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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

TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Breads & Spreads

queso-fresco-chipotle-baby-bell-peppers-230r-s

Make crunchy, Mexican-style snacks with baby
bell peppers. Photo courtesy The Laughing
Cow.

 

The Laughing Cow makes eight flavors of spreadable cheese, and sent us suggestions for pairing the different spreads with complementary breads and crackers.

These fun snacks can be served as hors d’oeuvre with beer, cocktails or wine; as a casual first course; or as an anytime snack. The ideas below can be ported to pairing any cheese, spread or dip. In addition to bread, the cheese spreads are paired with crackers and veggies.

In fact, the next time you’re planning a cheese course or a cheese platter, think of choosing more interesting breads and crackers, such as:

  • Arepas (a thicker version of a tortilla)
  • Banana bread and date nut bread (especially delicious with double-creme and triple-creme cheeses like Brie)
  • Corn bread (great with chile-based cheeses like Pepper Jack)
  • Irish soda bread (try with everything from fresh, soft cheeses to aged Cheddar and Gouda)
  • Onion bread (especially for adding a kick to mild cheeses)
  • Pretzel bread (a universal favorite)
  • Pumpernickel or dark rye bread (delicious with firm, hearty cheeses)
  • Raisin semolina bread (a partner for everything from mild to hearty cheeses)

 
Find many other types of bread in our yummy Bread Glossary.

 

MILD PAIRINGS

Spread: Creamy Original Swiss
Pairing: Banana Bread With Walnuts

Banana bread and other fruit breads (such as date nut bread and raisin bread) are delicious with fresh cheeses and double-crème cheeses like Brie. The sweet bread really turns the cheese course into dessert. It the walnuts aren’t already baked into the banana bread, add them as a garnish.

Spread: Creamy Light Swiss
Pairing: Kale Leaf

What selection of recipes would be complete without kale? Here, crunchy kale substitutes for bread (or the more conventional endive leaf), and a slice of turkey roll adds protein to this better-for-you “Swiss and turkey wrap.” Garnish with halved cherry or grape tomatoes.

 

TANGY PAIRINGS

Spread: Creamy Swiss Garlic & Herb
Pairing: Pita Bites or Pita Chips

Dress up plain old pita garlic and herb cheese spread, sliced black olives and strips of roasted red pepper (pimento). Optional garnish: snipped chives.

 
Spread: Creamy White Cheddar Flavor
Pairing: Pretzel Crisps (Or Other Pretzel Flats)

Pretzel flats are an under-used pairing with cheese. They work with any cheese, from mild to spicy. Optional garnish: snipped herbs.

 
Spread: Creamy Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil
Flavor
Pairing: Mini Bagel

Make a “white pizza” with mini bagels, or use bagel chips for a crispy change of pace. Optional garnish: oregano.

 
Pairing: Pretzel Crisps (Or Other Pretzel Flats)

This smoked salmon pairing also works with mini bagels and bagel chips. Optional garnish: snipped chives or minced red onion.

 

pita-swiss-garlic-herb-230r

No hummus today: a new way to enjoy pita. Photo courtesy The Laughing Cow.

 

SPICY PAIRINGS

Spread: Creamy Spicy Pepper Jack
Pairing: Mini Cornbread Muffins

You can toast the muffins if you like; and if you have day-old muffins that are starting to dry out, it’s tasty “save.”

 
Spread: Creamy Queso Fresco Chipotle
Pairing: Baby Bell Peppers

This south-of-the-border approach is a new way to use those adorable baby bell peppers. Stuff with The Laughing Cow Creamy Queso Fresco Chipotle and top with some salsa fresca.

Find more snack ideas at TheLaughingCow.com.

  

Comments

RECIPE: Honey Caramel Corn

Most caramel corn is not drizzled with caramel sauce, as the name may suggest, but made by caramelizing sugar into a syrup that coats the popcorn and dries to a lovely crunch.

Caramel and corn based on sugar or molasses dates back at least to the 1890s; an early version of Cracker Jack, made with molasses, was sold at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Kettle corn, seasoned with salt and un-caramelized sugar, dates to Colonial times.

This recipe is courtesy Bee Raw Honey. For Halloween, toss in some candy corn and your choice of candied nuts.

RECIPE: HONEY CARAMEL CORN

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup clover honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • Fleur de sel or other fine sea salt
  • Optional mix in: nuts, candy corn, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces
  •  

    caramel-corn-zulka-recipe-230

    Homemade caramel corn. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 250°F. Melt the butter in large saucepan; stir in sugar, honey and salt. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Place a candy thermometer into the mixture. Reduce the heat to medium; boil without stirring about three minutes, to 265°F.

    2. REMOVE the honey mixture from heat and stir in the baking soda. Place the popcorn in a large bowl. While stirring, slowly pour the honey mixture over the popcorn.

