Monday, December 31, 2012

Greg's First Attempt at Smoked Ham: A Delicious Plan B

ham dinner
A few days before Christmas, Greg announced that he wanted to have smoked ham for our Christmas dinner, and wanted to smoke it himself. The plan was to purchase an uncooked, uncured ham which would not only feed us on Christmas, but would also produce plenty of leftovers to serve as our "cold cuts" or sandwich meat for many future meals. So, after purchasing said ham--actually, the shank half of a full ham, because the entire ham weighed over 30 lbs and was way too large--Greg promised that he'd research the process of turning this 17 lb behemoth into dinner and deli meats and that everything would go smoothly on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, Greg waited until fairly late on Christmas Eve to begin his research, and discovered that to achieve said results, he should have begun curing the ham a few days prior to smoking it.

And thus Plan B was born, aka Smoked Ham Roast...  and luckily, it was a magnificent success even if not what he had originally intended to make. And we did end up with plenty of leftovers for future sandwiches, recipes and meals, albeit not in the form of deli cold cuts.

The following is how Greg made a mouthwatering smoked ham "roast" with a homemade brown sugar and mustard glaze, using an uncured and uncooked ham.

The first step--after firing up the smoker and getting it up to 250°F--was to score the top and sides of the ham with a sharp knife, cutting through the layer of fat. This would allow the glaze to penetrate the ham. Greg saw no point in scoring the bottom side of the ham resting on the smoker grate.

how to smoke an uncooked uncured ham

Next, he slathered the top and sides (but not the bottom) of the scored ham with Dijon mustard:

smoking a ham roast

Then, he lightly rubbed a generous quantity of brown sugar onto the mustard-slathered top and sides of the ham:

brown sugar mustard glaze for ham

After that, he left the ham alone for 3 hours, periodically checking the temperature gauge on the smoker and adding more natural-wood lump charcoal as needed to keep the smoker temperature at 250°F (he started the lump charcoal in a charcoal chimney to turn it into coals before adding to the smoker, and continued to add more coals as needed during the entire 10-hour smoking time). Here's what the ham looked like after 3 hours (I requested the photo op; otherwise he wouldn't have checked until the 4-hour mark):

smoked ham roast

While the ham began to cook, Greg made the glaze using approximately 3 tablespoons of mustard (we ran out of Dijon so he used some Lusty Monk Mustard, a spicy whole-grain mustard that's made in NC) and 1/2 cup of brown sugar, mixed together to make a paste. Around the 4-hour mark, he coated the top and exposed sides of the ham with this paste, then covered the smoker to let it keep cooking. The goal was to get the internal temperature of the ham to 170°F, and it wasn't anywhere near that after 4 hrs.

how to smoke a ham roast

He next checked the ham's internal temperature at the 5 1/2-hour mark as it inched closer to 170°F, and this is what the ham looked like:

recipe for smoked ham roast

Around the 8-hour mark, Greg checked the ham again and applied more of the brown sugar & mustard paste, mixing up more as needed using the same ratio above. The internal temperature was close to 170°F, so he figured the ham would be done in another 2 hours for a total smoking time of about 10 hours. Here's what it looked like at the 8 hour mark (uncut side view):

brown sugar mustard glazed smoked ham

Greg's guess was right and the ham hit 170°F around the 10-hour mark. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a photo of it on the smoker at this point. After removing it from the smoker, Greg let the ham rest for 15 minutes before slicing into it. Here's how it looked as he sliced--you can see the pink smoke ring under the glaze "bark" and the wonderful juiciness of the ham:

smoked ham roast

We served the ham with my Roasted Garlic & Horseradish Brussels Sprouts and a couple of slices of my homemade bread, as shown in the very first photo at the top of this post. In this enlarged view, you can see the pink smoke ring much better:

smoked ham roast recipe

Personally, I preferred the subtly smoky-sweet flavor and succulent, juicy tenderness of this ham over any cured ham, and it was far more delicious than any commercially smoked ham, too. Sure, it was work for Greg, but he said the incomparable flavor was well worth it. Not only did we eat well on Christmas, but we have quite a few vacuum-sealed packs of leftover ham in the freezer, along with the crispy top layer of crispy glazed fat/bark (I think I can chop it and use to season green beans, baked beans, etc. - at least it's worth a shot), and the meaty ham bone that I later used to make Crock Pot Hoppin' John in a test-run for our New Year's Day dinner.

Greg plans on making smoked ham again after we've eaten all of the leftovers, but using the original Plan A, i.e., either curing the ham himself prior to smoking it, or buying an already naturally-cured but uncooked ham. So, stay tuned for Plan A.... although I certainly wouldn't mind if he made Plan B again.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you enjoy country ham and are looking for the best that North Carolina has to offer, you can buy country ham from Johnston County, NC through our Country Ham page! We also have Honey Cured Ham for sale on our North Carolina Products page.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pure Ground Chili Pepper Powders Now Available!

ground habanero powder
The Carolina Sauces online store has greatly expanded its selection of dry rubs and BBQ seasonings, and as part of that expansion we've added several different pure ground chili pepper powders!  While most grocery stores and supermarkets carry ground black pepper, red pepper and cayenne, it can be difficult to find other ground dried peppers such as ground ancho chiles or smoked habanero powder. Well, now you can order them online from us--and keep your kitchen and pantry stocked year-round for all of your hot & spicy cooking needs.

