Saturday, March 31, 2012

Last Day of March Coupon Sale at Carolina Sauce!

hot sauce
Today is the final day of our March Newsletter coupon sale at the Carolina Sauce Company! Our sale runs through midnight (EDT) tonight, March 31st. To get your special coupon code and start saving, simply read the Carolina Sauce March Newsletter, which has the coupon code, and then visit the Carolina Sauces online store, where you'll find your favorite BBQ sauces, hot sauces, zesty condiments, spicy snacks, genuine North Carolina products, and other full-flavored goodness that will put an end to bland, boring food forever.

Want to receive future issues of our FREE monthly email Newsletter, packed with zesty info including product reviews, recipes & tips for the kitchen and grill, exclusive coupons and special sales? Just sign up below, and then look for your confirmation email and click on the link in that email to opt in:

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:

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"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,

Friday, March 30, 2012

Salmon & Corn Chowder with Pesto

salmon & corn chowder with pesto
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of tasting a marvelous salmon & corn chowder with pesto swirl made by my friend Robin Arcus. She was kind enough to share her recipe with me, which she had adapted from Diana Schwarzbein's Schwarzbein Principle Cookbook. Robin adds a package of Cope's Dried Sweet Corn (from Pennsylvania) to her recipe, and uses a BBQ-marinated frozen salmon from Costco. She generously gave me a package of the corn as well as the marinated salmon so that I could make her version of the recipe.

I made a few "tweaks" to Robin's recipe, and below is my version. The most significant change I made was to substitute evaporated milk for the heavy cream. This reduced the fat content of the soup without altering the flavor, but it did result in a much lighter mouthfeel that lacked the satiny richness of heavy cream. If fat isn't a concern, use 1 cup of heavy cream instead of the evaporated skim milk. Robin also uses dry pesto, and prepares it with a little less water and oil than one would normally use to reconstitute it. I used fresh pesto, which made the soup greener in color than hers was.

Note: If you can't get Cope's Dried Sweet Corn, I would recommend using 1 cup of fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels added at the same time as the peas.  And if you use fresh or frozen (thawed) unseasoned salmon, use 1 pound and I would recommend marinating it first for 30 minutes to 1 hour in olive oil seasoned with a savory BBQ rub like Bad Byron's Butt Rub.  If you make this recipe, please leave a comment to let us know how you made it and how it turned out.

Cope's Dried Sweet Corn
Cope's Dried Sweet Corn
1 package Cope's Dried Sweet Corn (optional - see note above)
2 pieces marinated frozen salmon from Costco, thawed, skinned & cut into chunks (see note above for substitution)
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 bunch spring onions (I used baby Vidalia onions) or green onions, including green tops, chopped (approx. 1/3 lb, or 1 1/3 cup)
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 red ("French") fingerling potatoes (unpeeled), diced
1 quart vegetable stock
1 cup shrimp or fish stock (you can substitute vegetable stock)
1 cup evaporated milk (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup basil pesto
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (black is fine)

sauteing vegetables
Sauteing the veggies
If using Cope's dried corn, empty package into a bowl, add just enough water to cover, and soak for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Melt butter in a large soup pot, then add onion, garlic and red pepper, and saute until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat.  Stir in potatoes, reconstituted Cope's corn (if using), salt, pepper & stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are softened, about 10 minutes. Add salmon chunks and milk, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until salmon begins to flake with a fork, about 5 minutes. Add green peas (and fresh or thawed corn kernels if using instead of Cope's corn) and pesto, and cook over gentle heat for a few more minutes until the salmon is done--be careful not to boil.  Taste, adjust seasonings if desired, and let sit for a few minutes before serving.  Refrigerate any leftovers--amazingly, this soup is even better the next day!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Check Out Our New Look on Facebook!

The Carolina Sauce Company recently updated its Facebook page to implement the new Timeline format being phased in by Facebook. Along with the new format, we updated the coupons and special offers available on the "Coupons" tab (now featuring a green dollar-sign icon). These exclusive deals are available only to our Facebook fans, so be sure to "Like" us on Facebook if you want to be in on these money-saving offers.

For additional coupons and bargains, you can sign up for our free monthly newsletter by clicking here, or from our Facebook page by clicking on the "FREE Newsletter" tab with our "Happy Grilling" icon, found to the left of the green dollar-sign "Coupons" tab. Please remember to add us to your "Safe Senders" list and to click on the link in the confirmation email you'll receive when you sign up. We use a "double-opt-in" sign-up process, which means you won't be subscribed until your confirm your subscription by clicking on the link in that email. If you don't get your confirmation email within 24 hours (you usually get it within minutes), make sure to check your "spam" folders.

To make life easier for our Facebook fans, we've added a "Shop Online" tab with hot links to our website sections for the different categories of products that we offer.  You'll find the tab when you click on the little "down arrow" to the right of the "Likes" tab that shows our total number of "Likes." When you click on that arrow, all of our other tabs will pop up below the regularly-visible tabs. The "Shop Now" tab has a photo of sauce bottles on it.

You can also now send us a private message through our Facebook page! The message feature previously had been available only to individuals and not to business pages, but the new Timeline for business pages adds that convenient functionality to business pages. To send us a private message, just click on the "Message" button on the top right, just below our cover photo.

We'll be adding new tabs in the very near future, including "Best-Sellers" and "Recipes," plus we'll be playing the Crock Pot Game on April 1st--the winner gets a FREE bottle of seasoning or sauce!--so make sure to "Like" us on Facebook to join in all the fun. And please feel free to leave comments, post zesty recipes, or ask us any questions you might have--we love hearing from our fans and want your feedback to help us serve you better!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  We're also busy adding new products to the Carolina Sauces online store, so be on the lookout for those, too!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

These New BBQ Sauces are NOT Made in China

Not Made in China BBQ Sauce
Are you sick and tired of seeing "Made in China" on virtually everything these days?

