Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Skillet Bread

Cinco de Mayo Bread
This easy, no-knead quick bread (no yeast) is perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo, enjoying anytime you're serving Mexican food, or when you're craving hearty bread with a peppery kick. Although it's cooked in a skillet like cornbread and somewhat resembles cornbread, my Cinco de Mayo is made with all-purpose flour and oat flour instead of cornmeal.

Don't have oat flour? Neither do I:  All you need are uncooked rolled oats, old-fashioned or quick-cook/instant, and a blender or food processor. To make 1 cup of oat flour, place 1 cup of the oats in a blender or food processor and process until the consistency of fine cornmeal (it will be slightly coarser than all-purpose flour).

You can use any combination of chili peppers, whether hot, sweet or bell peppers, according to your heat preferences. I recommend using a variety of peppers of different colors for a fun and festive appearance. For the bread shown in the photos, I used a mixture of serrano, jalapeno, habanero, red Fresno and poblano, which meant that each bite could range from gently spicy to fiery-hot.

Queso fresco is a fresh, crumbly Mexican cheese available at regular grocery stores in areas where there's a Mexican population.  You can also usually find it in Mexican tiendas if you have any in your area. Like feta cheese, queso fresco tends not to melt much when you cook with it. If you can't find queso fresco, you can substitute cubed cheddar, Monterey Jack or pepper-jack cheese even though the texture will be different because those cheeses melt much more readily.

For a healthier, very low fat bread, you can omit the cheese altogether and still have a very flavorful and visually attractive bread, as shown in the photo below:

Spicy chili pepper bread

Finally, if you don't have a 9" or 10" cast iron skillet, you can bake the bread in an 8" x 8" baking pan, or even shape it into a free-form loaf and bake on a cookie sheet.

1 cup oat flour
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Mexican spice blend such as Jim's Own Pincho Rub or Gentlewoods Natural Pincho Rub*
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 Tbs oil
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt**
1 Tbs milk**
1 cup seeded & diced chili peppers
1 cup crumbled queso fresco, OR approx. 6 oz cheddar or jack cheese cut into small cubes

*You can substitute Mexican chili powder but make sure it's a seasoning blend and not merely ground red chili pepper (i.e., a single type of pepper without any other spices or herbs).

**If you don't have Greek yogurt, use ordinary plain nonfat yogurt and omit the milk.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9" or 10" cast iron skillet (I use bacon fat) and place in oven as it preheats.  Note:  If you are using a baking pan or a baking sheet instead of a cast iron skillet, do NOT place in oven after greasing.

While the skillet is heating, thoroughly combine the first 6 ingredients (all the dry ingredients except the peppers and cheese) in a large bowl. In a small bowl mix together the egg, oil, yogurt and milk.  Pour the wet mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Note:  This makes a very stiff, dry batter so I recommend using a sturdy wooden spoon.  Fold in the peppers and cheese until incorporated throughout the bread, using your hands if necessary.

Carefully remove the hot greased skillet from oven and transfer the dough into the middle of the skillet -- watch out for splattering grease.  Use your hands to spread the dough evenly inside the skillet:

Cinco de Mayo skillet bread

Place in oven and bake at 425°F until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes:

hot pepper bread

Let rest for a couple of minutes before cutting:

chili pepper skillet bread

You can also transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool before cutting -- if your skillet is well-seasoned and well-greased, the bread should slip out easily without sticking to the sides or bottom. To store any leftover bread, first allow it to cool completely and then refrigerate in an airtight sealed plastic bag.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you're shopping for some good cast iron skillets that will last a lifetime and longer, I recommend Lodge Logic Cast Iron Skillet - Set of 2 (10 1/4" & 12") - Lodge Logic (Google Affiliate Ad) for their high quality, durability and superb cooking at an affordable price.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Authentic Mexican Hot Sauces for your Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Cinco de Mayo
Flickr photo by PaulSteinJC (Cinco de Mayo Parade in NYC)
Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) might not be much of a big deal in Mexico, but we love to celebrate this relatively minor Mexican holiday here in the U.S. -- perhaps because it gives us an excuse to indulge in all our favorite Mexican foods and beverages.

Instead of blowing your hard-earned cash at a Mexican restaurant and having to arrange for a designated driver while hoping that everyone else on the road also has a sober driver, you can save a LOT of money by celebrating Cinco de Mayo at home.

In fact, many budget-conscious lovers of tacos, chimichangas, burritos, Margaritas and Dos Equis beer will be partying at home this year, and they're already planning their Cinco de Mayo menu and stocking up on their favorite Mexican hot sauces for an authentic and zesty dining experience.

Bufalo Jalapeno Hot Sauce
Here at Carolina Sauce Company, we offer an impressive selection of hard-to-find hot sauces from Mexico, including brands usually only found at real Mexican restaurants, taquerias and food trucks. These include:

Bufalo Mexican Hot Sauces, which happen to be the #1 best-selling hot sauce in Mexico, no doubt due to their straightforward pepper flavor and authentic yet not overwhelming heat. Bufalo Jalapeno Hot Sauce is as simple as it gets:  Red ripe jalapenos and fresh carrots blended together for a solid medium heat with that devilishly piquant yet mellow richness of ripe peppers. Bufalo Chipotle Hot Sauce likewise makes the most of simplicity: Earthy, fiery smoked jalapenos, aka chipotle, provide the robust, smoky flavor and deep brown color that's preferred by chipotle aficionados.

El Yucateco Hot Sauce
El Yucateco Salsa Picante hot sauces are known as some of the hottest Mexican hot sauces around. Their classic habanero sauces, El Yucateco Green and El Yucateco Red, are not to be trifled with, and both are available in 4 oz and 8 oz bottles. For fearless chileheads who like to play with fire, there's El Yucateco XXXtra Hot Kutbil-Ik Mayan hot sauce, said to be made from an ancient indigenous recipe.  For those who prefer a milder heat with plenty of sassy flavor, there's El Yucateco Caribbean Hot Sauce, which is especially good with seafood. And for fans of jalapeno peppers, El Yucateco makes a tangy green Jalapeno hot sauce as well as a smoky-sweet chipotle hot sauce.

