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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Snacks

PRODUCT: Freakin’ Awesome Snack Mix

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The fun name made this product a hit. Photo courtesy The Festive kitchen.

 

Recently, we were asked if we’d like to try a snack mix called It’s Freakin’ Awesome. How could we resist?

It was developed by a Dallas-area caterer, and became a big hit locally.

A bag arrived: a mix of sweet and salty flavors with a bit of heat. A blend of caramelized tortilla chips (a fun idea!), Chex cereal pieces, dried cranberries, almonds and peanuts, it’s a variation on a Chex Mix.

It’s tasty, to be sure, but no more awesome than some other Chex Mixes we’ve made. We will acknowledge, though, that compared to the boxed Chex Mixes on the market, the ingredients are more pure (you can taste the higher quality).

So why are we writing about it?

First, you might need something freakin’ awesome as a stocking stuffer or party favor. The name is sure to delight. “It’s Freakin’ Awesome” may be hyperbolic, but it is fun.

Second, a portion of every purchase goes to Carry The Load, a charity started by a former Navy Seal to support the families of fallen heroes from the military, law enforcement, firefighters and rescue personnel.

We love food with a mission!

 

You can purchase It’s Freakin’ Awesome online at FestiveKitchen.com, and at Festive Kitchen stores in the Dallas area. A 9-ounce bag is $8.65.

 
  

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PRODUCT & GIFT: Perky Jerky, Now In Flavors

There’s only a week left until Christmas, but you can click on over to get a boat load of one of our favorite snacks for gifting: Perky Jerky.

This is tender, flavorful gourmet jerky with a twist: the meat is caffeinated. The manufacturer calls it “the world’s first all-natural performance enhancing meat snack.”

Anyone who needs a snack along with a bit of energy can simply tear open a portion-controlled package and enjoy a flavorful, nourishment and yes, liveliness.

The protein-laden beef or turkey jerky has been caffeinated with guarana, a natural energy booster with about twice the caffeine content of a coffee bean. A single-portion bag has less than 100 calories per ounce and is low in carbs, with 5g or less of sugar per serving.

The products are all natural: no added MSF, no nitrates, no preservatives.
 
BEEF & TURKEY, ORIGINAL & FLAVORS

Since it debuted several years ago, Perky Jerky has grown in flavors. Marinating the meat overnight allows the flavors to infuse, and makes the jerky even more tender.

Beef Perky Jerky and Turkey Perky Jerky are available in Original, Hot & Bothered, Sweet & Spicy and Teriyaki. Additionally, Turkey Perky Jerky is Jamaican Style.

   

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Delicious and tender jerky with a jolt of caffeine. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

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Give individual packages or multipack boxes.
Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

PACKAGES FOR EVERYONE

From individual snacks to multi-portion sizes, there are:

  • Individual snack bags (1 ounce), $2.99
  • Multi-portion bags (2.2 ounces), $4.99
  • Family-size bags (5 ounces), $9.99
  • Multipack boxes of 6-packs (2.2 ounces) and 12-packs (2.2 ounces), $59.88
  •  
    If you want to try the flavors, pay for four and get the fifth free (2.2-ounce bags).

    You can sign up for monthly deliveries, too, and save 20%-30% with free shipping.

    HOLIDAY SPECIAL

    There’s 40% off plus free shipping on orders over $50. Use code HOLIDAY 40 through midnight on December 21st.

    Place your order for great jerky at PerkyJerky.com.

    Perky Jerky is also available in more than 30,000 retail outlets across the U.S., including GNC, Target and Walgreens.

    JERKY TRIVIA

  • The word jerky comes from the Quechua language of the Incas, who called their dried meat “charqui.”
  • While the prehistoric method of meat preservation was used by other ancient peoples, it was not known in Europe. The first European visitors to the New World found Native Americans making jerky from the meat of any animal they hunted, from buffalo to whale.
  • Today jerky can be found in meats as common as turkey, tuna and salmon, to exotic alligator and ostrich.
  • Perky Jerky was a accidental invention, like potato chips, yogurt and many of our foods. An energy drink spilled over some jerky, drenching the meat. Not about to throw good jerky away, the “inventors” ate it and discovered that it was not only more tender, but a great energy boost. (Today, the process for making Perky Jerky is a bit more sophisticated.)
  •   

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    FOOD FUN: Popcorn Trees

    Fun for decoration, party favors or festive snacks, these Popcorn Trees are easy to make. The recipe is from the National Popcorn Board, which advises that it’s important to use unflavored white popcorn for the best color and flavor.

