Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grill Charms are Now Available!

Grill Charms™ are a revolutionary innovation in grilling and outdoor entertaining.  These dime-sized solid stainless steel charms are inserted in food BEFORE grilling. The serrated stem holds the charm securely in place during the grilling process, including while the grill master or BBQ chef flips or moves the food as it cooks.  Because each Grill Charm™ bears a distinguishing design, each steak or other food can be seasoned and cooked to each diner's preference, whether mild, medium or spicy, rare or medium-rare or well done, etc.  Grill Charms can also help folks with food sensitivities or health issues avoid allergens and other unwanted ingredients.  Because the Grill Charms stay in before, during and after grilling, when dinner comes to the table each diner can simply look for their Grill Charm, and everyone knows which food belongs to whom. 

And now you can order Grill Charms through the Carolina Sauce Company!

Since their recent launch, Grill Charms have been featured on ABC's prime time reality TV show "Shark Tank" as well as in the June/July Grilling Issue of "Everyday with Rachael Ray." A Mom entrepreneur invented this hot new BBQ & grilling tool after experiencing a very spicy "light bulb moment" during a dinner party she hosting, when things went terribly wrong and she wound up with spicy food instead of her preferred mild.  When you use Grill Charms, no one runs the risk of being unpleasantly surprised by fiery seasonings, or bored by blandness, or disappointed by a medium-well steak when expecting rare meat.

Grill Charms come in four different sets of 6 Charms:  The "Spicy Collection" with mild, medium & hot designs; the "Steak Collection" with one R for Rare, two MR for Medium Rare, two M for Medium and one MW for Medium Well; the "Charmed Life Collection" with 6 different symbols, and the "Pink Collection" with 6 different symbols AND 10% of the proceeds go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Komen for the Cure.  You can also purchase Grill Charms individually, and customization is available for corporate gifts and promotions.

Grill Charms are a great housewarming, host or hostess gift. They're also the perfect Valentine's Day gift or Father's Day gift for the man who loves to grill. Grill Charms are a huge hit with tailgaters and anyone else who loves to barbecue or cook out for friends and family. And because each set of 6 Grill Charms comes in a sleek gift box, Grill Charms are quite popular as wedding gifts for groomsmen and best men.  For a really special gift, check out the Shark Attack Gift Pack which comes with "The Charmed Life" Grill Charms collection plus 4 bottles of award-winning barbecue sauce from Pork Barrel BBQ (2 Original and 2 Sweet) and 2 jars of their All-American Spice Rub. 

You can find Grill Charms and other great BBQ tools and grilling gift ideas on our BBQ & Grilling Accessories page.  And for a special Grill Charms coupon, make sure to "Like" the Carolina Sauce Company on Facebook!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, January 30, 2012

Don't Miss Out: Our January "Super" Coupon Sale Ends Tomorrow!

Get your Carolina Sauce coupon to save some money when you shop for your favorite wing sauces, condiments, zesty snacks and everything else you need for your Superbowl party--and yes, the coupon discount applies to ALL products on the Carolina Sauces online store, even already-discounted sale items! 

Already used our January coupon once? No worries, you can use it again on a new order!

You'll find your special coupon code in our January Newsletter, along with quick reviews of our newest products and a super recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip, perfect for enjoying while watching the big game.

Our special coupon sale ends at midnight TOMORROW, January 31st, so get your coupon code now and don't miss out on these super savings!

Want to get in on future coupon discounts, exclusive sales, breaking news on new & returning products, and our monthly featured recipe or cooking & grilling secrets?  Simply sign up for our FREE monthly e-Newsletter.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower with Nutmeg & Thyme

If someone in your family hates cauliflower, there's a good chance they'll change their mind if they taste roasted cauliflower.  Roasting transforms cauliflower into a mellow & mild-mannered, subtly sweet & slightly nutty veggie the whole family will enjoy--and it won't stink up the kitchen the way other cauliflower-cooking methods will do.  Many recipes for roasted cauliflower call for seasoning it with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, or garlic with salt & pepper, and maybe a little Parmesan cheese.  An Indian-style version would use turmeric and other curry spices, and possibly some cashews for crunch.  Because I was serving roasted cauliflower as the side dish for Greg's German venison gulasch, I decided to use seasonings that are common in German recipes.  I settled on nutmeg and thyme, although with some hesitation because my research failed to uncover other recipes combining just those two seasonings.  But I had a hunch they'd work with the roasted cauliflower, and once we tasted the results, Greg and I agreed that they did (thank goodness!).  If you make this recipe, please leave a comment to let me know what you think. 

This recipe serves four as a side dish.  I used a large head of organic cauliflower but unfortunately forgot to weigh it before cooking.  If you use a small or medium head, you might want to reduce the nutmeg and thyme to 1/4 tsp each, and the oil to 2 tablespoons instead of 3.  And although this recipe is vegetarian, you could certainly add some cooked crumbled bacon before serving.

1 large cauliflower, preferably organic
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp Kosher salt (or to taste)
Ground white pepper to taste (I used several twists from my pepper mill; you can substitute black pepper)

Preheat oven to 450°F degrees.  Wash & dry the cauliflower, remove any leaves and break up into florets.  In a large bowl whisk together remaining ingredients.  Add the florets and gently toss to coat evenly.  Spread the seasoned florets in a single layer on a shallow roasting pan or baking dish and place on middle rack in oven.  Roast at 450°F until golden brown and tender (about 30 to 40 minutes), stirring & turning over the florets occasionally.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jacob's Crazy Good Ketchup

Label for Jacob's Crazy Good Ketchup
I've been a big fan of Mrs. Picky Fanicky's MmmMarmalades and Chutney ever since they came on the market:  Old-fashioned, hand-made and scrumptious, her all-natural creations are lovingly made in small batches in NC, and are chock-full of wholesome flavor the entire family will enjoy.  Recently, Mrs. Picky was kind enough to give me a sample of a brand-new product created by her son Jacob using their homegrown tomatoes:  Jacob's Crazy Good Ketchup.  Being an admitted ketchup fanatic who has tasted more than her share of supposed improvements on this ubiquitous (and often rather boring) condiment, I couldn't help but wonder if Jacob's ketchup would indeed be "crazy good."