Cholula Chile Garlic Hot Sauce
The wildly popular Cholula Hot Sauces are equally famous for their rich, complex flavor as for their distinctive wooden tops. From the feisty original Cholula featuring piquin and red peppers to the mild and zesty Chili Garlic Cholula featuring dried arbol and piquin chilies, plus the bright and citrusy Chili Lime Cholula with a mild and gentle heat, and the mysterious and smoky Cholula Chipotle made with a unique blend of chipotle, guajillo, arbol and piquin peppers: We have them all. We also have the original Cholula sauce in 12 oz bottles and even in half-gallon jugs, which are ideal for Cinco de Mayo parties, chili cook-offs, or simply to save money with the larger size.

Tapatio hot sauce
Tapatio Salsa Picante Hot Sauce is a medium-heat Mexican hot sauce with a festive perky flavor that makes it a crowd-pleaser. Named after the local term for someone from the Guadalajara region of Mexico, Tapatio is an old family recipe that's made with red chilies, garlic and a secret blend of spices for a smooth spicy flavor without that tart vinegar "edge."  To this day, the company that makes this hot sauce is the same family that originated it. Tapatio is gluten-free, sugar-free and has no MSG, which makes it a safe yet fun choice for people sensitive to those ingredients -- and it comes in 5oz and 10oz bottles, each at a great low price!

Valentina Extra Hot SauceValentina Salsa Picante hot sauces are savory, tangy and bursting with peppery flavor. The original Valentina Hot Sauce is moderately spicy and made with a secret blend of chile peppers. Valentina Extra Hot Sauce ratchets up the amount of hot peppers for a serious heat but without sacrificing flavor or overpowering your taste buds. Both varieties come in generous 12.5 oz bottles for a lower price than most smaller, 5oz hot sauces, making Valentina a real steal.

All of our Mexican hot sauces are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store, so shop now for Cinco de Mayo!

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Garlic Lover's Frittata

If you love garlic, this savory roasted garlic and onion frittata is for you.  Unlike my prior frittata recipes, which I cooked on the stove, this time I decided to cook the frittata in the oven.

Roasting the garlic and onions and then letting the oven cool a bit does add to the overall preparation time for this frittata. If you prefer, you can roast the garlic and onions  the day before and refrigerate in a lidded container until ready to use -- just remember to bring back to room temperature before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Once the frittata is assembled and ready to cook, baking takes less time than stovetop-cooking, and less effort as well because there's no need to flip it. And using a cast-iron skillet to roast the garlic and onions AND bake the frittata makes cleanup a breeze when you're making this recipe all at one time. My recipe serves 2 to 4 as part of a breakfast or brunch with other items such as bacon or sausage, or one hungry person if served without other dishes.

10* cloves garlic, peeled & cut in half
1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced
2 spring or green onions, sliced (including green tops)
1 tsp Jim's Own Pincho Rub or Gentlewoods Natural Pincho Rub (the latter is gluten-free)
2 Tbs olive oil
4 eggs
2 Tbs milk (I use skim)
2 or 3 oz crumbled Queso Fresco or feta cheese

*If you are seriously addicted to garlic or have a vampire problem that needs addressed, you can use 15 cloves of garlic.

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease an 8" or 9" cast-iron skillet. Combine the garlic and onions in a small bowl, sprinkle with the Pincho Rub, add olive oil and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour this mixture into the skillet and spread into a single layer:

Roast at 400°F for about 25 minutes or until light golden and the garlic is tender, stirring twice to ensure even cooking. When done, remove skillet from oven, reduce temperature to 350°F and allow the oven to cool down to that lower temperature.  Note: If roasting the garlic and onions ahead of time, refrigerate in a lidded container until ready to use, and then bring to room temperature before continuing with this recipe.

While the oven is cooling, transfer the roasted vegetables to a small bowl to let both the skillet and the vegetables cool a bit. In a medium bowl vigorously whisk together the eggs and milk (or beat well with a fork), then carefully add the roasted garlic and onion, leaving behind as much oil as possible (I use a fork and let the oil drip off before transferring the vegetables into the egg mixture. Stir well to combine and "unclump" the roasted vegetables in the egg mixture, then stir in the crumbled cheese. Pour any oil left in the small bowl from the roasted vegetables back into the skillet. Once the oven has cooled down to 350°F, pour the egg & roasted vegetable mixture into the skillet:

Bake at 350°F until the eggs are set, about 15 minutes (some puffing is normal -- the frittata will deflate when removed from oven):

Cut into wedges and serve hot. A nice spicy ketchup, full-flavored garlic hot sauce or zesty garlic salsa all go well with this savory frittata. 

Zestfully yours,

Friday, April 26, 2013

Gentlewoods Natural, Gluten-Free BBQ Sauces & Rubs

The Carolina Sauce Company is excited to have partnered with Gentlewoods Food, makers of the all-natural, gluten-free Gentlewoods Natural BBQ Sauces and Rubs.

Made in North Carolina using wholesome ingredients and inspired recipes, Gentlewoods Naturals are full-flavored products the entire family can enjoy: There are no artificial preservatives or ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, and no MSG in any of the sauces or seasonings.

More than just barbecue or grilling sauces, Gentlewoods sauces are quite versatile and can be used as marinades, for basting, and even at the table. Each sauce is richly flavorful and distinctly different -- there's the original Mild, earthy Smokey, and tangy Mustard --  and yet they all share a signature blend of naturally sweet tomato and tangy vinegar commonly found in traditional western NC (i.e., Lexington or Piedmont) style barbecue sauce.

Whether you use them to sauce up your smoked pork shoulder for pulled pork barbecue, slather them on your slow-cooking ribs, baste some grilled chicken or shrimp kabobs, marinate portobello mushrooms, mix into ground meat for burgers, or dip or pour them at the table, all three Gentlewoods Natural BBQ Sauces will complement and enhance your food without overpowering it the way lesser, mass-produced supermarket sauces tend to do.

Like the sauces, Gentlewoods Natural BBQ Rubs are all-natural, gluten-free and MSG-free all-purpose seasonings for meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables. As with other barbecue seasonings or dry rubs, all you need to do is sprinkle or pat onto the raw meat, etc., and then refrigerate for a couple of hours to overnight for meat and poultry, or up to 2 hours for seafood and vegetables. Gentlewoods Rubs are available in four unique and versatile flavors: Mild (savory-sweet with just a touch of pepper), Smokey (robust and earthy with smoked peppers and natural smoke flavor), Pincho (savory not sweet and festively spicy, named after the Spanish word for "skewer"), and Safari (a subtly exotic blend of coriander, pepper and lemon that's based on traditional South African cuisine).

