Monday, January 31, 2011

BBQ Fig & Cheese Appetizer

The original recipe for these tasty morsels come to us from the makers of the Olio & Spices sauces and seasonings. This easy appetizer is sure to satisfy both regular folks and foodies alike with their crowd-pleasing yet sophisticated flavor. There's no set quantities for the ingredients; just make sure to plan on at least 3 or 4 pieces per person.

Sliced rustic dark bread such as 7-grain, pumpernickel, etc.
Hunk of goat cheese or blue cheese, thinly sliced or crumbled
Olio & Spices Barbecue Fig Sauce
Fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
Kosher salt & fresh coarsely-ground black pepper

Toast the bread slices, then cut each slice into 4 cubes. Place a thin slice or some crumbles of cheese on each piece of bread, then top each with about 1 teaspoon of BBQ Fig Sauce. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper, then top with a sprinkling of basil leaves. Enjoy!

Zestfully yours,

PS: The BBQ Fig Sauce is currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company online store, and comes with more free recipes!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Top 10 Best-Selling Sauces & Zesty Products for 2010

The numbers have been tallied, and here is the list of the top ten best-selling sauces and seasonings at the Carolina Sauce Company for 2010:

1. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce was our over-all top selling product last year, which is no surprise as this authentic eastern NC BBQ sauce is also our best-selling barbecue sauce of all time.

2. Castle Sauce was the best-selling product in 2009, and last year this old-fashioned steak & burger sauce from Greensboro NC was barely edged out by Wells to finish in second place.

3. Matouk's West Indian Sauce moved up a spot from 2009 to take third place in 2010. Made in Trinidad and Tobago, this thick, rich hot sauce features fiery scotch bonnet peppers that are tamed with naturally sweet tropical papaya.

4. Matouk's Calypso Hot Sauce finished 4th last year and is the slightly spicier sibling of Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce. This authentic West Indian hot sauce is made with aged scotch bonnet peppers in a traditional mustard base and just a hint of sweetness.

5. Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning was our fifth best-selling product in 2010, and is an authentic Jamaican jerk paste or wet rub that's intensely aromatic and deliciously spicy.

6. Matouk's Salsa Picante Hot Pepper Sauce is a fiery West Indian hot sauce packed with pickled scotch bonnet peppers in a thick and savory mustard base, and took 6th place honors on our best-seller list for last year.

7. Scorned Woman Hot Sauce is a regular best-seller, and moved up to 7th place from 2009 to 2010. This classic vinegar-based hot pepper sauce is perfect for adding heat to food without altering its flavor.

8. Buderim Ginger Bears are Australian gummy candies made with real ginger, and are a real favorite with Carolina Sauce customers. This zesty snack was our 8th best-selling product last year.

9. Calhoun's Charcoal Grill Seasoning finished ninth out of all our products, and is the perfect seasoning for adding genuine charcoal flavor to steaks and other food cooked indoors or on a gas grill.

10. Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce is one of the most popular hot sauces of all time, and this flavorful all-purpose hot sauce completes our list of the top ten best-selling sauces & products for 2010.

We're in the process of updating the category-specific lists of best-sellers for all of 2010 on the Carolina Sauce site, and I'll also post those results on this blog over the next couple of weeks or so.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Carolina Sauce Coupon Sale Ends Today

Today is the final day of our January newsletter "Super" coupon sale. Save 10% off the product total when you order $40 or more in products at the Carolina Sauce Company online store and use the coupon code BlogJan11. If you prefer to order by phone rather than online, simply mention the coupon when placing a phone order. But don't delay, as the coupon expires at midnight tonight!

Planning a party to watch football this weekend, or perhaps college basketball or even the NHL All-Star game? Check out our January Newsletter for a crowd-pleasing Recipe of the Month plus several great-tasting sauces and snacks you'll want to have on hand for the next big game.

Want to receive more coupons and exclusive sales as well as recipes, the latest zesty news on new products, etc? Simply sign up for our FREE monthly eNewsletter!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pepper Dog Salsa Verde is Back in Stock!

