Zatarain’s Product Review- Lemon Pepper Fish Fri

Zatarains Lemon Pepper Fish Fri

I know it looks like I have a typo in the title of this article, but that is actually how Zatarain’s spells this product… Fish “Fri” instead of Fish “Fry”. Strange trademarked spelling aside, I saw this in the store next to the seafood case and thought I’d give it a try. So, without further ado, this is a Zatarain’s product review on their Lemon Pepper Fish Fri.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, where salmon is the most popular fish. I know it’s blasphemy, but it is not my favorite. It is a pretty fishy fish. I have had it a couple times when the flavor had been tamed down and masked a bit, but overall it is just too strong for me. Luckily salmon isn’t the only fish in the sea, or river, or lake.

Lets Get Healthy!

Salmon Fillet

As part of our effort to become more healthy as we get older, we recently decided to try to add more fish to our diet. Honestly, this is something we have tried to do in the past without success, but we are trying again. The thing is we live right next to a couple fishing spots, so our goal is always to go catch dinner. Apparently, however, we suck at fishing.

Our lack of ability to fend for ourselves forces me to suck it up and go the store and buy fish…which just kills me. Because I have to do this, I almost always end up buying whatever mild tasting fish is on sale, and that is generally tilapia or swai fillets.

A few times I have sprung for tuna, swordfish, or shark steaks, because I have had them at restaurants where they were delicious. Sadly though, I have not seemed to master the cooking of these hearty fishes yet. Don’t get me wrong, I will keep trying, but I haven’t accomplished anything worth sharing so far, except possibly amusing “fails”.

With that being said, I went ahead and bought 3 Swai fish fillets and the Zatarain’s Lemon Pepper Fish Fri to get us going in our weekly fish dish endeavor.

Zatarains Fish FriThe back of the box gives directions for frying or baking the fish. As I said, we are attempting to be a bit healthier, so I decided to bake the fillets. The instructions said to rub the fish down with oil and evenly roll the fish in the batter, covering the whole fish.

It then says to spray the shallow baking sheet with cooking oil and to spray the top of the fish with cooking oil also. The box additional says to preheat the oven to 450 and cook for 15 minutes. Me being who I am, I questioned the temp and time for these fillets. The picture on the box shows a much thicker kind of fish than the super thin fillets of Swai I had putchased, and I worried that they would over cook.

So, I looked online for how to cook Swai fillets. Everything I found said to cook them at 350 for 10-12 minutes. I thought that sounded more realistic, so I went with the latter…I was wrong.

After 11 mins the fish were still totally wet and nowhere near done, so I added another 4 mins. Still not done, added another 3 mins. Still not done. then I turned the heat up to 400 and did another 4 mins, then another 6 mins. At this point I called them done. Needless to say, I probably should have stuck to the instructions on the box.

Smashed Potatoes

All of that aside, the fish was finally done. It was still not a crisp outer batter by any means, but had reached edible, and we were hungry. Along with this meal I also tried something else I had never tried, smashed potatoes. I have seen them on cooking shows a couple times and they looked delicious. I thought they would go well with the fish.Boiling Yukon Gold Potatoes

Before putting the Swai in the oven I had boiled 10 small Yukon Gold potatoes and then set them aside to cool. Then when I put the Swai in I started frying the smashed potatoes, thinking I had timed everything perfectly. Of course not realizing the fish would take like 3 times longer than anticipated.

Hilariously, I had a really hard time with the potatoes. First of all, I boiled way too many. I tried to estimate how many would fit in my pan, and came up with the number of ten potatoes. This was a big miscount on my part, as I, for some reason, failed to realize that smashing the potatoes would make them much wider and therefore take up much more room in the pan…duh.

In the end, it actually turned out ok that I made extra potatoes though, because they were totally falling apart. I think maybe I over boiled them just a little. They did not look like the beautiful ones I had seen on TV, that’s for sure. I managed to get 4 decent sized mostly in tact smashed potatoes out of my original 10.

I fried them up. They came out tasty, but not really what I had imagined. I will have to keep working on that recipe. The crummy thing was though that they were done way before the fish, so they just sat there and got cold. But anyways, back to the Zatarain’s…

Zatarain’s Lemon Pepper Fish Fri

I had a hard time getting the fillets off the foil I cooked them on. I had to really work it to get them off, but I finally did it with only leaving a couple little bits stuck to the foil. Can’t say for sure, but maybe this wouldn’t have happened if I had followed the cooking directions.Baking Battered fish Fillets

Ok! Everything is done, Yay! So, we got together our plates. Some breaded baked swai fillets, a couple smashed potato crumbles, and some green beans.

The fish was actually pretty good, but it was a little bit salty. Also, it was unexpectedly somewhat spicy. That was totally fine with me, but I was worried I would be the only one who could eat it here. The box did not warn of spiciness at all. It is called Lemon Pepper Fish Fri. That does not lead me to believe there would be any heat to it all.

