Friday, January 31, 2014

Safari Squash

roasted butternut squash recipe
This roasted butternut squash recipe gets its name from Jim's Own Safari Rub, the all-natural all-purpose seasoning blend I used to add subtly exotic flavor and a gentle spiciness to the roasted squash.

If you have a larger or a smaller squash than the two-pounder on which this recipe is based, simply adjust the seasoning quantity accordingly. You can also adjust the seasoning to your taste by using less or adding more.

Here's a tip to make cutting the squash easier: Use a potato peeler to peel the squash prior to any cutting. Before discovering this trick I would either risk life and limb trying to hack into the hard rind of the squash or ask Greg to do it for me. The potato peeler spares my fingers (and makes me self-reliant) while removing the tough outer rind without any loss of flesh (neither mine nor the squash's).

Jim's Own Safari Rub
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
1 heaping Tablespoon of Jim's Own Safari Rub
Oil for roasting (2 to 3 Tbs, depending on how much squash you have)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel the squash, trim ends off, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut into small cubes and place in a bowl or a resealable plastic bag. Sprinkle with the rub and add just enough oil to coat the squash. Stir if using a bowl, or seal the bag and shake, until the squash cubes are coated evenly with the oil and seasoning. Transfer into a shallow baking dish or roasting pan and spread out to a single layer, or at least as close to a single layer as possible. Roast at 400°F until the squash is lightly browned and tender, about 60 to 90 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes or so to ensure even cooking. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Top 10 Best-Selling Products for 2014

Wells Barbecue Sauce
Spicy sauces ruled the day in 2013, so it should come as no surprise to see that most of the top ten best-selling sauces for last year are hot sauces. The #1 best-selling sauce, however, is a North Carolina barbecue sauce from the eastern part of the state, which means lots of vinegar and spice but no tomatoes or thickeners. Here's the list of our best-sellers across all product categories (we'll be posting the individual category lists over the course of the next few weeks -- in the meantime, you can find them here):

1. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce is once again the most popular product sold at the Carolina Sauce Company. This traditional thin and tangy eastern NC barbecue sauce is a favorite among fans of pulled pork BBQ, and it can also be used for marinating chicken or seasoning collards and other greens.

2. Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce hails from Trinidad & Tobago, and is bursting with fiery tropical flavor. Made from aged scotch bonnet chilies in a thick Caribbean mustard base that's mellowed by just the right amount of sweet papaya, this medium hot sauce adds island zest to chicken, seafood and vegetable dishes while also pairing nicely with meats like roast pork, lamb, goat, beef patties and more.
Jamaica Hellfire 2 in 1 Hot Sauce

3. Jamaica Hell Fire 2 in 1 Hot Sauce: As the name suggests, this all-purpose hot pepper sauce brings the firepower of Jamaican peppers and spices to your table anytime you crave it. Try it at the table on all types of savory fare, or use it in your homemade hot wing sauce or BBQ sauce, in chili and stews, and with other favorite hearty recipes that could use a peppery kick.

4. Matouk's Calypso Hot Sauce is a bit hotter and more savory than Matouk's West Indian Sauce, but every bit as delicious. Enjoy it on all sorts of red meat as well as in stews, casseroles and rice & bean dishes. It's great on hamburgers and other hearty sandwiches, too.

hot sauce gift box5. Design-Your-Own Hot Sauce Gift Box: This sturdy white cardboard box easily assembles by folding along the creased lines and will hold four standard (4 to 5 oz) bottles of hot sauce in 4 divided compartments. You get to choose which hot sauces to place in the gift box (sauces sold separately, of course), and you can add a personal touch by applying a label or stickers on the box or decorating it with colored markers or paint, etc. You can even write a message on the box, or have people sign it -- your imagination sets the limit on how to personalize this unique gift idea for the hot sauce lover.

6. Walkerswood Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, Hot & Spicy (10oz): This is probably the best-known jerk seasoning from Jamaica, and with good reason: It delivers mighty heat and intense authentic flavor that's sure to satisfy even the most discerning palates. Slather this jerk paste (wet rub) on any type of meat, poultry or seafood to experience the true flavors of Jamaican cuisine.

7. Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce is also from Jamaica, but it is not a jerk sauce. Made in the colonial style, it presents a solid peppery heat with a simpler spice structure for a more versatile flavor profile that will complement, not overpower, the other flavors in your food. Use it at the table or in recipes as you would any other straightforward all-purpose hot sauce, from breakfast through lunch and with dinner.

Matouk's Flambeau Sauce
8. Walkerswood Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce is for purists who seek to experience honest scotch bonnet pepper fire and flavor without any distractions. This classic vinegar pepper sauce from Jamaica is the real deal, savory and very hot with a clean vinegar tang. Whether you add it to your cooking or splash it on pizza, scrambled eggs, spaghetti, burgers, stews, bean dishes, vegetables or other such fare, you can't go wrong with this scotch bonnet pepper sauce.

9. Matouk's Flambeau Hot Sauce is the hottest of the Matouk's hot sauce family, and also one of the hottest "natural" sauces on the market (the heat level is not fortified by adding capsaicin oil or pepper extract). The primary ingredient in this flaming-hot sauce is a thick mash made from aged select scotch bonnet peppers, giving this sauce its intense heat, thick body, distinctive red color and richly complex flavor. Use it with care on hearty, savory dishes.

10. Scorned Woman Hot Sauce is one of the longest-lived brands in the hot sauce market, and with good reason: It's much more interesting (and hotter) than your average vinegar pepper sauces. Made with a special blend of chili peppers as well as black pepper in a traditional vinegar base, it's an excellent choice when you've outgrown ordinary one-dimensional supermarket hot sauces.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you want to try any of the best-selling sauces listed above, or need to re-stock an old favorite, be sure to use your VIP Coupon to save 5% off their already-reduced sale price! Don't have a VIP Coupon? Sign up here to get one -- but don't wait, because our January VIP coupon expires on January 31st.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Warm Brie with Spiced Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce

brie with spiced cranberry sauce recipe
I love cranberries, and not just during the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas-to-New-Year's holiday run. In fact, when fresh whole cranberries go on sale at the end of the holiday season, I always buy several bags to keep in my freezer and enjoy throughout the winter and beyond, in everything from cranberry bread to savory sauces for venison and other robust red meats, and even for adding to hot cereal as it cooks on the stove (when I do that I also add plenty of real maple syrup or honey to balance out the tartness of the berries).

My spiced cranberry sauce is a sweet and zesty substitute for the canned cranberry sauce that usually accompanies turkey -- but it is far too tasty (in my not-so-humble opinion) to be relegated solely to the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. Indeed, this sauce truly shines when paired with warm brie or any other rich, creamy cheese, even everyday cream cheese. It's also wonderful spooned over cheesecake, bread pudding, and even vanilla ice cream. Elegant enough for the holidays but simple enough for any day, I dare you to serve this delectable appetizer as part of your game-day spread this Sunday for the big game, or any time other than November and December. Trust me, your family or guests will not be disappointed!

Verjus du Perigord-25.35 oz.1 12oz bag whole cranberries
1 cup verjus*
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbs freshly grated orange zest

A whole or partial round of brie cheese
Crackers or baguette (or other similar bread) slices.

*Verjus is the unfermented tart juice pressed from unripe green or red grapes. You can use either in this recipe. It does not contain alcohol and can be used in place of vinegar in most recipes for a more "wine friendly" flavor, making it a favorite of chefs and cooks who like to serve wine with a meal. Verjus is less acidic than vinegar and is wonderful as a marinade or as the base for other sauces. You can buy verjus online, or substitute white wine vinegar or even ordinary distilled vinegar -- but you might want to add more sugar if the sauce seems too tart for your taste.

recipe for whole-berry cranberry sauce
Place all ingredients except the cranberries in a small saucepan that will be large enough for you to add the cranberries. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring from time to time, until most of the berries have popped (this should take about 10 minutes) and the sauce is thick. Remove from heat, allow to cool, then transfer to a non-metal bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (several hours or overnight). Makes 2 cups, and keeps in the refrigerator at least a couple of weeks.

