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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

FOOD FUN: Carrots In Love

Who would want to eat these carrots and destroy their charm? But wiser minds argue that if they aren’t eaten, they’ll just wither away.

Point taken, and it’s a moot point too, since we are not in possession of these carrots in love.

But we do have a bag of baby carrots, and the photo inspired us to create a healthful carrot snack, tricked out for the occasion.

VALENTINE CARROTS

Ingredients

  • A bag of baby carrots
  • Red food color or beet juice* (from the can of beets)
  • A dip base—plain Greek yogurt or hummus, for example
  • Optional chives, dill or other herb for yogurt dip
  • Optional garnish or mix/in: finely diced cooked beets (sliced canned beets work)
  •  

    carrots-in-love-doleFB-230s

    Isn’t nature grand? Photo via Dole | Facebook.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE yogurt dip: If choosing plain Greek yogurt, season with herbs and garlic.

    2. COLOR the dip (yogurt or hummus) with food color or beet juice.

    3. CREATE a very small dice of beets. Mix them into the yogurt or hummus.

    4. GARNISH the dip bowl with a rim of diced beets, if desired; and scatter with minced herbs.
     
    *Beet juice is available at some supermarkets and at most health food stores. It’s delicious, high in antioxidants and low in calories. For a yogurt dip especially, beet juice adds flavor that red food color does not.

      

    Comments

    SUPER BOWL: Jalapeño Chips

    jalapeno-chips-cookingplanit

    These are a real treat with a cold beer. Photo
    courtesy Cooking Planit.

     

    One of our favorite Top Picks Of The Week is Deano’s Jalapeno Chips, crunchy nuggets of chile heat. They are terrific with a beer and as a garnish on anything from hors d’oeuvre to mashed potatoes.

    Alas, as with so many artisan products, your only access to them may to be to order them online. But if you like to fry, you can make your own.

    Here’s a recipe created by Emily Wilson for Cooking Planit. Crisp, hot and spicy, you’ll want to make a double or triple batch if you’re having guests—they’ll disappear quickly.

    Buy the largest jalapeños you can find for bigger chips.

    RECIPE: JALAPEÑO CHIPS

    Ingredients

  • 4 large fresh jalapeño chiles
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup flour
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • Optional dip (see below)
  • Preparation

    1. CUT the stem ends off the jalapeños. Avoid touching your face when handling peppers; you may wish to wear protective latex gloves. For the hottest jalapeños, leave the seeds and white ribs inside. To reduce the heat, use a paring knife to gently cut inside each jalapeño and remove the seeds and ribs. A thin object such as a skewer or a chopstick can also help to scrape out the seeds.

    2. SLICE each jalapeño crosswise into 1/8 inch thick rounds. Wash hands thoroughly—or remove and wash gloves—immediately after handling chiles. This removes the chemical capsaicin, which will cause unpleasant stinging should your fingers connect with your eyes.

     

    3. POUR flour into a shallow, wide bowl. Pour panko bread crumbs into another shallow, wide bowl.

    4. CRACK the eggs into a third shallow, wide bowl and whisk to combine well. Line up the 3 bowls: flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs. Set a clean plate at the end near the panko.

    5. DREDGE a few of the jalapeño slices in the flour, coating both sides. Shake off excess, then dip in the egg mixture. Coat both sides again, shake off excess, then dredge in the panko. Coat both sides, shake off excess, then transfer to the clean plate. Repeat with remaining slices.

    6. PREPARE a plate with layers of paper towels. Set plate near the stove for the cooked jalapeños.

     

    1152179_jalapenos_Brybs-230

    Slice ‘em, bread ‘em, fry ‘em. For less heat, remove the centers, retaining only the green rings. Photo courtesy Brybs | SXC.

     

    7. POUR the canola oil into a large pot, about 2 inches deep (about 3 cups of oil, depending on the size of your pot). Heat the oil over medium heat to 350°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, heat the oil until it looks shiny, about 5-8 minutes.

    8. USE one jalapeño slice as a tester. Gently place it in the oil. If bubbles form quickly and it floats to the surface, the oil is ready. Add more pieces but do not crowd them in the oil—work in batches as necessary. If the tester sinks to the bottom and bubbles don’t form, the oil is not ready. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tester and wait a few more minutes.

    9. FRY the jalapeños until golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to flip them so they fry evenly and turn golden on both sides. Transfer them to the plate lined with paper towels. Season with salt as soon as they come out of the oil.

    10. As the jalapeños cook, the oil temperature rises. So remove the oil from the heat for at least 3 minutes to cool it down between batches. Repeat the tester drill before each new batch.

