Saturday, August 10, 2013

World Peas - Good Snack While You Barbecue

World Peas - Bringing Peas to the World

I know there is a lot of pea hate out there. I attribute that to the big mushy peas served in school cafeterias across the country. Those are dreadful and taste NOTHING like peas picked at the right time. I've grown garden peas and turned several pea haters to pea lovers.

World Peas (Bringing Peas to the World) has set out to bring peas to everyone in a snack bag with a variety of different international flavors like Hungarian Garlic, Sichuan Chili and Bombay Curry as well as classics from the States like Ranch and Bacon.

They peas are healthy all natural snacks and have antioxidants. You don't get any trans fat and no cholesterol. Some of the varieties are gluten free and some Kosher (but not all - so double check).

If you've had Wasabi peas, then you have the general idea here. But, World Peas are not shockingly hot. You get a range of flavors with some pretty strong and others quite mild. I like them all, but I think the Ranch may be my favorite.

For grilling, you can add some crunch and flavor to your meats or vegetables by crunching up any flavor of World Peas. Just put some in a zip lock bag and use a rolling pin or mallet to make them into crumbles.

Of course, you need something to make the World Pea crumbles stick. In this case, I used olive oil, lime juice, and honey. I let the chicken marinate in the zip bag about 30 minutes and then put them on the grill. Note that these are boneless chicken tender pieces so are small. I'd not put the oil and honey on beforehand if doing bigger pieces of chicken, or the outside would burn.


We've also enjoyed World Peas topped on salad. They give a nice extra crunch without piling on the calories. Here you see the Ranch flavor on a salad made from our garden.

Ranch World Peas on a Home Garden Salad

My son is a Ranch dressing fan from the get go, so he especially liked this flavor. I thought this was a great flavor as well. I also think the Hungarian Garlic is good on salads, and that is what I used on the grilled chicken too.

Although I've used the peas in some dishes, they are great right out of the bag. It takes a long time to smoke large cuts of meats, and the peas make a nice snack. They are easy to carry. They don't spoil. They are not messy. And, they taste great. I've put them out as an appetizer for cook outs, and they are quite popular with friends and family.

Easy, Yummy, and Nutritious Snack

The zip bags (which are actually easy to zip shut unlike most snacks I've found) that the peas come in are nice looking, but I like to put the peas in a pretty snack bowl for guests. If you don't have a nice little snack bowl, then this one came from Good Will and was a quarter. It matches my eyes, and it's one of my favorite bowls for one of my new favorite snacks.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Omaha Steaks - A Company I've Really Liked for About a Decade

Beef Strip Loin Steaks on the Grill from Omaha Steaks
The first time I ever ordered meat online was from OmahaSteaks. This was in the dinosaur ages of online – maybe 8 to 10 years back. Many companies were offering coupons, and I was shopping up an online storm and starting to find my voice online with some review companies and then my own blog (before many people had even heard the term blog).

Can You Really Get Good Meat Online?

I sent in an Omaha Steak order and crossed my fingers. I live in a town of 800 people (give or take one two now and then), and meat by mail sounded very odd. I was not sure what to expect or if the meat would even arrive way out here. I was also rather nervous about getting food products by way of the internet and snail mail.

Omaha Steaks made me a believer. They sent really good meat and sides (which were on special) right out and in perfect condition when they arrived on my porch. I still use the bonus cutting board they added as an incentive.

A Random Note to a Company I’ve Known for Years

Here recently I left a message on the Omaha Steak Facebook page about some social media issues. That’s what I teach. Basically I just made a suggestion.

There was a message to get back in touch, but I had an eye infection and then was scheduled for vacation. I didn’t have the energy or time to get in touch, but Paul hunted me down. I’m easy to find actually, since I’ve been online for ages. Still, that does take effort on the part of a company employee.

I was impressed that Paul who works social media for Omaha Steaks took the time to find me though and get more details about my quick comment on FaceBook. I was glad to share as I’ve always been. Many of you may know my day job is teaching (including social media), and I always enjoy chatting about my view of how writers/bloggers can work well with small startups to big companies.  No strings. That’s just the teacher in me.

A Surprise for Calling it the Way I See It

Paul did send me a thank you box from Omaha Steaks for taking the time to share from the blogger side and from the years I’ve worked and taught about online.

He sent steak and the potato balls that my younger son think are the best ever (like he can eat the whole pack of twelve if we’d let him). Paul also sent some of the big Omaha Steak burgers and the berry tartlets which I think may be new (as I’d not seen them), but he said they were a favorite at his house.

Party Night Before My Younger Son Goes Off to College

Tonight I decided to celebrate with my younger son headed off to his first apartment at college, and I grilled the Beef Strip steaks Loin from Omaha Steaks and (of course) made the potato balls. He’s the one who could always eat the whole pack if not reined in. He ate all his other food and saved the potato balls for last like dessert.

