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Archive for October, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Halloween Treat Box

What’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

A Halloween Treat Box from See’s Candies!

This spooktacular gift box has a bright orange lid (not shown) adorned with a black organza bow, but the real fun is inside:

  • A bag of Halloween Milk Chocolate Foil Balls
  • A bag of Orange Twists, white candy balls with orange and black stripes and tangy orange flavor
  • A Marshmallow Jack O’ Lantern, covered in milk chocolate
  • A Foil Ghost of solid milk chocolate
  • Two boxes of filled chocolates: the Trick-or-Treat Box and Haunted House Box
  • In total, there’s 1 pound, 15 ounces of Halloween treats ($34.30). It’s large enough for a family gift. Order yours today.

    For those who deserve something better than drugstore chocolate, See’s is a treat year-round.


    Any milk chocolate lover will be thrilled with this Halloween Treat Box. Photo courtesy See’s Candies.


    We also loved the foil-wrapped Jack O’ Lanterns (six 2 oz. chocolate discs, $15.60).

    Not a chocolate lover? Consider the Pumpkin Spice Lollypops, gently flavored with pumpkin pie spices (a box of eight lollypops, $5.55).

    We don’t know what we like better about Halloween: the opportunity to dress up in costume or the mandate to eat candy!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Eliminate Microwave Spatter & An Excellent Gourmet Pasta Sauce

    No need to spatter sauce all over the
    microwave. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    To save cleaning a saucepan, we often microwave sauces in the bottle or jar. Dessert sauces are thick and don’t spatter. But pasta sauces can create microwave spatters that take more time to clean than the saucepan.

    Here’s our handy trick: Fold a paper towel into quarters and tie it loosely over the mouth of the jar with twine or a silicone cooking band.

    We start at 40 seconds in the microwave, then stir and test. We repeat until it’s the desired temperature. You can do this to your heart’s content: The paper towel cover comes off easily so you can test the temperature, put the towel back on and continue to heat.

    Another tip: If you’re pouring it over hot pasta, the sauce itself can be warm rather than super-heated.

    And by the way, we enjoyed Monique’s Outrageous Olive & Caper Sauce, shown in the photo, very much.



    Monique’s Sumptuous Sauces are part of the Al Dente Pasta line, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. Company founder Monique Deschaine has this philosophy of sauce: “It has plenty of character [so] you can count on it to come through for you again and again.”

    Monique uses the finest, freshest ingredients: plump tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs, fresh garlic and perhaps most importantly, fresh, grated carrots for sweetness rather than sugar or corn syrup.

    The result: Monique’s Sumptuous Sauces taste just like homemade (really, really good homemade).

    The flavors include:

  • Luscious Leek & Sundried Tomato
  • Marvelous Marinara
  • Outrageous Olive & Caper
  • Rustic Roasted Garlic

    These gourmet pasta sauces make delicious gifts. Photo courtesy Al Dente Pasta.


    At $6.00 per 25-ounce bottle, Monique’s Sumptuous Sauces are delicious and affordable gifts that may open recipients’ eyes to options other than supermarket sauces. Think of them for teachers, nurses, personal care associates and others.

    For a slam dunk, package them with some Al Dente Pasta, available in a broad selection including better-for-you whole wheat varieties (12 ounces, $3.49).

    You can buy both online at

    And don’t just save the sauces for pasta. Parmigiana dishes (chicken, eggplant, fish), pizza and anything requiring a tomato sauce will be deliciously enhanced.

    Find more of our favorite pastas and sauces plus recipes.



    BOOK: Marmalade, by Elizabeth Field

    Marmalade could become your new signature dish. Photo courtesy Running Press.


    When Elizabeth Field was growing up, she didn’t like the bitter orange marmalade that her parents loved to slather on toast. But as an adult, she was introduced to homemade marmalade and became a convert.

    Her new book, Marmalade, Sweet & Savory Spreads For A Sophisticated Taste, may inspire you to begin your own marmalade journey.

    Charmingly designed and photographed, it inspires a get-together: Make a day of marmalade-making with a friend. It’s quality time together that yields jars and jars of provisions and gifts. Friends and colleagues will clamor for it.

    If they tax your generosity, you can simply buy them a copy of the book:


    Give a man a jar and he has marmalade for a week. Teach a man to make marmalade and you give him marmalade for a lifetime. And hopefully, there will be gift jars in it for you.

