Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

The 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year.  I love any holiday, of course, but I really love a good holiday in the summertime.  It’s hot outside, there is usually a parade of some sort, a BBQ, and the best part….fireworks!  It isn’t a holiday that centers around gift giving, or really even food.  It is about being together and the Red, White and Blue.  Can’t beat it.

When I was growing in up California, we went to a parade every year on the 4th.  I grew up going to the Clayton 4th of July parade.  It is a classic small town parade.  The fire trucks are in the parade, along with the library, swim team, local girl and boy scouts, etc.  But the best part is that all the kids get to decorate their bikes, scooters, skateboards, really any mode of transport, and be in the parade!  I did it, and my kids did it before we moved to Reno.

Nowadays, I love a good Reno 4th of July.  I love hanging out all day with new friends and ending the night at the Star Spangles Sparks by the Nugget.  And of course, I love all the food!  I have a few great recipes that would be perfect at any 4th of July party that you might be having, or going to.  I will show you how to make a homemade French Onion dip, a yummy Peachy Onion Topping for grilled sausages or hot dogs, and a fantastic Cherry Amaretto Pie Pop.  Who doesn’t love food on sticks?!

Let’s start with the dip.  My husband has always been a fan of French Onion Dip.  You know, the packaged kind?  I figured I could make my own version that could be tastier then a powdered version….I use sweet onions, sour cream, mayo to name a few ingredients.  It is sweet, tangy and perfect for any party.

I start by slicing the onions and throwing them in a sauté pan with a little bit of olive oil.  You can use any oil you have, or even butter.  I salt and pepper the onions and cook them low and slow.  Seriously, I cook them for like 45 minutes.  I don’t want to brown them; I want to caramelize them so that they cook down and get super sweet.  Cooking them slowly, over low heat, brings out the onions natural sugars.  This is what sets this dip apart from the packages kind….the sweet onions!

While the onions are doing their thing, I mix together equal parts of sour cream and mayonnaise.  I could eat it like that.  Try not to use fat-free, but low fat is fine.  Fat Free will taste a bit off.


When the onions are caramelized, I pop them in the fridge to cool off.  I chop enough rosemary that I have a scant tablespoon.  Too much rosemary and your food will taste like you threw a pine tree car air freshener in it.  If you are unfamiliar with fresh rosemary….you only use the leaves.  Discard the woody stems. 

Once the onions have sufficiently cooled, I mix the sour cream/mayo mixture, onions and chopped rosemary together.  It needs to chill in the fridge for about one hour before you serve it.  This helps the flavors meld together, and lets the rosemary soften a bit.

I serve this dip with potato chips, of course!  Various veggies could be good too, and probably welcome since there will be lots of treats at most parties.

As for my Peachy Onion Topping….it really is super easy.  I use more onions, Gourmet Rooster County Fair Peach Spread, Dijon mustard and a spare beer that will most likely be sitting around on the 4th.

You can totally make this whole thing on the grill, or inside on the stove top while someone else is grillin’ up the sausages.  BTW-I use brats for this, but any type of grillable sausage will work.

I start by thinly slicing my onions.  Then, I throw them in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Yes, this starts a lot like the dip above.

I let the onions sauté on medium for about ten minutes.  I am not as concerned about these onions getting color.  I mainly want to soften them.  Once they are soft, I added a whole beer.  Nothing fancy, in fact, I think I used Coors Light when I made this last.

I let the onions and beer simmer together for about five minutes, or until most of the beer as evaporated.  Once that has happened, I add in the mustard and peach spread.  You can feel free to use any peach preserve you can find, and even plain yellow mustard if you need too.  It will still be great!

Once the whole mixture has simmered another five minutes, and has gotten pretty thick, it’s done!  Spoon the topping over any kind of grilled sausage and get ready to accept many compliments. 


This topping is tangy, sweet and all together perfect.  It makes a plain sausage something extraordinary.  It’s messy though, so provide a lot of napkins!

