Austin Slow Burn Southwest Pasta Sauce review

Here’s a mid-week dinner that features a pasta sauce you’ve never heard of or tried, but you should!

Austin Slow Burn’s Southwest Pasta Sauce is one of the biggest jars (and heaviest) of product that I brought home from the Houston Hot Sauce Festival. I really wrestled over this one, as I knew I had weight limits for my luggage for the flight back home. But I kept coming back to Austin Slow Burn’s booth and decided I just had to bring their pasta sauce home with me – hey, I was saving on shipping, right?

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Red’s Hot Salsa Review

Winning four awards at the 2012 Houston Hot Sauce Festival, Red’s took home 2 awards in the Salsa Contest with a 3rd Place for Best Fruit-based Salsa (Red’s Mango Habanero Salsa), and 1st Place in Best All-purpose Salsa (Red’s Hot Salsa). They also garnered a 2nd Place People’s Choice Award for Wing Sauce with their Smokey Habanero Hot Sauce AND a 2nd Place People’s Choice Award of Hottest Hot Sauce for their God’s Wrath Ghost Pepper Sauce.

Obviously is a company that is putting out some awesome hot sauce products! And hey, at only $5 per jar, it’s cheaper than your upscale grocery store. So stop reading right now, and go order some great Red’s salsa! …

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Smither Family Kitchen Salsa Review

Just last week in our Week of Mild series we featured the Smither Family Kitchen’s Dillapeño Salsa & Relish condiment… so now here’s our take on their Smither Family Kitchen Salsa – Medium.

Smither Family Kitchen Salsa Label

Smither Family Kitchen Salsa

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Week of Mild: Day 6: Gunther’s Gourmet Jalapeño Salsa Fresca Review

We can’t have a Week of Mild series without including a good salsa. Our review of Gunther’s Gourmet Jalapeño Salsa Fresca just fits the bill. Brothers Nick and Michael Lampros of Gunther’s Gourmet have amassed quite a line up of salsas, marinades, and vinaigrettes. We think their Jalapeño Salsa Fresca is a fine example of a mild salsa with flavor and heat. This salsa is one of the best jarred salsas we’ve had this year.

Ingredients: diced tomatoes, diced onions, tomato paste (vine ripe tomatoes), jalapeño peppers, lime juice, lemon juice, fresh garlic, salt, sugar, spices and herbs

Texture & Appearance: This chunky salsa has large pieces of tomatoes, onions and peppers. It’s not pureed to death like some jarred salsas. With it’s bright red color, and big texture, you can see and feel what you are eating.

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Week of Mild: Day 5: Dillapeño Salsa & Relish Review

Condiments rule (after hot sauces, of course), and today for Day 5 of Week of Mild, we’re looking at Dillapeño Salsa & Relish from the Smither Family Kitchen in Texas. This concoction of cucumber, jalapeños, sugar and carrots makes for a delicious condiment. Sweet and only mildly hot via the jalapeños, it’s perfect on “cream cheese, deviled eggs, hot dogs, burgers, tuna salad… and our favorite, chips!” according to their label.

Ingredients: cucumber (distilled vinegar, salt, alum, turmeric, spics, 1/10 of 1% sodium benzoate (preservative), polysorbate 80), jalapeño peppers, (water, vinegar, salt), sugar, trace of calcium chloride, carrots

Texture & Appearance: It’s chunky in a relish kind of way. Ok, let’s cut to the chase – it IS a relish. A very sweet relish, with jalapeños.

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Week of Mild Day 4 Oakridge Secret Weapon Pork & Chicken Rub Review

A mild rub is our featured review for Day 4 of Week of Mild – Oakridge BBQ Secret Weapon Pork & Chicken Rub.

About Oakridge BBQ:

Michael Trump is the owner of Oakridge BBQ out of Kearney, Missouri. Not only do they have an array of spice rubs that are second to none, they are a Barbecue Competition team that have won over 20+ plus awards. Michael Trump and Oakridge know what they are doing.

Oakridge BBQ Secret Weapon bag and sample

Oakridge BBQ Secret Weapon bag and sample

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Punk’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce Review

Punk’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce is aptly named. I wouldn’t call it a hot sauce per se. Sweet, savory and slightly spicy, this very pourable sauce is more of a condiment than a hot sauce. It really is a pepper sauce of sorts. Available in big 12 ounce bottles, there are 2 versions, Mild and Smok’n.

Punk's Gourmet Pepper Sauce Twins

Punk’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce in Mild & Smok’n flavors

Ingredients: peppers, onion, vinegar, tomatoes, dark brown sugar, water, lemon juice, liquid smoke, garlic powder, paprika

The Mild and Smok’n both share the exact same list of ingredients, so I’ll assume the Smok’n version has a bit more of the “peppers” in it. Speaking of the “peppers” ingredient, when I pressed Punk himself, Marty Crews, he did divulge the blend of chiles that he uses. It’s an impressive short list of delicious and popular peppers, with one odd-ball exception. But I’m sworn to secrecy, so at this time it’s still his secret. I thought the chiles used were very close to the sweet Datil pepper out of Florida, but I was wrong. There are no Datil peppers in this sauce. 😉

Texture and Appearance:

punks gourmet pepper sauce mild sample

Punk’s Mild is dark, sweet, and savory

While not exactly a spectacular looking sauce, it is impressive in its body and cling factor. Just shy of medium thick, there are bits of ingredients that add a slight, yet tiny chunkiness to the look and feel. There’s a reddish-brown color to it that falls in between a catsup and barbecue sauce color. I know that’s vague, but it just doesn’t have a super unique look to it, and so the pictures will have to do.

