Spices and Herbs

By December 14, 2010 2 Comments

Shelly K, contributor to Dustin's blog

Shelly’s Simple Suggestions:

Using Herbs & Spices Can Make Good Food Great

Some people seem to have a natural knack of knowing just how to spice foods without the help of a recipe, while others struggle with flavoring the simplest of dishes. I myself am somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.  If you are in a rut with trying to enhance some basic foods or in case you are in the camp of needing some help with how to make good food great using herbs & spices, I thought I’d share some of my favorite flavor enhancers, as well as tips on storage.
Dried Herbs & Spices  – As I mentioned in a previous blog regarding replacing non-value-added food with healthier foods, I love Penzey’s for dried herbs & spices. Here are a few ideas using some of my favorites.

A Few Favorite Spices from Penzey’s
  • Italian Herb Mix (blend of oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary):
    • While it’s a sure way to enhance any Italian sauce, veggies, meat; my favorite is to sprinkle in my 2 egg scramble with veggies like spinach, peppers, tomato, mushroom.
  • Ozark Seasoning (southern style blend of over 20 herbs, salt & pepper):
    • For an easy flavorful center-of plate-chicken, sauté chicken breasts or tenderloins (these cook faster) on med/med-low sprinkled with Ozark seasoning.   Serve with steamed veggies and a side of quinoa! Yummmm
  • Ground Cumin, Mexican Epazote, Mexican Oregano:
    • For fajitas without using one of those envelopes full of who-knows-what, saute chicken, lean beef strips, sprinkled with all three herbs.  In second pan sauté cut onion and bell pepper strips (I prefer orange & yellow), also seasoning with the three herbs.   Serve with salsa, guacamole (or simply sliced avocado).   Cheese & tortillas optional.

      *To prolong freshness for about a week, trim ends, place in a glass of water and put in fridge. Basil MUST be covered loosely with plastic bag.

Fresh Herbs – I find that using dried herbs for many recipes are just fine, but for a few things FRESH is what makes the food great!
    • Basil*: A must for
      • Caprese Salad – sliced fresh mozzarella, tomato, torn basil & balsamic vinegar. I usually skip the oil and add cucumber.
    • Cilantro*: Always prefer fresh here – My favorite uses are in

  • Guacamole: 2 smashed avocado; diced red onion, roma tomato, jalapeno; rough chopped cilantro; juice of 1 lime; cumin, salt & pepper to taste.  Mix, press plastic wrap on surface to prevent browning & refrigerate.
  • Black Bean ,Corn & Cilantro Salad : 1 can each black beans, corn drained & rinsed; diced red onion, roma tomato, & jalapeno; rough chopped cilantro; juice of 1 lime; cumin, salt & pepper to taste . Toss & chill.
  • Parsley: Fresh is best for tabouli. Leftovers make a great surprise garnish to any meal.
    • Tabouli: Toss 1.5 c cooked bulgar; ¾ c each chopped tomato & cucumber; ¼ c chopped scallion; ½ c chopped parsley. Stir together 1 ½ TB olive oil; 1 TB fresh lemon juice; 1 tsp red wine vinegar; salt & pepper to taste. Combine the two and chill.
  • These are just a few ways to make good food, great. Do you have other simple flavor enhancing tips?