I have great news for folks who enjoy salsa verde (green salsa): Pepper Dog Salsa Verde is finally back in stock at the Carolina Sauce Company! This is one of my all-time favorite salsas because of its homemade flavor and wholesome ingredients. This salsa verde is chock-full of tangy tomatillos, spicy chili peppers (green ones, of course), fresh cilantro, pungent garlic and just the right touch of smoky chili powder for Southwestern flair. Made with all-natural ingredients of the highest quality, this medium-hot salsa is made in the traditional manner, using lime juice instead of vinegar and no artificial preservatives or MSG. The texture is thick and smooth, perfect for spooning over enchiladas or quesadillas, pouring over a block of cream cheese as a quick appetizer, stirred into chili and your favorite ground meat recipes, and for dipping chips. Try it with nachos instead of ordinary tomato salsa for a delicious change of pace! Pepper Dog Salsa Verde is also fabulous with scrambled eggs, omelets, huevos rancheros, and even with hash browns. And if you have dietary restrictions, this is the salsa for you: Pepper Dog Salsa Verde is fat-free, gluten-free, low sodium (95mg per 2 Tbs) and only 10 calories per serving!

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fried Sweet Plantains

fried plantains platanos maduros
Here's another traditional Cuban recipe from my childhood. The secret to irresistibly sweet plantains that are crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth creamy in the middle is twofold. First, buy plantains that look like rotten bananas: The skin is almost or totally black and the plantains feel soft if you press the skin. They are not spoiled; rather, they are perfectly ripe and honey-sweet. Second, make sure the frying oil is hot enough, which means 375F degrees if you you have a frying thermometer, or hot enough so that a plantain sizzles vigorously when you drop it in the oil. Fried sweet plantains, called "platanos maduros fritos" in Spanish, are a delightful side dish to hearty savory dishes, especially meat dishes like steak or Cuban picadillo. Three medium plantains make enough for 4 to 6 people, but don't be surprised if diners beg for more!

Peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying
Very ripe plantains

To peel the plantains, use a very sharp knife to cut off the ends, then pierce the skin somewhere in the middle and slide the knife lengthwise down the plantain. You may want to make one or more similar slits, and then peel off the skin -- be careful as the plantain flesh will be very soft and mushy. Slice the peeled plantains into 1/4" thick diagonal slices. In a large heavy skillet heat the oil to 375F degrees or hot enough so that a plantain slice sizzles nicely when placed in the oil. Once the oil is hot enough, add the plantain slices in a single layer, leaving just enough room for you to be able to use a slotted spoon to turn them. Fry the plantain slices on each side until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Use the slotted spoon to remove the fried plantains and place on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Serve as soon as possible. If you're making a lot and need to keep a batch warm before you're ready to serve them, simply hold in a warm (200F degrees) oven. But they're best when served immediately.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cuban Red Beans & Rice

Recipes for red beans and rice are common in many cultures, especially in the Caribbean. Here's an old family recipe from Cuba. The traditional recipe uses annatto (achiote) powder or the Sason Goya brand seasoning that has annatto ("con achiote") but you can leave this out if you can't find annatto or Sason Goya. Unlike Mexican food, Cuban food usually doesn't use hot peppers and isn't hot & spicy, but it's definitely quite flavorful. If you crave heat, feel free to add a dash or two of your favorite hot sauce at the table. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings, and is vegetarian.

2 Tbs olive oil, preferably Spanish olive oil like Goya brand
1 bay leaf
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Opt: 1/2 Tbs annatto powder (achiote) OR 1 packet of "Sason Goya con achiote" (with annatto)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can red kidney beans, drained (about 2 cups of beans)
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups water

Heat the olive oil and bay leaf over medium heat in a large saucepan with a lid. Add the onion and saute until softened. Add garlic and peppers and annatto/Sason Goya if using, continue to saute until softened and onion is translucent. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is well blended and the tomatoes have broken down. Stir in the beans and season with salt and pepper to taste (if using Sason Goya seasoning, you probably won't need to add any salt). Add the rice and water, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, then bring heat down to low and cook, covered, until all the water is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and remove the bay leaf before serving.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Carolina Sauce Products Now at RDU!

The Carolina Sauce Company is proud to announce that you can now purchase some of our delicious North Carolina products at the new Terminal 2 in the Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU)! Opening for flights tomorrow Sunday and with the official opening ceremony scheduled for Monday afternoon, Terminal 2 will include a brand-new "Discover Raleigh Durham" shop from Hudson News located after the security checkpoint so that travelers can purchase their favorite North Carolina barbecue sauces, seasonings, t-shirts and other souvenirs to take back home or when visiting out-of-state friends, family or colleagues.

Among the Carolina Sauce Company products available for purchase are our Piedmont style (vinegar and tomato) Vidalia Onion BBQ Sauces, our tangy and spicy Three Pepper Hot Sauce made with fresh jalapenos, cayenne pepper and black pepper, and our crowd-pleasing, all-natural, thick and rich Apple Butter BBQ Sauce. If you have a favorite Carolina Sauce Company brand product that you like to be able to purchase at the airport when you're traveling, please do let us know by posting a comment here on this blog, or by emailing me, and we'll see if we can get it added to our offerings at the "Discover Raleigh Durham" shop in Terminal 2 at RDU.

