Friday, March 13, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Herb and Spice Grinders by McCormick

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Have we mentioned how much we love food at The Daily Kool? Okay, so maybe our waistlines are expanding along with our cooking repertoire, but who can resist the glowing feeling when a guest smacks his lips and moans in ecstasy from a meal freshly prepared by yours truly? We found that if we are creative and properly use spices to enhance our food, we can actually satisfy taste buds with healther choices. Unfortunately, although we at The Daily Kool love big bold flavors, we do have to think about our spouses and children who are just not as adventurous as we are. So, we tend to save our more exotic temptations for company, and try to stick to the basics for the everyday family dinner table. The trick is to figure out how to get the best of both worlds without running a cafeteria in our homes.

About a month ago, we were shopping at our local supermarket and found these herb and spice grinders by McCormick on sale. Always looking for a bargain, we took advantage of the buy-one-get-one-free opportunity and purchased a bunch of them to try. What was the attraction, you ask? According to our research, freshly ground spices tend to have more fullness and potency than the typical pre-ground spice. The flavor and aroma of ground spices evaporates over time, due to the dissipation of their volatile oils...a well-sealed container will have little or no effect on this process. We wanted to see if the herb and spice grinders by McCormick would give us that robust flavor we were looking for.

Since we already had sea salt and black pepper grinders at home, we passed on those options...we must point, however out that we believe no kitchen should be without these two staples. However, for our purposes, we were more interested in the seasoning blends. So, we purchased the Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder, The Steakhouse Seasoning Grinder and the Garlic Pepper Seasoning Grinder. Since we had one more free product to try, we selected the Cinnamon Grinder, just to check it out.

The Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder was a great addition to our pasta dishes at home...the red pepper made it a little too spicy for our children, so we omitted it during the cooking process. We tried it on several of our homemade dishes, including Eggplant Parmesan, Penne Alfredo, and our simple Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce...all with equally delicious results. We at The Daily Kool firmly believe that no Italian meal is complete without fresh, crusty bread dipped in a good quality, extra-virgin olive oil, so we tried the Classic Italian Bread Dip featured below, courtesy of the McCormick website...delicious!

The Steakhouse Seasoning Grinder was...okay. We tried it twice, once on steak night and the other on hamburger night. We found that we much preferred our own beef spice blend concoction (paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, etc.) to the Steakhouse Seasoning Grinder. We would have to say that McCormick kind of missed the mark here...the flavors just did not stand out enough to make an impression.

Same goes for the Cinnamon Grinder, unfortunately. While it was perfectly adequate for homemade french toast and oatmeal for the kids, there just wasn't enough potency for our tastes. We have heard an interesting rumor that Vietnamese cinnamon is the best in the world, so perhaps we will try that out for another blog post. In the meantime, we will probably stick with pre-ground cinnamon options.

The Garlic Pepper Seasoning Grinder was a definite winner in our household. We tried it on pan-seared chicken with truly yummy results. We provided you with this recipe below as well. We also loved the Garlic Pepper Seasoning Grinder with our baked potatoes. This was a favorite even for the kids. We found that it added great flavor to our omelets, fish and all barbecued poultry.

Overall, the herb and spice grinders by McCormick are a great addition to any kitchen. If you don't have black pepper or sea salt grinders, we definitely recommend you trying theirs. Also, check out our favorites, the Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder and the Garlic Pepper Seasoning Grinder. Here are a couple of recipes to get you started...Enjoy!

Classic Italian Bread Dip

5 twists of McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder (or to taste)
2 shakes of grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 twists of McCormick Sea Salt Grinder (or to taste, again)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Place spices and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
2. Add extra-virgin olive oil on top, swirl gently to combine.
3. Dip away with your delicious homemade (okay, or store-bought) crusty bread.

Pan-Seared Chicken

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
McCormick Garlic Pepper Seasoning Grinder to taste

1. Heat up olive oil on medium until just smoking.
2. If you have The Blade Machine by Deni (previous kool idea), tenderize your chicken breasts.
3. Using a mallet (or a can of vegetables in a pinch), gently pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of wax paper or saran wrap until about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Season one side of the chicken with the McCormick Garlic Pepper Seasoning Grinder and place that side down in the pan. Be careful not to overlap your chicken.
5. When all the chicken is in the pan, season the other side. Saute the chicken for about 2-4 minutes on each side and serve immediately.

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