Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Outta the Park Meatballs

The MLB playoffs are here, so it's time to gather up the gang, lay out a bountiful spread of tasty appetizers and other sports-watching food, and settle down in front of the TV to watch the big games. Here's a recipe that's sure to hit a home run, and which is appropriately named Outta the Park Meatballs, featuring the award-winning Outta the Park BBQ Sauce, which also happens to be our featured product in the September issue of the Carolina Sauce Company Newsletter. Scott Granai, the man behind this rich and zesty barbecue sauce and an avid baseball fan, was kind enough to let me share this recipe with you. He said he learned the "make your meatballs in muffin tins" technique from the Food Network's Alton Brown, who also happens to be one of my favorite Food Network personalities. Without further ado, here is Scott's recipe:

2 lbs. Ground Beef
1 lb. Ground Pork
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3 Tbs Outta the Park BBQ Sauce [Note: You'll use the rest of the bottle later in this recipe, too]
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
*Season plain bread crumbs with salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder & onion powder

In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients, using your hands to mix thoroughly. Gather the mixture into a ball and then form into meatballs roughly 1" in diameter. You should end up with about 80 to 90 small meatballs.

In a shallow bowl, combine extra breadcrumbs and Parmesan along with salt and pepper and dredge each meatball in the mix, coating thoroughly. Cook meatballs in frying pan over medium heat until done, or bake using mini-muffin pans. To bake, pierce each meatball through its center with a toothpick and suspend each meatball in the muffin cups, which will catch fat drippings. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until done. Remove toothpicks.

Place cooked meatballs in a warmed crockpot. Add 1 Bottle of Outta the Park BBQ Sauce to crockpot [Note: You can add the remainder of the bottle you opened earlier for the 3 Tbs]. Heat until hot. Serve hot and enjoy!

Note: For Hot & Spicy meatballs, simply use Outta the Park Hot & Spicy BBQ Sauce

Zestfully yours,

PS: Not a baseball fan? No worries, you can enjoy these irresistibly delicious meatballs while watching NFL football, NHL hockey, college sports, or anything else!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sauce of the Month Clubs Now Available!

The Carolina Sauce Company now offers several different Sauce of the Month Clubs, through its new partnership with Insane Chicken! Initially, our selection includes a "Hot Sauce of the Month" club and a "Barbecue Sauce of the Month" club, each available as a 6-month plan or a yearlong 12-month plan. Each plan delivers a different hot sauce or BBQ sauce per month to the recipient, and features sauces chosen from among best-sellers, award-winners, hard-to-find specialty products, and hottest hot sauces (this last one is just for the hot sauce clubs, of course). You have the option of having the first monthly shipment gift-wrapped, and you can also include a brief written gift note. These Sauce of the Month club are the perfect way to show your appreciation to your favorite outdoor cook or chilehead, and also make thoughtful birthday gifts, Father's Day gifts, Christmas gifts and other special-occasion gifts.

Make sure to bookmark our new Sauce of the Month Club page and follow us on Facebook because we're in the process of adding other new monthly food clubs and programs, plus new hot sauce gifts, BBQ gift sets, beautifully-appointed gift baskets and other tasty gift ideas in time for all of your holiday shopping.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

5 Flavorful Ways to Enjoy Lime-Cilantro Marinade

Nando's Lime & Cilantro Peri-Peri Marinade is a delightfully citrusy, mildly spicy marinade and grilling sauce that's excellent with chicken, fish, seafood and vegetables. But this versatile sauce can do much more than merely impart bright, zesty flavors to foods you grill or broil. I personally like to pour some Lime & Cilantro Marinade over a green salad as a low-fat but full-flavored alternative to traditional salad dressings.

Here are five other creative uses for this mouthwatering marinade from South Africa:

*Drizzle over steamed vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, peas & carrots, and even corn

*Toss with cooked shrimp, diced cooked potatoes, fresh peas and paper-thin slices of red onion, chill well, and serve as a refreshing appetizer or light meal

*Use as a dip for artichoke leaves or asparagus spears

*Pour over a baked potato as a tasty, low-fat alternative to butter or sour cream

*Mix with canned tuna or chicken and a little bit of mayo for a tangy sandwich filling

What's your favorite way to enjoy Nando's Lime & Cilantro Peri-Peri Marinade? Please leave a comment to let us know.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Nando's Lime & Cilantro Peri Peri Marinade is currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce online store, so order today and save

Friday, September 23, 2011

Johnston County Ham's Mangalitsa Ham Wins Cooking Light Magazine Award

Congratulations to our partner Johnston County Hams, whose Curemaster's Reserve Mangalitsa Sampler won in the "Best in Meat" category in Cooking Light Magazine's second annual Taste Test competition! This European style cured ham is produced from the Mangalitsa pig, an Austrian breed imported recently by Heath Putnam Farms to the United States. Mangalitsa pigs have more monounsaturated fat than modern breeds, producing ham with a buttery texture, superior flavor, and satisfying, complex aroma that is prized by discerning connoisseurs. Johnston County Ham's Curemaster Reserve hams are the first Mangalitsa hams to be cured in North America.

We're proud to be able to offer these rare, fine gourmet hams in a variety of sizes and price points to fit every budget. You can order Mangalitsa ham in the award-winning Sampler, which comes with three 8-oz. vacuum-sealed packs of sliced ham; as an uncooked country ham averaging around 13 lbs.; as a traditional whole ham with the leg and foot on, for placing in a European ham rack for slicing or hung until carving; or as a Mangalitsa shoulder, which is leaner and more boldly flavored than the ham.

