Dam to Dam 2015

DT and I headed south last weekend to run Des Moines’ big Dam to Dam half marathon.

I was extremely slow on the uptake with photos over the¬†weekend….I just didn’t have the ol’ shutterbug in me. I’m a little bummed that I missed some good shots, but I’ll also get this post out quicker without much to edit. ūüôā See? Trade-offs, I guess.

While I’m missing the visual flair, I still wanted to write about the weekend because we found some new little treasures (and revisited some old favorites) in Des Moines and I didn’t want to forget them. AND I wanted you to know about them too.

First – big, fun news. Hellraising Hot Sauce has officially entered the Des Moines market! Through family/friend connections, DT and I met Rory at AllSpice Culinarium in the East Village neighborhood. We dropped off an order of sauce on our way into town and got to see his fantastic shop.

Hellraising Hot Sauce at Allspice 1

Hellraising Hot Sauce at Allspice 2

We ate our ritual,¬†pre-race meal at Tavern Pizza Friday night. Nightcaps at Charlie’s Filling Station (their specialty – Screwdrivers with fresh-squeezed OJ) before a quick, restless night of sleep.

Saturday/race day was much cooler and wet than we expected. It wasn’t pouring ran, thankfully, but misting enough to be annoying and downright cold as we waited at the starting line.

I borrowed/stole this selfie from my brother-in-law Tom.

Dam to Dam 2015

Up front L-R: friend Pat, brother-in-law Tom. Behind L-R: DT’s sister Jill, DT, me.

DT and I crossed the finish line together and it felt so good to be DONE. High five!

We headed to Exile Brewing for celebratory post-race beers at 9:30 am. They were delightful.

DT, me post-race

DT and I ate lunch at Court Avenue Brewing Company. We nearly fell asleep at the table once we had food in our bellies. Sooooo….nap time!

Later, we met up with Jill, Tom, and a group of friends for drinks at MALO. It was packed! Next stop for drinks was Royal Mile.

We’d heard so much about Fong’s Pizza, we had to check it out. The rumblings were true –¬†Fong’s makes delicious pizza.¬†Super thin and chewy crust, zippy sauce, and a bunch of topping options.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend! I always feel like our time in DSM goes by way too fast. We’re already plotting a return summer visit so we can get another Iowa fix. ūüėČ


The New Hellraisinghotsauce.com!

Just a quick post to announce something exciting for DT’s and my little hot sauce endeavor….the launch of Hellraisinghotsauce.com!

We’ve been relying HEAVILY on our Facebook page¬†to promote our business and share updates about what we’re up to. We’ll continue to be active there of course, but this website is going to be an awesome resource. You can learn about our sauces and the peppers we use, see Instagram pics, find recipes and inspiration to use Hellraising Hot Sauce in your cooking, read the HHS blog, and ORDER ONLINE!

Cool, yes?

Many thanks to Rough Ride Creations¬†for bringing this site to life – it will be a tremendous asset to our lil’ biz.

Please go check it out! ūüôā

Spicyland in Roatan 2015

Wednesday morning….I stepped out onto our balcony as the ship was docking in Roatan.

docking in Roatan 1

Perfect timing!

docking in Roatan 2

Another gorgeous (HOT!) day ahead.

Caribbean skies – morning, noon, and night – just slay me. Unbelievably beautiful, without fail.

Mahogany Bay morning

Since we did excursions of some kind at the other three ports on this cruise, it was kind of nice to just hop off the ship here and walk to a fantastic beach straightaway.

Remember two years ago at Mahogany Bay?

Mahogany Bay entrance


I didn’t take as many photos this year, but it was just as we remembered.

view from the pier 1


view from the pier 2

After sufficient Roatan beach/sun/lounging/reading/drinking time – and sweating our ears off, this by far was the warmest stop – we headed back to the ship for a late lunch.

Psssssstt….do you see what I see??

Hellraising Hot Sauce planted

DT and I planned a little covert operation with our Hellraising Hot Sauce on this trip. We planted a bottle of Sweet Suffering at the Blue Iguana Cantina, where made-to-order burritos and tacos are served for breakfast and lunch.

There’s a condiment bar and you can accessorize your meal with a slew of fixings – a variety of salsas, vegetables, crema, cheese, and that’s right, HOT SAUCE. Two big, long rows¬†of hot sauce bottles.