Superb on everything from pork and beef to venison and lamb, tuna or salmon steaks to veggie or shrimp kabobs, and anything else you might want to toss on the grill or smoker, Gentlewoods Rubs also make excellent table seasonings for French fries, breakfast potatoes, steamed or broiled fish, roasted vegetables, and even popcorn.

To find out more about these luscious, good-for-you and great-tasting all-natural, gluten-free barbecue sauces and seasoning rubs, or to place your order online, visit our new Gentlewoods Natural Sauces & Seasonings page.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jalapenos, Bacon & ECU Pirate Pride at the NC Steak Cook-Off

Mr. Steak
The inaugural North Carolina Steak Cook-Off was held a few weeks ago in Winterville, NC, and I was able to stop by for a couple of hours before heading off to another commitment.

In addition to vying for the title of Best-Tasting 16oz Steak, teams could also compete in two other categories: Appetizers, and Showmanship. Although I had to leave the Cook-Off before the steaks hit the grill, I did get to watch many of the teams preparing and cooking a mouthwatering array of "apps" -- in the food world, that means appetizers and not new programs for your smartphone. And much to my delight, the competitors were happy to offer up samples for me to taste -- maybe I looked hungry, as I never asked for a bite and yet was regularly offered food!

In addition to popular grill favorites like chicken and sausages, a surprising number of teams prepared apps featuring stuffed jalapenos and bacon, and often both. Everything I tasted was excellent, from the tangy-sweet spicy-hot grilled chicken to the smoked pancetta and grilled pork neck made with a secret Italian marinade. I suspect the judges had a deliciously difficult time selecting the winner from among all the zesty entries.

Among the judging criteria for Showmanship were the design & decoration of the "pit area" for each team, the hospitality of team members, and entertainment. Many teams displayed their support for the ECU Pirates, which made sense given that Winterville is just outside of Greenville, where East Carolina University is located.  But there was at least one team sporting Duke Blue and proclaiming their love of Duke football. For entertainment, one team brought a "Wheel of Fortune" you could spin to find out your "steak personality." Another team included a member dressed as Mr. Steak, who graciously allowed me to take his photo even after I warned him that I wanted to post it on the internet.

If you'd like to see my photos from the first annual NC Steak Cook-Off, visit the Carolina Sauce Company on Pinterest, where you'll find my board dedicated to the event.

This Saturday I'll be in Lexington, NC, for the BBQ Capital Cook-Off, an event I've been wanting to attend for years. Stay tuned to photos and a report from that event in the near future.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you're in the mood for a juicy steak, make sure you have a good steak seasoning to season it with, such as Montreal Steakhouse Seasoning or Stubb's Steak Spice Rub -- and if you enjoy a nice steak sauce with your steak, you'll find plenty to choose from when you browse our selection of Steak Sauces you won't find at your local supermarket.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Lighter, Zestier Spinach & Roasted Garlic Alfredo

Classic Alfredo sauce is made with heavy cream and plenty of parmesan cheese, which means it's loaded with saturated fat and calories.  Add to that the simple carbohydrates of regular pasta (i.e., high-glycemic, diabetic-unfriendly carbs), and you have a gut-busting, diet-ruining disaster -- albeit a rather tasty one.

My Spinach & Roasted Garlic Alfredo lightens up the traditional cheesy cream sauce without sacrificing flavor by using skim milk, substituting olive oil for half of the butter and adding plenty of mashed roasted garlic and a healthy dash of red pepper flakes (yes, this version is a little spicy). Even if you don't usually buy organic milk, I highly recommend using organic skim milk because it has a much fuller, less "watery" flavor than conventional skim milk. And if you can afford it, use real Parmigiano cheese instead of the mass-produced stuff that comes in the green can. It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, but ideally you want to buy a chunk and shred it yourself or at a minimum make sure it's all-natural and doesn't have "fillers" or "anti-caking agents."

My recipe also improves the nutritional value of traditional fettuccine alfredo by adding some just-wilted fresh spinach to the sauce and substituting whole-wheat pasta (I used shells for mine but you can use fettuccine or any other type)  for the traditional "white" pasta.  My version uses the sauce as more of a light "coating" on the pasta, rather than having the pasta "swimming" in a pool of artery-clogging cream.

The following recipe makes 4 servings.  If you try my lighter, zestier Spinach & Roasted Garlic Alfredo, please leave a comment to let me know what you think!

8 oz whole wheat pasta
6 oz fresh young or "baby" spinach
1 head roasted garlic OR approx. 30 cloves roasted garlic*
1 Tbs butter (do not use margarine)
1 Tbs olive oil**
2 Tbs flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (or substitute black if you don't have white)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups non-fat or skim milk (use organic for best flavor)
1/3 cup shredded (not grated) Parmigiano cheese
Optional garnishes: Additional shredded parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, red pepper flakes if you're a serious chilehead

*To save time & effort, you can buy already-roasted & peeled garlic cloves at Whole Foods or other similar markets, or you can use raw peeled garlic and follow my instructions for Easy "Roasted" Garlic (if you use this simple stove-top method, be sure to remove the cloves from the oil as soon as they have a little color or else they'll get too "crispy" to mash -- in which case, you can simply mince them).  Otherwise, after roasting the whole head of garlic and letting it cool to the touch, you'll want to separate the cloves and peel them by lightly pinching the bottom of the roasted clove to squeeze it out from the skin.

**If you have oil left over from roasting the garlic (you definitely will if you use my stove-top method), use a Tablespoon of this garlic-infused oil because it will enhance the depth & flavor of the sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions. While this is going on, mash the roasted garlic with a fork to make a thick, coarse "paste" and set aside. Rinse the spinach in a colander under running water, drain off water & shake off excess, then transfer the spinach to a heavy saucepan (you want there to be some water still clinging to the leaves). Cook the spinach over high heat until just wilted (no more than 5 minutes), stirring a few times. Remove from heat, drain off as much water as possible -- you can give the spinach a gentle squeeze or press with the back of your spatula/spoon -- and transfer to a plate or bowl.

Wipe the saucepan dry, then add butter and oil. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted, then stir in the flour, salt, peppers & nutmeg and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds to a minute so that the flour loses its "raw" flavor but is still a very pale roux. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly. Raise heat and bring to a boil, still stirring, and cook until sauce is thick (about 3 minutes or so, adjusting the heat as necessary). Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Add the roasted garlic mash and spinach, and stir to thoroughly combine (the wilted spinach leaves tend to clump together so you may need a fork to help you separate them).

