Sunday, June 30, 2013

Two Ways to Save Money on Your Favorite Sauces & Seasonings

Crock Pot slow cooker
Our crock pot, "Grandma Gert"
HEADS UP!  The Carolina Sauce Company has two ways for you to save money when you shop online for sauces and seasonings in July!

Here's what you need to know so that you can cash in:

1. Starting tomorrow, July 1st, we'll have a new "Crock Pot Game" posted on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page, and this time everyone who plays is a winner!

Don't worry, this isn't one of those Facebook game apps like "Candy Crush" or whatever it's called. Our Crock Pot Game is actually more like a giveaway or contest. We just don't call it that so as to not get in trouble with FB.

To be a winner, all you have to do is look for our upcoming July 1st post on FB with a photo of our crock pot, affectionately nicknamed "Grandma Gert" -- she's the lovely old slow-cooker in the photo. Follow the instructions there and leave your comment under that post -- be sure to "Like" us on Facebook if you haven't already done so -- and I'll PM or message you with your money-saving prize, a special discount coupon good on anything at the Carolina Sauces online store. There's nothing to buy, nothing to sign up for, and no other commitment; simply comment on our FB post during the game and you're automatically a winner! The coupon is fully transferable, too, so you can pass it along to a friend if you wish.

Carolina Sauce VIP Club
2. Sometime in the next few days -- the exact date is a secret -- our Carolina Sauce VIPs will receive the July issue of our free monthly VIP newsletter. In addition to a zesty recipe or BBQ & grilling tips plus brief reviews of our newest products, the July newsletter will include a special coupon code exclusively for our VIP Club members. With this coupon code our VIPs receive a bigger and better discount than any available to non-VIPs.

If you want preferred VIP pricing and the lowest prices we offer, all you have to do is join our free VIP Club by signing up here: Carolina Sauce Company VIP Club. It's that easy - there's no purchase required, and no commitment either (you can unsubscribe anytime).

Our VIP Club entitles you to receive our monthly email newsletter with exclusive VIP-only savings, recipes, product updates, VIP Club recipes & cooking tips and other zesty news. We don't send you anything else unless you request it, we don't bug you for any reason, and we never share or sell your email address or anything else about you with anyone.

Be sure to sign up soon so that you don't miss out on our July VIP discount coupon!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you have any problems signing up, or playing our Facebook Crock Pot Game, or have any other questions or feedback, simply leave a comment below or email me. You can also contact us through FB if you prefer, with a comment on our Page or a message. We're always happy to help, and love hearing from our fans and customers!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Southern-Style Purple Beans with Bacon Ends

purple string beans
I'd never seen or heard of "purple" beans until I found them in my CSA produce box. According to the flyer that came from the farm, they're merely a purple version of ordinary green beans (string beans), and they naturally turn green as they cook. That latter bit did not surprise me, as I had received some purple okra from a friend last summer and it, too, turned green during cooking.

The following should hardly be called a recipe because I simply threw it together using ingredients I had on hand -- in other words, it's "throw cooking," which refers to a cooking method or philosophy, usually based on traditional Southern or country cooking.

If you don't have bacon ends, you could certainly substitute chopped thick-cut bacon, fatback, or even chopped country ham (if the latter, you probably will need additional fat for sauteing). Likewise, the quantities reflect what I had available; you can adjust them to suit your needs and amounts on hand.

bacon ends onion garlic
2 lbs purple beans (or green beans or string beans), washed & ends snapped off
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used green garlic, which is stronger)
Half of a small onion, chopped
4 to 6 oz. bacon ends (or equivalent bacon or fatback)
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (leave enough room for the beans to fit without sloshing water out), then plunge in the beans and bring back to a boil. If you're using purple beans, they'll soon turn green. Let the beans boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes depending on how crisp/tender you like them, then drain into a large colander and immediately rinse with cold water until cool to the touch (this will stop the cooking process and brighten the green color).

Southern style string beans
Brown the bacon ends in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic & onion and saute until light golden (the pork will finish cooking during this time). Add the drained beans, season with salt & pepper to taste, stir and cook until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. That's it!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you like spicing up your string beans, a nice vinegar pepper sauce like Texas Pete Hot Sauce (which is actually a North Carolina hot sauce despite the name), or Tabasco Sauce will add Southern style tangy heat.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hank Williams Jr.'s Family Tradition BBQ Sauces & Seasonings

Hank Williams Family Tradition BBQ Sauce
The Carolina Sauces online store is now your source when you want to buy Hank Williams Jr.'s Family Tradition BBQ Sauce and seasonings online -- and they're all on sale, too!

These old-fashioned, all-American barbecue sauces feature a rich and sweet tomato base with just a touch of tang and spice from Worcestershire and mustard, making them instant family favorites from the first bite. The original Hank Williams Jr. Family Tradition BBQ Sauce is mild (no peppery heat) yet boldly flavorful so that it complements hearty grilled or smoked meats like beef or pork ribs and brisket, burgers, chicken etc. Slather it on during the final few minutes of grilling, or use it for dipping or pouring at the table. It's fabulous as a ketchup replacement in many recipes whenever you want a more robust, barbecue flavor.

