Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spicy Sweet Potato Sausage Balls

Cooked Sausage BallsHere's a super-easy recipe for a zesty party appetizer or hors d'oeuvre for ringing in the New Year, game-day tailgating, or watching your favorite team on the TV.  Make these sweet potato sausage balls as mild or spicy as you'd like by using your choice of chili pepper and either mild or hot country sausage.  For an eye-catching and unusual presentation--or if one of your team colors is purple--use purple sweet potatoes instead of regular orange or yellow sweet potatoes.

If you have room in your fridge and want to prepare them ahead of time, simply refrigerate the uncooked balls in a single layer on a large platter, covered with plastic wrap, until you're ready to bake them.  And yes, you can double this recipe if you need to make enough to feed a crowd, and you can hold them in a warm oven (200°F) after baking.  For a real treat, serve with a bowl of warm barbecue sauce for dipping--I recommend Outta the Park BBQ Sauce as the perfect accompaniment.  Another nice sauce to serve on the side is Cackalacky Spice Sauce, which is also made with sweet potatoes.

3 cups biscuit mix
2 cups cooked & mashed sweet potatoes
1 lb country sausage (bulk, or removed from casings)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I like sharp cheddar)
1 or 2 jalapenos or other chili peppers, seeded & minced
Optional seasonings (one or more of the following):  1/4 tsp dried sage, 1/4 tsp dried savory, 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a large cookie sheet or baking pan.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Form into balls about 1" in diameter, place on greased sheet and bake at 350°F until browned and well done, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on your oven.  Serve hot.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Guides for Dining Out & Grocery Shopping

If you are on a gluten-free diet, or know someone who is, you probably know how difficult it can be to eat out at restaurants.  Even shopping for food at a grocery store can be tricky, unless you have a chemistry degree or are otherwise skilled at deciphering ingredient lists.

Luckily, our partner TriumphDining has published two comprehensive resources to help you--or your friend or loved one--safely eat gluten free meals at restaurants and purchase safe foods at the grocery store.

Now in its 5th edition, The Essential Gluten Free Restaurant Guide covers over 6,500 restaurants in all 50 states, including popular chains like P.F. Changs, Subway and Panera.  The authors verify and update the listings every year, and the book has garnered high praise from the gluten-free community as you can see from some of their reviews.

Also receiving well-deserved accolades for its usefulness and comprehensive listings, the Essential Gluten Free Grocery Guide (now in its 4th edition) provides information on over 30,000 brand-name and store-brand gluten-free products found in grocery stores throughout the country.  The book uses a convenient color-coded system to help you find your favorite foods quickly and easily, and assist with meal-planning, too.

Finally, our Carolina Sauces online store provides a Gluten-Free Products section where you can safely shop for gluten-free sauces, seasonings and snacks, including gluten-free BBQ sauce, gluten-free wing sauce, gluten-free mustard and more.

We hope this information helps you enjoy delicious, satisfying  gluten-free meals with peace of mind.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Easy Spicy Bean Soup

ham & butter bean soupThis simple bean soup is virtually effortless and foolproof.  Although in the South it's traditionally made with lima beans or their larger brethren butter beans, you can use pretty much any kind of dried bean such as navy, kidney, pinto, great white, or a combination of beans.  The traditional version also isn't spicy, so feel free to reduce or omit the hot sauce if you prefer.  Butter bean soup is sometimes served during this time of year as part of a Kwanzaa feast.  In that spirit, I have suggested using a good-tasting hot sauce made with the peri-peri pepper (also called the African bird's eye pepper), which is popular in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa and elsewhere in Africa.  You'll want to use dried beans, not canned, for this recipe because the slow cooking used with dried beans will give you the best flavor for the soup.  Just remember to soak the dried beans overnight.

1 lb. dried lima (or other) beans, soaked overnight, drained & rinsed
2 quarts chicken broth, preferably homemade or organic
2 cups water*
1 cup diced country ham
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 small bell pepper or other sweet pepper, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme OR 1 tsp thyme + 1 tsp oregano
1 tsp (or to taste) peri-peri hot sauce such as Nando's Hot Sauce or African Rhino Peri Peri Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnishes:  Diced white onion, diced tomatoes, chopped parsley, chopped fresh thyme

*For richer flavor, you can use 2 cups of chicken or beef broth instead of water

Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until beans are soft--about 2 hours.  Serve with cornbread or cooked rice and a side of cooked greens such as collards, kale, turnip or mustard greens for a hearty winter dinner.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quick Kitchen Tips to Reduce Holiday Cooking Stress

Christmas CookiesWhether you're cooking for a crowd or for fewer than a handful of folks, these quick cooking tips will help you reduce your stress and keep everything going smoothly and efficiently in the kitchen.

1.  Have a Plan:  Before starting, read through every recipe you plan to make.  Make sure you have everything you need, including ingredients & cookware.  Have everything you need handy, or at least know where everything is.  Consider what you will make when, and which recipes or cooking steps can be "staggered" or combined for greater efficiency.

2.  Have Room to Work:  Clear off counters, tables, sinks, etc. of anything you won't need before you start cooking.  And once you get going, clean up as you go OR know where you're going to put dirty/used dishes & utensils until you're ready to clean up.

christmas dinner :: julemiddagen {365 :: 24.12}3.  For Cheese Grating or ShreddingCheddar and other cheese will grate or shred more easily if first chilled in the freezer for ten to twenty minutes.

4.  Room Temperature Eggs:  If a recipe calls for beating or separating eggs (or both), let the eggs come to room temperature first.  They'll separate more easily, and beat to greater volume.

