Category Archives: Food

His: Sportscenter and Spaghetti

As a show of my love for Ally, I have agreed to attempt cooking one meal a week for us.  It’s a huge sacrifice I know.  Not just for me and my very important time but for Ally because God knows my food probably won’t be that good.  I’m a man (I use that term loosely) who makes a few things well, but I’ve also ruined my fair share too; my crowning achievement being instant pudding that somehow ended up tasting like play-doh.  And really, the play-doh probably tasted better.  It’s also a great excuse for me to eat some red meat which has become a delicacy in our house.

Delicious?

Delicious?

Well, last night was my first attempt at a meal as per our agreement, and I drew my inspiration from Sportscenter of all places.  Several months back, they did a feature piece on Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s off-season activities.  One of them happens to be cooking.  He and Italian celebrity chef “Chef Steff” (I couldn’t find his last name for the life of me) made Spaghetti with Filet Mignon Bolognese.  The idea sounded and looked amazing and pretty original.  So when I said I drew my inspiration from this story, I meant that I took that dish and made it myself.  And in my defense, they did not provide instructions so the cooking part was actually my doing with advice from a few people who actually know what they’re doing in a kitchen.

Chef Steff

Chef Steff

I started with two six ounce filets, hit them with a little salt and pepper, diced them into manageable bites and gave them a light flour coating. 

Browning the Meat

Browning the Meat

 I cooked them on the stove top in a little bit of olive oil until they were browned all the way around and took them off the fire.  Keeping the same pan over the heat, I added one diced yellow onion, three cloves of garlic (Ally’s a garlic guru) and a handful of chopped mushrooms.

Use Garlic Liberally

Use Garlic Liberally

After everything had caramelized, I added a cup of red wine for flavor and to deglaze the pan.  I used a wonderful, subtle Cabernet Sauvignon known as “Two Buck Chuck.” 

God Bless Trader Joe's

God Bless Trader Joe's

Seriously though, for an actual retail cost of $5, it’s really not that bad.  Ally and I both highly recommend Trader Joe’s wines if you have access to them.  Anyway, after the wine had reduced, I added one 35 oz can of Italian peeled tomatoes that I crushed by hand of course. 

I'm Feeling Saucey

I'm Feeling Saucey

 The last step was to add the meat back to the sauce to finish cooking.  After simmering for another ten minutes or so, it was finished. Continue reading

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His: Tired, Lazy; Here’s A List

Sorry guys, but I don’t have it in me tonight.  We’ll just say it was a long day.  I don’t want to make excuses so I won’t.  That IS mine.  I didn’t make it.  Instead of trying to be funny or ironic or anything else, I’m going to give you a list that may give you a better idea of who I am.  More lists will follow when I’m too tired to think about anything else.

Favorite Foods:

1. Pizza-Cheese, bread, tomato sauce and additional meat oriented toppings…what could be more delicious?  My favorite Pizza ever in NYC deserves its own post so I won’t get into it now.

My Favority in DE, not in NYC.

My Favorite in DE, not in NYC.

2. Chicken- I know it’s generic, but there isn’t a chicken dish out there that I won’t enjoy.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be chicken parm.  And you can even put it on pizza.

Kenny Rogers Roasters....Best Seinfeld Ever...This Is Ally's Though

Kenny Rogers Roasters....Best Seinfeld Ever...This Is Ally's Though

3. Pierogies- So Ally’s grandmother (Babci) is straight off the boat from Poland and makes some killer pierogies (just a bit better than Mrs. T’s).  I’ve also had the privilege of going to Poland and trying them there so these delicious little Eastern European Dumplings were an easy choice for my top three.

Not Exactly Babci's But Close Enough

Not Exactly Babci's But Close Enough

4. Pretzels and Peanut Butter- Yes, it has to be together.  I don’t remember the last time I went to bed without eating this combination….enough said.

Not Even Close To Joking About This

Not Even Close To Joking About This

5. Beer- It’s liquid bread…think about it.

Real Men Drink Bud Heavy.  Wait...Am I A Real Man?

Real Men Drink Bud Heavy. Wait...Am I A Real Man?