A handful of other North Carolina food and beverage companies also won awards in this year's Taste Test competition. The winners are highlighted in the October 2011 issue of Cooking Light Magazine, which is available now at news stands and grocery stores.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Visit our Country Hams page to see our entire selection of flavorful, succulent hams available from Johnston County Hams.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Scallops & Bok Choy with Ginger-Scallion Sauce

I was inspired to create this recipe after reading a blog post from one of my favorite food bloggers, Jacqueline Church, that vividly described the sensory pleasures of making and eating a classic Chinese sauce, Ginger-Scallion Sauce.

As someone who appreciates the refreshing zing of fresh ginger, the earthy pungency of scallions, and the sensory pleasures of peeling and chopping aromatic ingredients, I knew from the writer's vivid description that I would enjoy this sauce on several levels.

Although poached chicken was mentioned as a logical pairing for the homemade ginger-scallion sauce, I decided to go on a hunt for the freshest scallops I could find. Luckily our local Whole Foods store had exactly what I wanted at their seafood counter, and I also purchased fresh ginger root, organic scallions, peanut oil and a bunch of organic bok choy (I already had good-quality soy sauce and Kosher salt at home). Armed with these ingredients, I joyfully drove back home ready to try my hand at making this sauce which sounded almost too good to be true.

First, the bad news: The piece of fresh ginger I had purchased was not large enough to yield the 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs of minced ginger called for in the recipe. Now the good news: I had exactly half as much ginger as needed for the recipe, so I simply halved the other ingredient amounts and the sauce turned out just fine and was enough for the pound of scallops I had purchased. Another plus: The tip about using a teaspoon to scrape the skin off the ginger worked like a charm, and that's now my new method for peeling ginger.

I followed the recipe for ginger-scallion sauce as written in the blog--except I halved all the ingredient amounts--and I'm happy to report that it was quite easy and enjoyable to make. The intensely aromatic fragrance released when the hot peanut oil hit the minced scallions and ginger was quite pleasing, and the accompanying sizzle provided a lovely auditory counterpoint to this sensory symphony, but the best was saved for last....

Because scallops can be notoriously tricky to cook, I made the ginger-scallion sauce first and set it aside while I trimmed chopped some of the washed bok choy into long, slender strips. I heated a little peanut oil in my wok and added the bok choy, and stir-fried until the leaves turned bright green and the stems softened, which took only a few minutes. I scooped the bok choy out of the wok and into a bowl, then added my fresh scallops to the hot wok and seared them until they were almost fully cooked--this took no more than 3 minutes, if that long. You have to be very careful with scallops, cooking them only until they appear to be about 80% done and then removing them from heat because they will finish cooking from residual heat. If you leave them in the wok until they're fully cooked, the residual heat will overcook them and make them tough and rubbery.

Once the scallops were lightly seared on the outside and appeared to be almost done, I scooped them out of the wok and into the bowl with the bok choy. I poured in the ginger-scallion sauce, gently tossed everything together, and served "as is"--feel free to serve over cooked Asian noodles like soba, or over rice. I took a bite, allowed the rich flavors of the sauce to dance in my mouth with the buttery scallops and tender greens, and smiled with pleasure. Blissfully good, and deeply satisfying, just like comfort food should be. Best of all, the sauce and this dish were easy and relatively quick to make. And I'm sure the ginger-scallion sauce would be just as good with chicken, fish, other shellfish and even tofu. If you make this recipe or the sauce, please post a comment to let me know what you think, and how you made it.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Carolina Sauce Newsletter: September is NC Products Month!

NC Products: Updated Selection & SALE!

The Carolina Sauce Company is your trusted source for the best online selection of North Carolina products, and we've recently updated our North Carolina Products Page, for your convenience. We've also added a new partner, Insane Chicken, to bring back several popular products including:

*George's Barbecue Sauce, a tangy Eastern NC barbecue sauce for pulled pork BBQ and marinating chicken

*Outta the Park BBQ Sauce, a thick and rich tomato BBQ sauce that's ideal for slathering on ribs, chicken, shrimp and more

*Bone Suckin' Poultry Seasoning & Rub, to complement chicken, turkey, seafood and veggie dishes

*Scott's Barbecue Sauce, a traditional vinegar BBQ sauce that's spicy and tangy, and has zero carbs

Other new NC products now available through our partner Johnston County Hams include:

*Succulent Smoked Turkey available by the whole turkey or by the breast

*Dry-cured, hickory smoked Bacon available sliced or by the slab

*Italian style aged Prosciutto made from North Carolina pork

*Old-fashioned Smithfield Country Ham, available cooked or uncooked, boneless or bone-in, by the slice or whole

*Sweet and tender Honey-Cured Ham, hickory-smoked and prepared with pure honey for mouthwatering flavor

Not to be outdone, our Carolina Sauces warehouse has ALL of its North Carolina products on sale, no coupon required, including old favorites such as:

*Bone Suckin' Sauce, a western NC tomato-vinegar BBQ sauce available in Original style Mild and Hot, and Thicker style Mild and Hot

*Cackalacky Spice Sauce, a sassy all-purpose hot sauce that's thick, flavorful and not too hot, made from all-natural ingredients including tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers and a splash of Burgundy wine

*Officially-licensed collegiate hot sauces bearing the team logos and colors for the UNC Tarheels, NC State Wolfpack, and ECU Pirates

*Semper Fi Marine Corps Hot Sauce from Camp Lejeune, NC, dedicated to the brave men and women who have served and currently serve in the US Marines

*Castle Sauce, a classic mustard-tomato all-purpose sauce and condiment from Greensboro, NC, that's fabulous with burgers, steaks, fries and more

Update on Out-of-Stock Products: Tell Us What You Want!

