Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shop Small with Carolina Sauce Company

Carolina Sauce Company
Are you supporting small businesses by "shopping small" today, Small Business Saturday?

Did you know that you can "shop small" online, especially when you shop at the Carolina Sauce Company?

It's hard to get smaller than the Carolina Sauce Company. Although I often refer to it using the word "we" (because my husband Greg and I are the sole owners), in reality and everyday life the Carolina Sauce Company is really just ME. That's it. One woman and her computer on her desk at home. Greg has a full-time job elsewhere, but occasionally serves as my "IT Department" when I have a computer question. 

Like I said, it's hard to get smaller than that. And virtually all our partners, including the Carolina Sauces warehouse and online store, are also small, family-owned and operated businesses.

Why is it important to shop small? Because every dollar you spend with a small business, or a "micro-business" such as Carolina Sauce, really matters. Very small companies usually have the tightest budgets, and every penny earned or spent directly impacts the lives of the people who own and operate the business. That is certainly true in my case, and has been the case with all the other small businesses I have worked with or for in previous jobs. The dollars you spend when you buy hot sauce from me go directly towards keeping Carolina Sauce Company in business. There are no layers of middle managers or paper-pushers, no outside shareholders demanding a return on investment even if it means cutting corners or sacrificing American jobs for cheaper foreign labor, no corporate jets or executive bonuses or political lobbyists. Every dollar made by a small business like Carolina Sauce is hard-earned by the few people -- or the single individual -- that is actually running the business. And thus every order placed, every customer served, and every dollar earned is greatly appreciated.

What does that mean for you? At least when it comes to Carolina Sauce, it means that I will work my tail off to make sure you have the best online shopping experience possible, with attentive customer service, a friendly and helpful attitude, and an eagerness to assist in any way possible. Why? Because every dollar matters, because I take pride in my work and reputation, and because I am passionate about what I do. The smaller the business, the less that it can afford -- literally and figuratively -- to lose a sale or a customer. So when you shop small, whether in person or online as with my business, you are far more likely to have a favorable experience, receive superior service, and have a direct positive impact on someone's livelihood and life.

When you're shopping today and searching for Small Business Saturday sales, don't forget to shop small online with the Carolina Sauce Company, where we're having a special 7% off coupon sale through Cyber Monday. Visit the Carolina Sauces online store home page for the special coupon code, or email me and I'll send it to you. And don't forget that all orders over $75 automatically get free shipping, no coupon necessary.

Thanks for your support!

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you ever have any questions about the products available from Carolina Sauce Company, or would like some product recommendations, etc., please don't hesitate to leave a comment on this blog or on our Facebook page (where you can also send me a PM), or simply send me an email. I'm always happy to help and to "talk sauce."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Coupon Sale: 10% Off at Carolina Sauce!

Carolina Sauce Company black friday sale
Don't waste time fighting crowds and trying to find parking at the mall -- shop online with Carolina Sauce from the comfort of your home, and take advantage of our Black Friday coupon sale!

Use coupon code HOTTURKEY2013 to save 10% when you shop at the Carolina Sauces online store for all your favorite hot sauces, barbecue sauces & condiments, including themed sauce gift sets and more!

But that's not all: If your product total is over $95, we'll give you FREE shipping, in addition to your 10% off with the coupon!

Check out our new products for the latest sauces, including the full line of SuckleBusters Barbecue sauces & seasonings from Texas, and the tasty tropical Margaritaville marinades & grilling sauces, plus many other products to tempt your taste buds and put an end to bland, boring food.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Our 10% coupon sale runs from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, so you get four days of savings when you shop with Carolina Sauces!

Rib Tickler Barbecue Sauce

Rib Tickler BBQ Sauce
Whether you're partial to pork ribs or beef ribs, baby backs or spare ribs, chances are high that you enjoy a good sauce with your ribs, either for basting and slathering as they finish cooking or for dipping and saucing at the table.

Rib Tickler Barbecue Sauce was developed specifically for ribs of all types, with a classic tomato flavor that's rich and savory with just the right amount of sweetness and sass. A light touch of pepper makes for a zesty finish without spicy heat, and a kiss of smoke adds depth and character to this family-pleasing, finger-licking, lip-smacking good BBQ sauce.

Thick enough to slather, mop and baste without the risk of dripping off your meat and causing flare-ups, Rib Tickler's consistency is also excellent for dipping and pouring once the ribs are served. Try warming up some of this sauce before serving in a bowl to really bring out the flavor and aroma!

Despite its name and pedigree, Rib Tickler BBQ Sauce is not a one-trick pony. Don't pigeon-hole it as merely a rib sauce, or you'll be missing out on some mighty fine barbecue dining. Use it with chicken, either by basting with it during the last few minutes of grilling or as a marinade and cooking sauce. The same thing goes for shrimp or grilled vegetables. Enjoy it on hamburgers and in sloppy joes or meatloaf instead of ketchup. Try it as a simmering sauce for cocktail meatballs. Or use it in my recipe for crock pot beef barbecue. If you can grill it, smoke it, or roast it, this sauce will probably enhance it.

Buy Rib Tickler Barbecue Sauce now while we have it on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store, and get ready to tickle your taste buds and tempt your tummy with its terrific taste!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Hanukkah!

Thanksgiving dinner
To all our friends and family, customers and fans, business partners and fellow small business owners, the Carolina Sauce Company would like to extend our wishes for a happy, safe and stress-free Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!

Today and every day, we are grateful to have you as part of our extended Carolina Sauce family.

According to what I've read, the coincidence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah is an extremely rare occurrence, happening once every 79,000 years or so (don't slam me if that number isn't perfectly accurate - I didn't check the math).