Does it bother you that more and more of the stuff on store shelves these days comes from China?

Do you or someone you know make it a point to "buy American" whenever you can?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then Not Made In China Barbecue & Dipping Sauce is for you--and for anyone else who craves a big, bold barbecue sauce that's proudly made in the USA.

Sure, the name might be somewhat "tongue in cheek," but rest assured that the flavor is tongue-ticklin' good:  Tomato and molasses for sweetness, vinegar for tang, garlic and onion and Worcestershire sauce for savory richness, and a dash or two of hot sauce and natural smoke for peppery zip with earthy depth. Enjoy this thick, all-American barbecue sauce on anything you grill: Ribs, chops, burgers, chicken, shrimp, and veggie kabobs. Its provocative name makes this Kentucky barbecue sauce a great gift for proud Americans and BBQ lovers everywhere (except maybe in China?) and a guaranteed conversation-starter at any tailgate, cookout, barbeque, picnic, block party or other get-together around a grill.
Virginia Gentleman BBQ Sauce

If you love classic American BBQ sauces but a more refined, genteel name and label are more your style, Virginia Gentleman VG90 Bourbon BBQ Sauce is for you.  This Virginia-made tomato-based BBQ sauce is a little sweeter from brown sugar as well as molasses, with a mellower tang from lemon juice as well as vinegar, but it has a similar rich, robust flavor from many of the same savory ingredients--plus a depth of flavor from a splash or two of small-batch Virginia Gentleman 90-proof straight bourbon whiskey.  This elegant American barbecue sauce will please connoisseurs and amateurs alike with its food-friendly taste that complements meats, poultry, seafood and grilled vegetables like portobellos and summer squash. Appropriately enough, the bottle sports a classy label featuring a vintage 18th century fox-hunting scene, and is topped with a gold-tone seal.

Not Made in China Barbecue & Dipping Sauce and Virginia Gentleman Bourbon BBQ Sauce are available from the Carolina Sauce Company, and both are currently on sale so now's the time to give them a try.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gloria's Cuban Picadillo

Cuban picadillo
Picadillo is a savory ground meat dish found in virtually all Latin American cultures, usually made from ground beef, ground pork or a combination of both, and seasoned with onions, garlic, peppers and a mixture of herbs and spices that vary by culture. It's not unusual to find different versions of picadillo within the same country, and each cook usually will make her or his own tweaks to personalize the basic dish.

In Cuba, picadillo traditionally is made with a mixture of beef and pork, but my Mom used only ground beef. As is the case with the vast majority of Cuban dishes, picadillo isn't spicy but instead relies on garlic, onions, oregano and bay leaf to add savory flavors, along with a few unexpected ingredients like olives, capers and raisins to add pleasingly contrasting and complementary tang and sweetness. The traditional way to serve Cuban picadillo is over white rice with a side of fried sweet plantains ("maduros").

Below is my version of my Mom's traditional picadillo, which serves 4. The recipe below calls for ground beef, but you can use your choice of ground meat or meat substitute and still end up with a tasty dish. Because we usually have ground venison in our freezer, I frequently use it instead of beef to make picadillo. I've also used ground turkey in the past, as well as "ground meatless" soy-based meat substitute for a vegetarian version of picadillo.

1 lb ground beef
Salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbs olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 small green pepper, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small carrot, peeled & sliced
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (to taste)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika (you can substitute regular paprika)
Black pepper to taste (I use a few twists from my pepper mill)
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup small pimento-stuffed green olives
2 tsp small capers (rinse off excess salt if using capers packed in salt)

Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet or saucepan, season lightly with salt & pepper, and cook until just browned but not fully cooked.  Drain off excess fat, transfer the browned meat to a bowl and set aside.

Add the olive oil and bay leaf to the skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions & saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften.  Add green pepper, garlic & carrot, saute until just softened.  Stir in the tomatoes, Kosher salt, oregano, cumin, paprika and black pepper.  Cover and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have broken down.  Add the browned meat, raisins, olives and capers, stir well, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through (about 10 to 15 minutes).  Most of the liquid should have cooked off - if dish is still too "wet," simply raise the heat to medium-high and cook for a few more minutes, stirring from time to time, until excess liquid evaporates.

Serve hot over white rice, and refrigerate any leftovers. Picadillo tastes even better the next day because the flavors will continue to develop overnight in the refrigerator. In fact, I sometimes make picadillo the day before I plan on serving it, and then reheat just before dinner.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, March 26, 2012

All Smiles at Lumpy's Ice Cream Grand Opening

Lumpy's Ice Cream
Lumpy & me
Lumpy's Ice Cream is a North Carolina original, made with wholesome, all-natural ingredients including local hormone-free milk & cream, and featuring popular classics like chocolate and vanilla plus inspired flavor combinations (think Bourbon & Bacon or Banana Walnut) with whimsical names like Bohemian Banana and Wired Hippie.

After years of selling at the NC farmer's market, the state fair, and at numerous festivals & events around NC, Lumpy's recently opened their own ice cream shop in Wake Forest, NC.  Greg and I attended their Grand Opening on Saturday and had a grand time enjoying their fabulous ice cream and chatting with Lumpy and his hard-working gang. Despite the rain, their shop was packed with folks of all ages cheerfully indulging in single and double "lumps" (scoops) of ice cream served in cups, sugar cones, waffle cones, brownie sundaes and milkshakes.

Lumpy's Ice Cream menu

Although my favorite flavor is their Bourbon & Bacon ice cream which I first had at last year's NC State Fair (you can read about it here), I opted for two other flavors in my double-lump waffle cone: Montezuma's Mexican Chocolate and Wired Hippie.

