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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Snacks

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: CrunchDaddy Popcorn

Back in 2012, we reviewed a startup company with 10 flavors of savory or caramel corn: CrunchDaddy Popcorn.

You know it’s not just good: In the ubiquitous world of popcorn, their business just keeps growing. The company has expanded distribution, evolved their product flavors and traded most of the original brown kraft paper bags for lustrous poly bags in burgundy and forest green. They recently sent us new samples, and they were dee-licious.

The new number one seller is Bourbon & Bacon Crunch, made with a brown sugar and Kentucky bourbon caramel with bits of smoked bacon. It outsells the other flavors by three to one. The alcohol evaporates completely during the cooking process, so it’s kid- and pregnancy-friendly.

The second best seller is Salted Caramel Crunch, with a butterscotch caramel made with sea salt, Myers’s Dark Rum and honey.

Sure we liked the top two; we like everything from CrunchDaddy. But our personal favorites among the four caramel corns sampled are:


Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

The best seller: caramel corn with bacon and bourbon. Woo hoo! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Butter Rum & Cranberry Crunch. What was once a holiday special is now available year-round. When we bite into the antioxidant-rich cranberries and the fiber-laden popcorn, we think we’re eating guilt free. Oh, except for the sugar. We’ll be ordering lots of these as holiday gifts.
  • Caramel & Peanut Crunch. If only CrunchDaddy would leave the peanuts whole instead of chopped, it would be the Platonic ideal of Cracker Jacks.
  • But if none of these rings your bell, here’s the full menu:

    Sweet Flavors

  • Bourbon & Bacon Crunch
  • Butter Rum & Cranberry Crunch
  • Caramel & Peanut Crunch
  • Chesapeake Peanut Crunch
  • Honey & Cinnamon Crunch
  • Salted Caramel Crunch
    Savory Flavors

  • Bombay Market Crunch
  • Maryland Crab Feast Crunch
  • Movie Night Popcorn (butter and salt)
  • Smokey Cheddar Crunch
  • White Cheddar & Horseradish Crunch

    Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

    Great for gifting! Photo courtesy Crunch Daddy


    Whether for Halloween gifts, Thanksgiving party favors, stocking stuffers or 1-gallon tubs for family gifting, options include:

  • 1 quart poly bag (lustrous red or green), $7.69 (we finished ours in two days)
  • 1/2 gallon tub, $13.75
  • 1 gallon plastic tub, $29.05
    Not all flavors are available in all sizes; and bag colors vary.


    The name does not mislead: This is the crunchiest popcorn we’ve had. Caramel corn can get soggy from the moisture in the caramel. We were so impressed: How do they keep those big, fluffy kernels so crunchy and crisp?

    All of the popcorn is popped in canola oil. Get yours at

    And crunch happily through the season.




    TIP: How To Remove That Burnt Popcorn Smell

    October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. We love popcorn, a whole grain snack that’s low in calories when seasoned simply with spices and herbs. You can also use your FDA-sanctioned two daily tablespoons of heart-healthy olive oil.

    But chief among our kitchen foibles is burnt microwaved popcorn. It not only imparts a horrendous lingering odor; it also stains the inside of the microwave with yellowish blotches. We sought help from

    Ready to begin? Gather your weapons.

    For The Odor

  • Fresh-ground coffee
  • White vinegar
  • Mug and small bowl as a saucer
    For The Stains

  • Dish detergent
  • Bowl or small bucket
  • Soft cloth or paper towels
  • Nail polish remover (100% acetone)
  • Soapy and clean water
  • Optional: rubber gloves
    Now get to work.


    Heirloom Popcorn Kernels

    Because burnt popcorn is so ugly, we elect to show only beauty, like these heirloom kernels. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.


    To rid your home of that burnt popcorn smell, there are two approaches: the coffee method and the vinegar method. Ground coffee absorbs odors, and vinegar neutralizes them.
    The Coffee Method

  • Fill a coffee mug or small bowl with 2 tablespoons of ground coffee and ½ cup of water. Set the cup in a small bowl to catch any overflow as it boils, and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the hot mug. Repeat as necessary with fresh ingredients.
    The Vinegar Method

  • Fill the bowl halfway with vinegar. Heat it in the microwave until it develops a good amount of steam. Stop the heating and let the steam diffuse for 10 minutes.
  • Wipe out the microwave with water and a soft cloth or paper towels. A vinegar smell may remain in the microwave, but it will dissipate in a day or two and is far more pleasant than the burnt popcorn smell.
  • If the odor gets into the vents of a microwave, it may just take some time to air out. If you can take it outside and open the microwave door to fresh air—or set it in front of an open window—do so.
  • To neutralize the smell in the kitchen, add half a cup of vinegar to a quart of water and simmer on the stove for a 10 minutes.You can also burn a cinnamon stick in an ashtray.
  • If the odor still lingers, check out the article, Removing Smoke Smells, on

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/popcorn beauty bellechevreFB 230r

    No burnt popcorn here! Photo courtesy Belle Chevre | Facebook.