    Get your copy here.

    Don’t worry that fresh fruit season is waning. There are 11 citrus marmalade recipes as well as fall-winter flavors such as Double Ginger Pear and Quince Raspberry Marmalades.

    And you must make lots and lots of the savory Red Onion Marmalade. It goes with sandwiches, burgers and just about every type of grilled or roasted fish, meat and poultry. There isn’t enough onion marmalade in America. It will be an unforgettable holiday gift.

    The author also provides recipes for buttermilk biscuits, brown soda bread and popovers to enjoy with your marmalade; and shows you had to use the spread in main dishes such as Marmalade Roast Duck and Glazed Country Ham.


    Marmalade originated some 2,000 years ago as a solid cooked quince and honey paste, the precursor of Spain’s famed membrillo, served with Manchego cheese as a popular dessert. It was on the tables of ancient Greeks and Romans.

    Some time around the 10th century, the Portuguese replaced the honey with sugar. They called it marmelada after the word for quince, marmelo.

    Marmelada was a luxury product and a popular gift among noble families. Sugar, produced in the subtropics, was a very expensive import until the 1800s. For example, it wasn’t until 1874 that the British government abolished the sugar tax and made “white gold” affordable to the average citizen.


    They’re related, but different, styles of spreads. Check out our Jam Glossary which explains the differences among these terms and others (chutney, confiture, conserve, curd, fruit butter, gelée, fruit curd and fruit spread).

    Find our favorite brands of store-bought spreads.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make An Easy Cookie Sundae

    You may have had a sundae with a side of cookies but in this simple concept, the cookie become the sundae.

    A cousin of the ice cream sandwich, a cookie sundae is a lot easier to make. Try it tonight!


    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 2 cookies, ideally a chewy style that can be cut with a spoon
  • 1 scoop ice cream
  • 2 tablespoons topping: butterscotch sauce, caramel, chocolate sauce
  • Optional garnishes: whipped cream, chopped nuts, berry or cherry (here are great-tasting maraschino cherries)

  • COOKIES: Use cookies of different flavors for the top and bottom.
  • ICE CREAM: Vanilla is always a good bet, but for excitement try matching ice cream and cookies: coffee ice cream with espresso chip cookies, pumpkin ice cream with spice cookies, rum raisin ice cream with oatmeal raisin cookies, and so on.

    Easy lusciousness: a cookie sundae. Photo courtesy


  • TOPPINGS: Consider a flavored whipped cream—bourbon, salted caramel or spice (recipes).

    Thanks to Kodiak Cakes for this idea.

    Find more of our favorite cookie, ice cream and dessert recipes.


  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Design Your Own Halloween Pizza Recipe

    Decorating your own individual Halloween pizza is a fun family dinner activity on the nights leading up to Halloween. Or, turn it into a Halloween party feature.

    Set out bowls of garnishes—bell pepper, sliced mushrooms pepperoni, olives (eyes)—and let the participants make their own designs.

    If your kids are too young to plan a design, you can design the pizzas yourself.

    And if you don’t have the time to make your own pizza crusts, you can use frozen cheese pizzas. Here’s how from

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Bake Time: 12 to 15 minutes
  • Number Of Servings: 8 (six-inch) pizzas

    Ingredients: Crust

  • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast or RapidRise Yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/3 cups very warm water (120° to 130°F)*
  • 1/3 cup oil

    Create your own creepy pie design. Photo courtesy Fleischmann’s Yeast.


    Ingredients: Toppings

  • 1 to 2 cups pizza sauce (tomato sauce)
  • 1 pound (total) shredded white and yellow cheeses such as mozzarella and cheddar
  • Selection of toppings: bell peppers (green, red and yellow), black olives, broccoli florets, curly leaf parsley (for “hair”), mushrooms, pepperoni and salami slices, zucchini slices and anything else you think makes face decoration

    Turn your pizza into a jack-o-lantern. Photo courtesy



    The biggest task in this recipe is creating the crusts. You can do this in advance and refrigerate overnight or freeze them for up to one month.

    1. PREHEAT. Preheat oven to 425°F.

    2, MIX. Combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add very warm water and oil; mix until well blended, about 1 minute.