All in all, it was a pretty good batter, and I would use it again. We both decided it would be a really great batter if you were making fish sandwiches. Adding some bread and mayo or tarter sauce would tame down the saltiness well. We ended up using a garlic aioli that really paired well with the fish and the potatoes.

My Zatarain’s Product Review Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I would recommend giving the Zatarain’s Lemon Pepper Fish Fri a try. I do recommend following the instructions on the box though, and just keep an eye on you fillets. They may need a little more or less time, depending on their size and thickness.Fish, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Just be aware that it may be a little salty, so don’t add any seasoning to the fish at all. Also it is a little spicy (which I really liked). If you have used this product, or use it after reading this article, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Please feel free to comment below. Thanks, and talk to you soon!




Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes- Which Charcoal is Best?

Hot Coals

A lot of people have been asking me, “Which charcoal is best?” So, I decided to take some time and go over the pros and cons of Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes.

The Truth About Charcoal

If you are like me, you probably grew up with a family that used charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid. Honestly, I wasn’t really aware that there were any other options till probably when I was in my late 20’s. When I was a kid it seems like the choices were Kingsford or some off brand of cheap stuff. We must have always sprung for the Kingsford (My Grandpa believed it was the best), because I can still see the bag in my memory.Charcoal Briquettes

My first insight into the controversial world of charcoal came in my mid 20’s. At that time I had a friend who worked in a charcoal packaging plant. Although I was already an avid BBQer, I had always just stuck with charcoal. Even when I was broke I always tried to buy Kingsford. I just thought the other brands wouldn’t light up right.

To my shock and dismay I soon found out that was not true. My friend, who worked at the charcoal plant, lived in the same apartment complex as I did. A group of us apartment neighbors used to gather in the corner of the parking lot, drink beer, and BBQ all the time. One day, early in my adventures at that apartment building, I went over to his apartment and saw a stack of charcoal (Not exactly sure how he got this stack of charcoal…). But anyways, they were all different brands, including Kingsford, different grocery store brands, etc. I asked about it, and he said that at his work they packaged charcoal. The same charcoal into all different brands’ bags!

I was appalled. All these years that I had been spending extra money on Kingsford, I was literally just paying for the name on the bag. I have no idea how long this had been going on, but I felt super ripped off, sad, and stupid. I am sure at some point Kingsford was a legit company, but we all know how big business works. At some point they sold their name, and whoever owns that charcoal monopoly just puts the same charcoal into different bags.

Needless to say, I never bought a bag of Kingsford ever again (unless there was some mega sale going on). Only the cheap stuff for me! Just to be fair, maybe Kingsford was putting their “high quality” charcoal into all the cheaper brand bags, instead of vice versa, but either way…it’s the same stuff!

Over the past 20 years I have grilled many, many times with a variety of charcoal. Although I started with only using standard charcoal briquettes, over the years that expanded to the pre-soaked varieties, different shaped briquettes, and lump charcoal. I am happy to share all that I know with you all. So, here is my honest break down of your charcoal options.

Pros of BriquettesCharcoal Chimney

  • Cheap– Briquettes typically cost less than lump charcoal. There are also more choices, so you are more likely to find a good deal.
  • Easy to find– They are available everywhere, even at pretty much any corner convenience store.
  • Easy to stack/charcoal chimney– Their small and consistent shape make them pretty easy to stack in your grill if you are using lighter fluid (which I do not recommend). If you are lighting your coals using paper and a chimney (much better for you), it is easy just to pour the charcoal in.
  • Burns longer/steadier– Briquettes burn at a slower less intense heat than the lump variety. So, they tend to be better for things that take longer to cook, or something you are trying to slowly smoke.

Cons of BriquettesReady To Use White Coals

  • Unhealthy– The number one reason why I would steer away from briquettes is what they are made of…They contain some wood stuff, mixed with chemicals and additives. The details of which I choose to not delve into for when I am in a pinch and need to use them, I don’t want to be totally freaked out.
  • Smokey– They can be fairly smokey, but when you burn something there is generally smoke. It’s just that with these, the smoke probably contains some pretty nasty chemicals.
  • Cleanup– Briquettes do not totally burn away. So you always have to let them cool completely and then dump them.
  • Can leave a flavor on your food– It is important to let the coals get white so that most of the chemical smell and flavor has burned off, but I am not convinced it’s ever completely gone. Don’t get me wrong though, I have made a multitude of delicious meals over charcoal!

Pros of Lump CharcoalLump Charcoal vs Briquettes

  • Healthier– Lump Charcoal is the purest you can get. It is literally wood coals created by burning wood without oxygen. So, it removes the water and other stuff in wood that makes it smoke and burn fast like it does in a bonfire.
  • Burns away– When you use lump charcoal, it pretty burns completely away to nothing. It is really amazing! No clean up!
  • Less smoke/ash– As stated above, these coals are made by removing most of what makes wood smoke and ash. Briquettes would probably do the same if they weren’t made of a bunch of weird stuff.
  • Use less (not useless lol)– I find that a big bag of lump charcoal lasts longer than its briquette counterpart. Because of the odd shapes you can’t stack it as compactly, so you automatically use less.
  • Tastes better– This stuff is natural, so you don’t run the risk of the contamination that briquettes can cause…that is as long as you don’t use lighter fluid.
  • Lights faster– It gets hot fast. So if you are used to briquettes, keep an eye on it till you get used to the lighting time.
  • Burns hot– Even though I am using less, and having less total surface space of heat with these, my food still cooks, and it cooks fast. In most cases this is just fine with me.