In addition to our own Carolina Sauce products, the new "Discover Raleigh Durham" shop features several other products that we offer through our online store, including:

*The western NC style Bone Suckin' Sauce, plus Bone Suckin' Seasonings and Bone Suckin' Mustard

*The fiery Blues Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce and the tangy Blues Carolina Pepper Sauce

*The ever-popular Wells BBQ Sauce and the classic Scotts BBQ Sauce (no tomatoes in either of these genuine eastern NC vinegar barbecue sauces!)

*The Piedmont-style Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce and Jim's Own Hot BBQ Sauce

*Award-winning condiments like Cackalacky Spice Sauce and Pepper Dog Salsa

*The versatile Big Daddy's Marinade and one of my favorite snacks, Hot Honeys Chipotle & Honey-Roasted Peanuts

So the next time you're flying through Terminal 2 at RDU on your way to a destination that could use some zesty Carolina flavor, be sure to stop at the "Discover Raleigh Durham" shop to pick up a bottle (or three) of your favorite sauces and seasonings!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vanilla-Cinnamon Coffee

Why spend money on overpriced coffee shop beverages or artificially flavored grocery store coffee when you can make your own gourmet vanilla-cinnamon coffee at home using all-natural ingredients - and it's easy, too! This recipe works for a 10 to 12 cup coffee maker, but you can use half as much vanilla and cinnamon for a 4 to 6 cup coffee maker. And you can also adjust the amounts of cinnamon and vanilla to suit your taste.

Ground coffee for a 10 to 12 cup pot
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean
Fresh water to brew the pot of coffee
Optional sugar and cream or milk, if desired

Cut the vanilla bean in half crosswise and reserve one half for another use. Split the other half of the bean lengthwise to open it, and place it together with the cinnamon at the bottom of the empty coffee maker carafe. Add the ground coffee and water to the coffee maker for brewing as usual. As the coffee brews into the carafe, the hot coffee will be infused with the flavor of the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks in the carafe. Once the coffee has finished brewing, pour into cups or mugs. If desired, add sugar and milk or cream to taste. Note: The longer the cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean are left in the carafe with the hot coffee, the more flavor they'll impart, so you might want to remove them from the carafe after the coffee has finished brewing (or leave them longer for more vanilla and cinnamon flavor).

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Carolina Sauce Newsletter: Super Coupon & Super Recipe!

Super Coupon Sale, 10 Days Only!

This month's newsletter is short & sweet, but BIG on saving you money. Our January Clearance Sale is going on, and now you can save an additional 10% off all products including already-discounted sale items with our Super Coupon! Simply order $40 or more in products at the Carolina Sauce Company online store and use the coupon code BlogJan11 when you order online, or mention the coupon when ordering by phone. This coupon is good for 10 days only and will expire on Friday January 28, 2011, so don't delay and order today!

Here are some staff picks that are on sale and sure to please if you're planning a get-together to watch the big game:

Bubba's Special Sauce: A spoonably thick tomato & pepper hot sauce that's big on fresh flavor without any vinegary bite, on sale for only $4.99 for a 9 oz jar!

Uncle Pete's BBQ Sauce: Thick & rich, sweet & tangy award-winning BBQ sauces in Original, Hickory, and Spicy. Ideal for slathering on ribs, chicken, and anything else you desire, Uncle Pete's is also great in baked beans & sloppy joes. On sale for only $5.50 per 12 oz bottle, and comes with FREE recipes!

Ann's Marinade from Durn Good: Robust and savory with a big, bold meat-friendly flavor, this marinade will tenderize the toughest cut of meat while bringing out its best. Use on roasts, steaks, venison, pork, quail, chicken & more. On sale for only $5.99 for a 12 oz bottle!

Mixed Hot Pepper Rings: The perfect condiment for burgers, sandwiches, subs, pizza and even nachos, a 16 oz jar is on sale for only $4.99!

Firehouse Nuts: Seasoned with smoked habanero powder, these spicy-hot peanuts are fiery and addictively tasty! On sale for only $5.50 for a 12 oz can!

