Side orders: New spice kits are a great innovation for cooks

Side orders: New spice kits are a great innovation for cooks

April 14th, 2010 by Anne Braly in Blogsfood

McCormick's has a new invention, McCormick Recipe Inspirations. It's a kit of spices that comes with a recipe card attached to the back. The kit contains all the spices in the exact amount you'll need for making the dish you select.

I recently tried the shrimp and pasta primavera. The hardest part was shelling the shrimp. After that chore was done, I simply followed the directions on the recipe card, opening the little spice compartments when called for.

There are six separate kits in the Recipe Inspirations line. I can't wait to give the quesadilla casserole a try.

Kits sell for $1.99 a piece and save you from having to buy the spices individually and having them sit on your spice rack for months. This is the best culinary invention since sliced bread.

Want to learn more about the art of grilling? Mike Davis, 2008 World BBQ Champion and last year's head chef for NASCAR's BBQ Shootout Series, will pair with chef Catherine Hallman to present BBQ Boot Camp at the Rel Maples Institute of Culinary Arts. The state-of-the art cooking school is on the Sevier County campus of Walters State Community College, 1720 Old Newport Highway in Sevierville, Tenn.

The three-night series of classes will be held May 11-13 and feature instruction ranging from backyard barbecuing to making pastries and desserts on the grill. Classes are $75 each, $200 for all three.

Following BBQ Boot Camp will be the sixth annual Bloomin' BBQ & Bluegrass on May 14-15. Barbecue teams from around the country will vie for $15,000 in cash and prizes. In addition, there will be bluegrass, kids games, arts and crafts, and vocal competitions. Admission is free.

For information about BBQ Boot Camp or Bloomin' BBQ & Bluegrass, call 888-889-7415 or log onto

Cooking Light's new Cooking Through the Seasons cookbook (Oxmoor House, $29.95) offers recipes to enjoy the fresh foods of the season. And we all know that spring is the gateway to homegrown fruits and vegetables.

It won't be long before area strawberry fields start producing. Here's a simple and refreshing way to enjoy them.

Strawberry Granita

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup warm water

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Lemon rind strips (optional)

Place sugar and water in a blender; process until sugar dissolves. Add strawberries and lemon juice; process until smooth. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Cover and freeze for 5 hours or overnight. Remove mixture from freezer and let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Scrape entire mixture with a fork until fluffy. Spoon into serving dishes and garnish with lemon rind strips, if desired. Makes 4 (1-cup) servings.

Nutritional analysis: 136 calories, 0.05 grams fat, 34.4 grams carbohydrates, 2.9 grams fiber.