A little background is in order before I describe the ketchup:  For a while now, Jacob has been growing and selling tomatoes and other produce at the local farmer's market as a means of funding his Eagle Scout project.  And for years, he and his mom would process and can their extra produce to make sauces and marmalades, and enter them in the NC State Fair cooking competitions (to much success, I may add).  Last year, Jacob decided to try his hand at making ketchup using the extra tomatoes he had.  He entered his recipe in the State Fair competition, and came home with a first place blue ribbon!  With the help of his family and friends, and with the valuable information he's learning as a member of Future Farmers of America while in high school, Jacob is in the process of bringing his product to market.  But instead of turning over production to a commercial co-packer (bottler), Jacob and his mom are doing the work themselves at the Eastern Carolina Food Ventures Incubator Kitchen, which is part of James Sprunt College.  By taking this hands-on approach, not only are they able to ensure that their recipe is followed to a T and that the freshest, highest quality locally-sourced ingredients are used, but also that each batch of ketchup meets their exacting standards before being bottled.

Now for the ketchup itself:  My sample bottle didn't include a list of ingredients, but Mrs. Picky did tell me that Jacob's Crazy Good Ketchup is made with real tomatoes (not commercial tomato paste), apple cider vinegar, white pepper, and absolutely NO corn syrup or artificial ingredients.  You can actually see the little bits of herbs and spices in the ketchup (unlike commercial mass-produced ketchups), and the color is more of a brick red instead of bright fire-engine red.  The texture is thick and very smooth, not at all gritty or watery or thin, and perfect for pouring--and staying--on burgers and sandwiches.  The aroma is full of tomato goodness, like homemade tomato soup simmering on the stove.  And the flavor: Unlike any other ketchup I've tasted, and indeed crazy-good!  While I'm usually not a fan of overly-sweet ketchups--and Jacob's ketchup is sweet, but NOT overly so--this ketchup doesn't have the tell-tale cloying flavor of corn syrup.  I'm guessing from the flavor that Jacob is using honey instead, which would also account for the subtly floral flavor notes and the brick red color.  The cider vinegar provides just the slightest hint of tang, while the spices and seasonings add depth of flavor and keep the ketchup from being too sweet.  Jacob's Crazy Good Ketchup tasted terrific on my veggie burger, and I'm pretty sure it would delicious on regular hamburgers as well as other typical ketchup foods:  Fries, onion rings, omelets & scrambled eggs, etc.  Its flavor would also work quite well in recipes that call for ketchup, like meatloaf, sloppy joes, baked beans and the like, and I'm looking forward to playing with my sample in the kitchen.

Jacob's Crazy Good Ketchup isn't on the market yet--in fact, it's my understanding that the first batch is being made this weekend at the Eastern Carolina Incubator Kitchen.  But when it is, I predict that it will do quite well.  Be on the lookout for this all-natural, North Carolina ketchup made by an inspirational young man and his mom, and if you try it please leave a comment to let us know how you like it!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you live in the Eastern part of NC and are interested in starting a food business, you may want to consider Eastern Carolina Food Ventures Incubator Kitchen located in Warsaw, NC.  This regional, shared-use commercial incubator kitchen was established as a collaborative effort of James Sprunt Community College, Duplin County, and Pender County.  Its mission is to help food entrepreneurs create new food businesses, grow existing food businesses and provide workforce development in order to create new jobs and bolster economic development in eastern NC, a historically depressed area.  For more information, check out their website.

PPS:  If you're a fellow ketchup fanatic and enjoy spicy ketchup, you can find all three flavors of Melinda's Spicy Ketchups (Jalapeno, Habanero and Smoky Chipotle) on our Mustards & Ketchups page--and they're all-natural, Kosher, and full of flavor with peppery heat!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Greg's German Venison Gulasch

Greg came up with this hearty crock pot recipe using the German version of Knorr's Gulasch mix, which his sister sent to us from Germany. The English-labeled version that's sold here in the US tastes a little different and isn't quite as savory or rich as the German version.  The American version also tastes a little sweeter to me.  Unfortunately, the German version isn't readily available around here, not even in gourmet or specialty-foods stores, but Greg did find it at a German deli in the San Francisco area while he was there on business.  You might also be able to find the German version of Knorr's Gulasch mix online through Amazon.

The one drawback to using the German version is that the directions (and everything else on the packet) are in German, so if you can't read German you're on your own.  Or, you can simply use this recipe.  We usually eat venison but you can certainly substitute beef or bison (buffalo) and different vegetables if you prefer.  For example, potatoes and carrots are a more traditional choice but we omit the potatoes to keep the carbs as low as possible.  German food isn't hot and spicy, but if you insist on some heat you could add some hot Hungarian paprika or a drop or two of an unflavored pepper extract to your crock pot (trust me, that's plenty for a whole crock pot) to add spiciness without altering the flavor.