Bacon Bourbon vanilla ice cream
Bacon & Bourbon ice cream
The Mexican Chocolate was a velvety, sweet chocolate generously spiced with cinnamon and just enough pepper (I'm guessing cayenne) for a zippy, piquant finish, reminiscent of creamy-peppery Mexican hot chocolate. The Wired Hippie featured mellow coffee ice cream with nutty, chocolate-y trail mix blended into it, for an experience I'd describe as eating a crunchy frozen cappuccino. Both ice creams had a silky smooth mouthfeel and were less solidly frozen than typical hand-scooped ice cream. The softer consistency allowed the ice cream to yield readily to every lick of my tongue, letting the flavors develop on my palate without freezing my taste buds. And because there are no artificial ingredients, both ice creams were lighter in color than mass-produced commercial brands, sporting appealingly gentle shades of taupe and tan. The waffle cone itself was a pleasant surprise in that it recently come off the waffle iron and was still fragrant and warm to the touch, with just the right toothsome crunchiness, making my waffle cone ice cream experience a delight to all my senses.

Greg opted for a lump each of Butter Pecan and Cookies & Cream, and between bites he declared both flavors outstanding. That was all I could get him to say, as he was singularly focused on his ice cream. In fact, we were both so busy devouring our treats that we forgot to take photos of them. However, Lumpy was kind enough to open his frozen treasure chests so that I could take a couple of quick pics of his collection of ice cream jewels:

Lumpy's Ice Cream
Lumpy's Ice Cream

By the time we finished our ice cream, the joint was really hopping and folks were waiting for tables so we decided to say our good-byes. As we were getting ready to leave, however, there was a bit of a commotion at the front and we were shocked to see that Lumpy was being cuffed by a police officer who had come in to sample Lumpy's ice cream! Upon tasting the goods, the officer apparently had concluded that Lumpy's Ice Cream was simply too good to be legal.

Lumpy's Ice Cream: Too good to be legal?
Luckily for Lumpy, the good officer relented to pleas from the crowd and released Lumpy, much to everyone's relief (including mine, as I was getting worried that I might have to use my rusty lawyering skills to come to Lumpy's defense).

Lumpy's Ice Cream
Lumpy's slogan: "A scoop away from a smile"
If you ever find yourself in Wake Forest or within driving distance, make sure to stop at Lumpy's Ice Cream for some of the best ice cream you'll ever have the pleasure of experiencing.  As their slogan boasts, you're just a scoop away from a smile--or a lump away, to use their term for a scoop. And don't worry, it's perfectly legal to indulge as much as you want in this decadent treat, even with flavors like Rum Raisin, Bourbon-Bacon, and Whisky & Clover.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Although the Carolina Sauce Company isn't able to ship you some Lumpy's Ice Cream, we can send you other popular North Carolina products including Bone Suckin' Sauce (all four BBQ Sauce varieties plus other tasty Bone Suckin' products), Johnston County country ham (cured the old-fashioned way), and Scott's Barbecue Sauce (authentic Eastern NC vinegar BBQ Sauce). Visit our NC Products page to browse through our selection of genuine North Carolina barbecue sauces, spicy hot sauces, mouthwatering bacon and more.

PPS:  Just to be clear, none of Lumpy's ice cream folks (including Lumpy himself) were actually arrested or cuffed or injured in any way during the Grand Opening, and all was done in fun.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Looking for Carolina Sauce Coupons?

Carolina Sauce Company
Sure, the Carolina Sauce Company already has great low prices for sauces and seasonings at the Carolina Sauces online store--but wouldn't you like to save even more money on your favorite condiments?

It's easy to get coupons and access to private sales at the Carolina Sauce Company AND for our partner sites, if you know where to look and what to do. Here's all you need to know:

1.  For exclusive discount coupons and monthly specials, sign up for our FREE monthly eNewsletter. We email it once a month to subscribers, and in addition to coupons & bargains each issue includes a featured recipe or cooking/grilling tips, new product reviews and other zesty news. To subscribe, sign up here, and you'll receive a confirmation email asking you to click the link to CONFIRM your subscription. Please click to confirm (you're not officially signed up until you opt in that way). Didn't get the email? Check your spam folders. And don't forget to add us to your "Safe Senders" list to make sure you receive our newsletter.

2.  Find additional coupons, limited-time offers, private sales and other money-saving deals on our Facebook page when you click on "Coupons." Make sure to "Like" us on Facebook first, because these coupons and offers are only for our fans.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Zesty Chipotle Salmon Salad

Chipotle Salmon Salad
This spicy salmon salad delivers a flavor-packed punch with fewer calories and less fat than regular mayonnaise-laden salmon salad. Because of the big, bold flavors and just a Tablespoon of reduced fat mayo, the salad still tastes rich and is just as satisfying, without sacrificing your waistline. If you find that it's a little too hot and spicy, add just a touch more mayonnaise or a little bit of plain non-fat yogurt to tone down the heat (and use a little less chipotle next time). If you can't find chipotle puree or paste, you can make your own in a blender or food processor using a can or jar of chipotles in adobo sauce (blend or process to a thick, smooth consistency).

To make the salad, I used a 6-oz pouch of pink salmon. You can use the same amount of canned salmon so long as you drain off the excess liquid, or for a real treat, use 6 ounces of leftover grilled, poached or steamed salmon.  I haven't tried doubling this recipe, but don't foresee any problems in doing so.

I served my zesty chipotle salmon salad over a bed of baby lettuces with thinly sliced cucumbers, but you can certainly enjoy it on other types of green salads, or as a filling for wraps, sandwiches or pitas, or even as a dip with raw vegetables, crackers, pita chips or other dippables.