Cons of Lump CharcoalLump Charcoal Burns Hot

  • Costs more than Briquettes– Lump Charcoal does cost more than briquettes (usually about $3 more a bag), and you get less. But as I mentioned above, you also typically don’t need to use as much for the same affect.
  • Awkward shapes– In my experience the shapes of the lump charcoal are the biggest negative about them. You get these huge pieces mixed with little tiny pieces. It makes it hard to stack, and can make it difficult to have an evenly distributed heating surface area. Also, I can only fit like 5-10 chunks in my lighting chimney, which bugs me at the time, but it always ends up working out just fine.
  • Burns fast– If you are trying to do a slow cook, or trying to smoke something, lump charcoal may not be the best choice. It burns hot and fast, but generally this is plenty of time to cook a typical meal, like chicken, steak, carne asada, etc.

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes- Which Charcoal is Best?

As you can see briquettes and lump charcoal have about the same number of cons on my list, but the pros of the lump charcoal heavily outweigh the pros of the briquettes. And, for me, health outweighs the slight cost difference by far.

In the end I definitely recommend lump charcoal over briquettes. They are hands down better for you, provide a easier clean up, and generally cook a better, more natural tasting food. If however you need to cook something at a steady temp for a longer period of time, briquettes may work better for you.

But even with all of this said, if I am out camping and I forgot to pack my lump charcoal and I have to run to the little camp store, I will not hesitate to by that trip saving bag of briquettes. I will just make sure I let them get nice and white hot before slapping my meat over them.

Another notable mention, is that I have recently started to see “All Natural” briquettes at the store. So far I have only seen Kingsford brand of these and they are super expensive. I have not tried them yet, but it is on my to do list. I am hoping they get more popular and the price comes down soon. I do like the idea of having all natural and the convenient shape of briquettes in one product. I am curious to see how fast and clean they burn.

As soon as I break down and spend the money to try them out, I will be sure to do a post about them for you all.

A Word About Lighter FluidBonfire

I do need to add here though that I will never use lighter fluid to light coals ever again. I used it religiously for years. Then a few years ago I read about the health hazards of this chemical fluid, so decided to try using a chimney with paper instead. I liked using the chimney, so I kept using it. After using this natural lighting method for a year or two, I got lazy one day while camping and decided to use lighter fluid….Big mistake! (FYI, I carry lighter fluid in case I need to start a bonfire with damp wood.)

All those years I was using lighter fluid, even my family did when I was a kid, I had no idea. My now purified pallet from using the chimney for so long was very aware of the taste residue lighter fluid put onto the food. It wasn’t just me either, we could both taste it. It was inedible and gross. It was really disturbing to know that I had been unknowingly eating that crap all those years, and no doubt ingesting some nasty chemicals.

The Matchlight charcoal briquettes come pre-soaked in lighter fluid (or some sort of combustible chemical), and therefore should also be avoided for the above reasons.

I highly recommend trying and using a charcoal chimney. I have one or two listed on my Hot Sauce Shop page if you would like to check it out.Charcoal Chimney

I hope this article was helpful. I f you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please let me know. I would love to hear from you! You can leave a comment below or in my contact form in the main menu above. I will get back to asap. Thanks for reading, talk to you next time!


Salsa Hecho in Pacific Northwest and Juanita’s Tortilla Chips Review

The Best Tortilla Chips

Today I am going to let you in on one of my hands-down favorite snacks. These two gems have only entered my life in the past couple years, but I can’t imagine how I lived without them for so long. With this review of Salsa Hecho in Pacific Northwest and Juanita’s Tortilla Chips you will find out what you’ve been missing, and hopefully feel compelled to run out and get some for yourself!

Local and Organic

Sadly, if you do not live in the Southern Oregon area, you may have trouble finding this salsa. It is made locally, and is available at the local stores I go to that specialize in local and/or organic products. I am not sure how far this product has made it outside of our area, but I am hoping telling the world about it here on my website, gives it a little push in popularity, so that others can get the chance to indulge in this awesome salsa too.Salsa Hecho in Pacific Northwest

From what I can tell, Salsa Hecho in Pacific Northwest comes out of little town called Central Point, with their mailing address in Talent, OR. According to it is owned by the Berryman family, but a quote on the container itself lists a Dustin Knapp…not sure who that is. Also, this company has apparently been around for 23 years! Boy have I been missing out!