Hanukkah Hot Sauce
To those who are celebrating both holidays, may this special occasion be marked with double the joy and blessings.

To all others celebrating just one or the other, may you likewise be blessed with the true spirit of the day.

And to anyone who is not celebrating either day, may you nevertheless find happiness and a reason to be thankful for something today.

Enjoy the time with loved ones, family and friends, make sure to remember the true meaning of today instead of getting caught up in the frenetic commercialism and societal expectations.

Most of all, find at least one thing or one person you're thankful for, and let them know. There's no better time than today, and there's no knowing when you'll have another chance.

Safe travels to all who are traveling over the holidays.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last-Minute Recipes & Cooking Tips for Thanksgiving & Hanukkah

Thanksgiving recipes
Browse our Thanksgiving Recipes
This post is for anyone who might still be planning their menu for Thanksgiving or Hanukkah.

It's also for anyone in search of last-minute recipes, food ideas and cooking tips for either holiday.

By the way, did you know that Thanksgiving and the first full day of Hanukkah fall on the same day this year? Apparently this is an extremely rare occurrence, and is causing some stress among families celebrating both holidays, both in terms of meal planning, coordinating time with relatives, and properly marking or observing both holidays.

I am here to help, whether you're celebrating either Hanukkah or Thanksgiving, or both -- or neither and simply like to read my blog or learn new recipes and cooking tips.

As to Thanksgiving:  Over the years I've shared numerous Thanksgiving recipes and turkey tips on this blog. You can search for them using the search box on the top left of this blog, or, to save time, you can visit us on Pinterest and browse through our Thanksgiving Recipes & Seasonings board on Pinterest, where we've gathered the best of our recipes, cooking tips and seasonings for this holiday. All of the pins there link back to the original recipe or blog post or product page.

Hanukkah recipes
Browse our Hanukkah Recipes
As to Hanukkah:  On this blog I've shared Hanukkah recipes, too, albeit not nearly as many as for Thanksgiving. I've also posted information on Kosher products available from the Carolina Sauces online store. You can search this blog for all of those posts, or you can check out our Hanukkah Recipes board on Pinterest (where you'll also find recipes appropriate for Rosh Hashanah and Passover) and also our Kosher Products board on Pinterest. Click on any pin of interest on either board to go directly to the original recipe, blog post or product page.

We hope these tidbits of information help reduce any food-related stress or anxiety you may be experiencing on the eve of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. If you find any particular pin to be of help, please feel free to repin or "like" it there, or leave us a comment on Pinterest or here below.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread with a Zesty Tropical Twist

tropical cranberry orange nut bread
Cranberry-orange nut bread is popular this time of year, and I usually make my healthier, lighter version so as to not feel quite as guilty when I indulge in a second slice, or top a toasted slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a smear of butter.

This year, however, I decided to change things up and give my cranberry bread a tropical twist. Having recently learned about virgin coconut oil courtesy of my friend Jenni of Pastry Chef Online, and having read about its health benefits, I decided to replace the butter or shortening (which is getting a bad rap these days) in my recipe with the coconut oil, and also use it to grease the baking pan.

The coconut aroma as the bread baked was heavenly, but much to my surprise the bread did not taste of coconut merely from the fat substitution. So I modified my recipe again to add shredded coconut to the batter in order to bring out that flavor.

2 cups whole wheat flour
29 Oz. Organic Coconut Oil, Extravirgin
Click to buy coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 Tbs virgin coconut oil, melted
¾ cup orange juice
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbs grated orange peel, preferably fresh
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (a food processor does this quickly)
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts (or pecans or walnuts, or a combo)
1/4 cup crystallized ginger chips*
1/3 cup shredded coconut

*If you are using larger crystallized ginger chunks, you'll want to chop them up into smaller pieces about the size of the chopped nuts or chopped cranberries. You can do this in a food processor, or by hand (takes longer).

tropical cranberry bread
Preheat oven to 350°F degrees and grease a standard bread loaf pan -- I use coconut oil to grease the pan. Mix together the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the orange juice, egg and orange peel in a small bowl, then pour into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Stir in cranberries, nuts, ginger & coconut.

Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven, place pan on cooling rack and let rest 15 minutes, then carefully remove bread from pan (I tip upside down and gently tap, and the bread slides out). Slice and enjoy.

To store, allow to cool completely to room temperature before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap. If freezing, place the plastic-wrapped loaf in a freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before closing the bag.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you love the tangy-sweet flavor of cranberries and also enjoy spicy foods, check out the award-winning cranberry hot sauce (fantastic with turkey, and also with cheesecake) and the spicy gourmet cranberry salsa we currently have on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Habanero Horseradish Condiments from DEFCON

DEFCON Habby Pony Mild Habanero Horseradish
Do you love the sinus-clearing, throat-tickling zing of horseradish?

Do you crave the tongue-sizzling, endorphin-releasing burn of habanero peppers?

If you can answer "yes" to both of those questions, even if you add qualifiers like, "not TOO hot," then I've got good news:

The Carolina Sauce Company is now your source for award-winning horseradish-habanero sauces from DEFCON!

Available in two heat levels (mild and hot), DEFCON horseradish condiments combine zippy fresh horseradish with fiery habanero chilies to deliver a multi-layered wakeup call to tired tastebuds.