Drain the pasta. You can now assemble and serve in one of the following ways: (1) Return drained pasta to pot, pour in the Alfredo sauce, and gently stir until the pasta is coated; OR (2) If your saucepan with the sauce is large enough, fold the drained pasta into the sauce in that pan and stir gently until the pasta is coated; OR (3) transfer the drained pasta onto serving plates and pour the sauce over each serving. I personally like method (2), because the drained pasta can sometimes stick to the bottom of the pasta pot if it is still very hot.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

PS: If you're not vegetarian, my Spinach & Roasted Garlic Alfredo pasta is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled or roasted chicken.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cooked-to-Order BBQ Ribs, Brisket & Pulled Pork Now Available!

Pig of the Month BBQ Delivered NationwideAre you too busy to cook on a smoker, or live someplace where you can't use a grill or smoker?

Do you long for slow-smoked brisket the way it's done in Texas, or authentic Memphis ribs so tender that they pull apart with the gentlest tug, or genuine pulled-pork barbecue like they serve in the Carolinas?

Do you wish you could get championship-quality BBQ and side dishes delivered to your home?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, I have good news:

The Carolina Sauce Company is now your online source for real wood-smoked BBQ, courtesy of our partnership with Pig of the Month BBQ!

Pig of the Month BBQ is a small, family-owned and operated business that's passionate about barbecue and good food. And thanks to their commitment to making authentic barbecue the old-fashioned way and the modern wonders of the internet , you can now buy BBQ online from them and have it delivered to your home! (That is, if you live in the continental US.  They cannot deliver overseas or to APO/FPO addresses because of the perishable nature of their products.)

Choose your meat and your sauce and create your own BBQ packageThe folks at Pig of the Month specialize in making REAL barbeque according to traditional recipes from different regions of the US, and cooking it the old-fashioned way: Wood-smoked, cooked low and slow, and naturally seasoned. All of their meats are 100% natural, free range, anti-biotic free and hormone-free. They even offer a variety of gluten-free products, too.  Everything is cooked and prepared upon order for optimum flavor, then lash-frozen and express-shipped on dry ice with easy instructions for thawing and reheating.

Pig of the Month BBQ offers "a la carte" and "complete meal" packages, plus monthly clubs so that you'll never have to go longer than 30 days without experiencing great BBQ. From smoked beef brisket to Carolina pulled pork, Texas style baby backs to Memphis style ribs (wet OR dry), plus a variety of sausages, gourmet bacon, beef jerky, traditional sides like baked beans and even pimento cheese, chocolate covered bacon and other zesty treats, they have it all. One taste and you'll understand why Pig of the Month has won awards and received effusive praise and well-deserved accolades from countless satisfied customers and duly impressed food critics.

Treat yourself to great homemade barbecue without all the long hours and hard work involved in making it yourself -- or send that special someone an unforgettable barbecue gift from Pig of the Month BBQ.

Click here or on the banner below for more information or to order online, and tell them Carolina Sauce sent you.

The country's best barbecue delivered nationwide!

Zestfully yours,

PS: Pig of the Month BBQ is just one of the great new partners we're working with for specialty meats and gourmet cheeses. Visit our recently updated Meats & Cheese page to browse our offerings.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Danielle's Jamaican Jerk Pulled Pork Sandwich

Photo by Danielle Nichols, used with permission
This exotically delicious alternative to traditional smoked pulled pork was created by Danielle Nichols, the winner of a recent Crock Pot Game on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page.

Danielle's blog is called Cooking for my Peace of Mind, and you'll find many more of her mouthwatering masterpieces there, along with easy-to-follow directions with plenty of illustrative photos.

Danielle's blog also includes instructions for making "staple" foods at home that you might otherwise buy, like English muffins or tofu, making it an excellent resource for anyone interested in making more of their food from scratch instead of buying packaged or processed foods at the supermarket.

I also follow Danielle's Peaceful Cooking page on Facebook, and you should, too -- check it out, and let her know you found her through Carolina Sauce.

Danielle was kind enough to give me permission to post her recipe here, along with the gorgeous photo she took of her Jamaican jerk pulled pork sandwich. Read Danielle's original recipe on her blog for more background information as well as several helpful photos showing the pork butt as it cooked.

3 lbs Boston Butt, aka pork shoulder or pork butt
2 oz Busha Browne's Traditional Jerk Seasoning Rub
12 oz beer
Chicken broth or water

Preheat your oven to 275° F. Rub the seasoning all over the pork butt and place in a roasting pan. Pour the beer into the roasting pan. Add enough chicken broth or water (if using water, add some chicken bouillon if you have it) to bring the liquid up to the mid-point of your meat. Cover the pan tightly with foil and roast for about 6-7 hours, until fall-apart tender: Danielle says that when she tried to remove the cooked butt from the pan with a fork and spatula, the meat was so tender that it fell apart.

Use a couple of forks to shred the meat. Pour some of the juices from the roasting pan over the pulled pork and dive in. Or, make Danielle's sandwich: Pile some of the pulled pork onto a bun and top with your favorite coleslaw. Danielle adds some finely chopped pineapple, mango and strawberries to her creamy slaw to add tropical flair that beautifully complements the Jamaican jerk flavors of the meat.

Thanks, Danielle, for letting me share your recipe with my readers!

And if anyone wants to win some FREE sauces and seasonings from the Carolina Sauce Company, simply Like us on Facebook and look for our Crock Pot Game posts on the first of each month! The next game will be posted on our Facebook page on May 1st.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Try Iguana Smoky Chipotle Salsa for Cinco de Mayo

Iguana Chipotle Salsa
If you're planning a Cinco de Mayo party, or simply searching for a zesty new salsa to enjoy with chips, nachos or your favorite Mexican foods, now is the time to order Iguana Smoky Chipotle Salsa from the Carolina Sauces online store.

No iguanas were harmed in the making of this spicy-hot and smoky-earthy salsas.

Instead, this unique chipotle salsa is made from fresh tomatoes, ripe red jalapenos, red bell peppers and even a dash of cinnamon and cloves for a naturally intense red color and intriguingly rich, deep layers of feisty flavor.

Enjoy Iguana Chipotle Salsa as you would any traditional tomato salsa -- with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, nachos etc. -- and anywhere you'd normally use ketchup when you're in the mood for some Mexican flair, e.g., on hamburgers, with scrambled eggs, in omelets or with huevos rancheros. It's also a nice addition to tuna salad or chicken salad instead of pickle relish when you want to change up your favorite salads, sandwiches or wraps. Stir some of this versatile chipotle salsa into a pot of chile or work into raw ground beef for meatloaf for fabulously fun flavor with a hint of smoky heat. The possibilities are endless!