To serve with brie: If you've bought a whole round of brie (a young brie is best for this, not an aged runny brie), there should be instructions on the package for how to warm in your oven or microwave. If not, then place the round (or part of a round if that's what you have) on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes until warmed through and slightly runny when you cut into it. Although some people cut the top rind off the brie before warming, I leave it on -- it's edible, too. Place the warmed brie on a serving plate and spoon as much of the spiced cranberry sauce over it as you'd like. Serve with crackers or crusty bread slices.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you're like me and love the flavor of cranberries, be sure to try Toad Sweat Cranberry Dessert Hot Sauce, a sweet & spicy all-natural hot sauce you can use with everything from turkey or pork to creamy cheeses and desserts like cheesecake, ice cream & more. Another favorite is this savory-sweet and peppery-hot cranberry salsa, which you can enjoy just like any other salsa.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Don't Get Left Out of our January VIP Sale!

Join the Carolina Sauce Company VIP Club
Click here to become a Carolina Sauce VIP
If you're not a member of the Carolina Sauce VIP Club, you are missing out on our VIP-only January sale and some great recipes that are perfect for watching the Big Game this coming Sunday.

Our January VIP Newsletter has a special coupon code for extra savings in addition to our already-reduced sale prices. This coupon code is available only to our VIPs, so if you haven't joined the club, you can't cash in on these savings.

What's the catch?

There is none!

Our VIP Club is totally FREE, and unlike other companies we do not flood your inbox with a plethora of emails shouting about daily or weekly "special offers" or other annoying sales tripe. In fact, you'll only hear from us once a month -- that's it! Each month you'll receive our free newsletter, which will include a VIP-only coupon code guaranteed to have the biggest, steepest discount we offer anywhere to anyone that month. The newsletter will also include information on our newest products, seasonal recipes and cooking or grilling tips, plus any sales or specials our partners may be offering -- for example, last year our partner Jim's Own Sauce gave away a different flavor of their dry rubs every month for orders over $25.

Are you ready to join our VIP Club?

Then sign up here and receive your VIP coupon code for January so that you can start saving on zesty sauces and seasonings right away. Once you sign up I'll also send you a complimentary copy of our January Newsletter so that you have immediate access to our "Super" recipes and information on our latest new products. Or, if it's easier for you, simply send me an email that says "Sign Me Up" in the subject line, and I'll add you to our VIP list and forward the coupon code and newsletter to you.

Don't delay -- our January coupon sale ends at midnight EST on January 31st!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Roasted Pork Chops with Cuban Mojo

roasted pork chops with Cuban mojo
Many Caribbean and Latin American countries have their own version of mojo, a zesty marinade and sauce usually featuring garlic, oil and citrus or other acid. Some countries call the sauce mojito -- not to be confused with the rum and mint cocktail from Cuba by the same name -- and in Cuba it is often called mojo de ajo (the Spanish word for garlic is ajo) or mojo criollo (creole style mojo). Mojo is used as a marinade and table sauce for fish and other seafood as well as pork and other meats. It also is served over vegetables such as boiled yuca (cassava) and as a dipping sauce for savory fried green plantains (tostones or platanos).

Cooks often add their own personal touch to their mojo while preserving the traditional recipe's overall character -- for example, my Mom never used cilantro in her mojo, sticking with an all-parsley version, and she would use lots of coarsely-chopped garlic, simmering it in oil until it developed just the lightest hint of golden color for a more mellow, almost-roasted flavor. When I was growing up, my Mom would often serve steamed broccoli or cauliflower generously drizzled with her special mojo de ajo, and neither my sister nor I would have any hesitation about eating our vegetables dressed with this flavorful, savory sauce.

The following recipe uses Cuban mojo as a marinade for pan-seared, oven-roasted pork chops. You'll have enough mojo sauce for 4 pork chops. If cooking fewer chops, refrigerate any unused mojo to use with other foods -- it keeps for days in the refrigerator, and even tastes good as a bread dip!

2 to 4 pork chops
Olive oil, lard or bacon grease for frying
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced mini sweet peppers (red, yellow &/or orange)
1 large dried bay leaf (or 2 smaller)
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional garnishes: Chopped parsley, lime or lemon zest, reserved mojo

Mojo de Ajo
1/3 cup olive oil (preferably a Spanish olive oil)
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch fresh curly parsley, finely chopped*
3 limes, freshly juiced**
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

*I trim & discard the bottom of the stems but chop the rest of the stems along with the leaves, making sure the stems are REALLY finely chopped. If you prefer, you can remove the stems altogether (you can then save them in your freezer to use in making homemade stock).

