Pepper Palace Fall Hot Sauce Review

Pepper Palace Fall Review Cover.jpg

Just because it’s fall, doesn’t mean the heat has to go away – especially if you are me (or like me) and love are addicted to can’t live without hot sauce. Remember this hot sauce review from this summer? [If you haven’t yet, you need to go read it to get an idea of just how much I love hot sauce]. Much to my surprise and excitement, I was recently contacted by the Pepper Palace to review a few more of their products. To date Pepper Palace has won hundreds of National Awards for product, marketing & flavor. A private held corporation, Pepper Palace remains a family owned and operated business with a reputation second to none. Pepper Palace is known as a “One-Stop-Shop” for everything spicy and while you can shop for a myriad of products online, you can also visit one of their many locations (I hope to make it to one before I die, it’s right up there with the natural wonders of the world).

Pepper Palace was kind enough to send me four products to review in exchange for my opinions on them, which are entirely my own so, let’s get to it! There’s not much talk to be had when there’s hot sauce involved on my blog…

Black Rose Hot Sauce

Black Rose.jpg

  • Made with: Red Jalapeno, Cayenne, Habanero, vinegar, garlic, spices
  • Tastes like: The habanero flavor really comes through in this thinner hot sauce. I really like it and it’s hot.
  • What makes it special: It has a slightly smoky flavor and would be excellent in chili this fall/winter. It has an exellent flavor that would also be good on burritos.

Garlic & Pepper Hot Sauce

garlic and pepper.jpg

  • Made with: Aged red peppers, vinegar, salt, garlic
  • Tastes like: This sauce has a great garlic flavor and will compliment anything with garlic in it. It is not overly spicy, but has a good, rich flavor. It reminds me of Tabasco with garlic.
  • What makes it special: This is a thin hot sauce that would be perfect for use in recipes. I have also been adding it to soup.

King Jolokia Hot Sauce

king jolokia.jpg

  • Made with: Naga Jolokia Peppers (a.k.a. Ghost Pepper/Chili/Naga Morich/Bhut Jolokia), carrots, papayas, lime juice, vinegar, onions, passion fruit, garlic, salt
  • Tastes like: This sauce packs a pure heat punch – and I love it. Ghost peppers, being the hottest in the world, are not for the faint of mouth or heart! I dumped on this hot sauce like I normally do, but soon found out a small amount will do. The heat creeps up on you from the back of your throat and let me tell you, it’s HOT.
  • What makes it special: This sauce comes with a warning that 1) it is the hottest pepper on record coming in at over 1 million Scoville Units and 2) that being found in Northeast India, it is often used as elephant repellant. I can’t wait to try it with my Famous (Ghostly) Chili.

Rub Dat Butt Seasoning Rub


  • Made with: Salt, black pepper, onion, garlic, paprika, Chipotle powder (smoked jalapeno)
  • Tastes like: This rub is smoky, earthy and peppery; but not overly spicy. You could use it on any meats or vegetables you wanted to season. It makes a great pantry staple! 
  • What makes it special: I didn’t think it was possible, but this made my Easy Shredded Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken Tacos even better! I just rubbed it onto the chicken thighs before placing them in the crockpot.

My favorite of the group? Hands down is this-

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And now, I have the appropriate fridge warning as well, thank you Pepper Palace!

Connect with Pepper Palace today through-

Tell me about you. Have you been to the Pepper Palace? Are you a fan of hot sauce? Have you tried any of these hot sauces? Which one do you think you would like to try the most?

Until the next mile marker,

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Sara’s Summer Garden Series: How to Dry Your Hot Peppers

Sara's Summer Garden Series CoverEveryone should know I love hot peppers, hot sauces, spicy food and spices (if you don’t know, just look at my fridge). The hotter the better – there’s nothing I won’t eat. I’ve been known to eat habaneros right off the plant, ghost chilies out of the pot and hot sauce by the spoon full. If the chemicals in spices really help to thin the blood (along with a variety of other health benefits) it’s a wonder why I ever had a blood clot because my blood is probably at least 77% hot sauce on any given day. My garden is basically a pepper garden and this year I have been growing habaneros, chilies, banana peppers, green and red bell peppers and Serrano’s to name a few. And, for as much as I love hot peppers, every year I grow more than enough and often don’t eat or cook with them fast enough before they go bad. This year I wanted to preserve them not only to save more from the yield (I have a ton of habaneros), but to enjoy the taste and benefits of peppers over the long winter months. My method for preserving them is drying them with a food dehydrator, something I had not done before and now I am sharing how to dry your hot peppers.