5.  Making Muffins or Cupcakes?  Use an ice cream scoop to fill muffin tins or cups more easily.

6.  Baking with Nuts, Chocolate Chips, Raisins or other Dried or Candied Fruit?  Toss these "add-ins" with a little of the flour from the recipe (NOT additional flour) prior to adding them to the batter.  This will keep them from sinking to the bottom during baking.

7.  Cutting Marshmallows?  Apply a light coating of butter to the blades of your kitchen shears to prevent sticking.

8.  Hardened Brown Sugar?  Soften it quickly by placing in a microwave-safe bowl with a slice of bread or an apple slice, cover, and microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.

Merry Christmas to all of our Carolina Sauce Company customers, partners and friends who are celebrating Christ's birth!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mustard-Glazed Turnips

lamb and glazed turnips This zesty side dish is an ideal accompaniment to Christmas ham, lamb, roast beef, pork chops and even venison tenderloin. Young or baby turnips are milder and sweeter than more mature, full-size turnips, so be sure to select the smallest turnips available for the mellowest flavor. Worried about whether the kids will eat this side dish? Just call it "country potatoes" instead of turnips--that's what Greg's Mom did when he and his sister were kids, and they ate them happily every time.

1/2 stick butter
2 lbs baby (small) turnips, trimmed, peeled & quartered
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg or mace
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional garnish:  Chopped parsley (1 or 2 Tbs)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat.  Add turnips, stir to coat and saute until golden brown on all sides.  Add the stock, stir in the brown sugar & nutmeg or mace, and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat, cover and cook until turnips are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer turnips to a bowl or plate while you make the glaze:  Stir the mustard into the pan in which you cooked the turnips and cook for a few minutes over medium heat.  Add turnips back to the pot and stir to coat with the glaze.  Taste for seasoning and add salt/pepper as desired.  Before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gourmet Gift Ideas for Foodies & New Year's Eve

Your Gourmet Food StoreIf you still need a special gift for someone this holiday season, there's no need to panic. If that person enjoys good food, likes to cook, or enjoys entertaining and hosting parties, here are some gourmet gift ideas that are sure to impress.

First, for the foodie or gourmand who has impeccable taste, we offer a variety of fine balsamic vinegars, Belgian chocolates, and prized "Pata Negra" ham from Spain:

For the home chef who's admired for elegant dinner parties, or the host or hostess whose gracious hospitality makes everyone feel welcome, here's an excellent selection of gourmet accessories including cheese slicers, truffle shavers, caviar servers and specialty knives:

And finally for the caviar connoisseur, we have a variety of caviar gifts at different price points, any one of which will make an unforgettable gift and is perfect for a New Year's Eve celebration:

All of the above gourmet gifts, and more, are available through our partner Your Gourmet Food Store.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deliciously Healthy Roasted Onion Dip

06 Roasted Onions and GarlicIf you normally rely on a package of French onion soup to make onion dip and haven't tried making your own onion dip from scratch, you don't know what you're missing.  Once you taste this zesty, healthier homemade version, you'll never go back to the powdered soup mix version again.  This roasted onion dip uses reduced fat cream cheese and non-fat plain Greek yogurt but boasts the same rich, creamy mouthfeel you get from fat-laden sour cream and full-fat cream cheese.  If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, feel free to use less salt or your favorite salt substitute.  If you're entertaining this holiday season, or need to bring an appetizer or snack to a party, make this Roasted Onion Dip and serve with raw veggies, crackers, pita chips or other dippers, and get ready to be bombarded with recipe requests!

3 large Vidalia® onions or other sweet onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic
2 to 3 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbs chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss the onions and garlic with olive oil, salt & pepper to evenly coat.  Spread on a baking sheet and roast in oven until caramelized and golden brown, stirring occasionally for even browning (roasting should take around 30 to 45 minutes).  Remove from oven and allow garlic & onions to cool, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Place onion & garlic in food processor or blender and process until pureed.  Add cream cheese, yogurt, thyme & oregano, and puree until thoroughly combined.  Stir in chives, transfer dip to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to develop (you can serve immediately, but the dip tastes best if chilled for an hour or two).

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you feel like indulging or if you love bacon, stir in some real bacon bits before serving for savory bacon flavor and crunch.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Cook Delicious, Lower-Fat Latkes

nom latkes nomHanukkah (also spelled Chanukah), the Jewish festival of lights, begins at sundown tonight.  Latkes (potato pancakes) are a traditional Hanukkah food, usually fried and rich in oil--after all, oil plays an important role in the story of Hanukkah and its celebration.  If you love latkes but are watching your fat intake, here's a great way you can still enjoy delicious latkes while cutting back on some of the fat.

First, use olive oil.  Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can consume, and you can select "pure," "virgin" or "light" (refers to flavor, not fat content) olive oil instead of extra-virgin if you want a neutral oil flavor.

Second:  Instead of frying the latkes, "oven-fry" them!  This technique uses less oil AND less oil is absorbed by the latkes.  Whether you prefer crispy latkes or softer-textured ones, you can make them in your oven.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Spread a light coat of olive oil on a baking sheet.  Depending on what size and texture you want for your latkes, use either a 1/4-cup measuring cup or a Tablespoon for dropping the latke batter onto the baking sheet, and form into rounds (smaller, thinner latkes will be crispier, unless of course you shorten the cooking time).  Bake the latkes until golden brown, turning once after about 15 minutes (total cooking time should be around 20 to 25 minutes).