Gloria's Spicy "Super Joes"

Why serve ordinary sloppy joes when you can wow your friends and family with these hot & spicy "Super Joes" instead! You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate, then reheat when ready to serve. This recipe makes 4 hearty servings and you can double it.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 to 2 Tbs chopped jalapeno peppers
2 cloves garlic or Hot Pickled Garlic, minced
1 cup tomato juice, regular or hot & spicy
1/2 cup spicy ketchup, such as Melinda's Ketchups or Burning Asphalt Ketchups
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs mustard
2 tsp chili powder, regular or hot
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine the ground beef, onions, garlic and jalapenos in a large skillet and cook until the beef is brown and the onion is tender. While the meat is cooking, stir together the remaining ingredients in a bowl to make a sauce. Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, drain off the excess fat and return the skillet to the stove. Add the sauce, stir to combine, cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes - if the mixture seems too dry you can add a little water. Serve on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings if desired.

Operation Sauce Drop Update

Operation Sauce Drop is our non-profit program that sends free gift boxes of sauce to US military personnel stationed abroad. To date, we've shipped over 1,040 free gift boxes to our deployed military, at absolutely NO cost to them. The troops greatly appreciate the free sauces, as you can see from their thank-you notes & photos. Our cost to purchase and ship each free gift box generally runs from $20 to $25, and 100% of all donations received are used SOLELY to pay for the cost of the sauces & shipping. Carolina Sauce pays for all the overhead of the program and also for a portion of the costs of each gift box. Send a soldier a taste of home by donating to Operation Sauce Drop. You can also shop to support Operation Sauce Drop, where some or all of the purchase price of the products goes straight into Operation Sauce Drop (you get the products you order, and the money you pay is used to send free sauce to the troops). Our troops will thank you for your support!

Find Recipes, Special Coupons, Product Reviews, Zesty News & More

The Carolina Sauce Facebook Page is your source for Carolina Sauce news, interesting food articles, and exclusive Facebook-only coupons. For access to these special coupons and the latest zesty news, simply visit our Facebook page and click on the "Like" button to become a Fan. You can then click on the Coupons tab and access special offers.

Follow SaucyGlo on Twitter for additional exclusive coupons, the latest food news, & for sharing zesty tips!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quick Tips for Crock Pot Cooking

Greg and I love cooking in our crock pot because of the convenience and the delicious slow-cooked results. Here are some handy tips to help you get the most out of your crock pot:

*Chop fresh vegetables into bite-size (1/2 inch) pieces. Vegetables, especially harder ones like carrots or celery, take longer to cook in a crock pot than meat. Using smaller pieces of veggies will ensure that all ingredients are done at the same time. If not otherwise specified by your recipe, place the veggies in the crockpot first, so that they'll cook in the bottom of the pot with the liquid ingredients.

*To thicken the liquids and make a nice gravy for roasts and other crock pot recipes, simply sprinkle a little quick-cooking tapioca granules (1 to 3 tablespoons) over vegetables in the crock pot before adding the liquid ingredients and meat.

*Use frozen chicken pieces for chicken recipes made in a crock pot. Adding the chicken to the crock pot while it's still frozen will keep it tender and ensure that it cooks at the same rate as the other ingredients instead of ending up overcooked.

*Use cheaper cuts of meat in your crock pot, such as roasts and brisket. Because a crock pot cooks slowly using low heat, the end results will be deliciously tender and full-flavored. Venison and other game is also ideal for crock pot cooking.

*For richer flavor, brown roasts and other larger pieces of meat on your stove before adding to the crock pot for cooking.

*Unless your recipe calls for stirring during the cooking process, resist the urge to remove the lid during cooking. The crock pot relies on the heat building up inside it during the cooking process, so it's best to leave the lid securely on while your food cooks.

*Cook your potluck contribution in your crock pot. Most crock pot recipes can be left in the crock pot for convenient and warm transport to your destination.

*For easy cleaning, once you've removed your food from the crock pot be sure to unplug it, remove the liner and fill it with hot soapy water to soak (do NOT add cold water to a hot liner or it could crack!) Let the liner soak while you eat or even overnight, and any caked-on food will easily wash off with a sponge or other non-abrasive cleaning pad.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Homemade Peppermint Mocha Latte

Here's a quick and easy recipe for making one of my favorite hot beverages, peppermint mocha latte.