We slipped ours in the first day and made a game of passing by each morning and afternoon to see how much had been used.

The situation was a bit puzzling at times. Some instances Sweet Suffering would be right there in the lineup Рothers it was nowhere to be found. So we thought we were totally busted; that the keeper of Blue Iguana hot sauces recognized the invader from outside the usual inventory and it was tossed. But then the next day it would be back again. But then two days later, gone once more.

It TOYED with our emotions! Kidding, kind of. It was just fun to see it, standing proudly on a Carnival cruise ship, holding court with the other sauces. And when we could see that it had been used, when there was less sauce in the bottle than there was before….very cool. (DT: “Sweet Suffering is out there, I checked the level – it’s DOWN!¬†People¬†are using it!!” Me: “SHUT UP! Can you believe it??”)

You know, we’re just big hot sauce nerds now. This is how we spend our time.

Roatan sunset 1

Roatan sunset….

Roatan sunset 2

Roatan sunset 3

leaving Roatan

….like I said at the top of this post – Caribbean skies, man.


Roatan sunset 4

Night five's little towel friend

The fifth night’s little towel friend.

Our cruise is winding down….waaaaahhhh! Our last port is coming up, and it was a new one for us – Costa Maya!

2014 Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival

As I previously mentioned, one of the reasons we traveled to Houston and Austin last August was to attend the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. It took place at Fiesta Gardens, about 10 minutes from downtown.

Austin Hot Sauce Festival 1

Let’s all gather in 90-100 degree, sunshiny Texas heat and eat some SPICY FOOD? Okay!

This show started in 1990 and has become one of the most popular in the hot sauce/salsa biz. About 15,000 people attended in 2013. Admission was $5 or free with a donation of three non-perishable food items, going to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

Austin Hot Sauce Festival 2

Fiesta Gardens was hoppin’, that’s for sure.

RO-HO’s Creamy Chipotle Sauce was so, so GOOD. I went back for a second sample.

Creamy Chipotle Sauce

Stellar Gourmet

Austin Hot Sauce Festival 3

Bravado Spice Co.’s sauces – our Hellraising Hot Sauce’s Sweet Suffering is also a pineapple and habanero blend – it was fun to compare recipes and flavor. They may have the same/similar ingredients, but they taste totally different.

Bravado Spice Co.

Honest Ember, Two Hot Mamas,  Red's

Hobo Jim's

Sanderson Specialty Foods was giving away a free jar of their Texas-Texas salsa if you liked them on Facebook. Of course we liked them! Their salsa is really deelish.

Texas Texas

Fiesta Gardens pavilion 1

Austin Hot Sauce Festival 4

The pavilion held a sauce competition, divided into two categories. The line to walk through, sample, and vote was extra long, so we scoped out what we could from the outside.

Austin Hot Sauce Festival contest

Fiesta Gardens pavilion 2

After a couple of hours meandering and tasting spicy sauces under the beating sun, we were ready to seek shady coolness.

It was a great festival, I’m so happy we had the opportunity to go. Based on sheer crowd size alone, this has become an annual event that folks¬†flock to attend, never mind that Texas heat!

True dedication to spicy food. DT and I LOVE that!

Austin Hot Sauce Festival 5

Spicyland in Austin

Austin, Texas!

Here we are. We left our friends in Houston after lunch, and after a small snafu involving a major interstate being closed,¬†requiring a detour and resulting in completely dead iPhones, arrived in Austin early evening. So….a bit longer than the anticipated ~three hour drive. No matter.

Rooftop bars on Sixth Street, here we come.

Austin rooftop 1

Austin rooftop 2

Beer me - Austin rooftop

Beer me. Okay.

Giant Jenga - Austin rooftop

Giant Jenga

The sun had long set but it was still sooo steamy out. Late night downtown Austin in August….we loved it.

Me, Austin rooftop

Austin rooftop 3

Austin rooftop 4

Come to find out, Sixth Street on the Saturday night before students at UT-Austin started fall classes was freaking NUTS.

Austin - Sixth Street 1

Crazy nuts, I say. And live music at nearly every doorway. LIVELY vibe, ya’ll.

Austin - Sixth Street 2

The next day, Sunday, was the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. More about that in the next post!