Here are some of the ground pepper powders you can buy:

Ground habanero powder from Melinda's as well as Dave's Gourmet ground habanero powder, both packing fiery extra-hot heat. And for a hotter alternative to chipotle, we have pure smoked habanero powder from Dave's Gourmet.
dried ancho pepper powder

Dave's Chile Today Hot Tamale Ancho Powder made from pure ground dried ancho chiles. This one is great when you want a milder level of heat while adding rich flavor. It's a natural choice for cooking Mexican, Tex-Mex and Southwestern favorites for the family.

Pure ground chipotle powder made from smoked jalapeno peppers for deep, earthy smokiness and feisty medium-hot heat. Add it to homemade Mexican mole--for those unfamiliar with Mexican mole, it's pronounced "MOH-leh" and it's not the burrowing animal but rather a complex, richly flavorful thick brown sauce made with many different ingredients including cocoa. It's also great for making homemade dry rubs and barbeque seasonings.

Danny Cash's 1%er PowderGround green jalapeno powder made from jalapeno peppers that are dried while they're still green, for tangy-spicy jalapeno flavor and medium heat. It's a good choice if you're making a green or white sauce, or a batch of green chili, because it's not brown or red so it adds peppery heat and flavor with more visually appealing results.

Ghost Dust, which is pure ground Ghost Pepper (naga/bhut jolokia pepper), and Danny Cash's 1%'er ground naga jolokia (ghost pepper) powder blended with red habanero powder (shown on left). These are recommended for serious chileheads and fiery-foods addicts only, and not for people with more sensitive palates. Both of these products are ideal for extreme-heat recipes or when you need to spice up a huge vat of chili or other food for a crowd. Just make sure to use extreme caution when handling these powders, and avoid inhaling any airborne "dust" when  shaking or spooning.

Dave's Gourmet dried chili pepper powder
A handy and economical 6-way shaker of dried chiles from Dave's Gourmet with ground Ancho, Cayenne, Chipotle flakes, De Arbol, Habanero flakes and New Mexico seasoning, each in separate compartments within one shaker. If you enjoy making and eating spicy foods and using different types of chile peppers for their varying levels of heat and different flavors, then this nifty product is for you. It's also a thoughtful gift for anyone who meets that description.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you're looking for unique barbecue rubs, spice seasonings and chili pepper blends, you'll find them on our Rubs & Seasonings page, and I'll also be featuring some of the more unusual and exotic new ones here soon.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gloria's Crock Pot Hoppin' John

black-eyed peas hoppin' john
Black-eyed peas are a New Year's Day tradition in the South, usually served with a side of collards or other greens for good luck and prosperity in the coming year. I've heard it said that the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. I'm not sure what, if anything, the traditional side of cornbread is supposed to represent, but it's useful for mopping up the "pot likker" from the greens and the peas.

There are probably as many different versions of Hoppin' John as there are cooks in the South. Although I usually use fresh, frozen or (as a last resort) canned black-eyed peas to make Hoppin' John on the stove, this time I decided to do a "test run" using dried peas cooked all day in my crock pot with the ham bone that we had saved from Christmas dinner (normally I use bacon or fatback or even some chopped country ham, and in my vegetarian days I simply omitted the meat). One advantage to cooking the dried peas in a crock pot or slow-cooker is that you don't need to soak them overnight, which also means you won't lose any nutrients as a result of soaking and dumping the soaking water.

The following recipe is only mildly peppery. If you like hot and spicy foods, just add more jalapenos or other hot peppers, and/or a few splashes of hot sauce. And if you're sensitive to even the mildest spiciness, simply substitute an equal amount of bell pepper or other sweet pepper for the jalapeno.  A ham hock can be substituted for the ham bone, too. Finally, depending on your slow cooker or crockpot, it might take about an hour longer or shorter to cook, which is why I recommend checking after 6 hrs.

recipe for slow cooker hoppin' john
1 lb (approx. 2 3/4 cup) dried black-eyed peas, picked over & washed
1 meaty ham bone that fits in your crock pot or slow cooker
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes (I use no salt added)
1 cup finely chopped onion
6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 Tbs finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I added 1/4 tsp)
5 cups hot water
Salt to taste - add after it's finished cooking but before serving

Combine all ingredients except the salt in your crock pot or slow cooker, making sure the peas are completely covered by the water (add a little more water if necessary). Cover and cook on High for 6 hours. Uncover, stir and check peas for doneness:

Crock pot hoppin' John recipe

Although the ham bone had separated into its components after 6 hours, the Hoppin' John was still a little bit soupy and the peas not quite tender enough, so I turned the heat down to Low, covered and cooked on Low for another 2 hours. When done, most of the water should be absorbed and the peas should be very tender but not mushy (see photo at top of post). Stir, taste for balance and add salt if/as desired: Because I used a ham bone from an uncured, unsalted ham that we had smoked with a sweet mustard glaze, I ended up adding 1 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt.  If you use a country ham bone or hock, you might not need to add any salt.  Serves 6 to 8, and freezes well.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company giveawayGloria

PS:  On New Year's Day, make sure to visit the Carolina Sauce Company on Facebook and look for our January 1st Crock Pot Game post. Leave a comment there, and you'll be automatically entered for a chance to win this Prize Pack (shown on right) with Char Crust Amazin' Cajun Seasoning, the original Thomas Sauce, Melinda's Habanero Steak Sauce, and Adams Ultimate Rubb!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gallons, Half-Gallons & Minis, Oh My!