Iguana Smoky Jalapeno Chipotle Salsa is currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company, so buy it today for the 5th of May (aka Cinco de Mayo).

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Don't forget your favorite Mexican hot sauce, and maybe some hotter or milder (or even fruity) salsa to complete your Mexican feast -- we have them all at our online store!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Mexican Take on Cajun Dirty Rice

Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun dish of white rice cooked with chopped or ground chicken livers and/or gizzards (which give the rice a dark, i.e., "dirty" color) and typical Cajun seasonings.

I created the following Mexican twist on this Cajun classic when I realized that I didn't have all the ingredients I needed to make authentic dirty rice, but had already thawed my stash of frozen chicken and turkey livers, gizzards & other giblets* and had the right ingredients for making something Mexican.

The other change I made was to substitute brown rice for the white, simply because that's what was in my pantry. If you are using white rice, adjust the liquid-to-rice ratio to 1 1/2 cups liquid to 1 cup rice.

*We usually have plenty of frozen poultry livers & gizzards because we've been buying whole organic chicken and turkey rather than already-cut parts. Buying the whole bird is significantly cheaper, and the "odd bits" like necks & backs can be used for making stock or broth while the "giblet bits" are highly nutritious and can be used in many recipes (not just fried or added to gravy).

So, if you like dirty rice and want to try my spicy, "South of the Border" version, here's how to make it:

1 cup brown rice
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bottle dark Mexican beer, e.g., Negra Modelo
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & diced
1 small onion, chopped
2 or 3 mini sweet red peppers, seeded & diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 to 1 lb chicken and/or turkey livers and/or giblets (livers, kidneys, hearts, gizzards)
2 Tbs olive oil, bacon fat, or combo
1 Tbs Mexican chili powder seasoning blend
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley, plus a little more for garnish
Optional: Salt to taste (depends on whether your chili powder blend includes salt)
Optional: A good Mexican hot sauce, e.g., El Yucateco, Bufalo, Cholula, Tapatio or Valentina

Carefully drain off the liquid from the diced tomatoes into a measuring cup, then fill to the 1-cup mark with beer and pour this into a saucepan.  Add rest of beer to measuring up - if less than 1 cup, then fill to the 1-cup mark with water. If you reach the 1-cup mark and still have some beer left in the bottle, feel free to drink that. Pour the cup of beer (or beer & water) into the saucepan, add rice and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 50 minutes on low, then turn off the burner and let sit, still covered, for another 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, heat the oil/fat in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the poultry livers/giblets and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until browned, stirring regularly. Add the vegetables except the tomatoes and saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and Mexican seasoning, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Uncover and check liquid amount: The mixture should be fairly thick and saucy without excess liquid. If it seems too "watery," simply raise the heat to cook off some of the liquid. On the other hand, if it looks fairly thick and the rice isn't yet done, cover the mixture and reduce heat to low to keep warm until rice is done.

Once the rice is done cooking, stir it into the cooked vegetable mixture, stir in the cilantro or parsley, and taste for balance. If desired, add salt and/or a few splashes of hot sauce to taste.  Serve hot, garnished with a little chopped cilantro or parsley.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Follow Carolina Sauce on Google+

The Carolina Sauce Company is now officially on Google+ (and as some of our friends have been telling me, "it's about time")!

We are thrilled to have taken the plunge (finally) and joined the vibrant and growing food community on what's expected to become the new way to search and interact online with people and brands.

We've just now started out on Google+ and are learning the ropes, so to speak, so we'd love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below or visit the Carolina Sauce Company on Google+ to tell us what you'd like to see from us or simply to say hello.

So, let us know:

Are you on Google+ yet?

Do you look for recipes or product info or "talk food" on Google+ ?

Are there any G+ pages or communities you'd recommend?

What would you like us to share on Google+ ?

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How to Grill Beets

Did you know you can grill beets?

More importantly, did you know that grilled beets are marvelously tasty?

Even more so than oven-roasting -- which brings out a deep, earthy mellowness in beets -- cooking beets on a grill enhances their natural sweetness and imparts a subtle, gentle smokiness while completely taming any hint of bitterness (not an issue if you're cooking small, young beets) and rendering them melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Beets, along with many other root vegetables, are often overlooked at the grocery store -- which is a shame because they are highly nutritious, inexpensive, surprisingly versatile and downright delicious when you know how to cook them.

When shopping for beets, select small, firm ones without blemishes or mushy spots. If you find beets with their green tops still attached, select ones that aren't wilted or yellowed and save the greens for other recipes (you can cook them like kale, chard, collards, spinach or other greens, and I have several recipes on this blog for beet greens).

Thoroughly scrub the beets under running water to remove any dirt and trim off the ends as well as any little hairy roots. I like to cook beets unpeeled and then either slip off the skin when cool enough to handle, or eat them unpeeled. Depending on how you're preparing the beets, you may want to peel them prior to cooking.

For grilled beets, I dry them with paper towels after washing, leave them unpeeled and cut into quarters, and then again if the beets are larger. The key is for the beet chunks to be relatively similar in size so that they'll cook evenly.

Place the beet chunks in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, drizzle with olive oil and generously season with Kosher or sea salt plus freshly ground black pepper to taste (I like using a coarse grind). Use a spatula to toss the beets in the bowl until evenly coated with oil and seasonings -- if using a plastic bag, seal the bag and shake until the beets are evenly coated.

Tear a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil that's large enough to hold the beets in a single layer in the center, and fold the edges up to make a "tray."  Transfer the beets onto this "tray" and carefully place on your grill over indirect, medium-hot coals.  Cover and cook until fork-tender and lightly browned, about 30 to 45 minutes, turning the beets a couple of times to ensure even cooking on all sides.

That's it!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Get the #1 Best-Selling Recipe Software

Cook'n Recipe OrganizerThe Carolina Sauce Company is thrilled to be able to bring you the #1 best-selling recipe software on the market, Cook'n Recipe Organizer!

Available for Mac, PC and mobile devices, the newest version of Cook'n lets you capture your favorite online recipes from websites using just a single click.

You can also enter your own recipes quickly and easily with their Quick-Fill feature, drag & drop your recipes to create custom menus, and even auto-generate shopping lists organized by store aisles to make shopping for ingredients a breeze.