**My Mom would sometimes substitute 2 lemons, or use a lemon and a lime. I like to add some of the lime zest to my mojo, reserve a little more zest (and parsley) to use as a garnish on the served pork chops, and save the rest of the zest in my freezer for other uses.

To make the mojo: Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion & garlic and cook just below a simmer, stirring occasionally, until they're fragrant but not golden (it's ok for the onion to become translucent). Remove from heat and let cool for just a few minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and set aside until ready to use.

For the pork chops: Season the pork chops on both sides with oregano, salt & pepper. Place the chops and all remaining ingredients except oil/fat in a shallow container with a lid. Pour mojo over the chops (you can reserve a little bit to serve at the table), cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning the chops after 30 minutes to ensure even marinating.

marinating pork chops in mojo de ajo

After the chops have marinated, preheat oven to 350°F. Heat the oil or fat in a large, heavy-bottomed oven-safe skillet (cast iron is perfect for this) over medium-high heat until good and hot but not smoking. Remove chops from marinade and carefully place in pan to sear for 1-2 minutes per side (the chops are ready to flip when they move easily in the pan, usually soon after 1 minute of undisturbed searing). Note: I use my cast iron skillet and heat it empty over high heat until very hot, then add the oil/fat to quickly coat the surface and as soon as the oil/fat is hot (which happens very quickly using this method) I place the pork chops in the pan (they will sizzle and might spatter a bit, so be careful). This method ensures a very nice sear.

searing pork chops

Remove pork chops from skillet and set aside. Allow skillet to cool down a bit if very hot, and reduce stovetop heat to medium. Return skillet to stove, pour in the marinade and peppers etc., and cook until the vegetables begin to soften.

vegetables in mojo marinade

Return pork chops to skillet and place skillet in oven to roast until done, about 20 minutes.

ready to roast pork chops with mojo
Before roasting
roast pork chops with mojo de ajo
After roasting
Remove from oven, remove & discard the bay leaf, and serve the pork chops drizzled with a little bit of the mojo that was NOT used for marinating, and/or garnish with parsley and lime zest.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, January 20, 2014

One-Pot Supper: The Lazy Cook's Masala Fish Stew

Masala Fish Stew
When you're short on kitchen space and cooking time, or worn out after a long day, or simply feeling lazy, you can still whip up a satisfyingly flavorful, inventive and wholesome supper without too much effort if you keep some basics in your freezer and kitchen pantry.

In fact, it was after a long day of home renovation work that I came up with the following one-pot supper recipe, precisely because I was too tired to exert any real effort in the kitchen, didn't want to unpack more than one pot, and was feeling too cheap to eat out. My Masala Fish Stew is made in the "throw cooking" style, where you simply throw together some handy ingredients that you like and season them to taste, with minimal measuring, chopping or other such work. It may not be much to look at, but it's zesty and comforting to the palate and the belly.

I usually have some frozen fish fillets along with bags of frozen vegetables in our freezer, several cans of tomatoes and a variety of dried herbs & spices in the pantry, and basic savory staples in the refrigerator like onions, garlic, peppers and parsley. This particular evening I also happened to have some leftover cooked rice, and Greg had brought home a bottle of red wine. I've noted substitutions for those ingredients in the recipe, and you can certainly omit the rice altogether if you are following a low-carbohydrate diet.

You're welcome to customize this recipe to better suit your tastes and to use what you have on hand.

1 to 2 Tbs fat for sauteing: any vegetable oil, ghee or coconut oil (I used coconut oil)
2 or 3 dried curry leaves (available at Indian & Asian markets) or 1 or 2 dried bay leaves
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped peppers (bell, sweet, hot chilies, or a mix)
1/2 lb frozen fish fillets (I used tilapia), not thawed
1 cup frozen green beans*
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup liquid: wine (I used red), broth or water
1 Tbs garam masala spice blend**
2 Tbs chopped parsley or cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste

*You can probably substitute frozen broccoli, cauliflower or corn kernels.

**Garam masala is a spicy all-purpose seasoning used in Indian cooking, much like curry is used. It's very easy to make, and like curry, there are many different versions. Click here for my recipe for Garam Masala, which is half-way down that blog post.

