DIVAS ON A DIME: Create your own signature spice blends

By Patti Diamond

Homemade spices can be blended to your family’s taste and dietary preferences. (www.JasonCoblentz.com)

An easy way to add great flavor to your meals while saving money is making spice blends at home. You’re likely paying a premium for packaged spice blends that contain mostly salt and sugar.

Another great reason to make your own spice blends is that you choose what your family is eating. You control the sodium and sugar while avoiding MSG, partially hydrogenated oils, modified food starch and chemical preservatives. Your blends are made fresh and customized to your family’s taste and dietary preferences.

It’s fun to have a flavor experimentation party where everyone discusses their preferences about seasoning foods. It’s a great way to explore flavors of various herbs and spices and create blends. Even young children can play along. Give them bowls and measuring spoons as they learn to measure, do simple math and stir to their heart’s content.

When purchasing your herbs and spices, remember the bulk foods section of the grocery store, if you have one. The beauty of buying in bulk is you pay for only what you need. You can literally purchase by the teaspoon.

Next, you’ll need containers. Glass is preferable as it’s reusable, easy to clean and won’t hold aromas. Baby food jars are perfect, as are small glass canning jars.

Here are some basic recipes to get you started. Then you can experiment and get creative to make your own signature spice blends. You’ll notice I didn’t include salt. That amount is always to your taste.


CHILI SEASONING — 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Seasons 2 pounds of ground beef or other meat for making chili.


POULTRY SEASONING — 1 tablespoon sage, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1/2 tablespoon parsley, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Optional additions can include granulated garlic, celery seed, lemon peel, ground ginger, allspice, savory, oregano, dried onion, paprika or cayenne pepper. This makes enough to season two whole chickens.


ITALIAN SEASONING — 1 1/2 tablespoons oregano, 1 tablespoon basil, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1/2 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Use this in pasta sauce, Italian dressing, burgers and soups, or as a seasoning for ground beef, chicken or fish.


REAL LEMON PEPPER — 3 lemons, 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns. Preheat oven to lowest setting. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the yellow part of the lemons, leaving the white pith behind. Onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spread peels in a single layer. Place in oven for 2 hours or until dry. Place the dried lemon and peppercorns into a spice grinder and blend. Serve with fish, chicken or pork.


TACO SASONING — 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/2 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder, 1/2 tablespoon dried minced onion, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper. Seasons approximately 1 pound of ground beef or other taco meat.


NO-SALT GARLIC HERB BLEND — 1 tablespoon granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon dried parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon ground thyme, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Add a “dash” (wink) to poultry, meat and vegetables.


PUMPKIN PIE SPICE — 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground clove, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Yields about 2 1/2 tablespoons to help you get your pumpkin spice fix in pies, cookies and, yes, coffee.


As you spice up your life creating your signature blends, remember these make great gifts, too!


Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com


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