DEFCON Habby Pony Mild Habanero Horseradish Sauce has just enough of a jaunty kick to jazz up roast beef, roast turkey, pork chops, fried fish, hamburgers, sandwiches, brussels sprouts and anything else that could benefit from a little oomph. Fresh horseradish takes center stage in this savory, tangy sauce that's made from all-natural ingredients. The peppers provide a warm, lingering counterpoint to the quick-clearing zip, and add that distinctive chili-pepper flavor that fans of spicy foods find so satisfying. No more than a gentle medium in terms of overall heat and power, Habby Pony is excellent for everyday use even on more delicate dishes.

DEFCON Hot Habanero Horseradish
If you prefer to experience the full power of potent horseradish and crave the fearsome fire of unadulterated habaneros, then DEFCON Habby Horse Hot Habanero Horseradish Sauce is waiting to light you up. The ingredients may be the same as in the milder Habby Pony, but the burn is most definitely bigger, bolder and badder. There's enough horseradish to make the uninitiated sneeze, and the specially-selected hot habaneros will have you reaching for a cold beverage if you're not careful or experienced. But if you regularly indulge in fiery foods and can appreciate the pleasure that the right kind of peppery pain can produce, then you will be quite pleased with this sizzling sauce and condiment. Use Habby Horse just like its milder sibling, but stick to more robust foods like hearty red meats or smoked poultry, and apply judiciously until you're comfortable with its power.

Both DEFCON horseradish sauces are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store, and are welcome additions to any holiday buffet or dinner table. They're also a fun stocking-stuffer for your favorite chilehead.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  DEFCON also makes an award-winning line of all-natural Buffalo wing sauces, made with aged cayennes and real cream, and available in 3 different heat levels. They're fantastic on chicken wings and Buffalo shrimp, and also do double-duty as a condiment for burgers, sausage, sandwiches & wraps or as a dipping sauce for fries, tater tots, chicken fingers, fish sticks, and chips.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Crock Pot Recipe: 24 Hour Pot Roast

Crock Pot pot roast
You know that warm, glowing feeling you get when you serve a home-cooked meal and receive genuine compliments -- and requests for second servings -- from appreciative diners?

What about that sinking feeling you get when you review photo after photo of your well-received culinary creation, and realize that not only is the recipe not photogenic, but it actually looks rather unappetizing in every shot?

That's the emotional roller coaster I rode when I made, served, tasted and photographed my 24-hour Crock Pot Pot Roast recipe:  Initial delight and a sense of accomplishment at having come up with a very simple way of preparing a super-tender, richly flavored, healthy, hearty and family pleasing pot roast dinner with surprisingly minimal effort.... followed soon by the extreme disappointment of being reminded once again that I am an utter failure as a food stylist.

Please tell me I'm not the only decent cook out there whose food regularly tastes much better than it looks in photographs....

OK, my disclaimer is now officially over. Regardless of any doubts you may be having after viewing my less-than-appealing photos of my slow-cooker pot roast, I beg you to please give this recipe a chance -- and a taste. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. And I bet you can make it look much more appealing when served, too.

Because this recipe begins with a frozen pot roast, it takes about 24 hours to cook (hence the name). But that is also what makes this recipe virtually effortless: After very minimal prep, you simply dump everything into your crock pot or slow cooker the night before, set it on Low and let it cook until the following evening. Then serve and enjoy!

1 beef chuck pot roast, approx. 3 lbs*
24 hour slow-cooker pot roast 4 carrots, peeled & cut into large chunks
1 large onion, halved then cut into wedges
1 small (approx 1/2 lb) sweet potato, diced (peeling optional)
1 can (14.5 oz) no salt added Diced Tomatoes
3/4 cup red wine**
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp reduced-sodium Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt

*Select a roast that will fit in your crock pot with the lid on. Ideally, you should buy a thick squarish roast with a diameter close to that of your crock pot. If not, then you'll have to cut the roast into halves or thirds so that it will all fit in your crock pot when the lid is closed. The first time I made this recipe, I picked a roast that was too long for my crock pot and ended up spending over half an hour cutting the frozen roast into smaller chunks.

**I like using a lighter, brighter red like Tempranillo or Merlot, but feel free to use a bigger red like Cabernet Sauvignon if you prefer. As long as you use a wine you'd drink (never use the swill sold as "cooking wine"), you'll be fine.

The night before you plan on serving the pot roast, place the onion, sweet potato & carrot chunks in the bottom of your crock pot, then top with the roast. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir together. Pour over roast & vegetables, cover and cook on low until the next evening when you're ready to serve, stirring in the morning and maybe one more time later in the day. The meat should be fork-tender and the vegetables should be soft, especially the sweet potatoes which should be falling apart and thus helping to thicken the pot juices. Makes at least 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

PS: You might be wondering why my recipe calls for canned tomatoes with no salt added, and reduced-sodium Worcestershire sauce. No, I am not anti-salt or especially concerned about my sodium intake (within reason, of course). Because of the lengthy cooking time required for this recipe, I find that the flavor and texture of the finished dish are better if the lower-salt products are used. Otherwise you risk ending up with dried-out or grainy meat, or with too salty of a flavor. Plus, it's safer to err on the side of under-salting while cooking this dish, because you can always add more salt before serving or even at the table.

PS: Looking for more crock pot recipes? Be sure to visit our Crock Pot & Slow Cooker Recipes board on Pinterest.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cajohn's Reaper Sling Blade Hot Sauce: Made with Carolina Reaper Peppers!

Move over, Moruga scorpion pepper, there's a NEW hottest pepper in the world.

Meet the Carolina Reaper:

Carolina reaper chili pepper

During scientific analysis, Carolina Reaper peppers consistently tested at over 2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) and slightly higher than the 2+ million hit by the scorpion peppers, thus dethroning the scorpion pepper (which had previously beaten out the ghost pepper aka jolokia) and claiming the title as the world's hottest chili pepper.