Greg starts cooking the venison shoulder in the crock pot the night before, and the next morning the meat will readily come off the bone.  If you use a roast or other boneless stew meat, you can start the gulasch in the morning of the day on which you plan on serving it.  German gulasch can be enjoyed with spaetzle or over cooked rice, or simply in a bowl as a robust stew.

1 venison shoulder, silverskin & fat removed (or substitute a beef roast or other boneless stew meat, approx. 2 lbs)
2 packages Knorr Gulasch mix, preferably the German version
3 large onions, sliced
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 12oz bag mixed frozen vegetables of your choice (e.g., corn-peas-carrots)
1/2 cup milk (regular, low-fat or skim)
1 heaping Tbs cornstarch
Salt & Pepper to taste

*For bone-in venison:  The night before you plan on serving the gulasch, add 1 packet of Knorr Gulash mix to your crock pot, pour in about 2 inches of water and stir well.  Add the venison shoulder, cover, set crock pot to high-low auto-switch and cook overnight.  Check for tenderness the next morning: The meat should come off the bone easily.  Remove all bones and gristle and "pull" the meat using a fork.  Continue with rest of recipe.

*For boneless stew meat or roast:  Cut the meat into 2" chunks and begin the recipe the morning you of the day you plan on serving it, beginning the recipe below and adding both packets of Gulasch mix from the start.

To the meat in the crockpot add the other packet of Knorr Gulasch mix (or both packets if using stew meat or a roast), onions, undrained tomatoes and the frozen vegetables (you can substitute or add some new potatoes and/or thickly-sliced carrot). Add enough water to make a soupy consistency and stir to thoroughly combine.  Cover and cook at the high-low alternating setting for 6 to 8 hours (if using a roast, cook until the meat is done and very tender, which should take around the same amount of time). 

About 1 hour before serving, whisk together the milk & cornstarch, then stir into the crockpot--this will help thicken the gulasch a little as it finishes cooking. Serve with spaetzle or rice, or as a stew.  Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

KY Bourbon + BBQ Sauce = YUM!

Kentucky is well-known for its smooth bourbon (as well as its moonshine history), so it should come as no surprise that some folks in KY like to add a splash of bourbon to their barbecue sauce recipe.  The bourbon adds a depth of flavor with hints of caramel and wood, helping to tame any vinegar tang and balance the bright sweetness of tomatoes.  Two excellent examples of Kentucky BBQ sauces laced with bourbon are among our new products at the Carolina Sauces online store:

Ole Ray's Kentucky Red Bourbon Barbeque Sauce is a classic KY style sauce blending tomatoes, cider vinegar, mustard and bourbon for a rich sauce that's substantial enough to slather on ribs, chicken, pork chops or loin, shrimp kabobs, and pretty much anything else you grill.  A little bit sweet and a little bit sassy, the hint of pepper is just enough to wake up the flavors without adding any real heat--which makes this sauce perfect for enjoying at the table, too.  In fact, kids as well as adults love to dip chicken fingers, fries, mozzarella sticks and other finger food in this sauce (don't worry, there's not enough bourbon in it to get anyone drunk).  You can also make a mouthwatering marinade or mopping sauce by mixing equal amounts of this BBQ sauce with apple cider vinegar, and then using it for steaks, portobello mushrooms, and even grilled tuna steaks.  Use it straight from the bottle in your favorite recipes for chili, sloppy joes, meatloaf and burgers to boost the flavor.

If you prefer a mustard-based BBQ sauce, you can't go wrong with Ole Ray's Kentucky Gold Bourbon Barbeque Sauce.  This is a classic South Carolina style mustard barbecue sauce that's enhanced with a little KY bourbon to add a subtle earthy mellowness that's signature Kentucky.  The flavor is spicy-sweet with a nice peppery bite that's definitely hotter than Ole Ray's KY Red Bourbon BBQ Sauce, but not so hot that it will burn you out.  Ole Ray's KY Gold Bourbon BBQ Sauce is terrific with ribs and other meats, but I think it's especially nice with chicken, game birds like quail or duck, and even seafood like tuna or salmon steaks on the grill.  It's also excellent with sausage, and you can make a tangy steak marinade by mixing 2 parts of this sauce with 1 part of apple cider vinegar.  Try it as a zesty dip for pretzels or raw veggies like cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli and carrots.  Add some of this sauce to your deviled eggs recipe or to tuna salad, egg salad or slaw to take the flavor to new heights.

Both of these Kentucky Bourbon BBQ sauces are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gloria's Quick Cuban Black Beans

Traditional Cuban black beans--frijoles negros--are made with dried black beans that are soaked overnight, seasoned with pork (traditional Cuban dishes often use lard and pork), and cooked for at least an hour on the stove.  My quick version is vegetarian and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish, and although the flavor isn't as deep and rich as the slow-cooked pork-seasoned version, it's still quite hearty and satisfying, and certainly lower in fat than the traditional version cooked with lard and pork.

Cubans usually serve black beans over white rice.  If you start your rice cooking just before beginning work on this recipe, both the rice and the beans will be done at the same time--plus you'll have a few minutes to toss together a simple green salad right before they're ready to serve.  Although black beans and rice are substantial enough to serve as a vegetarian main course, in traditional Cuban cuisine they are normally served as an accompaniment to a meat or chicken entree.

My recipe below calls for one 15-oz can of beans to serve two adults (assuming you're serving the beans over rice as main course).  If you want to serve more people, just multiply the recipe accordingly.  And if you have leftovers, refrigerate and reheat the next day, when they'll taste even better, so much so that I sometimes make these quick Cuban black beans the night before I plan to serve them!  Unlike other Caribbean cuisine or many Mexican dishes, Cuban food isn't spicy and doesn't use hot peppers.  But don't let that stop you from splashing some hot sauce on these beans if you're craving heat.