Want to see more BBQ Sauces available at the Carolina Sauce Company? Or are you more interested in Hot Sauces? How about gourmet gifts, accessories for your grill or BBQ, or specialty meats, cheeses or imports? Vote on our Facebook poll to tell us what you want: Simply click on the Questions tab on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page, then click on the "cast your vote" link to see the choices. Vote for one or more of your choices, and leave us a comment if you wish. Can't access the Questions tab? Click on the "Like" button at the top of our Facebook page, to the right of the Carolina Sauce Company name.

Our Carolina Sauces warehouse is working hard to re-stock popular products, and we have good news for fans of Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce: The manufacturer is working on our order and the sauce should be available again very soon! We'll announce its arrival on the Carolina Sauce blog and on our Facebook page so make sure you follow our blog and are a Fan on Facebook to get the latest news. Our warehouse is also following up on JT Pappy's BBQ Sauce, and we're still waiting to hear back from the manufacturer. As to the Buderim Ginger Bears, they're still unavailable due to ongoing production problems in Australia. If you have questions about product availability or your order on the Carolina Sauces store, or any other customer service needs, please email Customer Service. Our warehouse also has a Live Chat Line you can contact for immediate assistance.

September Recipe: Outta the Park Chicken & Bacon Roll-Ups

This delicious recipe comes to us courtesy of Beth Granai of Outta the Park BBQ Sauce, and is a great party appetizer or tailgating snack. Ingredient quantities depend on how many folks you're feeding: Just make sure you have 1 strip of bacon per chicken thigh.

Boneless chicken thighs
Bacon: 1 slice per thigh
Flour for dredging: Whole wheat pastry flour works best
Salt, pepper, poultry seasoning if desired: for seasoning the dredging flour
Olive Oil
Outta the Park BBQ Sauce, Original or Hot

Heat oven to 350F degrees. Put enough flour (1/2 to 3/4 cup) to coat chicken thighs in a shallow bowl. Season flour with salt, pepper & poultry seasoning as desired. Dredge thighs in seasoned flour until thoroughly covered. Roll chicken thighs up with a strip of uncooked bacon, and secure with a toothpick. Melt 1 TBS butter over medium heat in a saute pan that can go from stove top to oven. When butter foams add approx. 1 TBS olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of pan). Add chicken roll-ups to pan and brown on all sides until crispy golden brown. Typically this takes about 10-12 minutes for the first side and then 6 or so minutes for each turn. When browned on all sides, transfer pan from stove top to oven, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes until chicken is done. Serve with Outta the Park BBQ Sauce poured over the top, or on the side for dipping. NOTE: This dish can be made ahead. Store cooked chicken roll-ups in refrigerator BEFORE adding any sauce. Re-heat roll ups on the grill or in the oven and then add sauce the last couple of minutes of heating. Serve hot with a fresh sauce pour-over.

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

The Carolina Sauce Facebook Page is your source for Carolina Sauce news, interesting food articles, and exclusive Facebook-only coupons. For access to these special coupons and the latest zesty news, simply visit our Facebook page and click on the "Like" button to become a Fan. You can then click on the Coupons tab and access special offers. And if you're looking for new recipes, grilling tips, product reviews, and the occasional chuckle, visit this blog on a regular basis. Here's where we post delicious recipes, review new products as soon as they arrive, announce any discontinued or unavailable products, warn of possible product shortages, run special sales and discounts, and provide other useful information. Subscribe to our free RSS feed and you won't miss a single zesty thing! Just fill in your subscription info in the spaces provided in the left-hand column of this blog.

Follow SaucyGlo on Twitter for the latest food news, pithy culinary observations & for sharing zesty tips!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 19, 2011

5 New Ways to Use Pesto

pesto after When your basil plants are prolific and you wind up with a plethora of pesto, it's time to find other uses for it in addition to pasta dishes. Likewise, if a pesto-lover in your household is gluten-sensitive or on a carb-restricted diet, it's helpful to have other ways to enjoy the pleasures of pesto. Here are five pasta-free ideas for using basil pesto, or any other type of pesto for that matter:

1. Blend into softened cream cheese to create a zesty spread for sandwiches, bagels, celery and other veggies--I like to slice summer squash lengthwise to create veggie "flatbread," and halve carrots lengthwise for a flat surface

2. Stir a Tablespoon or more into a pound of ground meat for Italian burgers

3. Use a butter knife to gently loosen the skin off raw chicken and spread pesto underneath prior to roasting, grilling, broiling or otherwise cooking the chicken

4. Stir some pesto into whipped butter--the real stuff, not margarine--to use as a topping for broiled or steamed fish, grilled steak or pork chops, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and other cooked vegetables

5. Mix into cooked brown rice to serve as a flavorful side dish or to stuff bell peppers

Do you have a favorite way to enjoy pesto that doesn't involve pasta? Please share by leaving a comment here.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you love rosemary and especially if you have a rosemary bush that seems to grow faster than you can keep up with, here's my recipe for Rosemary Pesto.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

NC Products: New & Improved!

Check out our new and improved North Carolina Products page on the Carolina Sauce Company website! As part of our continuing work to update our site and provide a more streamlined, user-friendly online shopping experience for you, we've organized all of our currently-available North Carolina products on one single page. On this new page you'll find old favorites from our Carolina Sauces warehouse, including Bone Suckin' Sauce and Castle Sauce, as well as newer items like country ham, bacon and smoked turkey available through our partner Johnston County Hams. We've also partnered with another leading online vendor, Insane Chicken, to bring you other popular North Carolina products that our new warehouse isn't currently able to stock, including George's Barbecue Sauce, Outta the Park BBQ Sauce, and Scott's Barbecue Sauce.