1 cup milk (whole works best, but you can use low-fat or skim)
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Place the milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until just below a boil, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the instant coffee, chocolate chips and peppermint extract. Continue whisking until the chocolate is dissolved and the beverage is smooth. Remove from heat, pour into a coffee mug, sweeten if desired, and enjoy!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Buderim Ginger Bears Update

If you've been wondering when Buderim Ginger Bears will be available again, I have good news: Buderim USA informed me this past week that a new shipment of fresh ginger bears from the manufacturer in Australia had arrived in the US. The container has cleared customs and the packer in California has begun packing the bulk ginger bears in the 12 oz bags. They'll let me know as soon as the product is ready so that we can re-stock our warehouse, which should be before the end of January. Once the ginger bears are available again, I'll update the Carolina Sauce Company website so that you can order them again. In the meantime, if you'd like to be added to our Buderim Ginger Bears waiting list, simply send me an email to sales"AT"carolinasauce"DOT"com and I'll email you when the ginger bears are available again.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Honey-Mulled Cider

Here's a warming non-alcoholic drink that the whole family can enjoy. The honey makes it especially soothing if you have a dry or scratchy throat. This recipe makes 8 to 10 servings.

Several pieces of stick cinnamon, about 6 inches' worth total
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp whole cloves
2 1/2 quarts apple cider or apple juice
1/3 to 1/2 cup honey
Opt: Ground nutmeg and long cinnamon sticks for garnish

Place the cinnamon pieces, allspice and cloves in the middle of a piece of cheesecloth. Bring the 4 corners together to form a pouch and tie with a clean string. Combine the apple cider and honey in a large pot, add the spice pouch and bring to a low boil on the stovetop, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove from heat, discard the spice pouch and serve the hot cider in mugs. If desired, garnish each mug with a dash of ground nutmeg and a long cinnamon stick.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

4 Ways to Get Carolina Sauce Coupons

If you're looking for Carolina Sauce Company coupons, here are four easy ways you can find and receive coupons for special discounts off your favorite zesty products. To get the most coupons, make sure to use all four different methods!

1. Become a Carolina Sauce Company Fan on Facebook: We'll post special coupons available only on our Facebook page, including coupons for free sauce, case discounts, volume discounts, and more. In fact, we have a few coupons available right now on Facebook. You need to be a Facebook member to access these coupons, and then click on the "Like" button at the top of our Facebook page to become a Fan. You'll then be able to see the coupons on our "Coupons" tab.

2. Sign up for the Carolina Sauce Company eNewsletter: Our FREE monthly newsletter is emailed once a month to subscribers, and each issue features zesty information including exclusive coupons, recipes & cooking tips, product reviews, and other savory news plus the occasional freebie or three. Subscribe here to receive the monthly eNewsletter -- and yes, you can unsubscribe anytime, and no, we will NOT share your email with anyone else, ever.

3. Follow SaucyGlo on Twitter: From time to time I'll tweet special limited-time-only coupons, plus you'll get the scoop on hot news at Carolina Sauce including back-in-stock announcements, special sales, upcoming events, links to recipes, cool restaurants and more. So if you want to be in the loop, stay in the know and save money with coupons, follow me on Twitter.

4. Read this Blog: I'll post special blog-only coupons here from time to time, in addition to recipes, new product reviews, updated best-seller lists, and other tasty info to help spice up your life. Find out immediately about blog-only coupons and special Carolina Sauce discount sales when you subscribe to the free RSS feed for this blog. Simply use the "Subscribe to" fields in the left-hand column, below the Twitter updates and click-boxes and above the "Blog Archive."

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hot Mulled Wine

I love sipping a mug of hot mulled wine on a cold winter night, especially if I'm just coming in from the cold. Sure, you can buy mulling spice blends at any grocery store, but it's quite easy to make your own blend, and you can make sure you're using the freshest (and therefore best-tasting) spices when you make your own blend. Don't use a fine wine for mulling, but do choose an inexpensive wine that you enjoy drinking. I usually choose a medium-bodied red such as a merlot, a merlot/shiraz blend, or maybe claret or zinfandel (not white zinfandel). I've also found that Carolina muscadine or scuppernong wines can be good for mulling, and because they're sweet I omit the sugar from the mulling recipe.

1 bottle of red wine
10 whole cloves
5 cinnamon sticks
6 whole allspice
1/2 tsp chopped dried orange peel
1 star anise (optional)
1/2 cup sugar (omit if using a sweeter red wine like muscadine)
1 small orange, thinly sliced

Pour the wine in a large pot - I prefer to use a glass Pyrex brand or other stovetop-safe glass pot. Stir in the sugar. Place the spices and orange peel in the center of an 8" square of cheesecloth. Gather the corners of the cloth together and tie with a string to make a pouch. Add the spice pouch to the pot of wine. Heat the wine to just below a boil, stirring occasionally. Carefully float most of the orange slices (reserve a few) on top and simmer the wine for 20 minutes, gently stirring occasionally (it's ok if the orange slices get stirred into the wine). For best results, don't let the wine come to a boil. Remove from heat, remove the spice bag and ladle the hot mulled wine into mugs. Garnish each mug with a fresh orange slice if desired.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Monday, January 10, 2011