Troeg's Dreamweaver Wheat; Light, Crisp, Refreshing

Troeg's Dreamweaver Wheat; Light, Crisp, Refreshing

Smuttynose Pumpkin; A

Smuttynose Pumpkin; A Great Fall Treat

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Hers: The Waverly Inn Makes Great Butter

Alright, I have a secret to tell you.  Greg and I went somewhere very exciting the other night, but we weren’t really supposed to be there.  The food was excellent.  It was very secretive, and I don’t even have pictures to show you.  If you take a picture in this place, the manager will kindly come up to you and kick.you.out.

Are you curious?

Well, sit back down, and I’ll tell you the story.

The Waverly Inn is not a restaurant.  It is, in fact, “a semi-private dining club tucked away in the West Village.”  There is no reservationist, and there is no telephone number for Average Joe’s (or Greg’s) to call from Astoria and secure a table by the fire.  The only way to get a table is, if by some miracle of God, you have been blessed with the private phone number or email address that confirms you are one of the chosen few.  Or if you are a celebrity.  Or, in our case, if you regularly dog-sit for a cop in that particular precinct.  Thanks for the hook-up, Adam.

Owned and operated by Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair magazine, the Waverly Inn is the epitome of exclusive city living.  For two wanna-be yuppies living in the Outer Boroughs, it is the holy grail.  Good food and celebrity sightings are our siren song, and when Greg got the call that a Thursday night table was ours, we dropped our trashy weeklies and jumped on the subway.  For one night, we were going to be the upper crust.

The Waverly sits on an indescript corner of Bank and Waverly streets, tucked in amongst the brownstones we’ll never afford and the luxury cars we’ll never drive.  We arrived early, looking forward to a good meal and hoping for a celebrity sighting or two.  After checking in with the host, we sidled our way up to the bar and perused the drink menu while waiting for our table.  I had my nose stuck deep in a glass of Syrah when…

…Wait a second….is that Karl Lagerfeld?  The father of Chanel?

I elbowed Greg, who was busy slurping on an elderflower margarita, and pointed out the Fashion Guru.  Celebrity sighting? Check.  As we were lead to our table a few moments later, we casually scanned the dining room.  You never know where those famous people might be hiding.

As is customary, every dinner starts with a basket of the Waverly’s famous biscuits and strawberry butter.  Yes, strawberry butter.  Only in places like the Waverly Inn and the Wonka Chocolate factory do things like strawberry butter exist, the perfect accompaniment to a rich and flaky biscuit.  Please note that it is inappropriate to slip leftover biscuits and butter in your purse.  Fight the urge.  You will not be invited back.

The waiter recited the night’s specials and left Greg and I to debate our choices.  We agreed to split an appetizer and each ordered one of the specials (as usual, meat for Him, fish for Her) for our main course.  Though tempted, we did not order the Truffled Macaroni and Cheese, for $95.  $95 is too much money to spend on pasta with cheese; however, if you’ve had, please let me know if it is worth our electric bill.

Our first course arrived, a Tuna Tartare with Avocado, Diced Egg, and Dijon Emulsion, served with toast points for dipping.  The waiter had barely set the plate down on the table before Greg and I pounced on it; biscuits with strawberry butter, while decadent, are not very filling.  The tuna was rich and unctuous, heightened by the creamy avocado and fattiness of the egg yolk.  The dijon added just the right touch of acid and a hint of salt.  We both felt the dish could have used some crunch for a little texture, but the toast points were a nice substitution.  So far, dinner at the Waverly was off to a rousing success.

Shortly after we licked our plates finished the first course, our main dishes were upon us.  Greg’s eyes grew large when the waiter placed before him a Grilled Rib Eye with Roasted Root Vegetables.  Greg is a Meat and Potatoes type of guy, and the thick steak on his plate was enough to make any vegetarian have second thoughts.  The thick crust crackled forgivingly when it met Greg’s steak knife, and the medium-rare meat glistened on his fork.  I, one who generally scorns red meat, had immediate second thoughts on my own dinner choice.   Fork came to mouth, and it was confirmed: few things make Greg happier than good steak.  Except maybe, Pittsburgh sports and peanut M&M’s.