My dessert is an American favorite…..Pie!  But not apple.  I chose cherry filling for these pies.  But not just any cherry filling.  I jazz my pie filling up with Amaretto.  And it is totally safe for the kiddos because the alcohol cooks off.

I start my pie filling by boiling a ½ cup of Amaretto in a sauce pan.  I boil the Amaretto until it has reduced down to ¼ cup.  This intensifies the flavor.  Once I have ¼ a cup, I add in a can of cherry pie filling.  Yep, a can.  I’m not pitting a pound of cherries when I’ve got parades to go to!

I let the pie filling and Amaretto simmer together for a few minutes until the flavors meld.  Once that is ready, I can move on to the crust.

And yes, I use a pre-made crust too.  I just unroll the crust, and I used a 2 inch in diameter cookie cutter to punch out about 16 circles from one crust (remember these are pie pops!). This will give me eight pies.

And oh yea, soak your lollipop sticks in water for a few minutes to prevent them from burning in the oven.

I’m good at math.

I lay out eight circles onto a baking sheet and top each circle with about a teaspoon of filling.  Then I put a lollipop stick in the center, and top each circle with its lid.  Make sure to seal your edges!

These bake for a few minutes, and they are too cute when they are done.  It is basically only a bite of pie though, so make a lot!  Once can of pie filling will make at least thirty two pies.


Are those not the cutest thing ever?  And the Amaretto makes these cherry pies to die for!

Have a great 4th of July!  Stay safe and have fun!

Caramelized Onion Dip

2 tablespoons olive oil OR butter

2 onions, sliced

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste


Sauté sliced onions, in oil or butter, on low heat for about 45 minutes, until onions are caramelized.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Chill cooked onions in refrigerator for a few minutes.

Mix together sour cream and mayonnaise.  Stir in chilled onions and chopped rosemary.  Mix well and chill for one hour/

Makes 2 ½ cups


Peachy Onion Topping

2 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, sliced thinly

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 bottle of beer, any flavor

½ cup Dijon mustard

8 ounces Gourmet Rooster County Fair Peach Spread

Melt butter in a large sauté pan.  Add onions, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent.

Once onions are soft, add beer.  Increase heat and simmer until beer has reduced, about 5 minutes.  Add mustard and peach spread and simmer another 5 minutes until topping has thickened.

Makes enough to top about 8-10 sausages.


Cherry Amaretto Pie Pops

½ cup Amaretto

21 ounce can cherry pie filling

2 boxes refrigerated pie crust (4 rounds)

32 lollipop sticks

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour amaretto into a saucepan.  Boil until reduced by half.  Add pie filling and simmer together over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Unroll pie crusts and punch out 32 circles with a 2 inch diameter round cookie cutter.  Place half of your circles on an ungreased baking sheet.  Top each circle with a teaspoon of filling.  Place stick onto circle and top with remaining circles.  Seal edges by pressing down, all the way around.

Bake at 450 degrees for 5-8 minutes. 

Makes 32

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wondering What to Do With Your Farmer's Market Bounty??

As long as there's a few farmers out there, we'll keep fighting for them.-Willie Nelson

True statement, right?  And the best place to “fight” for these farmers?  A Farmer’s Market.  Have you been to any yet this summer/spring?  Northern Nevada has some amazing Farmer’s Markets.  They are packed with produce, both from Northern Nevada and Northern California.  Beautiful stone fruits, berries, squashes, greens, etc. 

I have to admit, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of veggies.  This is embarrassing considering I think of myself as a “foodie” of sorts.  I try, but really, they aren’t my favorite.  Yet, every time I walk into a Farmer’s Market, I want to try everything.  The colors and freshness of all the veggies (and fruit too) gets my creative juices flowing.  And yes, I will eat veggies, and actually enjoy them!

