Nik Snacks

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

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On 6:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks   No comments
Do you like macaroni and cheese? I know the answer is YES.
But do you like macaroni and cheese from a slow cooker?
I need to tell you about this macaroni and cheese made with beer. 

That's right. Beer. 

All roads lead to my favorite city in the world, Winston-Salem for NC Beer. 



Beer, culture and history meet you in the middle of the Old North State to greet you with hospitality and comfort just off the interstate. Winston-Salem is full of opportunities to sample North Carolina beer. Foothills BrewingHoots Beer Co. and Small Batch Beer Co. all anchor Downtown and West End neighborhoods with a plethora of museums, bottle shops, restaurants and opportunities to sample.

I have a few tips for cooking with beer, if you click here. Sometimes the sweet, malty overtones become saccharine sweet and overpower dishes when concentrated. Sometimes the floral aroma of hops become bitter and off-putting. Click and I'll help you create your own recipes at home.

Beer Macaroni And Cheese
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients


3 1/2 cups shredded cheese, like sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Colby

1 pound elbow macaroni, dry 

16 oz beer
 (cream ale or pilsner-style)
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dijon or yellow mustard

6-quart or larger slow cooker


Instructions
1. Combine ingredients in the slow cooker: Set 1/2 cup of grated cheese aside, then combine the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Stir to make sure that everything is evenly distributed and the pasta is evenly coated. Smooth the top so the pasta is submerged.

2. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 4 hours: The pasta is done when it has absorbed all of the liquid and the pasta is soft. It will look soupy up until the last half-hour of cooking, and then it will quickly finish cooking and absorb all the liquid. If this is your first time making this recipe, start checking the pasta after about 2 hours, then continue checking it every 20 to 30 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Every slow cooker will be slightly different; once you've made this recipe once, make a note of the cooking time for future reference.

3. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the pasta in the last 10 to 30 minutes of cooking. Cook until the cheese has melted or the rest of the liquid is absorbed into the pasta.

4. Serve: Serve this macaroni and cheese straight from the slow cooker. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Notes
* Smaller slow cookers: Halve the recipe to make this macaroni and cheese in a 3-quart or smaller slow cooker.
* Crunchy-topped macaroni and cheese: For a crunchy top, melt a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and mix in 1/2 cup of panko crumbs, crushed corn flakes, or breadcrumbs. Cook until the crumbs are golden, then set aside. Sprinkle these over the macaroni and cheese in the last half-hour of cooking, and leave the slow cooker only partially covered.


On 7:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks   No comments
North Carolina, c'mon and raise up... your glass, because it's NC Beer Month!
Now that UNC-Chapel Hill has brought home another NCAA basketball championship, it's even more exciting and fitting to give you Carolina-Style Beer Chili Hot Dogs.

Chili, coleslaw, onions, mustard and sometimes cheese and ketchup make up Carolina Style toppings that every North (and South) Carolinian calls "all the way" when asked what we want on our burgers and hot dogs. It's comforting knowing that wherever you go, everyone knows what "all the way" means.

North Carolina is one of the best states for craft brewing. We have more breweries than Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia COMBINED. And new ones are cropping up and popping up every day. We have award-winning breweries that boast multiple medals from the Great American Beer Festival and The World Beer Cup, a rich craft beer history and potential to set standards for the future.


I'm setting a standard right here: adding beer to make the chili more dynamic and have a deeper flavor. Whether you're making 'em for lunch, a snack or dinner, your hot dogs will never be the same.

This recipe uses Stout beer and I have a few suggestions for you:
Mother Shucker Stout is a collaboration between Front Street Brewery in Wilmington and NoDa Brewing in Charlotte.

Black Mocha Stout from one of NC's oldest breweries, Highland Brewing, boasts with roasty, toasty malt flavor and a clean finish.


Carolina-Style Beer Chili Hot Dogs

2 tablespoon oil
1 cup yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb beef (80/20)
1 cup (8 oz) dark or stout beer
6 oz tomato paste
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t hot sauce (such as Texas Pete)
2 t chili powder
½ t smoked paprika
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t cumin

* 8 Kosher hot dogs
* 8 hot dog buns
* 4 oz cole slaw, shredded
*           4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
*           Yellow mustard and ketchup, to taste


1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, cooking until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic.
2. Add the beef, cooking until browned, stirring and breaking it up as it cooks.
3. Stir in the beer, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook until slightly thickened, remove from heat.
4. Preheat the broiler.
5. Open the hot dog buns and lay flat, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Place under broiler until lightly toasted (this will help the buns to not get soggy once the chili dog sauce is added). Remove from oven, lower heat to 400F.
6. Place the buns in a long row down the center of the pan. Add a hot dog to each bun, top with chili. Sprinkle the hot dogs with cole slaw.
7. Remove from oven, sprinkle with onions and decorate with a squirt of yellow mustard and/or ketchup


On 6:15 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks   No comments
Date Night

Dinner and movie is classic. Remember those crazy dating shows that had people randomly paired up to do an activity and then dinner, where more often than not it melted down into a disaster candle?