1 15-oz can black beans, partially drained
1 Tbs Spanish olive oil (regular olive oil will do)
1 Bay leaf
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 or 2 cloves garlic (your preference), minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp Pimenton or mild Spanish paprika (regular paprika will do)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and bay leaf in a saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add onion and saute over medium-high heat until onion is translucent.  Add bell pepper & garlic, saute until softened.  Stir in remainder of the ingredients EXCEPT salt & pepper, cover and reduce heat to low-medium.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Uncover, taste for balance and season with salt & pepper as desired.  If the beans are too soupy, raise heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow some of the liquid to evaporate (the beans should have some liquid but not be soupy--see photo).  Remove bay leaf before serving.  To serve, ladle the beans over cooked white rice.

Note:  The ideal side dish to make this an authentic Cuban dinner is fried sweet (ripe) plantains.  And for a Cuban-themed salad, I add chunks of avocado to lettuce, tomatoes & thinly-sliced onions and drizzle with a lime-herb vinaigrette.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beef or Pork, We've Got You Covered

When people talk about barbecue in North Carolina, they mean pork, usually slow-cooked in a smoker (for shoulders or butts) or pig cooker (for whole hogs) until it's tender enough to pull off the bone with little effort.  Vinegar plays a dominant role in North Carolina BBQ sauces regardless of whether you're in the western or Piedmont part of the state--where the vinegar is tempered with tomato and often sugar as well--or in the east where usually only peppery spices and salt are mixed in and most folks turn up their nose at the notion of adding tomatoes.  Even in the southeastern or "low country" part of the state as well as in South Carolina, where mustard is as prevalent as vinegar, the word "barbecue" refers to pork. 

As one would expect, the best Carolina style BBQ sauces tend to be made in the Carolinas.  But once in a while, you run into an exception to this general rule--and Ole Ray's Pork-O-Licious Barbeque Sauce is one of those rare exceptions.  This is an old-fashioned low-country style sauce made with mustard blended with tomatoes, brown sugar, cider vinegar and several savory ingredients for a robust savory-sweet flavor that finishes with a tangy, peppery zip.  Perfect for Carolina pulled pork BBQ, Ole Ray's Pork-O-Licious BBQ Sauce is also superb as a marinade, basting and grilling sauce for all sorts of pork, from ribs and chops to loins and cutlets.  Whether you're cooking outdoors or at the stove, if pork (or wild boar!) is on the menu, you won't go wrong by selecting this pork-friendly sauce with a Southern accent.

Outside of the Carolinas and especially in Texas, "barbecue" usually refers to beef.  If you enjoy a good grilled steak or slow-cooked beef brisket and are looking for just the right sauce to complement the natural flavors of your meat, Ole Ray's Steak & Brisket Sauce is an excellent choice.  Inspired by the sauces served at Texas BBQ joints, Ole Ray's Steak & Brisket Sauce masterfully blends and balances tomato, mustard and Worcestershire sauce with honey, a splash of apple juice and other carefully selected ingredients for down-home flavor that will enhance beef in all its forms, without overpowering the meat.  Use this classic sauce as a marinade, grilling or mopping sauce, or at the table with everything from beef ribs to brisket, steak, London broil, and even buffalo, venison, and other exotic meats.  One taste and you'll understand why Ole Ray's Steak & Brisket Sauce was selected as a winner of a 2010 National Best-of-the-Best Championship Sauce award.

Both Ole Ray's Pork-O-Licious BBQ Sauce and Ole Ray's Steak & Brisket Sauce are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, January 23, 2012

NC Foods at Carolina Artists' Colony

The Carolina Artists' Colony in Sanford, NC, hosted a tasting of NC foods this past Saturday, and the art-filled venue provided a colorful setting for some fabulously flavorful local foods.  I was able to visit with old friends and new, as well as taste some of their offerings, including Lisa Shively's hearty taco soup made with one of her new Soup Kits.

Her Quick Meal Mixes are already a big hit, especially with busy Moms who want to serve great-tasting homemade meals without having to slave in the kitchen for hours.

My next stop was Nephew's BBQ Sauce, who was serving up samples of their unique barbecue sauces including my favorite, the "Ghostly Pumpkin" BBQ Sauce:  A winning combination of pumpkin and spices in a thick tomato BBQ sauce, spiked with just enough fiery ghost pepper to make a fiery-foods fan smile (but not so much that you need to reach for a fire extinguisher).  They also offer a medium-heat, gently-smoky Cherry-'Potle BBQ Sauce along with milder versions featuring peach or orange for a hint of sunny sweetness to complement the savory barbecue flavors. 

Nephew's new Haba Java BBQ dry rub was also available for tasting, and I enjoyed its creative blend of salty & sweet with just a touch of peppery heat and a sprinkling of coffee--yes, coffee!-- which I bet adds a rich, earthy robustness to chicken, meats and anything else rubbed with this seasoning before cooking.  Unlike other commercial rubs, this dry rub didn't have a pronounced "chili powder" flavor, which makes it much more versatile and usable on a greater number of foods.  And despite the habanero, the heat was quite gentle and probably won't offend more delicate palates.

I was hoping for a better photo of Nephew's sauces and sampling table, but they were assigned a somewhat unfortunate location next to some, ummm, "interesting" art sculptures (or perhaps they were molded from clay?) that I didn't deem appropriate for this family-friendly blog.  As a result, I had to strategically select and edit the photos that I took, to keep them consistent with what my readers are used to seeing here.