Heat the fat in a Dutch oven or other similar heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, then add leaves, onion, garlic & peppers. Saute until vegetables are softened and onion is turning translucent. Add remaining ingredients except the parsley or cilantro, stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until fish is cooked and green beans are tender. Stir in parsley or cilantro (reserve some for garnishing if desired) and season with salt or pepper to taste. You can also add more garam masala for a more intense flavor. Remove the curry leaves or bay leaves and serve over cooked rice, noodles, or "as is" for a low carb supper. Makes 2-4 servings.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Not in the mood for Indian food? No problem! Turn this into a Cajun or Creole Seafood Stew by using a vegetable oil, bay leaves and your favorite Cajun or Creole Seasoning blend like Emeril's Original Essence Spice or any variety of Slap Ya Mama.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Update on J.T. Pappy's BBQ Sauces

Sign up for our JT Pappy's Waiting List
Thanks to the sleuthing of one of our readers, the Carolina Sauce Company is tracking down the company that reportedly has taken over the manufacture of J.T. Pappy's barbecue sauces. According to his report, the new manufacturer seems to be using the same recipes and the sauces taste just like the originals.

It is our hope to be able to bring back all flavors of J.T. Pappy's, from the mild Gator Sauce to the zesty Flamin' Gator and fiery Gator Grenade. If we can, we will add them to the Carolina Sauces online store and will announce their return here, as well as in our Newsletter.

We expect a huge surge of orders if and when JT Pappy's is available online again, and orders will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

If you don't want to get left out and want to be notified as soon as we have the sauces in stock again, please send me an email with the subject line "JT Pappy's" and I will add you to our waiting list.  Don't worry, we will not use your email for any other purpose, and we will contact you only if and when the sauces are available again.

Stay tuned, and let's keep our fingers crossed for some good news in the near future!

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Hung-Over Cook's New Year's Day Lucky Stew

For the record, I was not hung over on New Year's Day. In fact, on January 1st I thoroughly enjoyed a brisk early-morning run not too long after sunrise.

The reason for the name of this recipe is that it's the type of uncomplicated one-pot meal that a very tired (or hung over) cook could throw together with little effort instead of struggling in the kitchen trying to prepare the traditional "lucky" New Year's Day recipes served in the South. My New Year's Day Lucky Stew features all the ingredients believed by some southerners to bring prosperity and luck in the new year, namely, collard greens, corn (used in cornbread), black-eyed peas (used in Hoppin' John) and pork. No matter how much you partied on New Year's Eve or how late you stayed up, I bet you'll be able to make this hearty and flavorful stew for your family on the first day of the year, or any other day when you're pressed for time or not interested in cooking several different dishes.

I actually made this stew for lunch because Greg already had a Boston butt on the smoker and I had made slaw to serve with his barbecue at dinner. Since Greg is cutting back on carbs, cornbread was not on the menu. And because he claims to dislike collards greens, I promised not to make any for dinner -- yet when he tasted my stew, he declared that the collards in it were delicious. Go figure.

One final note: The ingredient quantities are flexible, so feel free to adjust as needed for your tastes or the number of servings you need (the following recipe makes 6 to 8 servings). Any leftovers will taste even better when reheated the following day.

2 to 3 Tbs bacon drippings* or oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch collard greens, thoroughly rinsed & stems removed
1 smoked ham hock or meaty ham bone
1 lb fresh or frozen black-eyed peas (no need to thaw if frozen)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (ditto)
2 cups water or broth
1/2 cup leftover champagne or wine**
Several splashes of all-purpose hot sauce
Handful or two of chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

*Although I didn't do this, you can certainly fry up several slices of bacon or fatback to crumble into the stew, and use the rendered fat for sauteing the vegetables.

**The stew shown in the photo was made with red wine, which provided depth of flavor but gave the stew a grayish tinge. Using white wine or leftover champagne results in brighter, lighter flavor and color. If you don't want to use alcohol, you can substitute water or broth.

Heat the bacon drippings or oil in a Dutch oven or other similar heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper & garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and onion is translucent. While this cooks, coarsely chop the collards, then add them to the pot. Saute the collards until wilted, then stir in all remaining ingredients except the parsley, salt & pepper.

Bring to a simmer, stir in the parsley (and crumbled fried bacon or fatback if using). Cook until the peas and corn are tender and much of the liquid has cooked down, stirring occasionally and keeping at a simmer without boiling (this can take 20 to 30 minutes, possibly longer, if you started with frozen peas & corn). Taste for balance and season with salt and pepper as desired, and additional hot sauce if you wish. Before serving, pull or cut off any meaty bits from the ham hock or bone, stir the meat back into the pot and discard the bone & cartilage.