Dave's Insanity Sauce Gallon
By popular demand, the Carolina Sauces online store now offers gallon and half-gallon size jugs of select hot sauces and BBQ grilling sauces! Whether you own a restaurant, food truck or catering service, or if you're planning a family reunion, company party, barbecue or cooking for a crowd--or if you simply consume large quantities of your favorite hot sauce or condiment--buying sauce by the gallon or half-gallon is a great way to save money, especially since it doesn't tend to spoil. Plus, it's "greener," too, because you'll go through less packaging and burn less fuel by avoiding multiple shipments of smaller bottles.

Our Gallon/Half-Gallon Hot Sauces page is where you can browse through our entire selection, but for your convenience, here's the list (you can click on the name of the product to go directly to its order page):

The original Cholula Hot Sauce in a half-gallon plastic jug: This is one of Mexico's most popular (and tastiest) hot sauces, made with red peppers and piquin peppers for a spicy medium heat that won't sear your mouth like habanero sauces can.

Dave's Ghost Pepper Naga Jolokia Hot Sauce in a plastic gallon jug: Made with the fearsome ghost pepper (second only to the scorpion pepper on the heat scale) and flavored with roasted garlic, this is one of the "tamer" and more food-friendly of the super-hot ghost pepper sauces on the market, making it a favorite of serious chileheads who still value flavor over sheer firepower.

The original Dave's Insanity Sauce in a gallon plastic jug: This classic ultra-hot sauce began the hot sauce "arms race" years ago, and the gallon size is ideal for foodservice, restaurant or institutional use, as well as for anyone who wants to make a party-size batch of firehouse chili, "suicide wings" or "atomic Buffalo wings," or add it to their own homemade sauces and condiments to ratchet up the heat.

Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce in a plastic gallon jug: This is the hottest regularly-produced hot sauce from Dave's Gourmet (only his limited-edition Private Reserve Insanity Sauce is hotter), and is about twice as hot as the original Insanity Sauce. Handle with extreme caution, and wear gloves and goggles while dispensing to protect your hands from splashes and your eyes from the fumes.

Trinidad Caribbean Pepper Sauce
Tobago Keys Peruvian Red Grilling Sauce in a gallon plastic jug:  Medium in heat but huge in rich, tangy-sweet flavor, this feisty barbecue and grilling sauce is excellent for marinating, grilling, roasting and basting as well as for enjoying at the table. Superb with meats, poultry and even seafood & veggies, the gallon size is perfect for anyone grilling for a crowd or for the frequent BBQ-er.

Trinidad Caribbean Pepper Sauce (Medium) in a plastic gallon jug: This festive and fiery Caribbean hot sauce is made with cayennes and habaneros in a classic vinegar-mustard base and seasoned with fine herbs and spices for layers of food-friendly flavor that will complement virtually any savory dish.  Fans of hot & spicy food usually buy this versatile hot sauce in the economy gallon size because it goes so well with everything from breakfast to lunch, dinner and late-night snacks. If you happen to prefer a hotter sauce, we also offer the gallon size of Trinidad Caribbean HOT Pepper Sauce, and for hard-core fiery-foods fanatics we have the gallon size of Extra-Hot Trinidad Caribbean Pepper Sauce, also in plastic jugs.

On the opposite end of the SIZE scale are our hot sauce mini-bottles, which are a convenient and portable way to take your favorite hot sauces "on the road" with you so that you don't have to endure bland food when away from home. Hot sauce mini-bottles are also great for sampling new sauces without having to spend money on full-size bottles when you're not sure you'll like the flavor or heat level. And minis are also fun to give as gifts or use as party favors--some even come in gift boxes  You can browse through our mini-bottles on our Mini Hot Sauces page. For your convenience, I've also listed some of the unique mini's below, along with some of the brands that offer mini-sizes of their sauces:

Panola Hot Sauce
Bat's Brew mini hot sauce: A medium-hot habanero & jalapeno hot sauce from Louisiana that's citrusy and savory.

Gator Hammock mini hot sauce: A Florida favorite, this is a medium-hot blend of Cayenne, Habanero, Scotch Bonnet and Jalapeno peppers with a dash of ground black pepper, in a classic vinegar & garlic base.

Panola Gourmet Pepper Sauce mini-bottle: A uniquely thick and rich Louisiana hot sauce made with fresh cayenne and jalapeno peppers, with a mellow medium heat and fabulous pepper flavor.

Vampfire mini hot sauce: From Transylvania, Louisiana, this savory vinegar-pepper hot sauce gets its serious heat from cayenne, Tabasco and habanero peppers

Dave's Gourmet Hot SauceBlair's Death Sauces mini-bottles (intensely hot and with the famous skull keychain hanging from the bottle) and Blair Q Heat exotic hot sauces mini-sampler (featured on the Food Network and in gourmet flavors including wasabi-green tea, jalapeno-tequila, mango-habanero, and chipotle).

Dave's Gourmet mini-bottle samplers with various different flavors & heat levels of Dave's hot sauces, including a 4-bottle gift sampler and a 12-bottle variety pack, and Dave's Insanity mini sampler with 4 different minis from the "insanity" line in a wooden gift box.

Iguana hot sauces mini-bottles in a variety of flavors including Bold Gold Habanero, Red Habanero, Smoky Chipotle and Vicious Jalapeno.