Located nearby was a display of jams, jellies, pickles and preserves made from NC-grown fruits and vegetables and made by D'Vine Foods.  Two gracious ladies had a bountiful array of these old-fashioned products available for tasting, and it was good to know that these items are part of the regular offerings available for purchase at the Carolina Artists' Colony.  The fig preserves were marvelously rich and succulent, as was another fruit jam (pomegranate?) served on top of a little dollop of cheesecake filling on top of a vanilla wafer cookie (the kind normally found in banana pudding).  This dainty morsel would be a great little item to offer at a ladies' tea or as a party snack.

Wanting something savory again after indulging in a few sweet treats, I headed over to Miss Jenny's Pickles, where Ashlee was sampling all four varieties of their award-winning all-natural pickles:  Signature Salt & Pepper, Traditional Bread & Butter, Jalapeno Salt & Pepper, and Habanero Bread & Butter.  These pickles are thick-cut and crunchy, with the right balance of tartness and spice (and sweetness for the bread & butter varieties) just like an old-fashioned homemade or gourmet deli pickle should be. 

My hands-down favorite is the Habanero Bread & Butter pickle:  It starts off mildly sweet but finishes with a big peppery punch that's unmistakably habanero.  Thankfully, however, your mouth won't keep burning because the heat subsides soon enough, leaving you craving  another pickle, or another bite of the sandwich, burger, wrap or salad you're enjoying them in.  Miss Jenny's Habanero Bread & Butter Pickles recently won the 2012 Good Food Medial in the pickles category, and this prestigious national honor is well-deserved.

My final stop was dessert at Mrs. Picky Fanicky's Foods, where Mrs. Picky herself was sampling her blue-ribbon winning MmmMarmalades, including Apple Pie MmmMarmalade (which really does taste like Grandma's apple pie in a jar), Peach Cocktail MmmMarmalade (a sunny blend of summery peaches with a tropical citrus twist), and her new Sundae MmmMarmalade, which is my current favorite:  Luscious ripe strawberries combined with a little pineapple and a dash of vanilla for a decadently sublime marmalade that's perfect for spooning over ice cream or cake, enjoying with biscuits or pancakes, or even stirring into a bowl of hot oatmeal like I did yesterday morning.

If you've tasted any of these fine North Carolina products or if you made it out to Sanford on Saturday, please leave a comment and tell us what you liked most!

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bon Appetit loves Cackalacky!

The original Cackalacky Spice Sauce, created in Chapel Hill and already one of North Carolina's favorite condiments, is featured in the February 2012 "Savor the South" issue of Bon Appetit Magazine!

The editors declared Cackalacky to be a "favorite" among "... a fresh crop of artisans [who are] giving the Southern pantry a whole new shelf life."  How very true!

Cackalacky was a pioneer among North Carolina products when it was first introduced about a decade ago:  Not really a barbecue sauce (but delicious on pulled pork and other grilled or smoked meats), not quite a hot sauce (pleasantly peppery without burning), and made with North Carolina sweet potatoes and other unusual all-natural ingredients, its rich texture and bright savory flavor burst on the local food scene to well-deserved acclaim.

Since then, Cackalacky has won numerous awards and been featured in many publications as well as national radio and TV shows.  This one-of-a-kind sauce can be found in natural groceries and specialty-foods stores in almost two dozen states, and you can also buy Cackalacky online from the Carolina Sauce Company.

Much more than a hot sauce or table condiment, Cackalacky works nicely as a marinade for poultry, meat and seafood; a dipping sauce for chicken fingers, French fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks and other fried food; a hot wings sauce; a dressing for veggies and even as a grilling sauce.  And you can use it to add sassy flavor to your favorite recipes including stews and soups, chili, baked beans, casseroles, sloppy joes and more.

Not sure how to say the name?  Here's a helpful pronunciation guide from the folks who created this gem of a sauce:  "kak-uh-lak-ee"

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Cackalacky is on sale now at the Carolina Sauces online store!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Roasted Cabbage with Parsnips & Apples

I came up with this recipe while thinking of a different way to make cabbage as a side dish for apple bratwursts from the Weeping Radish Brewery & Butchery.  I wasn't in the mood for sauerkraut or cole slaw, and I figured roasting would be a good wintertime choice.  It was.  Roasting provided a buttery texture and deep, mellow sweetness that was incomparable, and unlike other cooking methods, it kept the cabbage from stinking up the kitchen.

Because cabbage and parsnips can range from very small to rather large, I included the weights of what I used last night.  While I used a head of green cabbage, this recipe would probably also work very well with red cabbage.  The variety of apple I used was Pink Lady, but feel free to use whichever type of apple you prefer or have on hand.  And if you don't care for the flavor of fennel seeds, you could substitute caraway seeds.  In addition to pairing perfectly with bratwurts, you can serve this side dish with any roasted or grilled meats or poultry.  Makes 4 side servings.

1 small cabbage (1 1/2 lbs)
3 parsnips (3/4 lbs total)
2 apples
2 to 3 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper (I used freshly ground white pepper)

Before roasting
Grease a large roasting pan with a little olive oil and preheat oven to 425°F.  Remove any bruised outer leaves from the cabbage, then use a sharp knife to cut into quarters leaving the core intact (you can trim off the very end if bruised - leaving the core intact helps to keep the cabbage pieces together while roasting).  Cut each quarter in half to make a total of 8 wedges.  Use a pastry brush dipped in some of the olive oil to brush the wedges with oil to lightly coat, then arrange in a single layer on the roasting pan.