I have two recipes for you today that really celebrate a lot of the wonderful produce that you can get right now at any Farmer’s Market.  But I didn’t just slice ‘em up and serve ‘em, although that would be great.  I like to think I got a little creative, yet still kept everything nice and easy.  Let me show you what I did.

To start, I made a delicious Grilled BBQ Veggie Pizza.  Kind of a mouthful there on the title, but crazy good.  I used a deep green zucchini, a pretty yellow squash, fresh sweet white corn, a red onion, a bright orange carrot and some beautiful tomatoes.  And I grilled ‘em all.  Well, except for the tomatoes.  Those I didn’t grill.

I started by slicing my zucchini and squash lengthwise.  Then I peeled the husk off my corn, sliced my onion, and peeled and sliced my carrot lengthwise too.  I brushed my veggies with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  I tossed my veggies on my grill and let the natural sugars hiding deep in each veggie come out.  I grilled the carrot for about eight minutes, turning it over half way through.  My corn grilled even longer, about ten minutes all together.  The squash and zucchini were only about five minutes, and the onion slices were fastest at about four minutes.  I grilled my veggies over pretty direct heat.  I like the brown char marks.  I think this gives the veggies a yummy flavor.

Once all my veggies were grilled, and cooled enough to touch, I chopped them into bite sized pieces, and I cut the corn off the cob.  Once that was done, I took my pizza crust out and spread it with my Gourmet Rooster Whiskey Apple BBQ Sauce.  You can, of course, use whatever BBQ sauce happens to be your fave.  Sweet, spicy or smoky, use what you like.

And oh yeah, by pizza crust, I mean I used a Boboli Pizza Crust.  You will see why in a minute.

Once the pizza crust was properly topped with sauce, I spread my grilled veggies evenly over the top.  I topped this with a combination of grated fontina cheese and grated mozzarella cheese.  The combination of these two cheeses will melt beautifully.  Now onto why I used a Boboli…..

I grilled my pizza directly on my BBQ.  I have tried pizza dough on my grill, but I found that to be messy.  I much prefer the sturdiness of a Boboli on my grill.  It holds up so much better.  I chose a thin crust version, but you can use whatever floats your boat.

I let my pizza grill for about ten minutes.  The grill gives the pizza a smoky flavor throughout.  You may need to pop your lid on to really get your pizza good and melty, but this method of cooking a pizza rocks no matter what.



Once the pizza is all done, I top it with my chopped tomoatos.  I prefer my tomatoes uncooked, but that’s just me.

This pizza will turn anyone into a veggie lover.  Like I said above, the veggies get caramelized and sweet, and the crust gets smoky and delicious.  And the cheese, oh the cheese…..to die for.  My body might have gone into shock though…..it isn’t used to this many veggies!

For dessert?  Yep, something to use up all that fruit that you may have bought too much of because it looked oh so good.  I have a recipe for a Grilled Peach and Berry Shortcake.  Sound good?  Wait till you hear about the Raspberry Chocolate Sauce I top it with.

For my shortcake, I start by grilling my peaches.  If you thought grilling veggies made them sweet, wait till you try a grilled peach.  I sliced my peaches in half, and removed the pit, and then I grilled them, flesh side down for about three minutes.  You can brush the flesh side with a neutral tasting oil if you want, but I find I don’t need too. 

Once your peach has grill marks, I can promise you that it will be the sweetest peach you have ever eaten.  Pure sugary sweet perfection.

Once my peaches cool enough that I can touch them, I sliced them into wedges.  I added the wedges to some hulled and sliced strawberries and blueberries.  You won’t even need to add any sugar to this if you have farm fresh, ripe berries and peaches.

For the “shortcake” part of this, I use a regular ‘ol can of buttermilk biscuits.  The star of this show is the fruit…nobody cares too much about the shortcake.

I like to spilt the raw biscuits in half and sprinkle a little sugar between the two halves.  Then, I press them back together and bake according to package directions.  If you are feeling sassy, you can throw some cinnamon in there too.