1 6-oz pouch salmon (or well-drained can, or equivalent amount of cooked salmon)
Chipotle Salmon Salad
Chipotle Salmon Salad
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion, including green part
1/4 cup finely chopped pimiento
1 Tbs chipotle puree or paste
1 Tbs reduced-fat mayonnaise (or fat-free if preferred)
1 Tbs finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Use a fork to break up and flake the salmon in a bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Serve over green salad, or as a sandwich filling, or as a dip. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you love salmon, you'll swoon over the fresh Atlantic salmon available from our partner The Crab Place, whose online seafood specials can't be beat!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Three New Walkerswood Jerk Products!

Walkerswood Hot & Spicy Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
The Walkerswood name is renowned in its homeland of Jamaica and around the world as being the brand of choice for authentic Jamaican jerks and other Jamaican seasonings of the finest quality.  Indeed, Walkerswood Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning is our best-selling jerk or curry product at the Carolina Sauce Company, and has been for years. Up until now, this popular jerk paste or wet rub had been available only in 10 oz jars, which some of our customers would order by the case several times a year while asking us to stock it in a larger "bulk" size. If you're one of those folks, I have good news: You can now order Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning in 9.25 lb tubs from the Carolina Sauces online store!  This is the same hot and spicy traditional jerk seasoning that we've sold for years in the 10-oz jar, but our warehouse is now able to offer it at retail in the food-service tubs that people have been requesting.  Best of all, it's currently on sale at a significant discount off the regular retail price.

Walkerswood Mild Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
If you enjoy the exotic, aromatic flavors of Jamaican jerk but wish you could experience them in a milder, less-fiery form, you'll be thrilled to know that we now have the new Walkerswood MILD Jamaican Jerk Seasoning available in 10 oz jars. You'll experience the same heady herbs and seasonings as in their hot and spicy traditional jerk, but with far fewer hot peppers for a tamer, more family-friendly heat level. In addition to being mild enough for kids and others with sensitive palates, this milder jerk seasoning is also ideal for more delicate foods like scallops, fish and vegetable dishes, imparting a rich Jamaican flavor without the intense peppery heat that would otherwise overpower the food's natural flavors.

Walkerswood Las'Lick Jerk Sauce
Finally, for those who want the convenience and spontaneity of a jerk table sauce they can splash on food whenever the craving for a taste of Jamaica strikes them, we have the new Walkerswood Las'Lick Jerk Sauce.  Made using the same basic jerk recipe found in other Walkerswood jerk products, Las'Lick Sauce adds molasses and tomatoes for depth of flavor and a mellow sweetness that tones down the fiery edge of the scotch bonnet peppers. Enjoy Las'Lick Jerk Sauce on any dish that could benefit from a dash of Jamaican flavor. It also doubles as a rich marinade for pretty much anything, and will enhance gravies and other brown sauces when you add just a few drops.

To find these and other new arrivals, visit our New Products Page.  And to browse our complete selection of Jamaican jerk products, visit our Jerks & Curry page.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Seared Romaine Halves with Chunky Avocado Dressing

Cuban dinner with pork chops, plantain mash & seared romaine
Served with Cuban pork chops & plantain
Instead of serving an everyday tossed salad or cooked vegetable side dish, try this unusual take on romaine lettuce. It only takes a few minutes under the broiler--and you can also sear the romaine halves on a grill, which will leave attractive grill marks across the cut half (place the cut side down perpendicular to the grill grate).

The chunky avocado dressing with diced tomato garnish adds complementary color and flavor to the seared romaine, making this a festive accompaniment to Mexican, Cuban or other Latin American entrees. You can also serve the chunky avocado dressing on regular green salads, with steamed or grilled vegetables, or as a topping for fish, roast chicken, or grilled pork chops. I make the dressing by vigorously shaking together the ingredients in a mason jar for a few second until everything is thoroughly combined.

Plan on half a romaine heart per person (one heart of romaine serves two), and simply multiply the recipe to serve 4 or 6, etc.  If you start with a full head of romaine lettuce instead of a trimmed heart of romaine, simply trim the large, dark, loose outer leaves (reserve for another use) from the head and use only the lighter, "tighter" heart.

avocado dressing
Chunky Avocado Dressing
1 heart of romaine
1 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded & diced
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice OR bottled bitter orange juice ("naranja agria," found in the Mexican/Latino section of supermarkets or at ethnic groceries)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra oil for the romaine
1/4 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded & finely diced
1 1/2 Tbs onion, finely minced
Salt & pepper, to taste
Garnish: 1 small tomato, de-seeded & diced

To make the dressing, place the avocado, juice, 1/4 cup oil, cucumber, onion and salt & pepper to taste in a lidded jar, close and shake to combine. If you prefer, you can instead whisk together all ingredients except the avocado in a bowl, and then stir in the avocado. Refrigerate until ready to use (the dressing will keep for 2 or 3 days in a sealed, refrigerated container).

chunky avocado dressing
Chunky Avocado Dressing
To prepare the seared romaine, carefully wash the romaine heart (try not to separate the leaves too much or else they won't hold together as well when you cut in half), gently shake off as much water as possible and pat dry with paper towels. Use a very sharp knife to slice a thin sliver off the bottom to remove any discoloration, being careful to keep the core intact. Carefully slice the heart in half lengthwise and separate the two halves. Lightly drizzle both sides of each half with olive oil, using your fingers to gently spread the oil all over. Place each half cut-side up on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper to taste. Move an oven rack to the second-from-the-top rungs, place the baking sheet on that rack and broil for a few minutes, just until the romaine halves begin to sear, rotating the sheet once during the broiling time.  Remove from oven, carefully place each seared romaine half on its serving dish, spoon some chunky avocado dressing over each half, top with some diced tomato, and serve.

 Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Carolina Sauce Newsletter: March Coupon Madness!