Zestfully (and soberly) yours,

Friday, January 3, 2014

December's Best-Selling Products at Carolina Sauce Co.

Matouk's West Indian Salsa Picante Hot Sauce
December is always the busiest month at the Carolina Sauce Company, with lots of people sending hot sauce & barbecue sauce gifts for the holidays, and this past December was no exception. Unlike prior years, however, this year brought much greater variety in the types of sauces, seasonings, snacks and other zesty gifts ordered by our customers -- so much so that instead of listing just the 10 most popular sauces, it made more sense to list our top 20 products for December. The list follows, together with brief descriptions and links back to the specific pages where you can order the listed products either from the Carolina Sauces online store or from our partners:

1. Matouk's West Indian Salsa Picante Hot Sauce: This bright, fiery mustard and scotch bonnet pepper hot sauce from Trinidad & Tobago is a taste of sunny tropical paradise, with the requisite spicy heat and hint of island fruit. It's also our best-selling hot sauce of all time.

2. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce: Made in eastern North Carolina using traditional ingredients, this thin vinegar barbecue sauce is the quintessential eastern Carolina BBQ sauce for pulled pork barbecue cooked long and slow on a smoker. It's not only our best-selling barbecue sauce; it's also our all-time best-selling product across all categories.

Walkerswood Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce
3. Walkerswood Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce: This straightforward Jamaican hot sauce is a favorite of purists who prefer the distinctive flavor and fiery burn of scotch bonnet peppers, and want to experience them without additional seasonings that can dilute or diminish the chile's unique character. If you're looking for an all-purpose scotch bonnet hot sauce to use at the table or for cooking, Walkerswood is an excellent choice.

4. Jamaica Hell Fire 2 in 1 Red Hot Sauce: Concocted by a Jamaican doctor living in the US who craved the cuisine from his homeland, this spicy pepper sauce is made from sun-ripened island chilies and Jamaican spices in a tangy vinegar base. Add a taste of the tropics anytime you splash on this savory, all-purpose hot sauce.

5. Matouk's Calypso Sauce: A little hotter and more savory than its West Indian sibling, Calypso Sauce is thick and robust with solid aged-pepper flavor and fire, an excellent hot sauce to enjoy with grilled, roasted, broiled or smoked fare. It's also a great way to spice up red beans & rice, seafood stews, hearty breakfast casseroles, and other full-flavored savory dishes.

Gator Sauce
6. Gator Hammock Hot Gator Sauce: Made in Florida from all-natural ingredients and several different hot peppers, this multidimensional savory hot sauce is preferred by chefs and other foodies who appreciate a good burn but never at the expense of superb flavor. If you like heat but want to be able to taste all the nuances of your food, choose Gator Sauce as your go-to hot sauce.

7. Walkerswood Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning: From Jamaica's best-known name when it comes to jerk products, this wet rub or paste is the real deal. Made with traditional ingredients using a timeless recipe, this spicy-hot jerk seasoning captures the essence of classic Jamaican jerk with its intense aromatics, complex herb and spice notes, and serious peppery heat. A little goes a long way, whether you're jerking red meats, poultry, fish and seafood or vegetables.

Habanero Stuffed Olives
8. Crazy Jerry's Lizard Eyes Habanero-Stuffed Olives: Why settle for boring pimento-stuffed olives in your salads and martinis when you can enjoy the eye-opening kick of habanero-stuffed olives instead? Plump and juicy green olives are stuffed with slices of fiery habanero peppers for a snack, garnish or condiment that will thrill fiery-foods enthusiasts.

9. Dave's Cool Cayenne Hot Sauce: This sunny, surprisingly mellow and pleasantly piquant California hot sauce is made with cayenne peppers and specially selected spices for a zesty and satisfying all-purpose hot sauce you can enjoy with any meal.

10. Matouk's Salsa Picante Hot Pepper Sauce: Fiery-hot and richly savory, this is the "big brother" of the Matouk's family of hot sauces -- but don't worry, it's not as imposing and powerful as "big daddy" Flambeau, so you can use it more liberally and frequently without risking a tongue-numbing burnout of your taste buds.