    3. ADD. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky. Knead† on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Divide dough into 8 portions; cover. If using RapidRise yeast, let dough rise for 10 minutes.

    4. FORM. Pat each portion of dough with floured hands into an 8-inch circle on a greased baking sheet. Form a rim by pinching the edge of the dough. Add a second crust to the same baking sheet.

    5. BAKE. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes; dough will be just set and only lightly browned on the bottom. Remove crusts to a wire rack to cool. Continue with remaining pizza dough (it works best when you use use several baking sheets). You can use crusts immediately or place them in freezer bags and freeze for up to 1 month. If making a day ahead, place crusts in resealable plastic bags and refrigerate.

    6. BAKE AGAIN. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 475°F. Spread each crust with pizza sauce. Top with desired toppings to make Halloween designs. At this point in the dinner or party, each guest should decorate his or her pizza. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until cheese is melted and lightly browned and bottom of crust is browned.

    Alternatively, you can bring baked, undecorated pizzas to the table ready to decorate and eat. The pizzas may will cool during the design process, but that’s what microwaves are for.
    This recipe and photo are courtesy Fleischmann’s Yeast. This year Fleischmann’s and sister brand Karo Syrup have donated $200,000 to Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign. Teach the kids that “together we can make a difference.” Tell them they can donate some of that Halloween cash to

    *If you don’t have a thermometer, water should feel very warm to the touch.
    †To knead the dough, add just enough flour to the dough and your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Flatten dough and fold it toward you. Using the heels of your hands, push the dough away with a rolling motion. Rotate dough a quarter turn and repeat the “fold, push and turn” steps. Keep kneading dough until it is smooth and elastic. Use a little more flour if dough becomes too sticky, always working the flour into the ball of dough.
    Find more of our favorite pizza recipes.



    RECIPE: Brandied Fruit

    October 20th is National Brandied Fruit Day. Brandied fruit—fruit salad flavored with brandy or cognac—is a dish that has fallen out of fashion in the era of modern cuisine. But it is easy to make, delicious to eat and very healthful.

    Brandied fruit can be enjoyed on its own; or with a topping of sour cream or yogurt (plain or vanilla), blended with a bit of brown sugar. Add a plate of small cookies and you’ve got a fine dessert.

    You can also use brandied fruit as a topping for angel, pound or sponge cakes; and under or over a scoop of sorbet.

    Serve it in a pretty glass dish, a goblet, or in a meringue nest.


    The best fruit salad is an appealing mix of colors, flavors an textures.

  • Citrus fruits add liveliness.
  • Seasonal fruits add personality. We love mixed melon fruit salads in the summer. In the winter months when the selection is limited, use apples, bananas, grapes and pineapple and mix in some dry fruits for complexity. If you have raisins, toss ‘em in.

    Mix brandy with fresh fruit salad for a sophisticated and healthful dessert. Photo © M. Studio | Fotolia.


    Cut larger fruits into even pieces; seed the grapes and pit the cherries. If you’re using fruits that brown, sprinkle the cut fruit with lemon juice. Slice bananas just before serving, as they discolor most quickly.


    The easiest version is simply to sprinkle brandy over a fruit salad; cover and refrigerate for an hour or more. We actually mix a tablespoon with the fruit juices from the salad; then toss to ensure that all pieces are coated.

    You can also add some mint leaves to the marinade. Before serving, remove them and replace with fresh mint leaves.


    You can also brandy a fruit compote, which is mixed stewed fruit. These should be the best seasonal fruits, full of natural sweetness and flavor.

    Here’s the recipe for compote.


    As the saying goes, all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.

    Cognac is grape brandy, a distillate of wine. It is specifically produced in the region surrounding the town of Cognac, in central France. It is double distilled using pot stills and then aged for at least two years. It must be made from a specific group of white grape varieties, as well.

    Grape brandy can be made anywhere, from any grapes (brandy is also made from fruit and pomace), does not require double distillation or long aging.

    Cognac is a better product. The double distilling and aging rounds out the spirit and produces more mellow flavors.



    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Make Perfect Pancakes & Ghost Pancakes For Halloween

    Make the pancake, use a ghost cookie cutter. If
    you have several cookie cutters, you can use
    them as pancake molds. Boo-ya! Photo


    Here are ten tips for making a flawless flapjack from Joel Clark, owner of Kodiak Cakes. Kodiak Cakes was one of the better-rated products in our review of 99 whole grain pancake and waffle mixes (here’s the review and the entire article).