Our Carolina Sauces warehouse continues to make progress towards re-stocking other North Carolina products that have been unavailable since our move. Among the most-requested items is Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce, and I'm happy to report that our order is being processed by the manufacturer and we hope to have it back in stock in the very near future. As soon as it arrives and the warehouse is ready to start accepting orders again, I'll post an announcement here and on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page. Make sure you're a Fan of Carolina Sauce on Facebook by clicking the "Like" button at the top of our Facebook page, or subscribe to this Blog (subscription box is on the left column) to get the latest news.

We'll continue to add products to our new NC Products page as they become available, either through our warehouse or through partners. And if there's a specific product you're interested in, please let us know by leaving a comment here or on Facebook, or by emailing us. Your feedback is needed for us to know which products our customers are most interested in, and thus help us prioritize our efforts.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Easy Oven Spare Ribs

Wipe your tears away, my friend. These easy, oven-baked spare ribs can be enjoyed year-round, even when it's too cold or wet to grill outdoors. There's no need to measure ingredients, and you can use these simple steps for any quantity of spare ribs--or number of hungry diners. The results will be juicy, tender, flavorful and finger-lickin' good. Follow steps 1 through 5a for "dry ribs" (which simply means that the spareribs are unsauced and NOT that the meat is dry). If you prefer "wet" (sauced) ribs, then continue with step 5b after step 4.

1. Select your favorite BBQ dry rub. Among my personal favorites for their flavor and tenderizing effect are Bad Byron's Butt Rub, a savory Texas style rub with a hint of smoky-spicy chipotle, and Bone Suckin' Rib Rub, a Carolina favorite with a sweet-savory flavor.

2. Using your hands, spread a generous amount of your seasoning rub on all sides of the ribs, gently patting the seasoning onto the surface of the meat. You never want to actually "rub" or use too much pressure, despite the name "BBQ rub."

3. Place the coated ribs in a baking pan, cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, or overnight. This will allow the spices to penetrate and season the spareribs.

4. Preheat your oven to 300ºF. Remove ribs from refrigerator and bake, covered, until almost done, about 3 hours for 5 lbs of ribs--please note that the baking time will vary depending on quantity of ribs. You can test for doneness by grabbing one end of a sparerib rack and gently twisting: There should be just a little bit of flexibility or "give" without any separation.

5a. **For DRY RIBS** When the ribs are almost done as described above, uncover the pan, sprinkle a little more dry rub on top of the ribs, and bake uncovered at 300ºF for another hour or until done: You should be able to twist off a rib BUT it shouldn't be falling off the bone (that would be over-cooked). Serve with a bowl of warmed barbecue sauce for dipping if desired.

5b. **For WET RIBS** When the ribs are almost done as described in step 4, mop the ribs with your favorite thick BBQ sauce--a vinegar sauce isn't good for this--and bake for one more hour or until done (you should be able to twist off a rib BUT it shouldn't be falling off the bone), basting occasionally with more barbecue sauce.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Poll on the Carolina Sauce Facebook Page

What types of products would you like to see more of on the Carolina Sauce Company website? We're getting ready for the busy holiday cooking and shopping season, and we want to be your one-stop-shopping source for all of the sauces, seasonings and food gifts you need. Please visit the Carolina Sauce Facebook page and vote in our poll to let us know which kinds of products you want us to add to our site. You can vote for more than one type of product, and you can also suggest a category that's not currently listed. Make sure you're already a Fan of Carolina Sauce Company on Facebook--if you're not, you'll see a "Like" button at the top of the Facebook page to the right of our name. Just click on that button to become a Fan and to be able to vote, access all of our Facebook features including special Fan-only coupons, and to share this poll with your friends. Every vote counts, and the most popular product categories will be the ones we'll focus on expanding.

Just one note of clarification: Despite popular demand, we won't be able to bring back Greg's Happy Sauce (which was added to the poll by a loyal fan) because we're no longer manufacturing it.

So if you want to see more new hot sauces, a greater variety of barbecue sauces, an expanded selection of meats and cheese, additional gourmet gifts for Christmas, or anything else, make sure to vote on Facebook, and tell your friends to vote, too!

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Facebook, Blog and Website Features for Carolina Sauce

September has been an incredibly busy month for us here at Carolina Sauce Company, with lots of projects ongoing "behind the scenes" to make your online experience more interesting, informative and exciting for you. Our warehouse continues to work on bringing back favorite products that have been out of stock since our move, and I hope to have an update for y'all in the near future. We're also talking to potential new partners to bring you an even better, more expansive selection of barbecue sauces, hot sauces, grilling/BBQ accessories and more. We will be asking for YOUR input on what you want to see on our website--in fact, we will have a poll up on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page tomorrow seeking your input, so if you're not already our fan on Facebook, please make sure to visit our Facebook page and click on the "Like" button at the top next to the Carolina Sauce Company name, so that you can vote on the poll and leave your feedback. And as always, you're more than welcome to leave a comment on this blog.

Here are some of the new features we've recently added to our website, this blog, and our Facebook page, and which we hope YOU will use, to let us know what's on your mind:

1. Carolina Sauce Co. Reviews on Facebook: If you've clicked on the "Like" button on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page, you can now leave a review for our company when you click on the "Reviews" tab on the left. We want your feedback, and so do your fellow Carolina Sauce Company fans, so please do leave a review. As a small family business, your input and feedback is crucially important to us and is the only way we can know what we're doing well, and what we can do better.