    3. TURN the popcorn onto greased baking pan. Bake at 250°F for 45 minutes; stir every 15 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and break the popcorn into bite-sized pieces.
     
    ABOUT CARAMEL CORN

    Caramel corn is an American invention: popcorn coated with a sugar- or molasses-based candy shell. A white sugar-based candy coating provides a lighter (if more cloying) flavor than traditional caramelized brown sugar or molasses.

    Typically, a sugar solution is heated until it becomes a thick and brown caramelized candy syrup. Before the syrup cools, it can be mixed with an endless number of flavorings, from chocolate and coconut to blueberry and watermelon. The hot syrup is then mixed with popped popcorn, and allowed to cool.

    Nuts are a popular addition. While peanuts are the most popular (think Cracker Jack), almonds, cashews and pecans offer a more sophisticated flavor.
     

    The history of candy corn and a recipe for candy corn fudge.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Harvest Pumpkin, Seasonal Tortilla Chips From Food Should Taste Good

    How delicious are the fall flavor tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good?

    Very delicious! You can enjoy them plain, with a savory or sweet dip, or as “fall nachos.”

    • Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips are as good as eating a cookie. Deftly spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg (and a touch of cane sugar), stone ground corn is mixed with pumpkin, spices, sea salt.
    • Sweet Potato tortilla chips, which are made with a touch of sugar, can be served with fruit salsa, raspberry jam or apple butter; served with ginger snap dip, or instead of cookies with vanilla ice cream.

    The all natural line is certified gluten free, certified vegan and OU kosher. The snack contains 19 grams of whole grains per serving. (The USDA recommends 48 grams of whole grains daily.)

     
    RECIPE #1: GINGERSNAP DIP

    This recipe, adapted from Taste Of Home, makes a “dessert dip.” For a less sweet dip, cut the sugar in half or eliminate it entirely.

       

    sweet-potato-pumpkin-kaminsky-230

    Sweet Potato and Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
    • 1 carton (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 package (16 ounces) gingersnaps

     
     
    *You can combine equal amounts of allspice, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg or adapt the spices and proportions to your preferences.>
     
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl until fluffy. Beat in the yogurt.

    2. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve.

     

    gingersnap-dip-tasteofhome-230

    Gingersnap dip for cookies or seasonal tortilla chips. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: BISCOFF SPREAD DIP

    Biscoff Spread looks like peanut butter but smells like gingerbread and is nut-free. It is made from spice cookies, called spéculoos cookies in Belgium, where they are the national cookie—a variation of gingerbread. (The cookies are called Belgian spice cookies in the U.S.)

    The name Biscoff is a combination of “biscuits and coffee,” a nod to enjoying the cookies with your cup of java. The spread, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, was the winner of a recipe competition in Belgium that was held by the largest producer of the cookies. The winning concept: Grind the cookies into a “cookie spread” that can be enjoyed an alternative to Nutella or peanut butter.

    Biscoff Spread is available at supermarkets nationwide and onlineonline; Trader Joe’s sells a private label version called Cookie Spread. In Europe, the generic version is called spéculoos spread.

    This recipe, which was originally developed for dipping fruit and cookies, is equally delicious with pumpkin and sweet potato tortilla chips.

     
    Ingredients For 4 To 6 Servings

    • 1/4 cup Biscoff Spread
    • 1 container plain lowfat yogurt (6 ounces or 3/4 cup)†
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Plus

  • Pumpkin and/or sweet potato tortilla chips for serving
  •  
    Optional Fruit To Serve Alongside The Chips

    • 1 red apple, washed and cored, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
    • 1 small banana, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
    • 1 cup whole or halved strawberries, washed and dried
    • 1 ripe pear, washed, dried and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, or other favorite dipping fruit

     
    †Or, use lowfat vanilla yogurt and omit the vanilla extract.
     
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the Biscoff Spread and yogurt until smooth.

    2. WHISK in vanilla and cinnamon. Place in small serving bowl. Serve with chips and optional fruit.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Halloween Popcorn Balls

    They’re sweet, they’re fun and they’re whole grain! And there’s a bonus: You make them in the microwave!

    You’ve got time to whip up these Halloween popcorn balls, thanks to busy mother of three Ashleigh, of the blog Bee in Our Bonnet. Ashleigh contributed this recipe to SomewhatSimple.com.

    While the popcorn balls are shaped like pumpkins, the flavor is orange—from orange Jell-O! Jell-O flavored popcorn is a favorite treat at Ashleigh’s home.

    RECIPE: HALLOWEEN POPCORN BALLS

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 box (3 ounces) orange-flavored Jell-O
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 cups popped popcorn (approximate)
  • Tootsie Roll mini candies
  •  

    pumpkin-popcorn-balls-somewhatsimple-230sq

    Popcorn balls for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy SomewhatSimple.com.