Out of ideas for dinner? Simply type in your ingredients on hand to generate recipe ideas from your Cook'n software.

Cook'n Recipe OrganizerTrying to eat healthier food? Cook'n lets you calculate the nutrition values of your favorite recipes.

Need more or fewer servings than your recipe makes? Use Cook'n to easily scale the recipe to make exactly the number of servings you need.

Cook'n takes advantage of the latest technology to make cooking and recipe-sharing a breeze:
  • You can synch it with your iPhone or Android phone to access recipes at your kitchen counter

  • You can email recipes to friends and family

  • You can even create and print a family cookbook!
Cook'n Recipe Organizer

These are just a few of the features you get with version 10 of Cook'n, used by over 3 million people to make menu planning, grocery shopping and mealtime a snap.

To learn more about Cook'n, watch a demo video and to place your order for this revolutionary recipe organizing software, simply click here.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Zesty Greek Salad with "Winter" Greek Dressing

The following Greek salad is typical of the style served here in the US, rather than in Greece, with the main difference being the lettuce (it's an American addition that's not normally included in traditional Greek salads).

I call my Greek vinaigrette a "winter" dressing because it's made with dried rather than fresh herbs, so you can make it year-round. If you have fresh herbs available, you can generally substitute for dried herbs by doubling or tripling the quantity (e.g., 1 teaspoon of dried oregano becomes 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped oregano). Rosemary is tricky because of its intense flavor, especially when fresh, so unless you adore its unique flavor then I recommend no more than double the amount if using fresh.

By its very nature, this salad dressing is quite flexible and versatile so feel free to adjust amounts of or even omit certain herbs to suit your taste. In addition to serving it with green salads, my Greek dressing is excellent as a marinade for chicken, fish and other seafood, vegetables, and even chunks of beef or lamb for kabobs. You can also use it to season steamed or grilled vegetables, or drizzle over seared scallops, or toss with cooked pasta.

I did not list amounts for the salad components and you should "customize" the ingredients and quantities for the number of servings you need and for your taste preferences. The anchovies are optional and may be omitted, of course.

Make this salad a meal by topping with grilled or roast chicken or meat, grilled or broiled salmon or tuna steak, or grilled shrimp.

Ingredients for Winter Greek Dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano (Greek oregano if available)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon (or regular lemon)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp prepared Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Shake vigorously in a tightly lidded jar OR use stick/immersion blender to mix thoroughly. Store in refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using. This dressing tends to taste even better the next day because the flavors will continue to develop.

Ingredients for Salad
Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Chopped tomatoes
Thinly sliced cucumber
Sliced sweet or bell peppers
Thinly sliced red onion
Pepperoncini peppers (sliced or whole)
Mediterranean or Kalamata olives
Crumbled Feta cheese
Optional: Anchovy filets

Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Drizzle with some dressing to taste and toss to lightly coat everything. Top with peperoncini, olives, feta cheese & anchovies if desired.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, April 15, 2013

Huy Fong Sriracha (Rooster Sauce) is Here!

Huy Fong Sriracha Chili Sauce
Great news for hot sauce enthusiasts, Thai food fans and chileheads: The world-renowned Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, aka "Rooster Sauce," is now available at the Carolina Sauce Company online store!

Sriracha sauce is a staple in Thai cooking when a recipe calls for serious hot and spicy peppery heat. This is THE original fiery chili sauce from the Srirachi region of Thailand and made from sun-ripened hot chilies blended with tangy vinegar and pungent garlic for that unmistakeable savory flavor and signature Thai heat. The trademark white rooster boldly emblazoned on the front of the bottle gives it the nickname "rooster sauce."

Unlike thin, vinegary hot sauces that you'll find at supermarkets, Huy Fong Sriracha Sauce has more of a "stick to your food" substance to it, making it an excellent choice for using on sandwiches, burgers, pizza, fries, and on anything else that you'd like to spice up without making it soggy.

Rooster Sauce is also a smart choice when you're searching for an all-purpose, versatile hot sauce to add heat to your favorite recipes without altering the other flavors in the dish. It will not make everything taste "Thai" or "Asian," but instead will ratchet up the heat level without masking, overpowering or changing the flavor (so you don't have to worry about having to add more herbs or other spices, or whether your spaghetti sauce will taste "Oriental" -- it won't; it will just be hotter).

Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce comes in a large, 17oz plastic bottle, making it a bargain at our sale price. A little goes a long way, so you're getting excellent value when you buy Rooster Sauce online from us -- and because it's so good on everything, you'll want to order two or more bottles at a time so that you don't run out (and shipping is cheaper that way, too).  So the next time you need to buy sriracha sauce online, think Carolina Sauce Company.

What do YOU like to put Sriracha on? Tell us in a comment below!

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gobi Jalfrezi: Spicy Indian Cauliflower with Tangy Tomato Sauce

This tangy Indian cauliflower recipe is vegetarian, and you can make it vegan if you cook it with oil instead of ghee (Indian clarified butter). For the vegan version, I recommend a "neutral" oil like safflower, canola or vegetable oil.

If you like hot and spicy food, use hot red chili peppers -- I used red ripe jalapenos -- and if you prefer a milder dish, use sweet mini red peppers or a small red bell pepper. Or, you can use those fiery dried red chilies found in Asian markets:  Add them to the hot oil or ghee with the spices at the beginning, and remember not to eat the dried chilies (unless you really do want to experience their searing heat).

1 cauliflower (approx 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb)
4 small hot red chili peppers,e.g., ripe jalapenos or fresno chiles
1 cup diced tomatoes
3 Tbs ghee or mild oil
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs ginger paste OR minced or pureed ginger*
2 Tbs garlic paste OR minced or pureed garlic*
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 Tbs chopped cilantro or parsley, plus a little more for garnish

*You can find ready-made ginger paste and garlic paste at Indian markets, or you can make garlic past & ginger paste at home quite easily.

Cut the cauliflower into small florets and chop the thicker stems into small pieces. Remove seeds from peppers and cut into long strips. Heat oil or ghee over medium-high heat. Add bay leaves, ginger, garlic, cumin, cloves & cardamom and cook, stirring regularly, until fragrant and the seeds start to crackle.  Add cauliflower, chili peppers, salt & ground pepper, stir until the cauliflower is evenly coated with the fat & spices, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring just once or twice, until cauliflower begins to soften a bit, about 10 minutes. Uncover, stir in tomatoes and vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook at a low simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and stir: If the mixture is not fairly dry, increase heat and cook a little longer to evaporate most of the liquid. Serve hot "as is" or over cooked rice. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Saturday, April 13, 2013

For Mature Audiences Only (Must Be Over 18)

Hot Sauce with Scratch-Off "Top"
You asked for them -- indeed, some of you clamored and begged for them -- and ultimately we listened, albeit reluctantly.