2. You can "Like" and share this blog! If you read my blog and like it, please "Like" it and share it with your friends by clicking on the "Like" button on the top left. You can also "Like" and share individual posts such as favorite recipes, product reviews, etc., by clicking on any of the sharing icons at the bottom of each post. These include Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and more. So if you see something on this blog that you like, please share it and spread the word!

3. You can "Like" your favorite pages on the Carolina Sauce Company website: We've added "Like" buttons to our new product pages, including Meats and Cheese, Cookbooks, Fine Cheeses, Country Ham, Gourmet Gifts, and more. We also have a "Like" button on some of the older pages including Operation Sauce Drop. Please click on the "Like" buttons to let us know which pages you like, and that way we'll know what you're interested in and what we should focus on.

Thanks in advance for your input, and please leave your comments on this blog, on Facebook or privately in an email to me if you prefer (

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Greek Salmon Burgers

Salmon Burger I was the lucky recipient of a jar of dried Greek oregano, courtesy of a dear friend with a bountiful herb garden and a knack for drying herbs. When she handed me the jar, I unscrewed the lid and inhaled the still-vibrant fragrance from the recently-picked herbs... and was instantly transported to back in time to my Mom's kitchen when I was a little girl and Mom would make her signature chicken dish, which featured Greek oregano in a starring role despite the recipe not being Greek. I've always swooned over oregano, and rosemary is a close second on my list of herbs I can't live without. The gift of Greek oregano from my friend inspired me to create the following recipe for salmon burgers seasoned with Greek herbs. This recipe made 6 medium salmon burgers, and Greg and I devoured them all in one sitting (although admittedly we ate them without buns or other bread). Ideally these burgers should be served in pita with tzatziki sauce--Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce--as the condiment, and lettuce, tomatoes and/or thin slices of cucumber as the condiments. But regular seafood condiments like tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or crab cake sauce will work, too. Opa!

1 can (14.75 oz) salmon, preferably red
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup flour, preferably whole wheat
2 Tbs minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Lipstick pepper or other small sweet mini-pepper, de-seeded (or 1 Tbs minced bell pepper)
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Greek
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried dillweed
1/4 tsp dried mint
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for frying

Drain the can of salmon, place the salmon in a large bowl and use a fork to break it up completely. *Note: I don't worry about any skin or little bones as they break up and the bones provide calcium--but if you prefer, you can remove them. Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil, and mix together until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated--see photo on right. Shape the mixture into patties, place on a large plate or platter, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes--this will help the patties hold together better for frying. It also gives you time to make my tzatziki recipe.

When ready to cook, heat 1 to 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove salmon burgers from fridge, remove the plastic wrap and carefully place burgers in the hot oil, leaving some room so that you can flip them more easily--I cooked the burgers in two batches, returning the plate with uncooked burgers to the refrigerator while the first batch cooked. Cover the skillet and let the burgers cook for several minutes until the side in the oil is golden brown. You'll know they're ready to flip when you can easily slide a spatula under them and they hold together. Flip the burgers, cover the pan, and cook for several minutes until golden brown on both sides, as shown in photo on left. Use the spatula to lift the cooked burgers from the oil and place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Serve hot with tzatziki or other condiments, in pita or hamburger buns or without bread if preferred.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 12, 2011

NC Hot Sauce Contest 2011

The sun was shining, the North Carolina hot sauces and BBQ sauces (and local beers & wines) were flowing, the bands were playing, people were dancing in the streets, and there was food aplenty... In short, it was a fun and festive time at the 2011 NC Hot Sauce Contest this past Saturday in Oxford, NC. Even bigger and better than last year's festival, this year's event featured so many sauce companies and other vendors that we didn't get to see them all despite spending most of the day there. We did get to re-connect with old friends, including Scott Granai of Outta the Park BBQ Sauce, Page Skelton of Cackalacky Spice Sauce, Willa and Marilene who now own Jim's Own BBQ Sauce, and Pluto himself of Pluto's Jamaican Jerk Sauces, to name just a few. And of course we made some new friends, too--it was refreshing to see "new blood" joining the ranks of NC sauce producers.

The hot sauces we sampled ran the gamut from feisty and flavorful to burn-your-tongue-off hot. An eye-opening number of them were made with the incendiary Jolokia pepper, and you could even purchase bags of the fresh jolokias from Bailey Farms. Apparently the ghost-pepper craze has reached North Carolina. Most of the barbecue sauces were either tart & tangy Eastern NC style vinegar sauces or tomato-vinegar Piedmont (aka Lexington style or Western) NC sauces, but you could also find thick, rich slathering sauces of both the savory and sweet varieties, plus a few mustard BBQ sauces, an "east meets west" NC combo sauce, and a handful of sublimely sweet and light grilling sauces that provided pleasant relief to my pepper-weary palate.

The food highlight for Greg and me, however, was the food from the Vance-Granville Community College Culinary Arts booth. Honestly, I had no idea that they had a Culinary Arts program there, but if the two items we sampled is any indication, they're teaching their students well. The pulled pork taco caught my attention first, because I had never considered putting Carolina BBQ in a taco shell. To my surprise, this "NC-Mex fusion" worked remarkably well and was less messy than a conventional ground-meat taco. The pork was tender and juicy, lightly seasoned with a vinegar BBQ sauce and topped with creamy coleslaw, all in a crunchy corn taco shell. The combination of crunchy/tender-meaty/creamy textures was quite satisfying.