    11. TRANSFER the jalapeño chips to a serving dish. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Extras will keep in an airtight container for a few days.
     
    OPTIONAL DIPS

    As with any chips, no dip is needed; but you can serve the jalapeño chips with:

  • Pesto
  • Salsa
  • Spicy mayonnaise (blend mayo with hot sauce and optional chili powder, oregano or other herb)
  • Yogurt dip (a cool dip to offset the heat—blend yogurt with chives, garlic, salt and pepper or try this citrus yogurt dip
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Popcorn Squares, A Whole Grain Alternative to Rice Krispie Treats

    These popcorn squares from Popcorn.org are a crunchy companion to yesterday’s popcorn ice cream. They’ve got just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy, plus popcorn, a whole grain.

    While they’re appropriate munching for the Golden Globes or Academy Awards, they’re also good picnic fare.

    RECIPE: POPCORN SQUARES

    Ingredients For 12 Squares

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup reduced fat peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup raisins, chips or mini M&Ms
  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
  •  
    Halloween Option

     

    Popcorn squares are full of favorites like raisins, chips, M&Ms and peanut butter. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     
    Press candy corn into the top when the pan comes out of the oven, before the squares are cool enough to slice. Candy corn will melt in the oven. M&Ms and chocolate chips do melt in the oven but solidify again as they cool.

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a large saucepan.

    2. BRING to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly; boil 2-3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.

    3. COMBINE popcorn and raisins in large bowl; pour hot mixture over popcorn and toss carefully with wooden spoons to mix until well-coated.

    4. SPRAY a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; press popcorn mixture into pan and cool completely.

    5. CUT into squares and serve.

     
    Find more fun popcorn recipes at Popcorn.org.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make An Edible Popcorn Bowl

    This serving bowl can be eaten when it’s empty. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    If you’re planning a quiet New Year’s Eve at home, need something to bring to a party or are thinking ahead to the Super Bowl, have fun with this idea from The Popcorn Board.

    The bowl is made from popcorn, which you then fill with more popcorn—or be contrarian and fill it with chips or pretzels.

    You can use different food coloring for different holidays, themes or teams.

    RECIPE: EDIBLE POPCORN PARTY BOWL

    Ingredients

  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 drops food color, optional
  • Preparation

    1. SPRAY the inside of a large stainless steel bowl with cooking spray and similarly spray the outside of a second large stainless steel bowl; set aside. These 2 bowls will be used to form popcorn bowl at end of cooking time. (Note: If one bowl is smaller than the other, spray the outside of the smaller bowl.)

    2. SPRAY the inside of a third large bowl with cooking spray and place popped popcorn inside; set aside.

    3. STIR sugar, water, corn syrup, vinegar and salt together in a medium sauce pan. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and boil for 3 minutes to allow steam to wash down sides of pan.

    4. REMOVE pot lid and attach candy thermometer to pan. Allow mixture to boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 290°F. Stir in food color, if desired. Working quickly, pour syrup over popcorn and toss with a large spoon until popcorn is thoroughly coated.

    5. POUR popcorn mixture into first prepared bowl and use a spoon to push mixture evenly up onto sides of bowl. Firmly press the second prepared bowl onto popcorn to form popcorn bowl. Allow popcorn bowl to cool completely between stainless steel bowls.

    6. SERVE: Tip popcorn bowl out and place on platter. Fill with popcorn or other snacks to serve.

    Find more popcorn recipes at Popcorn.org.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Popcorn Snowman

    Take a bite of Frosty. Photo and recipe courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    Make these today for Christmas Eve, or to enjoy instead of traditional Christmas popcorn balls.

    RECIPE: POPCORN SNOWMAN

    Ingredients For 5 Snowmen

  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 package (16 ounces) large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Decorations: sprinkles, licorice shoelace, gum drops, cinnamon candies, etc.
  •  
    Preparation
    1. MELT marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let stand for 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn and stir.

    2. COVER your palms with butter and shape the popcorn into balls. Decorate as desired, using royal icing to affix candies. Let set.

     

    HAT TRICK

    You can make the snowman’s hat from:

  • A miniature cookie and a large marshmallow
  • A nonpareil an a Rolo chocolate caramel candy
  •  
    Stick the pieces together with some royal icing, and use the same icing to affix the hat to the snowman.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pocky Biscuit Sticks

    One day we were squeezed against the crowded bar at David Burke Townhouse (when it first opened, as David Burke & Donatella). It seemed as if the entire, hyper New York foodie crowd was trying to get in the door. There was a 45-minute wait for our table. We consoled ourself with the bar snack: bacon wrapped around a delicious, slender breadstick.