  • Green candies: choice of Starbursts, green apple Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffys or anything that can be shaped into leaves (green Air Heads were used in the photo)
     
    Preparation

    1. MELT butter in a large microwavable bowl. Stir in Jell-O and corn syrup.

    2. MICROWAVE again until the mixture reaches a full boil (try 1 minute, then more if needed). Stir. Mix in baking soda. Stir for 2-3 minutes.

    3. MIX in popcorn. The popcorn should be covered evenly with the flavoring.

    4. MICROWAVE for 30 seconds more. You can microwave for longer if you prefer your popcorn balls crispy instead of gooey.

    5. FORM into balls. Kids can help, using plastic bags with a little non-stick spray on them as gloves.

    6. ADD Tootsie Roll minis for the stems and shape the green candy into leaves. Be sure to press the stem and leaves in while the popcorn ball is still warm and pliable.

      

  • Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Cheese & Pretzel Broomsticks

    Who needs candy when there’s a clever Halloween snack like this? It was created by Angie Ramirez of LittleInspiration.com, who shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood and everything in between on her blog.

    This healthy Halloween snacks works for kids as well as for adults, with cocktails. The witch’s broomsticks are easy to make and look great on a party platter.

    RECIPE: CHEESE & PRETZEL BROOMSTICKS

    Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks (ideally whole grain)
  • Block of hard cheese to shred
  • Baker’s twine or strips of dry corn husks
  •  

    cheese-broomsticks-naturebox-230

    Halloween fun, no sugar needed! Photo courtesy Little Inspiration | NatureBox.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SHRED cheese the length of the block. (Pre-shredded cheeses are too short to make the broomsticks.)

    2. LAY down a piece of baker’s twine. Add a few shredded cheese pieces and a pretzel stick (see how it’s done here). Add a few more shredded cheese strips to cover the pretzel stick.

    3. KNOT the two ends of the twine.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Spiced Almonds

    The roasted almonds are sweetened with sugar, brown sugar and honey, and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and pumpkin powder (dried, ground pumpkin—look for it at natural food stores or online). The 19.75-ounce can is available at retailers nationwide (approximately $9.95 depending on retailer).

    It’s easy to make spiced nuts—almonds, pecans, walnuts or other favorite—to enjoy:

    • With cocktails
    • As snacks
    • As garnish for cakes, cupcakes, puddings, ice cream and other treats
    • In green salads with goat cheese or blue cheese
    • As sides with coffee, tea and hot chocolate
    • As gifts, in a small tin, plastic container or cellophane bag tied with ribbon

     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN SPICED NUTS

    We adapted this recipe from one by Spice Islands. The nuts can be made up to three days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. If you’re making a lot, it’s best to make them in small batches to ensure that the nuts are thoroughly coated.

       

    pumpkin-spice-almonds-can-planters-230

    Limited Edition Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds. Nuts are better-for-you for snacking; these Planters nuts have 5 grams of protein in every serving.

     

    planters-pumpkin-spice-nuts-kaminsky-230

    Seasonal snacking: Planter’s Pumpkin Spiced
    Almonds. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Ingredients

    • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
    • 1 tablespoon white sugar
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon finely-ground pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove or nutmeg
    • 2 cups almonds

     
    Varying The Spices

    Instead of a pepper-allspice blend, you can use cayenne and other favorites. There is no right or wrong combination: just what you like. For an herbal edge, we often add rosemary or sage. Consider adding:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

    2. COMBINE corn syrup, sugar, salt, black pepper, allspice and white pepper in a bowl. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

    3. BAKE almonds for 5 minutes; stir. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes more, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer pecans to a sheet of wax paper. Separate nuts with a fork. Cool.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Kale Popcorn

    kale-popcorn-bowl-bag-230

    Now, you can have kale with your popcorn!
    Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Quinn Popcorn, developed by a young husband and wife team following all the bad press on microwave popcorn. They:

  • Made the bag without chemical coatings from the bag (PFOA, PFCs, plastic liners, etc.) while creating a grease-proof and compostable microwaveable bag.
  • Eliminated the susceptor (gray metal/plastic patch).
  • Use organic, non-GMO corn, with no preservatives or artificial ingredients; rBGH-free cheeses and expeller pressed oils that are high in omega-3s.
  •  
    In their better-for-you, better-for-the-environment version, you pop the kernels in the microwave, then blend them in a bowl with the oil and seasonings provided in separate packets. It’s a feel-good product, currently available in six microwave flavors:

  • Hickory Smoked Cheddar
  • Just Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil & Herbs
  • Parmesan & Rosemary
  • Real Butter & Sea Salt
  • Vermont Maple & Sea Salt
  •  
    There are also two ready-to-eat flavors, including:

  • Cheddar & Chipotle
  • Kale & Sea Salt
  •  
    For those who need a boost to get on the kale bandwagon, start with a bag of this popcorn with tiny flecks of green, salted with a bit of sweetness.