For fans of hot and spicy sauces, you need to get Hank Williams Jr's Family Tradition Hot BBQ Sauce. It begins with the same food-friendly flavor profile as the mild original, but a special blend of secret spices are added for some feisty sass. It's still fairly mild on the heat scale, with no more than a mellow medium burn that won't hurt your mouth or overpower your food. It finishes with a pleasantly peppery bite, making it great when you want to add a little kick to wake up the palate. This hot barbecue sauce is so well-balanced that it won't disappoint chiliheads who normally eat hotter sauces (unless, of course, they've completely destroyed their taste buds from chronic pepper extract addiction or extreme hot sauce abuse).

Hank Williams Jr Family Tradition Mountain Smoke Bar-B-Que Sauce
Do you prefer robust, smoky barbecue sauces? Then Hank Williams Jr.'s Family Tradition Mountain Smoke BBQ Sauce is waiting for you! Comparable to the mild original in its basic flavor profile and heat level, this baby gets its more robust earthy flavor from the judicious addition of natural smoke for genuine slow-cooked flavor even when all you have is a gas grill (or when you're stuck cooking indoors). Close your eyes and you'll swear you're eating a down-home country cook's handmade creation, instead of a bottled barbecue sauce. As with the other flavors, Mountain Smoke BBQ Sauce is masterfully crafted so that the various flavor notes complement each other as well as your food.

Hank Williams Jr. also has a family recipe for a barbecue dry rub seasoning, and he calls it (obviously enough) Hank Williams Jr.'s Family Tradition BBQ Rub. This is a classic Southern-style sweet & savory rub, which means the sugar will caramelize into a mouthwatering crispy "bark" when you apply the rub to ribs, pork butt, brisket, chops and more. It also has a bit of a spicy-hot peppery kick, but that also tempers down a bit as the rub cooks on your food. And because it's enhanced with a touch of natural hickory smoke flavor, Hank Williams Barbecue Rub is an excellent choice for indoor cooking and gas grill users when you want a naturally smoky flavor but don't have the equipment or time to achieve it otherwise.

Hank Williams Family Tradition BBQ Rub
To complete the product line, there's Hank Williams Jr. Family Tradition Jalapeno Hot Sauce, a jaunty and fun-loving concoction that gets its uniquely mellow and playfully spicy burn from ripe red jalapenos. Unlike typical jalapeno hot sauces that are usually made with the more common unripe green chilies, this one doesn't have a sharp bite or edginess that can turn off folks who don't eat hot sauce often. In fact, I bet that if you can persuade a wary diner to try a bite of food seasoned with this gently spicy hot sauce, they'll be pleasantly surprised and soon will be reaching for the bottle to splash more on their food. You also get more for your money when you buy this hot sauce because it comes in a 6oz bottle instead of the typical 5oz hot sauce, and it's cheaper than most 5oz sauces!

Any of these barbecue sauces, hot sauce or seasoning rub would be a great choice for your Independence Day BBQ, picnic, cookout, camping vacation or other Fourth of July Celebration, as they're all proudly made in the USA.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Greg's Low-Carb Meat-Lover's Cabbage Rolls

low-carb cabbage rolls
Greg is an unabashed meat-lover and his metabolism works best when he avoids processed foods and carbohydrates while concentrating his caloric intake on protein, natural fats and low-glycemic vegetables like cabbage and other greens.

Greg also loves German food, and he came up with the following recipe as a lower-carb alternative to Kohlrouladen, traditional German cabbage rolls. He boosted the flavor of the original version by substituting tomato sauce for the traditional broth, and came up with a carb-free savory meat filling that omits the bread crumbs and adds an extra egg instead. If you follow a low-carb diet or are cutting your carbohydrate intake, this recipe is for you. And even if you're not, it's mighty tasty and sure to satisfy a hungry, carnivorous family.

Because Greg made these meaty cabbage rolls "on the fly," most of the ingredient amounts aren't precise. Don't worry about it, because exact amounts don't matter here. Use your good judgement and your taste preferences when seasoning and saucing, and don't sweat the details because it's really hard to mess up this recipe.  And while it does take some time to assemble the cabbage rolls, you can do that up to a day in advance, refrigerate and then bake the next day.

Tip: If you end up with extra cabbage leaves after you've used up all the meat filling, simply refrigerate the extra leaves for another recipe. Some ideas include chopping them up to add to other greens, or chopping and seasoning for omelets, quiche or frittata, or even using as low-carb "wraps" much the way large lettuce leaves are used.

1 head cabbage (green or savoy - Greg used green)
Bacon ends
Bacon ends (chop smaller for this recipe)
1 lb ground beef
6 to 8 oz bacon ends*
1 small onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
Dried oregano
Garlic powder
Salt & Pepper
Tomato or Pasta Sauce (about 2 to 3 cups)

*Bacon ends are the thick, chunky trimmings from a slab of bacon. If you don't have any, you can probably use other similar thick-cut pork belly meat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil - make sure you've left enough room for the cabbage head. Trim the cabbage by removing any wilted or discolored outer leaves and cutting out the core. Place the cabbage into the boiling water and boil until tender but not falling apart. Drain into a colander and rinse the cabbage with very cold water until cool enough to handle - this also stops the cooking process so that the leaves don't get mushy. Peel off the leaves and rinse individually to remove any grit. Shake off excess water and set leaves aside in colander to allow remaining water to drain off.

stuffing cabbage rollsCut the bacon ends into small chunks then fry in a large, deep skillet until cooked through (you can do this while the cabbage boils). While this is cooking, season the ground beef to taste with oregano, garlic powder, salt & pepper, then mix together with eggs in a large bowl. When the bacon ends are done, remove from pan to drain on paper towels, reserving the rendered fat in the skillet.