Punk's Mild Pepper Sauce close up

Punk’s Mild Pepper Sauce close up


Aroma? Sweet. Vinegar. Tomato. Those are the first things I smell in this sauce.

First taste? Sweet. Vinegar. Tomato. Yup! It’s consistent. A light, spicy heat follows… just barely singeing the tip of my tongue. I’ve tried so hard to avoid comparing Punk*s to a spicy ketchup, but the strong condiment profile is just too much to pass up.

THIS IS NOT A SPICY KETCHUP by any means. Perhaps it’s the dominant tomato flavor and consistency, but it is very much thinner than ketchup. Think more of a traditional taco sauce taste and flavor, kick it up 80% in flavor, and that’s what Punk*s tastes like to me. Only better.

With such a simple list of ingredients, hell, it even begins to look like what you might find in a BBQ sauce too. We’ve not grilled with it yet, but that is a future plan. I know Marty has posted a few grilling meals using his Punk*s sauce on his Facebook page.

And while we’re talking grilling with Punk*s, let’s address the “liquid smoke” ingredient. I know it’s controversial in the BBQ world, especially in BBQ sauces, but let’s face reality folks… liquid smoke is just that… smoke collected from, well, smoke and allowed to drip down and be collected in it’s condensed liquid form. It’s not man-made. It’s all natural. Folks either like it or not. I happen to think it’s usually a nice addition to sauces, BBQ or otherwise – as long as it’s not TOO strong or predominant. Punk*s keeps it light.

Finally, the mouth feel is delicious. The tiny bits and chunks add a nice texture, and the sweet brown sugar makes it very satisfying.

Heat Level:

Mild: Rated 1 out of 5 Stars – With a big enough slurp off the spoon, I can manage a slight sweat on the top of my head. The peppers add just enough heat to keep this sauce in the mild category, while delivering a huge amount of flavor.

Smok’n: Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – Remarkably, Punk*s has kept the same sweet, delicious flavor in the Smok’n version, adding only more heat.

Punks Gourmet Pepper Sauce Smokn sample

Punks Gourmet Pepper Sauce Smok’n sample

Most sauces that shoot for a spicier version than the original somehow change the flavor profile slightly. Not so here. While I’ve given it only 1 more star for heat, the Smok’n is just not up in the 2.5 star range. I actually like that. A strong mild-medium heat from the Smok’n is perfect for this sauce and its flavor profile.


While I’m not normally a fan of many cartoon-like labels, in this case it just works. The label is simple, clean, and you know what you’re getting.

The large 12 ounce wide mouth bottle, more than twice the size of 5 oz bottles of most hot sauces, makes for a great package.

Punk's Gourmet Pepper Sauce Zip Strip

Punk’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce Zip Strip

Also, kudos to Punk*s for the easy-open top. A zip strip surrounds the lid making for a quick and easy opening. Yes, these little touches mean a lot to us reviewers.

Final thoughts:

I’ve dipped french fries and mozzarella sticks in it – superb! And I’ve tried it on pizza – perfect!


Punk*s Smok’n on Pizza rocks!

This was one of the most fun, yet difficult reviews I’ve had to write in awhile, as Punk*s Gourmet Pepper Sauce is so hard to describe and categorize. Also, please note the unusual nomenclature in Punk*s name – an asterisk (*) replaces the apostrophe () in Punk*s, and Smokin’ is now Smok’n – very unusual spellin’s indeed!

Overall Rating: Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – Yes, it’s a 5 Star sauce – our top rating!

Punk*s Gourmet Pepper Sauce is one of the best products I’ve tried so far in 2012, and could easily make it into my Top 10 list for 2012.

Punk*s Gourmet Pepper Sauce in big 12 ounce bottles can be found at

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Disclaimer: We received this product courtesy of the manufacturer for review.

Favorite Pizza Condiments

My favorite pizza condiments add savory, salty, zesty and fiery flavor to an otherwise plain pizza. What would YOU add?

Blank Canvas

A blank canvas…

For anyone local, that is a Grotto pizza. They put the cheese on first, then ladle the sauce on top. Oh yes!

Top Four Pizza Toppings

Favorite pizza condiments…

Left to Right: Alpino Spicy Pizza topping, Tallarico’s Hoagie Spread, California Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Garlic, and DeCecco Basil Pesto.

Anchovies and capers

Anchovies and capers

The KING of toppings… anchovies! Only made better with capers.

Alpino Jar pizza topping

The inspiration for this post…

I first found Alpino brand Spicy Pizza Topping when I was researching Chicago Dogs. I was looking for a source for authentic poppy seed buns, and found this topping along with the buns.

Alpino Jar and Sample

Alpino Pizza topping sample

The Alpino Brand of spicy Pizza Topping is a product of The Puckered Pickle Company. Apologies in advance, as they have a crappy website.

Alpino Spicy Pizza Topping closeup

Alpino Spicy Pizza Topping close up view

What are YOUR favorite condiments on pizza? Veggies? Sauces? Other cheeses?

Let us know in the Comments below.