I love, love, love salsa! I am always trying new brands and styles. In the past couple years, though, I have gotten a lot more into all things organic. My goal to eat chemical free food has led me to spend a lot more time (and money) at specialized stores that focus on organic and local meats, fruit, veggies, etc. And through this I was able to discover, this most delicious and fresh salsa I have ever purchased.

Fresh and Natural

For many years I have made my own Pico de Gallo, but I have yet to figure out how to get it to the point where I would call it salsa instead of a drier Pico type salsa. Don’t get me wrong, it is super tasty, but it doesn’t always give me the moisture I am looking for to accent certain dishes. And that is just one of the reasons why Salsa Hecho in Pacific Northwest is so awesome.Salsa Hecho in Pacific Northwest Ingredients

As the container it comes in notes, this product is 100% natural and not cooked, and with that first bite you know that is true. It is so fresh and wonderful. I have no idea why I can’t make it myself. Maybe I haven’t tried hard enough, but most days spending 3 or 4 bucks on a tub of this is way easier than trying to make it myself. Especially when I know it is made locally and naturally.

The only thing I could possibly say negatively about this salsa is that some of the vegetable chunks are pretty big. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me, but if I am using it for say a street taco, I take the bigger chunks out because it affect the texture of my food in a way I am not wanting. But that is not a major sacrifice for the most delicious salsa ever.

Chips and Salsa!

That being said, when this salsa shines the most is when you go back to basics, good ol’ chips and salsa! This is when every chunky, juicy, fresh and wonderful bite makes you fall in love with every mouthful. Oh boy, this stuff is good! I cannot even express how great it is, really.

And this brings me to the second half of this review…the best, most addicting tortilla chips I have ever tasted: Juanita’s Tortilla Chips. These two paired together is truly to die for!

Best Tortilla Chips Ever

I don’t know if you have tried Juanita’s Chips, but if haven’t, you should! Just as with the salsa, these are also made in Oregon. But instead of Southern Oregon, Juanita’s comes from Northern Oregon, near the beautiful Columbia River.Juanita's Tortilla Chips Review

Unlike the salsa, Juanita’s seems to have made its way out of the Pacific Northwest. They are even available on or at I am proud of Juanita’s for their success, they deserve it. They make some barn good tortilla chips! Hopefully they available at your local grocery store. If not the prices on their website are pretty good too.

These chips are perfect. They are light and crisp, but not fragile. They have a bit of oil, which makes the salt stick and somehow makes them seem more fresh than other, drier packaged chip brands. It really fells and tastes like these were made just down the road.

Although I just usually buy their original tortilla chips, they do actually have three additional flavors. These include: Chilipeno, Jalapeno, and Sweet Chili. So far I have tried the Chilipeno, but not the other two. These were also very good chips.

For the purpose of a snack or appetizer of chips and salsa, I prefer the original tortilla chips. No need to have extra flavors to mix with the already superb salsa. But if you just want a tasty chip to eat alone, the Chilipeno are really good. Little bit of spice and tang. A good zippy, light and crispy chip.

One more thing

And for all you gluten intolerant people out there, all their chips are Gluten Free.

One thing that I have noticed over time with Juanita’s is that you need to be careful when opening the bag if you do not plan on eating the whole thing in one sitting. For some reason the bag is fairly easy to tear the wrong way. Even when if you are eating the chips out an already opened bag, you need to be a little delicate with your entry and exit if you don’t want to tear the bag. It is fine before it is opened. It’s not like it just rips open when you pick it up in the store. It is just the top edge tears down once opened easily, so be aware.

When I have torn the bag (which I have done multiple times), I usually just put the remainder in a Rubbermaid (or Tupperware) container to retain freshness if the tear goes too low for a chip clip to cover. (side note- I use this technique for cereal too. I never seem to get through a box without it going stale, so the tupperware trick is a really helpful tip.)

Salsa Hecho in Pacific Northwest and Juanita’s Tortilla Chips Review In Summary

If you live in Oregon you should seek out this salsa. I guarantee you will want to buy a case of it once you taste it. It is super fresh! It doesn’t have fake ingredients or preservatives, so it doesn’t have a long shelf life, but it doesn’t matter, because it is nearly impossible not to eat the whole thing in one or two sittings. It is just too good to stop.

The perfect chip to go with this killer salsa is Juanita’s! If you don’t live around here, and you can’t get the salsa, at least you can get Juanita’s Tortilla Chips to go with whatever your current favorite salsas are. This light, perfectly salted, fresh tasting chip also goes great with bean dip or nacho cheese sauce, and makes a great base for your favorite nacho toppings.

I hope you have enjoyed this review and are as hungry for chips and salsa as I am right now! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please let me know. You can leave a comment below or on the contact form in the main menu above, and I will get back to you asap.

17.5 inch Backyard Grill Review- Not What We Expected

17.5 inch Backyard Grill Review

Hello everyone! Today seems like the perfect day to share this 17.5″ Backyard Grill review with you all of you. I received this charcoal grill for Christmas a couple weeks ago.