Add the onion to the the rendered fat in the skillet and saute until soft and translucent. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the cooked onion (let excess fat drip back into the skillet) into the bowl with the meat mixture, reserving the remaining fat in the skillet. Stir the cooked onion into the meat mixture.

Frying cabbage rollsTo assemble the cabbage rolls, place about 2 Tbs of ground meat and about 1 or 2 tsp of chopped bacon ends in the center of each cabbage leaf, then roll the leaf like a burrito as shown on the left.

Carefully slide the rolls into the hot bacon fat in the skillet with the seam side down in the fat so that they seal as they cook, and lightly brown over medium heat. You'll work in batches so as to not overcrowd the skillet. Carefully turn the rolls over to lightly brown the other sides.

Preparing cabbage rollsAs they're done, transfer the browned rolls seam-side down into a large (13x9x2) baking dish. You want them tightly packed in a single layer.

When the baking pan is full, pour enough tomato or pasta sauce over the cabbage rolls to cover. At this point, you can refrigerate the pan until ready to bake.

When ready to bake, remove pan from refrigerator (if you made ahead), preheat oven to 350°F.

When oven is ready, bake the cabbage rolls for about 1 hour at 350°F.

To serve, carefully spoon the rolls out onto individual plates, about 3 to 5 roller per person, and spoon some of the sauce from the pan over the served rolls.

Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat to enjoy.

baked cabbage rolls

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Savory, Spicy Popcorn Flavors at Carolina Sauce Co.

Ass Kickin' Chile Lime Popcorn
Popcorn is one of America's most popular snacks, and nowadays you can buy microwave popcorn that's seasoned with more than just butter. If you enjoy spicy or savory snacking and want the convenience of a good-quality, flavor-packed microwave popcorn, the Carolina Sauce Company now offers many more options in addition to the original Dave's Insanity Popcorn (quite possibly the hottest popcorn in the universe). Our selection currently includes:

Barbecue Popcorn with big, bold, savory BBQ flavor. Definitely on the mild end of the heat spectrum, this tasty microwave popcorn is seasoned with the same spices used by award-winning BBQ dry rubs and seasonings, for genuine barbecue flavor. It's a natural for summertime cookouts when you're firing up the grill, as well as for tailgating at sporting events (pack it in your RV or pop a couple of batches before hitting the road), or for kicking back on the couch to watch your favorite show.

If you prefer a bit of a peppery, tangy kick and enjoy chili-lime tortilla chips, try Chile Lime Popcorn. Its bright, citrusy flavor is only mildly spicy, so you can snack as much as you like without burning out your mouth. It's great for a Cinco de Mayo party or any get-together featuring Mexican, Tex-Mex or Southwestern foods, and a Margarita, daiquiri or other tropical drink is an excellent choice for washing it down.

Continuing with the Mexican (and related cuisines) theme, we have Jalapeno Popcorn from Pain is Good. This baby is seasoned with real jalapeno peppers and other complementary spices for a feisty medium heat and genuine jalapeno flavor. As with the hot pepper, the heat in this popcorn begins tamely enough but steadily builds to create a pleasant but not overwhelming burn. In other words, it's probably too hot for heat wimps but towards the lower end of the fire spectrum for fans of hot and spicy foods, meaning it'll please most people other than those at the extremes of the heat preference spectrum.

Pain is Good Hot Microwave Popcorn
Ass-Kickin' Habanero Popcorn ratchets the heat up another level to a solid medium-hot that's noticeably hotter than the jalapeno pepper and true in habanero flavor and fire. Made with real habanero peppers, it delivers its distinctive habanero punch from your first handful and continues to deliver with every bite. This popcorn is perfect for anyone who appreciates the fiery heat and bright flavor of habanero peppers, and can handle hotter fiery foods.

Pain is Good Batch #218 Hot Popcorn is surpassed in fiery heat only by the incendiary Dave's Insanity Popcorn. You'll experience different levels and qualities of flavor and fire because this gourmet spicy-hot popcorn is seasoned with a variety of different chili peppers that dance devilishly on your tongue. Unless you're an experienced chilehead with a pretty high tolerance for spicy foods, you might find this popcorn searingly hot. But if you can handle Insanity Popcorn, Pain is Good Hot Popcorn will be a notch below on the heat scale. Either way, it's probably a good idea to have your favorite beverage handy when snacking on this microwave popcorn with a KICK!

All of these savory, spicy popcorn flavors are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Never Had Carrot Tops (Leaves)? Try This Frittata

Carrot top frittata
Have you ever wondered if carrot tops -- yes, the delicate, feathery green leaves at the top of a bunch of carrots -- are edible?

I did.

And as part of my ongoing quest to discover tasty ways to cook parts of vegetables that are more commonly discarded, I asked many similarly-minded friends if they had ever eaten carrot tops.

None had. In fact, not one of them even knew whether carrot leaves were edible. More surprisingly, none of my cookbooks -- and I have an entire bookcase full of them -- made any mention of carrot tops, leaves, greens or anything else you want to call them.

Not one to be discouraged, I decided to search online. Much to my joy, I found this informative (if somewhat repetitive) article explaining that carrot tops are indeed edible, nutritious, and tasty. The article also included recipes as well as instructions for other ways to use carrot greens (e.g., to make a natural dye).