Carolina Sauce Closing Early Today

The snow has started falling here, so in the interest of safety the Carolina Sauce Company is closing early today, at 4:30pm. We've already sent our warehouse staff home, and I hope to head out soon myself, as freezing rain is supposed to follow the snow. Road conditions permitting, we plan on re-opening tomorrow morning no later than 10 am. If that should change, I'll post a notice here early tomorrow morning (assuming we haven't lost power at home). As always, you'll still be able to order online anytime -- unless of course YOU don't have power -- and we'll resume shipping out orders as soon as our warehouse is open again. Unfortunately some of our suppliers from the Charlotte area have been hit with lots of snow today and this has delayed our re-stocking efforts, but we'll continue catching up on post-holiday orders as soon as we receive our back-ordered inventory (hopefully by Wednesday).

Thanks for your patience and understanding, and stay safe & warm if you're in a cold & snowy area!

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Cat Who Loves Hot Sauce

Bruiser joined our household in 2003, the same year that Carolina Sauce was launched. The shelter had named him "Bruce," but one look at this big kitty with the "cauliflower" ear and I knew that he'd be coming home with me and that his new name would be Bruiser. His name notwithstanding, Bruiser is a lover, not a fighter -- and he loves food. Like any true Carolina boy, he loves pork: Ham, bacon, and even pulled pork BBQ (we nicknamed him "Pork Butt" when he was plump, but now that he's a trimmer 12 lbs we just call him "Bru"). Which makes me wonder: Why don't they sell pork flavored cat food??

Soon after adopting Bruiser, we learned that we could no longer leave any food on the counter, stove or table, or dirty dishes in the sink. Bruiser loves everything: Bread (he'd tear holes in the plastic bag to nibble on the bread), crackers or chips (ditto), rice (he'd knock the lid off the pot and dig in), and anything left on an unattended plate. So kitty has a carb addiction, and we now have a "bear-proof" kitchen. But that's not all: Bruiser loves tomatoes. He'll whine and beg for a little piece any time Greg or I start cutting a tomato. I discovered his affinity for tomatoes when I found little "vampire" punctures on several tomatoes I had left by the kitchen window to ripen, and Bruiser gleefully gnawing on another tomato he had knocked to the floor. Bruiser soon learned the word tomato, so we had to start saying "mater" to keep him from running up and whining if we mentioned tomatoes within earshot. That worked until he figured out what a "mater" is. Now we have to spell "tomato". Yes, the cat is that smart. If he figures that one out we're really in trouble.

I thought tomatoes were a pretty strange thing for a cat to crave, but what really shocked me was the day that Bruiser discovered hot sauce. And I'm not talking about the tame stuff like Texas Pete. This cat craves capsaicin. I'm talking ultra-hots, crazy chilehead stuff. Before I go any further, however, let me set the record straight: NO we don't offer our cats human food to see if they'll like it. These have all been inadvertent discoveries, the result of feline curiosity and brief lapses of human attention. Well, except maybe for the hot sauce....

Greg had made Buffalo wings one evening, and as usual Bruiser was prowling, nose twitching and pupils dilated, waiting for a chance to "fast-paw" a wing off his plate and escape to a hiding place under a piece of furniture to enjoy his "catch" (yes, he had done this once before). But this time, Greg had made "suicide wings" slathered with DEFCON 1 Extreme Heat Wing Sauce, and he was keeping a watchful eye on The Bru to prevent a repeat performance of the "fast-paw" wing pilferer. Greg figured that if Bruiser somehow managed to get a taste of the wings, the ultra-hot wing sauce would teach him an unforgettable lesson and cure him of his annoying habit.

Greg polished off his suicide wings without incident. But as Greg reached for a napkin, the "fast-paw" struck -- and a gray & white streak took off carrying a DEFCON-slathered chicken bone in his mouth, tearing through the kitchen and into the game room, with me chasing behind and Greg laughing in anticipation of Bruiser "learning his lesson" from the ultra-hot wing sauce. I finally caught the cat under the pool table and with Greg's help we wrestled the chicken bone from Bruiser's jaws. Not to be thwarted, Bruiser took off and returned to Greg's plate, which Greg had cleared of bones but left coated with DEFCON 1 hot sauce. To our horror, we found Bruiser happily licking off the ultra-hot sauce from the plate. Bruiser then came up to us and begged for more. No, we did not oblige. And yes, we were relieved that the capsaicin-spiked wing sauce didn't hurt him. But now we have to secure our hot sauce, too. I bet that cat dreams of BBQ nachos with jalapenos and salsa...