    If your pancakes don’t come out the way they like, pick up some tips from Joel, below.

    What’s the difference between a pancake and a flapjack?

    While there are many different types of pancakes, from thin crepes to aebleskivers, Danish pancakes in a ball-like shape, more like a muffin than our round, flat pancakes (see our Pancake & Waffle Glossary).

    In North America, pancakes contain not just flour and water but a raising agent such as baking powder; plus eggs and and milk to create a thick batter. These flat but thick pancakes are also called flapjacks, griddlecakes and hotcakes


    Pancakes need to be made with the right ingredients and cooked the right way. We actually prefer whole grain pancake flour, which has more substance, more nutrition, more flavor and better texture than refined flour pancakes.


    Given the best ingredients, here are 10 tips that will help to make you a fabulous flapjack flipper.

    Tip 1: Don’t batter the batter. Batter should only be mixed enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Then stop mixing, even if you still have lumps. This is because flour contains gluten, a gluey protein that activates when it gets wet. If over-mixed, it becomes tough and rubbery. Don’t worry about the lumps. They’ll disappear when cooked.

    Tip 2: Lay it on thick—or thin. Thinner batter gives the pancake a lighter texture, while thicker batter makes it more dense and heavy.

    Tip 3: Add some fun to it. While not a requirement, stir-ins are a fun addition. Consider bananas, berries, chocolate chips, cinnamon and vanilla . On the savoy side, try crumbled bacon or diced sausage.


    Tip 4: Be patient. Let the griddle heat up for about five minutes. If the pan is too cool, your pancakes be tough from cooking too long. If the pan’s too hot, you’ll end up with doughy centers. When the pan is hot enough, few drops of water should dance around the griddle; 375°F is usually about right.

    Tip 5: Measure, don’t guess. To make consistently shaped flapjacks, use a 1/3 or 1/4 cup measuring cup of batter.

    Tip 6: Butter isn’t better. Make a small puddle of vegetable oil on the griddle and pour the batter directly into the middle of the puddle. The oil will surround the edges and make them crispy and tasty. Butter can burn on the pan and cause bitter specs of burnt butter to adhere to the pancake. Cooking spray is fine if you’re trying to keep it lean, but it doesn’t add flavor or make the edges crispy.

    Tip 7: Don’t double flip. Flipping the pancake more than once creates a dry pancake. Flipping the pancake at the right time will help you avoid this temptation. Pancakes are ready to turn when the top is full of air holes and the sides start looking a bit dry. Peaking underneath a lifted edge will help you determine the proper flipping-time: Look for a nice golden brown color.


    Follow these steps and you’ll have a perfect stack. Photo courtesy


    Tip 8: Don’t flatten the flapjack. A big misconception is that smashing the flapjack will help it cook faster or eliminate the possibility of a doughy center. Don’t believe it! This is the cardinal sin of the art of flapjack flipping and must be avoided! The hot air inside the flapjack helps it cook better. Pressing down on the pancake merely pushes the air out of it and undoes all of the work you did to create a perfectly light and fluffy pancake.

    Tip 9: Keep it hot. Who wants a cold flapjack? If you are cooking for a large group and can’t serve them hot off the griddle, the best way to keep pancakes warm is to place them, single-layered, on a cookie sheet in a warm oven. Do not stack them or cover them or they’ll become soggy.

    Tip 10: Don’t short the stack. This means to never skimp on the toppings: real butter, warmed pure maple syrup, fresh berries, apple sauce, peanut butter, bananas or all of the above.

    Now, you’re ready to flip a stack of super flapjacks. Say that fast three times!


    1. Place pancake batter in a large plastic food storage bag. Seal the bag, push all of the batter to one end and cut the tip off of the plastic food storage bag.

    2. Into a hot pan or skillet, fill cookie cutters with pancake mix. After the tops bubble, pull off the cookie cutters and flip the pancake.

    3. Alternatively, you can make round or square pancakes, then use the cookie cutter to cut the shapes. This creates a lot of scraps, but the scraps are delicious with maple syrup; serve them for dessert with ice cream and syrup.
    Find more of our favorite pancakes and other breakfast foods.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Colorful Halloween Cheese

    Basirion Rosso, a Gouda flavored with tomato
    pesto. Photo courtesy


    Basiron Pesto Rosso.