Carrot topsBased on what I read online, I tasted a little piece of carrot leaves from a fresh bunch of local, organic carrots and was pleased to discover that the flavor was mildly carrot-y and not bitter at all.

Having passed that basic taste test, I soon had the carrot tops sizzling in butter and olive oil with a little garlic and some spring onion, well on their way to becoming the star ingredient in the following carrot top frittata. By the way, the savory sauteed carrot greens could have stood on their own as a side dish if I hadn't used them in the frittata.

1 bunch carrot tops (carrot leaves), well rinsed
1 small spring onion, red or white, sliced (including green part)
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used green garlic but you can use ordinary garlic)
2 Tbs butter or olive oil (or 1 Tbs of each)
4 large eggs
1 Tbs milk or cream (I use skim milk)
1/2 tsp dried thyme OR 1/2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Pinch or cut off the part of the carrot top stems that have no fronds/leaves, and discard the stems OR save for another use -- I stored them in a ziptop plastic bag in the freezer to use the next time I make stock, stew or soup.

carrot stems and carrot leaves

Coarsely chop the carrot leaves. Heat the butter/oil in a  medium skillet over medium heat, then saute the onion & garlic until tender. Add the chopped carrot tops and saute until wilted and tender -- they cook down, just like other greens.

Sauteing carrot tops

Beat together the eggs, milk, thyme, salt and pepper. When the greens have cooked down, pour in the egg mixture so that it evenly covers the greens. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the eggs have set and no longer look wet.

Cooking frittata with carrot leaves

Uncover, place a skillet-sized plate face-side down over the skillet, firmly grasp the skillet handle with one hand while holding the plate in place with your other hand, and in one smooth motion lift the skillet off the burner and turn over so that the frittata flips out onto the plate. Place the skillet back on the burner and carefully slide the frittata back into the skillet to cook the side that was previously the top of the frittata.

cooking carrot top frittata

Cook, uncovered, for about another 5 minutes until just lightly golden. Serves 2 to 4.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you have a recipe for carrot tops, please share in a comment below.

PPS: If you like to eat your eggs with ketchup or salsa, check out the spicy ketchups and gourmet salsas we have on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Make Ass-Kickin' Habanero Margaritas with This

Ass Kickin' Habanero Margarita Mix
Buy Ass-Kickin' Margarita Mix
An ice-cold, tangy-sweet margarita is the perfect accompaniment to zesty, full-flavored Mexican food. Let's face it, fire and ice are very nice.

But what about fire and ice in a margarita?  Does the thought of a spicy, habanero-infused margarita pique your interest and tickle your virtual tongue? Would you dare try it?

If so, here is your chance: The Carolina Sauces online store now carries Ass-Kickin' Margarita Mix!

Sure, it looks like your typical citrusy margarita mix, but don't be fooled by the appearance of the lime-green liquid in the bottle: This tangy margarita mix is spiked with habanero pepper for a devilishly delicious flavor and fiery kick you'd never expect.

This grown-up, spicy margarita mix contains no alcohol -- you'll have to add your own tequila or other booze -- but is tasty enough to be enjoyed as a virgin margarita as well as with alcohol, either on the rocks or blended with crushed ice for a frozen fiery treat.

In addition to its obvious use in making margaritas, Ass Kickin' Habanero Margarita Mix is also great as a spicy citrus marinade for fish, seafood and chicken. This ain't no one-trick pony.

Now's the time to buy Ass Kickin' Margarita Mix for your summer cookouts and barbecues while it's own sale at the Carolina Sauce Company.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Grilled Baby Turnips with Thyme & Rosemary

We received some lovely little red and white baby turnips as part of our weekly CSA vegetable box. Rather than boiling or roasting them like we usually cook turnips. Instead, we decided to cook them on the grill using the same method we use for BBQ-roasted potatoes. We added some fresh herbs from a friend's garden, a light dusting of Kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and when they were ready they were even better than I had hoped: Mellow with a subtle sweetness and a much lighter earthiness and none of the bitterness that can mar the flavor of mature turnips. Even if all you have are larger, mature turnips, I bet that slow-roasting them on your grill will remove much of that bite and replace it with a richer, sweeter flavor.

Here are step by step instructions for grilled turnips - this method works for whatever quantity you want to make. All you need are turnips, olive oil, a few sprigs of fresh thyme & rosemary (or other fresh herbs of your choice), salt & pepper, and a large enough piece of foil to hold the turnips as they grill.

1. Wash & trim the turnips, peel if desired (recommended for larger, mature turnips but not necessary for baby turnips - we didn't peel ours) and quarter or cut into small chunks.

2. Make a foil "boat" from a large piece of aluminum foil by folding up the edges and place this boat on a sturdy plate or cutting board (this will make it easier to transfer the boat onto the grill when ready to cook the turnips). Place turnip chunks in the boat in a single layer, generously drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste, and gently stir to coat all sides of the turnips, making sure you spread them back out into a single layer. Place the herb sprigs over the seasoned turnips.

3.  Carefully transfer the foil boat onto your preheated BBQ grill - you want to cook the turnips over direct, medium heat. Cover the grill and let the turnips cook for about 1 hour or until golden and fork-tender, using tongs to turn the turnips at the halfway point.

That's it!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jerk Nuts from Pain is Good

Pain is Good Jamaican Jerk Nuts
"Pain is Good" is the name of a well-known line of hot sauces that's as much about enticing flavors as it is about fiery heat, which is probably why they've been around for decades. Best known for their classic Louisiana style, Jamaican style and Garlic hot sauces, they also offer intriguing and novel flavor combos like Jalapeno Wasabi and Honey Cayenne, as well as spicy BBQ sauces, wing sauces and even Bloody Mary mix.