Mad Dog .357 mini hot sauce, a lethally hot extract-based hot sauce that should only be used by the micro-drop.

Pain is Good Hot SauceMarie Sharp's hot sauces in mini-bottles: Seven of her most popular flavors including the original Habanero Hot Sauce, the Green Habanero with nopal (prickly pear cactus), the ultra-hot BEWARE and Belizian Heat sauces, the aptly named Fiery Habanero and Mild Habanero, and citrusy Grapefruit hot sauce.

Pain is Good mini-bottle hot sauces:  The 3 classic flavors (Garlic, Louisiana and Jamaican) plus the new Diva flavors (Jalapeno-Harissa, Jalapeno-Wasabi and Honey-Cayenne), all with the trademark screaming heads on the labels.

And finally, for fans of authentic Jamaican jerk, we have the hefty 9.25 lb tubs of Walkerswood Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, Hot & Spicy.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you're wondering about gallon jugs of Jim's Own Barbecue Sauce, yes we DO have them, in all flavors! You can order them from our Jim's Own BBQ Sauce page, where you'll also find all of the other sizes of Jim's Own Sauce, plus all flavors of Jim's Own Rubs, Gift Baskets and apparel. And you can order the sauces and rubs by the case, too.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Garlic & Horseradish

Brussels Sprouts Recipe
Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that people either love or hate. Sadly, much of the hatred is due to a misunderstanding of how to prepare this nutritious relative of cabbage and broccoli. When properly cooked, their flavor is sweeter and milder than that of broccoli and their texture is toothsome like that of chard or kale. When overcooked (which is easy to do), however, Brussels sprouts lose their deep green color, develop an unpleasantly bitter and strong flavor, turn mushy and lose much of their nutritional value. Likewise, if your Brussels sprouts are large and/or past their prime, they are more likely to taste bitter.

For best flavor, buy very fresh, young Brussels sprouts that are small in size. Look for firm, tight little "heads" (technically buds) with jade-green leaves that aren't splotchy or yellowed. If buying frozen Brussels sprouts, choose bags labeled "baby" or "small," and buy organic if possible and within your budget. Cook them for as brief a time as possible, only until "al-dente" tender, and use methods like roasting, sauteing or frying in a little oil (e.g., stir-frying) or even steaming instead of boiling. Classic complementary seasonings include butter or olive oil, crispy bacon, garlic, dillweed, and horseradish. I've also seen recipes for baking Brussels sprouts in a cheesy casserole, but haven't tried doing that (yet).

The following recipe is one I came up with for Christmas dinner, and is based on a traditional British recipe that's much richer. Because we were having a smoked ham roast as the entree, I wanted the accompanying vegetable to be less heavy but still robust in flavor to complement and contrast the sweet flavor and buttery texture of the brown sugar & mustard-glazed ham roast (that recipe is coming soon). These Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Garlic & Horseradish were the result. You can add more horseradish if you prefer a spicier dish. This recipe serves 4 as a side dish.

Garlic Horseradish Brussels Sprouts
1 lb small Brussels sprouts
1 head of garlic (or 20 to 30 peeled garlic cloves)
Olive Oil for roasting the garlic & sauteing the Brussels sprouts
1 Tbs prepared horseradish
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dried dillweed
Sea salt & ground black pepper to taste

Separate the head of garlic into cloves and peel (you can skip this step if you're using peeled garlic cloves). Toss in a small bowl with just enough olive oil to coat, then transfer to a roasting pan or a foil-covered baking sheet. Roast at 420°F in a preheated oven until golden-brown, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to ensure even roasting. When done, remove from oven and set aside. Note: You can save time and effort if you buy roasted garlic cloves, or if you use my Stovetop "Roasted" Garlic method.

While the garlic is roasting, wash the Brussels sprouts, trim the stem end (I usually slice off a thin sliver at the base) and cut in half through the stem end. Heat 1 to 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts halves and cook until just tender and cut side starts to turn light golden, stirring from time to time (to speed up the cooking process, you can cover the pan so that the Brussels sprouts "steam" while they cook - just be careful not to overcook them). Stir in horseradish, vinegar and the roasted garlic along with the oil used in roasting. Sprinkle with dillweed and salt & pepper to taste. Stir gently until thoroughly combined and heated through, then serve.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you love the sinus-clearing zing of real horseradish and the fiery kick of habanero peppers, check out Defcon Habby Pony Habanero Horseradish Sauce (mild) and Defcon Habby Horse Habanero Horseradish Sauce (hot), now available from Carolina Sauces!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Carolina Sauces Warehouse Holiday Schedule

Carolina Sauce Company online store
Browse the Carolina Sauces online store
First, my apologies for not posting this information earlier; it's been pretty crazy around here this Christmas season, and expressions like "treading water" and "juggling too many balls" would describe me these days.

The Carolina Sauces warehouse is currently closed in observance of Christmas. The warehouse will re-open at 9 a.m. (EST) tomorrow, December 27th, and will resume shipping out orders at that time. The warehouse will be operating as usual through the close of business on Friday.

Next week, the warehouse will be closed on Monday, December 31st and Tuesday, January 1st, for the New Year holiday. Regular business hours and operations will resume on Wednesday, January 2nd.

