7 Ways to Use Homemade Greek Spice Blend (Recipe: Stuffed Peppers)

Written by Shaina of Food for My Family.

Spice blends can be great timesavers in the kitchen. Ingredient lists for a single dish can shrink by eight-plus items just be replacing it with “____ spice blend.” Aimee demonstrated how the possibilities on creating your own spice blends are endless. Still, you may be thinking, “How often am I really going to use that spice blend?

If you’re anything like our family, you might not eat the same meal more than a few times a year, so you may be wondering if you’d ever use the store of spice blends in the freezer. The answer is that it is entirely possible, even without eating the same meal on a weekly or even monthly basis. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s not always the spices that need to have variety.

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Spices of Life: A Round-Up of Homemade Spice Blends

A year or so spent working for a fine spice merchant left me with a lifelong appreciation for spices and their place in the kitchen. The series I’ve done here on Simple Bites on subjects such as sourcing quality spices, storing spices, and options for grinding whole spices, are a testament to my love of fresh spices.

I’ve been cooking with homemade spice blends for as long as I can remember, flavoring my rice pilaf with a spoonful of garam masala, deepening the flavor of French Toast with pumpkin pie spice, tossing blends onto meats for grilling, just to name a few ways.

Once you have the ingredients on hand, spice blends are quick to mix up, easy to store, and make unique and thoughtful gifts. They lend themselves to creativity in the kitchen, and as long as you are using fresh, whole spices, are pretty hard to mess up.

The advantages of homemade spice blends are many. Here are three as well as a roundup: [Read more…]

Slow-Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables

Given as a wedding present nearly ten years ago, my slow-cooker hasn’t seen nearly enough use. I tend to reach for my cherry red Le Creuset French oven for braising and stewing. However, as our family is growing and appetites are expanding, I can see the practical side of having a large crock pot and keeping it busy.

Still, I could use some help. I’m no seasoned slow-cooker chef, and can count my fails up there with my winning dishes. That is one reason why I was happy to have Kelsey contact me to participate in her week-long Slow-Cooker Challenge.

January is the perfect month to give that slow-cooker a permanent place on the counter top and our challenge is sure to fuel you with plenty of inspiration. Don’t own a crock pot yet? Both The Naptime Chef and my friends at Big Girls, Small Kitchen are giving one away this week! So hurry over and enter.

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Seasonings and Spices for Fall Cooking {Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Blend}

Written by Kristen of Dine and Dish.

With fall comes the yearning for food, which brings overall comfort and warmth to those who eat it. We retreat into our kitchens, hoping to provide our family with a meal that will “stick to their ribs”, bringing them warmth from the inside out. Hearty, rich dishes, full of flavor and made with spices and seasonings reminiscent of the season adorn our tables as we gather together in celebration of the cooler days.

There are certain spices and seasonings associated with this season. We draw on their use to provide essence to our favorite comfort foods, add them to our most beloved beverages and use candles reminiscent of their aroma to bring us refuge from the chilly temperatures outside.

Among the most common autumn spices and seasonings, cinnamon, ginger and cloves seem to be firmly associated with the season, making appearances in many of the recipes we associate with this time of year. [Read more…]

What You Need to Know About Buying, Storing, and Cooking with Spices

It’s no secret that I believe a solid knowledge of spices is essential to great cooking. Proper selection and addition of good quality spices to a dish can elevate the flavor with little effort and minimal cost; that alone is reason to learn how to use spices and incorporate them into daily cooking.

However, cooking with spices doesn’t start with popping a lid and adding the required amount. This post is a good starting point; it is a summary of a Spices 101 series I wrote last spring and is well worth a refresher. At the bottom of each section you can click through to read the full post on each topic.

As I fully believe adding spices is one of the simplest way you can transform a forgettable dish into something memorable, I hope you’ll begin your journey with the exotic here.

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