For the sauce, I rinsed off my raspberries, and then I blended them until I had a pretty smooth puree.  I heated up some butter and heavy cream, and whisked in some chocolate chips.  Once the chips were melted, and I had a smooth sauce, I whisked in the raspberry puree.

To assemble these bad boys, I split my biscuits in half (again), and I laid the bottom half down on a plate.  I topped this with my fruit, then sauce, then some whipped cream.  It just needs its lid and it’s good to go!


Oh holy yum.  This dessert will have you at the Farmer’s Markets weekly scooping up the peaches and berries.

I hope to see you at one of the markets!

Grilled BBQ Veggie Pizza

½ a zucchini, split lengthwise

½ a yellow squash, split lengthwise

1 ear of fresh white corn, husked

½ a red onion, sliced

1 carrot, peeled and sliced lengthwise

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 10 ounce Boboli Pizza Crust, thin crust

½ cup BBQ sauce

1 cup fontina cheese, grated

1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

½ a tomato, chopped

Preheat grill.

Brush zucchini, squash, onion, carrots and corn with olive oil.  Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.  Grill corn for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.  Grill carrot for 8 minutes, turning occasionally.  Grill squash and zucchini for about 2-3 minutes per side, and grill onion for about 2 minutes per side.

Let veggies cool until you are able to touch them.  Chop veggies into bite sized pieces and cut corn off cob.

Spread pizza crust with BBQ sauce, leaving a ½ inch border.  Top with veggies, evenly.  Top pizza with cheeses, leaving same border.

Grill pizza for about 8-10 minutes, using lid if necessary.  Remove pizza from grill and top with tomatoes.  Let cool slightly before slicing.

Serves 4

Grilled Peach and Berry Shortcake

4 slightly firm peaches, sliced in half and pitted

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 pint blueberries

1 can (8) buttermilk biscuits, large sized preferred

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat grill.

Place peaches on grill, over direct heat, flesh side down.  Grill for about 2 minutes, or until peaches are softened and have char marks.  Set aside to cool.  Slice when cooled.

Place strawberries and blueberries in a large bowl.  Add peaches.  Mix gently.

Split biscuits in half.  Sprinkle bottom halves with sugar, evenly.  Replace top halves.  Bake for 13-17 minutes, or until biscuits are browned.

Split biscuits.  Top bottom halves with fruit, evenly.  Drizzle Raspberry Chocolate Sauce evenly over fruit.  Top with top halves.

Serves 8.


Raspberry Chocolate Sauce

1 cup raspberries

½ cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons butter

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Blend raspberries in blender until smooth.

In a saucepan, melt butter into heavy cream.  Once mixture is hot, whisk in chocolate chips.  Cook, over medium heat, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  This will take about 3 minutes.  Whisk in raspberry puree.

Makes about 1 ½ cups.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BBQ'd Ceasar?

There are three things that I can’t cook to save my life.  I’ll admit that right here, right now.  Perfect white rice, hard boiled eggs and pork chops.  I am happy to report that one has been crossed off the list.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I can now cook a mean pork chop.  Rice and hard boiled eggs remain ever elusive….

You read that right.  For all the things that I can cook, I have never been able to master the art of the pork chop.  They always sound like such a good idea.  “What’s for dinner?”  “Pork chops!”  It was always a disappointment.  A few weeks ago, hubs asked me to try and grill pork chops.  I said I would try, but we would probably end up at Taco Bell.  We didn’t. 

Have you heard of brining?  I knew that this was something that TV chefs like to do, especially with turkeys.  The theory behind brining is that by soaking your meat in a liquid mixture chock full of sugar and salt, your meat will absorb the flavors and become super tender.  I knew I had to try this because my pork chops end up somewhere between a tennis shoe and cardboard.