Of course, someone has already created a new hot sauce starring the freakishly hot but refreshingly flavorful Carolina reaper chili.

Meet Cajohn's Reaper Sling Blade Hot Sauce:

reaper sling blade hot sauce

Surprisingly edible, with an appealingly peppery-fruity brightness of flavor along with fearsome fiery heat, this all-natural Carolina reaper pepper hot sauce shows off the best qualities of the powerful chili without destroying your taste buds in the process. Yes, it is indeed extremely HOT, but not freakishly so like pepper extracts tend to be. Instead, think along the lines of Matouk's Flambeau in terms of heat -- although the flavor is quite different because Reaper Sling Blade blends the peppers (Carolina reapers and bhut jolokias) with tomato paste rather than mustard. Cajohn's also adds a secret blend of specially selected spices, in addition to the usual onions and garlic. And the complementary tang comes from a combination of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice along with distilled vinegar. The end result is a chilehead's dream of an ultra-hot hot sauce, one that enhances the distinctive and best characteristics of the specific pepper variety featured in the sauce without having to rely on capsaicin extracts and other heat additives.

If you can handle the heat -- or you're looking for the latest, greatest super-hot hot sauce to give as a gift for a fiery-foods fanatic -- buy Carolina Reaper Sling Blade Hot Sauce while it's on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Looking for a Carolina Sauce coupon to save even more? Visit the Pastry Chef Online blog and look for our Carolina Sauce Company ad, where you'll find a special coupon code for 10% off your product total at the Carolina Sauces online store! Tell Chef Jenni I sent you, and be sure to check out her delectable recipes and cooking tips.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Politically Incorrect, Perhaps. But Definitely Good Eats.

moros y cristianos Cuban black beans & rice
Moros y Cristianos, Cuban black beans & rice
Moros y Cristianos.

For the record, I did not come up with that name for the following recipe.

As anyone familiar with traditional Cuban food will tell you, Moros y Cristianos has been around for as long as Cubans have been cooking and eating black beans and white rice in Cuba -- which is well over a century.

If you don't speak Spanish or haven't already figured out what "Moros y Cristianos" means in English, it translates to "Moors and Christians." That's always been the name of this hearty rice & beans dish enjoyed by  Cubans of all classes and racial or ethnic origins. Rather than be offended by the "politically incorrect" name, I suggest you look past it and give this unpretentious yet deeply satisfying and easy-to-make recipe a try. It's classic Cuban comfort food or soul food, and is one of the most approachable Cuban dishes because of its familiar flavors that the whole family can enjoy. It's not hot and spicy, although if you wish to spice up your serving at the table with a few splashes of hot sauce, I won't complain.

The following is my family's recipe for Moros y Cristianos, aka Cuban black beans & rice. Some Cuban cooks begin by frying chunks of slab bacon and use the grease to fry the onions, peppers & garlic, and then stir the fried bacon into the finished dish before serving. My Mom, however, always used olive oil and did not add any meat, and thus my recipe is vegetarian and vegan. You'll find both styles of recipes for Moros y Cristianos in Cuban cookbooks, so feel free to use bacon and bacon fat instead of olive oil if you eat pork. Speaking of which, Moros y Cristianos is typically served as a side dish for pork, but can also stand on its own as a meatless main course.

cooking Cuban rice and black beans
Simmering pot of Cuban black beans & rice
2 Tbs olive oil, preferably Spanish olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded & finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, drained*
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup uncooked rice**
scant 2 cups water

*You can substitute 2 cups of leftover cooked Cuban black beans. If you do that, you might want to reduce slightly the amount of oregano, cumin, salt & pepper in this recipe.

**Cubans traditionally use white rice. If you substitute brown rice, increase the cooking time by 15 to 20 minutes and add an additional 1/4 cup of water.

Cuban black beans & rice Moros y Cristianos
Ready to serve
In a medium Dutch oven (approx. 2 1/2 qt size) or large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic & bay leaf; saute until the vegetables are softened and onion is translucent. Add the beans, oregano, cumin, salt & pepper and stir to combine. Stir in rice & water, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is done, about 30 to 25 minutes for white rice, or 45 to 55 minutes for brown rice.

Stir and remove bay leaf before serving. If desired, do as the Cubans do and stir in a little extra virgin olive oil for added richness just before serving. Makes 4 servings as a main dish, or 6 as a side dish. Refrigerates well and the reheated leftovers taste fantastic.

Zestfully yours,

Limited Time Only: 10% Off or Free Shipping at Carolina Sauce Online!

Shop online at Carolina Sauce Company
For a limited time only, save 10% off your product total when you shop online at the Carolina Sauces store, OR get FREE FedEx Ground shipping if you order $75 or more in products at the Carolina Sauces online store!

Best of all, there's no coupon required -- you will automatically receive either a 10% discount off your entire product total if it's less than $75 excluding shipping & taxes, OR we will automatically upgrade your order to receive free ground shipping (continental US only) if your product total is over $75 before shipping & taxes.

This generous 10% discount is good only through November 21st, which is just 2 days away, so don't delay and shop today if you want to take advantage of our biggest discount of the year.

OK, I told you the sale ends soon, so why are you still reading this instead of shopping online for sauce gifts, picking out some new hot sauces & BBQ sauces to try, or selecting some zesty condiments for the holidays??? Click here to start saving now!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Are you still reading? Then I have good news: Although the 10% discount will end in two days, you always get free ground shipping within the continental US on orders over $75 (excl. ship & tax). Thanks for reading my blog!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rosemary Risotto

Rosemary risotto
This simple risotto is the first thing I cooked on my new stove after we renovated our kitchen. Rosemary is my favorite herb, and my rosemary risotto recipe makes good use of some fresh rosemary I received from a friend.