Before I could experience any buyer’s remorse, I was rewarded with Halibut over White Beans, Kale, and Celery Root.  Oh my. The chef is clearly very thoughtful, as he left my fish swimming in a delicious broth, flavored with smokey bits of bacon.  (Fish, like everyone else in the universe, love bacon.) The heady aromas of ocean and pork were enough to make me forget the steak across the table in a matter of seconds.  Because I am Considerate and Kind, I offered Greg a bite of my fish, and then ate every last bit. I am also a Dainty Little Thing, wouldn’t you know.  It was light and delicious, an excellent choice.

The best part of the meal, perhaps, was something not on the Autumn menu.  It was the knowledge that,”hey, this is a pretty cool thing we’re doing tonight.”  Greg and I don’t get too many chances for weeknight dates, and even fewer chances to eat in elite NYC restaurants.  Throw in some possible celebrity sightings and strawberry butter, and we are a happy pair.

Desserts were politely rejected.  No need to be greedy, and my emergency purse stash of M&M’s is a good safety for late night subway snackage.  We (Greg) paid the check and left our table by the fire, only to brush past Harvey Weinstein on the way out.  Celebrity sighting #2? Check.

So, is the Waverly all its cracked up to be?  I say, sure.  The food is good, the service is sufficient, and the experience was a nice break from work and other weekly stresses.  Even though we’re not important enough to demand a standing reservation, it was fun to pretend that we were.  I’ll pretend to be anything that lets me eat strawberry butter.

I’m sorry we don’t have any pictures, but maybe you’ll get a chance to eat there yourself.  There are plenty of cops in this town, so start dog-sitting and you might earn yourself a table.

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His: Find Your Motivation

So one might assume that, because we are bloggers and give our opinions on many different things to many different people, we are narcissistic and take ourselves very seriously.  While Ally is quite the opposite, in my case, you’re probably right.  I don’t at all mean that I don’t care about anyone else or that I look at myself in the mirror all the time because, in all reality, it’s only some of the time.  JOKING!

Oh, hello, are you looking at me?

Oh, hello, are you looking at me?

I know, I know, I just posted about how getting fit is good for your mind.  But seriously…I’d be lying to myself and to you if I didn’t say that being fit can be just as much about health as it is about looking awesome. And I’m here to tell you that it’s OK.

Of course, I’m not recommending going crazy about it.  There are more important things in life, and being obsessed with being healthy doesn’t make you healthy. But, if you’re single and trying to impress a new mate (yes, I said mate), or if  you’re in a steady relationship and want to keep up appearances, it’s ok to use that as motivation.  I exercise and try to eat right because I want to feel good and like what I see in the mirror, but I also want Ally to like what she sees.  Physical attraction is part of what makes a relationship work, and these chiseled features don’t come without a little sweat, you know? (Again, I kid!)

Like Adonis, I am.

Like Adonis, I am.

Relationships are a lot like exercising.  You’ve got to give a little to get a little, if you know what I mean. And if you can’t get up off the couch yourself, then you’ve got to find something (or someone) that will make you do it.

FIND YOUR MOTIVATION!  Maybe, for you, it’s watching “The Biggest Loser,”  which we just started doing.  You might tape a picture of David Beckham to the fridge to remind yourself to watch it with the beer.  Work out with a friend or significant other and remember that you’re doing something good for your body and for theirs.  Don’t use Madonna as a role model….she’s GROSS.

I have creepy Man-Arms.

I have creepy Man-Arms.

I’ll say it again….I don’t take myself too seriously (most of the time).  BUT, I do take being healthy and staying fit seriously, and I think you should too.  You’ll feel good about yourself, and the benefits go way beyond.  Motivation doesn’t always have to be something deep and full of meaning.  So long as you’re being smart and not taking it to extremes, it’s ok to be a little full of yourself.  You’re working hard, and there’s no shame in taking a look in the mirror and humming “I’m Too Sexy.”  If it gets you off your ass, then just do it. (Hi, Nike!  Please send me stuff!)

How do you stay motivated?  Let me know!