Alternatively, you can bake the latkes at 450°F, especially for smaller, crispier latkes, turning once after 10 minutes (total cooking time should be around 15 to 20 minutes).

Enjoy with your favorite toppings--apple sauce or chutney being the low-fat choices instead of sour cream.  But if you crave the richness of sour cream, your best bet for flavor and mouthfeel is to use a high-quality nonfat or reduced fat plain Greek yogurt instead of fat-free sour cream.  I personally don't care for the flavor or texture of fat-free sour cream, which is often packed with less-desirable ingredients in an attempt to duplicate the mouthfeel of fat.  More importantly, most people can't tell the difference between a good, all-natural nonfat Greek yogurt and full-fat sour cream. 

Happy Hanukkah to all of our friends who are celebrating the Festival of Lights!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Monday, December 19, 2011

Time is Running Out to Use our Christmas Coupon!

This is for all you procrastinators out there, and for folks who've just realized they're short a gift or two and running out of time.  Use the coupon code CarolinaXmas to save 10% off your product total at the Carolina Sauces online store, good on ALL products including already-reduced sale items AND our exclusive, discount-priced themed gift sets that make great Christmas gifts.  Some of our most popular choices include:

*Lawyer's Gift Set:  Four different and delicious hot sauces with vintage cartoon style "legal" labels and judicially-inspired names like Lawyer's Breath, Contempt of Court, So Sue Me, and Under the Influence.  Perfect for the lawyer, law student, paralegal, judge or legal assistant on your Christmas list!

*Ultra-Hot Hot Sauce Gift Set:  Featuring nine of our hottest, capsaiacin extract-laced hot sauces including Liquid Stoopid, You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce, Blair's Sudden Death Hot Sauce, etc.

*Chipotle Lover's Hot Sauce:  Perfect for the person who enjoys Mexican food and the smoky, earthy, fiery flavor of chipotle, this gift set comes with five full-size bottles of chipotle hot sauces including Melinda's Chipotle Hot Sauce, Dave's Gourmet Roasted Pepper & Chipotle Hot Sauce, El Yucateco Chipotle Sauce, Ring of Fire Chipotle Garlic Hot Sauce, and Blair Q Heat Chipotle Slam Sauce.

*Blair's 3am Reserve Extract, Autographed Bottle:  This limited-edition collector's item comes in a striking wax-capped glass bottle that's hand-signed by its creator.  The sauce itself is a pepper extract rating a mind-boggling (and brain-numbing) 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 Scoville Units on the heat scale, many times hotter than your average habanero pepper! 

Our warehouse offers different levels of Express Shipping from 3-Day to Overnight/Next Day, so there's still time to receive the sauces by Christmas.  And our CarolinaXmas coupon is good through December 25th, so you'll save money, too. 

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pan-Roasted Kangaroo Loin

PhotobucketKangaroo meat is common in Australia and prized for its meaty flavor that's only slightly gamey (similar to ostrich).  Kangaroo is very low in saturated fat while high in zinc, iron and protein, making it a healthy alternative to beef.  Naturally-raised, free-range & hormone-free kangaroo meat is available from our partner Fossil Farms.  Here's a tasty, hearty recipe that's easy to make and which serves as a delicious introduction to kangaroo. 

4 pieces kangaroo loin (1.5 to 2 lbs total)
2 Tbs vegetable or canola oil
4 small new potatoes or red potatoes, quartered
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 parsnip, peeled & chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine (cabernet or burgundy works well)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste

Sprinkle kangaroo meat lightly with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add kangaroo and sear until browned on all sides.  Remove meat and set aside.  Lower heat slightly and saute the garlic and shallots or onion in oil until softened.  Add the remaining vegetables and red wine, stir, cover and cook over medium heat until vegetables soften (add a little water or more wine if needed).  Uncover, add browned kangaroo and the herbs, raise heat to medium-high and continue to cook a few minutes longer, until meat reaches desired doneness (rare or medium-rare is recommended).  Serves 4.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, December 16, 2011

Eight Great Grill & BBQ Gifts

Need a gift for someone who loves to grill and enjoys good barbecue?  Here are some suggestions that are sure to impress--and get you invited to plenty of cookouts!

1.  GrillGrate Gift Bag:  The ideal gift for the BBQ enthusiast or grill chef, GrillGrates are a superior cooking surface that "smooths out" hot spots and results in more even cooking over charcoal or gas. The raised surface produces professional sear marks while trapping juices and sending steam back up into your food, for juicier, more flavorful meats, poultry, seafood and more.  Select the size and number of GrillGrates you want to give and have them packed in this Gift Bag that features two pockets and a carrying strap so that you can take your GrillGrates and BBQ tools anywhere you go. Ideal for camping, tailgating, beach trips, picnics and neighborhood barbecues, you can buy the bag alone OR have your GrillGrate order packed in it, OR you can select from two GrillGrate Gift Bag Sets containing GrillGrates, The GrateTool, the Grate Chef Steaming Grill Brush and a GrillGrates user guide.

2.  Grill Master Gift Set:  This BBQ gift set includes a bottle of the award-winning Demon Pig BBQ Sauce, a mild tomato-based sauce that's pleasantly sweet with a hint of orange tang; a bottle of spicy-sweet Fork 'N Halo Original Sin BBQ Sauce; made with tomatoes, red wine vinegar, molasses & honey and spiced with a touch of cayenne & jalapeno; a bottle of smoky-sweet Mad Dog BBQ Sauce made from all-natural ingredients; plus a bottle each of savory Bad Byron'd Butt Rub for seasoning steaks, burgers, ribs, pork shoulder and even fish or veggies; Bone Suckin’ Rib Rub from NC with that sweet-tangy Bone Suckin' flavor; and the award-winning Bib Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q Seasoning & Rub, a mouthwatering blend of savory, sweet and spicy all in one.