Valentine's Day is the ultimate dinner and a movie holiday. Say what you will about this manufactured holiday, but date night doesn't just have to be in the middle of February. It can be forever and for always an evergreen list of ideas to come back while seeing the best that the Triad has to offer.



These date ideas are not set up to do anything more than hopefully ignite fireworks between you and your current beau or your future paramour.

Dinner & Ballet
A fun alternative to dinner and a movie can be dinner and a show. A show in the form of ballet, opera or a play. Winston-Salem has all three options year-round. The Winston-Salem Festival Ballet has a limited yearly calendar for public performances, but the shows are breathtaking. The Piedmont Opera, Winston-Salem Theater Alliance, Stained Glass Playhouse and Twin City Stage all help the City of Arts and Innovation live up to its name.

Lunch & Gun Range
What's more romantic than a heart-pounding session with the weapon and range partner of your choice? Whichever local range you choose, the staff will guide you in the right direction and your intended target will be met, I'm sure. I suggest you head to the range first, because the adrenaline coursing through your veins after a session here will have you extremely ravenous after.

Beer & Trivia
A meeting of the minds is one way to show off your knowledge of pop culture, music, science and more. The bi-weekly trivia at Foothills Brewing will give you plenty of opportunity to show your partner who's boss or you can become a power couple and take down the other teams in a battle of wits, over your soon-to-be favorite brews and hot, fresh pub fare.

Sushi & stargazing
One of the most romantic dates I have ever gone on was this exact set-up: he picked me up from work, we had sushi and hibachi over candles in an Asian restaurant and as the sun set, we walked hand-in-hand through GTCC's campus until we arrived at the observatory. The observatory is open to the public on Friday nights 30 minutes after sundown, so you have to check the website and the local sunset time to arrive at the appropriate time. The best part: IT'S FREE. It was quite chilly, so we had to bundle up and stand close as we viewed satellites, Jupiter and Mars through the college's various telescopes under guidance of an astronomy professor. The same could happen to you if you pick this date night for you and your honey.



Coffee and museum
Date night can easily be a day date where the focus on you and your partner getting to one another better or rediscovering each other, too. Local roaster and coffee shop, Krankies is a great place to get not only your caffeine fix, but there is a full bar and restaurant with a locavore menu (get the chicken biscuit with sausage gravy; you're welcome in advance). After you've fueled up on high test, you can go low key and visit Reynolda House Museum and Gardens and experience turn of the century history with art and local storytelling. You can also skip across the street to Graylyn and have a walk or run though the manicured lawns or take a tour of America's second largest private home.

The couple that plays together, stays together.

On 2:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks   No comments
30 days of NC Beer are here! April is the most lit month of the year in North Carolina. NC Beer Month is the best month of the year.

Now that NC Beer month is beginning, a new journey to Winston-Salem for you, too: The month of April means a celebration of local beer, history and opportunity to get in the mood to drink AND cook and dine with beer. I am going to post everything I love about North Carolina and the best city in the state, Winston-Salem. Every month is a cause for celebration in the City of Arts and Innovation  aka Winston-Salem, and I'm going to show you why.

The most unique and exciting partnership I can think of is the relationship between food and spirits. In Winston-Salem, we pair those things together very well.

Photo Courtesy / Foothills Brewing 

Foothills Brewing is the city's most renowned brewpub and boasts to have the longest bar in the county. Brewpub is a portmanteau of "brewery" and "public house", an establishment for everyone. Not only can you attend beer school the first Saturday of each month, you can order some of the best food in the area: fried pickles, hand-pattied burgers, or hand-cut steaks paired with inventive sauces and perfect side dishes. There's something for everyone. Little known fact: I actually work at Foothills part-time and I am extremely proud to work for one of the most popular breweries in the region. I'm a little biased, but it's my #1 favorite brewery (why do you think I work here, man?) I'm amazed they let me come in every week and be my effervescent self.

On 8:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , ,    18 comments
This post is sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and while I was compensated, my words, views and opinions are my own.

I have joined a handful of area bloggers to help share a snapshot of the diversity of NC Beef farms. We all toured different NC beef farms and created diverse recipes using NC beef. I'm excited to share my Bourbon Beef Chili AND my farm visit with you. HUGE shout out to Pastry Chef Online, Jenni Field, for organizing this whole project. 