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Hers: Creature of Habit, or How To Cook a Spaghetti Squash

For as long as I can remember, my father has woken up by 6:30am every morning and sat down to one of two breakfasts: 2 pieces of rye toast with butter or a bowl of maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal, accompanied by a strong cup of coffee, black.  Sometimes, if he’s feeling saucy, he’ll have half a grapefruit.  Now, there may have been mornings where a bialy with cheese appeared, or maybe even a donut, and there was that affair with the South Beach Diet breakfast frittata,  but for the most part, my father is a toast and oatmeal kind of guy.

In this sense, I am very much my father’s daughter.  That’s not to say that I won’t try new things; in fact, I enjoy new flavors and dishes very much.  However, if I find something I like, there’s a good chance it will stick around for a while.  I am a creature of habit.

In the summer, I wake up every morning to a bowl of Greek yogurt, lightly sweetened and flavored with cinnamon.  Sometimes, there will be some cereal or fruit mixed in, but the yogurt is always the same.  When the weather cools down, yogurt gives way to warm oatmeal, still sweetened and cinnamon-y delicious, now with the addition of vanilla bean and a splash of milk.

Whole Grain Goodness

Whole Grain Goodness

I drink my coffee the same way every day.  I prefer to drink it out of the same mug, the one with the A on it from Fishs Eddy on Park Avenue. (Have you been here?  It is the greatest store in the world.)  The coffee must be hot, and I will only use skim milk.  Anything else makes my coffee taste like butter.  Butter is good on toast or a baked potato, not in coffee.

A-mazing.

A-mazing.

In the winter, Sunday dinners are for roast chicken.  Sometimes, I think it might be nice to make a pork loin, or maybe even a steak, but in the end, it’s always chicken.  Greg and I will sit down to a great Sunday feast, and the leftovers will make excellent sandwiches and salads for weekday lunches.  I make my chicken the same way every week: nestled on a thick bed of onions and seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  Remind me to give you my recipe for roast chicken one day.  It is fantastic.  Roast chicken is the best thing about Sundays.

chicken

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

I ate the exact same dinner 4 nights last week.  Spaghetti squash, topped with homemade tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, with some tofu or white beans thrown in for protein.  It was a busy work week, Greg wasn’t home one night, I was lazy, and it was just good. It was healthy, it was what I wanted, and that was fine.

So I leave you with something I wish I would have learned before the 4th night of this dinner: how to microwave a spaghetti squash.  Prior to this useful bit of knowledge, I roasted the suckers, and it took forever.  Now, I have been enlightened, and I’m happy to share my squash-nuking techniques with the rest of you.  After all, I’ll probably eat this again very soon.

Take your clean spaghettie squash (approx. 3 lbs.) and pierce the skin in several places with a sharp paring knife.  This allows the steam to escape while it is becoming delicious.

Poke Poke.

Poke Poke.

Microwave on High for 10-12 minutes, or until the skin gives slightly when touched.

Squash, Meet Your Doom.

Squash, Meet Your Doom.

If you haven’t poked it sufficiently with the knife, this will happen.  You don’t want to clean this up, so be generous with your poking.

Insufficient Poke-age.

Insufficient Poke-age.

Let the squash stand about 5 minutes, or until it is cool enough to touch.

Slice in half, remove the seeds, and then begin the business of removing the flesh from the shell.

Stick a fork in it.

Stick a fork in it.

And there you have it…Spaghetti Squash for Dummies.  Don’t feel bad about eating it (or anything else)  several nights in a row.  I don’t.

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Hers: TMI, or Eat Your Vegetables

Greg and I are, by most accounts, relatively modest people.  That’s not to say that we’re ultra-conservative or stiff; as a matter of fact, it’s quite the contrary.  We just feel that certain subjects are better left behind closed doors….most importantly, the subject left behind the bathroom door.  Full disclosure?  No, thank you.

Let’s keep the romance, shall we?

Not so romantic?

Clearly, we are in love.

Suffice it to say, a surprisingly large amount of people don’t agree with me.  Every time I turn on the TV, I’m bombarded with commercials for foods that will “improve your digestive health” and “cleanse your system.”  Pardon me while I change the channel.  I’d rather think the woman serving me my morning coffee is smiling because she’s a warm, friendly person, and not because she had a party on the john a few hours earlier.  (Yes, this commercial exists!)  For someone that finds these sorts of topic taboo, flipping on the TV is a virtual minefield lately.  What happened to the dog food commercials with the little puppies?