Also, it was very, very HOT.

Austin, Texas in August – remember? HOT.

After we left the show early afternoon, DT and I were both sweating profusely. I know that’s a desirable description, and we both felt extra desirable after spending a good part of the morning and afternoon outside in the AUSTIN, TEXAS AUGUST HEAT.

Because it was HOT.

Austin Capitol 1

Austin Capitol 3

DT wasn’t entirely sold on visiting the Austin Capitol, but I was really interested. Not only is it beautiful outside, but it was AIR CONDITIONED [and also beautiful] inside.

Austin Capitol 2

Austin Capitol 4

Let’s just say DT changed his tune when we found a cool refuge. ūüėČ

Austin Capitol 5

Austin Capitol 6

Austin Capitol 7

And it really was remarkable.

Austin Capitol 8

Austin Capitol House of Representatives

Austin, TX Capitol House of Representatives

Austin Capitol HoR

And, have I mentioned, air conditioned?

Austin Capitol 9

Austin Capitol 10

Look there in front, there I am!

Me, Austin Capitol 1

And here, a cannon and me. Historic.

Me, Austin Capitol 2

Me, Austin Capitol 3

Our accommodations in Austin were provided by Mike’s business partner. He was generous enough to donate his little A-frame cabin for our stay.

Austin A-frame 1

It was beautiful scenery as we drove about 15 minutes from downtown, along a hilly and windy road. We had no idea the terrain here was so rolling.

Austin A-frame 2

It was such a funky place! You’d never realize you were so close to a big, bustling downtown. This felt like wilderness.

Austin A-frame 3

Austin A-frame 4

Lake Austin could be found down a path coming off the deck. I didn’t walk down there because I was terrified¬†of seeing a snake. There, I said it.

Austin A-frame 5

Ahhh! So, so PRETTY.

Austin A-frame 6

Austin A-frame 7

Once we unloaded our things and settled in a bit at the A-frame, we headed back toward downtown in search of dinner. Tex-Mex was the dream.

Austin skyline

We found Serranos Рtheir menu looked like just the ticket.

Serrano's 1

Their patio was so nice and spacious, but everyone had flocked to the cool indoors. I would have loved to sit outside, but it was still so very HOT. We headed inside too.

Serrano's 2

Serrano's 3

DT ordered their fish tacos….

DT's dinner

….I chose the veggie enchiladas with their chipotle sauce.

Serrano's enchiladas

OMIGOSH we were so hungry! After a long day jumping around town and lots of time in the sun, we were ready for a flavorful meal like this. Totally hit the spot.

Veggie enchiladas

It was dark by the time we left the restaurant. Serranos also had this cool amphitheater space we noticed as we walked through the patio area again.

Serrano's amphitheater 1

We strolled through downtown while we digested, then headed back to the ol’ A-frame.

Serrano's amphitheater 3

The next morning we had plans to meet Lara, the gal behind LaLa’s Lemonade. DT’s¬†sister and brother-in-law Tom put us in touch – Lara’s husband grew up with Tom here in Minnesota and they are now settled in Austin.

We met up at Magnolia Cafe, a popular breakfast-all-day spot.

Magnolia Cafe 1

Magnolia Cafe 2

Magnolia Cafe

Lara has been working away at LaLa’s Lemonade a lot longer than we’ve had Hellraising Hot Sauce, but it was fun to share small, local business stories and hear about her challenges, successes, and inspiration. Even though we make totally different products in totally different states, there were many commonalities, mostly the spirit of creating something you’re really excited about. We talked shop, man!

Magnolia Cafe menus

Magnolia’s food was really delicious too. ūüôā

Magnolia Cafe 3

And that was our quick, toasty spin through Austin! Oh Рand more about that hot sauce show up next!

Spicyland in Houston

Way back in August, when it wasn’t -1 degree below zero outside as it is today, DT and I took a little trip to Texas. Yes, Texas in August. We’ll get into more of that hot insanity later.

This long weekend allowed us to do a few nifty things: visit our dear friends Mike and Colleen in Houston, see Austin (a new city to us and about a three hour drive away), and attend the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, of interest to us with our little Hellraising Hot Sauce venture.