But Pain is Good makes more than just hot sauces. They also make fantastic spicy snacks -- and their Jamaican-inspired Jerk Nuts are truly in a class of their own.

If you enjoy snacking on spicy seasoned peanuts and appreciate the exotic flavor and heat of Jamaican jerk, you're in for a real treat when you try Pain is Good Jerk Nuts.

Seasoned with authentic jerk spices for rich, savory (not sweet) flavor, and finishing with a feisty peppery kick, these spicy nuts are just hot enough to wake up your senses but not so fiery that they'll burn out your mouth. Instead, the island flavors and zesty heat dance on your tongue and keep you coming back for more, without having to drown your tastebuds with a cooling beverage in between handfuls (unless you really want another drink, of course).

This snack is made in the USA -- Kansas, to be specific -- using select gourmet peanuts, all-natural quality seasonings, and real peanut oil for a top-notch product. And as is the case with all Pain is Good products, the can is decorated with their famous "screaming head" photo.

Buy Pain Is Good Batch #114 Jerk Nuts online while they're on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, June 21, 2013

Greens, Egg & Ham (Acelgas con Jamón)

acelgas con jamon Cuban greens with ham and egg
If there's a Cuban equivalent to Southern US soul food, this unpretentious but nourishing dish belongs in that category.

Acelgas con jamón is an old, traditional Cuban recipe made with chard or other leafy greens such as collards, bok choy (pak choi), turnip greens, vitamin greens, spinach, etc.,plus egg and chopped ham for additional richness and protein. Served with plain boiled rice, it becomes an inexpensive, economical meal when budgets are tight -- or you can certainly serve it as a side for chicken, meat, seafood or bean dishes.

Here is my recipe for Cuban style greens, which I just had to name Greens, Egg & Ham (please forgive me, Dr. Seuss). For the version shown in the photo, I used vitamin greens, aka vitaminna, and ham trimmings that I had saved in our freezer from a large ham roast that Greg had cooked on our smoker.

1 bunch leafy greens, approx. 1 lb
2 Tbs olive oil or bacon fat (or combination)
1/4 cup chopped ham or meaty ham trimmings
1 egg, beaten
Salt & Pepper to taste

Thoroughly wash the greens, remove tough stems and coarsely chop. Heat the oil or fat in a large, deep skillet, then add chopped greens and saute over medium heat until just wilted and tender to taste. Stir in the ham, then pour in the beaten egg and cook while stirring, until the egg is set but not too dry. Season with salt & pepper to taste. And although it probably wasn't done in old Havana, you could certainly splash on some hot sauce if you usually eat your greens that way (Tabasco Sauce is an excellent choice).

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Trinidad Hot Pepper Sauces Available by the Gallon!

Trinidad Hot Sauce Gallon
Trinidad Hot Pepper Sauces come to us from the sunny tropical island of Trinidad and feature an award-winning flavor like none other, courtesy of all natural ingredients and the addition fresh herbs unique to Trinidad. Fiery hot peppers (habaneros and cayennes) provide the heat, while savory vegetables like onions, garlic, green peppers and celery provide depth of flavor and richness of texture -- this is not a thin, runny, vinegary hot sauce. Ginger adds a touch of zing to complement the peppery burn, for an appealing zip that helps these hot sauces stand out from the pack.

Previously available only in your typical 5oz hot sauce bottle, the Carolina Sauce Company is thrilled to announce that you can now buy Trinidad Hot Sauce in gallon jugs! These food-service size plastic gallons are easier and safer to ship than more fragile, heavier glass jugs, and they save you money, too, because the larger-volume "economy size" gallon jugs are much cheaper per ounce than buying the small glass bottles.

We currently have three different flavors of Trinidad Hot Sauces available and on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store:

*The original Trinidad Hot Habanero Pepper Sauce,

*The milder, medium-heat Trinidad Caribbean Pepper Sauce featuring cayennes and habaneros, and

*The super-hot Trinidad Extra Hot Habanero Pepper Sauce

Don't forget to visit our Trinidad Sauces page to see our entire selection of different flavors and sizes of Trinidad products.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Looking for more economy-size bargains? Browse our selection of half-gallon and full gallon BBQ sauces & hot sauces for great savings.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stoplight Stir-Fry

Stoplight Stir-Fry
I call this a "stoplight stir-fry" because it's made with red, yellow and green vegetables. My photograph did not do justice to the vibrant colors, which really "popped" as did the flavors of the fresh, lightly cooked vegetables.

2 Tbs oil for stir-frying (e.g., peanut, vegetable, canola or other high-heat oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 cup thinly sliced yellow squash
1 cup sliced red peppers (bell, mini-sweet, hot or combo)
1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/3 cup cold water
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbs hot pepper sherry*, dry sherry OR white wine

*For a spicy, peppery kick, I recommend using Busha Browne's Spicy Hot Pepper Sherry, which you can buy online and is on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store

Combine the water, cornstarch, soy sauce or tamari and pepper sherry (or dry sherry or white wine) in a small jar, close lid tightly and shake vigorously to mix together. Set aside. Heat the oil in a wok or large, deep non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add broccoli and stir-fry until bright green and just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Use a wok strainer or slotted spatula to transfer the broccoli to a bowl, then add peppers and stir-fry until just tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer peppers to bowl with broccoli, add squash to wok and stir-fry until just tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

stir-frying peppers broccoli & squashAdd vegetables from bowl back into wok, shake the small jar to remix the sauce ingredients, then pour over vegetables in wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is bubbly and thick, about 2 minutes. Serve over cooked rice, noodles or "as is" for a low-carb stir-fry.