First, let me say that this was bought with the best of intentions, but did not end up being what was expected at all. I have been needing to get a new grill for a few weeks now. However, we have been on a bit of a tight budget lately, especially with Christmas shopping and all, so I haven’t been able to spend money on a grill for myself.

The Gift17.5" Charcoal Grill

With that said, I was super excited when I unwrapped this super thoughtful gift from my other half. We had to really limit what we could spend on each other this year, so I was really surprised to get this gift. My initial excitement quickly became slight concern as I examined the size of the box and surmised that the depth of the cavity which holds the charcoal appeared to be quite shallow.

First thing the next morning, super excited to get my grill on, I decided to take it out of the box and start putting it together. It was obvious that it was not a big cooking area (hence the 17.5″ part of the description), but I wasn’t too concerned. Most of the time we are just just cooking for the two of us, and we can always get a bigger grill later when we have more cash on hand.

AssemblyCharcoal Grill Assembly

I joyously followed the instructions and put on the handle, the lock, and the vents. Pretty simple assembly and easy to follow instructions. Almost all of it is held together with those butterfly wingnut things, which are very easy to attach. I love them.

The only two minor issues I had with the initial assembly was that the front vent did not slide well, and some of the nuts and bolts were difficult to get out of the packaging. But other than that, pretty smooth sailing.

The next step of the process was to put the legs on…here is where the big surprise came. Of course, if the dimensions on the box would have been better examined by either one of us, it would not have been such a comical shock. But that was not the case.

Surprise!Not Average Grill Height

So to our dismay, not only was the 17.5″ cooking surface only slightly bigger than an average hibachi grill, the height of the whole assembled grill was not much higher than knee level! It is just under 30 inches tall…It was truly sad and hilarious. It was not built for average human sized people in any way. It is basically like the Easy Bake Oven of charcoal grills.

Luckily I am not a tall person, and am also pretty desperate for a grill at this point. So we continued the construction of the tiny apparatus. It didn’t take too long to put together. Maybe an hour from beginning to end. The end product is too tall to go on a table top (like a hibachi), but too short to stand alone (like a normal grill).

I would like to add that it did occur to me that it might be the perfect size if you are in a wheel chair or if you are closer to 4 feet tall. Also, could be nice if just like to cook while sitting in a lawn chair. None of these scenarios really line up with our needs, although I guess I could possibly see myself cooking from a lawn chair if I were in a particular mood.

Pros and ConsRack and Wheels

However, for our everyday grilling needs, what we ended up doing was propping it up by putting some cement bricks under it that we happened to have on hand. It is still a little low, but it is reachable.

There is no solution for the shallow base though, it is about 3 inches deep. We use lump charcoal, which can have some fairly big chunks. The grate basically just sits right on top of the bigger pieces. Even if you use briquettes, there would not be a lot of space between the heat and the meat.

Also, the lid only has about a 3 or 4 inch clearance from the grate. So, if you were wanting to cook a thick piece of meat, like a large tri tip or a whole chicken with the lid closed, it may be a problem. It is fine for most other things we grill though, like carne asada, steak, chicken, and pork chops.

I must say, this grill is very easy to move around. I have struggled with moving bigger grills around, from the front to the back, and vice versa, or loading them into the truck for camping trips. But this little guy is light weight and small enough that isn’t too awkward to carry around.

It also has a rack on the bottom and two small hard plastic wheels.

17.5″ Backyard Grill Review- Final ThoughtsAssembled 17.5" Charcoal Grill

Overall this is not a grill I would probably recommend. But if you need a low cost grill, and possible have any height related issues, this may be the grill for you.

If you are interested in see what grills I would actually recommend, you should check out my three part article from a couple months back. Part One reviews a fancy, high end charcoal grill. Part Two (my favorites) takes a look at my number one (low cost) basic grill picks. I personally will be taking my own advice and going back to buying my old stand by grill again very soon! If you are doing things a little different than the average Joe you should check out this article about some unique grill ideas.

I don’t know how much was spent on my personal 17.5 inch charcoal grill, but I have looked up the pricing online. At it is listed for $40.99. On it is $33.32. If you happen to want to take a look at it on Amazon you can click on the picture below and it will link you to the page.

click pic to see page

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below, or through the contact page in the main menu above. I would love to hear from you!



We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Purchasing through any provided links supports our cause and has no effect on the cost of products or services. Thank you for your loyal readership and support.


Carolina Reaper Beef Jerky- Jeepers Creaper Jerkyville U.S.A Review

Carolina Reaper Beef Jerky

Oh boy do I love getting presents! Recently my Mom, Aunt, and Grandma went on a road trip down to Monterey, CA, and being the thoughtful, wonderful people that they are, they brought me back a gift. It makes me feel so special that they think of me on their travels. And this time they surprised me with something I have never tried before…Carolina Reaper Beef Jerky from Jerkyville U.S.A!

This sounds like the best of both worlds! I love beef jerky, and of course, I really love spicy foods!

What is Jerkyville U.S.A?