There are a lot of choices for consumers when it comes to NC Beef. You can find NC Beef for sale at local farms, farmers markets and via on-line sales all offering grass-fed, grain-fed, organic, non-GMO, heritage, certified animal welfare approved, and a host of other beef niches.


A mere 20 minutes from my house, I can purchase antibiotic-free ribs, steaks, chops and hamburger from a local farm. I visited Newsome Farm in King, N.C. where Brad and Vickie Newsome have 80 acres, up to 40 heads of cattle at a time, as well as chickens, horses, too. Their oldest daughter, McKayla, helps run the farm. She is a recent graduate of NC State's Animal Science program. The family has lived on the property for over 100 years and McKayla will be the 4th generation to run the operation when that day comes.
Picturesque Newsome Farm

Rain and other inclement weather doesn't stop life on the farm, so while it was overcast and rainy, I still got to meet all of the cows and watch them graze and play in the mud. All of the cows at Newsome Farm are born on the farm. After being weaned at 6 months, the heifers and steers are separated from their mothers and eat an all-grass diet until 15 months of age. After that, the cows are given a diet mix of Southern States High Protein feed, cracked corn and hay. The Newsomes actually "handcraft" their hay! They have a tractor, mover, a tether (to rake the hay) and the baylor to roll the hay into round bales. Apparently its very time consuming, but it's worth every minute. Look at these cows!


So once the cows reach 18 months or 1100 pounds, they're ready for slaughter. These two will be heading to the slaughterhouse in 2 weeks. I like the idea of meeting your meat before eating it. Mitchell's Meat Processing in Walnut Cove, N.C. is where the Newsomes take their cattle to be processed. I was able to take home hamburger that had been ground from a whole bull, which produces leaner meat, filet and NY strip. 


Got To Be NC Beef Farm Tours & recipes made with NC Beef



  • Beef Marsala Pot Pie | Baldwin Family Farms from Big Bear’s Wife


  • Chile-Braised Short Rib Tacos | Moore Brothers All Natural Beef from Nourish and Nestle


  • Simply Perfect Prime Rib Roast | Ninja Cow Farm from Life of a Ginger



  • Shepherd’s Pie | Ray Family Farms from Girl Gone Gourmet



  • Back to Earth Tacos | Back to Earth Farm from Jenn on a Missionl



  • Beef Lettuce Wraps | Hickory Nut Gap Farm from Pantry Doctor



  • Bring it on: GotToBeNC Organic GrassFed Beef | Proffitt Family Farms from Heidi Billotto Food



  • Sweet and Spicy Grass-Fed London Broil | Baldwin Family Farms from Pastry Chef Online



  • Bourbon Beef Chili
    Yield: 6 servings

    Ingredients:
    2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
    1 lb. lean ground NC beef
    1 small green pepper, seeds and stem removed and chopped (1 cup)
    1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
    1 T minced garlic
    1 T cumin
    1 T chili powder
    1 tsp. ground coriander 
    2 tsp. onion powder
    1 can (10.75 oz.) condensed tomato soup
    3 oz. bourbon or whiskey (approx. 2 airplane bottles)
    1 oz. blackstrap molasses
    1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
    2 cups beef stock (or water)
    1 can (10 oz.) black beans, drained
    1 T Green Tabasco Sauce (or more, to taste)
    salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

    Instructions: 
    Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a heavy frying pan, add ground beef, and cook over medium-high heat until the turkey is well-browned and all liquid has evaporated. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat apart as it cooks. Put the browned meat into a medium-sized soup pot (or be like me and brown it in your soup pot and save a step).

    Add the other 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the frying pan, add the chopped green pepper and chopped onion, and saute about 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, coriander, onion powder and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the pepper-onion-spices mixture to the soup pot. Then add the tomato soup, tomato sauce, and beef stock to the soup pot and start to simmer the chili on low for 30 minutes.

    While the chili simmers, add the black beans, molasses and bourbon to the chili and simmer about an hour, adding a little water if it gets too thick. Taste for seasoning and add Green Tabasco Sauce, salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve hot.


    On 11:44 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , ,    1 comment
    2016 was difficult.

    Political, national and world events aside, it was difficult for me personally and emotionally.


    Don't you need a drink? Because I know I need one.