Zestfully yours,

PS: This is a vegan vegetarian stir-fry. If you wish to add protein, feel free to add cooked cubed tofu or crumbled tempeh for vegans/vegetarians, or cooked shrimp, chicken or beef for carnivores. You could possibly even add roasted peanuts or cashews as an alternative vegetarian/vegan protein source.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Super-Strong Coffee, for Mature Audiences Only

Wake the Fuck Up coffee
There is nothing subtle or nuanced about Wake the F*%$ Up Coffee.

From its brash name to its robust flavor and jolting caffeine kick, everything about this super-strong coffee is in your face.

If you're looking for a sophisticated, elegant morning beverage that politely beckons you to welcome the new day, this ain't it. You can stop reading now and move on to a more refined blog while you sip your overpriced, precocious cappuccino, dignified latte or hipster triple-espresso.

If, however, you need something that will punch you into overdrive soon after your few hours of sleep were rudely ended by that d*&#ed alarm clock, this coffee will not let you down.

The surprising thing is, despite the over-the-top and not exactly "family friendly" name, Wake the F*** Up Coffee is actually quite drinkable and enjoyable -- unless you're one of those insufferable coffee snobs with no sense of humor, who insists that every cup must deliver complex, multidimensional flavor notes hinting of potting soil or burned scrap lumber or sweat-stained leather jacket or whatever.

If all you need or want is a powerfully strong yet easy-drinking, full-flavored cuppa joe, the original Wake the F--- Up Extra Strong Coffee is for you. It's made from a special blend of beans from Costa Rica and Brazil, including some espresso beans, all artisan-roasted and ground in New Orleans. I'm partial to flavored coffees, however, and there are several tasty ones to choose from, including Chocolate Macadamia Nut Coffee, Hazelnut Coffee (my favorite), Butter Toffee Coffee, Tiramisu Coffee (also excellent) and the ever-popular Vanilla Coffee. Like the original, the flavored varieties are made with the same special blend of coffees and deliver the same wallop of caffeine to wake you up rapidly and keep you alert.

Wake the F--- Up Tiramisu Flavored CoffeeAll of these extra-strong coffees are sold ground -- who has time for whole beans when rushing around in the mornings or working late on a time-sensitive project?? -- and come packaged in 1-lb bags (when's the last time you saw one of those in the grocery store, at an affordable price??). All varieties of Wake the F*&% Up! Coffee are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store, where you can find them in our "Mature Label" category of products because of the name of the coffee.

And in case you were wondering, the name on the coffee package DOES use the F-word. If you're offended by that, please don't click on the links or images in this post because they go directly to the product pages for these coffees.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Seriously, though, if you are either offended or delighted that we now carry this brand of coffee, or if you have an opinion on "Mature Label" products in general, PLEASE let us know. We want and need your feedback so that we can make sure that we're carrying the products our customers want to buy. Please do leave a comment below if you have an opinion on this matter, or email me if you prefer to contact me privately. Thanks!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Platanos Maduros: Fried Ripe (Sweet) Plantains

Fried sweet ripe plantains are enjoyed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Their candy-like sweetness and melt-in-your-mouth texture can only be achieved, however, if you buy very ripe plantains with skin that is almost completely black. Perfectly ripe plantains will look like very large rotten bananas. They should also yield somewhat when you press them gently, but not so much that they feel squishy. If your plantains are not fully ripe, they'll lack that ambrosial sweetness that makes even the most disciplined, health-conscious fried-food-avoider ask for seconds or thirds, and even steal that last lonely plantain off your plate when you're not looking.

If the only plantains available at your grocery store or market are unripe and green, or yellow with brown or black splotches, don't despair. You can ripen those green or semi-ripe (pintón) plantains by placing them in a brown paper bag and leaving in a warm spot in your kitchen for several days until they soften and turn black. That same method can also be used to ripen an avocado. Don't forget to check them every other day or so, and once they're fully ripe I recommend cooking them within two or three days.

The following instructions are how my Mom, who is from Cuba, taught me to fry platanos maduros.  All you need are one or more ripe plantains (plan on 1 large ripe plantain per 2 or 3 people) and a mildly-flavored high-smoke-point oil for frying, e.g., canola, corn or vegetable oil. Although peanut oil has a very high smoke point, I don't recommend using it because of its distinctive flavor. And, of course, you need a large, heavy frying pan or skillet - I recommend cast iron because of its ability to hold the oil at a steady high temperature. If you have a splatter screen, you may also want to to have that handy.
Cuban steak dinner with Platanos maduros fried plantains
Fried sweet plantains are best when served piping-hot and fresh from the fryer, traditionally served with meat dishes or as a snack. I've heard that they aren't very good the next day, but this is merely a rumor as I've never confirmed the existence of day-old or leftover platanos maduros.

1. Pour about an inch of oil into the skillet and heat to very hot over medium-high heat.

2. While the oil is heating, use a sharp knife to trim the ends of the plantains. Peel by making one or more small vertical cut through the thick peel around the top of the plantain and then removing the skin as you would with a banana.