What will I need?

There are many different methods for drying peppers. To dry yours like I did mine, you will need peppers, a cutting board and knife, a food dehydrator (or an oven), glass jars and labels (or alternative storage system of your choice). So, here’s how to dry your hot peppers!

First, pick your peppers and rinse them in warm water to remove any dirt or insects or spider webs. Then, dry them thoroughly with a towel or cloth, being careful not to damage their skins. Sometimes I let them sit out on the counter to dry while I am deciding what to preserve and what to eat.

Peppers fresh from the garden

Discard any peppers that are soft, mushy, spoiled, have gray/white diseased looking spots or are questionable for eating.

Remove the stems from your peppers. If you’re drying in them in food dehydrator (or oven) slice the peppers in half length-wise (this will allow them to dry faster). Any peppers that are less than an inch in length can be left whole, although I tend to cut all of mine in half to allow for quicker and more complete drying. I leave the seeds in my peppers, but you do not have to. Some of them will fall out during the drying process.

habanero on cutting board

Place the peppers on the dehydrator shelves, leaving space between each half to allow for proper air flow.

serranos on tray clear pic

habaneros and serranos on tray

long chilies on top tray

Cover your peppers and turn the dehydrator on.

putting lid on dehydrator

My dehydrator does not have a temperature setting so all I have to do is plug it in and check to make sure it is heating up, which beings instantly. If your dehydrator has a temperature setting, place it between 135 and 145 degrees. Let the peppers lay in the dehydrator for 8 to 12 hours (mine is always towards the longer end), checking every so often to see if the smaller or thinner pieces have dried out.

top view of peppers on top two trays

When they are dried out, remove them from the dehydrator. Larger pepper pieces may take a few additional hours to dehydrate. If my peppers are taking longer to dry, I sometimes turn them during the process, being careful not to shake all of the seeds out (If some fall out, that is okay).

DRIED chilies

After they are completely dry (test by feeling them), separate them by pepper type and place them in airtight glass jars to prevent moisture from getting to them. I put mine in glass canning jars and label them.

jars of peppers with open lids

lids of peppers

So that is how to dry your hot peppers and here are the answers to some common questions you may have-

How can I be sure they are dry?

Properly dried peppers should be devoid of any should not feel “fleshy” or soft at all, but have a slight flexibility to them. They should not be brown, crumbling, or rock hard. The peppers should be dried evenly all over, slightly brittle (not crispy) and have a toughness to the skin.

What about using my oven?

Place the peppers on a pan or cookie sheet in a single layer and place it in the oven. Set the oven to its lowest temperature setting, which is usually labeled as warm, or just below 150 degrees Fahrenheit (120° to 140° is ideal). To allow moisture to escape, keep the oven door slightly open at least a couple of inches). Every hour, rotate and/or flip the peppers over for even drying. You do not want them to get soft, brown or stuck to the pan where they can cook so if this happens, turn down the temperature of the oven, open the door wider or flip them more. Drying in the oven can take several hours to a few days and can also heat up your kitchen considerably.

What can I do with dried peppers?
  • Keep them whole to use in sauces, chili and other dishes.
  • Crush them in a food processor, blender, or spice mill and create a seasoning.
  • Give them either whole or processed to family and friends as gifts to use in their own recipes
  • Save some of the seeds to replant for a bountiful crop the following year.
Can I rehydrate peppers to cook with them?

To rehydrate the peppers, take them out of their storage containers and place on a medium warm griddle or skillet. Roast for a 3-4 minutes, but do not burn them or they can’t be used. If your peppers are small, you will need to turn them frequently or roast them for less time. After they are roasted, place them in a bowl of hot water and cover for 30 minutes. Remove the peppers from the water and chop them up or blend into a paste as desired. Sample the soaking water to ensure it is not bitter (if it is, discard it) and you can use that water in your paste or in place of any water the recipe calls for to add an extra layer of peppery flavor.

Tell me about you. Did you know how to dry your hot peppers? What is your favorite way to preserve foods? What do you preserve? Do you love hot peppers too? Have you ever dried them or will you now?

Until the next mile marker,

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Summer Hot Sauce Review

Hot sauce cover edited with text

It’s officially spring and not long after that is the start of summer. Since I’ve made the commitment to eat healthier and lose the weight I re-gained since getting sick last year, I joined Weight Watchers (again) and have successfully counted points and made healthy decisions for the last week and a half – and, as soon as I find a scale I will weigh myself to see just how all of that counting has paid off. As part of getting healthy, I have had to re-focus on eating the right things, including increasing my protein intake and decreasing my carbohydrate intake. My husband and I even bought propane for the grill this year, and we have been grilling out for the last few meals. So, it seemed like the perfect time to roll out my Summer Hot Sauce Review.