As always, you can still shop online at the Carolina Sauces website while the warehouse is closed, and you are welcome to contact us via email with any questions (although Live Chat and Customer Service personnel will not be available while the warehouse is closed, I'll do my best to keep an eye out for emails during that time). You can also contact us via the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook Page.
Carolina Sauce VIP Club
We have big plans in store for 2013, including a special VIP-only sale in January. For all the latest news and to receive your special VIP coupon for January, be sure to sign up for our FREE monthly newsletter.

Best wishes to all for the New Year!

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Carolina Sauce Company!

Flickr photo by JimThePhotographer
To all of our friends, fans, customers, colleagues and partners who are celebrating Jesus' birth, a hearty MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Carolina Sauce Company!

May the joy and wonder of the season fill your heart, and may God's blessings be with you and your loved ones.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gloria's Sassy Slaw

creamy slawI came up with this zesty, creamy and pleasantly tangy coleslaw recipe yesterday afternoon while Greg was smoking a pork butt to make North Carolina barbecue for our dinner. If you follow the recipe exactly, the slaw will be more creamy than vinegary, with a mellow tang and touch of peppery spiciness. Feel free to adjust the amount of mayonnaise, cider vinegar and hot sauce to suit your personal preferences (e.g., reduce mayo to 3/4 cup and add another tablespoon of vinegar for a sharper, more tangy flavor). To keep the calories and fat at a healthier level, I used light mayonnaise from Whole Foods, but you can use whatever mayo you prefer. I also chose Granny Smith for the type of apple because of its green color and tart flavor.

This recipe makes approximately 6 to 8 servings, and you can double it if you're feeding a crowd. It also keeps several days in the refrigerator. For ease and speed of preparation, I chop the cabbage, carrot and apple in my food processor, but you can certainly chop or grate by by hand, especially if you prefer a coarser texture.

1 medium green cabbage (about 1 1/2 lbs), cored and quartered
1 large carrot (6 to 8 oz), peeled
1 large Granny Smith apple (about 8 oz), quartered and cored
1 cup mayonnaise (regular or light)
4 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp (or to taste) Scorned Woman Hot Sauce or other vinegar-pepper hot sauce*
1/4 tsp (or to taste) ground black pepper

*If you prefer a milder hot sauce, I recommend Texas Pete or the original Tabasco Sauce. For hotter flavor, use an honest habanero sauce like Marie Sharp's Habanero Sauce. Other good choices are Louisiana cayenne pepper sauces. Stick with something simple and straightforward.

Scorned Woman Hot Sauce
Scorned Woman Hot Sauce
If using a food processor, cut the carrot, apple and cabbage into chunks and pulse in the processor until chopped to desired consistency (you may need to work in batches, transferring each chopped batch into a large bowl).

If working by hand, use a sharp knife or box grater to chop or grate the carrot, apple and cabbage into a large bowl.

Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Taste for balance and adjust seasonings if desired. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to develop. Stir well before serving with pulled pork, fried fish, burgers, sandwiches, grilled food or any other way you like.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Need a Last-Minute Christmas Gift? This is It!

Still need a last-minute Christmas gift? One that'll be there in time for Christmas but doesn't have to be shipped?  And one where YOU decide exactly how much to pay for it... and happens to be EXACTLY what the recipient wants?

Here it is:  A Carolina Sauces Gift Certificate!

Carolina Sauce Gift Certificates
Click to send a Carolina Sauces Gift Certificate (email gift card)

A Carolina Sauces gift certificate is an email gift card that you can buy in any amount from $5 to $5000, and which is emailed to the recipient within 24 hours of your purchase. Because the gift certificate is sent via email, you don't have to pay for shipping and it won't get lost in the mail or delayed by inclement weather (in other words, it'll arrive by Christmas Day if you buy it today or tomorrow). The lucky recipient can use the email gift card to buy anything and everything that's available on the Carolina Sauces online store (except another gift certificate), from hot sauces to barbecue sauces, zesty salsas to savory condiments, limited-edition collector's items and themed sets, and anything else they really want.  The email gift card can be reused until all funds on the e-certificate are used up.  Best of all, the gift certificate never expires, so there's no "use it or lose it" risk.

To send a Carolina Sauces email gift card, all you need to do is click HERE then enter the amount, the recipient's email address, and complete your purchase.

And yes, you'll still be able to order them on Christmas Day and any day thereafter (the internet never sleeps...)

Zestfully yours,

PS:  For other electronic gift certificate ideas, including bacon gift certificates and more, visit the Gift Certificates page on the Carolina Sauce Company website.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Zesty Lower-Fat Horseradish Sauce

Spoonful of Horseradish
Grated horseradish, Flickr photo by TheDeliciousLife
Many creamy, prepared horseradish sauces are very high in fat because they use sour cream and/or mayonnaise. If you love the spicy zing of a good horseradish sauce but are watching your fat intake, or simply prefer to eat healthier, this recipe delivers the zesty flavor and creaminess you crave with much less fat--and it does so naturally, without using "fake" or highly processed ingredients.

Enjoy this horseradish sauce with crab cakes, fried fish or shrimp, and of course it's a natural with rare roast beef, London broil, brisket, steak and other red meats. It's also excellent in sandwiches.