    We couldn’t get enough of them, and the bartender told us the breadstick was actually Pocky Pretz, a Japanese snack.

    The first Pocky flavor, launched in 1966, was biscuit sticks coated in chocolate. The name derives from the Japanese word for crunchy (pokkin).

    Since then, as many flavors of Pocky have appeared as you can shake a biscuit stick at. Most are frosted in sweet flavors: almond, banana, coconut, milk chocolate, green tea, honey, strawberry and so forth.

     

    Some Pocky varieties are filled, this one with chocolate cream. Photo courtesy Glico.

     

    Hugely popular in Asia, they’re a fun snack and delicious with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee or tea. The success has spawned imitators: Lucky, Pepero and Toppo, among and others.

    There’s even a “Pocky Day” celebrated in Japan on November 11 (because 11-11 looks like four Pocky sticks).

    There’s plenty of Pocky in the U.S. You can find them in the international section of many large supermarkets, Walmart and other retailers, in addition to Asian food stores. And of course, there’s a big selection on Amazon.com.

     

    How great is this! See how to do it at
    Utry.It. Photo courtesy Utry.it, which has
    gorgeous recipes.

     

    POCKY IS GREAT GARNISH

    You can garnish just about any dessert with Pocky and enjoy the visual appearance as well as the crunch and flavor. Just a few ideas:

  • Decorate cupcakes
  • Decorate cakes (see photo)
  • Dip in fondue
  • Enjoy with yogurt
  • Substitute for ladyfingers on a charlotte or mousse cake
  • Serve in a vase or small pitcher for snacking
  • Serve with hot chocolate
  • Use instead of birthday candles
  •  

    You can also send a gift box of six assorted Pocky flavors.

    How do you like to use Pocky?

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Way Better Snacks Sprouted Tortilla Chips

    Lovers of salty, crunchy snacks are advised by nutritionists to go for whole wheat pretzels or corn chips, which aren’t quite a whole grain but not refined like white flour, either.

    They’d certainly endorse these sprouted, lower sodium, lower saturated fat, high omega 3, high antioxidant tortilla chips that just happen to taste great.

    Way Better Snacks has created the tortilla chip one better by sprouting the corn. Nutritionists have been touting the superior nutritional benefits of sprouted foods for years. There’s more about sprouting below.

    The company also makes sprouted pita chips and crackers. They sent their line of tortilla chips for us to taste. The products are certified gluten free, kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified and vegan, with bags available in 5.5-ounce and individual 1.25 ounce sizes.

    The chips are really tasty and also very good looking (the beautiful texture looks great set before guests). Flavors include:

  • No Salt Naked Blues Tortilla Chips
  • Simply Beyond Black Bean Tortilla Chips
  • Simply So Sweet Chili Tortilla Chips
  • Simply Sunny Multigrain Tortilla Chips
  • Simply Unbeatable Blues Tortilla Chips
  • Zesty Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips
  •  

    For the holidays, Cranberry Punkin (not a typo). Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    For the holidays there’s the limited edition Season’s Eatings Oh My Sweet Punkin Cranberry Tortilla Chips. They, like the rest of the line, taste great; although we simply must engage our inner grinch to protest the precious misspelling of pumpkin, which seems totally out of character with the mission of this brand.

    (“What is ‘punkin’?” asked our photographer, a fluent English speaker with the impeccable grammar of a well-educated foreigner who learned the language where it is taught best these days: in a school outside of America.)

     
    *Masa, also called corn masa flour or masa harina, is used to make tamales, tortillas and other foods. Masa harina means “dough flour” in Spanish. In the process of making masa from corn kernels (which are whole grains), the corn are nixtimalized (soaked in an alkaline solution), which softens the tough pericarp (hull, bran), which floats to the surface and is skimmed off. However, the endosperm and the germ remain intact.

     

    Sweet potato + sprouted corn = tasty,
    nutritious chips. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    WHY SPROUTED FOODS ARE MORE NUTRITIOUS

    According to the company (and other sources), sprouting is the key to enhanced nutrition. We know that beans, grains, nuts and seeds play an important role in a healthy diet. What is less well known is that they are all difficult to digest and their nutrients can be poorly absorbed.

    Every seed, grain and bean contains natural enzyme inhibitors and barriers like lectins, phytic acid and tannins, which interfere with digestion and absorption. The way to overcome these inhibitors is to sprout the seed.

    Sprouting creates enzymes which start the seed on its way to becoming a plant. When this process begins, the natural enzyme inhibitors that protect them from being digested are no longer present and the nutrients are consolidated, without changing the taste. The plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches and vitamins become bioavailable for human digestion, resulting in a multifold increase in nutrient absorption.