2011 Murray State University Men's BasketballCollege basketball fever is in full swing around here, which means bigger savings for you! Use coupon code March-Madness to get **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 March-Madness coupon is good through the end of March and will expire at midnight on March 31st, 2012. (Please note, the March-Madness coupon doesn't apply to products purchased from our partners, such as BBQ Grills, Smokers & Accessories.)

Crock pot slow cookerWant to win free seasonings & sauces? Then play our monthly Crock Pot Game on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page for a chance to win FREE PRIZES!  We'll post a new game on our FB page on the 1st of each month. Simply follow the rules and post your answer, and we'll pick a winner each month to receive a free product, gift certificate or other zesty prize. The next Crock Pot Game will be posted on April 1st, so make sure to "Like" us on Facebook in order to play.  You'll also find additional coupons, special offers and private sales when you click on the "Coupons" tab on our Facebook page.

Grills, Smokers, BBQ Accessories & New Sauces

We've gone a little crazy and greatly expanded our "non-edible" offerings to now include BBQ Grills, Smokers, & more BBQ tools for all of your outdoor-cooking needs and desires! Make sure to visit our updated BBQ & Accessories page to see what's new, and keep reading for more exciting new products available through our Partners and from the Carolina Sauces warehouse.

*By popular demand, we now offer Wood Chips for smokers & grills, Wood Grilling Planks, and Lump Charcoal! Hard-to-find woods like Cherry and Apple plus Alder and Cedar from the Pacific Northwest, southwestern Mesquite, and classic Hickory: we have them all.

*Also by popular demand, we now have the large 9.25 lbs tubs of Walkerswood Traditional Jerk Seasoning previously only available in 10-oz jars. We've also added two of Walkerswood's newest products, their MILD Jamaican Jerk Seasoning with the same great flavor as their traditional but less fiery heat, and their sweet & rich Las'Lick Jerk Sauce, a zesty table sauce & marinade featuring their famous jerk flavors but mellowed with tomato and molasses.

Not Made in China BBQ Sauce
*"Not Made In China" BBQ Sauce: Proudly made in the USA, this all-American tomato BBQ Sauce from Kentucky boasts that classic sweet-savory-tangy flavor and thick body that's preferred for slathering on ribs, grilled chicken, pork chops, burgers and even shrimp & veggies.

*Virginia Gentleman Bourbon BBQ Sauce: Another American favorite, this robust all-purpose barbecue sauce balances its sweet tomato base with small-batch bourbon and savory spices for a big bold flavor the whole family will love.

*Another much-requested item, large 24-oz jars of Bad Byron's Butt Rub, are now available! This Texas-style BBQ rub is preferred by many for its savory, spicy flavor and special blend of sugar-free spices (which means it won't burn, and has 0 carbs). It's great with any type of beef, pork or chicken for the grill or smoker.

Gator Hammock Swamp Mustard
*Also by popular demand, we've added Gator Hammock Sauces and Seasonings, which are all-natural, all-purpose cayenne pepper sauces that make everything taste better. The mildest is the original Gator Hammock Gator Sauce for adding just a touch of tangy spice, followed by Swamp Gator which adds habaneros, jalapenos and hammock peppers (what's a hammock pepper? Find out in the comments to our blog post about these sauces). The hottest one is Gator Hammock Lethal Gator, with a fiery blend of habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers added to the Cayenne base. If mustard is more to your taste, check out Gator Hammock Swamp Mustard, which is both a mustard and a hot sauce. And if you like savory, garlicky BBQ rubs and seasonings, their Gator Sprinkle won't disappoint!

We have more new sauces & seasonings in the queue so make sure to bookmark our New Products page to keep an eye on new arrivals as they come in. We're also working on adding new partner products including Fish & Seafood, steak branding irons, specialty grillers for chicken wings & jalapenos, etc., TBA in the April newsletter.

March Madness Recipe: Zesty Avocado Dressing & Dip

If you enjoy guacamole, this versatile avocado recipe is sure to be a hit at your next party, tailgate outing, cookout or family dinner. Thicker than a regular salad dressing but not as thick as guacamole, serve it as a dipping sauce for chicken wings or shrimp, veggies, chips and other finger food, and you can also spoon it over salads, grilled fish or veggies, burritos, enchiladas, refried beans and other Tex-Mex fare.

Avocado1 ripe Hass avocado
2 to 3 Tbs Extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
Optional: 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients except avocado in a small lidded jar and shake well to combine, OR combine in a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk until combined. Peel & de-seed avocado, then mash in a small bowl.  Whisk in the other combined ingredients - add a little more oil if desired. Taste for balance and adjust spices as desired.

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Zestfully yours,

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cuban Pork Chops with Plantain Mash

Cuban pork chops costillas de puerco
Costillas de Puerco con Machuquillo
Pork chops and plantains are traditional Cuban foods, and my recipe is based on very old recipes dating back several generations. The Spanish name is "Costillas de Puerco con Machuquillo," which translates to "pork chops with mashed plantains," and the zesty marinade is called "mojo." This very rich and highly flavorful dish requires at least 1 hour for marinating and then about an hour or so for cooking, but it's not difficult and is worth the time. If you're not familiar with Cuban food, this is an excellent introduction because the flavors are approachable and familiar rather than "exotic," and it's not hot or spicy (most Cuban food doesn't use hot peppers).

For a healthier dish I reduced the salt (trust me, you won't miss it), cut back on the amount of fat used in old recipes and suggested Spanish olive oil as an alternative pork fat.  Also, traditional recipes call for frying the plantain rounds in a lot of oil, then mashing them with the cracklings and re-frying the mash in pork fat. Instead of double-frying the plantains, I boiled them first and then fried them after mashing.