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbs natural light mayonnaise (I get at Whole Foods)
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1 to 2 Tbs (to taste) grated horseradish
1 Tbs fresh (or 1 tsp dried) chopped chives OR dillweed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Optional: pinch of sugar

Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl - begin with 1 tablespoon of grated horseradish and taste before adding more as desired. Some people like to add a pinch of sugar to cut the "tang," while others use red pepper instead of black pepper for added spiciness.  Store in a tightly lidded glass jar, or in a covered non-metal bowl (preferably glass or ceramic) in refrigerator and stir before using.  Will keep up to a week.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you enjoy the sinus-clearing zip of horseradish or wasabi, check out our wasabi sauces and products and our horseradish sauces including Wasabi Bombs (wasabi-coated peanuts), Ass Kickin' Wasabi Horseradish Hot Sauce, and Defcon Habanero Horseradish Sauces, all on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Don't Miss our Christmas VIP Coupon Sale!

North Carolina products
Buy North Carolina products & Send NC BBQ Gift Sets
Christmas is the season of giving, and the Carolina Sauce Company is giving ALL customers a 5% discount on all orders below $75, no coupon required... but if your order is over $75 in products, we're giving you FREE ground shipping instead, which is an even better deal!

But that's not all...

If you're a Carolina Sauce Company VIP, we're giving you a special VIP coupon for 10% off all orders -- our biggest discount of the year, available only to our lucky VIP customers!

Would you like our VIP Coupon for 10% off all orders at the Carolina Sauces online store, good through December 25th?  And would you like to receive a new VIP coupon once a month, for special extra-low discounts available only to our VIPs?

If your answer is "Yes," simply send an email to that says "Sign Me Up!"

I'll reply with your special VIP Coupon code for December, and I'll add you to our VIP List so that you'll receive our FREE monthly newsletter with a new VIP discount each month. Our newsletter also includes new product reviews and a featured recipe, and we send it only once a month (we won't bother you with any other emails or promotions, and we NEVER share your email address with anyone else).

Don't forget to email me if you want your exclusive VIP coupon for 10% off at our online store.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Simple Skillet Supper: Kielbasa & Smoky Beer-Rice

kielbasa and smoky beer rice
This simple and hearty supper takes no more than 1 hour to make from start to finish, and other than the rice-to-liquid ratio all the ingredient quantities are flexible. There's nothing fancy about this recipe; it's just good, old-fashioned comfort food that will fill the belly and warm the heart on a cold winter night. Pair it with a tossed salad or a cooked green vegetable and your meal is complete.

The smoked paprika and ancho pepper provide a subtly smoky, earthy flavor that complements the richness of the kielbasa. The alcohol in the beer will cook off so it's 100% family-friendly, but if you prefer to avoid all alcohol simply substitute water for the beer. This recipe serves 6 to 8, and any leftovers will taste even better the next day after the flavors have time to develop in the refrigerator. If you like hot and spicy foods, simply add 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes or a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce when you add the other herbs and spices. You can also use a hotter variety of dried chili pepper in place of the milder ancho chili.

1 lb (approx.) kielbasa (I recommend Weeping Radish nitrate-free kielbasa)
Optional: 1 or 2 Tbs olive oil or bacon fat
1 or 2 bay leaves
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 ancho chili pepper (dried poblano), rehydrated & chopped*
1 1/2 cups rice
1 bottle (12oz) beer
1 1/2 cups water (I include the water used to soak the ancho chili)
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika, mild or hot (aka Pimenton)**
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp (or to taste) ground black pepper

kielbasa & rice recipe
*Not sure how to rehydrate the ancho chili? Read my post on how to use dried chili peppers.
**If you don't have smoked Spanish paprika, regular paprika will work although it won't add smokiness.

In a large, deep skillet with a lid, cook the kielbasa until done (the casing should brown lightly and might "split" in some places)--the sausage should release enough fat to keep it from sticking while it cooks, but if it doesn't, you can add a little olive oil or bacon fat.  While the kielbasa is cooking, chop all the vegetables. When the kielbasa is done, remove from skillet and set aside. There should be just enough fat in the skillet to saute the vegetables--if not, add a little oil or bacon fat; if there is too much fat, pour off the excess before adding the vegetables. Add the bay leaves, garlic, onion & bell pepper to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.  While they're cooking, slice the kielbasa into chunks (about 1" wide) and finely chop the rehydrated ancho chili.  Add the tomato & ancho chili to the other vegetables in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and the tomatoes are breaking down. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the beer, water (including the soaking water from the chili), all the herbs & spices, and the sliced kielbasa. Stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit about 5 minutes then uncover, stir and serve (discard the bay leaves).

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5 Outrageously Hot Hot Sauce Gifts

Hot Sauce Gifts
Dave's 2012 & Blair's 2AM/3AM
If there's a serious chilehead, fiery-foods fanatic or hard-core hot sauce collector on your Christmas gift, it's not too late to get them one of these outrageously hot, ultra-fiery, and attention-grabbing hot sauce gift sets from the Carolina Sauce Company:

1.  Dave's 2012 Private Reserve & Blair's 2AM/3AM Gift Set:  Each year, the makers of the infamous Dave's Insanity Sauce issue a limited-edition Private Reserve Insanity Sauce that's at least three times hotter than Dave's other hot sauces.  Each bottle is numbered and hand-signed by Dave himself, and packed in a wooden coffin wrapped with yellow "Caution" tape. Collectors snap up these Private Reserve sauces and older editions have reportedly sold for over a thousand dollars. Similarly, the creators of the notorious Blair's Death hot sauces have released limited-edition pepper extracts of extreme intensity in beautiful hand-signed designer glass bottles topped with Italian red and yellow waxes.  This connoisseur's Gift Set comes with all three of these highly-sought-after limited-edition hot sauces, at a savings of over $47 off the regular price if you ordered the 3 items separately.
Blair's Death Pure Evil Gift Set
1 Million Scoville Club