Also on their menu were Buffalo chicken sliders: Lightly battered boneless chicken seasoned with a tangy Buffalo sauce, served on a small burger bun. The flavors were enticingly savory and just mildly spicy, with that authentic Buffalo wing sauce tang that comes from cayenne and vinegar. I'm rather picky about chicken and detest the rubbery texture of buffet or food-service chicken, but that was not a problem here: The chicken in the sliders was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Perhaps it had been marinated in wing sauce and butter prior to breading and cooking? I asked one of the friendly folks staffing their booth what brand of Buffalo sauce they used, and she replied that they make their own, from scratch, using NC grown peppers, too. This was what I call "honest food," made from fresh, quality ingredients, with a splash of sensibility, a dash of creativity, and zero pretension. Bravo, Vance-Granville Community College Culinary Arts program, for representing well at the NC Hot Sauce festival this past weekend!

I took many photos while at the festival, but alas, I must have done something wrong with Greg's digital camera because less than a dozen were saved. Some of them are posted here, and you can see all of them on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page. If you were at the festival and took any pictures or want to share your thoughts about any of the sauces, etc. , please leave a comment here or on our Facebook page. And if you have a favorite hot sauce or BBQ sauce festival that you'd like to tell us about, we want to hear about it!

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Remembrance

Tribute in Light Our thoughts and prayers are with all who lost loved ones or were otherwise touched by the tragic events of September 11, 2001.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Spicy Curried Beef

Acorn squash becomes an edible "bowl" for spicy curried beef in this simple recipe. You can also serve the curried beef over rice instead. When paired with a salad or other side dish, you can serve a stuffed acorn squash half per person so that one squash feeds two people. Alternatively, you can use two squashes and double the ingredient quantities for the curried beef.

I made this recipe using a mixture of 1/2 organic ground beef and 1/2 ground venison, and you can probably use other ground meat such as turkey or chicken. I used Bolst's brand hot curry powder, available around here at Indian groceries--Greg brought back a can from his most recent trip to Bangalore, India--but you can use whatever curry powder you prefer. The raisins or currants add a pleasant sweet counterpoint to the savory curry flavor.

1 large acorn squash
1 lb ground beef or other ground meat
1 Tbs ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 small sweet peppers such as lipstick peppers*, de-seeded and diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, preferably a ripe red jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping Tbs curry powder
1/2 cup raisins or red currants

Brown the ground meat in a large frying pan until almost done. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a bowl, then drain the grease from the pan. Add the ghee or oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and saute until just softening. Add peppers and garlic, saute for 2 or 3 minutes until softened, then stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute while stirring. Add the drained beef and raisins or currants and stir well to combine. Cover, reduce heat and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the meat is cooking, split the acorn squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down in a microwave-proof pan, add 1/2 inch of water to the pan, cover and microwave until the squash is soft, about 10 minutes (time will vary depending on microwave oven wattage).

When meat and squash are fully cooked, carefully remove the squash halves from the microwave and place on a platter or dish cut-side up. Use a large spoon to stuff each squash half with the curried ground beef. Serve hot. If you have leftover curried meat, you can refrigerate and enjoy later over rice, on its own or even in a pita.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

*Lipstick peppers are a mild pepper that's longer than a jalapeno pepper. Their flesh is thick and meaty and their flavor is very sweet with fruity notes, making them an excellent choice to enjoy raw in salads or with dips. Lipstick peppers are longer than a jalapeno pepper, about 2 or 3 inches long. They're a beautiful deep green when unripe, and turn bright reddish-orange when ripe.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Low Fat Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

One of my new cooking projects is making lower-fat, lower-carb salad dressings that use healthy, natural ingredients without sacrificing flavor and mouthfeel. After all, eating should be pleasurable as well as good for you. In my continuing quest to eat healthy foods that taste good, I discovered a wonderful recipe website called The first recipe I tried was their Low Fat Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing | Skinnytaste, shown on the salad in the photo. I'm happy to report that this home-made, healthy version of blue cheese dressing is a real winner. It passed the "husband taste test" in that Greg said it was MUCH better than any bottled dressings (I would hope so!) and almost as good as the best steakhouse dressing he's had (well, ok, I can live with that, especially since this was my first attempt at the recipe and I'm not a professional chef).

The recipe was very easy and took only a few minutes to make. Because it is so "rich" and creamy, a little goes a long way. I'm certain it would be great with Buffalo style chicken wings, and it's definitely good as a dipping sauce with raw carrots, celery, and other veggies. I made two minor ingredient modifications: First, I used fat free plain Greek yogurt instead of ordinary fat free plain yogurt, and this most likely helped to make the recipe extra-creamy. Nonfat Greek yogurt has a texture and mouthfeel that's much closer to full-fat sour cream. Second, I used a vegan (egg-free) light mayonnaise from Whole Foods, simply because that was the only mayo I had on hand. Greg didn't know that the mayo was egg-free, and neither he nor I noticed any flavor notes in the dressing to give that away.

Greg did comment that the dressing was on the tangy side, and he suggested using a tad less lemon juice and a little more mayonnaise the next time I make this recipe. Since I normally prefer tangy dressings and generally don't eat blue cheese dressing, the tanginess didn't bother me, but once he pointed it out I understood what he meant. It may have been the Greek yogurt that added a little more tanginess, but that can be counterbalanced by a slight reduction in the lemon juice and/or adding more mayonnaise. Next time I'll also add just a little more of the crumbled blue cheese, even though that might slightly increase the total fat in the recipe. One final note: I didn't add any salt or black pepper, but a few grinds from your pepper mill would be nice touch. And make sure you use fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and not the nasty bottled stuff.