3. Cut the plantain on the bias, i.e., into diagonal slices, about 1/4" thick. Work with care because a very ripe plantain is soft and slippery. You can place the cut slices on a plate until the oil is hot enough for frying.

4. You'll know the oil is ready when it bubbles & sizzles robustly as you slide a plantain into it -- I use the smallest pieces sliced at the ends of the plantain to test the heat of the oil. When the oil is ready, slide the rest of the plantain slices into the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the skillet -- there should be enough room between the sizzling slices for you to be able to use a long-handled fork (preferably with a heat-resistant handle) or slotted spatula to flip them over. You may have to cook in batches, keeping the cooked plantains warm on a plate in the oven or at the back of the stove.

Frying ripe plantains

5. Fry the plantains until the side that's in the oil is golden-brown -- this takes a few minutes -- then flip to fry the other side (the second side might take a little more or less time to fry).

frying platanos maduros

6. While the plantains are frying, cover a large plate or platter with a couple of paper towels. Transfer the cooked plantains to the plate to drain on the paper towels -- if cooking in batches, place them in a warm oven or at the back of the stove to keep warm. Serve as soon as possible.

Do you have a favorite plantain recipe? Please let us know in a comment below.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

PS: Are you interested in Cuban food and looking for other recipes to try? Visit my Cuban Recipes board on Pinterest, or search this blog for Cuban recipes -- you'll find quite a few! If there's a specific Cuban recipe you'd like and you can't find it, just email me or leave a comment below and I'll be happy to help.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day from Carolina Sauce Co.!

Photo by Jessicizer, on Flickr
Here's wishing a very happy Father's Day to all Dads out there, from the Carolina Sauce Company and me! We hope your day is full of love, laughter, fun activities, well-deserved R&R, and your favorite foods. May you be able to spend time with friends, family and loved ones, and those special people that make life better when you're a Dad.

And to all those fathers who have to spend the day away from family, especially those serving in our armed forces, we send our good wishes, thoughts and prayers.

Finally, for those who grieve the loss of their father, or who never experienced a father's love and caring, our hearts go out to you and we wish you comfort and peace.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Aloo Dum: Indian-Spiced Fried Potatoes with Masala Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Aloo Dum Indian fried potatoes
Here's a flavorful, deliciously spicy but not fiery-hot alternative to everyday skillet potatoes or home fries. Alu (or aloo) dum is obviously a good choice when planning a meal of Indian dishes. These savory fried potatoes also are excellent as an accompaniment to steak, roast chicken, grilled or roasted vegetarian entrees or as a brunch item because the flavors are approachable and not overly exotic.

Because I prefer a thicker, richer yogurt sauce but don't want unnecessary fat or calories, I use a good nonfat plain Greek yogurt to make the sauce. If you prefer a less dense, lighter texture for the dipping sauce, use ordinary plain yogurt (fat-free, low-fat or regular) instead of Greek yogurt.

Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices with a different flavor profile than curry powder -- I find it to be warmer with "darker" flavors in contrast to the tang and brightness of most commercial curry spice blends.  You can buy garam masala online or at an Indian grocery store, or try my recipe for garam masala (it's towards the end of that old newsletter).

1 lb small new or red potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
Frontier Garam Masala CERTIFIED ORGANIC Seasoning Blend, 2.00 oz. Bottle
Buy Garam Masala online
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbs water
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs ghee (clarified butter) or oil
3 green cardamom pods, slightly cracked*
2 cloves
1" stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp whole anise seeds (aka aniseed)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 Tbs water
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, dry-roasted**

*Sometimes you can crack the cardamom pods simply by pressing hard with a fingernail; otherwise place in a small bowl and press with the back of a spoon to just barely crack the pods a bit.

**Place the cumin seeds in a small frying pan and toast over medium-low heat for a few minutes (less than 5) until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Keep a close eye on them because they go from raw to DONE within seconds, and it's easy to burn them.

Wash and scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Unless they are very small, cut into 1 1/2" to 2" chunks. Cook in boiling water until just barely tender, no more than 5 minutes maximum, then drain into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Place the next 6 ingredients (onion through salt) in a blender or food processor and puree. Set aside.

Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon & anise seeds, stir and cook until fragrant (about 1 to 2 minutes). Stir in the ground ginger and turmeric and cook for 10 to 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in the pureed onion-garlic mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown (about 8 to 10 minutes). Add the potatoes and 3 Tbs water, stir to coat the potatoes on all sides with the spiced puree, reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes), stirring once or twice. If after the potatoes are tender there is still excess moisture in the pan, uncover and raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring regularly, until the moisture has evaporated and the coating on the potatoes is dry and lightly crisp (about 5 to 10 minutes max).

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the dipping sauce by whisking together the yogurt, garam masala and cumin seeds. Set aside.

To serve, place the dipping sauce in a small bowl at the center of a large plate -- or, if you used Greek yogurt, the sauce should be thick enough to dollop in the center of the plate without needing a bowl -- and spoon the fried potatoes around the sauce. Alternatively, you can serve the potatoes on individual plates or bowls with the sauce on the side or spooned over the potatoes. Makes 4 servings.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hurry - Our Carolina Sauce Father's Day Sales End Sunday!

Heads up:   Both of the Father's Day sales at the Carolina Sauces online store end at midnight this Sunday (Father's Day), June 16th!