    RECIPE: POPCORN TREES

    Ingredients For 10 Trees

  • 10 cups air-popped white popcorn
  • 1 10-ounce bag miniature marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Decorating sugar (green, blue)*
  • 1 tube of white frosting (with decorating tip)
  • Assorted small colorful candies, such as sprinkles and miniature silver dragées
  •  
    *Make your own colored sugar by adding food coloring to sugar, stirring in a bowl or shaking vigorously in a sealed container. Add more food coloring for more intense tones.

     

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    A fun project for eating or decor. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the popcorn in large bowl.

    2. PLACE marshmallows and butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture over the popcorn. Toss well to coat the popcorn evenly.

    3. LINE a baking sheet with foil. Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray, then scoop up about 1 cup of the popcorn mixture. Shape the mixture into a cone shape, keeping the base flat. This forms the tree.

    4. SPRINKLE the tree with decorating sugar. Pplace the tree on the baking sheet. Continue to make the rest of the trees.

    5. PIPE frosting on the trees to make a garland, then decorate them with colorful candies.
     
    SERVING SUGGESTION

    Place each tree atop a sugar cookie and decorate the serving tray with shredded coconut to resemble snow—as shown in the photo above.

    Find more fun popcorn recipes at Popcorn.org.

      

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    STOCKING STUFFER: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Crisps

    We love Pretzel Crisps year-round. The flat, bite-size pretzels are terrific for snacking from the bag, dipping into hummus or other dip favorite, topping with peanut butter and a slice of apple, or turning them into canapés, topped with cheese, ham, smoked salmon and so forth.

    Throughout the year, Pretzel Crisps are available in Original plus Chipotle Cheddar, Everything, Jalapeño Jack and Sesame.

    But for the holidays, the special goods come out: chocolate-coated pretzels with a garnish of crushed candy canes.

    They’re available in two versions:

  • Dark Chocolate & Peppermint
  • White Chocolate & Peppermint
  •  

    These delicious combinations of sweet indulgence and salty crunch are affordable stocking stuffers or party favors.

    We enjoy them plain, with a sweet dip, as a garnish for ice cream, or with a cup of something hot (cocoa, coffee, milk, tea).

     

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    Delicious in both dark and white chocolate. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Pretzel Crisps are available at retailers nationwide. Here’s a store locator. You can also find them online.

    Discover more at PretzelCrisps.com.

      

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    RECIPE: Cinnamon Chocolate Popcorn

    We just published a gift idea for Brownie Points’ Candy Cane Crunch Popcorn. If you’re in the mood to make your own candy cane popcorn, pop it, butter it and toss with crushed candy canes or other peppermint candy.

    Not a peppermint lover? Here’s a recipe for equally festive Cinnamon Chocolate Popcorn from the National Popcorn Board, Popcorn.org.

    You can buy the popcorn or make it from scratch.
     
    RECIPE: CINNAMON CHOCOLATE POPCORN

    Ingredients For 3 quarts

  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray
  • 9 tablespoons powdered cocoa mix (cocoa sweetened with sugar or sugar substitute)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  •  

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    Chocolate Cinnamon Popcorn, delicious with hot chocolate. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the popcorn in a large bowl and lightly spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle cocoa mix and cinnamon on popcorn.

    2. TOSS to coat evenly. Spray and toss again until mixture is well coated. Serve immediately.

      

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    GIFT: Brownie Points’ Posh Popcorn

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    Christmas popcorn. Photo courtesy Brownie
    Points.

     

    Brownie Points makes popcorn and brownies in numerous flavors, but at this time of year, the Candy Cane Crunch Popcorn calls out to us.

    Delicious as a stand-alone snack, accompaniment to a hot beverage or a dessert garnish.

    The popcorn is packaged in a clear 20-ounce canister tied with a polka dot ribbon, $20.00.

    There’s also a holiday Brownie and Popcorn Sampler.

    Year-round flavors include:

  • Black Raspberry Caramel Dark Chocolate
  • Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt
  • Nutty Caramel
  • Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch
  • Trendy Trash (vanilla butter gourmet popcorn blended with chunks of caramelized Bavarian pretzels, pretzel sticks, graham crackers and kettle potato chips drizzled with white chocolate, dark chocolate and caramel)
  •  

    Happy munching!
     
      

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    GIFT: Treat House Gluten Free Crispy Rice Treats

    Gluten free*, artisanal and an appropriate portion size—two square inches as opposed to those supersized Rice Krispies Treats—the gourmet Crispy Rice Treats from Treat House have been a NIBBLE favorite since they debuted. (Here’s our original review, a Top Pick Of The Week.)

    These gourmet crispy rice treats (that’s Rice Krispie treats without the trademark infringement) continue to dazzle with an ongoing stream of seasonal flavors and designs.

