Nik Snacks

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

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On 5:45 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    2 comments
This fun fruit dessert (or special treat) borrows flavors from margaritas. For adult fun, add Tequila to infuse the melon and cantaloupe cubes, which also get a sprinkle of sea salt accented with fresh lime zest. The longer the melon soaks, the more flavorful it becomes.

If you know anything about me, you know that I hate watermelon. I mean, hate. The Devil has nothing me, because watermelon is number 2 on my Do Not Eat List.

I hate the scent, I hate the texture, I hate the seeds. It's just terrible. If we were in the desert and a bite of watermelon would save me from death, y'all would just have to let me die. Ok, enough about that. You get it. Don't expect me at the Watermelon Festival.

So when I first came up with the idea for the skewers, I was going to do papaya, honeydew (my fave!) and cantaloupe and call them "Adult Firecracker Melon Pops" or Bomb Pops or something like that. Then I got lazy and just decided to stick a Popsicle stick in a piece of melon, soap it in Tequila and sprinkle with flavored salt.


Sounds great, right?

Then I couldn't find sticks.
Or my Tequila that I'd purchased.

I'm not a quitter, so here is the result!

I found the Tequila (I hid it from myself!), used paper straws to thread the melon cubes and I used watermelon ONLY because it looks really pretty... doesn't it?

My favorite part of this recipe is the lime salt, though! It smells so fresh and clean. I just want to put this jar in my purse and carry it around all day. As a matter of fact, I carry a vial of lime oil in my purse at all times for a quick pick-me-up when I'm fatigued or need an instant mood booster.

And trust me: these skewers are instant mood boosters!

TIP: For added fun, freeze the skewers (including the sprinkle of salt) so you can cool off while you enjoy them!


Melon Skewers with Lime Salt
Serves 6

2 Cups watermelon, red or yellow, quartered and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Cup Honeydew, quartered and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Cup Cantaloupe, quartered and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup tequila (optional)
2 limes
Flaked sea salt or coarse salt

1. Arrange melon in a single layer in two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. Pour Tequila over melon cubes and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

2. Remove melon from Tequila and thread each cube, alternating colors, onto a paper straw or wooden skewer and arrange on a platter. Season with lime salt. Serve.

Lime Salt
1/4 cup salt
1T lime zest

Use a spoon or a mortar and pestle to mix the zest in the salt. Store in an airtight container. Use within 2 weeks.

For long-lasting salt, bake or dehydrate your infused sea salt recipes for 90 minutes at 150°F or the lowest setting your oven will allow. You don’t want your salt to brown, you just want to dry out the zest.

Allow to cool completely and store in a cool dry place.  Use within 1 year.

On 9:56 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    9 comments
Whether its: Lights, camera, action! or Ready! Set! Eat! creating a DIY Popcorn Bar for your next party is easy.


I helped throw one of my very best friends a baby shower a few months ago, to help celebrate her baby boy's impending arrival with lots of gifts and a little bit of good food.

I just love the surprised look on her face!

I got the bright idea to create a popcorn bar so everyone could snack on the tasty kernels and taken some home as a souvenir. I bought these janky little "party favor" boxes at the Dollar Tree and they were terribly small and I do NOT recommend them.



Instead, make or buy paper cones or paper bags so guests can snack at the party or take the bag home.


Be creative! Put your popcorn in baskets lined with neutral or fun, decorative dish towels.


Use plastic or ceramic popcorn boxes for display purposes. I bought mine from Sur La Table quite a few years ago. I've seen the plastic ones at Target and Kmart.



Or go low-tech like me and repurpose brown craft paper bags into vessels by folding down the tops and placing them in large decorative whicker baskets.


Per 3 cups fresh hot of popcorn add:

Cinnamon Roll
1/2 T ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2 T powdered non-dairy creamer
2 T granulated sugar

Mexican Taco
⅛ tsp coriander
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cumin

Lightly Salted
1T kosher or sea salt

Use microwave popcorn or go old school and use a popcorn popper or pot on the stove for fresh popcorn.
On 8:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    8 comments
I love the Food Wine Conference. Every year it gets better and I've loved watching it evolve over the past four years. The quality has never wavered and the surprises still wow me time and time again. I guarantee I'd feel as if I was missing out on something if I didn't attend. I've got some tips and tricks on how to survive the amazing inspiring 3-day schedule, set in Sunny Orlando, Florida.

1. Make your hotel reservation early
Not only is the conference located in the stunning Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida, but the amenities are plentiful and luxurious. I recommend everyone to stay here and not another property down the street. If not only for the pools, world-class golfing or the beautiful views, do it for the restaurants and shops that will have you exploring during your free time.

2. Wear comfortable shoes 
There's a lot of walking to and fro between meals, special events and activities. I know you want to dress to impress. I know you want to break out those sparkly little numbers you got on sale at Aldo, but there is a time and place for that, I promise, but your dogs will thank you after the first day. The impressive expanse of the meeting halls alone will have you wishing for your Dr. Scholls if you're not careful.


3. Bring your stretchy pants.
Come hungry because you will be fed, wined, dined, snacked, dessert'd, lubricated, hydrated and treated like queens and kings the entire time. Just when you think you can't fit any more into your belly, you will remember you have your trusty elastic band sweatpants on and you go for the second dessert. With gusto.


4. Bring a swag bag for your swag bag
You're a veteran traveler. I know you. You have your carry-on bag weight down to a science and you can whip out a handi-wipe at the drop of a hat to combat any airline illness. Make sure you pack an extra bag simply for all of the swag you'll receive just by walking in the door. Don't be like me and have to smoosh this entire basket into my ONE baby carry-on suitcase in addition to my clothes, 2 pairs of shoes, curling iron, flat iron, my other swag bag and my make-up bag. NOTE: Everything made it back to North Carolina in one piece.



5. If there's a pre-conference contest, enter it

There is nothing to lose and everything to gain when you enter a contest sponsored by #FWCon. Four years ago, I entered the Dixie Crystals Brownie Dessert Contest and I won. It changed my life. I met the most amazing people who helped me see things I didn't see in myself and helped me grab the opportunity to turn my win into something bigger than myself. Fast-forward to 2016 and I won the #MakeItWithMilk Contest sponsored by Florida Milk. I'll always feel like a winner at the Food Wine Conference, even if I never enter another contest. I kinda win at the Food blogger's jackpot just by being among some of the best co-workers in the world.

Proud Florida Milk brand ambassadors 


6. Find a friend
Strangers are just friends we haven't met yet, right?


Well, you might just meet somebody famous. Or your new blogging buddy. You never know who you will encounter at Food Wine Conference.

This year I met Donatella Arpaia.


Four years ago, I met Katie Workman and we reconnected in my hometown last summer. And she remembered me. Yay.

7. Register for #FWCon. And often

No matter what stage you are in your blogging career: veteran, novice or somewhere in the middle, this is the conference for you.  It's about connecting with other bloggers. It's about connecting with brands. It's about self-improvement. If you want to kick-start and generate ideas learn how to be a better blogger and truly cultivating blogger relationships, this is the place to be.
On 5:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , ,    5 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 , , , ,    8 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