Category: Food

Spicy Food, Good Friends, Great Beer

If you like spicy, hot food, you have come to the right blog. Sometimes we will give you cooking tips and tricks and others we will go the recipe sharing route. Today is a little different. We want to talk about how to entertain people who crave flavor and spice. Not everyone is of this persuasion. One way to please all palates is to have a backyard cookout. This way you can add salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic, lemon juice, or sriracha sauce to the fare according to individual taste. We put it all out and as the meat, ribs, chicken, or fish cook, people can go to it as they see fit. It is a lot of fun and everyone ends up happy. We have done this many times with great success. Hand out some funny aprons to add to the fun and get it shared on Facebook.

One of the variables at our cookout is the type of beverage offered. You can do lemonade, iced tea, soft drinks, or punch. The last time we invited guests, we asked a friend to bring a keg of beer. He informed us that a half keg would be enough and we had to accept this counsel since we had no idea how many beers you can get out of either size. He makes his own beer and we were excited to try it. It would be a great novelty. Most people I know drink beer and have their preferred brands. This time they would have a new experience. Anything out of the ordinary is an entertaining must.

When the party was going full force and everyone had their turn as chef at the grill, we thought we would have a little fun. We inaugurated a silly contest asking each attendee to guess how many people could be served from a half keg of beer. It was sitting right in front of them. The winner gets his or her own quarter keg to take home. My beer-making friend is quite generous! The answer is 165 can or bottle equivalents. People were so off the mark at 50, 80, or 200. We did have someone close enough at 160 which we knew was a totally wild guess. It was a fun game and I suggest you try it as the party is dying down. It livens things up and gets people drinking more beer!

So much for party tips and how to introduce spicy food to your crowd. With my friends, they expect it so they know what I am likely to serve. A cookout is a bit different and I eliminated my usual tasty and exotic casseroles. Spicy food can come in any form and it doesn’t have to be intense. Come back soon and find out the vast range of options that are available for a sophisticated palate. We will teach you about ten types of chilis so you can go beyond jalapeno and fresno. There are tons more.

Tailgating Food!

It is tailgating time so get ready! I love football season for many reasons. It is a wonderful time of year when the fall leaves appear in their glorious array of orange and brown colors. The holidays are coming down the road. The air grows cool at night, perfect for wearing your team sweatshirt or knitted scarf to the game. Diehards don’t go into the stadium without first enjoying a tailgate party from the back of their vans. I want to throw one in the yard at home since I want to invite lots of my Facebook friends. There wouldn’t be enough room to spread out the food from the trunk of my car. There are certain traditions that have to be upheld. You serve grilled food like hotdogs and hamburgers and have a cooler full of soda and beer. Forget wine. It is too refined. Football is a rough and tumble sport that appeals to the average Joe because of the action and athletic prowess. When the quarterback throws a fifty yard pass and it is caught, the crowd roars. Every touchdown is a cause for celebration—if it is your team. I suspect there is a bit of love of speed and violence involved, more so in the pros than the college circuit. First and foremost, the game is exciting as you watch your team march down the field to the goal zone ten yards at a time. It is as far from soccer as you can get.

As a spice lover, I want to doctor up the dogs or at least lace the catsup with something exciting like chili powder or garlic. If you are brave enough to add Indian flavors, you will get a real jolt in your mouth. I would do this whether I was cooking in the parking lot of the stadium or preparing a meal at home. I love the surprise of experimenting with spices. I am known for this among friends so they even expect something like paprika or onion salt on their fries. I have a whole bunch of people coming from adults to kids. It is the best fall party of them all except for Halloween, but that is months away.

Tailgating is the ultimate sports lover social experience. You argue about teams and the decisions of the refs. You remember the famous “hail Mary” plays and your favorite games from long ago. You still know the stats for the top players and who won the Heisman Trophy from the beginning. A game that changes direction in the last five seconds is awesome and it happens all the time—even the last two seconds. I could rattle off a list if I had more space, but if you want some tips then read this: That would be the topic of an entirely different blog. I usually talk about food.

Football food is great and they say that nothing beats the dogs in the stadium. They have gotten fancy now with grilled chicken and other treats. Ice cream is always there even though this is not baseball. Fans get hungry.