Served with apple bratwurst
Peel & trim the parsnips, then cut into 1/2" thick pieces (you can cut really long, skinny ends into 2" long pieces).  Cut the apples into quarters, cut out the cores/stems then cut each quarter in half crosswise to create 8 chunks per apple.  Toss the parsnips, apples, 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the fennel seeds in a large bowl until the apples & parsnips are evenly coated.  Spread this mix on the roasting pan with the cabbage and try to keep everything in a single layer.

Roast at 425°F for 30 minutes, then check and gently turn over the cabbage wedges etc. to ensure they roast evenly.  Return pan to oven, lower temperature to 400°F if the veggies and apples are browning too quickly without sufficiently softening, and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until everything is soft and the color is golden brown.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spicy Corn Fritters

Corn FritterCorn fritters are popular in the South, and are usually made on the sweet side.  I prefer mine savory and spicy--but if you like yours sweet and spicy, simply add 2 teaspoons of sugar to the recipe below.  You can also drizzle them with some maple syrup and add sweetness that way.  If you're a glutton for fiery heat, substitute a hotter pepper such as a serrano or even a habanero for the jalapeno.  A green jalapeno will be a little sharper and hotter than a red ripe jalapeno, which is usually a little mellower, just like red bell peppers are usually a little sweeter than green bell peppers.  Corn fritters are even better if you make them with fresh corn cut from the cob.  Otherwise, I recommend using frozen corn kernels rather than canned.  Serve these savory, spicy corn fritters as a side dish for pork, brisket, roast beef, grilled or roasted chicken, or even for breakfast and brunch with bacon or sausages

1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels, thoroughly drained
1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded & minced
1 green onion, trimmed & thinly sliced (including green part)
1/4 cup half-and-half OR heavy cream
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 to 1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
Butter or bacon grease for frying

Stir together all ingredients, EXCEPT the egg whites and butter, in a large bowl.  Vigorously whisk the egg whites in a small bowl until stiff but not dry, then use a spatula to gently fold into the corn batter and thoroughly combine.  Melt plenty of butter or bacon grease (or combination of both) in a large skillet and use a tablespoon to drop in the batter, leaving plenty of space between the fritters because they'll spread.  Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning only once.  Drain on paper towels to remove excess grease then serve right away as the corn fritters are best while hot.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Do you have a favorite fritter recipe?  Please share by leaving a comment!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Carolina Sauce Newsletter: New Products, New Coupons & Super Recipe

You asked for more barbecue sauces, and we listened: Here's the first batch of new BBQ & grilling sauces, plus a mouthwatering jerk marinade unlike any other, and they're ALL currently on sale!

*Ole Ray's Barbeque Sauces: These award-winning BBQ sauces are always a big hit with friends and family whether slathered on ribs, basted on chicken, marinated with shrimp or veggies, or added to recipes like baked beans, sloppy joes, burgers & more. For fans of South Carolina style mustard BBQ there's Ole Ray's Classic Gold BBQ & Cooking Sauce and the zestier Ole Ray's Kentucky Gold Bourbon BBQ Sauce; for fans of rich tomato based sauces we have Ole Ray's Kentucky Red Bourbon BBQ Sauce made with a splash of real KY bourbon; and on the "fancier," creatively delicious side try Ole Ray's Apple Cinnamon BBQ Sauce (amazing on ribs!), Ole Ray's Red Delicious Apple Bourbon BBQ & Cooking Sauce (wonderful with grilled & roasted meats), Ole Ray's Peach-A-Licious BBQ Sauce (fabulous on chicken & seafood), and Ole Ray's Blackberry Wine BBQ & Cooking Sauce (incredible on tenderloin, venison & steaks). They even have a tangy sauce for Carolina style pulled pork BBQ: Ole Ray's Pork-O-Licious BBQ Sauce. And if steaks or brisket are on the menu, you need the Texas-style Ole Ray's Steak & Brisket Sauce, of course!

*JohnBoy & Billy's Original Grillin' Sauce: Created in North Carolina by nationally-syndicated radio hosts JohnBoy & Billy, this sauce takes the best of NC's three regional BBQ styles (mustard, vinegar & tomatoes) to produce a lip-smackin' good sauce with just the right amount of tang, sweetness and savory flavors. We also have JohnBoy & Billy's Hot & Spicy Grillin' Sauce, too, for folks who like to play with fire. Either way, you're sure to enjoy the Big taste from The Big Show - and if you see a goober, tell'im we said "Duh Huh." He'll know what you mean!

*Pappy's Kentucky BBQ Sauces: Not to be confused with the also-delicious J.T. Pappy's Gator Sauces (which we re-stocked late last year), Pappy's BBQ Sauces are traditional Kentucky barbecue sauces most of which get a little extra "kick" from KY bourbon. These savory tomato BBQ sauces have just the right touch of sweetness, smoke and sass to complement everything from meat to poultry, seafood & veggies, and the main difference between them is the heat level. The mildest of the bunch is Pappy's Sauce for Sissies, which has no heat (or bourbon) but plenty of rich flavor. Next are medium-heat Pappy's XXX White Lightnin' BBQ Sauce and the slightly hotter Pappy's Fighting Cock Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Sauce. And if you're looking for a really hot & spicy barbecue sauce, check out Pappy's Moonshine Madness and the super-hot Pappy's Hottest Ride in Town, both of which are spiked with pepper extract in addition to the bourbon!

*The Shizzle Jerk Marinade: Made in North Carolina but true to Jamaican traditions, The Shizzle delivers authentic Jamaican flavor and heat with a bright tropical twist: The main ingredient is a special pineapple mash that adds a hint of sweetness (you don't really taste the pineapple itself) while helping the aromatic jerk spices penetrate whatever you're marinating. Like any Jamaican jerk seasoning worthy of its name, the Original Shizzle is definitely spicy-hot, but if you want to experience the REAL heat of old-fashioned Jamaican cooking, you'll want The Shizzle Voodoo Hot! Jerk Marinade.