Our other cat is Teufel, and thankfully he is most definitely cat-like in his food choices. Even bigger in height, length and girth than Bruiser, Teufel is an accomplished hunter who eats what he kills instead of leaving his prey at our doorstep (I guess he sees us as well-fed and self-sufficient). Teufel eagerly devours his cat food breakfast each morning before going out, and has rarely expressed any interest in human food. The look of disdain he gives Bruiser when The Bru begs for tomatoes is simply priceless. Teufel is all cat, all the time. I just hope Bruiser doesn't introduce him to hot sauce.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, January 7, 2011

Toad Sweat Mini 4-Pack is Back!

Fans of Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauce rejoice: The dearly-missed Toad Sweat Mini-bottle 4-Pack is back! For some time this popular sauce gift pack had been out of stock, and we had heard rumors that the Toad Sweat mini-bottles were no longer being manufactured. Much to my pleasant surprise, however, our supplier had a fresh batch on hand earlier this week when I started re-stocking our shelves after the holidays. So for at least the time being, you can order the Toad Sweat Mini 4-Packs from the Carolina Sauce Company, with a 1.6 oz bottle of each of the four different flavors of Toad Sweat Hot Sauce.

If you're not familiar with Toad Sweat, these are uniquely delicious and award-winning sweet hot sauces that were specifically created to be enjoyed with desserts like cheesecake, ice cream, bread pudding, fruit & cheese, and more. Toad Sweat hot sauces are also a tasty way to add a sweet kick to breakfast foods like oatmeal and other hot cereals, bagels with cream cheese, pancakes, croissants and other pastries. But don't limit yourself to the obvious -- that is, to the extent that these one-of-a-kind hot sauces can ever be called "obvious." Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauces also complement all sorts of savory dishes including grilled or roast poultry, seafood, pork and more. Try the Cranberry Hot Sauce on a turkey sandwich, or the fiery Key Lime Hot Sauce with stir-fry shrimp or grilled fish. The Toad Sweat Chocolate Orange Hot Sauce adds a playful punch of flavor to sweet potatoes, and the mildly spicy Lemon Vanilla Hot Sauce is divine as a glaze for salmon or tuna steaks. Not sure which flavor of Toad Sweat to try? Or are you looking for a quirky gift for an adventurous eater? Get the Toad Sweat Mini 4-Pack as the perfect introduction to the wonderful world of dessert hot sauces!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Carolina Sauce Co. is Open Again

Happy New Year! The Carolina Sauce Company is open again, and all hands have been working furiously to fulfill the orders that we received while we were closed for the holidays. We're also in the process of re-stocking our shelves, returning phone calls and replying to emails, as well as taking care of more mundane (but necessary) year-end administrative work. In addition to catching up with everything that accumulated since we closed for Christmas Christmas, I continue to make time to play in the kitchen on some great new recipes that I'll post on this blog in the future. Also coming soon will be the best-selling sauces and seasonings for 2010 and other zesty information to keep your taste buds dancing and your tummy smiling throughout the coming year.

We hope everyone had a joyous and safe holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and that the New Year is starting off well. Thank you for your patience as we process and ship pending orders, and a special thank you to all our customers for your continued patronage.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Top 10 Best-Selling Sauces & Seasonings for December 2010

Although we're technically still closed, I spent some time yesterday on my laptop tallying the totals for last month and updating our Best-Selling Products lists for the different categories of products available at the Carolina Sauce Company online store. There were some first-time top-ten finishers on several of the lists, including our list of Best-Selling Hot Sauces, so I recommend anyone looking for some tasty new products for the New Year to check out the lists. And if you're curious to know which were the overall top ten best-selling sauces and seasonings across all product categories for December 2010, here's the list:

1. NC BBQ Sauce Gift Set - Mild: For the first time ever, a gift set took top honors as our best-selling product. Our Mild NC BBQ Gift Set is usually a best-seller among our gift sets, and last month it led all other products as well. Featuring 6 different full-size bottles of authentic North Carolina barbecue sauces plus lots of recipes, this gift set is an excellent introduction to eastern and western/Piedmont NC barbeque sauce.

2. NC BBQ Sauce Gift Set - Hot: In another major surprise, our Hot NC BBQ Gift Set finished second on our list of best-selling products for December. Like the Mild gift set, the Hot gift set comes with 6 full-size bottles of genuine North Carolina barbecue sauces representing the eastern and western/Piedmont styles (plus lots of recipes), with more of a spicy kick than the Mild version.

