SPARKS, Md., Oct. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- While Americans enjoy many festive dishes during the holidays, trend data shows that just seven flavors provide the true taste for the most sought-after recipes. McCormick, a global leader in flavor, is calling them the "Seasonal Seven" — cinnamon, nutmeg, poultry seasoning, ginger, sage, vanilla and peppermint. These sweet and savory flavors are synonymous with the season — roast turkey with the inviting aroma of sage, sweet potatoes coupled with the warmth of cinnamon and holiday sugar cookies infused with the unmistakable taste of vanilla.
"The holiday season isn't the same without these seven spices, herbs and extracts," says Chef Mark Garcia of the McCormick Kitchens. "They're distinct, memorable and extremely versatile. These flavors are the essence of the most popular recipes for that perfect Thanksgiving dinner, weekend brunch, casual cocktail party and neighborhood cookie exchange. Nutmeg, one of my personal favorites, is a classic in eggnog and cookies — and it also adds depth to savory sides like Roasted Harvest Vegetables."
At the core of an unforgettable meal is vibrant, high quality ingredients that are at their peak of flavor, and this is especially important during the holidays, when families and friends gather to celebrate the year's most festive occasions.
"While planning your holiday grocery lists, take a moment to inspect your spices. Ideally, spices and herbs should be replaced every two to three years to retain their peak flavor," adds Garcia. "Check the 'best buy' date on the bottle or do the sight and smell test. Look for vibrant color and crush the spice in your hands to make sure the aroma is still strong."
A Taste of the Seasonal Seven
The Seasonal Seven are at the heart of most holiday dishes, providing a variety of sweet and savory options.
- Sage: Savory Herb Rub Roasted Turkey – Fragrant herbs bring mouthwatering aroma and show-stopping flavor to this McCormick Kitchens favorite.
Also try: Sage Cheese Toasts 6 Ways, Sage and Cranberry Crab Cakes, Sage and Cheddar Potato Gratin
- Cinnamon: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch - A pecan-pie-inspired topping brings a festive twist to classic sweet potatoes.
Also try: Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread, Spiced Cider, Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Poultry Seasoning: Orange-Glazed Turkey Meatballs – Tender meatballs get bursts of sweetness from orange marmalade and savory note from poultry seasoning.
Also try: Classic Herb Stuffing, Turkey/Chicken Pot Pie, Wild Rice Stuffing
- Ginger: Gingered Orange Cranberry Sauce – Orange Extract and Ginger add a fragrant twist to homemade cranberry sauce.
Also try: Glazed Brussels Sprouts, Ginger-Glazed Carrots, Gingerbread Men Cookies
- Nutmeg: Roasted Harvest Vegetables - A medley of carrots, onions, parsnips and squash gets a subtle sweet and spicy boost from nutmeg.
Also try: Pecan Cookie Balls, Cheesy Bacon and Egg Casserole, Eggnog Thumbprint Cookies
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla Pecan Pie - Cheesecake meets pecan pie in this smooth and decadent seasonal dessert.
Also try: Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Sugar Cookies
- Peppermint Extract: Peppermint Bark - Smooth white chocolate and refreshing peppermint combine in a candy-striped confection that looks and tastes like the holidays.
Also try: Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cookies, Peppermint Hot Mocha, Peppermintini
Don't Forget the Perfect Gravy
Savory turkey gravy completes the holiday feast. McCormick's rich Turkey Gravy Mix, with natural spices and no artificial flavors, helps home cooks make perfect, delicious gravy every time. And it's easy to prepare: just combine Turkey Gravy Mix with water or turkey pan juices and simmer for five minutes. Add a pinch of rubbed sage or poultry seasoning for a homemade touch.
Serving Up Inspiration All Season Long
To kick-start menu planning, visit the Look Book on McCormick.com, a visual archive of mouthwatering seasonal recipes from the McCormick Kitchens. "Heart" your favorites on the Look Book or pin them to your Pinterest boards to create a personalized digital scrapbook that keeps all your holiday inspiration in one place.
Find more flavorful recipes and festive tips at McCormick.com, Facebook.com/McCormickSpice or Pinterest.com/McCormickSpices.
To download food photography, visit the digital press room at www.mccormick.com/foodmedia.
McCormick & Company, Incorporated is a global leader in flavor. With more than $3 billion in annual sales, the Company manufactures, markets and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other flavorful products to the entire food industry – retail outlets, food manufacturers and foodservice businesses. Every day, no matter where or what you eat, you can enjoy food flavored by McCormick. McCormick brings passion to flavor.™ Visit mccormick.com, mccormickcorporation.com and Facebook.com/McCormickSpice for more information.
 Based on U.S. spice category sales (IRI November & December 2009-2011) and popular recipe views at mccormick.com (November & December 2011 – 3 million recipe views)
SOURCE McCormick & Company