Make sure to visit our New Products page regularly because we're going to be adding additional new sauces, seasonings and condiments each month (if not each week).

Coupons! Coupons! Coupons!

*Use coupon code HOTYEAR12 to save 7% off your product total at the Carolina Sauces online store, good on ALL products including our newest products and already-reduced sale items. The HOTYEAR12 coupon is good through the end of January and will expire at midnight on January 31st, 2012. ***Please note, the HOTYEAR12 coupon doesn't apply to products purchased from our partners.***

*Looking for some chili pepper art, hot sauce posters, or other zesty culinary-themed creations to hang on your walls or give as a gift? Visit our Art & Posters page to view just a few of the fabulous prints, photos and posters available from our partners, Art.com and AllPosters.com. Use coupon code JANARTUS for free shipping on all orders over $24.99 from Art.com, and coupon code 15OFFJAN for 15% off your entire order from AllPosters.com. Both coupons expire on February 8, 2012.

*Need new cookware, bakeware, small kitchen appliances, or other items for cooking or entertaining? Check out the impressive selection available from our partner Cooking.com, and use one of the coupons below to save some serious "dough" when you shop online! Both coupons expire on January 31st, 2012.

Super Snax for the Big Game

Whether you're watching football, basketball, hockey, or a great movie, if you're like me you enjoy having a tasty snack to nosh on while the TV is on. Here's a crowd-pleasing dip recipe you can serve with chips, pretzels, raw veggies, pita wedges or crackers.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 (3 lb) whole cooked chicken; e.g. rotisserie or deli
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
1 cup cottage cheese (regular or low-fat)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbs Buffalo wing sauce
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese OR 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella and 1/2 cup crumbled Blue Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Debone and chop the chicken. Combine everything EXCEPT the Mozzarella (and/or blue cheese) in a large bowl and mix well. Place in a baking dish and sprinkle with mozzarella/blue cheese. Bake at 350°F until hot and bubbly, about half an hour. Serve hot.

Don't forget to visit our Spicy Snacks page for some fun finger foods including jalapeno chips, wasabi peanuts, fire-roasted cheddar queso dip, chipotle potato chips & more.

"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, January 16, 2012

Roasted Turnips with Caraway & Dillweed

Roasting brings out a deep, mellow sweetness in sometimes-sharp or bitter root vegetables, and roasted turnips are no exception.  For best flavor use young little turnips instead of the baseball (or larger!) size ones.  If small enough, simply quarter the peeled turnips.  But if using some larger ones, just make sure all the turnip chunks are roughly the same size.  This recipe makes two to three hearty side servings, and there's no reason why you couldn't multiply the quantities to make more servings.  I served this with crab cakes tonight, but the German-inspired flavors would also pair well with bratwurst and other German dishes, as well as roast chicken, roast beef, steak and brisket.  A dollop of sour cream (or nonfat Greek yogurt) or creamy horseradish sauce would certainly complement these turnips.

1 1/2 lbs turnips
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 Tbs caraway seeds
Kosher salt
Coarsely ground pepper (my pepper mill had white peppercorns in it, but you can certainly use black pepper or other types of peppercorns)
1/2 tsp dried dillweed
Optional:  Fresh dillweed to garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Trim, peel and chop the turnips into same-size chunks. Place in a large bowl with olive oil and caraway seeds, and toss to coat evenly.  Spread the turnips in a single layer on a baking sheet or pan, sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt and coarsely-ground pepper (a few twists from your pepper mill if using), then roast at 425°F for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, carefully turn over the turnip pieces, and continue to roast until very tender (but not falling apart) and golden-brown.  Total cooking time could be from 45 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven.  When done, remove turnips from oven, transfer to bowl and gently toss with dried dillweed (a wooden spoon works well for this).  Serve hot and garnish with fresh dillweed if desired, and/or a dollop of sour cream, nonfat Greek yogurt, or creamy horseradish sauce.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pappy's BBQ Sauces Available at Carolina Sauce Company!

We're continuing our promise to add new barbecue sauces to the Carolina Sauces online store in 2012, and among the newest arrivals are four flavors of Pappy's BBQ Sauces from Kentucky!  The mildest of the bunch is aptly named "Pappy's Sauce for Sissies," and the label describes it as "good for babies, brats and bikers"--the latter because even tough guys (and gals) occasionally need a break from the heat.  True to the Kentucky BBQ style, all four varieties of Pappy's Sauces are made with a savory tomato base that has a hint of sweetness and smoke, with varying degrees of spice.  Pappy's Sauce for Sissies is definitely mild with no discernible heat, but it's big on classic tomato BBQ flavor that's sure to be a hit with the entire family.  Unlike the other three varieties, Pappy's Sauce for Sissies also doesn't list bourbon as one of its ingredients, in case that's a concern.

If you prefer a barbecue sauce with more spunk, choose Pappy's XXX White Lightnin' BBQ Sauce (don't worry, the XXX is a reference to moonshine, not a dirty label!), which is about a medium on the heat scale.  In other words, it's got enough peppery sass to be noticed, but not so much that your mouth will burn or your food be overwhelmed.  The flavor profile is very similar to Pappy's Sauce for Sissies, but Pappy's XXX White Lightnin' Sauce adds a splash of real Kentucky bourbon for some deeper, earthier notes that make this sauce an excellent choice for any sorts of meat as well as grilled chicken.

