Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I'm a Book Lover: Intro to McCormick Gluten Free Spice Mixes & My Party Prep #mccormickGF

As some of you read about a month ago, I am a full fledged member of a book club again! Several of my girlfriends who share my love for books got together and decided, 'Hey, let's pick a book and designate a day each month to get together, discuss it, stuff our faces eat, and drink wine.'

Lots and lots of wine.

We've successfully completed two meetings and are eagerly awaiting meeting number three in which we will be discussing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Thanks to McCormick, my girls and I will be able to do it in style--by throwing a very appropriately themed Book Lover's party featuring McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mix!

A little about McCormick and their newest Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes:

"McCormick, the largest manufacturer of flavor in the world, has broaden their Recipe Mix product line to include gluten-free options. Recipe Mixes are expertly blended spice packets that take out the guesswork when cooking with multiple spices. Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes from McCormick finally give you foolproof, tasty and enjoyable meals that you can quickly create at home."

Even though the party is still over a week away (and I've only read two pages of the book...shhhhh) I'm excited about the party-planning process, especially whipping up a few Gluten-Free recipes and testing them out. You know, strictly for the party. And for science.

McCormick's new Gluten-Free Season Mixes come in four flavorful varieties-Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix, Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix, Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy Mix, and Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix, all of which are made without Gluten, MSG (monosodium glutamate) or artificial flavors. These Season Mixes are also more inexpensively priced than other non gluten-free mixes you find on the market, so my question is what's not to love?!

I've never really planned a party before, let alone create the menu myself, so it was interesting brainstorming unique ideas that feature the mixes. Surprisingly it wasn't hard at all to keep the gluten-free aspect in all three of my recipes. Just goes to show you it's not as hard as people think!

All three recipes, two of which were original creations, turned out perfectly. My family and I were able to test out the recipes and mixes to make sure they'd be appropriate for the party and they exceeded my expectations. The mixes were especially impressive-extremely flavorful, easy to use, and you would never guess they're gluten-free if you didn't know.

What self-respecting party, book lover's themed or not, is a party without snacks? My first original recipe consists of a new spin on and favorite snack.

Gluten-Free Chili Lime Popcorn

(Serves 6 to 8)


  • 1-1 1/4 cup kerneled popcorn (your choice)
  • 1/4 cup High-heat oil such as popcorn oil or coconut oil
  • 1 Package McCormick Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix
  • 1/2 cup Butter (melted)
  • 2 Limes (juiced)


  • Step 1: Turn oven on low and add your preferred high-heat oil. Oil should be enough to cover and coat the bottom of your pan. After oil has been added and distributed evenly, add the kerneled popcorn of your choice. Leave on low for 8 to 10 minutes or until kernels have stopped popping. Make sure to shake kernels every once in awhile to minimize risk of burning.
  • Step 2: Juice your limes*. After you have your lime juice ready, melt your butter. Once melted, add packet of McCormick Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix and your lime juice together and stir until nicely mixed.
  • Step 3: Take your butter mixture and drizzle it all over your freshly popped popcorn. Shake or stir until evenly coated.
  • Step 4: Enjoy!

*Put limes in microwave for 10-15 seconds for easier juicing. You can also use the same limes for their zest if you want to be add a decorative touch to your presentation.

The best part about this recipe is it's so easily changed up depending on what you need or want! The party I'm planning is going to consist of 4 to 5 people but if you need to make for less (or more for that matter), it's super easy. Plus if you're not big on spicy foods you can adjust the amount of seasoning you use to be a little more mild in flavor. The possibilities are truly endless!

For the next course in the gluten-free party menu I decided upon an appetizer using McCormick's Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix. I wanted to do something unique for my friends so I pondered and decided to try and combine two individual foods into one: egg salad and tacos.

I present to you...

Gluten-Free Egg Taco Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

(Serves 6 to 8)


  • 1 package McCormick Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 8-10 eggs (hard boiled, diced)*
  • 3-4 Tbs. Mayonnaise
  • 10-12 Cherry Tomatoes (diced)
  • 1-2 Scallions (bulb & leafs, diced)
  • 6-8 San Marzano tomatoes


  • Step 1: Assuming you've already boiled your eggs, peel the eggs you're going to use, dice them, (I've found an egg slicer is invaluable), and put them in a medium to large sized mixing bowl. Then dice both your cherry tomatoes and scallions, bulbs and leaves, and add them to the bowl as well.

  • Step 2: Add your mayonnaise and carefully mix the egg, cherry, and scallions together until mayonnaise is evenly distributed.

  • Step 3: Once evenly mixed, add your McCormick Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix. Again, carefully stir until evenly distributed.

  • Step 4: Cut your San Marzano tomatoes in half length-wise, scoop out the guts of the tomato, and spoon in your taco egg salad mixture. Add chopped scallions as optional garnish.

*Tip: Instead of hard boiling your eggs on the stove put them in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes. They come out perfect and super easy to peal!

This particular recipe was my favorite for two main reasons. First off, it was beyond delicious combining traditional egg salad with the taco seasoning and second, I was incredibly proud of myself I thought outside the box to create this original recipe.

Hopefully my guests aren't filled up with the awesomeness above because they've still got to enjoy the main entree! This particular Gluten-Free main course was chosen from and uses McCormick's Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix.

(Serves 4)


  • 1 package McCormick® Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Black Pepper (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound flank steak, cut into thin strips* (Substitutions: 3/4 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin strips)
  • 2 cups broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 1/4 cup rice*


  • Step 1: Combine McCormick Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Seasoning Mix with water and pepper in bowl. Mix well and set that aside.

  • Step 2: Cut your meat into thin strips and your broccoli into appropriately sized pieces.
  • Step 3: Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Make sure you coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Add beef and broccoli. Cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Step 4: Stir in your gravy mixture. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 to 8 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Serve over cooked rice, if desired.

*If you don't want to use flank steak you may also substitute 3/4 lbs of boneless beef sirloin steak, or venison meat if you have it (tenderloin cut would be ideal), also cut into thin strips.

*You may also use gluten-free noodles in lieu of rice.

Perfect for every taste bud, this recipe is an easy go-to, especially for those extremely picky eaters in your life like kids! The gravy adds a butteriness to the stir fry but keeps the taste "plain" enough that kids who don't appreciate different tastes will enjoy. This is another recipe you can add or enhance to your liking as well!

If you want some more gluten-free options when it comes to recipes or new menu ideas, you're in luck! McCormick has a full page dedicated to Gluten-Free Recipes you can check out!

Now that the menu is planned and, of course, sampled for the sake of the upcoming party (and science), we need to come up with some games and activities these literary ladies can enjoy! Here are a few book-related ideas you can use at YOUR own book lover's party:

  • Host a book swap--books can be expensive if you usually buy new. Why not have you and each of your guests pick out a few books you've already read or want to pass along to bring to the party and swap? You don't have to spend a cent and you'll get some new material to read!
  • Literary charades--Take the classic party game and add a reader's twist to it! Pick out several well-known novel or mutually-loved book titles, put them in a hat, and viola, perfect book lover's party game.
  • DIY bookmark--What better way to get your guests involved in the party than coming up with a fun and creative book-related DIY project they can all do together? A book lover's party obviously requires a DIY bookmark!

What do you think of the sample DIY bookmark I made for the party? Tutorial being planned as I type!

That being said I think we can mark this party planning prep as a epic success and I have no issues saying I'm ready for this Book Lover's party!

Now to just finish reading the book...

Get rid of the gluten, but not the flavor with McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes! Visit the Recipe Collection at to discover more flavorful gluten free eating and meal ideas!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mix. The opinions and text are all mine.