Although any white wine should work in this recipe, I chose an off-dry, late-harvest Pinot Grigio for its hints of raisin and honey notes to serve as a subtly sweet counterpoint to the assertive, somewhat "resinous" flavor of the rosemary, which I did not want to overwhelm the palate. Whatever type of white wine you choose, just make sure it's something you enjoy drinking. If you eschew alcohol altogether, simply substitute more stock for the wine (I suspect the final dish will taste more savory or robust if you do not use wine).

And while you could use store-bought stock, I recommend using homemade chicken or poultry stock, or homemade vegetable stock, for best flavor.

1 cup arborio rice
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
3 to 4 cups stock: chicken, poultry or vegetable
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp ground pepper
rosemary risotto with white wineSalt to taste
Grated or shredded parmesan cheese to taste
Optional garnish: Fresh rosemary sprigs

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When butter has melted, stir in the rice and saute until lightly golden. Pour in 1 cup of stock and the wine, stir, and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and when almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, begin adding additional stock a half-cup at a time as follows: After each addition, bring back to a simmer and cook, stirring regularly, until almost all of the stock has been absorbed, then add another half-cup and repeat. The goal is to cook, adding stock as needed, until the rice is creamy yet al dente (slightly firm, not mushy). This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 30 or more minutes, and you might only need to add a total of 2 cups of stock or up to 3.

Once the rice appears to be almost done, stir in the rosemary, ground pepper and some parmesan cheese (as much as you like). Keep stirring until cheese has melted, taste for balance, and add salt if desired. Serves 2 to 4, and garnish with a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary if desired.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Keep Calm and Pour On More Hot Sauce, in 3 Flavors!

Keep Calm and Pour More Cayenne On
"Keep Calm and Carry On."

That classic piece of British advice, along with the iconic crown and simple bold lettering, is wildly popular these days, appearing on everything from t-shirts to coffee cups, and often replacing the last two words with a pithy phrase like "drink more beer" instead of the original "carry on."

It was only a matter of time before someone produced a line of hot sauce capitalizing on the "Keep Calm and Carry On" craze.

And once we found it, of course we had to add those new hot sauces to the Carolina Sauce online store.

Meet the Keep Calm and Pour On More Hot Sauce family!

The first of this family is Keep Calm and Pour More Cayenne On Hot Sauce. This is a classic Louisiana style cayenne pepper sauce, made from pureed aged red chilies in a savory vinegar base. This is a straightforward, honest hot sauce for purists, with true cayenne pepper flavor and solid medium heat that's typical of this kind of all-purpose hot sauce. In addition to its suitability as an everyday table sauce for adding zip to any meal without masking a food's flavor, this cayenne sauce is a wise choice for cooking applications anytime you want to add a little heat, or you're following a recipe that lists "hot sauce" as an ingredient.
Keep Calm and Pour More Chipotle On

If you prefer the earthy, dark smokiness of chipotle, along with its higher heat intensity, Keep Calm and Pour More Chipotle On Hot Sauce is for you. Made in the Mexican tradition, this hot sauce begins with smoked red jalapeno peppers and blends them with vinegar and savory ingredients including onion and garlic, for a robust and complex richness with potent peppery heat. It's fantastic with any kind of Mexican, Tex-Mex or Southwestern recipe or food, from simple nachos or salsa to enchiladas, burritos, chili, huevos rancheros, quesadillas, rice & beans, and even non-Mexican favorites like pizza, pork chops and burgers. Splash some on scrambled eggs, french fries or a chunk of homemade cornbread fresh from the oven.

Keep Calm and Pour More Habanero On
Finally, for serious chileheads, hot sauce addicts and fiery-foods fanatics, there's Keep Calm and Pour More Habanero On Hot Sauce. This one is a Caribbean-style hot sauce, made from tropical habanero peppers in a tangy vinegar-carrot base with a splash of lime juice to highlight the naturally bright, almost-fruity flavor notes of ripe habanero peppers. This is also the hottest of the three "Keep Calm and Carry On" hot sauces, with searing habanero heat that is not for the tender-tongued or those with sensitive palates. Like the cayenne version, the habanero hot sauce is an excellent all-purpose, everyday hot sauce for the table and the kitchen, assuming you can handle the heat. Don't worry, it's not off-the-scale hot like Dave's Insanity or other crazy ultra-hot sauces. But it's definitely more intense than your typical supermarket-variety hot sauce.

All three flavors of Keep Calm and Pour On More Hot Sauce are currently on sale, and they're great as Christmas gifts or Hanukkah gifts for Anglophiles who enjoy spicy foods.

And if you'd like a VIP coupon to save 7% off your order, email me and I'll send you the coupon code and add you to our VIP list.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Smoking a Turkey this Thanksgiving? Read This First.

If you're planning to cook your Thanksgiving turkey on a smoker, the following proven tips are guaranteed to produce the juiciest, most succulent and irresistibly delicious bird you've ever cooked:

*Brine for optimum juiciness.  Plan on brining your turkey for at least two days for a fresh or thawed bird, and at least 3 days if starting with a frozen turkey. Be sure to use a lidded container that is large enough to completely submerge the turkey along with some sealed bags of ice (to keep the turkey at a safe temperature). Remember to replace any thawing ice packs with new frozen ones to keep the brine cold enough. If you've never made your own brine, try our basic brine recipe or The Hound's Brine (a classic old recipe), or my personal favorite, Greg's Secret Turkey Brine.