I came up with my own briny mixture.  I knew the basics were liquid/salt/sugar.  For my liquid, I used beer!  I also used some water, dried garlic, onion powder and pepper to mix in with the beer, salt and sugar.  I figured the beer would add more flavor than just water.  I was correct.

This differs from a marinade in the sense that the meat really swims in this mixture as opposed to just soaking in a bit of flavor/moister.  I used a really big sealable bowl to brine my pork chops.  They can really “swim” in this kind of bowl.

I used 4 bone-in pork chops.  I threw everything into my resealable bowl and let the chops swim in the brine for 4 hours.  They did this in the fridge.  This is a cold swim, not a hot tub.  You could let your chops swim all day while you are at work, but I wouldn’t go more than about 8 hours, or less than 3.

While the chops soaked, the salt and sugar worked on the cells in the meat, breaking them down.  This makes the meat super tender.  You may now refer to me as “Bill Nye, the Science Guy”.  What’s that you say?  Somebody is already called that?

I grilled my chops on my BBQ.  As the BBQ heated up, I took the chops out of the brine and dried them off with paper towels.  Don’t worry, the chops won’t be super salty when they are done.  I promise.

My chops weren’t super thick, so they grilled pretty quickly.  It took about 2 minutes each side to sear them.  Then, I put the lid on and let them finish cooking through, about 5 minutes.  At the end, I basted my chops with Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ sauce, which is a mustard based BBQ sauce. 

Eureka!  Juicy, tender pork chops!  The brine really works.  The chops tasted smoky and delicious, with a slight hint of beer and mustard.  Like I said above, they don’t taste salty or too sweet from the brine.  They ended up fantastic! 

Now…..what to serve on the side…what to serve, what to serve?  How about a grilled Caesar salad?  Yep, you can grill lettuce.  And croutons.  This way, you don’t have to cook inside and outside, and the grilling imparts a wonderful smoky flavor to the lettuce and croutons.

For my salad, I used romaine hearts because I need it to hold together on the grill.  A bag of salad will obviously not work.  I also used garlic olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBS sauce (again!), egg (I used egg beaters to prevent a horrific case of salmonella in my family), asiago cheese, and salt and pepper. 

Let’s start with the croutons.  I sliced a baguette in about ½ inch slices.  I brushed both sides with garlic olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  These will grill super-fast!  If they are on direct heat, they will get brown and toasty in under a minute.  You have to be on it….don’t walk away!

Then, you need to get the romaine hearts on the grill.  I sliced them in half, lengthwise.  I brushed the halves with garlic olive oil, then sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  And yes, you can use regular old olive oil if you want.  Or vegetable oil.  Or coconut oil.  The choices are endless.

These will cook on the grill for about 3 to 4 minutes each side.  Just enough to get a slight char on them and wilt the leaves a bit.  This goes fast too.

Earlier in the day, I like to make my dressing.  In my blender, I put enough egg beaters to equal one egg, garlic olive oil, a clove of garlic, lemon juice, Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper.  Normally a Caesar dressing would contain anchovies but my husband is adamant that I not use them.  If he isn’t watching, I throw them in.  Anchovies add a nice nutty, salty bite.  But the husband is not so adventurous. 

This gets blended together until it is smooth and pretty thick.  It will keep in the fridge until you need it.

Once the lettuce is done grilling, you can either serve it whole, or you can chop it up once it cools.  I usually choose to chop it up.  Then, I cover the grilled lettuce with parmesan cheese and dressing.  I also top my salad with grilled croutons.  Since I happen to have a grilled pork chop handy…. I also chopped that up and added it to the salad.  However you want to serve it….You will love this salad.


The grilled lettuce is smoky and delicious, the croutons are garlicky and crunchy, and the dressing is crazy good.  As for the pork chops, like I said, not too salty or sweet, but perfect!

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there!  If you need a present for dad, come see me at the Summit Farmer’s Market on Saturday or the Sparks Farmer’s Market tomorrow night!