    This method should remove most, if not all, of the discoloration of the inside walls of a microwwave.

  • Mix a few drops of dish detergent with hot water in a large bowl or small bucket. Dip the cloth in the soapy water and wring it out thoroughly.
  • Wipe down the inside and outside of the microwave to remove any surface dirt and grime.
    If you have manicured nails, put on rubber gloves for the next step:

  • With a clean cloth or paper towel, apply nail polish remover to the walls and scrub away the yellowish stains. Wipe any residue from the walls with the soapy water and rinse.
  • You may need to repeat a couple of times depending on the severity of the discoloration.



    RECIPE: Blueberry Trail Mix

    blueberry trail mix

    A snack of different names: blueberry trail mix, snack mix, party mix. Photo courtesy U.S. Highbush Blueberry Counci.


    Are you astonished by the sudden jump in price of fresh blueberries?

    That’s because blueberry season is over. But there is a substitute: dried blueberries. Use them in and on:

  • Bundt and pound cakes, cookies, muffins
  • Cereal
  • green salad
  • Fruit salad
  • Pancakes
  • Sauces
    Make a blueberry trail mix snack with the recipe below. You can also use it to top desserts and cereal.

    Ingredients For 4 Cups

  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or other favorite nut
  • 1 cup thin pretzels, broken
  • 1 cup granola or other cereal
  • Optional: chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, other candy of choice, dried cherries or cranberries

    1. COMBINE the blueberries, walnuts, pretzels, granola and any optional ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to blend.

    2. STORE in an airtight container, but consume within a week.
    Find more blueberry recipes at



    FOOD FUN: Mac & Cheese Potato Skins

    The fun thing about mash-ups is that the combinations are endless. But we didn’t have to go too far to find this great combo: mac and cheese potato skins.

    We sighted them on Tony Roma’s Facebook page and promptly made some macaroni and cheese so we could then whip up a batch of potato skins.



  • 8 russet potatoes (about 3 inches long, total weight 2-1/4 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), melted
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (about 4 ounces) shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • Mac and cheese
  • Garnishes: crumbled crisp bacon, minced chives

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/mac and cheese potato skins tonyromasFB 230sq1

    Mac and cheese potato skins. Photo courtesy Tony Roma’s.



    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/russet norkotah 2 230r

    Russet potatoes. Photo courtesy Burpee.



    1. SCRUB and thoroughly dry the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle.

    2. PIERCE each potato several times with a fork or the point of a sharp knife. Place the potatoes directly on the middle rack and bake until the skins are crisp and a knife easily pierces the potatoes, about 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. While the potatoes bake and cool…

    3. MAKE the macaroni and cheese.

    4. SLICE each baked potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of potato on the inside of the skin. Reserve the scooped potato; you can use it for gnocchi, mashed potatoes, potato cakes or potato soup.


    5. BRUSH the insides of the potatoes with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Then do the same with the skin sides. Set the oven to broil.

    6. SPACE the potato halves skin-side up on a baking sheet. Broil until the butter foams and the skins start to crisp, 2 to 3 minutes (watch carefully to avoid burning). Then flip and broil until the top edges just begin to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

    7. FILL each skin with macaroni and cheese and crumbled bacon. Garnish with bacon and chives and serve immediately.



    FOOD FUN: Mac & Cheese Potato Skins

    Many people enjoy crunchy potato skins filled with with cheddar cheese, bacon, sour cream and green onions.

    But at Tony Roma’s, they switch out the cheddar and sour cream for macaroni and cheese. You can make the mac and cheese from scratch, or use leftover mac and cheese.



  • Small baking potatoes
  • Melted butter
  • Mac and cheese
  • Garnishes: crisp diced bacon, minced chives or
    thinly-sliced green onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Beer!


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/mac and cheese potato skins tonyromasFB 230sq

    Mac & cheese potato skins. Photo courtesy Tony Roma’s.

    1. PLACE the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F.

    2. PIERCE each potato several times with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife and place on the oven rack. Bake until the skins are crisp and easily pierced with a knife or cake tester, about 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool about 10 minutes.

