Keeping a supply of common spices is a must if you cook at home often. When you have meat or vegetables on hand, add spices for seasoning. Spices are derived from the seeds, bark, fruits or roots of plants. Store spices in a cool, dry place and replace them after a year.
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Paprika is a common spice with a mild spicy flavor. On its own, with salt and pepper, or mixed with other spices or herbs such as sage or thyme, paprika adds a bright flavor with a kick. It is not too hot or spicy when used in moderate amounts. Paprika works well with all meat and poultry.
Create a fresh take on the classic burger by mixing sea salt, coarse black pepper, paprika and fresh or dried thyme. Add the spice mixture to ground chicken before forming patties and cooking. (The best tool for doing this is your hands, but be sure to wash them thoroughly before and after working with any meat.)
Cumin, a spice with smoky flavor, is the mainstay of chili and Indian curries.Use it to add a hint of warmth to any meat or soup, and works well with garlic (fresh or powder).
If your family loves tacos, add cumin, salt, pepper and garlic powder for a blend of flavors. For a quick chili, add cumin and freshly minced garlic to chicken stock, along with cooked chicken (diced or shredded) and 2 cups of salsa. Add white or black beans for a Mexican-style chili that is easy. The backbone of this dish is cumin, which stands up to hearty ingredients like chicken and beans.
Pepper is the most common spice. Consider investing in a pepper mill to have freshly ground pepper with each meal. Grinding pepper as you need it means more flavor for your food than ground pepper that has been sitting in a can for a long time.
To spice up vegetables, try roasting them with coarse pepper. Place your favorite vegetable on a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Try this with cherry tomatoes. Roast in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until you can easily cut into the tomato with the side of fork. Also try asparagus and zucchini. Winter squashes will need more time: Roast for an hour or until tender.