I'm totally into curried things. Curried tuna is my number one favorite followed closely by curried chicken salad with celery and dried cranberries. I tend to have business meetings and luncheons in places that serve those type of salads alongside quiche and brothy soups and gallons of iced tea. When I'm done dabbing the corners off my mouth with a linen napkin, I find the closest beer hall and let my hair down. And that's what these tacos are: me letting my hair down!


Why tacos? Why brunch?
I love tacos. Why not? They're very easy to assemble and do not require advanced planning. No overnight marinade, no pretense, no fuss. You can even set up a taco bar and have your family, friends and guests make their own. Want some avocado? Don't want cilantro? Need a bit of scrambled egg? Make it happen.


Make it happen and scroll down a bit to see what my talented friends are making for #BrunchWeek, too. Let us help you make plans for brunch this weekend!

Curried Fish Tacos 
Yield: 4 tacos

Ingredients
1/3 lb firm-fleshed white fish fillet (ie cod, halibut)
Salt and pepper
1 ½ Tablespoons curry powder
2 small carrot, grated
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tablespoon olive oil
8 (5-inch) corn tortillas

1. Gently dry fish with paper towels.
2. Sprinkle curry powder over both sides of fish fillet; season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place fish in the pan and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully turn fish over halfway through and cook until fish flakes easily with a fork. Set aside.
4. Combine grated carrot and lemon extract in a small bowl; Season with salt and pepper.
5. Flake fish into chunks and distribute evenly among tortillas. Top each with carrot salad and garnish with cilantro leaves; Serve.

TIP Warm tortillas in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before using to message them malleable

BrunchWeek Beverages:
BrunchWeek Breads, Grains and Pastries:
BrunchWeek Fruits, Vegetables and Sides:
BrunchWeek Egg Dishes:
BrunchWeek Main Dishes:
BrunchWeek Desserts:

Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.
On 3:03 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    1 comment
I love blueberries. I'm really into them right now and lucky for you, I've got a new way to try them. Have you ever had pickled blueberries?

I'm entering my Pickled Blueberries And Goat Cheese Salad into the 2016 Wish Farms 'A Blueberry Toss' recipe contest. Wish Farms is a Gold Sponsor of the 4th Annual Food Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida. The and the requirements for this contest: Develop an original, creative salad recipe and include at least 1 serving of fresh blueberries.

Well, if this salad isn't creative, I don't know what is!

There's still time for you to enter your hat into the ring and win! There's also still time for you to get $50 off your conference pass. Just enter code NIKSNACKS

Enough about you. It's my turn. I mean, my salad's turn.


The star of the salad is the aromatic sweet and sour blueberries which burst with flavor as you crunch down on the sliced red onion, crisp matchstick apples and the creamy goat cheese crumbles.

THESE BLUEBERRIES THOUGH, Y'ALL!

Fresh rosemary, sage, thyme (yeah, yeah; I know...no parsley) and dill provide an aromatic base along with black peppercorns, mustard seed, vinegar and granulated sugar make those blueberries pop.

Ready to make the salad?
Me too. And it's delicious! Wish me luck!

Pickled Blueberry And Goat Cheese Salad

Serves 4-6

Pickled Blueberries
1 Cup champagne or white balsamic vinegar
1 Cup water
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 Tablespoon black peppercorns
3 to 4 sprigs each:
fresh rosemary
fresh thyme
fresh sage
fresh dill
1 Teaspoon mustard seeds
1 Pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries

1. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, peppercorns and rosemary, thyme, sage, dill and mustard seeds to a medium saucepan and bring it a boil.
2. Rinse the blueberries and add them to a clean quart jar.
3.Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the brine over the blueberries, covering them entirely.
4. Allow berries to macerate for at least 3 hours or overnight before using. The berries will keep up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

Goat Cheese Salad

7oz. mesclun salad mix
2 cups pickled blueberries
3oz. goat cheese crumbles
1/2 apple (Pink Lady, Gala or Granny Smith), cut into matchsticks
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Salt, to taste

Toss the mixed greens, blueberries, goat cheese, apples and red onion in a large bowl. Toss until evenly coated. Season with salt.
On 5:30 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    4 comments
#BrunchWeek is here and in full effect! Have you been following along? Have you entered the Brunch Week contest to win 1 of 8 prize packs? I certainly hope so, because I have a treat for you today: Orange Cardamom Pancakes.