My show-stopper was the grilled lamb I made the other night with grilled poblano peppers and even grilled Naan Bread. My husband said he liked the flavor of the pepper so much, it is his new favorite one.

Grilled lamb and poblanos

I also really enjoyed the flavor. Poblano’s are not overly spicy (they are classified as mild), but have a rich, almost what I would describe as an earthly flavor with just the right amount of spice to make them good.

As you know, I have a serious hot sauce addiction and no summer would be complete without the addition of hot sauce into my refrigerator, which is already packed full of hot sauce, but we won’t go there….really….

refrigerator door

There’s more on the shelves and most visitors think it’s ridiculous. They reach for water and they get hot sauce. I just noticed my favorite is not even in the above picture, which is Sambal Oelek. I would like to own stock in your company (or jut more of your chili paste), please and thank you. And, yes, I know all of my hot sauces/spices and which one goes with what food and if one is ever missing, bad, bad things can happen!

My friends (the real ones, anyway) also know about my love for hot sauce and the do things like visit the Pepper Palace on their family vacations to the Smoky Mountains just to bring me back a present.

Hot sauce orig

Sitting in their kitchen on the night they bestowed these beautiful gifts upon me, I could not wait to try at least one thing, Ghost Pepper Nuts-

ghost pepper nuts

If you recall, Naga Jolokia (or ghost chilies) are some of the hottest peppers in the world and they are fantastic in chili, I might add. These. Were. Amazing. I say were because they are gone now, but I am seriously considering ordering some. They took my breath away a little bit, they were that hot. Once I brought them home, they only lasted about a week. So, ten stars out of five for Da Bomb Ghost Pepper Nuts. I’m addicted. They’re so good. If you can handle extreme heat, get some (or get some and try them and if you don’t like them, I accept gifts).

Here is the rest of my review (ranked in order from least to most favorite, excluding the coveted Ghost Pepper Nuts):

hot sauce bottles with no border

#6 Maker’s Mark Gourmet Sauce

This has no heat (and this is a hot sauce review) so it ranks the lowest, however, it does have a good, rich flavor that would be nice for barbecuing or dipping steak/chicken (as my husband does). It is a thick sauce, which I like for grilling.

#5 Panola Clearly Hot Sauce Salsa 

This caught me off guard because it tastes exactly like salsa, mild salsa, that is. It would be great in a gumbo or on fajitas/burritos/tacos. I prefer hot salsa so I would use this in cooking gumbo or crawfish etouffee and people can add their own heat later.

#4 Tennessee Heat

This hot sauce reminds me of Tabasco and it will be a good staple to have – it goes with anything and provides jut the right amount of heat and flavor. My sister even tried it with chicken and rice (she is not a huge hot sauce fan) and liked it. It would be good with seafood, chicken, steak and eggs. I like this as a good alternative to Tabasco. I took it to my Dad’s to keep at his house because I really do need hot sauce no matter where I go (and not everyone has a supply, I am told).

#3 Scorpion Stinger

Scorpion peppers are apparently a new “breed” of peppers and rival the heat in ghost chilies. This hot sauce was just really good and packs a good punch of fiery heat. I still would argue that the ghost pepper is hotter, thought. Maybe it depends on what you eat it with.

#2/#1 Mountain Q Honey Habanero Hot Barbecue

This BBQ sauce is phenomenal! Habaneros are one of my favorite peppers (I have been known to eat them right out of the garden) and this sauce is deliciously hot with habanero heat. The BBQ has a sweet smoky taste that makes this sauce perfect for dipping. I grilled wings in it and it was so good. I might have to order this one too as it is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. This sauce is simply made with all natural ingredients, no preservatives and nothing I can’t pronounce, which inches it that much closer to a #1 in my book!

#1/#2 The Hottest Sauce in the Universe

I’ll give it to Pepper Palace, this just might be one of the hottest sauces in the universe and the warning is more than fair-

hottest sauce warning orig

I used a couple more drops than recommended, of course, but you can taste the ghost pepper right away. That pepper is hot and I think is my second favorite next to habanero. Yum! This sauce is for those who are looking for pure heat.

