Seven Great Spice Mixes to Make

Cooking with spices can add a whole new dimension of flavor to your cooking. Creating your own blends can help you cater to your family’s taste, and save you some time as well.

All you will have to do is sprinkle a little of your blend, rather than open a half dozen bottles every time you want to make Italian sauce or tasty tacos.

Here are some quick and easy blends. Organize some clean spice bottles, jars, or small plastic containers with lids, some sticky labels, and a waterproof marker, and you will be ready to start blending.

Note that the amounts are generally accurate for the average palate. Add more or less depending on your preferences.

1. Chili Seasoning

* 4 tbsp chili powder
* 4 tsp ground cumin
* 1 tsp cayenne pepper
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 2 tsp onion powder
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp pepper

Add 2 tablespoons of chili seasoning to one pot of chili.

2. Chinese 5-spice powder

* 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
* 3 star anise, ground
* 1 tsp crushed fennel seed
* 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
* Generous dash ground cloves

Add 1 or 2 teaspoons to your stir fries and other Chinese dishes. You can also use it as a rub for poultry.

3. Curry powder

* 3 tbsp paprika
* 2 tsp ground cumin
* 2 tsp ground fennel seed
* 2 tsp ground yellow mustard seeds
* 1 tsp chili powder
* 1 tsp black pepper
* 2 tsp ground coriander
* 1 tbsp ground turmeric
* 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the blend to your curry dishes.

4. Homemade Ranch Dressing Seasoning

* 2 tbsp dried parsley
* 1 tsp dried dill
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 1 tsp onion powder
* 1/2 tsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp black or white pepper

Use 1 tablespoon to season 1/4 cup whole milk and 1/3 cup mayonnaise. Whisk together until completely smooth. Use it as a dressing or dip.

5. Pizza Blend

* 2 tbsp dried oregano
* 1 tbsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
* 1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
* 1/2 tsp dried thyme
* Dash salt
* Generous dash black pepper
* 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Add 1 tablespoon to your pizza or pasta sauce.

6. Cream of___ Soups

If you have a recipe that calls for a creamed soup, use this as the base, along with the fresh ingredients, such as mushroom for a green bean casserole, celery, chicken, and so on.

* 1 cup powdered non-fat dry milk
* 1/2 cup cornstarch
* 3 tbsp chicken bouillon granules
* 1 tbsp minced onion
* 1/2 tsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
* 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Cook enough of the main ingredient in a pot until tender, to make a can or two of soup.

Add about 1 1/4 cups of water to create a "can", or double the amount for two cans.

Whisk in the mix until combined and heat over a medium flame until it reaches your desired thickness.

7. Taco Seasoning

* 2 tbsp chili powder (mild)
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp onion powder
* 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tsp paprika
* 1 tbsp ground cumin
* 2 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 tsp pepper

Use 2 tablespoons per pound of meat. This will work well with poultry or fish tacos too.

13 Essential Spices for Your Kitchen

Even though spices are not as exotic, rare and expensive as they once were thousands of years ago, they are still a considerable investment and one most families would like to get the most from.

They are best when at their freshest, and can enhance many of your favorite dishes.

The real question is what cuisines you enjoy. Choosing the most versatile spices will mean you can mix and match them, and enjoy deliciously seasoned recipes from around the world.

Here are some suggestions for a well-stocked kitchen, based on general need and particular cuisines.

The Basics

1. Sea salt - A little salt enhances the flavor of most savory dishes and is sometimes required to get the right rise and texture for baked goods.

2. Black and white pepper - These also enhance almost any dish. White pepper is milder and finer. It won’t affect the appearance of a dish.

Italian Food

3. Oregano is the main seasoning, and is used in soups, stews, and sauces.

4. Basil is more aromatic, and can be used along with oregano. Use fresh basil with some olive oil and pine nuts. Place in a blender and process until smooth, then add to your favorite pasta as a quick sauce, or use as a spread or the base for a salad dressing.

5. Fennel seeds give sweet Italian sausage its unique taste, so you can get the flavor in your red sauce even if you are vegetarian. Fresh fennel makes a delicious salad.

Mexican Food

Oregano is also used a good deal in Mexican recipes, especially those with tomatoes.

6. Coriander can be used in moderation either fresh or dried. It gives a savory taste with a hint of lemon.

7. Cumin is usually used with coriander. It has a deep, earthy taste that is a bit peppery.

Indian Food

Coriander and cumin are also used in Indian food, so they are a good addition to any spice rack. But there are many other wonderful spices to explore.

8. Cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon are often used in savory dishes, especially in ones with tomato-based sauces. Cinnamon is of course also incredibly useful for your favorite baked goods.

9. Curry powder is a blend of a range of spices, and is an easy shortcut if you want to get an authentic taste of India without buying a lot of different items. You can also make your own blend.

10. Garam masala is also a standard Indian blend you can buy to take the guesswork out of your seasoning. It is a "finishing spice" that you add just before you serve, rather that cook it.

11. Turmeric is a root related to ginger root. It is bright yellow, with a mild flavor. It gives curry powder its color. It’s useful as a natural dye for foods and will enhance any rice dish.

12. Ginger root is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s also used for candy and tea. It is a bit pungent, but goes well with chicken. It can be used fresh or dried and powdered. It is a staple of Chinese cuisine as well.

Chinese Food

Ginger is found in many recipes, in both its fresh and dried forms. You will also find coriander, fennel and cinnamon in Chinese dishes.

13. Star anise is very popular. This dried flower with seeds is used whole, or ground into powder. It is one of the five spices in Chinese 5-spice powder, along with coriander, fennel, cloves, and Szechuan peppercorns.

With these spices in your kitchen, you will be able to enhance and vary the taste of all your favorite meals.

Did you find this post fun, informative and useful? If so, please share it with others!

If you have a comment, question or suggestion, please leave a comment below!

Cheers, Helene Malmsio

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