3.  Sippin' & Grillin' Gift Set:  It's hard to go wrong with booze-spiked BBQ sauce, and the sauces in this unique gift are drinkably delicious!  All five of the sauces in this gift set come in full-size bottles and are great for slathering, marinating, basting and dipping.  Whether made with whiskey, bourbon or beer, they'll enhance the flavor of any hearty meat including pork, beef, venison and other game, and they also complement chicken, game birds, portobello mushrooms and even shrimp.  Add them to chili, meatloaf, burgers, sloppy joes and other ground beef recipes for a special treat.

4.  Chef's BBQ Sauce Gift Set:  These are the sauces for the grilling foodie and true BBQ connoisseur.  Each is masterfully crafted from the finest ingredients for a unique flavor experience.  Chef Ahrun has really outdone himself with his  Outrageously Applicious BBQ Sauce creation, and his Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce captures the essence of low-country Carolina barbecue.  Cahoot’s Chipotle BBQ Sauce is Asian-inspired and works very well with Indian dishes, while his “Fire in the Hive" Sauce beautifully balances sweet and hot flavors for an amazing taste. You won't find any of these hard-to-find sauces at a grocery store or supermarket!

5.  Pappy's BBQ Sauce Gift Set:  These popular, old-fashioned sauces come in glass flasks with amusing labels, making them a great light-hearted--but full-flavored--gift.  The gift set is a 3-pack and you get to select which three flavors of Pappy's excellent BBQ Sauces to include.  The four available flavors are Pappy's XXX White Lightnin' BBQ Sauce, Pappy's Moonshine Madness, Pappy's Fighting Cock and Pappy's Sauce For Sissies (this is the mildest one, in case the name didn't give that away).

6.  All-American BBQ Gift Set:  This bountiful gift features several varieties of sauces made from genuine American ingredients such as bourbon, molasses, whiskey and Vidalia onions.  There's a bottle each of Bourbon Molasses BBQ Sauce and Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce spiced with garlic & chile.  The Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce is a thick and robust, perfect for basting meats while grilling or roasting, and comes with a recipe for Fig & Onion Pork Tenderloin.  As an added bonus, this barbecue gift set also comes with a Cooked Perfect Color Changing Meat Thermometer.

7.  Old Grand Paw's BBQ Gift Set:  This ain't your grandpaw's barbecue sauce - it's better!  Old Grand Paw makes hillbilly-inspired barbecue sauces that add down-home, finger-lickin-good flavor to anything you grill, whether it walks, flies, swims or slithers.  The gift set includes Bootlegger's BBQ and Tonic, Hillbilly Home Brew BBQ Sauce, Cajun Cousin's Swamp Fire Marinade, and Jug Juice BBQ Sauce, all in full-size glass flasks.  This barbecue sauce makes a memorable impression in appearance, and the flavor of the sauces is unforgettably good, too.

8.  BBQ Sauce of the Month Club:  Here's a gift that keeps on giving, and will keep the recipient thanking you for months or even a whole year!  Available in 6 or 12 month clubs, the recipient will get one different bottle of barbecue sauce each month, hand-picked from award-winning sauces and hard-to-find specialty sauce manufacturers.  You can have the first shipment gift-wrapped if you'd like, and also include a short message with it, too.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Simple Herb Risotto

shrimpIf you've always wanted to make risotto but weren't sure how to do it, this simple risotto recipe is virtually foolproof and will have you cooking like a seasoned pro in no time.  I like to serve this herb risotto with shrimp or other seafood.  It also pairs nicely with turkey, chicken or game birds.  For red meats, use red wine instead of white and beef stock instead of poultry/vegetable stock, and more aromatic herbs like rosemary for a heartier risotto to serve with roast pork, ham, beef, buffalo, venison or other game meats.  The keys to success are to use Arborio rice, which has the correct starchiness needed for making risotto, and to let the rice fully absorb each addition of stock before adding more.  Another tip:  use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to gently stir the rice without damaging the grains.  This recipe serves 6 as a vegetarian main course, and up to 12 if served as a side dish.

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 Tbs butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 cup white wine (something you'd enjoy drinking)
2 to 2 1/2 cups poultry stock or vegetable stock (heat for faster absorption)
1/2 Tbs dried herbs of your choice (oregano, thyme, tarragon, Italian herb blend, etc.)
1/4 tsp ground pepper (preferably white pepper)
3/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese (not from a can)

Heat the butter or oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or pot.  Saute the rice in the butter or oil over medium-high heat for two minutes until all grains are coated.  Stir in the wine and cook until fully absorbed by the rice.  Stir in 1/2 cup of hot stock and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed.  Keep adding stock in 1/2-cup increments, allowing each half-cup to be fully absorbed before adding more, and stirring frequently.  After 2 cups of stock have been absorbed, taste the rice for doneness:  It should be al dente to taste.  If still too chewy, add an additional 1/2 cup of stock and cook until fully absorbed.  Once cooked to taste, reduce heat, stir in the herbs and fold in the cheese, gently stirring until melted.  Serve hot.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Five Fiery Gifts for Hot Sauce Lovers

Looking for an unforgettable gift for someone who loves hot sauce?  Here are some suggestions:

1.  Bhut (Naga) Jolokia Ghost Pepper Sauce Gift:  Some people call it the naga jolokia pepper, others the bhut jolokia, and its common American name is the Ghost Pepper--but one thing we can all agree on is that it's ridiculously hot!  Considered by many to be the hottest chili pepper on the planet, the Jolokia hails from northern India where it's used in some of the hottest foods and believed to provide protection from the "evil eye."  This Ghost Pepper gift set comes with 4 bottles of incendiary hot sauces made from the Jolokia pepper, plus a bottle of fiendishly delicious, super-hot Jolokia BBQ sauce. 