Puppies make for good commercials.

Puppies make for good commercials.

My general revulsion to this public announcement of business came to a head this morning while picking up a gallon of milk at our local grocery store.  As I stood on line, I couldn’t help but overhear the cashier and customer in front of me having a lengthy discussion about….what?  Am I hearing this right?

It went something like this:

Cashier: “No, it happens to me all the time.  This is what you have to do: Go buy a package of chocolate pudding, make it on the stove, and then eat it hot right out of the pot.  You’ll be going in no time.  Sometimes, I go twice in an hour.”

Customer: “Really?  I never tried that.  I haven’t gone in days.”

Cashier: “Works every time.”

Excuse me while I try to stop my ears from bleeding.

Now, I’ve just about broken every personal rule I have for myself by sharing this with you; however, there is a reason. (And I do apologize if anyone lost their lunch.  I assure you, it was far worse in person.)  While trying to peel my jaw off the floor—yes, my mouth gaped open that wide—I couldn’t help but look into this customer’s basket.  A bag of Oreos, a rib-eye steak, a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi, and 4 (four!) blocks of cheese.  Now, doctor I am not, but Houston, I think we’ve found our problem.

I’m not sure how the above conversation started (thank you, Jesus, Allah, and all things holy, for saving me from that), but it did make me think twice about the contents of this woman’s basket.  And aside from the cashier’s less-than-stellar-health-advice, I had one thing I wanted to tell them both:

Eat a salad.

A diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables is nutritious, delicious, and will do more for your body that just alleviate your….issues.  Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases.  Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts, those who eat more generous portions of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.  Eating a varied diet full of fresh ingredients will make you feel great and look even better.

Fresh and organic.

Fresh and organic.

Some of my favorite ways to sneak 5 servings a day into my diet are:

  • Mix fresh berries with your morning oatmeal, yogurt, or dry cereal
  • Swap sliced zucchini or cucumbers for the chips with your favorite dip
  • Enjoy 4 oz. of 100% fruit juice mixed with seltzer for a refreshing drink
  • Start your meal with a cup of broth-based vegetable soup
  • Keep single-serve portions of dried fruit in your bag for a mid-day pick-me-up
  • Toss equal parts spaghetti squash and whole wheat spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and parmesan cheese
Two at a time!

Two at a time!

The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the more you will crave them, and the more your body will thank you.  What are your favorite ways to enjoy 5-a-day?

And in the meantime, for God’s sake, please keep your “issues” to yourself.

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His: The Last Train to Scoville

Throughout history, there really haven’t been that many great people named Wilbur.  If I had to really think about, though, there may be a few.  Let’s see…there’s the greatest Wilbur of all time, Wilbur Wright.  He, along with his brother, were the first people to have sustained powered flight in 1903…..IN THE AIR!!!!.  Oh, and his brother may be the most famous person ever named, Orville.  However, that’s a debate best saved for my popcorn blog.  I suppose next would be that dude who owned Mr. Ed.  It’s a little before my time but there are few people who have never heard that wonderful speaking equine saying, “Hello Wilburrrrrrrrr.”  Oh, sixties comedy, how I love thee.

Don't yell at me, Wilbur, I'm not your wife.

Don't yell at me, Wilbur, I'm not your wife.

And I suppose that’s it for all the……wait a minute.  How could I forget the most important Wilbur of all time as he pertains to our world?  Wilbur Scoville.  The man, the myth and the legend.  The very gustatory gladiator who, ironically in 1912, came up with a scale that measures the heat in peppers.  The scale starts at 0 units with the likes of the sweet bell and sweet banana pepper and goes up to the dreaded Ghost pepper which comes in at over 1,000,000 Scoville units.

Hot hot heat.

Hot hot heat.

