Spicy Food Hunt in the Grand Cayman Island

I had an amazing time on my spicy food hunt in the Grand Cayman island. There were so many great places that I think you should try when you find yourself craving spicy food. I planned a short birthday weekend getaway with my sisters and while the sea, sun, and sand was the main purpose, hunting for spicy food is always on the agenda!

Sea, Sun & Sand

This was my first time visiting the island and chose it after hearing so many great things about it. The white sand beach and blue waters of Seven Mile beach was a huge selling point! For someone that loves the ocean, the beach was key in my decision.

The Westin Cayman beach view

Finding a destination not affected by the sargassum seaweed problem affecting mostly all of the Caribbean islands was a challenge. If the beach is important to you, do a bit of research before you go. While each island is doing their best to clean up the beaches, you can’t swim in those waters and the seaweed smells.

The Westin Cayman pool view

I decided to celebrate at the beautiful Westin hotel since the beaches on the west side of Grand Cayman haven’t been affected. This was definitely one of the best beaches I’ve visited in the Caribbean. The sunset views were gorgeous, the water was clear blue, calm enough to swim and the food was amazing!

Cayman Sunset

I immediately started on my spicy foods hunt and realized I didn’t have to do much searching. Most of the restaurants I tried served a spicy item or two which is perfect when your party doesn’t care for much spicy foods. I ordered the fried calamari and a rum punch at the Westin’s poolside grill and watched the beautiful sunset on the beach! The calamari were perfectly cooked tender and while not spicy, the batter did have a nice kick. I also tried the crab cakes were a much spicier choice so order those while you’re at it.

fried calamari on the beach watching the sunset

 

cocktail on the beach watching the sunset

The Restaurants

We spent most of our time on the west side of the island and took the public bus right in front of the Westin  down to Camana Bay. The bay is a lively shopping and dinning area. We dined at the well reviewed The Brooklyn , a pasta & pizza restaurant. We didn’t try any of the pizza, go figure, but we did try a few of their pasta and seafood dishes. Their penne & sausage dish was unexpectedly spicy and the pasta cooked to perfection. The dish made me tear up a bit so that’s always a plus! You can also sit outside to feel the nice bay freeze and a bit of people watching.

spicy penne pasta & sausage

Another Great lunch spot you must visit near the cruise ship port in Georgetown neighborhood is Da Fish Shack. I asked around and it appears this is a popular spot with the locals as well. This place has a nice vibe, great waterfront views, and food that tastes home made. We arrived for a late afternoon lunch to an almost empty place that quickly filled up. I ordered the escovitch snapper for my spicy fix. The snapper was well seasoned, fried to a crisp and topped with spicy, tangy pickled vegetables. I can still remember the flavor! It was mouth watering, flaky, tender and served with a potato au-gratin to balance out the acidity of the fish. Just one of those dishes you’ll remember, it was so good.

escovitch snapper at Da Fish Shack

Next spot was Bacaro – a great hangout spot for nightlife but only on Thursday nights I believe. One thing about the Grand Cayman is that it’s a sleepy town. Everything shuts down early, about 11pm or midnight, and there isn’t much of a nightlife. If you know of places please mention them in the comments, I’d love to here about them for my next visit. 😉

Entrance to Bacaro restaurant in Grand Cayman

We shared a few dishes and all were very good but one to try is the fried lobster bites with scotch bonnet and paprika aioli. I normally have lobster with melted butter and would never think of frying it but these bites were tender and juicy. The bites weren’t as spicy as I would have liked, especially with scotch bonnet mentioned in the description, but the citrus flavor of the pepper came across really well. Go ahead and order the lobster bites, you will not be disappointed.

fried lobster bites with scotch bonnet aioli

Another favorite was the tuna tartare with mango salsa. The tuna had a mild citrus flavor and barely any heat at all but the salsa had a nice kick. I had the mango salsa on the side since my sister is allergic to mangoes. This is a great restaurant to celebrate a special occasion. I wouldn’t go here for spicy foods but again, most places in the Cayman Islands will have a couple of dishes to satisfy that spicy craving.

tuna tartare and avocado

Have you been to Grand Cayman island? Let me know in the comments which are your favorite spicy food places or where you go for nightlife. I wish I had more time there to experience the rest of the island. Where do you go for your spicy food fix?

