The basic spices to have and where to use them

Spice It Up!

by Steve and Annette Economides


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It is said that variety is the spice of life, so it must follow that spices will add variety to life. It's not a subject often discussed or considered, except when trying a new recipe. You go to the cupboard to discover that you don't have that one spice needed to finish your dish. You run to the store and stand in front of the spice display and gasp at the prices. Having a full assortment of the spices you most commonly use is a time and money saver.

Over the years, as Annette has learned to cook her repertoire of over 100 meals, her use of spices and understanding of which to use has increased. She says that she isn't a spice guru or a Spice Girl for that matter, but she has learned quite a bit about using spices and has compiled a list of the basic spices we have in our house and their uses. (We'll assume that everyone has salt and pepper, so we've left them out of the chart.)

Spice

Used In

ALLSPICE

Sausages, cakes, desserts, fruit pies, jerky, chicken, fish, breakfast breads, stews, split pea soup, rice pilaf

ANISE

Licorice flavor for cakes, breads, cookies, fruit, root vegetables

BASIL

Pesto, great with tomatoes, herb breads like Focaccia, spaghetti sauce, poultry, lamb, fish and seafood, and a must for Italian dishes of any kind

BAY LEAF

Stew, soup, stock, marinades, pickles, beans, tomatoes

CARAWAY SEED

Rye bread, crackers, sausage, cabbage, soups, stews, pork

CARDAMOM

Sweet and savory, pastries, pudding, ice cream, breads, hamburgers, meat loaf, fruits

CELERY SEED

Soups, stews, stir-fry, salad dressing (crushed seeds), breads

CHILI POWDER

Peps-up bland dishes, Mexican dishes, and, of course, chili

CHIVES

Raw in salads, yogurt sauce, and as a baked potato topping

CILANTRO

Soups, stir-fry, Mexican dishes, rice, potatoes, fava beans, clams

CINNAMON

Desserts, spice breads and cakes, Middle Eastern dishes, coffee, chutneys, mulled wine, pumpkin bread or pie, baked apples, apple pie

CLOVES

Ham glaze, spiced breads, desserts, syrups, preserves, mulling cider

CORIANDER

Curry powder, vegetables, baked apples, pies, marinades, fish, soup stock

CUMIN

Greek shish kebab, breads, chutneys, meats, vegetable stew

CURRY

Indian cooking, meat stews, lentils, vegetarian dishes

DILL

Fish, seafood, root vegetables, potato salad, green salads, salad dressings, and pickling. Annette uses a little dill in her dough for shepherd's pie.

FENNEL

Fish, Italian breads, pickles, soups, roast pork, beans, vegetables

GARLIC

Chicken, lamb, Italian dishes, soups, Greek dishes, stir-fry

GINGER

Oriental dishes, works well with garlic, great with fruit

LEMON PEEL

Cookies, cake, breads, muffins, Oriental dishes

MARJORAM

Salads, egg dishes, mushroom sauces, fish, poultry

MINT

Chicken, pork, lamb, grilled fish, fruit salad, fruit punch, lemonade

MUSTARD

BBQ sauces, root vegetables (especially potatoes), pork, shrimp

NUTMEG

Lamb, fruit desserts, cakes, egg and cheese dishes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread

ONION POWDER

Great with meats, veggies, pasta, rice, potatoes

ORANGE PEEL

Cookies, cakes, breads, Oriental dishes

OREGANO

Italian and Greek cooking (our common bond), beans, stews, soups

PAPRIKA

Adds spice and color to Hungarian cooking, potatoes, rice, noodles, fish, chicken, egg dishes, soups

PARSLEY

Fresh in green salads, soups, spaghetti sauce, meat loaf, meatballs

PEPPERCORN

Add if you want to increase the heat of a recipe-can be ground

POPPY SEEDS

Breads, bagels, pretzels, cakes, salad dressing, vegetables-just don't eat any before a drug test.

ROSEMARY

Focaccia and other breads, stews, vegetables with olive oil, lamb, beef, poultry, shish kebab, crackers

SAGE

Pork, poultry, stuffings, sausage, stew, focaccia bread

SESAME

Breads, cookies, Asian cooking, noodles

TARRAGON

Fish, poultry, egg dishes, marinades for game meat, herb vinegars, mustards, flavored butters-Annette uses this in turkey gravy.

THYME

Clam chowder, marinade for pork and game meat

TURMERIC

Colors sauces yellow, beans, lentils, soup, rice, pickles, relishes

VANILLA

Dessert baking, fruit, pancakes, cookies, ice cream, custard, cakes, syrups

WHITE PEPPER

Less potent than black pepper-used to add zip

Spice up your life, but do it for less

This excerpt shares only a few of the hundreds of money saving ideas from the new book Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half with America's Cheapest Family (Chapter Five-Cooking that will save you time and sanity). Link here for book.


Steve and Annette Economides are New York Times best-selling authors and internationally recognized personal finance experts frequently requested on NPR and other radio programs. They have been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, ABC's 20/20, Fox TV's Your Life with Neil Cavuto, The Dr. Phil Show, and in Good Housekeeping, People, and Real Simple.

To learn more super practical ways to save tons of time and money, visit AmericasCheapestFamily.com.

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