Things that Work for Us

There is a craze going on right now for spicy food. Long gone are the days of simple, plain, tasteless meals. This often means going the ethnic route and tweaking old bland and boring recipes. The world is expanding its palate far and wide, particularly in the US. We are ahead of the game, my sister and me. We have been embracing hot flavors and ingredients for some time. Our spice cabinet is packed with goodies like paprika, saffron, curry, cumin, chili flakes, and more. You will find us experimenting in the kitchen most non-work days. There is nothing more challenging than inventing interesting things to eat. We love to share with friends and family. Entertaining is our forte. The spice fad could come from foreign sources like Ethiopian or Indian food. It washed upon our shores a while back and has taken root in urban as well as suburban environments. It is no doubt the result of the constant need for titillation and change. We eat and sleep most of our lives so it is no surprise that revving up meals is the new order.

Speaking of innovation, we have to mention how creative we get in the kitchen with our tools. We have been known to use mugs for gravy boats and tampered with aluminum caps for measuring cups. It seems that we often misplace many or our regular cooking or baking items. We can make substitutions in a flash. If we have dirty oven mitts, we wear some new welding gloves from dad’s shed. My sister and I are alike as far as this crazy practice goes. She tells me that she got the idea from @RateMyWelder on Twitter. Having burned my hands more than once when taking something hot out of the oven, I appreciate the thickness of these gloves and the protection provided.

Maybe it comes from our parents’ frugal natures, but it has been passed down to us. I suppose we could make gardening gloves do double duty, but they are often full of dirt and smudges. My dad was a welder in the old days so he has several pairs, some still like new. He said he remembers the old days when his grandfather worked in a mill and they didn’t use hand coverings at that time. I guess there was no OSHA to make sure that employers implement t sufficient safety rules. His grandad would come home with metal splinters embedded in his fingers and grandma had to pull them out with tweezers. How primitive were those times! Since then, welding gloves are mandatory and they do their job well. The new welding generation has benefitted from quality materials and construction. So why not use them for cooking ourselves? We clean them often so they are ready for any quick kitchen project. We believe in advance preparation in our tools as well as for our recipes. You would say that we are an organized pair. How lucky I am to have a willing cooking mate any time I want.

Great Party Yesterday

When you entertain, sometimes you must be imaginative. People come to expect a great time when you do it often enough. I have a reputation to uphold! But, there are always last minute problems that have to be solved. You use what you have at hand. Let’s say you are having a kid’s party and the decorations you ordered haven’t arrived by mail. You go into quick thinking mode and ask friends and neighbors to come and hang some old crepe paper and cute cartoon figures (cut out of comic books) on the walls. You might be having a barbecue and the new grill is defective. You rally and use the one in your kitchen. On the other hand, here is another scenario. You run out of room at an outdoor party and need a makeshift buffet table for all the food you have whipped up. Not everyone can run to the rental depot and stash a foldup table in the back seat of their car.

In this unique situation, I remember that my neighbor had been bragging about his home woodworking shop and had shown me his saw horses. I now knew what to do. I called him in a flash and before I knew it, a pair of sturdy saw horses was being carried to my yard. Behind them, his two teenagers were balancing a piece of plywood to put over the sawhorses. Imagine that. I never associated such things doing double duty as furniture. All I needed was a nice, colorful table cloth to complete the buffet table for guests.

The party was a great success and I got many compliments. It was mostly on the ambience and the food. It was a beautiful balmy night. We sat around relaxing in my garden chairs, sipping cold white wine. No one had an inkling about the sawhorses as they were covered up. Thus, I didn’t get any special extra credit for ingenuity. My neighbor, however, finally passed the word, garnering accolades for me of a different kind. In actuality, the sawhorses saved the day. Most people with a bent for woodworking have maybe one, but who has two? They take up valuable space in your garage or shed. I am grateful to my neighbor for showing me his work area a while back. Let this be a good lesson for you to take opportunities when they come. This doesn’t mean buying two sawhorses in anticipation of a garden part gone wrong. It is unlikely to happen. I am one of those rare birds whose parties often require last-minute adjustments.

It is always party time at my house as I like to cook and share good times with friends. You can bet that sooner or later I will need a buffet table once again. Sure, I can rent or buy a fold up version, but I love the sawhorses. They are inanimate wood objects that come to life in a pinch.