I promptly labeled all of my hot sauces with Cuties stickers, which made me smile – what better use for a Cuties sticker than put it on a hot sauce lid? Both make me smile.

Hot sauce bottles with cuties stickers orig

What about you? Do you like hot Are you obsessed with hot sauce like me? Do you have a favorite pepper? Do you cook with hot sauce or put it on your food? Is there any hot sauce I just have to try? Tell me in the comments!

Until the next mile marker,





My Favorite Things: Winter 2012 Edition

It hasn’t felt like winter here the past few days. This weekend, it was near 70 degrees, which is usually unheard of in Columbus this time of year. Yesterday it poured most of the afternoon and cooler weather settled in, but I’m not complaining because it could have been snow! I don’t like cold weather so I would be happy if the entire winter stayed like this, but I don’t think that is going to happen – it is Ohio, after all. Still, a non-white Christmas would be just fine with me.

So, even though it may not feel like winter, welcome to the Winter 2012 Edition of my favorite things. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Old Navy Moccasin/Sherpa Lined Shoes

These were only $19.99 at Old Navy and came in a variety of colors – brown, back, glittery, neon pink, navy, sequined, etc. I love them. They are surprisingly comfortable and really warm (okay, so I kind of wish it was colder here so I could wear them). I saw similar shoes at Target too, if you don’t have an Old Navy where you are. Perfect for winter!

Spoiled Steel the Show Nail Polish by Wet n Wild

Just about the time I decided to stop biting my nails and grow them out, I also decided to work in a winery and be really hard on them. I found that keeping polish on them is the only way to keep from biting them and I also found that it is hard to find polish to stay on when I am constantly dealing with water and chemicals. I picked up a bottle of Spoiled Nail Polish at CVS for something like $2.99 because I liked the color and it has turned out to be the best nail polish I have ever owned. It rarely chips, never peels, and I can wear it for about ten days with only minor touch ups and re-application of top coat periodically. Love this – get some!

The Retro Metro Tote by Thirty One Gifts

I may have found the perfect tote (which kind of turned into an everyday bag for me because I lug around so much stuff). I have the Patchwork Paisley and I love it. It is loaded with pockets inside and out, making it an ideal bag to carry everything you need – laptop, books, notebooks or you could even use it as a gym bag. With Thirty One, you can also get it personalized. I really like this bag when I need to carry more than a few things and can’t wait to see what the new spring colors are. It is $62 and Thirty One offers regular specials and discounts so find your local consultant to learn more.

AwesomeNote Lite iPhone App

I go back and forth between using an electronic/online calendar and a paper planner. I love to write things down and sometimes carry multiple notebooks (and pens) with me at one time, however, I also love the convenience of having everything in my iPhone since I use it all the time anyway for communicating, social media and blogging. With my iChameleons case, I can literally grab my phone and my keys and have everything I need, especially now that I downloaded the free AwesomeNote app. It has everything and so far, I have been using it instead of a paper calendar. It syncs with your Gmail or iPhone calendar and has a quick note place where you can type or use your finger to write a quick note, which appeals to my note-taking side. You can also create folders and different note layouts to keep in the app. I can keep track of appointments quickly directly from my email with the quick calendar feature too. So far, so good!

Homemade Cinnamon & Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

While I am not supposed to be overdoing it with seeds, these have been a nice treat this fall. My mother-in-law made them. They are lightly spiced so the Cinnamon is not overpowering, but just enough to put a smile on your face. 🙂 The recipe is pretty simple-

Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

  • Take the seeds out of the pumpkin and let dry overnight. Remove any leftover pumpkin skins.
  • Put Cinnamon and Sugar to taste in a large (gallon-size) Ziploc bag to your tastes and shake the desired amount of seeds in the mixture.
  • Add about 1/4 cup melted butter to the mixture and shake well to coat.
  • Put the coated seeds on a baking sheet in one layer.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Let cool and enjoy!

Camelot Cellars Hot Mulled Wine

A large number of holiday wine drinks in this country stem from the spiced wine tradition of northern Europe. Mulled wine is a term used to describe wine, usually of a red variety, infused with spices and served warm. Serving mulled wine is prominent throughout Europe and has been served there and elsewhere during the winter for centuries. It is traditionally sold by street vendors during cold weather and also during holiday celebrations. It was made popular by author Charles Dickens in his short story A Christmas Carol and was infamously referenced in the holiday cinema classic It’s A Wonderful Life. A traditional favorite in colder locations, mulled wine goes well with the various celebrations that come around the end of the year. The mulled wine we are serving at Camelot is specially made with Australian Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blend and simmered with fruits and spices –such as citrus and cinnamon –to create a delicate balance of warm and spicy flavors that many proclaim is the best they have tasted. The wine is a deep red in color and delivers a savory aroma from the moment you enter the winery. Mulled wine has become a favorite during the winter months because of its warming qualities and if you have the opportunity to try some – make sure you do!