After much deliberation, we decided to give you what you want: "Mature Label" or X-Rated hot sauces are now available at the Carolina Sauces online store. And when we say "X Rated" we're not referring to extreme heat.

Often found at "novelty shops" and tourist-town hot sauce stores, these bawdy, raunchy, sometimes funny and often offensive hot sauces & snacks come with R-rated to X-rated labels and naughty names like Wake the F*** Up Coffee (extra-caffeinated ground coffee), or D***head Bin Laden Hot Sauce (with a "photo-shopped" picture of Osama on the label), and the like.  Others come with a novelty keychain attached to the bottle, e.g., a mini rubber chicken keychain for a hot sauce that includes the word "choke" in its name.... I think you get the picture.

Speaking of pictures, the Ultimate Burn "The Brazen Lady" Hot Sauce with Scratch-Off Top, looks fairly tame -- a curvy lady in a skimpy bikini -- but the the bikini top scratches off to reveal what's underneath. What will they think of next???

These adult-themed hot sauces are intended for mature audiences only, ages 18 and up, as stated in the warning on our website. Likewise, they are not intended for anyone who might be offended by R-rated to X-rated language or images. If either of these warnings might apply to you, please do NOT visit our Mature Label Hot Sauces page.

We want to know what you think: Should the Carolina Sauce Company continue selling these adult hot sauces, snacks and coffees? Or should we stick with family-friendly products only, going no further than the "PG-13 rated" sauces and products shown on our Humorous & Funny Hot Sauces page?

Please leave us a comment below to tell us what you think. We promise we'll listen.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, April 12, 2013

Greek-Inspired Ground Beef (or Venison) Skillet Supper

I came up with this easy, low-carb ground meat skillet supper to satisfy our craving for Pastitsio, a traditional Greek "comfort food" casserole made with elbow macaroni, ground lamb or beef, and a rich, custard-like topping.

My recipe omits the pasta and the high-fat egg & milk custard, while focusing on the warm, deep and subtly exotic Mediterranean flavors of the spiced meat.

I further deviated from tradition by adding sauteed mushrooms for an earthy depth, and cooked everything on the stove in a large skillet instead of baking in the oven.

Although lamb and beef are commonly used in Pastitsio and other Greek dishes, I used ground venison (Greg is a hunter and we often use venison instead of beef). Not only is venison leaner and arguably healthier than beef, its stronger, "meatier" flavor takes quite nicely to the cinnamon and other spices in this recipe, much like lamb would.

Approx. 2 lbs ground beef, venison or lamb
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper OR 2 to 3 mini sweet peppers, seeded & chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cremini (baby portobello) mushrooms
1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained & chopped*
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

*If you only have regular or stewed canned tomatoes, you can use those instead.

Simmering in the skillet
Saute onions, garlic & peppers in olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, cooking until softened. Add mushrooms and saute until softened. Use a slotted spoon to transfer vegetables into a small bowl while you brown the meat.

Add ground meat to skillet, raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring regularly, until browned but not yet fully cooked. Pour off excess fat from skillet, return vegetables to skillet, sprinkle with all the seasonings, add tomatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, then cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until meat is done (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. If there is still too much liquid in the pan after 30 minutes, uncover, bring heat back up to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until excess liquid has evaporated.  Makes 6 to 8 servings. If carbohydrates are not a concern, you can serve over cooked rice or noodles.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Although this dish is full of zesty flavor, it's not peppery-spicy. If you are one of those people who prefers to spice things up at the table with a few splashes of hot sauce, I recommend Ring of Fire Garden Fresh Chile Sauce (made with ripe tomatoes, serrano chiles, roasted garlic & onion) or Fatalii Fire Hot Sauce (made with rare Fatalii & Caribe chiles in a savory vinegar-garlic base) for this recipe.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Click Here for Carolina Sauce Company Coupons

Would you like a Coupon for 5% off ALL orders and for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $75 at the Carolina Sauces online store?

If your answer is, "YES!" then send me an email with the subject line "April VIP Coupon" and I'll send your Coupon to you, along with a complimentary copy of our free monthly VIP e-Newsletter.

In addition to your VIP coupon, this month's newsletter includes a zesty recipe for Mango Rainbow Salsa, and short reviews of some of the newest sauces and seasonings now available at the Carolina Sauce Company.

Our VIP savings are always the best deals available on Carolina Sauce products, and available only to our VIPs.

Don't miss out on future monthly Coupons and exclusive VIP sales: Sign up for our FREE monthly VIP e-Newsletter and join over 13,000 Carolina Sauce VIPs who are taking advantage of monthly specials, tasty recipes & grilling tips, and the inside scoop on recent arrivals at our online store.

Any questions? Simply email me or leave a comment below.

And if you want our current VIP coupon for 5% off ALL orders and for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $75, send me an email that says "April VIP Coupon" by clicking here: sales@carolinasauce.comsales@carolinasauce.com

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gloria's Mexicali Tuna Salad

This simple yet full-flavored chunky tuna salad is sure to wake up tired taste buds without burning your mouth or breaking your wallet. It's inspired by California's "fresh-Mex" cuisine (hence the name), and you control how spicy to make it by your choice of chili pepper. I used a relatively mild Pasilla chili in the salad shown in the photo, but feel free to go with a jalapeno, habanero, serrano or other hotter pepper. The mayonnaise and avocado help mitigate the heat so even when you use a hotter variety of chile pepper, my Mexicali Tuna Salad won't get too hot.

I usually serve this salad on a simple bed of lettuce, but it's fantastic in pita sandwiches, wraps, and regular ol' sliced-bread sandwiches. You can also enjoy it as a chunky dip for raw celery, carrot sticks, endive and similar crudites, or with crackers as a snack.  The following recipe makes enough for two to four servings.