I mentioned before that I'm a Brunch On Saturday type of woman, but when you make brunch at home on Sunday, it's not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants meal. It requires planning. It requires finesse. It requires mimosas, bloody marys, bloody marias or bloody caesars and eggs. Today, I've got two of those things. (For the record, it's planning and eggs lol)
Brunch Week 2016

I LOVE these pancakes. I mean, for real love them. They're fluffy, light, intoxicatingly flavorful and there's a secret, not-so-secret ingredient: yeast.


Red Star Yeast is one of Brunch Week's sponsors and I didn't want to showcase this new-to-me product with a bread or a roll. I'd never made yeasted pancakes before and I thought I'd try it to see what happens. What happens are SUPER fluffy pancakes like the ones in stock photos and television commercials. I am so impressed with Red Star. I made some focaccia forward a cooking class, using an old recipe of mine and it turned out better than any other time I've made it. I've used other brands of yeast because that's what I grew up using. No more. Red Star is it.

Now let's talk about how these bad boys taste: Orange and cardamom? Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I mean, Mmm...

I used Brunch Week sponsor Nielsen-Massey's orange extract and cinnamon's cute cousin, cardamom. So exotic, so floral, so great in these pancakes. I never thought to use any extract other than vanilla or almond in baked goods before this week. A little granulated sprinkle from my old friends from Dixie Crystals set me on the right track. To add a little bit more pizzazz, I also added a little bit of grated carrot to give the pancakes that funfetti effect. I used my cool new zester and nesting measuring spoons from Kitchen I.Q.  The zester is super duper cool: there's a guard, a reservoir to hold the zest or shavings of whatever you're using and a teeny tiny squeegee to help remove it. It's a great little gadget. You should get one! And you just might if you enter the #BrunchWeek giveaway contest!


In the meantime, while you wait for your yeasted pancakes to rise, you can scroll down a bit and check out what the rest of my talented blogger friends are making for brunch and make plans accordingly!

Orange Cardamom Pancakes 
Yield: 8-10 pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4 oz packet)
2 Tablespoons Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter or oil
1/2 Tablespoon Nielsen-Massey orange extract
1 Tablespoon cardamom, ground
1/4 teaspoon salt
Oil to grease griddle or iron cast skillet

1. In a large bowl, heat up milk and sour cream until lukewarm temperature (118°F-125°F) in the microwave.
Combine 1 cup flour, yeast and 2 Tablespoons of sugar and add milk mixture. Whisk until all ingredients are well incorporated. Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and let rise for an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

2. In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs well. Add the butter and orange extract to the eggs and whisk until combined.

3. In a separate bowl combine the remaining 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, cardamom and salt and mix.

4. Heat up a griddle or an iron cast skillet to 375°F or medium-low heat.

5. Beat down the yeast mixture and add the egg and butter mixture while keep whisking until incorporated. Add the dry flour mixture in thirds to the yeast mixture and whisk until well incorporated.

6. Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup and pour batter onto griddle, making sure each pancake is at least 2 inches apart.

7. Cook pancakes until bubbles form on the top and the edges are slightly dry, about 3 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the pancakes; cook until golden on bottom, about 1 1/2 minutes.

8. Transfer to a plate tented with aluminum foil to keep warm. Or place in warm oven. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup.

TIP Add a scant Tablespoon of grated orange peel or fresh carrot to the batter to add a "funfetti" effect to the pancakes


BrunchWeek Beverages:
BrunchWeek Breads, Grains and Pastries:
BrunchWeek Fruits, Vegetables and Sides:
BrunchWeek Egg Dishes: BrunchWeek Main Dishes: BrunchWeek Desserts:
Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.