    Cahill’s Farm Flavored Irish Cheddar.

    English Cheddar With Harissa.

    Extra Triple Aged Gouda.

    Huntsman Cheese.


    Pecorino With Chile Flakes.

    Saxonshire Cheese:

    What do these cheeses have in common?

    They all are visually on point for a Halloween cheese plate.

    Check out all of these “Halloween cheeses” in detail. Thrill your guests with a colorful selection of these artisan cheese beauties.




    Mimolette is a cow’s milk cheese, fascinating for its round ball shape and vibrant, harvest moon color (which comes from annatto).

    The balls of Mimolette are aged from 6 to 18 months, during which the cheese is kept in a damp environment. There, thousands of microscopic cheese mites feed on the rind. This natural process gives the cheese its unique appearance, and also its unique flavor.

    The younger varieties are comparable in taste and aroma to Parmesan. As the cheese ages, it takes on a chewier and harder texture and hints of butter and hazelnuts. The longer the cheese ages, the more we like it.

    Mimolette lends itself well to dishes that call grated cheese: gratins, pastas, salads and soups, for example. It also makes a visual splash when you bring it to the table to grate.

    Mimolette is a wonderful addition to the Halloween cheese plate. Serve it with apples or pears. For a wine pairing, try a dessert wine like moscato, sweet Riesling, port or sherry.

    If you can’t find it locally, it’s easy to order Mimolette from


    Mimolette, another cheese the color of a harvest room. Get it from



    HALLOWEEN: Haunted Fruit Salad With Ghost Peeps

    Are you scared into eating your fruit? Photo
    courtesy PEEPS.


    This dessert is so easy to make, it’s spooky.

    Just top fruit salad with vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt (we use Greek yogurt slightly sweetened with a no-cal sweetener).

    Then, insert Ghost Marshmallow Peeps into the the topping. The dessert is officially haunted!

    You can also use Ghost Peeps to make ghost pops, by inserting a lollipop stick or a Pocky chocolate-covered biscuit stick.

    Or use the marshmallow spooks as cupcake toppers.

    You can also “kill the ghost” in a cup of hot chocolate.


    Share your favorite way to use Ghost Peeps!



    HALLOWEEN: Rice Krispie Treats

    Enjoy this Halloween spin on a favorite no-bake cookie: Rice Krispies Treats.

    The recipe is from Karo Syrup, which, along with its sister brand Fleischmann’s Yeast, is joining the fight against child hunger. This year Karo and Fleischmann’s have donated $200,000 to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Learn how you can help at


    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Chill Time: 45 minutes
    Yield: about 24 treats


  • 1 cup Karo Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 cups butterscotch chips
  • Candies for decorating
  • Frosting OR melted white chocolate for decorating
  • Food coloring

    Make these special Rice Krispie Treats for Halloween. If you can’t easily pipe a spider’s web with frosting, use Halloween candies to decorate. Photo courtesy Karo Syrup.



    1. COOK: Cook corn syrup and sugar together in a large pan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter; mix well. Add cereal; stir until evenly coated.

    2. POUR. Pour mixture into greased 15 x 10-inch pan and pat into place.

    3. MELT. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread over cereal.

    4. COOL. Cool at least 45 minutes, or until firm. Cut into bars or fun shapes for Halloween.

    5. DECORATE. If desired, pipe frosting to form Halloween shapes or the word BOO!

    Crazy Cats (in photo): Cut circles using a 2 to 3-inch biscuit cutter. Attach candies with a dab of melted white chocolate or frosting to make eyes, nose and ears. Pipe on whiskers with frosting.

    Creepy Webs: Cut circles as above. Tint frosting orange. Starting at the center, pipe continuous spiral circles to edge. Drag the tip of a wooden pick from the center to the edge of the bar to create a spider web design.

    Mummies: Cut circles as above. Drizzle or pipe white frosting back and forth horizontally and finish with two candy eyes.

    Tombstones: Cut into bars, cutting off upper corners diagonally. Pipe frosting to make shapes or words on each “tombstone.” TIP: Tombstones will easily stand upright if the bottom of each is coated with frosting.

    And save some for us!



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