*Do This for Crispy Skin:  Use paper towels to thoroughly pat the turkey dry after brining. Surface water is the enemy of crispy skin. Before placing the turkey in your smoker, use your fingers or a basting brush or mop to coat the skin with olive oil and then pat on a poultry rub such as Gobblin' Good Turkey Rub or Bone Suckin' Poultry Seasoning.

Jack Daniel's 1749 Wood Smoking Chips*Choose the Right Wood. This may seem obvious but it's worth saying: Turkey is a lighter, milder flavor than beef pork, and therefore requires a lighter, milder smoker wood that won't overwhelm the bird's natural flavor. Most experienced smoke cooks will agree that hickory and mesquite are simply too strong for turkey. Complementary woods for smoking a turkey include fruit woods like apple wood, pear or cherry wood. Another good choice is oak -- in fact, if you can get wine-barrel wood from a winery or whiskey-barrel wood smoking chips from a distillery, it's excellent!

*Control the Smoker Temperature. Keep your smoker at around 300°F degrees, and smoke the turkey until its internal temperature reaches 180°F. When checking the temperature of the turkey, use a good meat thermometer to check in the breast and in the thighs (make sure the probe doesn't touch the bone, which can give you a false reading) to make sure the entire bird has reached 180°F. This can take around 5 hours for a 20-lb. bird, but your time will vary depending on the weather (cold, damp days mean longer smoking times) and the size of your bird. Do NOT stuff the turkey before smoking it -- that's a recipe for disaster, aka food poisoning! Instead, for the sake of safety cook the stuffing separately -- which I guess makes it dressing rather than stuffing.

Stubbs Injectable Marinades
*To Inject, or Not? Experts are divided on the use of injectable marinades for smoked turkey.  Some people swear that the best way to ensure that the entire turkey is infused with richly seasoned juices is to inject it prior to smoking with a good quality butter or oil-based marinade. Injecting the breast can also protect against overcooking and drying out while the darker meat finishes cooking (this is especially useful if you're new to smoking, or if your smoker tends to run hot. If you decide to try injectable marinades, I recommend either flavor of Stubb's Injectable Marinades. They're all-natural, made with butter, and easy to use. Choose between sassy-sweet Texas Butter or smoky-spicy Chipotle Butter.

One final tidbit of advice: Don't be surprised if your smoked turkey emits a puff of enticingly aromatic steam when you first cut through the crispy skin and into the breast:  That's proof that the bird is moist and juicy.

Please feel free to share your tips or recommendations for smoked turkey in a comment below.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Grapes of Wrath Hot Sauce: Spice Up your Holiday Cooking!

Grapes of Wrath Hot Sauce from High River Sauces is a creatively distinctive and delicious hot sauce developed specifically to spice up your holiday cooking with the right balance of gourmet flavor and peppery heat. It is NOT your typical one-dimensional, overly vinegary hot sauce found in supermarkets and mass-produced in a huge factory. Think of it as a craft or artisan sauce, the brainchild of a small hot sauce business devoted to making unique, high-quality hot sauces using only the best ingredients available.

As the name suggests, Grapes of Wrath is made from the fruit of the vine, i.e., grape juice and Cabernet wine, blended with select fiery chilies, namely red habaneros and scorpion peppers. Pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, brown sugar and ginger add a seasonal warmth and mellowness that pairs wonderfully with Thanksgiving meals and Christmas dinners, Hanukkah celebrations, New Year's Eve buffet spreads and other festive cold-weather dining. Luscious hints of bright fruit come from the inspired addition of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and pineapple.

But perhaps the most unusual and astounding ingredient in this delightful hot sauce is pickled red cabbage.  Yes, you read those last three words correctly: pickled, red, cabbage. No, I have no idea how anyone would come up with the crazy idea of adding that to a hot sauce -- perhaps it was initially a prank? -- but shockingly, and to my relief, it works. No, the sauce does not taste like pickled cabbage. In fact, I never would have guessed that there was any cabbage, pickled or otherwise, in Grapes of Wrath. I'm just taking their word for it upon reading the label. I suspect that this "secret ingredient" provides the sauce's well-balanced tang without the harshness of vinegar, while the cabbage gives the sauce its robust body and texture.

If you or any of your holiday guests enjoy a good hot sauce and have been wondering how to add a bit of zesty flavor and fire to Thanksgiving dinner or other holiday meals, I highly recommend Grapes of Wrath Hot Sauce for your table or buffet spread. Buy a bottle now while it's on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store -- and order a few more as stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank You to Our Veterans!

On behalf of the Carolina Sauce Company and myself, I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to all veterans of our armed forces on this Veterans Day, and always.

Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. You are in my thoughts and prayers. May we never forget that freedom isn't free. You deserve our thanks every day, not only today.

Dear readers, if any of you know any veterans, please take a moment to thank them for serving our country. And if any of you ARE veterans, or currently serving in our military, THANK YOU for all you do and have done, and may blessings and light be with you the rest of your days.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Greg's "Secret" Turkey Brine Recipe

Smoked turkey
For years, Greg has impressed family and friends with the juiciest, most flavorful and visually stunning smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner --and yet he would never reveal his secret.

If you've wondered how you can keep your smoked or roasted turkey from drying out, or have wanted to cook a more flavorful and succulent bird, today is your lucky day. After much arm-twisting, some bribery and eventually blackmail (well, not really, but it sounds more dramatic that way), Greg has agreed to let me share his secret recipe for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey:

It's all in the brine. Yes, he brines the bird for at least a day -- at least 3 days if starting with a frozen turkey -- in his own special brine, the formula for which he had kept secret until now.