2.  Danny Cash's Jolokia Havoc Hot Sauce with Metal Flask:  This ultra-hot sauce captures the true essence of the ghost pepper in all its fiery splendor and without any additional flavors (it's made with jolokias, vinegar & salt).  Danny Cash's Jolokia Havoc Sauce comes with a reusable metal flask that is both eye-catching and practical in that it allows you to take the sauce with you without worrying about a breakable glass bottle.  You'll make quite an impression when you give this striking hot sauce gift to a serious chilehead!

3.  Dave's Insanity Sauce Deluxe Gift Set:  This ever-popular gift set features all four of Dave's classic Insanity Sauces (original Insanity, Temporary Insanity, Total Insanity, and Ultimate Insanity) in full-size bottles, PLUS full-size jars of Insanity Mustard and Insanity Salsa, AND a package of Dave's Insanity microwave popcorn, all at a special discounted price that's less than what you'd spend if you bought each item separately.  But wait, it gets better:  Our Dave's Insanity Deluxe Gift Set is currently on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store, and you can use our holiday coupon to save even more!  (You can find the coupon, along with others, on the Carolina Sauce Facebook Page when you click on the "coupons" tab.)

4.  Hot Sauce of the Month Club:  This Christmas, give the hot sauce gift that keeps on giving (in a good way!) when you give the Hot Sauce of the Month Club, available in a 6-month club as well as a 12-month club.  This is THE hot sauce gift that was featured on The Food Network's "Unwrapped" series.  Each month the recipient will receive a different full-size bottle of hot sauce specially selected from among award-winners, best-sellers, and hottest sauces.  And each month you'll be remembered for your thoughtfulness and excellent taste!

5.  Ultra-Hot Hot Sauce Gift Set:  This is one of our best-selling hot sauce gifts and features full-size bottles of each of the following ultra-hot hot sauces and pepper extracts:  Blair's Sudden Death Sauce, Da Bomb Ground Zero, Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce, Liquid Stoopid, Mad Dog .357, Marie Sharp's BEWARE, Predator Great White Shark, Vicious Viper, and You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce.  As with our other exclusive Carolina Sauces gift sets, the Ultra-Hot Gift Set is sold at a special discount from the price of the bottles if bought separately.  It's also on sale and eligible for our coupon discount, for extra savings for you.

Still not sure what to get the hot sauce collector or fiery foods fanatic on your Christmas list?  Send them a hot sauce gift certificate from our partner InsaneChicken and let them pick out exactly what they want!

For more great hot sauce gifts, make sure to visit the Carolina Sauce Company online and browse through our extensive selection of hot sauces, themed hot sauce gift sets, ultra-hot sauces, capsaiacin pepper extracts and other hot & spicy sauces and condiments.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Stay tuned to this blog because I'll be posting great last-minute gift ideas for BBQ lovers and for other folks who enjoy good eats.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spicy Bacon-Cheese Grits Casserole

Grits CasseroleThis hearty casserole is great for brunch on a cold winter morning.  It's quite filling and the jalapeno peppers will help warm you up.  If you're serving it for people who don't care for hot & spicy food, simply substitute half of a bell pepper or a couple of small sweet peppers.  For vegetarians, you can omit the bacon altogether or substitute soy "bacon" or crisp-fried, crumbled tempeh.  I like to splash a little hot sauce on my grits for a bit of tang as well as added heat.  For less fat, you can use butter-olive oil blend (the kind that comes in sticks like butter), reduced fat cheddar cheese (but NOT fat-free), skim or low-fat milk and Egg Beaters® or other similar egg substitute.  Serves 4 to 6.


I Love Bacon Cookbook
Click image to buy "I Love Bacon" Cookbook
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup regular grits (not instant)
1 cup milk (whole, low fat or skim)
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, fried crisp & crumbled
4 eggs
1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded & diced

1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine water and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir in the grits and cook until thickened and the water has been absorbed.  Add remaining ingredients, stir to thoroughly combine, then pour into a greased 2-quart casserole dish (you can also pour into 4 oven-safe bowls for individually-baked servings).  Bake at 350°F for half an hour or until lightly browned.  Serve hot.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  I have a sneaky suspicion that you could substitute a slice (chopped) of cooked country ham for the bacon, but haven't tried that yet.  If you make this casserole using country ham instead of bacon--or if you make any other substitutions or additions--please leave a comment to let us know how it came out!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Buy This Hot Sauce and Help Save A Dog

Calling all dog lovers and hot sauce lovers:  Now you can help save a dog's life when you buy hot sauce!  Save A Dog Hot Sauce is named after an all-volunteer humane society in Massachusetts that focuses on abandoned and homeless dogs of all breeds.  They work with animal shelters in MA as well as with several high-volume shelters in the rural south and West Virginia, where high numbers of dogs are euthanized, to rescue unwanted dogs and find them new homes.