Since I have never been to this heavenly sounding place called Jerkyville U.S.A., I thought I would read up on them a little, and share with you what I learned.

According to their website ( it seems this store started as a bit if variety store. Then in the early 2000’s a man who sold jerky roadside, across the street, asked if they would be interested in selling his jerky in their store. They decided to give it a try, and it was a huge hit.

Since it was doing so well, they have now expanded the jerky selection and make their own varieties of jerky. This includes several kinds of spicy beef jerky, some alcohol infused jerkys (sounds interesting), and a few different types of fish jerky. There are located in beautiful Monterey, CA.

The Taste Test

My family was very excited to give me this meaty treat. They actually made me take my first bite right there and then, in front of them all, so they could see if the heat would take me down. They love me : )

It was my first experience with anything claiming to contain Carolina Reapers, so I was a bit nervous. The Carolina Reaper is the reigning champion of all hot peppers, coming in at a whopping 2.2 million Scoville Units! There is no way I would be able to down one of these peppers without it being tamed down a bit. I mean, I love spicy foods, but I have my limits.

From past experiences with foods and sauces that claim to be extremely spicy, I know it could have gone either way with this jerky. Once in a while something lives up to its claims, but many times things just aren’t as spicy as they try to make them sound.Jeepers Creaper Beef Jerky

So, with my whole family watching, I took that first bite. It had some spice, but it wasn’t anywhere near the 2 million Scoville units proclaimed on the front of the bag. Granted I was a bit of a wimp and took a pretty small bite just in case. My family were all quite disappointed when I didn’t start to meltdown in front of them. Like I said, they love me.

Since I had survived that first bite, I thought I better go in for more to really check it out. So, for my second bite, I took a much bigger mouth full to really get the full effect. I happily realized the jerky did pack a much bigger punch with my second, and bigger dose.

I admit, I have eaten hotter things in my life, but this jerky did actually end up having a pretty good kick to it. And, as with a lot of spicy foods, if you keep eating it, the heat builds up in your mouth and on your lips until you feel a pretty good burn in the end.


Heat levels aside the jerky itself had a really good flavor. It was quite enjoyable. It is on the softer, wetter side of jerky, as opposed to some dryer and tougher varieties. I like both styles of jerky, depending what mood I am in. This actually really hit the spot and was quite enjoyable.

It has a little sweetness too it, which I don’t always care for, but it isn’t overly sweet. The flavor is really quite nice. The ingredients on the label include Beef, Teriyaki Sauce, Brown Sugar, Spices (which could be anything), Carolina Reaper Flakes, Carolina Reaper Powder, garlic, onion, and sodium nitrate.

I like that the ingredients are all things I can pronounce, which isn’t always the case with prepackaged jerky. Seems that Jerkyville U.S.A takes some pride in producing good quality, natural products.

Carolina Reaper Beef Jerky?

Although this jerky tastes good and does have some heat to eat, I do not feel like I had a true Carolina Reaper experience by any means. I should have been panting, sweating, and drooling for sometime after if I had actually gotten a good dose of the Hottest Pepper in the World.Carolina Reaper Beef Jerky

I am not accusing them of lying here, but I think if they are gonna post a heat index of 2 million Scoville on the front of the package, that it should have given me a pretty hardcore burn. As you can see in the photo I posted of the jerky, you can see actual pepper seeds on the jerky. Maybe the teriyaki and vinegar tamed the heat somehow.

Even though it didn’t burn my face off, it is one of the spicier beef jerkys I have eaten, and it did taste really good. Because of this, I would totally buy it again. (Well, buy it for the first time, since it was a gift) I am super glad I got to try it out, and it inspires me to try to make my own Hot Pepper Jerky. I am almost scared to make my own, because I know mine would actually be hot…yes, burn your face off hot.

Sounds, like I have given myself a challenge! I will work on it and share the results with you all for sure.

Over the years I have tasted many a jerky homemade by friends and acquaintances. Once or twice, I have encountered a truly spicy one. It has always made me want to try to make my own, but I have never just buckled down and done it. But working on this website for the past few months has really inspired me to try a lot of things on my spicy bucket list. So, keep coming back to check in and see what spicy adventures I have taken on!

I hope you enjoyed this review and found it helpful. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave me a comment below, or you can reach me through the contact form linked on the main menu at the top of the page.


Hot Halloween Costume Ideas! 2017

Hot Halloween Costume Ideas 2017

Ooooo…one of my favorite times of year is quickly approaching. Time to get a jump on some hot Halloween costume ideas! I have been known to wait until the last second, but this year I decided to be proactive.

While I was perusing possible outfits for this year’s spooky holiday, I thought maybe I should share some ideas here on lovethehotsauce!

I mean why not share some fun and trendy ideas with all my hot sauce loving, chili pepper eating readers, right?!

As this is a website about Hot Sauce, Food, and all things related, I will start off with some hot ideas that go with those topics. Even if you are not a true chilihead, you may be inspired by some of these ideas also. Here we go!