If you try this or any other SkinnyTaste recipes, please let me know what you think.

Zestfully yours,

PS: This blue cheese dressing recipe is perfect for football season - don't forget to stock up on your favorite wing sauce!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September is A Taste of France Month

Our partner CyberCucina has designated September as "A Taste of France Month" and is celebrating with discounted prices on a bountiful selection of classic French foods on sale. Now is the time to save money while you stock your pantry with delicious products for the holidays, or get a head start on your Christmas shopping for your favorite cooks and foodies. Among the mouthwatering items you'll find on sale are:

*Herbs de Provence, Fleur de Sel sea salt, Bouquet Garni and other elegant seasonings

*Infused olive oils, flavored vinegars and other gourmet pantry staples

*Aioli, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard and other zesty condiments

Lavender Honey, Pure And All Natural By Le Mas des Abeilles *Fig jam, blueberry preserves, lavender honey, marrons glacés and other luscious sweets

*Pate, rendered duck fat, French sardines and other delicacies

*Preserved lemons, Nicoise olives, Le Puy green lentils and other specialty ingredients

Laguiole *Fine French drinking chocolate and loose leaf tea

*Olive wood honey dippers, olive spoons, cheese boards, salt scoops and other useful accessories

Who said gourmet food and quality ingredients have to be expensive? Enjoy the finest foods that France has to offer, all at reasonable prices and with FREE super-saver shipping on qualifying orders, when you shop the Taste of France Sale at CyberCucina during September!

Zestfully yours,

PS: CyberCucina offers an impressive and varied selection of superior imported food products from France, Spain and Italy--and all orders over $125 qualify for FREE Super Saver shipping inside the contiguous US.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Secret to Perfect Pasta Salad

pasta salad When you make pasta salad, does your pasta turn into a sticky clump as it cools while you finish preparing the remaining ingredients in your recipe? Here's a trick I stumbled upon while browsing through cookbooks, and which I've modified a bit through trial and error. If you follow these simple steps, they'll keep your pasta from sticking or become one big clump. This technique is especially helpful with whole-wheat pasta, which seems to have a greater tendency to stick or clump if left in a colander for just a few minutes.

First, cook the pasta according to package directions, or until al dente--I like my pasta to have a firm, toothsome texture. While the pasta is cooking, lightly grease a large bowl with a thin coating of olive oil. Drain the pasta into a large colander, then rinse under cold water for a few minutes to halt the cooking process. Once the pasta is cool and completely drained, transfer into the greased bowl and drizzle in just a little olive oil while gently tossing the pasta with a soft spatula, large serving spoon or even your hands. The goal is to just barely coat all of the pasta with a little bit of oil, which will prevent it from sticking together while you finish preparing the rest of the ingredients for your pasta salad.

Once the pasta is coated with the oil, it can sit on your counter or in the refrigerator for as long as it takes for you to finish getting the rest of the ingredients ready. In fact, you could even prepare the pasta this way the night before serving and store it in your refrigeration until you're ready to assemble the pasta salad.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Carolina Sauce is on LinkedIn

Hot off the press: The Carolina Sauce Company is now on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online network with more than 120 million members in over 200 countries and territories. If you're a LinkedIn user, you can now view the Carolina Sauce company profile and follow us there. By following us on LinkedIn, you'll have access to news updates about the company, as well as our Tweets and our growing network of zesty-minded individuals and companies.

We are currently in the process of expanding and improving our social media experience for our customers and fans, so be on the lookout for exciting new features and new fun ways to interact with us and with other folks who enjoy BBQ, hot sauce, grilling, cooking, and good eats. If you have an questions, ideas, suggestions or other feedback, please feel free to leave a comment here on this blog, or on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page, or contact me directly by sending a Tweet to SaucyGlo.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Zesty Herb Marinade for Steak & Pork

Grill marks This flavorful marinade complements virtually any kind of red meat--yes, despite the marketing slogan, I still consider pork to be a red meat--but it's superb with steak and pork. Feel free to use it on poultry, too, especially dark meat or game birds. I plan on trying it with venison tenderloin this winter, if the opportunity arises. Ideally you should prepare the marinade a day in advance to allow the flavors to develop, but you certainly can make it in the morning and use it later in the day. Make sure you remove any stems or twigs from the herb leaves. This recipe makes enough marinade for 4 steaks.

2/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup fresh savory leaves
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs spicy honey mustard, such as Bone Suckin' Sweet Hot Mustard
1/2 Tsp cracked or coarsely ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until emulsified and creamy. If the marinade seems too thick, drizzle in a little more olive oil and process to incorporate. Place steaks in a shallow glass baking pan or dish, pour half the marinade over the steaks to cover the exposed side. Flip steaks over and cover with remaining marinade. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate the steaks in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 5 total, flipping the steaks over at the half-way point. Grill or broil steaks to desired doneness. Make sure you discard the used marinade.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day BBQ Tips

Here are some handy tips to make sure your Labor Day BBQ or cookout goes smoothly and deliciously:

*If cooking on a charcoal grill, use a chimney starter to start the coals more easily and get them ready for grilling faster

*Before placing food on a gas grill, preheat the grill; if cooking over charcoal, make sure the coals are covered in grey-white ash

*Lightly brush or spray food with oil to prevent sticking - this isn't necessary for food marinated in a marinade that includes oil