If you enjoy hotter barbeque sauces that pack a seriously hot fiery punch, Pappy's Moonshine Madness will not disappoint.  Pappy's has taken its XXX White Lightnin' Barbecue Sauce and upped the ante (and the heat) by increasing the amount of hot peppers and adding a spike of capsicum oil (pepper extract), for a medium-hot heat that's about an 8 on a 10 point scale.  If you don't care for spicy foods, Pappy's Moonshine Madness is not for you.  But for chileheads who want a great-tasting tomato-based barbecue sauce that's plenty hot and not too sweet, Pappy's Moonshine Madness BBQ Sauce is an excellent choice.

If you're a glutton for peppery punishment with an iron-clad stomach and Teflon-lined mouth, Pappy's Hottest Ride in Town BBQ Sauce just might float your boat.  This baby is a solid 10 on a 10-point heat scale, making the most out of the hefty dose of habaneros and capsicum oil (Capsaiacin extract).  Folks who enjoy ultra-hot hot sauces say that Pappy's Hottest Ride in Town is not only really hot but also delivers a surprisingly delicious flavor, just like the rest of the Pappy's BBQ sauce line.  So if you're an experienced fiery-foods fanatic and want a rich and tasty Kentucky-style barbecue sauce for burgers, ribs and other meat that will really burn while satisfying your taste buds, Pappy's Hottest Ride in Town is the sauce for you.

All four varieties of Pappy's barbecue sauces are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company, so stock up now!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Make sure to keep checking our New Products page, because we'll be adding even more sauces, seasonings and condiments on a pretty regular basis!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sauteed Chard with Spicy Garlic & Egg

This recipe may sound a little strange at first, but trust me, it works.  If you don't care for the egg or want a vegan dish, simply omit the egg--but in addition to supplying a meatless protein, the egg yolk (if at least a little runny) provides a satiny unctuous mouthfeel and richness without adding too much fat.  This recipe serves two as a light meatless entree.  I used rainbow chard but any variety of chard will work, and you can certainly multiply this recipe to feed more.  And feel free to adjust the amount of red pepper to suit your heat preference.  I buy local organic eggs and enjoy them sunny-side up, but you can fry them to your desired doneness.

1 bunch chard (approx. 1/lb), preferably organic
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 eggs, preferably organic
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper or additional red pepper flakes

Wash the chard, shake off excess water (don't dry), and use a sharp knife to cut out the tough stems.  and chop the chard into ribbons approximately 1/2'' wide.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep saute pan, add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the chard, season to taste with Kosher salt, stir and saute, stirring frequently, until the leaves are wilted but still deep green--don't overcook.  Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook the chard in two batches.  Transfer the cooked chard into a bowl and keep warm while you fry the eggs in the same pan.  To serve, divide the chard between two plates or bowls and add an egg to each, either on top of the chard or next to it.  Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper as desired.  Serve immediately.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Heads-Up!  Our January Newsletter, with coupons & more, will go out this coming week.  If you haven't yet subscribed and want to receive it, sign up here--it's FREE, and don't forget to click on the subscription verification link in the email you'll receive to confirm your subscription!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Introducing The Shizzle Jerk Marinade!

Fans of authentic Jamaican jerk flavor and heat rejoice:  The Carolina Sauce Company now offers The Shizzle Jerk Marinade, available in the spicy-hot Original recipe and the FIERY Voodoo Hot version!  Lovingly made in small batches using all-natural ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial preservatives or colors, The Shizzle calls North Carolina home but its roots are planted firmly in Jamaica.  Traditional Jamaican jerk herbs and spices are specially blended with habanero peppers for an intensely aromatic flavor that rivals that of any jerk products made in Jamaica.  But what makes The Shizzle stand out from the competition is their brilliant use of pineapple mash as the primary ingredient to create a naturally sweet and spicy sauce that becomes perfectly caramelized and crispy when cooked slowly on the grill or in the oven.  I suspect it's also the pineapple mash that helps this marinade penetrate even the toughest cuts of meat to infuse mouthwatering jerk flavor throughout.

This is no watery or vinegary marinade:  The Shizzle is thick and substantial, allowing you to use it as a wet rub or paste that will coat the surface of whatever you marinate in it.  The bright tropical flavor is excellent with everything from beef, pork, lamb, goat and venison to chicken, turkey and game birds, to even fish and shrimp (marinate no more than an hour for seafood), portobello mushrooms and summer squash.  The pineapple doesn't assert itself but rather provides a subtle sweetness and keeps this jerk from tasting overly salty like some commercial brands.  

Yes, the Original Shizzle is pretty hot, like any self-respecting Jamaican jerk seasoning or sauce should be, so you might find it too hot if you don't care for spicy foods or have a very sensitive palate (I consider it about a medium in heat, which by North Carolina standards is probably a hot).  On the other hand, if you're from Jamaica or you enjoy the serious fiery heat of real (not Americanized) Jamaican jerk, then The Shizzle Voodoo Hot! Jerk Marinade is for you.  This version begins with the original recipe but adds about three times as much habanero pepper for a burn that's comparable to what you'll find in "old" Jamaica (as opposed to tourist areas).  The Shizzle's rich and complex flavors still shine through the revved-up heat, however, for an invigorating and deeply satisfying dining experience.

You can buy The Shizzle Jerk Sauce from our North Carolina Products page, where you'll find other great-tasting foods from NC ranging from traditional North Carolina BBQ sauces and pork products to unique hot sauces and condiments all made in North Carolina.  You can also order The Shizzle from our New Products page, where you'll find plenty of other new arrivals for 2012.

Zestfully yours,