First off, everyone loves Sriracha! You can’t even go to a restaurant or fast food joint these days without having this sauce in there somewhere. So why not go trick or treating as your favorite garlicky hot sauce?!

There are also kids sriracha sizes available.

Sticking with my theme for a minute…Do you love hot peppers? I do! Why not be one?!

Here are some fun costumes that definitely go in the “Hot” category! FYI, if you click on the Men’s Hot Dog Vendor Dirty Apron costume you will see why it is “dirty”. (This is a G rated site)

The Hot dog Dog Costume is available in multiple sizes.

Everyone loves a latte! Especially that infamous Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte! People will want to drink up these costume ideas! (I love dog costumes in case you can’t tell)

Ok, Ok, now here are some trendy, super hot costume ideas for all you vixens and lady killers out there!

By the way, I have discovered it is kind of tough to find “sexy” male costumes. Apparently “sexy” in the man’s costume world means fake appendages and muscle suits, or just not wearing a shirt if you have 6 pack abs. You can be man with 6 pack abs in a kilt, man with 6 pack abs in fireman pants, man with 6 pack abs in loin cloth…you get the picture.

Hope this helps give you some guidance on what to be this Halloween. I encourage you to get going on your costume plans as soon as possible.

You can always be like me and wait till the last second. The day before Halloween I usually end up at the local costume shop digging through ravished packages of whatever costumes are left over.

And, of course I have my heart set on the perfect costume, and there is no possible way I am going to find it, because I waited too long. And then I end up just cutting some of my hair off, taping it to my face, and putting on one of my dad’s old suits and calling it a day.

As I said, plan ahead. Try to get or make your costume sooner than later. Leave yourself time for alterations or additions that will really make it be the best costume ever!

If you are into making your own costumes, here is a an article from Good Housekeeping that gives some great tips on how to do it yourself. Some of us are craftier than others of course.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments I would love to hear from you in the “Leave a Reply” section below. Happy Halloween!!






We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Purchasing through any provided links supports our cause and has no effect on the cost of products or services.

Celestron Astromaster 114EQ Review- Hot Pepper Astronomy


Ok, Ok, I know…You are like “What the heck do telescopes have to do with hot sauce?”. Well, let me explain my train of thought.

I was thinking about hot peppers and their South American origins. Ancient peoples, like the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans used them for all kinds of things (which I may do another article on later).

Then I was thinking about how the ancient Mayans had been astrological geniuses and how they had incredibly Mayan Calendarpredicted eclipses and other celestial events by following the stars. Then I thought I should do a special post in tribute to the upcoming total eclipse. Which made me think I should do the Celestron Astromaster 114EQ review. Which is my telescope that I have actually had for one year this month (best anniversary present ever!).

See it all makes sense!

Just in case you aren’t aware, the first total eclipse visible in North America in 38 years is this coming Monday, August 21, 2017. The Total Eclipse will be visible in 14 states, one of which I am lucky enough to be living in, but the partial eclipse will be visible in all of North America, most of South America, and parts of Africa and Europe!

Solar eclipse

My Telescope

I have wanted a telescope for as long as I can remember. My first passion is the ocean, but my second is space. Both of which I am totally fascinated by, but would be utterly terrified to be deeply submerged in.

Several years back I did actually get a little telescope as a Christmas gift from my Mom. She bought it with the best of intentions, and it looked cool, but it just didn’t have any power. Honestly, my binoculars do a better job (Sorry Mom, I love you).

Wonderfully, however, last year my dream came true. I was surprised by the best anniversary present ever, my first real grown up telescope! I was so excited that I finally had this awesome tool, it made me cry.

It came, what they say was, partially assembled. I had to put together quite a few parts, but it made me feel really cool. I felt like I was some kind of scientist. It was fun, but I definitely had to read and follow the instructions. But once I got it all together it was so awesome! It is truly a thing of beauty!

===>>>>Click here to get information on how to get your Celestron Astromaster 114EQ Telescope<<<<===

Features and Specs

      • It is a Newtonian reflector telescope
      • It has an equatorial mount
      • It is portable- it only weighs 17 lbs
      • It has 10mm and 20mm eyepiece
      • It has a 50x eyepiece magnifier
      • It has a mounted red dot finder
      • It comes with The Sky Level 1 software
      • It has a 2 year warranty in case of any defects
      • Priced very well (around $200)

    (This is a great little video I found showing how to put it together)

This telescope is highly recommended as a starter telescope. With it you can observe the Moon, Saturn and its rings, Jupiter, and even deeper space phenomenon like star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae (that’s more than one nebula).

The tricky part is finding all these things in the vastness of space. I was able to find the Moon… Granted, the Moon looks really awesome and super close up, but that is all that was all could manage to find on my own.

There is a free Celestron Sky Portal app for ios and androids that helps you locate popular celestial bodies, but the app is very large. I have not been able to get it to download. There are other smaller apps, however, that can also give you direction to popular telescope targets, like Star Chart.

