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McCormick’s pre-packaged spices inspire a few tasters

The Spokesman-Review’s Reader Food Panel tasters are never sure what they’ll find on their plates.

When we serve baked chicken with potatoes or a piece of tortilla casserole, we don’t tell them whether it came out of a box, a freezer bag or if we made it ourselves.

So, when we whipped together dinner from one of McCormick’s new Recipe Inspirations, they weren’t sure what to say.

“Looks homemade, tastes homemade,” said Tina Johnson. “This is a terrific casserole and full of flavor with a tiny kick of spice.”

Marilyn Moore, who always prefers a home-cooked meal, said she was certain that she’d never have a reason to buy the casserole, but gave it a four-star rating for flavor.

“I could make this myself, so I probably would not buy it,” she said.

She’s right. That’s the idea.

McCormick Recipe Inspirations are pre-measured and packaged spices that come with a grocery list and recipe card. Each recipe serves four to eight people.

The packages, which contain roughly half an ounce of spices, cost $1.99 each.

For the quesadilla casserole, we combined ground beef, onion, tomato sauce, black beans, corn and green chilies with tortillas and cheddar cheese. The spices included chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper.

The recipe cards include the measurements for the spices so home cooks can re-create the dish without buying another packet of spices.

Overall, the casserole received four out of five stars for flavor.

Not everyone was impressed with the Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Potatoes. The seasoning packet included paprika, crushed rosemary, garlic and black pepper. Those spices were combined with olive oil, salt, chicken thighs and red potatoes and then baked.

Moore guessed that the potatoes were boiled and then fried and said she found the seasoning bland.

Skip Hubbard agreed, saying, “Could easily be spruced up, but as it stands it was kind of a season-less meal. Potatoes and chicken both had great texture.”

Others liked the mostly-from-scratch meal. The chicken and potatoes received three and a half stars, out of five, for flavor.

“Very tasty,” said Larry Inman. “Seasoned just right. Delicious!”

“This flavorful chicken is very tender and the potatoes are perfectly cooked and seasoned. Why would anyone cook from scratch anymore?” Johnson wondered.

Everyone can. The packets are sold at many grocery stores near the spices or in special displays near the meat.

The Recipe Inspirations also include seasoning packets and recipes for Apple and Sage Pork Chops, Spanish Chicken Skillet, Shrimp and Pasta Primavera, and Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas.

McCormick Recipe Inspirations, Quesadilla Casserole

Price: $1.99 per package

Nutrition per serving (prepared as directed): 391 calories, 19 grams fat, 24 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrate, 63 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams dietary fiber, 950 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • • •

Value: • • •

Comments: “Pretty darn good tortilla pie casserole. I would certainly serve this to friends and family.” – Skip Hubbard

“Buy these spices and make this delightful casserole! Great idea.” – Andy Hoye

“Very tasty. Both the beans and the corn have good flavor and texture. This would be a good quick meal.” – Peggy Kazanis

McCormick Recipe Inspirations, Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

Price: $1.99

Nutrition per serving (prepared as directed): 264 calories, 12 grams fat, 20 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrate, 64 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams dietary fiber, 461 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • • 1/2

Value: • • •

Comments: “The chicken is juicy and has great flavor. The potatoes are perfectly cooked and seasoned.” – Peggy Kazanis

“Good texture to the chicken. Nice flavor.” – Jenny Whittaker

“Needed salt … bland seasoning.” – Marilyn Moore

Products sampled by The Spokesman-Review’s reader food panel are prepared according to package directions. Panelists are not aware of a product’s brand name or price until after they have tasted it. Products are rated from one to five stars for taste and for value, based on quality compared to price.

Tags: food panel