The following recipe will serve two, and I don't recommend simply doubling all the ingredients for more servings because it unbalances the marinade and probably also makes too much mashed plantain. I'm developing a 4-serving version and hope to post that in the future. 

Ingredients for Pork Chops
2 pork chops (about 1" thick, approx. 3/4 lbs total weight)
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/3 cup bitter orange (also called "naranja agria" or Seville orange juice)*
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white wine (I used chardonnay but any drinkable dry white is fine)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs olive oil (preferably Spanish), pork lard or bacon fat

Ingredients for Plantain Mash
2 green plantains (approx 1 1/4 lbs total)
2 quarts water
1/2 Tbs salt
1 Tbs bitter orange juice, or lemon or lime juice, in a small bowl
1 Tbs olive oil (preferably Spanish), pork lard or bacon fat

 *Note: You can find bottled bitter orange juice ("naranja agria" in Spanish) in the Mexican or Latino section of many larger supermarkets, at Mexican or Latin American or Caribbean markets or "tiendas," and at some gourmet or specialty-foods stores. Goya is a popular brand. Alternatively, you can substitute a 50/50 blend of regular orange juice (not calcium-enhanced) and fresh-squeezed lime juice.

To prepare the pork chops and marinade: Trim most of the fat from the edges of the pork chops and cut into small pieces - you'll fry these to make the cracklings, so refrigerate until ready to fry.  Use a mortar and pestle to mash together the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and cumin (if you don't have a mortar and pestle, just crush the garlic with a fork and then mince as finely as possible, use the edge of your knife to scrape the garlic and juices from your cutting board into a bowl, then mix in the spices). Place the garlic mixture into a bowl and stir in the bitter orange juice and wine - I pour some of the juice or wine into my mortar to rinse out any remaining garlic mash and pour that over the pestle's mashing end and into the bowl. Place the pork chops and onions in a shallow lidded container or resealable plastic bag, pour the marinade ("mojo") over them, cover or seal and shake the bag, and place in refrigerator to marinate at least 1 hour.

Cuban mashed plantains machuquillo
To make the plantain mash: When you're ready to start cooking dinner, begin with the plantains.  Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil.  While the water is heating, trim the ends off the plantains and peel by cutting a slit through the skin down the length of each plantain, then cutting the plantains into rounds about 1 1/2" to 2" thick, and then using the slit in each round to help you peel off the thick skin.  Dip each round on all sides in the bitter orange juice and set aside until the water is at a rolling boil (this adds a nice touch of citrus AND keeps the raw plantains from browning), then slip the plantain rounds into the boiling water, reduce heat just a little and boil until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. While the plantains are boiling, start cooking the pork chops.

pork chops
Frying the pork chops & mojo
To cook the pork chops:  Heat the oil or fat in a large skillet (I use cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Remove the pork chops from the marinade--do NOT discard the marinade!--and sear on both sides to a nice deep brown.  Pour in the marinade and onions, reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until the marinade has evaporated, the onions have caramelized and the pork chops are cooked through (don't worry, the pork chops will remain tender). This will take anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes, and you'll want to turn the pork chops over about halfway through. While they're simmering, finish making the machuquillo (plantain mash).

To finish making the plantain mash: Once you've started the pork chops simmering, make the cracklings by heating the oil or fat in a small or medium skillet (I use cast-iron) over medium heat, adding the pork trimmings and frying until brown and crispy. You'll want to check on the boiling plantains during this time - if the cracklings are done before the plantains are tender, simply remove the skillet from heat. Once the plantains are tender, use a slotted spoon to remove from pot and place in a bowl (discard the boiling water). Mash the plantains, leaving them a bit lumpy.  Add the mashed plantains to the skillet with cracklins, stir and cook over low-medium heat, stirring regularly, until any excess liquid has evaporated (you can leave the plantain mash on low heat until the pork chops are done, so long as you stir them from time to time).
Cuban food

Serve the cooked pork chops and caramelized onions over a bed of plantain mash, and enjoy!

Zestfully yours,

PS: The recipe for the seared romaine half with chunky avocado dressing will be posted soon, so be on the lookout for it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New, Larger Size of Bad Byron's Butt Rub Now Available!

Bad Byron's Butt Rub
By popular demand, the Carolina Sauce Company now offers the economy-size, 24-oz (1 1/2 lbs.) containers of Bad Byron's Butt Rub Barbeque Seasoning!  We've had the regular 4.5 oz small bottles of this best-selling dry rub for years, and we're thrilled to be able to carry the larger size as well, especially since so many folks have told us that they use this savory, Texas-style BBQ rub on everything they grill and wish that they could order it in bulk.  Well, now they--and you--can!

If you haven't yet tried Bad Byron's Butt Rub, you don't know what you're missing. Pleasantly spicy rather than fiery, with a robust, subtly smoky flavor (it has some powdered chipotle), Bad Byron's Butt Rub complements steaks, ribs (beef and pork), chops, burgers and even chicken with its big, bold flavor.  It's amazing on beef brisket for Texas barbeque as well as pork butt (Boston butt) for Carolina pulled-pork barbecue, and also does a nice job on venison tenderloin and pretty much any type of meat.  You can also sprinkle Bad Byron's butt rub on vegetables, fish, popcorn, french fries, eggs, and baked potatoes for a zesty, smoky flavor.  This dry rub has NO sugar, so it has zero carbs, zero calories, and won't burn on the grill.

Both the 24oz size of Bad Byron's Butt Rub and the regular 4.5oz bottle of Bad Byron's Butt Rub are available on our Rubs & Seasonings page.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Easy Cheesy Onion Soda Bread

Cheddar onion soda bread
Cheddar-Onion Soda Bread
Instead of predictable Irish soda bread, make this moist, green-flecked Cheddar-Onion Soda Bread instead, and don't let anyone tell you it's not Irish:  This recipe uses some of Ireland's most common ingredients, including oatmeal, cheese (Ireland makes some great Cheddar-style and other cheeses) and onions (you can substitute leeks which are even more traditionally Irish). A soda bread made with traditional Irish ingredients qualifies as an Irish soda bread in my book.