The chemical that causes the “heat” is called Capsaicin, which you may recognize from anti inflamatory creams used for joint pain.  The capsaicin is what causes the heat and thus the pain relief.  This spicy chemical is present mostly in the ribs and seeds of hot peppers; if you’re looking for a little less burn, just scrape those bits out and use the outer flesh for a slightly cooler sensation.  Additionally, eating foods containing capsaicin has been known to increase metabolism, and thus, aide in weight loss.  Heat is a great way to add flavor to food without additional calories.  This does not count if you are eating Buffalo wings.

Like Pacman chasing a Ghost

Like Pacman chasing a Ghost

As I got thinking more and more about peppers and heat, I felt that I wasn’t being true if I didn’t try some of the peppers from all parts of the Scoville Scale.  With that said, today, I went out and bought six different peppers, all with different Scoville rankings.  I set out with the goal of trying all of them and relaying the experience to you readers.  (Note: Ally does not eat spicy food.  She did not want to “burn her freaking tongue off,” so she will be my trusty photographer and milk pourer.)

Moo juice saves the day.

Moo juice saves the day.

Interestly enough, milk is the best remedy for heat-overload.  Casein, a protein found in dairy products, has a detergent effect on capsaicin.  Too heavy on the hot sauce?  Head to the dairy aisle.

First up was a sweet banana, which is a 0 on the scale.  Honestly, I thought there was a decent heat to this pepper.  Certainly, my expectations were lessened by the 0 rating, but I was most definitely surprised.  It wasn’t an uncomfortable heat but rather a nice heat that would  be welcomed in any number of prepared dishes.
Not so bad.

Not so bad.

Second was a hot cherry pepper, also called a pimento, which comes in around 500 on the scale.  Again, I was surprised by the heat.  I guess I was expecting nothing, but I was very pleased with the flavor and the heat level.  I should also say that I ate larger pieces of these peppers.  At this point, I was beginning to question my ability to eat spicy food and was fearing the peppers that were coming up.  Oh well…I’m a guy.  I can eat anything.

Next was an Anaheim Chile.  Or is it a California Chile or is it a Los Angeles Chile?  No, it’s a Los Angeles Chile of Anaheim (any baseball fans out there?)  Anyway, this pepper can have anywhere from 500-2500 Scoville units.  I ate a rather large piece of this pepper and was blown away by the LACK of heat.  I assumed that we picked up a small bell pepper by mistake, and I offered the rest to Ally.  (Ally loves snacks.)  She happily popped the pepper into her mouth and….it was an Anaheim Chile after all.  Bad news.

Not happy.

Not happy.

I’m sorry that I doubted you, anonymous produce section worker.  I’m sorry you burned your freaking tongue, Ally.

The fourth pepper was a Jalapeno.  A largely popular nacho accoutrement, I’ve been eating jalapenos forever…or so I thought.  I cut myself a nice healthy slice and chewed vigorously.  We’ll just say it was too big of a slice.  I immediately began to sweat profusely, my mouth feeling like Phoenix in August.  I had to chug a large glass of milk and let myself cool down before I moved onto the Serrano that awaited me.

My taste buds hurt.

My taste buds hurt.

After recovering completely, I stepped up to the plate, facing all 22,000 Scoville units in the Serrano Chile.  Knowing this, I cut a small piece, but all the while making sure to eat some of the spicy seeds.  I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and the perceived mild heat.  It definitely burned at the back of my throat which was a new sensation, but not bad enough for me to go to the milk.  Score for manliness.

It's almost time.

It's almost time.

All that was left was the Red Habanero.  I cut a tiny piece of this guy, knowing that 285,000 Scoville units might do some damage.  I thought the pepper itself would contain enough heat, but I was mistaken.  I wanted to show you the full effect so I went back and ate a seed.  Just one….but the damage was done.  I’m fine now, but I can’t imagine eating more than one, maybe two of those seeds.  The heat was incredible and all around my mouth and throat.  It’s definitely not a sensation that I enjoyed or want to experience again.

No more peppers.

No more peppers.

So that’s the end of my battle with the peppers.  For now, I’m going to avoid touching my eyes and other areas, and relax with an Iron City….Pittsburgh’s official brew.  I hope you guys enjoyed today’s post because I went through some pain for it.  For more information on hot peppers, check out this great site:

US Hot Stuff

Do you like spicy foods?  Hit me with your best spicy food stories!

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