Save A Dog has rescued thousands of dogs since incorporating as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 1999, relying on donations to support their foster home program and shelter.  And now Save A Dog has teamed up with The Innovative Company LLC to offer a custom-label hot sauce just in time for holiday gift giving.  The Innovative Company has pledged 50% of Save A Dog Hot Sauce's retail sales, as well as a portion of wholesale & distribution sales, to the Save A Dog humane society.  So, every time you buy a bottle of Save A Dog Hot Sauce, you help save a dog's life.

Save A Dog Hot Sauce is an all-natural vinegar-pepper hot sauce made with aged red peppers for a classic, uncomplicated spicy flavor that adds heat without altering the taste of your food.  This all-purpose hot sauce goes well with everything from breakfast eggs, hash browns and sausage to lunchtime sandwiches, pizza, soups and burgers to every type of dinner entree imaginable--plus it's great in recipes calling for a basic hot sauce; e.g., Buffalo wings, chili, etc.  In short, it tastes good AND supports a good cause.

Want to help Save A Dog rescue more homeless, abandoned dogs for years to come?  Simply buy Save A Dog Hot Sauce.  Need a gift for a dog-lover?  Give them the Save A Dog Hot Sauce 3-Pack.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spicy Croutons

Homemade Herb Croutons This simple recipe transforms plain, unseasoned croutons into zesty, spicy croutons that will please the palate of any fiery-foods fan.  Use the spicy croutons on salads or soups, in recipes (you can place in a plastic bag and crush to make spicy breadcrumbs) or even as a spicy snack.  Create your own unique snack mix by tossing together some spicy croutons with nuts, raisins or other snack-mix staples.  The quantities in this recipe are merely suggestions, so feel free to adjust to your taste or to the amounts you have on hand.  Likewise, you can omit or substitute for the seasonings and herbs.  For best results, make the spicy croutons with an uncomplicated vinegar or lemon/lime-juice based hot sauce, such as Scorned Woman, Blues Carolina Pepper Sauce, Blues Habanero Reserve, or Dave's Cayenne Pepper Sauce.

1 box unseasoned croutons
1 stick butter
3 Tbs hot sauce
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp granulated onion
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp dried herbs of your choice (e.g., parsley, rosemary, oregano, chives)
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 250°F.  Place croutons in a large bowl.  Melt butter in a small saucepan, stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle boil.  Remove from heat, pour over croutons and toss or gently stir to coat.  Spread croutons in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dried and lightly toasted (about 1 hour), stirring every 15 minutes or so to toast on all sides.  Allow to cool completely before storing in a tightly covered container or zip-top plastic bag.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Jews for Bacon"?

File this one under "Things that make you go 'hmmm'"....

Our partner BaconFreak has quite a selection of gifts for bacon-lovers, ranging from the sublimely delicious to the amusing and downright bizarre.   One in particular falls into all of those categories simultaneously:  The Hanukkah Bacon Bundle, created "because latkes taste better with bacon. Jews for Bacon Unite!"

I'm not making this one up--click the image or link below to check it out for yourself and read their entire description:

                                                                 from: Bacon Freak

The Hanukkah Bundle from Bacon Freak does come with some mouthwatering bacon and bacon-flavored foods including hickory-smoked bacon, bacon seasoning and bacon milk chocolate, plus whimsical bacon-themed swag like a bacon wallet and a "Bacon is a Vegetable" t-shirt.  And as Bacon Freak points out, they do have some self-described bacon-loving Jews on staff. 

But I can’t help but wonder: Is the Hanukkah Bacon Bundle a light-hearted, well-intentioned gift for the right person?  Or is the whole concept of "Jews for Bacon" in poor taste?  Are you amused or offended? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Spicy Maple Sweet Potatoes with Apple & Bacon

I made this recipe for Thanksgiving instead of the traditional sweet potato casserole (because I hate the marshmallows on top).  Greg and I both enjoy hot & spicy foods, so I used ground smoked habanero powder for a pretty powerful peppery punch.  For a milder heat level, substitute ground cayenne or other pepper of your choice--or smoked paprika for flavor without heat.  Use any apple variety that you like--I used a Granny Smith.  This recipe serves 4 as a side dish, and you can double it to feed more.

2 slices bacon
2 sweet potatoes
1 apple
1/4 cup maple syrup
Dash to 1/8 tsp (depending on desired heat) ground smoked habanero

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Cook bacon until crispy in a large frying pan.  Remove bacon (reserve the bacon fat in the pan) and place on paper towels to absorb excess grease.  While the bacon is frying, wash and dry sweet potatoes, then slice in half lengthwise, and slice each half into 1/4"-thick half-moons.  Add sweet potato slices to the frying pan and saute in the bacon fat until they start to soften and begin to brown lightly.  While the sweet potatoes are cooking, chop the apple into small cubes.  Add apples to the pan, stir in the maple syrup and cook for a few minutes until apple chunks are slightly softened.  Crumble the bacon into the pan, add the ground pepper and stir to combine.  Transfer everything into a casserole dish and bake until the sweet potatoes are cooked through (20 to 30 minutes, less time for "al dente" results).

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you prefer insanely-hot food, I dare you to use ground naga jolokia pepper powder in this (or any) recipe!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Carolina Sauce Newsletter: Coupon, Holiday Recipes & Gift Ideas

December Coupon Sale: 10% Off!

Chili Pepper   In celebration of the season, we have a special 10% off coupon just for our Newsletter readers! Use coupon code CAROLINAXMAS to save 10% off your product total at the Carolina Sauces online store, good on ALL products including already-reduced sale items, themed gift sets that make great Christmas gifts, party-perfect zesty snacks, Kosher products for Hanukkah, and all your holiday favorites. To help you save money this holiday season, the CarolinaXMas coupon is good through Christmas Day, and will expire at midnight on December 25th, 2011.