I nailed the steak even though I got caught in a thunder and hail storm. My older son said he loved the New York Strip and that they were spot on (medium – our family favorite).  The flavor was really spot on, and these steaks had almost no fat. Maybe one to two teaspoons. But, they were still marbled and full of flavor.  Quite impressive. I can’t remember what I ordered prior, but I don’t this was the cut. I would recommend the NY Strip from Omaha Steak.
Always Nice To Nail the Grilling on a Very Nice Cut of Steak

Eli, my younger son, had four of the potato balls and was quite the happy camper. I must confess to also loving the potato balls but hold back, since the kid loves them so much.
Omaha Steak Potato Balls - My Son Adores These (and I do too)
Paul also put in some mixed berry tarts. He said they were a favorite at his house, so I was thinking they must be really good.
I did not cook them on this same night, because we were quite full after the big dinner. Also, I did them in the oven. I'm sure I could do a closed lid grill on the desserts, but I wanted to try them per the directions. 
Mixed Berry Tart by Omaha Steaks
The tart was heaven on a plate. I don't make pastry dough that good, and the mix of berries was just perfect. The older son was here the afternoon I made these, and he was very impressed. Although these are specifically grill food, I have to say they are wonderful. I can see why Paul's family love these.
Companies That Listen

I gave a thumbs up to Omaha Steaks years ago. We’ve never had any contact until I made a quick comment about how they do social media. It was just a quick tip, and I was surprised Paul took the time to find me and to get more details. That is impressive today when companies often farm out any contact with customers and leave you on hold and then have someone talking who does not even understand Southern English very well.

The only thing I can think of that I’d change at Omaha Steaks is to put the directions on the bags inside the boxes. Not all foodies have big freezers. I have to unbox products to fit them in, and then I have to remember the directions or cut out and save the side section of the boxes with the time and temps. This is really just the side dishes. The meat – no issue. Something like the potato balls, it would help to just print the directions on the bag inside the box. That would be easy to do. (Note: See the comment section - Paul sent directions to where you can find cooking instructions. He said he had the freezer jam problem too.) 
Not All Foodies/Chefs Have a Ton of Space (maybe some day I will)

Thoughts on Omaha Steaks

Every order I’ve made from Omaha Steaks has been a good experience. They mail fast and pack carefully. The foods are delicious. I’ve never had company contact from Omaha Steaks until now, and that was a very nice experience too. I told Paul that I had been a fan for years, and I don't fudge on that. As always, I call it the way I see it. It's nice when some listens. Thanks.

McCormick Grilled Lemon Pepper Herb Shrimp Party

Shrimp with McCormick Lemon Pepper Herb Seasoning

It’s rained here almost all summer, so since we had a sunny day, we decided to have a barbecue party. After looking through the McCormick Grillerhood recipes, the Grilled Lemon Pepper Herb Shrimp Kabobs caught my eye.
Everyone in the family loves shrimp, and we don’t get it very often as we’re not real close the coast. My son went into town and was able to find a couple of pounds.

The boys and I also picked fresh garden vegetables. We had green peppers, squash, and red beans ready. The recipe calls for a mix of vegetables. We enjoyed our combination, but I’m sure there are loads of combos that would be great with the shrimp.

This recipe is super easy. All we had to do was marinate the shrimp and vegetables with some olive oil and McCormick Grill Mates Lemon Pepper with Herbs. We just loaded up a zip lock bag and shook to coat the vegetables and shrimp.  Super simple.
Grill Wok is Quicker and Easier for a Party

I used a small gas grill tonight and added some pecan wood chips in an aluminum foil cup. You just make your own little cup to hold the wood chips and add some extra smoke flavor to the grilled food. That was placed under the edge of the grill wok. Using wood chips for flavor is just one of the many great tips from the McCormick Flavor Forecast.
Flavor Up Your Food with Tips from McCormick - Adding Wood Chips Adds Flavor
This is actually a kabob recipe, but I find it so much easier to use a grill wok for a party that I did my shrimp in my wok. You get the same flavor. It’s just quicker and easier if you’re grilling for several people.

The shrimp and vegetables came out just right. I did stir a few times to make sure everything was grilled evenly. The end result was shrimp and veggies with some tasty crusting from the lemon pepper and herbs.

Set Up and Ready for a McCormick Barbecue Party

We set up for the party. In addition to the McCormick shrimp dish, I made a pot of rice as a bed for the shrimp/vegetables and cut up fresh British melon from our garden and peaches from a local stand. Sweet potato rolls rounded out the meal.
Main Dish - McCormick Shrimp with Vegetables from My Garden

The shrimp recipe made quite a statement served in a colorful dish, and everyone was hurrying to get the drinks poured so that the McCormick party could start.
Time to Dig In as We All Enjoy the Grillerhood

As you can see, I did not have to ring a dinner bell to get the crowd out to the picnic table. Everyone was looking forward to digging in.

The shrimp and vegetables were awesome. The McCormick Lemon Pepper with Herbs was perfect with shrimp. It’s hard to beat some lemon flavor with seafood. The pepper gave it a little extra zip, and the subtle herbs just brought it all together.

We pretty well cleaned the table out. There was a little rice left over that a certain puppy was thrilled to get as a treat.

If you’ve not tried out Grill Mates by McCormick, they have some really awesome flavors to spice up your grilling. It’s also helpful to have the McCormick Grill Mates Facebook page which features a ton of delicious recipes and has search functions to find just what you have on your mind when the grilling urge hits you.

*Please note that I’m a paid ambassador for McCormick this summer and that I got some seasonings for free (but purchased the McCormick Lemon Pepper Herb out of pocket). As always I do give my honest thoughts and opinions.