From start to finish, this bread will take well under two hours to make--and under ONE hour if you use pre-shredded cheese or a food processor to shred the cheese, already have oat flour on hand, and you mix the bread in your stand mixer. That's hard to beat for wholesome, homemade bread!

The original recipe I used as the starting point for mine is this King Arthur Flour recipe for Cabot Cheddar Bread.  To increase the fiber content, I substituted 1 cup of oat flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose flour. This also added to the moistness of the bread, which is a good thing when using skim milk and non-fat yogurt. On the other hand, I think the oat flour added to the baking time: The original recipe said that a free-form round loaf should take only 35 to 40 minutes to bake, while my version took at least 50 minutes. But the discrepancy could also be due to my less-than-consistent oven, so I recommend keeping an eye on your loaf as the it approaches the end of the recommended baking time.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into pats (easiest done when butter is VERY cold)
8 oz Cheddar cheese (I used aged, very sharp Cabot cheddar), shredded
3/4 cup chopped spring onion tops or green onion tops (just the green parts - I used "baby" Vidalia onion tops)
3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk (preferably organic)
1 large egg
Optional: A little milk or beaten egg to brush on top, and a little bit of oats to sprinkle on top

*Note: To make oat flour, I simply process just over 1 cup of old-fashioned (not quick-cook or instant!) oats in my food processor until coarsely or finely ground as desired. You can also buy oat flour at natural food stores, but it has a much shorter shelf life so I prefer to make it as needed using old-fashioned oatmeal, which lasts longer.

Cheddar-onion Irish soda bread
Fresh from the oven
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl whisk together the oat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the butter, working it in until the mixture is crumbly (I use a large fork rather than my fingers so as to not warm the butter). Stir in the shredded cheese and green onions. In a small bowl, beat the egg and then whisk in the milk and yogurt. Add to the large bowl and mix together just until everything is moist and comes together into a stiff dough.  Form into a round or oblong loaf and place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet (I used parchment paper). If desired, lightly brush the top with a little milk or egg wash and then sprinkle some oats on top (I gently pressed them down a bit with my fingers to help them stick).

Bake at 375°F until golden-brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean: This took me about 50 minutes but could take as little as 35 or 40 minutes, so I recommend keeping an eye on the bread after 35 minutes.  When the bread is done, remove the baking sheet from oven and let the bread sit for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer onto a rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you are interested in Irish cheese or are looking for other fine cheeses to try, take a look at our Cheese and Cheese Gifts page, where you'll find a selection of interesting and flavorful domestic and imported cheeses, including an Irish cheese set with a wonderful sampling of genuine Irish cheeses.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Best-Selling Meats & Cheese for 2011

NC Country Ham We began offering meats and cheese on the Carolina Sauce Company website through our new partners in the latter half of 2011. Here are the five most popular meat and cheese products for last year.

1. Bone-In Whole Cooked Country Ham: These award-winning country hams come from Johnston County, NC, and come ready to serve.  Slow-cooked, fully-trimmed and finished with an old-fashioned brown sugar glaze for succulent flavor, whole hams range between 7 to 10 lbs each.  Smaller "buffet" style hams are also available, as well as boneless whole hams and packs of pre-sliced country hams. You can find these and more on our Country Ham page.

NC bacon
2. Dry-Cured NC Bacon:  Hailing from Johnston County, this thick-cut bacon is dry-cured and hickory-smoked for succulent, mouthwatering favor and irresistible aroma. The special aging process keeps this bacon from shrinking as it cooks, unlike the cheap mass-produced commercial bacon from the supermarket. This dry-cured North Carolina bacon is available pre-sliced for convenience, or in 2 lb. slabs if you prefer to cut your bacon as needed.

3. Boneless Buffet Style Cooked Country Ham: This is THE ham you'll want to serve for Easter, Christmas and any other special occasion, and it also makes an impressive choice for Sunday dinner.  Averaging about 3 lbs in weight, it's perfect for smaller families.  The old-fashioned flavor is deep and rich, and the buttery texture is sublime. Each ham comes ready-to-serve, vacuum-sealed and in a traditional cloth bag.

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4. Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese:  One taste of this remarkable, robust cheese and you'll never reach for the green can again.  Imported from Italy, this authentic parmigiano-reggiano cheese is made from unpasteurized part-skim cow's milk and boasts a full, pungent flavor that will enhance all of your favorite Italian dishes from pasta to pizza to chicken or eggplant parm.  The firm texture is perfect for shredding and grating, and you can also serve pieces as part of a cheese plate with walnuts and pears, or drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar or honey.  You can find other fine cheeses, both domestic and imported, on our Cheese & Cheese Gifts page.

5. Bacon Gift Certificate from Bacon Freak:  Every bacon-lover will appreciate a gift certificate redeemable for bacon, bacon-flavored condiments and foods, bacon-themed apparel and accessories, and even bacon-scented cologne. These electronic bacon gift certificates are available in a wide range of amounts to fit any budget, can be printed out if you prefer to give a paper certificate, and they never expire.  We also offer gift certificates for many other types of foods, including hot sauces & BBQ sauces, gourmet imports and more, and you'll find them on our Gift Certificates page.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  All of our best-seller lists are conveniently available for your browsing on our Best-Selling Products page.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gator Hammock Products Now Available!