Beer Brined Pork Chops

4 bone-in pork chops

1 bottle of beer

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup salt

1 cup water

1 tablespoon minced, dried garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

½ cup Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ Sauce

In a large bowl, combine beer, water, salt, sugar, garlic, onion powder and pepper.  Submerge pork chops in mixture.  Place lid on bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, but no more than 8.

Pre-heat grill.  Take chops out of brine and dry off well.  Sear chops over high heat for about 2 minutes per side.  Move chops to indirect heat and continue cooking until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Baste chops with BBQ sauce at the end of cooking.   Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Grilled Caesar Salad

One bag of romaine hearts (4 hearts)

One baguette

1 cup asiago or parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup Garlic olive oil for brushing on lettuce and bread

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Slice baguette into ½ inch slices.  Brush evenly with ½ the garlic olive oil and sprinkle evenly with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.  Place on grill over indirect heat.  Grill until brown and toasty on both sides, about 1-2 minutes.

Slice romaine hearts in half, lengthwise.  Brush evenly with remaining garlic olive oil and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.  Grill, over direct heat, for about 3 minutes per side, or until lettuce is slightly charred.  Remove from grill and set aside to cool.

Chop lettuce if desired and top with cheese, BBQ dressing and croutons.

Serves 6

BBQ Caesar Dressing

1 clove garlic

¼ cup egg beaters or other egg substitute

¼ cup Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ Sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

¼ lemon juice

½ cup garlic olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Makes about 1 cup.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Father's Day Gifts!

Father’s Day is coming up.  Don’t worry though, you still have time.  It is Sunday, June 16th.  I didn’t mean to freak you out.  It’s just that I have a couple of things that would be super fun to make for the dad in your life, but I want to make sure you have the time to do it. 

Normally, I make a special dinner for my husband, or we eat out.  This year, I thought I would make something that lasts longer than one meal.  I came up with two really yummy recipes for BBQ sauce and hot sauce.  The best thing about this?  You can make a lot and give it out to all the dads in your life.  And don’t all dads love a good BBQ sauce or hot sauce?

My first recipe is for a delicious Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce.   This sauce is sweet and spicy, which is a perfect combination for BBQ sauce.

Let me back up a little and tell you this.  My husband and children have an obsession with mangos.  Specifically, mango juice.  My older daughter likes fresh mangos too, but my youngest and husband only love the juice.  Odd, I know.

Back to the BBQ sauce….The first thing I want you to do is boil one cup of mango juice until it has reduced by half.  I want a strong flavor of mango in this sauce, so you really need to concentrate the flavor.  I use Langer’s Mango Nectar because it is all mangos in there.  No other fruits are mixed in to stretch the flavor.  Plus, it is readily available.

I use ketchup and apple cider vinegar to start the sauce.  (If you are anti-ketchup and would like to stay away from it, no problem.  Use half tomato puree and half tomato sauce. ) I add the ketchup and apple cider vinegar to a pot and get it started towards boiling.  While that is going, I add in brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, granulated garlic, salt, onion powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, ground chipotle powder and the reduced mango juice.  I let this simmer together for about 15 minutes….and that is all there is too it.  Did you know BBQ sauce was that easy?

You may have noticed that this is a smooth sauce.  I like this particular sauce to be super smooth.  If you don’t, feel free to use fresh onions and garlic sautéed in a bit of oil instead of powdered spices.

I pour this sauce into washed out bottles that I had saved for an occasion like this.  This sauce makes about 2 cups so you need a bottle that will hold that, or maybe two smaller ones.  Keep this in the fridge since it isn’t sealed.  The dad in your life will love it!

The mango juice gives this sauce a tropical sweetness that is crazy good in a BBQ sauce.  This sauce is so good with chicken and even better with pork.

FYI-My kids helped me make this sauce.  They like to measure out the spices and stir the pot.  Then, they really feel like they were a part of making daddy’s gift.