We spent the first couple of days in Houston with Mike and Colleen. They live in a gorgeous house in a gorgeous neighborhood right on Lake Houston. It was so much fun to see them again and catch up after letting waaayyy too much time go by. But we had exactly zero trouble picking right back up where we left off!

First things first after Mike picked us up from the airport….a boat ride to find lunch and margaritas.

Lunch on Lake Houston

Houston margarita


Lake Houston 1

Lake Houston 2

Colleen and me

Beautiful Colleen and me

We learned that Mike and Colleen share our affinity for Farkle (apparently also spelled Farkel?), except they upped the ante with a “Spicy” version that doubles points. This photo captures perfectly what a lot of our time in Houston looked like:

Spicy Farkle

Spicy Farkel/Champagne/Wine/Cider/Beer


We met Colleen’s sweet friend and neighbor Ronna. She and her husband have an absolutely stunning backyard and view of the lake. We spent our first evening on their patio, soaking in this scenery.

Ronna's yard 1

I mean, really.

I am pretty sure this is some version of Heaven.

Ronna's yard 2

The next day, it was very very WARM outside. Texas in August, eh? Thankfully Mike and Colleen’s pool was waiting for us right outside the door.

Their dogs Winchester and Genevieve also enjoyed a refreshing dip!

Afternoon at the pool 1

Hello, Winchester!

These two are hilarious.

Dogs at the pool

Afternoon at the pool 2

Afternoon at the pool 3

Afternoon at the pool 4

Afternoon at the pool 5

Genevieve at the pool

Hello, Genevieve!

That evening we took a sunset boat ride with Ronna and her husband. I think these photos speak for themselves.

Lake Houston sunset 2

Ronna, Colleen, and me

Ronna, Colleen, and me

Lake Houston sunset 1

Lake Houston sunset 3

Lake Houston sunset 4

Later, Colleen cooked a magnificent southern feast (she’s an Alabama gal) and Mike set off some fireworks.

Fireworks 1

More awesome.

Fireworks 2

Before we left to drive to Austin on Saturday, Mike took us to Tin Roof BBQ and we picked up lunch.

Tin Roof BBQ 1

Positively delicious southern BBQ, and this coming from someone who doesn’t eat meat and only enjoys the sides!

Tin Roof BBQ 2

And with that, we were on our way to Austin.

Honestly, visiting Mike and Colleen is like staying at a spa retreat. We were totally spoiled in their corner of paradise. Their friendship and company is just beyond and I cannot wait to see them again.

THANK YOU, Mike and Colleen!

Hellraising Hot Sauce at Heat Up Your Life

A couple of weekends ago, DT and I had the opportunity to participate in Heat Up Your Life with our Hellraising Hot Sauce.

Heat Up Your Life poster

This was the first year for the event, also the first time we had a booth for our product. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was such a fun day! About 12 local food producers took part – from hot sauce to barbeque sauce to sauerkraut to salsa to gourmet candies….sampling everyone’s goods was a real treat, literally and figuratively.

Heat Up Your Life - setting up

Setting up.

The event took place in the parking lot of Bent Brewstillery – they were awesome hosts. We worked with the owner/creator of Nuclear Nectar to secure our spot in the spicy lineup, and we shared a space with John from Artisan Minnesota. He was a wonderful booth buddy!

Bent Brewstillery patio

To go along with the “Heat Up Your Life” theme, Bent was pouring a special Ghost Pepper Stout that day. Rusty Taco and Potter’s Pasties food trucks were on hand for extra snacks beyond the samples.

Rusty Taco

Bent Brewstillery taproom

Bent Brewstillery’s taproom.

It was the perfect fall day to drink some beer and enjoy the concoctions of our fellow local food creators. A few we knew from our own commercial kitchen (John, also Tony and Leslie from Isabel Street Heat), or just through word about town, but a lot of these folks we’d never heard of and it was a pleasure to meet them. It was great to connect and see what other delicious ideas are out there, and so close to home.

Heat Up Your Life 1

Check them out in the links above and a few more here….

Lucky’s Hot Sauce

Comfort Candy

Fierce Ferments

Caribbean Heat

Heat Up Your Life 2

There’s Hellraising!

Heat Up Your Life 3

Taproom at night

DT and I are crossing fingers that Heat Up Your Life returns for a second year (and third, and fourth, and fifth….). Many thanks, Bent Brewstillery and Nuclear Nectar!