Most Wanted Pain is Good Habanero Hot Sauce
11. Most Wanted Pain is Good Habanero Hot Sauce: Recently added to the Carolina Sauces online store and making its first appearance on our best-sellers list, this flavorful habanero hot sauce is not the hottest you can buy, and that's a good thing because this baby has layers of food-friendly flavors waiting to be savored and enjoyed by food-loving hot sauce fans.

12. We had a tie for twelfth place between two Caribbean sauces that are very different but nevertheless superb examples of their particular styles: Marie Sharp's BEWARE Hot Sauce, an ultra-hot habanero pepper sauce that should be used with extreme care and only one drop at a time, and Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce, a colonial-style Jamaican hot sauce that's not a jerk sauce but instead a slightly mellower but solidly hot all-purpose pepper sauce that's especially good with scrambled eggs and hash browns as well as other everyday savory fare.

13. Bone Suckin' Rib Rub: Sassy, spicy, savory and slightly sweet, this tasty all-natural BBQ dry rub from North Carolina is fantastic with beef AND pork ribs, pork butts, chicken, brisket, chops, burgers, steaks, shrimp, grilled vegetables, and even as a table seasoning for french fries and popcorn. Some folks like to add it to their breading for fried fish, fried chicken and other coated foods to add a touch of zesty flavor.

Habanero Microwave Popcorn
14. Matouk's Hot Sauce Gift Set comes with a full-size (10 oz) bottle of each of the four most popular flavors of Matouk's hot sauces: Calypso Sauce, Flambeau, Salsa Picante Hot Pepper Sauce, and West Indian Hot Sauce.

15. Ass Kickin' Habanero Popcorn: Unlike other hot & spicy microwave popcorns, this one actually tastes good! It packs a pretty solid habanero pepper punch, so be sure to have a tall glass of something cool to drink when snacking on this hot popcorn.

16. Smoker Wood Chips, Charcoal & Grilling Planks: From Traeger pellets to hard-to-find Pacific alder wood chips, seafood-friendly cedar planks, hickory chunks for your smoker, and even whiskey barrel smoker chips, we have the wood you need for your barbecue grill or smoker.

BBQ gift basket
17. Bacon and Bacon Gifts: In addition to old-fashioned thick cut bacon and specially seasoned gourmet bacon, flavored bacon, and nitrate-free bacon, we also have bacon-flavored foods (condiments, seasonings, chocolate, breakfast favorites, etc.) and bacon novelties (e.g., band-aids, toys, clothing, bacon-scented cologne, bacon lip balm, and more).

18. We had another tie for 18th place, this time between our two largest and most bountiful BBQ Gift Baskets, and also the gift that keeps on giving, namely, Hot Sauce of the Month Clubs, which are available in 3-, 6- and 12-month plans.

19. Jim's Own BBQ Sauce, Rubs & Gifts: Award-winning North Carolina barbecue sauces and seasoning rubs from Jim's Own Sauce are always popular for gift-giving occasions, and this past year Jim's Own updated and improved their selection of NC barbecue gift baskets and gift sets. From traditional Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce to sweet-spicy Smokey BBQ and tangy low-country Mustard BBQ Sauce, plus all-purpose seasoning rubs ranging from classic savory-sweet Mild to spicy Pincho, robust Smokey and exotic Safari, there's something for every taste. And just in time for Christmas, Jim's Own released their very own all-natural, MSG-free Slow & Smokey Chili Mix!

America's Restaurant Recipes Cookbook20. America's Restaurant Recipes Cookbook:  Have you ever wished you could have the recipe for your favorite restaurant dishes so that you could make them at home? Ever wonder what the secret ingredients are for that special entree, crowd-pleasing appetizer or decadent dessert you enjoy when eating out? America's Restaurant Recipes Cookbook has them! No wonder it's the first cookbook to have made our list of best-selling products.

We will soon finish tallying the results for overall and category-specific products for 2013, and will post the lists here as well as on the Carolina Sauce Company website when they're available.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

We're Giving Away Jim's Own BBQ Sauce, Rub & Chili Mix!

It's time for our monthly Crock Pot Game and prize pack giveaway on Facebook!

Our theme this month is chili, in celebration of the brand-new Jim's Own Chili Mix, from the makers of the award-winning Jim's Own Barbecue Sauce from North Carolina.