As for the hot sauce….don’t have your kids help.  In fact, you may want to evacuate the house while you make this.  At the very least, open all the windows because we are making Mango Habanero Hot Sauce, and habanero peppers will make your eyes water and your lungs feel like they are going to explode.  Fair warning.

And please, don’t touch your eyes after touching the peppers.

I start the hot sauce by boiling stemmed whole habanero peppers in vinegar.  I also throw in a whole peeled garlic clove and a whole peeled shallot.  This boils for about seven minutes, or until the habaneros are starting to get mushy.

Once the habs are mushy, this whole mixture gets a trip in the blender.  I blend this for about a minute, or until it is very well blended.  Then, I push this mixture through a very fine sieve.  You don’t have to do this part if you don’t want to…..but getting rid of the seeds and skins will greatly reduce the heat of this sauce.  It will still be ridiculously hot, so don’t worry about losing too much heat.

Now we have our habanero mash, and we can make the actual sauce.  I boil my habanero mixture with agave nectar, salt and mango juice until it is reduced by quite a bit.  This sauce will remain pretty thin, but it is a hot sauce.  You only want to eat a couple of drops anyway, right?

I pour this sauce into another bottle that I have washed out and hung on to.  This recipe makes about 3 to 4 cups, so this one goes a long way.

This hot sauce is good on virtually anything.  It is super-hot, but the agave nectar and mango juice give it a sweetness that helps you adjust.  It is a sweet heat.  And such a pretty color!

Now wash your hands and get all the hot stuff off of them.  Maybe go outside and take a deep breath of fresh hair before you get Habanero Lung.  I’m kidding.  That’s not real.

One thing to remember, I made these sauces in advance of Father’s Day because hot sauce and BBQ sauce are best after they have sat for a bit.  They like to “cure” if you will.  The flavors adjust and mature and just get better with time.

Oh yeah, I’m including a recipe for Mango Tres Leches Cake just in case you have a lot of mango juice left.  This is a Father’s Day tradition at our house, due to the mango obsession.


Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce

1 cup Mango Nectar (Langer’s)

1 ½ cups ketchup

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder

In a small pot, boil mango nectar until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

In a medium sized pot, stir all ingredients together, including reduced mango juice.  Simmer, over medium low heat, for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Pour into a washed bottle and store in refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups

Mango Habanero Hot Sauce

1 ½ pounds habanero peppers, stemmed

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 shallot, peeled

1 cup white vinegar

½ cup agave nectar

2 cups mango nectar, Langer’s

In a small pot, boil (covered) habanero peppers, garlic, and shallot in white vinegar.  Blend mixture in a blender for 1 minute.  Pour mixture through a fine sieve.

In a medium sized pot, boil habanero/vinegar mixture with agave nectar and mango nectar over medium high heat until reduced, about 15 minutes.

Pour into washed bottle.

Makes about 3 ½ cups.

Mango Tres Leches Cake

1 and ½ cups cake flour divided

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 eggs

½ cup mango nectar (Langer’s)

8 ounces diced frozen mango, defrosted and chopped


6 ounces evaporated milk

7 ounces sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ cup mango nectar (Langer’s)


1 and ½ cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 teaspoons rum extract

Remaining chopped mango for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 13x9 baking pan.

Stir together flour (all but 2 tablespoons), baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat together sugar, oil and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. 

Slowly beat dry ingredients into wet.  Once blended, stir in mango nectar.  Add remaining flour to mango chunks and stir mango mixture into cake batter.

Pour cake batter into greased pan and bake at 325 for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cake cool for 30 minutes.

After cake has cooled slightly, poke all over with a skewer.  Mix together ingredients for syrup and pour over cake.  Place cake in the refrigerator for 3 hours to let syrup soak in.

For topping:

With a hand mixer, beat together cream, powdered sugar, and rum extract until soft peaks form.  Spread over cake.  Top cake slices with remaining mango.

Makes about 16 servings.