2.  Pure Evil & Ultra Death "1 Million Scoville Club" Gift Set:  Only the most serious of chileheads dare to join the 1 Million Scoville Club, where the intensity of the burn is relentless and the searing heat reaches new levels of pain (and pleasure, if you're in the Club). If you know someone who qualifies, give them the 1 Million Scoville Club Gift Set, which comes with a bottle of Pure Evil Capsaicin Drops, made with all-natural 15-million SHU pure capsaicin that's odorless and flavorless so that it only adds heat without altering the flavor or color of a food or beverage, AND a bottle of Blair's Ultra Death Hot Sauce, made with Naga Jolokia (ghost pepper) chilies and rated at over 1 million SHU (scoville heat units) of heat.  This incendiary Gift Set saves you almost $11 off the list price if you purchased the two items separately.

Mad Dog Pepper Extracts
3.  Mad Dog Pepper Extracts Gift Set:  This deluxe gift set is ideal for the collector of Mad Dog Hot Sauces, the extract aficionado, and the creative sauce-maker who enjoys experimenting with different levels of heat when creating their own special hot sauces, fiery BBQ sauces, and other fiendish condiments. It comes with a bottle each of the latest and hottest Mad Dog extracts: Mad Dog 22 Midnight Special Pepper Extract (2,000,000 SHU), Mad Dog 44 Magnum Pepper Extract (4,000,000 SHU), Mad Dog 38 Special Pepper Extract (3,000,000 SHU), and Mad Dog 357 Pepper Extract (5,000,000 SHU).  Purchased separately, these extreme pepper extracts would run over $172... but when you buy this Gift Set with all four extracts, you pay only $131.00 for the set!

No Survivors Hot Sauce Gift Box
No Survivors Gift Box
4.  No Survivors Hot Sauce Gift Box:  A favorite of US military personnel, this ready-to-wrap hot sauce gift box comes with four classic ultra-hot hot sauces that are always popular with people who enjoy eating super-hot foods and prefer extreme hot sauces that are versatile and edible, not merely painful. The sturdy white gift box contains a full-size bottle each of the original Dave's Insanity Sauce (widely credited with starting the ultra-hot hot sauce "arms race" some years ago), Marie Sharp's Fiery Hot Sauce (a classic Caribbean hot sauce from Belize that's made with local habanero peppers specially selected for their heat), Mad Dog Inferno Hot Sauce (a surprisingly tasty jalapeno-extract hot sauce with a touch of molasses, a hint of cloves and other spices), and Endorphin Rush (a rich and savory extract hot sauce made with tomatoes, molasses and soy sauce). This gift box normally retails for $22 but you pay only $17.95 during our Christmas sale.

Blair's Death Sauces
Blair's Ultra Reserve Death Pack
5.  Blair's Ultra Reserve Death Pack:  This coveted gift set is perfect for fans and collectors of Blair's Death hot sauces as well as anyone who appreciates well-made, all-natural, extreme-heat hot sauces and pepper extracts.  Not only does it come with TWO bottles each of Blair's Mega Death Sauce, Blair's Pure Death Naga Jolokia Sauce, and Blair's (new) Ultra Death Sauce, (all six with the famous skull keychain which has become Blair's "calling card"), but it ALSO includes a bottle each of the prized limited-edition Blair's 2AM and Blair's 3AM pepper extracts in hand-signed designer bottles sealed with fine Italian waxes in red, yellow, white and black.  This gift set is flying off the shelves, which should come at no surprise when you realize it's on sale for $41 below its regular price!!

Christmas is right around the corner, so don't delay any longer - send one or more of these ultra-hot hot sauce gifts to your favorite chilehead or collector, and order them while they're on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Greg's Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

apple pie recipe
Greg came up with this apple pie recipe for Thanksgiving 2012. The filling is reminiscent of pecan pie filling, but without the nuts.

1/2 cup butter
4 Tbs flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
4 apples*
2 nine-inch (9") unbaked pie crusts (1 in pie plate, 1 for making lattice top)

*For best results use a fairly firm, tart baking apple like Rome Beauty, Stayman, Granny Smith or Jonathan. Don't use McIntosh or Cortland because they get too mushy or mealy in pies (however, they're great for making applesauce).

Preheat oven at 350°F. Peel and core the apples, then cut into chunks.  If the apples are very firm or hard, pre-cook the chunks in a saucepan with a little water on the bottom (not the 1/4 cup of water listed above) until the apples begin to get tender. Softer apple varieties can skip this step.

Make a roux with the flour and butter:  Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then add flour 1 tablespoon at a time,  stirring constantly to fully incorporate before adding the next tablespoon. Continue stirring and cooking until you get a nice light brown roux. Stir in the white and brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir this paste and begin adding water until you get a syrup, then remove from heat. Place the apple chunks on the pie crust in the pie plate, then pour the warm syrup over the apples to mostly cover. Cut the remaining pie crust into strips about 1" wide, then lay the strips in a lattice pattern over the filled pie.  Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool and set for several minutes before cutting & serving. Tastes great with a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Matouk's Hot Sauces 4-Pack Now Available!