The Scoville Scale

The Scoville Scale is something that most people who love spicy food are acquainted with. It is used to measure the spiciness or heat levels that are produced by hot peppers. It is the safest way to assess how spicy a dish may be prior to ingesting it short of taste testing.

Who invented the scale?

A man named Wilbur Scoville who was a pharmacist in 1912, wanted to test the heat level of hot peppers and devised a plan that included human testers and experiments that involved determining how much water it would take to dilute the heat produced by certain peppers. The concoction that he used would require up to five thousand cups of water to dilute the pepper extract so humans would no longer feel the heat. Modern testing methods can bypass the use of human taste buds and assess the presence of certain chemical compounds within the peppers to give an accurate reading of their heat levels. These compounds are known as capsaicinoids. The units that describe heat levels are referred to as pungency units. These are multiplied by fifteen and the resulting number is the heat score. This is a less painful method for judging the heat of a hot pepper.

Which peppers are the hottest?

The hottest known chili as of now is the Carolina Reaper, which sounds scary, and it should. It measured 1,569,300 in Scoville units of heat. Careful cultivation yielded one pepper of this variety that reached the height of 2.2 million units, which is rare but it happens. Before this monster pepper, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was the hottest on record followed by the Naga King or Ghost Pepper. Jalapeno peppers come in at around 5,000 on the Scoville scale which makes them seem like a bowl of ice cream when compared with a few of the others.

Why do people enjoy excessively spicy foods?

This has been a popular question that food science experts explored in depth. They arrived at a theory that is known as dynamic contrast. It purports that the human tongue is predisposed to favoring a variety of flavors and sensations and when a surprise is thrown into the mix, it becomes an addiction for some. Another explanation is that some people are just naturally risk-takers. They get a thrill out of the prospect of becoming the person who ate the world’s hottest pepper.

A Few of the Hottest Peppers and Their Scoville Ranking

After the 2.2 million record of the Carolina Reaper, there are peppers that come close but are quite a ways behind. Here are the Scoville rankings for the next hottest peppers in the world

  • Naga Jolokia – This pepper tests between 855,000 to 1,050,000. The pain inflicted from eating a single seed can last for up to a half an hour.
  • Red Savina- 350,000 to 580,000. This variety was created in California but the majority of growers can’t seem to reach its’ maximum heat potential.
  • Habaneros – The scale is 100,000 to 350,000. These peppers come from the Yucatan region of Mexico and while they don’t really compare with the heat of the heat of the Naga Jolokia, they are capable of causing extreme discomfort.
  • Datil Peppers – From the habanero variety, this version has a sweeter taste but still packs a wallop with 100,000 to 300,000 Scoville units. It originated in the Florida area.

These are the helpful numbers that we now enjoy because of the Scoville scale. Those who want the prestige of having eaten the hottest pepper in the world generally consult them. The average spice lover just knows what they like and are satisfied with that.

Spicy Dinner Party

Throwing a spicy dinner party can be a lot of fun and when your guests are fully on board, it can lead to new records in the heat tolerance competition. While you may have guests with a variety of tolerance levels, it is easy to prepare spicy dishes that offer several different heat levels on the Scoville Scale. We want to share our ideas for putting together a successful spicy dinner party that everyone will be talking about for years to come.


To get your party rolling, it’s fun to set out an array of tasty appetizers with graduating heat levels. In order to accommodate everyone there, the use of sauces and dips for standard appetizers is a good way to approach the situation. We recommend that you provide some type of labeling system that lets people know what they are in for when they make their choices. Here are some examples to get you started.

  • Chicken Wings

A moderately spicy platter of buffalo chicken wings is a great appetizer to start out with. We like to offer blue cheese dip as an alternative for those who have lower tolerance levels and move up the scale with more intense dips that reach the super hot stage of producing instant fire on the tongue.

  • Kebabs

Kebabs are another great appetizer that will let your guests have the choice of how badly they want to burn. The kebabs are put together the day before and they can be of any configuration that you prefer including fruits, veggies or pure meat offerings. They are marinated overnight in the sauce of your choice. This allows for a variety of heat increments, just make sure that you keep track of which ones will scream with spice over the others.