1 10oz-12oz can tuna packed in water, drained & flaked
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup seeded & diced chili pepper of your choice
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1 or 2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tsp. chili powder (preferably Mexican chili powder)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small avocado, cubed

Mix together all ingredients, except avocado, in a bowl. Gently fold in the avocado -- a silicone spatula works well for this. Taste for balance and season with additional chili powder if desired, or with salt and/or pepper.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you want to add a little bit of tangy heat to this salad, add a few drops or splashes of a good Mexican hot sauce like Bufalo Hot Sauce or Cholula. And if you're a fan of cilantro, you can add a little bit of chopped fresh cilantro to the mix, too. I would have done so, except I didn't have any at the time.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Neely's BBQ Sauce is Now Available Online from Carolina Sauce

As part of our efforts to bring the best Southern BBQ sauces and other regional food favorites from the South to more people around the country, the Carolina Sauce Company is pleased to add Neely's Barbecue Sauce to our online offerings!

Neely's Bar-B-Que Restaurant first opened in Memphis, Tennessee, and this is THE fabled sauce that put their mouthwatering ribs on the map, with its rich and tangy tomato flavor. Neely's now has locations in Nashville, TN, as well as Memphis, and has been featured on the Food Network and in Southern Living, Bon Appetit, the NY Times, USA Today and numerous other national publications. As a result, barbecue-lovers from all over the US and even overseas have been flocking to Neely's for the type of good, old-fashioned meal that's worth the trip and creates a lifetime of memories. And now you can enjoy that memorably delicious flavor at home when you buy Neely's BBQ Sauce online from our Southern Foods page.

Neely's Original BBQ Sauce is pleasantly sweet with just the right amount of spicy sass without being hot -- in other words, the whole family will enjoy it. Equally tasty with beef or pork, this well-balanced barbecue sauce also complements chicken, and no one will complain if you use it on veggies or shrimp, too. Slather this thick, "clingy" sauce on ribs for a Memphis-style feast, and use it for basting, finishing and dipping at the table. It's also great mixed into ground meat for all sorts of recipes like meat loaf and burgers, or added to baked beans, frank-n-beans (aka homemade "beany weenies") and even in chili.

If sweet and mellow barbecue sauce makes your day, look no further than Neely's Honey-Kissed Barbeque Sauce, which we're also proud to carry on our Southern Foods page.  Pure honey is blended into the original tomato-based recipe to create a lusciously rich, naturally sweet and sublimely smooth flavor that will have you licking your fingers and reaching for more of whatever you slather with it. Ribs -- both beef and pork -- and brisket taste fabulous when basted with this sauce during the final 10 minutes of grilling or smoking, as the sauce caramelizes to seal in the flavors while forming a mouthwatering crust (this is what makes "burnt ends" a favorite of serious brisket aficionados). But Neely's Honey-Kissed BBQ Sauce truly shines with grilled or roasted chicken, and it transforms simple kabobs (meat, veggie, shrimp, chicken or tofu) into delightful morsels of deliciousness. Try it as a glaze for baked ham, or baste pork chops or venison medallions for a real treat. It's an obvious choice for saucing baked beans, or heated up as a dip for party meatballs, chicken wings or finger, or for cooking country ribs in the oven or crock pot.

If you prefer a spicier barbecue sauce with more of a peppery kick, try Neely's Spicy Barbeque Sauce, also available on our Southern Foods page. Neely's has taken their famous original recipe and added just enough hot peppers and zesty spices to the sweet tomato base to make it bold and feisty, without crossing that "thin red line of danger" into the fiery-hot zone. This robust BBQ sauce is simply wonderful on pork or beef ribs as well as with grilled or roasted chicken, brisket, venison, hamburgers, and even grilled vegetables and shrimp. You can add it to ground meat recipes (meatloaf, meatballs, burgers, sloppy joes, etc.), and it's guaranteed to ratchet up the flavor of baked beans and similar bean recipes. Some folks even like it as a dip for party meatballs, chicken wings, tater tots and French fries.

So the next time you're in the mood for real Memphis BBQ without leaving the comfort of your home -- or if you want to send someone a taste of genuine Memphis barbecue sauce -- order Neely's BBQ Sauce from the Carolina Sauce Company.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, April 8, 2013

Saag (Palak) Paneer: Indian Spinach & Cheese

Saag Paneer, also called Palak Paneer, is a staple in Indian restaurants here in the US, probably because it's one of the most approachable dishes for people unfamiliar with Indian food. It's also a favorite of vegetarians and anyone who enjoys creamy, tender-cooked greens.

In India, spinach and a wide variety of other greens -- including collards, beet tops, mustard greens, fenugreek greens and more -- are often cooked with spices and paneer, a mild "cottage" style cheese that's usually formed into blocks and cut into cubes, much like feta. There are countless variations on this beloved dish, ranging from creamy-smooth to textured and mildly spiced to fiery-hot, and varying by region and from cook to cook.

Here is my version of Palak Paneer, aka Saag Paneer. While most traditional Indian cooks begin with fresh greens, I use frozen for convenience. You can find paneer, ghee (Indian clarified butter), garam masala, garlic paste and ginger paste at Indian markets as well as at larger natural or specialty foods stores like Whole Foods. While there really is no substitute for paneer, you can use vegetable, safflower or canola oil instead of ghee, and use fresh ginger and garlic to make ginger paste & garlic paste (it's very easy and more economical than buying the pastes). You can order garam masala online or make garam masala by using my recipe found in this old newsletter. Use your choice of spinach or other greens, or any combination of greens. I used a mixture of spinach and collard greens for the version shown in these photos.

Frontier Garam Masala CERTIFIED ORGANIC Seasoning Blend, 2.00 oz. Bottle
Buy garam masala
3 10oz (approx) bags of frozen spinach or greens, thawed
14 oz (approx) block of paneer, cut into 1/2" or 3/4" cubes
3 Tbs ghee or vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 hot green chilies, seeded & minced
1 1/2 Tbs ginger paste OR finely minced ginger
1 1/2 Tbs garlic paste OR 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 cup half & half OR cream

Heat the ghee in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add paneer cubes and brown on all sides, stirring as needed to prevent melting or burning. Use a slotted spoon to remove the browned paneer to a plate, then add onion, chilies, garlic & ginger pastes, salt & spices to the hot ghee and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion and chilies are soft.  Stir in thawed greens, making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 20 minutes or longer for tougher greens. If the greens start looking too dry, add just a little water (no more than 1 or 2 Tablespoons) to keep them moist but not watery.

Once the greens are tender to taste, stir in the half & half or cream and the paneer, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes on low, stirring occasionally, until paneer is heated through. Serves 4 to 6 and leftovers can be reheated the next day.

Zestfully yours,