 

Spicy Habanero Candied Bacon

Raise your hand if you’d love spicy food as a holiday gift? What about spicy habanero candied bacon? Yes and thank you!! This is the perfect gift for bacon and spicy food lovers – chewy, crunchy, lip numbing, sweet and salty treat all in one. It’s just too easy and delicious not to make!

candied spicy bacon

Hello all, it’s been a while since I’ve written here and I’m bringing spicy bacon as a peace offering! Forgiven? OK, great! 😉 For those wondering, I’ve been on a long hiatus from Hot Lollies and lately I’ve been wanting to write again. Truth be told, I was just overwhelmed with everything from my day job, my lollipops business, writing, and dealing with my Dads’ illness and later his passing. Another reason was I was dealing with the side effects of food blogging; getting fat!

There I was, making all these great meals, frig filled to the brim and cooking just to keep up with blogging. I love cooking but I don’t always want to stop and shoot it. Often times I’d forget to take photos and just eat! Needless to say, I wasn’t enjoying the process so I walked away for a couple of years and now happy to be back after gaining a bit of sanity. I’ve missed sharing and writing about my passion here so hopefully you’ll love this recipe! Let me know what you think!

tray of bacon

Bacon Cut

I used a thick cut of bacon for a meatier, more chewy bite. I’ve made this recipe before with regular bacon and it shriveled up quite a bit so cut is a better option. This thick-cut bacon also retains its shape and tastes much better. I found mine at my local Sam’s Club but you can check your local grocer or check out this un-cured bacon. Sprinkle a bit of spiced sugar if you’d like a spicier treat.

bacon on rack

Cooking Process

Keep an eye on the bacon while it’s cooking. My oven is an older model so I usually have to cook things a bit longer than most recipes call for. Make sure the bacon is nice and caramelized before removing from oven and that the edges curl up. Bacon is super fatty so either cook on rack to collect drippings on a pan and line pan with parchment paper for easy clean up. I failed to use the rack during cooking and had a greasier result but next time I’ll cook on the rack.

Additional Tips

Another important tip if you don’t have habanero sugar is to just make your own spicy sugar. I already had some on hand but making your own allows you to control the level of heat. I love using Volcanic Dust products for pure, ground up chile powders. Try this habanero powder and if you’re feeling a little devilish try this one, it’s pretty amazing. Mix in 1-2 tsp of chile powder and add a bit more of dark brown sugar.

After removing the bacon from oven and cooling on the rack, wrap it up in parchment paper, tie a cute bow and viola, your gift is ready!

candied bacon

wrapped bacon

Spicy Habanero Candied Bacon
Author: 
Recipe type: snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Spicy, crunchy, chewy bacon snacks
Ingredients
  • 1lb thick-cut bacon
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp habanero sugar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix both sugars, maple syrup, molasses and cayenne pepper in a bowl
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, add a rack on top
  3. Brush both sides of each slice of bacon with sugar mixture or rub in with your fingers
  4. Lay sugared bacon flat in rows on rack and sprinkle with cracked black pepper
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it while cooking making sure bacon gets a good caramel color
  6. When finished baking, remove from oven and let bacon cool on rack

 

Cajun Steak Tips

These spicy Cajun steak tips remind me so much of New Orleans, full of flavor and oh so delicious. As much as I would love to jump on a plane right now and head to NOLA, I’ll settle for a this simple little spicy reminder and imagine myself there…

Cajun seasoning isn’t too spicy so I added a bit of ground ghost pepper for heat…you can add as little or as much as you want. These Cajun steak tips are also easy to make and can be on your dinner plate in about 10 minutes. I make this with a side of greens like a buttery, garlic spinach or steamed broccoli with butter or bitter broccoli rabe. You can even have these as an appetizer for a few people, just wash it down with ice cold beer! Enjoy!

cajun-steak-tips

cajun-steak-tips2

Cajun Steak Tips
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Steak Loin
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt (optional if Cajun seasoning is low in salt)
  • ¼ ground ghost pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Cut steak into 2 inch cubes and pat dry with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.
  2. Add Cajun seasoning, pepper, and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Sprinkle over steak and rub in the seasoning making sure all surfaces of the steak are covered.
  3. In a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom skillet heat olive oil on medium heat. When hot, add steak. Cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add butter and turn each piece of steak until all sides are well browned on each side. About 2-3 minutes each side.

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Here’s to a new year filled with realized dreams, fresh ideas, new opportunities and positive vibes. So as the aging year comes to pass, begin the new one with a sparkle in your eyes for all the greatness to come!

NewYearsEve-1

A Spicy Gift Guide for the Holidays

Here’s a spicy gift guide for the holidays your heat seeker friends and family will love. They’re unique, fun and spicy so you’ll proably want to buy two…one to give, another to keep! Isn’t that how it usually works? What better way to spend the holidays with awesome treats to heat things up that can also be shared? So ditch those socks you were planning on giving and add these spicy goods. Hope you enjoy my gift guide and let’s keep things spicy folks!

gift-guide

1. Just WOW! Someone please send me this! My two favorite things, bacon and chile peppers! You can’t go wrong with this habanero bacon from Tender Belly.