One really great thing about this telescope is the equatorial mount. In case you don’t already know, this allows you to naturally track the movement of an object as it appears to drift across the sky without having to try to do adjustments to keep it in your view.

The Celestron Astromaster 114EQ is a really great telescope for someone who doesn’t want to spend a ton, but still wants to see our solar system and beyond! If you would like more information on how you can get your own you can click here.

The Total Eclipse


Thought I should leave you all with a little more information on the upcoming eclipse. If you are somewhere where you will be able to see the full or partial solar eclipse, make sure you use proper protection for your eyes!

Never look at at the sun or solar eclipse with a telescope unless you have an official solar filter. You can buy a solar filter for most telescopes, or you can buy a sheet of solar film that you can cut to size. You can actually do this even with binoculars or sun glasses. It is very important there are no gaps or scratches in the film.

If you are using disposable eclipse glasses, make sure there are certified, and follow the directions (there are fakes out there, so be sure). And again, no gaps or scratches. No one should look at directly at the sun ever. Apparently, every time there is an eclipse a lot of people get eye damage for doing something they shouldn’t have, so enjoy the awesome celestial show, but make sure to be careful.

Map of Totality (by NASA)

NASA Eclipse Map

The above map shows the band where the eclipse will be total. It also shows the percentage of coverage there will be as you move away that center line. If you click on the image you should be able to see a bigger version of it for closer inspection.

Below is a chart (made by NASA) of some of the towns the eclipse will pass through. If you live anywhere near any of these it will give you a better idea of when you should ready to observe.

Eclipse Times by City


Make Your Own Viewer

If you can’t get a hold of any solar glasses then you can easily watch it using the pinhole method. This is something anybody can make. There are a couple variations you can do. Here is the simplest form first.

Take a piece of flat cardboard, or even stiff construction paper and put a small pinhole in it. like literally a pinhole. It needs to be super tiny so no extra sunlight gets through. If your cardboard is too think to get a pin or needle through then you can cut a hole in the box and put foil over the hole. Make sure to tape the edges down well, and then put the pinhole through the foil instead of the thick box.Pinhole Eclipse

Then hold the cardboard over cement or a sidewalk so the sun shines through and you will see a small ball of light on the cement below. That is the sun. As the moon moves in front of it you will begin to see the sun disappear.

If you want the image to be a bit closer for easier viewing, hold another piece of cardboard below it to catch the image. As it you bring it closer the image will get bigger, but it will get less sharp. You can play around to find your favorite compromise there.

You can also build a box. Here is a video I found showing how to do this with a cereal box. This is from a news show in North Carolina, so it has some local information for them, but it is a very informative video.


So, I hope you all enjoyed my little break away from my usual post topics. This website is really about my passion for hot sauce and the foods they go on, but why not share some of my other passions with you all too? I mean it is my website after all, guess I can allow myself a bit of creative freedom.

For those of you who will be lucky enough to see this Total Solar Eclipse enjoy! For many of us this will be our first ever, and possibly our last, so it’s a kind of a big deal.

Even if you won’t be able to see the full eclipse, hopefully you will get to check out the partial eclipse, which is still pretty darn spectacular!

If you have any questions or comments feel free to let me know below. Enjoy the Total Solar Eclipse 2017!


Just wanted to give a little post eclipse update. It has been a little over a month since the event, but I haven;t had a chance to get an update on this post until now.

We were going to drive to see the full eclipse, because we were only about 3 hours from where we could see totality. Sadly, however, the media blew it up so big that we were afraid to go.

We really wanted to, but then decided against it because we we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic. Plus we were having really bad forest fires in the area right about then, and we didn’t want to be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in a fire.

A few days before the eclipse we heard about traffic jams and towns running out of gas, and we were like, “Uh oh, it’s happening!”

But that was just for one day, and all those people were going to a specific eclipse festival.

So, what ended up happening, was that all the media threats of millions of people flooding our state scared people away. Hardly anyone came. Tons of local businesses in the totality belt lots a lot of money, because they overstocked for the huge amount of people that were supposed to come.

They actually had less business than a typical weekend, because locals were afraid to go anywhere.

Really pretty sucky, and so wish we would have gone. But we didn’t. So, we saw about 93% totality from our backyard. It was incredibly smokey here from the fires, so we were lucky to see anything.

I will post some pictures that I took, but like I said I wasn’t able to get my telescope equipped in time, so I just took pictures with my phone camera.

It was still really awesome. I really loved the coverage on TV. It was super cool to watch it approach and cover each city as it made its way across the United States…I actually just got chills while typing that sentence. It was really an awesome event.

Make no mistake though, when the next one comes across the U.S. in 2024 we will be in the path of totality! I will make my way there no matter what. I am not missing it again.

I have also been using my telescope a lot more since the eclipse. It is really fun, and still highly recommend it.

Also, I would love to hear any eclipse or telescope stories you have. So feel free to leave comments below.




We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Purchasing through any provided links supports our cause and has no effect on the cost of products or services.