We're currently running two different coupon sales:

*For our Facebook fans, we've posted a special 5% off coupon on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page. You'll find the coupon code on our cover picture on Facebook, and it's good on ALL products at our online store, including already discounted sale items. To get the coupon code, simply Like us on Facebook. Any questions or problems? Simply leave us a comment or message on Facebook, or email me and I'll be happy to help any way I can.

*For our Carolina Sauce VIP Club members, we have a special VIP discount coupon for 7% off your product total when you shop at our online store, good through midnight EDT on Sunday. The coupon code is in our June VIP newsletter, which also includes two easy recipes for making seasoned or spiced nuts -- a great snack for Dad! If you did not receive our VIP newsletter when we emailed it earlier in June, simply email me and I'll forward a copy to you with the coupon. But don't delay, because the VIP coupon expires on Sunday!

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you want to join our VIP club (it's free), simply click here to sign up.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thrifty Vegetarian Recipe: Pak Choi (Bok Choy) Frittata

Pak Choi, or bok choy if you prefer, is a common Chinese cabbage with long, usually white stalks and broad, green leaves. Most frequently served stir-fried in American-Chinese restaurants, it can also be chopped and sauteed like any other kind of leafy green. Both the leaves and the stems are edible, with a mild flavor that hints gently at its relation to the more strongly flavored cabbages used in American recipes.

Instead of preparing an Asian recipe with the small head of pak choi that I had received as part of my CSA delivery, I decided to use it in a frittata.

Because I was cooking only for myself, I decided to make a "frittata for one" to serve as my main course. As a result, the following bok choy frittata recipe is for 1 or 2 people, unless you're serving it as part of a larger brunch menu in which case you can cut it into 4 wedges.  If you want to make 4 full-size servings, simply use a large head of pak choi (or two small ones) and double the remaining ingredients.

1 Tbs oil, butter or bacon fat
1 small head of pak choi, aka bok choy (Chinese cabbage)
1 small onion, chopped
2 mini sweet peppers, chopped*
2 eggs
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional: chopped fresh or dried mild herb(s) of your choice

*If you enjoy hot & spicy foods, you can substitute a hot pepper for one or both of the sweet peppers

Wash & trim the pak or bok choi, then chop the stems & leaves separately (because they cook at different rates). Melt the butter or heat the oil/fat over medium heat in a shallow lidded saucepan (I used a 2-quart 2"-high saucepan). Add onion and saute until translucent. Add pak choy stems and chopped peppers and saute until just tender. Stir in the chopped leaves, cover and cook until tender, stirring once or twice (this should take only a couple of minutes because covering the pan helps the leaves steam).

While the vegetables are cooking, beat the eggs and season to taste with salt & pepper (and herbs if using). When the pak choi leaves are wilted and tender, uncover the pan, spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pan, and carefully pour in the egg mixture, making sure it spreads evenly over the vegetables (you can tilt the pan slightly to help spread the eggs). Cover pan, reduce heat to low-medium and cook until set, about 5 minutes. Uncover, carefully flip the frittata (I place a large plate face-side down over the top of the pan, firmly grasp the handle and quickly flip the pan over so that the frittata releases onto the plate, cooked-side up), then gently slide the frittata back into the pan, cooked-side up to cook the other side. Let cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, remove from heat and serve.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Frittatas pair nicely with tomato salsa as well as with ketchup, and you'll find some of the best at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Last-Minute Gifts for Dad (no shipping required!)

Still haven't found that perfect Father's Day gift?

Missed the shipping deadline to send Dad a Father's Day gift?

No time to spend at the mall searching for a special gift that Dad will truly love?

No problem: The Carolina Sauce Company is here to help, no shipping or gift-wrapping or trips to the mall required!

Simply select one of our many different email Gift Certificates for everything from hot sauce & BBQ sauce to bacon, seafood, exotic meats, gourmet imports and more, select the amount for the Gift Certificate, enter Dad's email address, and you're done! The e-gift certificate will be delivered to Dad in time for Father's Day -- and usually within minutes, in fact. Dad can then pick out exactly what he wants in the flavors, heat levels or varieties that he loves. They NEVER expire and can be used multiple times until the total amount is spent.

To save you precious time, here are links to some of the e-Gift Certificates and e-Gift Cards we offer (you can view them all on our Gift Certificates page):

Click here Carolina Sauces Gift Certificates (for hot sauce, barbecue sauce, North Carolina products, zesty condiments like spicy mustards & ketchups, BBQ dry rubs, salsa & dips, limited-edition hot sauces and so much more):

Click here for Bacon Gift Certificates (old-fashioned dry-cured hickory smoked bacon, gourmet & specialty bacon, flavored bacon, nitrate-free bacon, other bacon-flavored foods, bacon novelty items, & even bacon-scented cologne):

Bacon is Meat Candy Bacon

Click here for Seafood Gift Certificates (fresh & flash-frozen fish, shrimp, crabs, crawfish, lobster & more, plus seafood seasonings, cookbooks, etc.):

Gifts For Him

Click here for Exotic Meats & Game Gift Certificates (farm-raised venison, bison/buffalo, alligator, boar, kangaroo, emu, antelope, kobe beef, quail, duck and more):

Click here for Gourmet Imports Gift Certificates (olive oils & vinegars, pasta, olives, spices, condiments, cheeses and other specialty foods from Italy, Spain, France, etc.):

OliveNation banner 460x60

Zestfully yours,