Gator Sauce
The Carolina Sauce Company is pleased to announce that we now offer Gator Hammock sauces and seasonings on our online store!  These award-winning hot sauces and seasonings are made in Florida from all-natural ingredients including aged cayenne peppers and no MSG or other artificial ingredients, so you get pure, clean peppery flavor in every bottle and jar.

The original Gator Hammock Gator Sauce was released in 1989 and is a classic cayenne pepper sauce with a vinegar base with a touch of garlic and other spices for a fuller flavor than your average one-dimensional grocery store hot sauce. Gator Sauce is the table sauce of choice for people who like to add a splash of heat to most dishes, from scrambled eggs and hash browns for breakfast, to sandwiches, pizza or soups for lunch, and pretty much any dinner entree from meats to pasta to beans & rice, vegetable side dishes, casseroles and other savory meals.
Gator Hammock Swamp Gator
For folks who prefer a spicier, hotter flavor there's Gator Hammock Swamp Gator Hot Sauce, which adds the fire and flavor of fresh habaneros, jalapenos and hammock peppers.  Now, you might be asking, "What are hammock peppers?"  That's an excellent question, and one which I've been pondering. A quick online search failed to turn up any answers, as the only references all pointed back to the ingredient lists of Gator Hammock sauces. Perhaps "hammock pepper" is the local name for a type of Florida hot pepper that's more widely known by a different name? If you know what a "hammock pepper" is, please leave a comment to let us know!

Gator Hammock Lethal Gator Sauce
The hottest of the Gator Hammock hot sauces is Gator Hammock Lethal Gator Hot Sauce, which starts off with the trademark base of vinegar, aged cayenne peppers and garlic, but then ratchets up the heat to seriously hot levels by adding enough habanero peppers and scotch bonnet peppers to get the attention of even the most jaded chilehead.  Use Lethal Gator Hot Sauce with care on foods that are robust enough to handle the high heat, such as chili recipes, "suicide" Buffalo wings, and the like.  The nice thing about Lethal Gator is that it actually tastes good, and the particular flavor notes of each type of hot pepper can be appreciated (that is, assuming you're an experienced fiery-foods fanatic who can pick out the subtleties of habaneros vs. scotch bonnets vs. cayennes and other hot chile peppers), for a satisfying flavor experience that isn't just about the blazing heat.

Gator Hammock Swamp Mustard
Gator Hammock Swamp Mustard is unique in that it has a split personality: It's both a hot sauce that happens to be made with mustard as the main ingredient, AND a pourable spicy mustard for all your mustard needs. It's also uniquely delicious: Tropical guava fruit is added for a natural, subtle fruit sweetness that complements the red cider vinegar and special secret blend of spices to spark up the flavors of anything you pour it on: Hamburgers, hot dogs, ham, sandwiches, kielbasa, veggies, etc. It's also quite good as a dipping sauce for pretzels or chicken nuggets or even jalapeno poppers, or mixed into prepared-salad recipes calling for mustard, in deviled eggs, and even as a glaze ingredient for baked ham.

Gator Hammock Gator Sprinkle
Last but not least is Gator Hammock Gator Sprinkle, an all-purpose savory BBQ rub and seasoning with plenty of zesty garlic, a variety of peppers for layers of spicy flavor, and other secret spices.  There's no sugar added to this dry rub, so it won't burn on the grill--and it's an excellent choice for low-carb and other sugar-restricted diets.  Rub it on meat or chicken and let marinate before grilling for mouthwatering flavor. Sprinkle it on grilled vegetables, baked potatoes, fish, egg dishes and even fries or popcorn. It's also a great spice blend to mix into ground beef for flavorful, juicy burgers.

You can find all of these Gator Hammock products *on sale* at the Carolina Sauce Company online store.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Best-Selling BBQ Rubs & Seasonings for 2011

Bad Byron's Butt Rub
Selecting the right BBQ rub or seasoning can make all the difference when smoking some brisket, ribs or pork butt, and when grilling meats, chicken and other foods. You won't go wrong when you pick any of the following top-selling barbecue spice rubs and seasonings, which were the best-sellers for 2011 at the Carolina Sauce Company.

1. Bone Suckin' Rib Rub & Seasoning: This is our best-selling BBQ rub. Savory-sweet with a little kick, Bone Suckin' Seasoning rub is all-natural, gluten-free, and delicious on beef, pork, chicken, seafood, venison and other game, and even on vegetables.

Habanero Seasoning from Hell2. Bad Byron's Butt Rub: This savory Texas-style barbecue rub delivers a big, bold flavor to beef as well as pork, and you can also enjoy it on chicken and seafood or even sprinkled over french fries and popcorn. It has no sugar or MSG, and gets its smoky, peppery flavor from chipotle and paprika as well as black pepper.

3. Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, Black Pepper Blend: Made in Louisiana, Slap Ya Mama adds authentic Cajun flavor and heat to everything from grilled foods to jambalaya, crawfish  boils, gumbo and more.  Try it on scrambled or fried eggs, hash browns or grits to kick up the flavor at breakfast.

4. Habanero Seasoning From Hell: If you like fiery foods, this is the seasoning blend for you. Seriously hot & spicy, use it to add savory flavor and powerful heat to whatever you grill or cook on the stove. Try the recipes on the container for fried Chicken from Hell and Seafood Saute from Hell, if you dare!

Bone Suckin' Poultry Seasoning & Rub
5. Bone Suckin' Poultry Seasoning & Rub: This lighter, brighter version of Bone Suckin' Seasoning is enhanced with a special blend of herbs for a flavor that will enhance, not overpower, chicken, turkey, game hens, duck, goose and other fowl.  Use it when grilling, roasting or baking poultry, or add it to your breading for fried chicken for delicious flavor.

Zestfully yours,

PS: You can view all of our category-specific best-seller lists, as well as the complete list of 2011's top-selling products, on our Best-Selling Products page.