    For Holiday 2014, there’s a gift box of crispy rice treats topped with holiday and winter theme garnishes, including a dreidel and chocolate foil coins for Hanukkah.

    All treats are gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. The marshmallows are made using raw cane sugar, not corn syrup.

    And, the line is kosher (dairy), supervised by United Kosher Supervision.

    There’s a feel-good component, too: Ten cents of every treat (more for larger items) is donated to The Food Bank For New York City, a relief organization working to end hunger.

       

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    Nostalgic and gluten free! Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

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    Perennial favorite S’mores joins holiday candy cane and peppermint treats. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The flavors at Treat House range from kid stuff (Birthday Cake, Bubble Gum, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Pretzel, M&M, etc.) to sophisticated (Chocolate Raspberry, Salted Caramel, etc.).

    But for the holidays, head for the seasonal specialty gift box.

    The 12 pack of holiday crispy rice treats in a the silver and snowflake gift box is $31.

    Get yours at TreatHouse.com.
     
    THE HISTORY OF RICE KRISPIES TREATS

    This childhood favorite, no-bake cookie was invented in 1928 by Mildred Day and colleagues in the home economics department at The Kellogg Company. It was created as a fund raiser-for the Camp Fire Girls, a nationwide American youth organization.

    The recipe consists of butter, marshmallows and Rice Rice Krispies cereal. The butter and marshmallows are melted together, blended with the Rice Krispies and pressed into a pan. When cool, they are cut into bars. Many subsequent variations mix in other ingredients, from chocolate chips to licorice and gummi bears.

     

    Check out the different types of cookies in our tasty Cookie Glossary.

     
    *Some flavors have garnishes that are not gluten free.

      

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    RECIPE: Popcorn Wreaths

    Food fun, task for the kids: Make Holiday Wreath Popcorn Treats. This recipe from The Popcorn Board can be made by older children.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS POPCORN WREATHS

    Ingredients For 8 Five-Inch Wreaths

  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 3 tablespoons (1/2 of a 3-ounce box) lime gelatin dessert mix
  • Decorations: small red candies, mini jellybeans, dried cranberries or cherries, etc., plus red fruit leather for “ribbon”
  •  

    Preparation

    1. SPRAY a large mixing bowl lightly with cooking spray and place the popcorn inside.

    2. MELT the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in the marshmallows and gelatin dessert powder until the marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over the popcorn and mix well until coated.

     

    Almost too pretty to eat! Photo courtesy The Popcorn Board.

     

    3. SPRAY your hands with cooking spray and press firmly to form the popcorn into 9-inch logs. Then bend the logs to form the wreaths.

    4. PLACE the wreaths on wax paper. Press the candy decorations onto the wreaths to decorate. Add a “ribbon” cut from fruit leather.

    5. SERVE immediately or wrap individually in cellophane bags for storage and gifting. Add a ribbon tie to the bag as a decorative closure.

    6. TIP: Soak the saucepan in hot soap and water before cleaning.

      

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    RECIPE: Game Day BBQ Deviled Eggs

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    A hearty approach to deviled eggs: Top them with barbecue! Photo courtesy Byron’s BBQ.

     

    This tasty, fun recipe was developed by Byron’s BBQ for the November 29th Egg Bowl. The result: Ole Miss triumphed over Mississippi State, and some people enjoyed barbecue-topped deviled eggs.

    Whether you’re at the stadium or on the couch, the recipe works for any game day: BBQ-Topped Deviled Eggs.

    Byron’s BBQ is frozen after cooking, to lock in freshness without the need for extra preservatives. The pork shoulder is hickory-smoked for hours, then hand-pulled off the bone and sauced. To prepare it, simply thaw and heat in an oven, on a grill or in a slow cooker.

    You can find Byron’s BBQ at Sam’s Club locations nationwide for less than $15 per 4 pound tray. It’s a great deal for large family gatherings or parties.

    You use less than a pound to make the deviled eggs, so there’s plenty of barbecue left for pulled pork pizza, tacos, tostadas, salads, sandwiches, scrambles, sliders, quesadillas and wraps. When you only have a bit left, use it to fill baked potatoes.

     

    RECIPE: BARBECUE-TOPPED DEVILED EGGS

    Ingredients For 24 Halves

  • 12 ounces fully-cooked pork barbecue, thawed
  • 12 eggs, hard-boiled, cooled and peeled
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon spicy mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Garnish: 6 chives, chopped
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the roast according to package directions and keep warm.

    2. CUT the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise and transfer all the yolks into a small mixing bowl. Set the egg whites aside.

