Spices - 5 of my favorite

Spices. Yes, my name is Shawna and I have a problem.

I've already mentioned that spices are important, but I don't think anyone quite realizes how important they really are in slow cooking. Not only is it important to choose the correct spice, it's also important to add enough! I see recipes with 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme for an entire recipe and make a face...that's not enough to flavor an entire dish unless it's for one person in my opinion. Of course, I love my spices to shine through in recipes.

Slow cooking with salt and pepper alone is a recipe for blandness and disappointment. There are so many spices to choose from, and this can be hard for people...what spices go with what types of food?

Without having a degree in the culinary arts, many of us walk around wondering how on Earth the food at restaurants gain their fabulous flavors. Certainly they know exactly how to cook things, but they also know how to spice their food elegantly and without reservation.

Am I saying that I am an expert in spices? Absolutely not. Do I experiment like the dickens in hopes that I look as though I know what I'm doing? Absolutely yes.

That being said, here are a few of my favorite spices and my favorite uses.

1. Thyme - I can't imagine my life before thyme. It is so earthy and hearty, with the faintest bitterness that complements so many amazing meats and casseroles. Thyme goes well with dishes that include mushrooms, risotto dishes, soups and pork.

2. Italian seasoning - I add this onto so many things, it's probably just wrong. Pizzas, pastas, breads, tomato sauces and on grilled pitas are a few of my favorites. 

3. Red pepper flakes - In my crock pot recipes, I prefer to use red pepper flakes over pepper. I must also say that I enjoy a bit of spice, as does my family.  I find using pepper in the crockpot doesn't shine through the way these do. I do use fresh, ground pepper too, so it's not that my pepper is from 1982. 

4. Herbs de provence - The WHAT now? This less-known herbal combination is a fantastic addition to fish fillets or roasted potatoes, as well as chicken and pork. Very fragrant and lovely! It's definitely more a of a floral herb in my opinion. Try it out!

5. Cumin - Ground cumin has such a fantastic bite to it. Commonly used in Indian dishes, it has just the right amount of spice, heat and punch that I like. I grind up cumin myself and LOVE it on roasted cauliflower.

There you have it! Some of my favorites! I have so, so many to choose from....I'll have another spices post later!


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