     
    And of course, enjoy enjoy Better Way Tortilla Chips for the great taste!

    Here’s more information about sprouting.

    Discover more about Way Better Snacks at GoWayBetter.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Christmas Popcorn Balls

    Our grandmother loved to make popcorn balls with candied pecans. They’d be placed in a beautiful Moorcroft bowl for nibbling.

    Our childhood contribution was to add chocolate chips and M&Ms. But these Coconut Popcorn Snowballs with candy canes are spot on for the holiday season. (If you don’t like peppermint, you can leave out the candy canes.)

    The recipe is from the Popcorn Board. While the recipe suggests four-inch-diameter popcorn balls, that’s a huge portion. We suggest making two-inch-diameter balls.

    You can give them gifts and party favors—if you can restrain yourself from eating them.

    RECIPE: COCONUT POPCORN BALLS

    Ingredients For 8 Four-Inch Balls

  • 2 cups shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows
  •  

    Coconut popcorn snowball. Photo courtesy The Popcorn Board.

  • 1 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
  • 8 candy canes or candy cane sticks, about 3-4 inches
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE a large sheet of waxed or parchment paper over a work surface. Spread coconut onto paper.

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

    3. MELT butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Stir in marshmallows and continue to stir until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over popcorn and mix well until coated.

    4. SPRAY hands with cooking spray and press firmly to form into balls. Place balls on coconut and roll and press coconut to coat. While holding popcorn ball, gently press a candy cane into each ball.

    5. SERVE immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap for storage.

     

    White chocolate candy cane popcorn. Photo
    courtesy The Popcorn Board.

     

    RECIPE: WHITE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT BARK

    Ingredients For 1 Pound

  • 5 cups popped popcorn
  • 12 ounces white chocolate baking chips, chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed hard candy peppermints
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COVER a baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside. Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.

    2. MELT chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Or, melt according to package directions. Stir in crushed peppermints after chocolate is melted.

     

    3. POUR chocolate mixture over popcorn mixture and stir to coat. Spread onto prepared pan; allow to cool completely. When chocolate is cooled and set, break into chunks for serving.

    4. STORE in an air-tight container at room temperature.
     
    NON-PEPPERMINT VARIATION

    Don’t like mint? Mix ½ cup dried sweetened cranberries and ½ cup sliced almonds with the popcorn. Pour chocolate over the mixture after it is melted.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs

    A tasty, gluten-free snack—organic and
    kosher, too. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Imagine if cheese puffs tasted like peanut butter instead of cheese, and you’ve got Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs.

    They’re airy, peanutty, kosher, gluten free and organic.

    The ingredients are simple: organic corn, organic palm oil, organic peanut butter and salt. Produced by Hasadeh Organic, the melt-in-your-mouth snack is good for everyone from toddlers to grown-ups.

    The bags, graced with a humorous monkey juggling peanuts, make fun stocking stuffers and party favors.

    The snacks are gluten free certified by Gluten Free Certification Organization, and certified kosher (parve) by OU.

  • A 2.12-ounce bag is $2.49 on Amazon.com.
  • A case of 12 bags is $31.55.
  • For those who like a spicy kick, there are Peanut Butter Chili Pepper Puffs.
  •  
    Learn more at CheekyMonkeyOrganic.com.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Turkey Flavored Popcorn

    Yes, you did read that correctly. The King Of Pop has followed Jones Soda Company in creating a quirky line of Thanksgiving-flavored snack foods.

    We haven’t tasted the “poprageous” popcorn Thanksgiving feast, but the nine flavors were created to give you every taste of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

    The Thanksgiving popcorn set includes:

  • Apple Pie-Flavored Popcorn
  • Cranberry Sauce-Flavored Popcorn
  • Gravy-Flavored Popcorn
  • Mashed Potatoes-Flavored Popcorn
  • Pumpkin Pie-Flavored Popcorn
  • Strawberry Cheesecake*
  • Stuffing-Flavored Popcorn
  • Turkey-Flavored Popcorn
  • Sweet Potatoes-Flavored Popcorn
  •  

    Flavored popcorn in cranberry, gravy, mashed potatoes, turkey and more. Photo courtesy King Of Popcorn.

     

    You get approximately two cups of each flavor, packaged in a sealed bags for freshness. The set is $34.99; the novelty factor, priceless.

    Get your Thanksgiving popcorn feast at KingOfPop.com.

    *Seriously…who besides this company’s owner serves strawberry cheesecake at Thanksgiving? Couldn’t they make pecan pie popcorn?

      

    Comments

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