    3. ADD the mayonnaise and mustard to the egg yolks and mash with a fork until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some egg yolk mixture into each egg white. Top each with barbecue and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.

     
    ABOUT BYRON’S BBQ

    Byron’s has been making authentic American barbecue since 1957, when Byron Charleton started selling the homemade BBQ recipe that made him famous in his hometown for years.

     

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    Delicious barbecue pork is well priced at Sam’s Club. Photo courtesy Byron’s BBQ.

     
    The barbecue is still made the same way on the same plot of land in Gallatin, Tennessee where Byron set up his first smokehouse. The pit master slowly smokes quality meat over an open-pit hardwood fire and slathers on a signature spicy-sweet sauce. The quick freeze technique enables the company to avoid any added chemical preservatives.

    Learn more at ByronsBBQ.com.
     
    BARBECUE, BARBEQUE OR BBQ?

    Readers often ask us about the correct spelling: Is it barbecue, barbeque bar-b-que or BBQ? The answer is that barbecue and barbeque are alternative spellings, and BBQ is the abbreviation. We chose to use “barbecue” instead of “barbeque” in THE NIBBLE because more of the professional barbecue groups use that spelling.

    The word “barbecue” comes from the Haitian Arawakan word “barbakoa,” meaning “framework of sticks.” It refers to a raised wooden structure used to either sleep on or cure meat.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Snacking On Chestnuts

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    New School: Buy chestnuts ready to eat. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    In the old days, winter meant chestnut vendors on street corners. We’d buy a bag, hot off the embers, and burn our fingertips in our eagerness to devour the toasty treats.

    Then we learned how easy it was to make our own (recipe below).

    But these days, we buy bags of whole cooked chestnuts, peeled and ready to be popped into the mouth, tossed into recipes or microwaved to make them toasty. What you miss in the smoky flavor nuance, you gain in moistness.

    Chestnuts are delicious cold or hot in various recipes or as a garnish. There is no need to add anything to them; they are full of flavor and ready-to-eat. (In fact, you can eat chestnuts raw, but they are sweeter and have a better flavor when cooked).

    WAYS TO SERVE CHESTNUTS

    You can eat chestnuts as you would any other nut. Versatile, they work in savory or sweet recipes.

     
    SAVORY CHESTNUT USES

  • In an omelet
  • In breads and muffins
  • As an appetizer wrapped with bacon
  • Pureèd into pestos and dips
  • In soup—try this (cream of chestnut soup recipe)
  • As a garnish: meat, poultry, seafood—whole, diced, mashed or puréed
  • In stuffing: for duck, pheasant, pork, turkey, quail, veal.
  • In salads, whole or quartered
  •  

  • With vegetables: Brussels sprouts, carrots, mushrooms
  • With grains (risotto, pilaf), diced
  • In casseroles
  •  
    SWEET CHESTNUT USES

  • Candied (marrons glacées)
  • Puréed and added to hot chocolate
  • In ice cream—puréed or diced
  • In a sweetened bread spread
  • Mousse or Mont Blanc, sweetened chestnut purée in a meringue shell, topped with whipped cream (here’s a riff on Mont Blanc: dessert pasta)
  • Cakes (here’s a chestnut loaf cake)
  • Chestnut soufflé and a multitude of other desserts
  •  

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    Old School: Buy raw chestnuts, cut an X, roast them, peel them. Photo courtesy Histomil.com.

     

    HOW TO ROAST CHESTNUTS

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Wipe the chestnuts with a damp paper towel.

    2. PLACE the chestnuts on a cutting board, flat side down. Use a small, sharp knife to cut an X on the top (rounded) side of each chestnut. This allows the steam to escape and also makes peeling the cooked chestnuts a lot easier.

    3. MOVE the chestnuts to a baking pan or sheet with the X facing up. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the shells burst open at the X.

    4. COOL a bit until the chestnuts are comfortable enough to touch; peel while they are still warm.

    Note that chestnuts can begin to rot inside the shell, and you won’t know it until you’ve roasted and peeled them. So if you need a certain number, buy 20% more to be on the safe side.

    CHESTNUT HISTORY

    Chestnuts were eaten by prehistoric man, and have been cultivted since about 2000 B.C.E.

    The chestnut tree, Castanea sativa, was introduced to Europe via Greece and Asia Minor. The majority of the chestnut trees currently found in America are of European stock, but Native Americans ate an American genus, Castanea dentata, long before the European tree came to America.

    In 1904, a fungus on diseased Asian chestnut trees that were planted in New York spread and nearly wiped out the American chestnut population. While there are some domestic groves in California and the Pacific Northwest, today most chestnuts are imported from China, Italy, Japan and Spain.

      

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