    3. SET the oven to broil. Slice each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh around the skins. Reserve the scooped flesh for another use (e.g. mashed potatoes).

    4. BRUSH the insides of the potatoes with melted butter; season with salt and pepper. Flip the skins and repeat.

    5. SPACE the potato halves skin-side up on a baking sheet. Broil until the butter foams and the skins start to crisp, 2 to 3 minutes, watching so they don’t burn. Flip the skins over and broil until the top edges begin to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

    6. REMOVE from the oven and fill each skin with mac and cheese and bacon. Place under the broiler and broil until the cheese bubbles, about 2 minutes. Remove from the broiler and top each skin with chives or green onion. Serve immediately.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Made In Nature Coconut Chips

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/madeinnature coconut chips bag 230

    Madagascar Vanilla Coconut Chips. Photo
    courtesy Made In Nature.


    The new Made In Nature Organic Toasted Coconut Chips are a big hit with THE NIBBLE team. We love them for snacking and garnishing.

    Crunchy, health-tasting and versatile, we enjoyed the original plain toasted coconut chips. But the flavored versions are even better, and each is a winner:

  • Ginger Masala Chai
  • Italian Espresso
  • Maple Madagascar Vanilla
  • Mexican Spiced Cacao
  • Vietnamese Cinnamon Swirl
    A bit of maple syrup is used as a sweetener. All ingredients are organic and non-GMO* with natural flavors. The coconut chips follow the Made In Nature mission: healthy snacks and global flavors.

    The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $3.99 for a 3-ounce bag. The line is certified kosher by OU.


    *Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.



    Beyond delicious snacking and incorporation into your trail mix, toasted coconut chips fit into every meal of the day as a garnish:

  • Breakfast: cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt
  • Lunch: Asian chicken salad, green salad, PB&J sandwiches, soup
  • Dinner: general plate garnish, international dishes, rice and other grains
  • Dessert: cake/cupcakes/pies, fruit salad, ice cream
    You can match the flavors of the coconut chips to the flavors of your dishes; for example, Italian Espresso Coconut Chips on coffee ice cream, Mexican Spiced Cacao on anything chocolate, or Ginger Masala Chai with an Asian stir-fry and rice.

    Or mix and match the flavors. We just added Vietnamese Cinnamon Swirl on top of a baked apple. We promise, you’ll have fun being creative with these flavored coconut chips.



    You can toast your own coconut chips. Photo courtesy

    If you want to make your own coconut chips, here’s a recipe from Jodye of It takes a while to get specialty flavors perfect, though; so you might want to start with Made From Nature.

    Made In Nature is available nationwide at retailers such as Costco, REI, Safeway, Sprouts, Wegman’s and Whole Foods Market; at select natural food stores; and online.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: S’mores Cone, S’mores Dip & More Creative Recipes

    For National S’mores Day, August 10th, Reynolds Kitchens has developed two grill approaches that use aluminum foil instead of the original twig over a fire. You can also make them indoors on the stove top.

    The recipes evolve S’mores graham cracker sandwiches into two fun variations: s’mores cones and skillet s’mores.

    Use your favorite chocolate, milk or dark. We use Guittard or Valrhona wafers or chop up Lindt bars; but you can use chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.

    Below, we have links to the history of S’mores and graham crackers, and many more creative S’mores recipes, from S’mores ice cream cake and cupcakes to cinnamon S’mores with a cappuccino cocktail.



  • Chocolate
  • Marshmallows (large or mini)
  • Graham crackers, broken into pieces


    S’mores cone. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchen.

  • Cones (use the smaller sugar cones instead of the larger waffle cones)
  • Aluminum foil


    1. STUFF the chocolate, marshmallows and graham cracker pieces into the cones, alternating to distribute the flavors.

    2. WRAP in foil and heat the packet over a campfire or grill for 3-5 minutes.

    3. REMOVE the packet carefully and allow it a few minutes to cool before unwrapping and eating.



    S’mores dip. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchen.




  • Chocolate chunks (you can break up chocolate bars)
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham crackers
  • Aluminum foil

    1. PLACE the chocolate chunks in a skillet. Top with the marshmallows and place over the campfire or grill until melted.

    2. REMOVE from the heat, ideally with a skillet handle pot holder.

    3. DIP the graham crackers into the skillet s’mores.. Warn people to avoid touching the skillet!



  • S’mores History
  • Graham Cracker History
  • Cinnamon S’mores with a Cappuccino Cocktail
  • Creative S’mores Recipes
  • Gourmet Marshmallow S’mores
  • Ice Cream S’mores
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake, Ice Cream Pie and Cupcakes
  • S’mores in a Cup
  • S’mores with Other Types Of Cookies


    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Fresh Summer Tomatoes

    Sometimes, the government bodies that approve food holidays are way out of whack. Fresh Tomato Day is April 6th. National Tomato Day is June 1st. October is National Tomato Month.