2. I haven’t tried this spicy beer yet but Rogue has gone on and made a sriracha stout. The most talked about hot sauce this year has now made it into beer! I’m not sure how I feel about it but its definitely worth a try. I’ve had a chipotle porter for a more chocolatey, spiced, smoky flavor which I enjoyed and this one would be a great choice, especially for sriracha lovers. Let me know if you get your hands on it.

3. This is a fun kit from Grow and Make. The set includes everything you need to whip up your own hot sauce. A pretty cool gift for spicy food lovers! Just make sure you give them goggles and a face mask too…kidding, these may not be too hot but definitely a fun project for a weekend night.

4. And if you don’t want to make your own, get this set from Salamander Hot sauce makers. Their Whiskey hot sauce is pretty amazing and friggin hot! I made these awesome hot wings with this sauce for a finger licking appetizer.

 

Cheesy Jalapeno, Chicken and Rice Casserole

This wasn’t supposed to be a cheesy jalapeno, chicken and rice casserole recipe, this was supposed to be burrito-like stuff jalapenos recipe but I really didn’t think through the execution. Getting all the ingredients into the halved jalapenos, no matter how large they were, was a challenge so I instead aligned all the jalapenos neatly in a dish, topped with all the ingredients and voila! Cheesy Jalapeno Chicken and Rice Casserole! Here are a few step by step photos.

jalapenos-halved

I stuffed the jalapenos with the rice, beans an cotija cheese but I still had not added the chicken and as you can see I didn’t have much more room.

stuffed jalapenos

 

cotija-cheese

shredded-chicken

Once I shredded the chicken I just spread it over the stuffed jalapenos. I then spooned in the leftover sauce from the chicken so the dish wouldn’t dry out while baking.

chicken-jalapenos

When it’s done baking, serve it immediately while the cheese is still melted!

jalapeno-casserole

The casserole was a hit! My only regret was having to hollow out all the jalapenos because of the lightweights in the room! Yes, you heard that correctly and these were only jalapenos! I figured by now I would have built up their heat tolerance levels but guess I have to keep working on that. 🙂 I’ll have to plan a hot sauce tasting next time and see if I can convert a few.

You can have this cheesy jalapeno, chicken and rice casserole for game day or a week night dinner. It will go well on its own, in a tortilla wrap or as an appetizer. The peppers get tender soft with crispy chicken on top but the melted cortija and Mexican blended cheese brings it all together. If you want it spicier, don’t remove all the seeds or inner lining of pepper, just scoop out enough to get enough ingredients into each jalapeno…then top with chop up serrano peppers!  Let me know what you think if you decide to make it. Enjoy!

Cheesy Jalapeno, Chicken and Rice Casserole
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
Stewed Chicken
  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 chipotles peppers in adobo
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp Goya Adobo seasoning
Stewed Beans
  • 1 can small red beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Goya Adobo
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Few cilantro leaves
Remaining Ingredients
  • 1 cup of rice
  • salt
  • 8-10 large jalapenos, halved
  • ½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
  • ¾ cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
Instructions
  1. For the chicken, in a heavy saucepan on medium heat, heat up oil. When oil is hot add the onions an cooked until translucent. Add the tomato paste, chiles, garlic and Adobo seasoning. Cook for about 1 minute while stirring.
  2. Add the chicken and let the fat cook off the chicken. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes then turn and cook the other side for about 5 minutes. Add about 1 cup of water to the saucepan and cover. Cook for about another 10 minutes but keep an eye on it to be sure the chicken doesn't completely dry out. Taste the sauce to make sure it's well seasoned and adjust with more Adobo or water to taste.
  3. While chicken is cooking, in another smaller saucepan, cook the onions in oil until translucent. Add the beans, tomato paste, oregano, Adobo, black pepper, cilantro and about ½ cup of water. Since beans are already cooked you just need to heat up enough so the flavors meld well together, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a separate small pot, salt the water for the rice and cook as per the package instructions..
  5. Once everything is done, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the rice and beans in a bowl and add the cotija cheese. Stuff each of the jalapeno peppers with the mixture and add each individual, stuffed jalapeno to the bottom of the casserole dish.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred the chicken with a fork, then top the stuffed jalapenos. Drizzle any of the remaining juices from the chicken over the chicken and jalapenos.
  7. As a final step, top the dish with the shredded cheese and bake for about 15 minutes and top of dish is crispy and cheese is melted.