Looking for a tasty and memorable Christmas gift for someone special? Check these out:

*For the serious hot sauce collector or the person who claims nothing is hot enough, our HOTTEST item is Da Bomb The Final Answer, packing a 1.5 million SHU (scoville heat unit) punch that's THREE TIMES HOTTER than military-grade pepper spray. Comes in a lock-and-key display case for added effect (and to keep it out of little hands!). We also have a "Make Your Own Ultra-Hot Pepper Extract Kit" that comes with a sealed vial of 16 million SHU capsaiacin crystals, tweezer forceps, lab gloves, surgical mask and other essentials for making super-hot sauces at home. Additional ultra-hot products are listed on our Pepper Extracts page and Hottest Hot Sauces page.

*For the person who wishes they could spend the winter in the Caribbean, our Caribbean Gift Set provides a little taste of paradise with 4 different full-size bottles of authentic Caribbean hot sauces. And for the more adventurous palate, our Exotica Gift Set comes with 6 unusual hot sauces featuring ingredients like nopal cactus, chocolate, and exotic chiles.

*For the North Carolina expat or anyone else who craves real NC barbecue, send them a bottle each of Bone Suckin' Sauce (for western/Lexington style BBQ) and Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce (for eastern style BBQ). Visit our recently re-vamped NC Products page to see our entire selection of North Carolina products, including sauces, seasonings, country ham & other pork products.

*For the Buffalo wings addict, we offer all of the classic Anchor Bar Wing Sauces from Buffalo NY, as well as the award-winning DEFCON wing sauces in 3 different heat levels.

*Looking for stocking-stuffers or spicy munchies? Try Deano's Jalapeno Chips (crispy thin-sliced jalapenos seasoned with cheddar or Ranch), any of the 4 different flavors of Blair's Death Rain kettle-cooked potato chips (the Chipotle is my favorite), and the ever-popular Wasabi Bombs (wasabi-coated peanuts).

*For fans of the hard-to-find Nando's Chickenland products from South Africa, we have all of the Nando's Cooking Sauces, plus the Nando's Marinades AND the Nando's Peri Peri Hot Sauces.

Don't forget to enter the coupon code CarolinaXMas at checkout to save 10% off your product total. Coupon expires on 12/25/2011.

***Please note, the CAROLINAXMAS coupon doesn't apply to products purchased from our partners.***

Last-Minute Gift Ideas

We recently added Gourmet Gift Baskets and Gift Boxes available through our partners on the Carolina Sauce Company website, just in time for the holiday shopping season. Here are other excellent gift ideas from our carefully-selected partners:

*BBQ & grilling accessories for championship-quality results at home, including Laser Temperature Guns (what guy wouldn't want one?!?), smoking pellets (turns any grill into a smoker) and of course the award-winning GrillGrates, cut to fit virtually any grill.

*A wide variety of Monthly Clubs in 3-, 6-, 9- & 12-month subscriptions, including Hot Sauce of the Month (featured on the Food Network!), BBQ Sauce of the Month, and even Bacon of the Month and "Swine & Wine" clubs (click on "Monthly Clubs" to see other programs).

*Gluten-Free Guides for restaurants and grocery store products.

*Chili pepper-themed and food/cooking-themed art prints and posters.

*International gourmet items including genuine Spanish products, Italian specialties, French foods, and even Russian caviar and other elegant delicacies.

*For the hard-to-shop-for person who probably prefers to pick out their own perfect present, we offer a variety of Gift Certificates and Gift Cards redeemable on everything from hot sauce to bacon, gourmet foods to exotic meats (kangaroo, anyone?), cookware & more.

TWO Recipes: Smoked Cheese, and Mulled Cider!

Here are two easy, flavorful recipes for holiday entertaining and enjoying with the family.

Venison burger with smoked cheese Greg's Smoked Cheese: You need a smoker, your choice of "mild" wood, a small aluminum pan (the drip pans sold for grills are perfect - use a clean one, of course) and a block of your choice of cheese (approx. 1 lb of something that melts well but not too quickly: Cheddar, Jack or Pepper Jack, Swiss, Provolone). Regular grocery store cheese is fine; you don't need a fancy cheese. Start the smoker and when the temperature reaches 225F, place the cheese in the pan--add some sliced jalapenos on top if you like--and put in the smoker. Smoke until the cheese becomes completely gooey and browns slightly on top (takes about 2 hrs, but keep an eye on it because smoking time will vary). Best served hot, with crackers or pita wedges, but you can reheat in the microwave (transfer cheese to a microwave-safe bowl).  Smoked cheese is also fabulous in sandwiches, on burgers, etc.

cinnamon stick Gloria's Mulled Cider: Make a "spice bag" by placing 1 teaspoon whole allspice, 1 teaspoon whole cloves and a 3" stick of cinnamon (broken into pieces) on a small piece of cheesecloth and tie the ends up with kitchen twine or thick thread. Combine 1/2 gallon apple cider or juice, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a healthy dash of ground nutmeg in a large pot; stir to dissolve sugar. Add the spice bag and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Discard spice bag and serve hot in mugs, with a cinnamon stick garnish if desired (makes about 10 servings).

"Like" Us on Facebook!