In addition to a turkey and the ingredients below, you will need a lidded container large enough to keep the bird completely submerged in the brine along with a few resealable gallon-size plastic bags in which to place ice (the ice is essential to keep the turkey safely chilled as it brines). We use a large insulated cooler because it can hold a pretty large turkey as it brines and keep it at the proper temperature using the bagged ice. In case you were wondering, you can't simply add ice directly to the brining liquid because the melting ice would dilute the brine, and diluting it would prevent the brine from working properly (a brine is a delicate balance of water, sodium, sugar and flavoring ingredients, and using the proper ratio of water to salt & sugar is essential to its success).

Without further ado, here is Greg's Secret Turkey Brine Recipe -- which also works wonders with chicken, duck, goose and other fowl.

For every gallon of water, add:
1 cup Kosher salt
1 cup sugar
Juice, pulp & rinds of 1 orange, 1 lime & 1 lemon
1 head of garlic (crushed)
1/4 cup black peppercorns (crushed)
1 to 2 Tbs red pepper flakes
Fresh Herbs: 2 or 3 large sprigs of rosemary, several sprigs or more of thyme, several sprigs of fresh sage

Note: The water-salt-sugar ratio is the most important part of the recipe; feel free to adjust the other seasonings to suit your tastes.

Mix up enough brine to completely submerge your turkey in a container with a lid that can also hold some sealed bags of ice to ensure the turkey remains at a safe cold temperature as if it were in your refrigerator (you don't need ice initially if starting off with a frozen turkey, but may need to add the bagged ice as the turkey thaws in the brine). Place the turkey, brine and ice bags in the container, cover and brine for at least 1 full day (we like to brine a fresh or thawed bird for 36 to 48 hours). You can brine a frozen bird if you put it in the brine at least 3 days prior to cooking. Discard brine once you remove the turkey for cooking.

Before roasting or smoking the brined turkey, pat it dry. You can now season the surface of the bird with a seasoning blend or dry rub for turkey if you wish. A nicely-flavored rub designed specifically for turkey is Historic Lynchburg Tennessee Whiskey Gobblin' Good Turkey Rub.

Greg does not recommend deep-frying a brined turkey because it may "explode" as it hits the hot oil -- the purpose of brining is to introduce more moisture into the turkey, and this additional moisture can cause the hot oil to splatter powerfully, and that in turn could spark a fire if hot oil hits the heat source for the fryer.

What's your secret to juicy, flavorful Thanksgiving turkey? Tell us in a comment below!

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you plan on deep-frying a turkey and want juicy, flavorful results, consider using a good injectable marinade, such as the Stubb's injectable marinades, which are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Monday, November 4, 2013

FREE BBQ Rub: Read This to Find Out How to Get Some

Jim's Own Smokey All-Purpose Rub
During November, our partner Jim's Own Sauce is giving away FREE packages of their rich and savory Smokey BBQ Rub! November is a time of giving thanks, after all, so what better way to show their appreciation for supporters of their small, family-owned and operated businesses than to give something back to their customers.

Jim's Own is one of North Carolina's most popular and critically acclaimed barbecue sauce and rub brands. Throughout this month, the good folks who make these award-winning products are giving away a full-size package of their tasty and versatile Smokey dry rub with every online order of Jim's Own products over $25 (excluding shipping and taxes), to thank you for your patronage. 

Jim's Own Smoky Rub is a warm and inviting all-purpose barbecue seasoning rub with a earthy, natural smokiness from smoked chili peppers and paprika, a dark and mellow sweetness from caramelized brown sugar, and just a touch of peppery spice for a bit of zesty zip. A special blend of herbs and savory spices rounds out these flavors to create an all-American barbecue rub that will complement everything from ribs, brisket and pork chops to roasted or grilled chicken, wild game, burgers, any type of kabob and more. It's also a great with shrimp, fish and vegetables.

Jim's Own BBQ Sauce & Dry RubJim's Smoky Rub is an excellent choice any time of year but is especially good for Fall and Winter because it lets you enjoy that smoky BBQ flavor you crave even if you're cooking indoors or using a gas grill. Simply pat some Smokey Rub on your food and marinate several hours or overnight in the refrigerator for red meats, up to 1 to 2 hours for poultry, and only 30 minutes to 1 hour for fish, seafood and vegetables. Then cook any way you want: On the stove, in the oven, on your smoker or on your grill. Some people even sprinkle it on french fries or popcorn instead of using salt!

If you want a FREE full-size package of Jim's Own Smokey Rub, simply place an online order for over $25 in Jim's Own products (exclusive of shipping & taxes). Click here to order. Our friends at Jim's Own automatically will include the free package of this bold and robust barbecue rub together with the items in your order, no coupon code or special action required.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, November 3, 2013

October's Top 10 Sauces at Carolina Sauce Co.

Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce
Hot & spicy sauces ruled the day in October, and we had several old favorites return to the best-sellers list. But we also had a newcomer among the top ten products at the Carolina Sauce Company. Here's the entire list of last month's best-selling sauces, complete with brief descriptions and quick links to their product pages on our online store:

1. Matouk's West Indian Salsa Picante Hot Sauce: Back in first place after not making the list in September, this zesty, savory-sweet hot sauce from Trinidad & Tobago combines fiery scotch bonnet peppers, juicy papaya and tangy mustard for a bright, food-friendly flavor that's sunny, feisty and festive. It'll add a taste of the tropics to chicken, seafood, vegetables, meats, rice & beans, and other family favorites.

2. Jamaica Hell Fire 2 in 1 Red Hot Sauce: Also returning to the top ten after a brief absence is this spicy Jamaican pepper sauce created by a doctor who used his own secret blend of hot peppers with natural island spices to delight the palate and tickle the tongue. It's an excellent all-purpose hot sauce that's moderately spicy and works well in the kitchen and at the table.

Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce
3. Busha Browne's Pukka Hot Sauce: A perennial favorite with a loyal fan base, Pukka Sauce gets its unique name and flavor from Colonial Jamaica (it's not a jerk sauce). It will complement virtually any savory dish any time of the day -- it's a natural with eggs, hash browns and breakfast casseroles -- and will spice things up without altering or overpowering your food's overall flavor.

4. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce: Speaking of loyal fans, few are more passionate than devotees of this eastern NC vinegar BBQ sauce. Wells is the real deal -- no tomatoes or thickeners -- and just begs to be splashed on smoked pulled pork. But it also works as a marinade for chicken or an alternative to pepper vinegar with collards or other greens. This is a genuine, old-fashioned North Carolina barbecue sauce from the eastern part of the state where vinegar BBQ sauce is king.

5. Matouk's Calypso Sauce: Slightly spicier and more savory than the sweet & sassy West Indian sauce from Matouk's, Calypso sauce is a fabulously rich and solidly hot scotch bonnet pepper sauce with a tangy mustard base. Big and bold enough to stand up to ribs, roasts and other hearty meats, it's not so strong as to overwhelm chicken or seafood dishes. If you like tropical island heat and flavor, this is the hot sauce for you.

Matouk's Soca Hot Sauce
6. Matouk's Soca Hot Sauce: As far as I can remember, this is the best showing ever by Matouk's Soca, an authentically fiery mustard & hot pepper sauce from Trinidad & Tobago that used to be available only in the islands. Comparable to Matouk's Salsa Picante but with a bigger peppery punch, it's not quite as hot as Matouk's Flambeau (which is their hottest) but it's seriously hot enough to satisfy most experienced chileheads.

7. JohnBoy & Billy's Hot & Spicy Grillin' Sauce: Back on the best-sellers list, this mustard-tomato BBQ and grilling sauce from North Carolina has just the right amount of vinegar tang and peppery heat to satisfy barbecue lovers who like things hot. It's wonderful slathered on ribs, basted on chicken, as a dipping sauce at the table, or as a marinade for meats and poultry.

8. Matouk's Salsa Picante Hot Pepper Sauce: Similar to Matouk's Soca but just a tad less intense, this savory scotch bonnet hot sauce is thick and rich, with some of the best flavor and texture you'll find in a hot sauce from the West Indies. When you're looking for a straightforward mustard-scotch bonnet hot sauce that's savory not sweet and delivers truly fiery yet manageable heat, choose this hot sauce.

Gator Hammock Gator Sauce
9. Gator Hammock Hot Gator Sauce: Making its debut on our best-sellers list, this Florida hot sauce is fantastic on everything from alligator to more traditional fare from breakfast eggs to lunchtime sandwiches and dinnertime pizza, pasta, burgers, stews, stir-frys, casseroles, roasts and everything else except dessert. Cayennes, habaneros, jalapenos and scotch bonnets give Gator Sauce its multilayered burn and full peppery flavor. Use it to make a homemade hot wings sauce, or add it to chili and other recipes calling for a solid hot sauce. And we have Gator Sauce in large 10oz bottles!

10. Jim's Own BBQ Sauce & Rubs (various): From western NC tomato-vinegar barbecue sauce to rich smoky or tangy mustard sauces, plus several traditional and unusual BBQ dry rubs, Jim's Own is a North Carolina favorite and regular top-ten finisher. They're also giving away a free package of their delectable Smokey dry rub with every online order of over $25 (excluding shipping & tax), so now's the time to try what the best-dressed pigs are wearing!

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Carolina Sauce Giveaway on Facebook! Better Late than Never....

Carolina Sauce Giveaway
It's time for another Carolina Sauce Facebook Giveaway!

Yes, the November Crock Pot Game is a day late BUT we've posted it today and if you head over to our Facebook page and follow the very simple rules you'll have a chance to win free sauces & seasonings from the Carolina Sauce Company.

In fact, to make things even easier for you, I'll spell out the rules here for your convenience:

1.  "Like" the Carolina Sauce Company on Facebook.

2.  Find this photo of our Crock Pot, posted earlier today as the Crock Pot Game on our Facebook page.

3.  Leave a Comment on that Crock Pot Game post on Facebook telling us about a recent recipe you've made in your crock pot. If you don't have, or don't use, a crock pot, leave a comment there telling us that, and you'll still be entered in the giveaway (and we'll feel very sorry for your lack of crock pot cooking). For an additional chance to win, Like our Crock Pot Game post on Facebook.

That's it!

On Sunday at 2:30pm EST -- that's tomorrow, and don't forget to set your clock back -- we'll randomly choose the winner from those people who left comments. The winner will receive a Carolina Sauce Prize Pack that contains:

  • A mouthwatering all-purpose marinade from North Carolina
  • A package of savory all-purpose seasoning rub from a famous Chicago steakhouse, and 
  • A jar of authentic Jamaican jerk marinade/paste.

Just a few more important items:

**Although you can leave multiple comments at our Crock Pot Game post, only one comment per person will be entered in our random drawing for the Prize Pack. Maximum number of entries per person = 2 (one for a comment, one for Liking the Crock Pot Game post).
**You must have a US shipping address to be eligible to win, because we cannot ship internationally for this. But military APO/FPO addresses, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, Alaska and other such non-continental US addresses are eligible.
**Comments here don't count, although you're welcome to comment here if you wish to do so.

Any questions? Email me and I'll be happy to help you out.

Zestfully yours,