*Have all your grilling tools handy: Long-handled heatproof tongs and grill spatula, instant-read meat thermometer, grill basket for veggies or fish, and clean platters for placing cooked food as it comes off the grill

*Know which foods you want to grill over direct heat and which over indirect heat, so that you know where to place them on the grill

*Be safety conscious: Have a spray bottle full of water for flareups and a bucket of water handy to douse the charcoal when done cooking (for more fire safety tips, read my post on safe grilling)

*Have a cooler with ice on hand to keep cold foods cold until ready to eat

*Know when to apply barbecue sauce: If using a thick or sweet BBQ sauce, brush on during the final 10 or 15 minutes of cooking; if applied too early, the sauce will burn

*Discard any marinade that was used on raw meat, poultry or fish, and set aside or thoroughly wash any plates or utensils used to handle these raw items. Have a clean set of plates and utensils for use on the cooked food

*Store leftovers within two hours of cooking, to prevent spoilage and reduce the risk of illness

Zestfully yours,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mussels in Zesty Tomato-Basil Sauce

Mussels are a tasty and economical seafood option that can be enjoyed with the simplest of preparations--steamed, with some lemon or butter--or in heartier sauces such as this recipe. When making this recipe, use a pot that's large enough to hold the mussels with some room for stirring. Although the tomato sauce should simmer for about 45 minutes, the mussels themselves will cook in just 3 to 5 minutes, which is why you add them at the end. You can serve the sauce over hot pasta and arrange the cooked mussels on top, or serve the sauce and mussels in a bowl with crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.

2 lbs mussels, washed and beards removed
2 Tbs olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
Dash of ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
For Garnish: Several leaves of basil, washed, dried and cut into chiffonade (thin strips); Freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large pot, add shallots and saute until softened. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with liquid from can, wine, bay leaves, chopped basil, marjoram, cinnamon and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. **Note: if you plan on serving over pasta, start the pasta towards the end of this cooking time.

After the sauce has cooked for 45 minutes, stir in the mussels, cover and cook just until the shells open - this should only take about 3 to 5 minutes. Before serving, throw out any mussels that haven't opened after cooking for 5 minutes. Serve over hot pasta, arranging the mussels on top, or in a bowl with bread, and garnish with a little shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese and basil chiffonade.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August's Best-Selling Products at Carolina Sauce

Hot sauce was all the rage among Carolina Sauce Company customers last month, as almost all of our best-selling products for August were hot sauces. The biggest surprise for me, however, was the new number one best-selling sauce, which hadn't made an appearance on the Top Ten list for some time but is one of the better sauces on the market, as well as one of the "oldest." Here's the complete list of August's ten best-selling sauces and seasonings:

1. Dat'l Do It Hot Sauce is made in Florida from the native datil pepper. Flavorful and fiery, Dat'l Do It is a versatile, all-purpose hot sauce that will complement any savory dish--and it's not vinegary or runny, making it great for burgers and sandwiches, too.

2. Moving up two spots from its 4th place ranking in July is Walkerswood Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, a concentrated jerk paste or wet rub that's deeply fragrant, richly flavorful and intensely spicy. If you want to make real Jamaican jerk chicken, meat or seafood, you need Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning.

3. Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce moved up to third from 6th place in July. Made in Trinidad and Tobago from naturally sweet papaya and fiery scotch bonnet peppers, Matouk's West Indian hot sauce adds festive tropical flavor and heat to fish and seafood, chicken, veggies, rice dishes and meat, too.

4. Walkerswood Jonkanoo Pepper Sauce is named after a colorful Jamaican street festival, and this sunny hot sauce embodies that playful spirit with its tasty savory-sweet flavor and feisty heat.

5. Scorned Woman Hot Sauce has been around for years, and its staying power is a testament to how well this classic hot sauce goes with pretty much any food. Scorned Woman stands out from other vinegar-pepper hot sauces because of its smart blend of peppers with just enough vinegar for an assertive tang without crossing over into mouth-puckering harshness.

6. If you like your hot sauce HOT but don't care for extracts, Matouk's West Indian Flambeau Sauce is for you. Matouk's Flambeau delivers an unbelievable amount of scotch bonnet heat but does so naturally, in a thick Caribbean sauce that actually tastes good. Serious chileheads enjoy this hot sauce on everything from scrambled eggs and other breakfast fare to burgers and sandwiches, grilled foods and other hearty dishes.

7. Georgia Peach & Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce is one of our all-time best-selling sauces because its luscious, food-friendly flavor and relatively gentle heat level appeals to everyone, even folks with a lower tolerance for spiciness. Made with juicy ripe peaches and sweet onions, this fabulous sauce pairs beautifully with pork, chicken, seafood, grilled veggies, and all your favorite savory dishes.

8. Matouk's Calypso Hot Sauce is the spicier, more savory cousin of Matouk's West Indian Sauce. Made with aged pickled scotch bonnet peppers but not nearly as fiery-hot as the Flambeau sauce, Matouk's Calypso is a thick, rich mustard-based hot sauce that epitomizes the traditional Caribbean pepper sauce style.

9. The 8 oz. size of the original Slap ya Mama Seasoning came in 9th among all products last month. This authentic Cajun seasoning is made with black pepper and is perfect for all your favorite Cajun and Creole dishes including gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee and more.

10. Completing our list of August's best-selling products is another great sauce from Scorned Woman, their kinder, gentler Scorned Woman Sweet Majic. This hot sauce tempers its peppery heat with a touch of fruit, and the end result is a spicy-sweet sauce that brings out the best in chicken, fish, seafood and veggie dishes while still standing up to pork and other meats.

Zestfully yours,