Surprise Care Packages that feature Key West Green with Envy Jalapeno Key Line Hot Sauce

Send me hot sauce and we are friends for life! 😉 I’m only joking (kind-of). The wonderful Stephanie over at Kitchen Kilometers sent me a surprise care package with some goodies that meet all of my dietary restrictions. Thank you, Stephanie – it made my week and you are so kind to do so! The Jalapeno Key Lime Hot Sauce is fantastic and would go perfectly with any Mexican dish. I can’t wait to try it on eggs. It is hot, but also savory because of the jalapenos, which are not overpowered by the hotness. So. Good. If you don’t read Steph’s blog, you should. She is a constant source of inspiration to me!

What are your favorite things right now? Is there anything you can’t live without? Have you tried any of these products for yourself? Let me know in the comments!

Until the next mile marker,

My Famous (Ghostly) Chili

Yes, all of my recipes are famous, at least in my house didn’t you know? And a lot of my recipes are spicy too!

So, I decided to share with you one of my spiciest-of-all recipes as we enter fall and then winter and prepare to, well, turn up the hear – with Chili!

I make this Chili in a slow-cooker and let it simmer all afternoon, but you could make it on the stove too, if you prefer or don’t have a lot of time.

Please note, this recipe makes chili for 6-10 people (or a lot of leftovers if you’re like us) so cut it in half if you don’t need this much.


  • 2 pounds ground  beef
  • 2- 10 ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (i.e. Rotel)
  • 2- 8 ounce cans tomatoe sauce
  • 1- large onion, diced
  • 1- green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 – red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 – large can spicy chili beans
  • 1 – large can dark red kidney beans
  • 1-2 cups of beef broth (depending on how thick you like your chilli)
  • 2 – cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons (yes, tablespoons) cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 – dried ghost pepper, cut in half (or to taste)

Super-Easy Instructions:

  1. Brown beef in a skillet on the stove until most of the pink is gone – add to crock-pot.
  2. Saute (in juices from beef) garlic, onions and bell peppers until slightly tender – add to crock-pot.
  3. Remaining ingredients – add to crock-pot.
  4. Mix well – in crock-pot
  5. Cook up to eight hours on low or 2-3 hours on high.

I like to serve with cornbread and enjoy!


More about Ghost Chili Peppers:


The Bhut Jolokia or Naga Bhut Jolokia (or Ghost Chili Pepper) is the hottest naturally grown pepper on the planet. It has a Scoville (how the hotness of peppers is rated) rating of 1,041,427 units. For comparison, bell peppers have a 0 rating; Tabasco red pepper sauce rates at 2,500–5,000, Habaneros have a have a 300,000 rating and pure capsaicin (the chemical responsible for the spiciness of pepper plants) rates at 16,000,000 units. Pure capsaicin is unavailable through a natural grown plant and is only synthetically developed.

The Ghost Chili originated in the Assam region of northeast India. The Guinness Book of World Records named the Bhut Jolokia as the hottest pepper in the world (2004), a record which was previously held by the Red Savina. When ripe, the pepper has a red or orange color and measures about 2.5 in. to 3.5 in. long and about 1 in. wide.  The pepper looks very similar to the Habanero chili pepper; thought, the texture is rougher and the appearance has a more dented look.

Ghost chili peppers have a smoky taste to them that is reminiscent of a chipotle pepper, in my opinion, but much spicier. The word Bhuti, given by the Bhutias people in India, means ghost and was probably given the name because of the way the heat sneaks up on the one who eats it, which is true. It has also been likened to the bite of a King Cobra snake by peoples in the region where it grows. I found the taste to be rich and spicy and really enjoyed the pepper. It was not unbearably hot and produced a nice flavor on top of the heat.

I have found most of these peppers come with some sort of warning, though, like the following “With the intensity of the pepper able to create a very strong pain sensation lasting up to 30 minutes, one should eat the Bhut Jolokia pepper with extreme caution.  Also, when handling the Bhut Jolokia pepper, one should take caution as to not get any in or near the eyes as the pepper can create a very intense burn.”  So, try a small amount before you dump it in your chili!

Until the next mile marker,