    Every year I strive to be bigger and better than before while remaining humble and grounded. I got to fly higher than ever by taking my first solo vacation to Montreal, Canada (even after I purchased my plane ticket, I didn't know exactly where Quebec was on the map), attended my favorite food conference in Orlando, drove around the state of North Carolina peddling beer and one-of-a-kind recipes, too. I went on not one, but two North Carolina farm tours, went camping in a field with chefs from all over North Carolina, Virginia and beyond while eating lamb for four days and sent personalized Christmas cards for the first time ever. I also started and ended a very intense personal relationship, bought my first DSLR camera and traveled to Alabama to be a sous chef at the World Food Championships.

    Overall, it was a great year, but I am wanting for something more. I made a comment to a friend that I had nothing to look forward to in 2017. I was quickly reminded that I am taking  a self-funded voyage to Paris in May. That personal relationship I lost in 2016 has been rekindled and is burning brighter than before in 2017. I have a few personal and professional projects in the works, too.

    All of these remembrances is to say this: I need a drink. A good cold, crisp drink with complex yet familiar flavors. My standard winter beverage of choice is Sprite, vodka and bitters. It's low-cal, refreshing and makes me feel sophisticated when I'm sitting at a bar, rattling my ice cubes about, trying to stab my maraschino cherry garnish with my stirrer. This drink is an upgrade from my usual. And I love it. I hope you will, too.

    When Stirrings Cocktail Mixers challenged me to make a new cocktail using their mixers, I decided to stick to something that *I* want to drink, while still being on-trend and pretty freaking delicious.


    Stirrings Cosmopolitan rimmer cocktail garnish
    1/4 oz blackstrap molasses
    1/2 oz Stirrings Simple Pomegranate Martini cocktail mix
    2 ounces whiskey or bourbon
    2 dashes of Angostura bitters
    2 Orange slices, for garnish

    1. Rub the rim of a cocktail glass with the cut side of an orange. Hold the glass upside down and dip the glass in Cosmopolitan rimmer
    2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add molasses, Stirrings pomegranate cocktail mix, whiskey and bitters. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
    3. Strain into a cocktail glass. Gently place the orange slice into cocktail and serve.

    You can find Stirrings products at Total Wines & More and Food Lion grocery stores. To learn more about Stirrings, including great recipes and entertaining ideas, visit their website and check out their social media sites:


    On 4:49 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks   7 comments

    Just grab 'em in the biscuits. The sweet cranberry biscuits, that is.



    These biscuits are fluffy with a buttery, soft crumb. The cranberries are tart and pop in your mouth and yield to a subtle sweetness awash with a lemony aftertaste. When you add the pink cranberry icing, the moist biscuit blooms with extra flavor. You'll happily lick your fingers with joy.


    I love baking biscuits more than any other thing in the world. When I'm pressed for what to bring to a party, my first thought is biscuits (but I always take Doritos; no one ever gets upset at the girl who brings Doritos) While brainstorming ideas for the Cape Cod Select Blogger Challenge, I vacillated between bars, doughnuts and biscuits. Biscuits will always win because everybody loves biscuits. 'Tis the season for cranberries and what better product to use than frozen cranberries, namely Cape Cod Select Premium cranberries!

    Based in Carver, Massachusetts, Cape Cod Select employees have over 75 years of experience bringing fresh, premium cranberries to customers. In 2009, Cindy Rhodes founded Cape Cod Select, the retail face for the Edgewood Bogs Cranberry Growers. Cape Cod Select's goals are simple: Provide the public with “Cranberries for All Seasons”, and make them the best quality on the market. I've not used many frozen fruit brands, but I'm here to say these cranberries are pretty solid.


    Find Cape Cod Select on online:
    Instagram
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Pinterest

    To find Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries year-round in your area, click here 


    Sweet Cranberry Biscuits
    Yield 12-15 biscuits


    3 cups Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries
    2 cups granulated sugar
    1 Tablespoon lemon extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    2 tablespoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 stick (8 Tablespoons) cold, butter
    1 cup milk


    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally until all of the cranberries have popped, and the mixture is thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon extract, stir to combine and set aside to cool.

    2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into flour in the mixing bowl using a fork or a pastry cutter. Return dough to bowl, add milk, cooled cranberry mixture and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball.

    3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat it down into a rough rectangle, about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently pat it down again. Repeat. Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

    4. Cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter. Do not twist cutter when cutting; this crimps the edges of the biscuit and impedes its rise.

    5. Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Place biscuits close together for fluffy texture. Place them 2 inches apart for biscuits with crusty edges.


    Icing
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1 Tablespoon lemon extract
    2-4 Tablespoons milk

    Mix ingredients in the same saucepan used to make the cranberry mixture using a whisk. Pour icing into a piping or Ziploc bag.  Snip the end and drizzle over the biscuits.

    Serve biscuits warm or room temperature.