If you're not already our Fan on Facebook, you're missing out on exclusive coupons, FREE shipping offers and other special discounts available only to our Facebook fans! To become a Fan, simply click on this link: Carolina Sauce Facebook Page, and then click the "Like" button. You can then click on the "coupons" tab to see the current deals. We also post recipes, links to interesting articles about food & cooking, product info, mouthwatering photos, and fun Questions where you can cast your vote. We want to hear from you, too, so please leave us a comment on our Facebook page, and feel free to share your food photos, recipes, BBQ/food blog, etc.

Follow SaucyGlo on Twitter for additional sales & discounts, the latest food news, zesty tips, and to chat with us!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chef's Foolproof Trick for Perfectly Done Steaks

DSC01787.JPG When cooking steaks at home, do you cross your fingers and hope that they won't turn out over- or undercooked?

Do you end up cutting into the meat or stabbing it with a meat thermometer to check for doneness, only to lose the flavorful juices as they drip out--and possibly also finding out that it's already overdone?

Are you tired of "guesstimating" if your homecooked steaks are cooked right, and ending up disappointed more often than not?

Here's a little trick used by professional chefs and experienced home cooks to tell when a steak is perfectly cooked to order, be it rare, medium, well-done or anything in between:

Use your finger and your face!

Here's how it works:

1.  Poke your cheek, without smiling or making a face:  That's what a rare steak will feel like when you poke it.

2.  Poke the end of your chin:  That's medium-rare (red center that's warm).

3.  Poke the end of your nose:  That's medium (pink center that's hot).

4.  Poke the area between your eyebrows, above the bridge of your nose:  That's medium-well (just a very thin line of pink in the hot center of the steak)

5.  Poke your forehead (not much "give" there!):  That's well-done (cooked through but still juicy, no visible pink in the center)

Go ahead and give this method a try the next time you cook a steak at home--or test it when you order steak at a restaurant.  With a little practice, you'll be cooking steak like a pro and wowing family & friends.  Just make sure your face and finger are clean, before and after!

Do you have a foolproof way for telling when a steak is cooked to perfection?  Please share by leaving a comment here.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  For those seeking more flavor, here are some excellent steak sauces to choose from.  One of my personal favorites is Marie Sharp's Exotic Sauce, an inspired blend of tropical ingredients with a dash of hot pepper flair.  YUM!

PPS:  Want to get those impressive steak-house sear marks on your home-grilled steak?  Simply use a GrillGrate on your grill!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Coupons, December Discounts and FREE Shipping!

Christmas is only three weeks away, and if you're like me, you've barely made any progress on your holiday shopping list, you're on a budget, and you're worried you don't have enough time to seek out the best bargains.

Well, I've got good news:  The Carolina Sauce Company is your one-stop shopping source for unique, tasteful and TASTY gifts, priced to fit your budget, and conveniently located online so that you can shop anytime, anywhere.  From hot sauces to meats & cheese, gift baskets to cookbooks, grill accessories to monthly clubs, North Carolina products to international gourmet specialties and more, we have it through our warehouse or our Partners.

And...  we have NEW coupons for December, special holiday offers and FREE ground shipping offers, too, including:

*A coupon for 7% off your product total at the Carolina Sauces online store

*FREE ground shipping for qualifying orders at our partners Bacon Freak and Spanish Feast

*Discount coupons on cookware, tableware and more from our partner

For more info and to get your coupons, simply go to the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page and click on the "Coupons" tab.  If you're not already our Fan on Facebook, make sure to click the "Like" button on our Facebook page first, to get access to the coupons.

And here's a heads-up:  Our December email Newsletter is going out in less than 48 hours, and it will have ADDITIONAL special offers to save you money, as well as our featured holiday recipe/cooking tips and other zesty news.  If you want to receive the Newsletter, simply fill out your name & email address below:

Sign up for our FREE monthly email Newsletter to receive discount coupons, special sales, new product info, zesty recipes, and more.  We send the Newsletter only once a month, you can unsubscribe anytime, and we NEVER share your email or contact info with anyone.  Simply enter your name & email address below, then click the 'JOIN' button:

First Name: 
Last Name: 
Email Format: 
"This is my second order from Carolina Sauce. I have been totally satisfied with both orders. Great selection to choose from and fair pricing. Prompt response and shipment. Shipped and received in perfect condition. I will do business with this company again. No fear using their products and service. Thank you." --Bill J., Lancing TN

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Creamed Spinach with Gruyere & Bacon

I whipped up this simple creamed spinach recipe for this year's Thanksgiving dinner.  While I used frozen spinach, you can certainly start with fresh spinach:  Simply wash, trim and steam until just wilted, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible.  You can also double this recipe to feed more folks - my version makes 4 side servings.  You can substitute pancetta for the bacon, if you prefer.  A whisk is essential for making the cream sauce.

1 bag (regular, not family size) frozen spinach, thawed
2 slices bacon, cooked crisp & crumbled
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour (I use whole wheat)
3/4 cup milk (whole or reduced fat, not skim)
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Steam or microwave the spinach until just cooked.  Squeeze out excess liquid--I turn out the spinach into a fine-mesh colander and press with a large spoon or spatula.  Set aside.

To make the cream sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan large enough to hold the spinach.  When the butter is melted, stir in the flour and cook for several minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until light-golden in color.  Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk, and continue to cook until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.  When thickened, stir in the pepper, nutmeg and cheese.  Continue to whisk until the cheese is melted.  Add the spinach and crumbled bacon, and use a large spoon or spatula to fold into the sauce.  Transfer everything into a casserole dish, cover and cook in oven at 375°F until heated through (about 30 minutes).

Zestfully yours,