Matouk's Hot Sauce
Matouk's Hot Sauces 4-Pack
Hailing from the tropical islands of Trinidad & Tobago in the West Indies, Matouk's Hot Sauce is hands-down the most popular brand of hot sauce we sell at the Carolina Sauces online store.  Made with a traditional tangy mustard base and fiery scotch bonnet peppers, Matouk's hot sauces are thicker, hotter and more flavorful than anything you'll find at a supermarket. They come in generous 10-oz bottles, too, which means you get twice as much sauce for about the same price you'd pay for most typical 5-oz hot sauces. Available in several different varieties and flavors, you can now get the 4 most popular ones at a discount when you buy our brand-new Matouk's Hot Sauces 4-Pack!

This four-bottle hot sauce gift set comes with a full-size bottle each of Matouk's Salsa Picante Hot Pepper Sauce (fiery-hot and savory, with tangy mustard-pepper flavor), Matouk's Calypso Sauce (feisty, festive & fiery with bright tropical flavor), Matouk's West Indian Salsa Picante Hot Sauce (a little less hot, with a hint of sweet papaya), and Matouk's Flambeau Sauce (by far the hottest, made with plenty of aged scotch bonnet pepper mash). You pay only $18.45 for the set, which means you save $3.55 off the list price had you purchased the sauces separately!

This Matouk's Gift Set is an excellent choice as a Christmas gift for anyone who enjoys great-tasting hot sauce or loves the Matouk's product line. It's also perfect for stocking the pantry of your favorite chilehead or fiery-foods fanatic. Order it today from the Carolina Sauce Company, and take advantage of our ongoing Christmas sale, too!

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Greg's Sweet Potato & Bacon Pie

sweet potato & bacon pie
Greg often makes sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving. This year he took his recipe to new heights when he decided to add some BACON to the filling. Bravo, maestro!

1 lb sweet potatoes, scrubbed & peeled
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
recipe for bacon sweet potato pie
Ready for the oven
8 strips of bacon, cooked
One 9" pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cube and cook sweet potatoes until tender: Either boil or cook in your microwave oven. Mash the cooked sweet potatoes, then beat in other ingredients except bacon, beating until smooth. Tear bacon into small pieces and gently fold in. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell and place on center rack in oven. Bake 1 hour at 350°F or until you can stick a fork or knife in the middle of the pie and withdraw it with no filling attached.  Allow to cool for several minutes before cutting & serving. If desired, top with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, December 14, 2012

North Carolina BBQ Gift Baskets

Jim's Own BBQ Sauce gifts
We're pleased to partner with the makers of the award-winning Jim's Own Barbecue Sauce to bring you these beautiful, bountiful North Carolina BBQ gift baskets.

There are several different sizes and price points from which to choose, whether to send pint bottles (16oz) or quart bottles (32oz) of Jim's Own Bar-B-Que Sauce, and you can even throw in one of their sturdy and practical two-pocket grilling aprons emblazoned with Jim's Own 10th anniversary logo.

Jim's Own Sauce gift baskets
A popular choice is the BBQ Sauce & Apron Gift Basket (shown on right), which comes with a 16oz bottle of your choice of flavor of Jim's Own BBQ Sauce -- choose from mild Homestyle, spicy Hot, sweet & earthy Smokey, and tangy Mustard barbecue sauce -- plus Jim's two-pocket apron in black or burgundy. The sauce and the apron come in a festive wicker basket that can be used again and again. This gift basket is a great choice when you want to give a host or hostess gift, or for introducing a friend to the great taste of Lexington style North Carolina barbecue sauce.

Jim's Own SauceThe three-bottle BBQ Sampler Gift Basket (on left) is an excellent gift for any occasion for the person who enjoys grilling and good barbecue. It comes with a pint bottle each of Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce, the habanero Hot BBQ Sauce, and the low-country style Mustard BBQ Sauce, all nestled in a reusable wicker basket.  If you'd like to include an apron, simply order the Deluxe BBQ Sampler Gift Basket (shown in photo at top left of post) with the same selection of sauces plus a Jim's Own apron of your choice.

For an impressive Christmas gift or other special occasion, you can't go wrong when you send the Jim's Own Sauce Variety Gift Basket. A rustic, sturdy basket comes bearing three quart bottles of Jim's Own Homestyle, Jim's Hot, and Jim's Mustard BBQ sauces (one 32oz bottle of each flavor).  And the Deluxe BBQ Variety Gift Basket, shown below, includes a black or brown grilling apron (you choose the color).

NC Barbecue sauce gift baskets

Jim's Own BBQ Sauce t-shirt
Not included in the gift baskets but a great add-on is a Jim's Own BBQ Sauce t-shirt (shown on right) made of 100% ultra-soft cotton and sporting the Jim's Own anniversary logo. The t-shirt is available in adult unisex S, M, L and XL. The grilling aprons are also available for ordering separately from gift baskets.

Of course, you can order each of the different flavors of Jim's Own BBQ Sauce separately, in pints, quarts and even gallon jugs (which are great when you're cooking for a crowd). Jim's Own also makes mouthwatering BBQ rubs in a variety of flavors including savory-sweet Mild, spicy-sweet Smokey, and robust & savory (not sweet) Pincho. The sauces and the rubs are also available by the case.

Send a genuine taste of North Carolina this Christmas with a Jim's Own BBQ Sauce Gift Basket, because this is THE barbecue sauce that "the best-dressed pigs are wearing."

Zestfully yours,