    The company calls these two flavors “Farm To Bag.” Each bag has a batch number for complete transparency, a first in the snacks industry.

    The line is Certified Non GMO, Certified Gluten Free and whole grain (23g per serving, with 39 calories).

    To learn more or buy online, visit QuinnPopcorn.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cinnamon Apple Chips

    apple-chips-beauty-kaminsky-230

    Make delicious apple chips. Photo by Hannah
    Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We love apple chips, a better-for-you sweet snack. We’re big fans of the Bare Fruit brand, which we buy online in both single serve and family size bags. The apples they use are so sweet that there’s no added sugar.

    When we’re out of Bare Fruit apple chips, we make our own with this easy recipe from Zulka Morena sugar. If you’re cutting back on sugar calories, you can make half with sugar, half without, and combine them; Splenda fans can try the noncaloric sweetener.

    RECIPE: CINNAMON APPLE CHIPS

    Ingredients

  • 3-4 apples, sweetest variety
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 225°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

    2. REMOVE the apple cores with an apple corer. Use a sharp knife or mandolin slicer to thinly slice the apples into rings.

     
    3. PLACE the slices next to each other on the trays (they can overlap a bit). Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the apples.

    4. PLACE the sheets on the oven racks and bake for one hour. Remove each tray of apple slices, flip the slices and return the tray to a different oven rack than before to ensure even baking.

    5. BAKE for one more hour. Turn off the oven, leaving the apple chips inside for another 2-3 hours or until dried out. Store the chips in an airtight container for up to one week.
     
    Find more delicious recipes at Zulka.com.

     
      

    Comments

    GADGET: Olive Stuffer

    Olive connoisseurs: If you’re disappointed with the quality of commercial stuffed olives—rubbery blue cheese, cheap and fishy anchovies, chewy jalapeños—you can now stuff your own premium ingredients with the Swissmar Olive Stuffer.

    Anchovies, feta, garlic, goat cheese, pecans, plus fresh herbs: Have fun creating your own stuffed olive creations. The spring-loaded olive stuffer lets you fill large pitted olives with anything.

    Simply load the stainless steel device with the stuffing(s) of your choice, place the plunger into the pitted olive, and release.

    Buy it at Williams-Sonona.com for $14.65.

    If you don’t have an olive pitter, you should pick one up, too.

     

    olive-stuffer-WS-230

    Become a master olive stuffer. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Better For You Snacks

    A few years ago, one of our Top Picks Of The Week was a product line called Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food.

    It was developed by an M.D. who treated people with illnesses caused by bad nutrition, and it engendered The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook: More Than 100 Healthy Recipes for Everyday Snacking.

    Dr. Laura Trice showed how easy it is to make snacks and sweets that are satisfying yet nutritious (you can find the cookies online).

    If you’re looking for better-for-you snacks that don’t deprive you of a cookie fix, head to natural food stores or make your own.

    These tasty sweets in the recipe below look like truffles, but they’re protein-packed treats made from peanut butter and whey extract, plus whole grain rolled oats. Even the sweetener, maple syrup, is better for you.

    The resemblance to candy is purely intentional. The recipe is courtesy of Crofter’s, maker of organic jams and fruit spreads.

       

    protein-bites-croftersorganic-230

    Make a batch—they’re good for you! Photo courtesy Crofter’s.

     

    RECIPE: SWEET TREAT PROTEIN BITES

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup raspberry fruit spread
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup whey protein powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant oats)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • Optional toppings: shredded coconut, sesame seeds, vanilla protein powder
  •  

    wholesome-junk-food-cookbook-230

    Want better snacks all the time? Get this
    cookbook! Photo courtesy Running Press.

     

    Preparation

    1. MELT peanut butter, maple syrup, butter, vanilla and fruit spread in a pan over medium heat; stir to combine thoroughly.

    2. REMOVE from heat and add oats, cocoa powder, protein powder, salt and chocolate chips. Stir until chips have melted and ingredients are thoroughly combined.

    3. Form into balls and roll in topping(s) of choice. Chill in the fridge to firm before serving.
     
    It’s that easy!
     
     
    MORE HEALTHY SWEET TREATS

    For more treats like these, get a copy of The Wholeseome Junk Food Cookbook by Laura Trice, M.D. You’d be surprised at how many delicious treats are good for you!

    We also like the book as a gift for teens and tweens who want to learn to cook. Start them off making treats for themselves and their friends. You may inspire a future “Dr. Laura” in the process.

     

      

    Comments

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