  • Queso tasting plates

Queso dip and chips that feature mild to extreme heat are also good appetizer choices. You can add a variety of chips, veggies, and fruits for great versatility and this option is a real people pleaser.

Main Dish

You have quite a few choices for the main dish at your disposal. If it’s a competition to see who can endure the hottest chili, then have cornbread, real butter and plenty of dairies on hand. If you’re preparing South of the Border Dishes, a variety of Enchilada dishes featuring beef and chicken preparations with both red sauce and white sauce can add variety and different heat levels. You can also add side dishes of rice and beans with no heat or extreme spice to complement the main dish offering. A green salad is a good choice for helping to alleviate some discomfort for overindulgent participants.


You may want to offer a more docile dessert selection for guests who have hit their limit and need a refreshing break and palate cleanse. Dairy-rich desserts including Sherbets, Ice Cream, Cheesecakes, Flans and Custards are excellent choices that can help you to have a fully rounded spicy dinner party.

Add a Kick to Your Favorite Dish

It doesn’t take much spice to give your favorite foods a little extra dose of authority. You can spice up nearly any type of consumable and do it well. Just a little disclaimer here, you might want to consider how much of a kick you can endure before you begin. We wanted to share a few ideas for imparting spicy goodness to a few common dishes for added flavor and enjoyment.

  • Red Pepper Flakes

Red Pepper Flakes are among the most versatile heat generators. Although they’re not terribly high in heat units, they can add a moderate kick to most dishes. If your scrambled eggs are a little bland or if you enjoy having a little kick to your pizza, they’re a great resource to have on hand. You can also add them to spaghetti, chili, soups and stews.

  • Fresh Hot Peppers

Using fresh hot peppers can give you nearly any degree of heat that you desire. Although you’ll need to take care when prepping them, and we strongly recommend that you use rubber gloves when chopping them up, they can add flavor and a kick to most dishes with a great infusion of pepper flavor. If you’re excessively brave, you could go with the super hots including the California Reaper for maximum heat, or the Ghost Pepper for a barely noticeable tone down or perhaps the Habanero. If you’re into a milder heat, then you may want to settle for the Jalapeno which ranks fairly low in heat generation.

Here are a few of our favorites

  1. Hot pepper burgers are easy to make and there are a couple of ways to do it. Finely chopped peppers can be added directly to the burger before you make the patties (again, with rubber gloves), but be warned, this could result in fiery consequences so watch the amounts that you use.
  2. Another way of doing this is to simply grill the peppers and add them on top of the patty for a superb kick. You can also add fresh hot peppers to any soups, stews or casseroles.
  3. Cracked Black Pepper

This is a source of spice that is often overlooked. Although it isn’t on the level of the super hot peppers, Coarsely ground black pepper makes an amazing addition to tomato soup if you want to crank up a little heat. There is something about the flavor that turns ordinary tomato soup into a spicy delight, and it’s even better when served with grilled hot pepper cheese sandwiches.

These are just a few of the things that you can do to jack up the heat in your favorite dishes. The amount of heat that you add is under your control so it pays to be aware of how much spice your peppers are capable of adding. The best advice that we can give here is to start out with small additions until you get a feel for the effect that it will produce. It’s a little more difficult to dilute an over spiced dish than it is to gradually increase the heat with more spice. Good luck and have fun!

Handle With Care (Safety Precautions When Prepping and Cooking Peppers)

Working with super hot chili peppers can lead to pain untold if it isn’t done correctly. With some pepper varieties reaching over 2 million on the Scoville Scale, it’s vital to take protective measures to ensure that the heat isn’t transferred to your skin while preparing and cooking them.

Peppers That are Highest on the Scoville Scale

The Scoville Scale is the brilliant invention that gives you an accurate assessment of the heat of a specific variety of hot pepper so you don’t have to find out on your own. This will give you an idea of what you’re dealing with before you begin. It’s bad enough to get the juice from a jalapeno pepper on your bare hands. While the pain is quite intense and you can depend on a half hour of complete misery if you do, it’s really minimal when you compare the 5,000 Scoville units of heat of this pepper with the range of 1.5 to 2.2 million with the Carolina Reaper for example.

Here is a quick guide on heat levels for some of the most prolific hotties.

