Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spice Mixes/Herb Blends

These have become my new time savers!! I've reorganized my spice system and pared it down *some.* But I've added the following spice mixes in 1 cup containers that can be shaken or spooned out. The shaker top is key here, provided the holes are big enough. In days of yore, I never measured spices, just dumped some in until it looked right to me. These past couple of years, for some reason I've gone back to meticulously measuring... maybe because I want to give more direction on this blog than simply "add some cumin."

Well, with pre-made spice mixes that you make per your family's tastes, you can indeed sprinkle at will. No measuring, no getting out multiple spice jars, no buying expensive (and salty) packets at the store or panicking when you're out of "fajita seasoning." If you make a recipe frequently, consider making a custom spice mix for that recipe (something like your own chili seasoning mix perhaps). Figure out how much you need to measure (or eyeball) for a given recipe and it will be ready to go when you want to throw that meal together. If your family likes things hot, add more "kick." If you need to reduce your salt intake, then cut the salt out. We don't like storebought taco seasoning because we don't like the chili powder in it--I now just sprinkle in adobo seasoning because it's got much less chili powder in it. Here's what I've made up so far (with some suggestions as to how I use them; all can be sprinkled over boneless, skinless chicken breasts and baked/stir-fried/sauteed/roasted for a quick entree).

  • Paula Dean's House Seasoning: so basic, you can use it anywhere, but it's dynamite on roasted sweet potatoes.
  • Emeril's Essence (Cajun-type seasoning): blackened fish/chicken, pasta dishes with kick, jambalaya, etc.
  • Adobo Seasoning: the BEST and easiest fajita quesadillas, good in black bean dishes, too
  • Curry Spice Blend: pretty much any dish where you want a good "curry" flavor
  • A Middle Eastern mix is calling my name... I'll update this if we try it.
I also have the following standard/storebought herb and spice blends on hand:
  • Italian seasoning: good in egg salad, tuna salad, roasted veggies, on baked potatoes, as well as usual "Italian" dishes
  • Herbes de Provence: also good with eggs, on roasted veggies, on baked potatoes, ....
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning: great on roast pork!!
About the only region of the world not represented is Asian: we tend to use fresh garlic/ginger/onions for those sorts of meals, and the dried versions just don't cut it there.  And, in the summers, we do a lot of Mediterranean-inspired meals with fresh basil and other fresh herbs. Again, those are hard to replicate in dried form.

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