    In California and Florida, the two states that grow the most tomatoes, you can probably get a fresh tomato in April and most certainly in June. But people in the majority of the U.S. will have to make do with cherry tomatoes or less flavorful locals or imports until the peak summer tomatoes arrive.

    Everyone knows that the most lush, juicy, locally-grown and freshly-picked tomatoes are available nationwide in August. So why promote tomatoes when the best ones are out of season?*

    Thus, for the first time, THE NIBBLE is declaring its own food holiday. For us, August is National Tomato Month!

    Whatever the time of day, there’s something delicious to be made with fresh tomatoes—even cocktails.

    There are lots of recipes that do well with canned tomatoes. Don’t waste pricey fresh tomatoes on them. Instead, go for uncooked or lightly cooked recipes, where the fresh tomato taste sings.

    Our summertime favorite is a simple combination of heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (a Caprese salad with chèvre instead of mozzarella).



    Tomato crostini, with both red and yellow tomatoes. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy Gaea Olive Oil.

    But this Saturday, we’re going whole hog (whole tomato?) with tomatoes in every dish of every meal. We put together this recipe list, and will decide exactly what to make on the big day. We know that a tomato tart will be on the list.


  • Diced and marinated fresh tomato with plain yogurt and/or cottage cheese (add fresh dill or basil)
  • Frittata
  • Omelet with diced fresh tomato, herbs and green onions
  • Poached eggs on toast with sliced tomatoes, or on a thick slice of tomato instead of toast
  • Shakshouka, spicy poached and baked eggs (shakshouka recipe)

  • BLT, with a luscious T
  • Grilled cheese with a big slice of tomato and fresh basil (try grilled mozzarella, tomato and basil—a grilled Caprese; if you don’t like basil, try arugula)
  • Pasta salad with diced fresh tomatoes
  • Pizza (top the sauce and mozzarella with sliced tomato) or flatbread topping
  • Sliced egg and tomato sandwich
  • Sliced on a burger (try one slice above the burger and one below)
  • With assorted cheeses and baguette slices
  • Sandwich or salad with fried eggplant and tomato slices and provolone or other favorite cheese
  • Tomato sandwich: sliced tomatoes, arugula or watercress, sprouts, sweet onion and any other veggies you like with flavored mayonnaise or compound butter, on good bread (we also toss on some capers and fresh-cracked black pepper

  • Caprese salad or stack (stack the ingredients into a small tower)
  • Gazpacho or hot tomato soup
  • Multicolor heirloom tomato salad with vinaigrette (we pair wedges cut from larger tomatoes with halved cherry tomatoes for a nice visual)
  • Tomato, watermelon and feta salad with with basil mint
  • Tomato, watermelon and peach salad with crumbled cheese (basil or mint also welcome)

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/grilled tomatoes peaches wmmb 230

    Fresh tomatoes and peaches, grilled with cheese. Photo courtesy Eat Wisconsin Cheese.


    & MORE

  • Broiled or roasted tomatoes with blue cheese, chèvre or feta
  • Tomato basil garlic butter (compound butter) for bread spread and cooking (it’s very freezable)
  • Fresh raw corn and tomato salad with herbs
  • Fried green tomatoes: they’re what to do with tomatoes that fail to ripen before the first frost
  • Marinated tomatoes and fresh herbs, as a side or as a first course in an avocado half
  • Panzanella, summer bread and tomato salad (panzanella recipe)
  • Salsa—see how much better it tastes with great tomatoes
  • Tomato crostini or bruschetta (recipe below)
  • Tomato juice, seasoned for drinking or spiced for Bloody Marys
  • Tomato-stuffed endive leaves
  • Tomato tart/tartlet or galette with tomato and cheese; tomato, onion, eggplant and other summer vegetables like zucchini; or Greek style with feta and black olives

  • Diced tomato garnish on mac and cheese, rice or grains
  • Fresh (uncooked) tomato sauce for pasta (you can also cook fresh tomatoes into a sauce)
  • Pasta with diced heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese and fresh herbs
  • Dessert: strong cheeses with fresh tomatoes and crusty bread
  • Dessert: tomato ice cream or sorbet (tomato ice cream recipes)

    Bruschetta and crostini are popular hors d’oeuvres that are easy to make. They also can be served as a first course or a light meal, with salad and/or soup.