  • Caribbean Red Habanero- up to 475,000
  • Red Savina -up to 580,000
  • King Nag -: up to 800,000
  • Bhut Jolokia (or Ghost Pepper) – 1,000,000+
  • New Mexico Scorpion – 1,191,595
  • Naga Viper – 1,382,118 SHU
  • Trinidad Scorpion Butch T: 1,463,700
  • Trinidad Moruga Scorpion – 2,009,231
  • Pepper Spray – Up to 5,300,000

It’s no wonder that a shot of pepper spray will disable an attacker. Consider these peppers as being a delicacy with unrivaled flavor, yet treasures which are to be handled very carefully. They can even cause a little coughing as you prepare them fully gloved during the preparation process so it’s a good idea to prepare them in a ventilated area.

Protect yourself from the heat

Super hot chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin. It is an oil that adheres to the skin and causes intense burning sensations. If the compound gets on your skin it will burn intensely for roughly thirty minutes so the best practice is to avoid getting it on your skin or in your eyes. It is highly recommended that you wear rubber gloves when working with super hot chili peppers and avoid touching the eyes or any other sensitive area of the body.

Important items to have on hand when working with super hots

Dairy products seem to work the best for counteracting the burning effects of capsaicin. It’s a good idea to keep some on hand when you’re prepping them and as you eat the foods made with them. Some preppers who have had a bad experience will use sour cream on the affected areas of the hands. If you get too much in a dish that you’re eating, drinking milk will help to a degree. The key is to try your best to avoid over spicing your foods. Start by adding smaller amounts of the pepper and work your way upward.

Toning down the heat

If you’re just starting out with spicy foods, it’s best to build your tolerance. This is a process and takes time so be patient. If you choose to remove the seeds from the pepper, be warned that the hottest parts lie in the white membranes. There is no reason to fear the heat but it definitely must be respected.

Favorite Hot Sauces


The popularity of hot sauces is fairly evident with new creations on the shelves every year. In the race to grow the hottest possible pepper, heat gourmands keep churning out new and amazingly hot sauce preparations. We’ve sampled quite a few of them and while some are just okay, there are others that really hit the spot with the heat that is so desirable and the flavor that adds character to your foods. We thought it might be helpful to provide you with a list of some of our favorite hot sauces along with a brief editorial on them in case you’re interested in trying something new.

  • Jalapeno El Yucateco

This sauce is good if you’re starting out on the experimentation side of hot sauce. It has a remarkably bright flavor with a bit of heat intensity that you feel over the entire area of the tongue. The Jalapeno base gives it a great kick but it doesn’t qualify as a super hot. This one was worth mentioning as a milder version of heat, but don’t be fooled, if you haven’t yet built a tolerance it could give you a kick.

  • CaJohn’s fiery Happy Beaver

This hot sauce has a lot to offer for intermediates. If you enjoy a sweet flavor, it delivers but watch out for the heat that kicks in quickly. You’ll enjoy a full-bodied and long lasting burn with Happy Beaver.

  • Darth Sambal

We’re graduating past beginner level with Darth Sambal. It originates in Indonesia and it features Cayenne, Red Jalapeno, and Aleppo, but here comes the heat warning. Darth could be considered evil because of the infusion of the deadly Ghost Pepper. It delivers a heat wave that lands firmly in the upper range. It’s packed with flavor and all of the heat you’ll really need

  • The Machine Screaming Hot Wing Sauce

We’ve arrived at one of the hottest sauces that is a personal favorite because of the combination of peppers that give it an amazing flavor and fire starting heat. This amazing concoction is made with Chocolate Ghost peppers, Smoked Habaneros, Seven Pot Doughlah and the Scoville screamer, Trinidad Scorpion peppers. While it’s popular for use with hot wings for the more daring crowd, it can be used on anything. It features a creamy red pepper texture, although you won’t be thinking about the texture for long. This hot sauce is our pick for those who have built up somewhat of a tolerance or perhaps have a leather tongue. It delivers the flavor and heat in high volumes so use with care.

We could go on for quite a while, but this is a good start on our contributions for great hot sauces to try. Although it’s fun to experiment in your own kitchen, these fine manufacturers have taken the prep work dangers on their own shoulders and delivered some fine hot sauces that we think are noteworthy.