Our friends at Jim's Own Sauce are providing this month's Prize Pack for our Facebook giveaway. The Prize Pack is shown in the first photo below.

The lucky winner of this month's Crock Pot Game will receive:
  • A pint bottle of Jim's Own Smokey Bar-B-Que Sauce, richly savory and smoky with a touch of sweetness and peppery spice;

  • A bag of Jim's Own Smokey Rub, a versatile barbecue dry rub and all-purpose seasoning; and

  • A package of Jim's Own Slow & Smokey Chili Mix, an all-natural blend of beans, corn, veggies & chili seasonings -- just add browned meat, tomatoes & broth or water. Jim's Own Chili Mix helps you make hearty, wholesome homemade chili anytime with virtually no effort, and it's absolutely delicious (see the photo below for a glimpse of the cooked chili).
If you'd like a chance to win our Jim's Own Smokey Prize Pack, all you have to do is Like us on Facebook, look for our January 2nd Crock Pot Game post with the photo below, and then follow the simple rules posted there to enter our contest. The winner will be selected at 9pm EST by random drawing from all eligible entries.

Who is eligible? Anyone with a U.S. shipping address, including residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and deployed military personnel at APO and FPO addresses. Just make sure to follow the rules on our Facebook post, and be sure to check your email and Facebook after 9pm to find out if you're the winner.

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

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you'd like to order Jim's Own Chili Mix, you'll find it along with other zesty Jim's Own sauces, rubs, gift baskets and apparel on our Jim's Own BBQ Sauce page.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Our Best Southern New Year's Day Recipes

Happy New Year to you and yours, from the Carolina Sauce Company! May 2014 bring you much happiness, good health, prosperity, peace, love and plenty of zesty eats.

In the spirit of the day, we're sharing some of our best recipes for New Year's Day, inspired by traditional Southern foods that are believed to bring good luck in the coming year if eaten on January 1st. Beneath the number-coded photo collage below, you'll find the corresponding recipe links. Those marked with (V) are vegetarian/vegan or have a vegetarian/vegan option included.

1. Crock Pot Hoppin’ John: A Southern favorite featuring black-eyed peas, which some say symbolize coins. Usually cooked in a large pot on the stove, my version is made in a slow cooker or crock pot to keep your stove free for other recipes.

2. Smoky Spicy Black-Eyed Peas Chili (V): Inspired by Hoppin' John but with a Tex-Mex twist, this meatless chili gets its smoky heat from chipotle hot sauce. You can add browned ground meat if you are not a vegetarian, but I recommend you increase the spices and seasonings if you do so.

3. Chipotle-Bacon Black-Eyed Peas: Basically a traditional Hoppin' John but made with bacon rather than hog jowls or ham hocks, and spicier with a rich, earthy flavor from chipotles.

4. Greens w/ Roasted Garlic & Fatback: A zesty, garlic-rich variation on an old Southern favorite usually made with collard greens on New Year's Day because collards are said to represent paper money and thus bring prosperity. You can use any kind of greens, even spinach. And you can substitute guanciale (hog jowls), pancetta or bacon for the fatback.

5. Lemony Collards w/ Radishes & Spring Onions (V):  This is a much healthier, lighter and lower-fat way to enjoy collard greens (or other greens) without sacrificing flavor or breaking a New Year's resolution related to weight, diet or healthy eating.

6. Southern-style Collards with Fatback: As you might guess from the fatback mentioned in the name of this recipe, this isn't a low-fat dish. It's soul food, not "health food." If you're looking for a traditional southern recipe for collard greens, this is the one for you.

7. Whole-Grain Buttermilk Cornbread (V): Based on a classic recipe for old-fashioned buttermilk cornbread, but made with whole wheat flour along with stone-ground cornmeal (which is a whole grain) and corn kernels. Delicious and healthy!

8. Ancho Chile & Cheddar Cornbread (V): A rich, cheesy cornbread with peppery southwestern flair from dried ancho chili peppers.

9. Bacon PepperJack Cornbread: Created because bacon makes everything better! This award-winning recipe has just a touch of feisty peppery bite, kept in check by ooey-gooey cheese. And did I mention that this cornbread recipe has BACON??

You'll find more recipes for celebrating the start of a new year on our Christmas & New Year's Recipes board on Pinterest.

What are your favorite New Year's Day foods? Tell us in a comment below.

Zestfully yours,