    The difference between them is the size of the slice, plus grilling versus toasting. Bruschetta is made from a loaf of bread that’s three or four inches in diameter; the bread is then grilled. Crostini are cut from a loaf about two inches in diameter and toasted rather than grilled.

    Can you toast a larger slice and grill a smaller one? Go for it!


  • Baguette
  • Optional: fresh goat cheese
  • Heirloom tomatoes, yellow and red
  • Fresh basil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper

    1. CUT the tomatoes into triangular pieces (see photo at top of page) and place in a bowl. Chiffonade the basil leaves and add to the tomatoes. Season lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, plus salt to taste.

    2. SPREAD the goat cheese on plain or lightly toasted baguette slices. If not using cheese, brush the slices lightly with olive oil. Top with the dressed tomatoes and basil. Finish with a grind of fresh pepper.
    *The answer: This happens with quite a few fresh foods. Companies and trade associations are eager to get publicity for their products and don’t want to wait for an appropriate month. The government officials who approve the holiday, from local to federal, just rubber-stamp the petition. Sometimes, producers especially want publicity in the off season when their products don’t sell well. That’s why June is National Turkey Month and February 6th is National Frozen Yogurt Day. These two are no big deal because you can get a good turkey or frozen yogurt anytime. But apricots are a summer fruit, so why is January 9th National Apricot Day? Why is February Berry Fresh Month—and so on, and so on? When we began THE NIBBLE in 2004, the concept was to match our content not just to American holidays (Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.) but to the hundreds of officially sanctioned daily/monthly food holidays. We also chose to promote food seasonally. But on an out-of-season holiday like National Apricot Day, all we can promote are apricot jam and apricot nectar!



    RECIPE: Whole Grain Mustard Potato Chips


    Bring some to a cook-out. Photo courtesy Maille.


    Some people like to dip their fries in mustard. Why not potato chips?

    This recipe is from gourmet mustard producer Maille, which used its Maille Old Style Whole Grain Mustard.

    We love them with a cold beer, with a sandwich or with grilled meats. If you want to bring something to a cook-out, make lots!

    Prep time is 3 minutes, cook time is 4 minutes. There are other nifty recipes on the website.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 6 tablespoons Maille Old Style Whole Grain mustard
    (or substitute)
  • 1 bag (8 to 10 ounces) kettle-style potato chips

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. SPOON the mustard into a flat-bottomed bowl. Add the potato chips and QUICKLY but gently toss with clean hands. The chips should NOT be saturated with mustard; you just want a very small touch on each chip.

    3. SPREAD the chips in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet (silicone baking mat preferred).

    4. BAKE, stirring once, for about 4 minutes; then remove from the oven and broil on low for 2 minutes to crisp. Watch carefully to avoid burning!

    5. COOL and serve within 24 hours.



    PRODUCT: Hummus Snack, No Refrigeration Required

    It’s not easy to find healthy snacks to eat on the go, much less those that are gluten free. Wild Garden Hummus, which sells shelf-stable (no refrigeration required ) hummus in jars, has a welcome new line called Snack Bo To Go!.

    It’s a tube of hummus packaged with a packet of gluten-free crackers. Neatly boxed, it’s a tasty alternative for anyone who wants to keep a better-for-you snack in a car, locker, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.

    In fact, if you’ve bought a hummus snack pack on an airline, it was probably Wild Garden.

    A small cardboard box includes your hummus flavor of choice in a 1.76-ounce single-serve Tetra-Pak (67 calories; with the crackers the snack is around 200 calories). Squeezing out the hummus is easy and mess-free. Flavors include:

  • Back Olive Hummus
  • Fire Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • Jalapeño Hummus
  • Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
  • Traditional Hummus


    Small, easy-to-pack boxes with nutritious, delicious snacking inside. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.



    It’s easy to squeeze hummus from these Tetra Paks. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.


    The different flavors of hummus are variously paired with a half-ounce of delicious, gluten-free crackers or chips:

  • CrunchMaster Multiseed Crackers, an everyday favorite at THE NIBBLE (127 calories)
  • The Daily Crave Vegetable Chips (147 calories)
  • Wild Garden Quinoa Chips (122 calories)
    We tried all of the varieties, and pronounce them delicious.
    The MSRP is $2.29 per box (serving). sells it for $2.50.

    If you want to buy the hummus packages only, you can get a box of 24 packets or 100 packets on
    Visit for more information.



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