NOLA, Zatarain’s Style

Last Tuesday we celebrated our recent successes, NOLA style. If you missed that post, you can read it here. I had a blast shopping for Mardi Gras decor, mixing up Hurricane mocktails, and feeding my guests with the great food provided by Zatarain’s.

Zatarains' Care Package

Zatarains’ Care Package

How great was it of them to send me a box full of their rice mixes and seasonings? I chose to make the Brown Rice Jambalaya, Garden Vegetable Rice, and my salmon with the Blackened Seasonings mix.

What I love love love about Zatarain’s:

  • They make everything easy. You can prepare foods per package instructions, or embellish with add-ins of your own. Either way, it’s a complete dish.
  • Their dishes can be served on the side or as a main course. There’s no wrong way to Zat!
  • Let’s be real: It’s authentic New Orleans food. I mean, the shipping label said, New Orleans. Now that just makes This Girl far too food happy.
  • The flavors are more than your regular from-the-box fixings. They know how to package the seasonings, spices, and everything else that goes into a good Jambalaya.
  • Their products work well on a time schedule. I had four food preparations going at the same time, and didn’t sweat a drop.
Zatarain's Big Easy Garden Vegetable Brown Rice Mix

Zatarain’s Big Easy Garden Vegetable Brown Rice Mix

This pouch cooked start to finish in ninety seconds. Ninety seconds! I barely had time to grab the serving bowl before it was ready. Just knead the bag first, microwave for a minutes and a half, let stand one minute, then open and serve a hot, delicious mix of brown rice and vegetables. We ate this as a stand-alone side dish, but I’m already salivating for another pouch so I can toss in some andouille sausage and make it a meal.

Before I popped that in the microwave, however, I started the Brown Rice Jambalaya mix. I simply mixed water and the rice mix in my rice cooker. This one took 45 minutes according to package directions. I did not like smelling that goodness without being able to indulge, but it was worth the wait. Twenty minutes before it was ready, I sautéed a pound of garlic and herb shrimp on the stove-top, and when the rice mix was done I combined the two.

Next was the grilled blackened salmon. A light coating of melted butter on each side and a good sprinkling of seasonings was all it took to have a knock-your-socks-off main course. I love blackened anything, so I made sure to double-coat my filet.

With the abundance of food on the table, we had ourselves a small feast, Zatarain’s style.

NOLA Party, Zatarain's Style

NOLA Party, Zatarain’s Style

I served mayonnaise biscuits, another NOLA-based recipe from my friend, Lindsay Reine’s cookbook. A mixture of fruit juices gave my guests a Hurricane Mocktail, and dessert was this Easy King Cake recipe I found online.

Celebrate with King Cake

Celebrate with King Cake

Are you salivating yet? Then check out the Zatarain’s website. It’s more than just rice product. I can’t wait to get my hands on their root beer concentrate, a frozen pasta dinner, breading mix, some Creole mustard, and even their olives.

There’s a great section to teach you how to speak like a New Orleanian. Words like lagniappe, etouffee, and maque choux.

Zatarain’s. How deliciously simple is that?

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

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My #GrillMatesPack from Chatterbox and McCormick

Have you ever heard of House Party? It’s a social network website where companies choose applicants to showcase their product. Typically, if chosen to participate, you agree to invite at least 12 people to your shindig and promote the whazoo out of it before, during and after. Tweet, post, link, like, comment and share. Post videos. Tweet photos. Pin party ideas. Whichever product you’re chosen for, you also agree to host your party on a specific day. That’s right. It’s like a national block party with 1,000 gatherings taking place at the same time. How fun is that, right?

At least it sounds like fun. I’ve yet to be chosen to host a House Party. But I have been chosen to participate with their smaller program, Chatterbox: the selected participants need only enjoy the product then do some social sharing. No party participation required. As you can guess by this post title, I was recently chosen to be a Chatterbox for McCormick’s Grill Mates. Six products, a sampling of recipes, and some helpful hints on how to share.

Last week, this assortment was delivered to my doorstep:

My #GrillMatesPack from McCormick

My #GrillMatesPack from McCormick

Which means this week, I spent a couple evenings in the kitchen coming up with some delicious ways to spice up dinner at Bedford Manor.

As you may know, Dot started work last week. Coupled with her college schedule, and our meal schedule is more hit-or-miss than it used to be. The #GrillMatesPack couldn’t have come at a better time. I made it my goal to cook food that would nourish us while we spent our Quality Family Time at the table. I also wanted leftovers that would give us a hearty lunch the next day.

The first recipe was simple and delicious.

Chicken strips grilled with McCormick's Perfect Pinch Caribbean Jerk seasonings

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

I sprinkled the Perfect Pinch Caribbean Jerk seasonings over chicken strips before cooking.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Strips

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Strips

Just look at those abundant seasonings! Served atop a green salad with a side of Thousand Island dressing, and this meal needed nothing more.

The next day I enjoyed a light chicken salad for lunch. The only problem? No more leftovers. It was that good.

The second recipe was just as flavorful.

McCormick's Worcestershire Pub Burger and Smoky Montreal Steak Sauce

Worcestershire Pub Burger and Smoky Montreal Steak Sauce

I added McCormick’s Worcestershire Pub Burger seasonings to the ground beef before shaping into burgers. I then dashed each side with more of the same then cooked the four patties on my indoor grill.

Worcestershire Pub Burgers

Worcestershire Pub Burgers

You know how spices tend to dissipate a bit after the jar is opened? Yeah. That didn’t happen here. As soon as the burgers met the grill, my kitchen filled with the salivating aroma of Worcestershire sauce and grilling meat. I would have been happy to smell it all night long. But ~ bonus! ~ when the cooking was done, we actually got to eat these amazing treats!

I’ve never been one to enjoy a steak sauce. I often find the tangy or bitter flavors overwhelm the taste of the burger. No so with the Smoky Montreal Steak Sauce. It was a delightful compliment to the burger adding, as its name suggests, a smokiness that completed the experience. But did these burgers need it? Heck, no.

Both dinners were so hearty, so delicious. In just a few minutes each night I was able to have dinner on the table when Dot walked in the door. Even Berry joined us for some Quality Family Time… although the food was too good to give her a nibble.

Sorry, Berry Sunshine. Maybe next time. But then, again…

Looking for Licks

Looking for Licks

This weekend, I’m planning to mix up a meatloaf with the Backyard Brick Oven spices. The aroma from this jar definitely leans toward a hearty Italian pizzeria flavor. I’ll toss in a bit of onion and red peppers, a few diced tomatoes, then top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and we’ll have a meaty pizza in a pan instead of on a crust.

I’ll try to get a photo for you. Unless Berry beats me to it.

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

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