3. Matouk's West Indian Sauce from Trinidad & Tobago was our third most popular product in December, and is regularly on this list. Made with fiery scotch bonnet peppers and sweet tropical papaya in a traditional West Indian mustard base, this thick and flavorful hot sauce is especially delicious on poultry and seafood.

4. Matouk's Calypso Hot Sauce is the more savory sibling of Matouk's West Indian sauce, and delivers rich island flavor and fire. Enjoy Matouk's Calypso Sauce on all sorts of grilled foods and any dish that could use a spicy Caribbean kick!

5. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce is a consistent best-seller, and this Eastern NC vinegar-based BBQ sauce (no tomatoes) finished 5th overall last month. Ideal for Carolina style pork barbecue, Wells Barbecue Sauce also makes an excellent tangy marinade.

6. Georgia Peach & Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce is made with sun-ripened peaches, sweet Vidalia onions and just the right amount of hot pepper to add spice without scorching. Add the flavors of summer to your food this winter when you use this popular hot sauce!

7. Our very own Hot Dill Pickle Chips cracked the top-ten list for the first time last month, finishing as our 7th best-selling product for December. Made in small batches on a family farm in the NC mountains, these crunchy & spicy pickles add a zesty kick to burgers, sandwiches, salads and more. For each jar sold, we donate $1 to Operation Sauce Drop, our nonprofit program that sends free gift boxes of sauce to deployed troops.

8. Matouk's Salsa Picante Hot Pepper Sauce is often on our list of best-selling hot sauces and finished 8th across all products last month. Made in the traditional Caribbean style with lots of scotch bonnet peppers in a thick mustard base, this fiery hot sauce is great for robust dishes, hamburgers, and even hot dogs and grilled sausage.

9. Matouk's Flambeau Sauce is the hottest of the 5 Matouk's hot sauces, and this one delivers a SERIOUSLY HOT burn. Made with aged pickled scotch bonnet peppers as the main ingredient, Matouk's Flambeau lives up to its name so use sparingly!

10. J.T. Pappy's Flamin' Gator Sauce is a medium-hot mustard-tomato barbecue sauce that's rich and tangy, and made with all-natural ingredients. Terrific on ribs, chicken, shrimp, portobellos and other veggies, this BBQ sauce is also great for marinating and dipping -- and it completes our list of the top 10 best-selling sauces and seasonings for December 2010.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Gloria's Spicy Hoppin' John

hoppin' john to start the new yearHoppin' John is a black-eyed peas dish that's usually enjoyed on New Year's Day in the South.  If your New Year's resolution involves losing weight or cutting back on fat, you'll probably want to leave out the bacon in this recipe and substitute olive oil instead.  Likewise, for a vegetarian dish I like to saute some tempeh in olive oil until crispy and then crumble into the hoppin' John. Another meat substitution you can make for the bacon is cubed country ham. I used dried herbs I happened to have on hand, but you might want to experiment with different herbs or perhaps with fresh.  For a traditional Southern style New Year's Day celebration, serve with collard greens and a slab of corn bread.

2 cups fresh (not dried) black-eyed peas, or 1 can black-eyed peas (I used fresh -- if using canned, you may want to reduce the broth to just 1 cup, adding more during the cooking process if necessary)
3 strips bacon
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp savory
1/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste - I used 1/4 tsp and it was mildly spicy)
2 cups broth or stock (chicken, beef or vegetable - I used beef today)

If using fresh black-eyed peas (usually available in a plastic container in the produce aisle), rinse & cook according to package directions - the container I used came with 11 oz of fresh peas, which measured out to about 2 cups before cooking. The instructions on the container said to bring 2 1/2 cups of unsalted water to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan, then add the peas and return to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, at a gentle rolling boil for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender (I went
with 8 minutes). Drain and set aside, discard the water.

In a 2 1/2 qt saucepan, saute the bacon until crispy, drain & cool on paper towels. Add bay leaf and chopped onion to the bacon fat and saute until the onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes to cook the garlic - make sure it doesn't brown. Stir in the herbs, pepper, black-eyed peas and broth. Bring to a gentle boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. While this is cooking, crumble the bacon and set aside.

Once most of the broth has been absorbed, stir in the crumbled bacon and simmer for a few minutes more. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired (I added a little more pepper but didn't add salt - you may prefer to add salt, especially if making with olive oil instead of bacon). Serve over cooked rice, preferably with a side of collards or other dark leafy greens.  Happy New Year!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company