Spice of Life

The spice cabinet is a tricky place in any kitchen. There are the spices you use all the time and constantly replenish (for me its cinnamon – we go through a ton of it). And then there are the spices that are opened once, barely touched and aren’t actually thrown away until you physically sell the house and are forced to go through your pantry and realize “holy buckets, this fancy mustard powder expired seven years ago.” There are few things in life that irritate me more than throwing away perfectly good food just because I was too lazy to use it or forgot I had it. One fun trick: cut down on the number of specialty seasoning blends you buy by making your own. You’ll save some money (and cabinet space!) and you’ll actually use up the individual spices you have, cutting down on waste and making your dishes taste better because your spices haven’t been sitting in the dark losing flavor for a decade.

On this week’s Minnesota Live segment, I shared three ways I skip buying a specialty flavor packet and instead use ingredients I always have on hand to make them myself. Bonus: I can put the seasonings in cute jars, justifying my jar addiction. I love jars. And labels. And little ribbons on them.

There are three that I always have on hand or make as needed – Italian Sausage Seasoning, Taco Seasoning and Hot Cocoa Mix. Instead of buying bulk Italian sausage, I just always have ground pork from Little Foot Farm in Afton stashed in the freezer plus this seasoning blend. Instead of buying taco seasoning packets, I make my own and add to ground beef. And instead of buying packets or containers of hot cocoa mix, I just add cocoa powder and sugar to warm milk and my children are obsessed. Here are the recipes and the full segment from Wednesday’s episode of Minnesota Live!

Italian Sausage Seasoning

Gather this:

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Do this:

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and transfer to a jar. To make Italian sausage, mix 2 tbsp seasoning into 1 lb ground pork. Use as called for in recipes.

Taco Seasoning

Gather this:

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 tbsp chili powder

Do this:

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a jar. Cook 1 lb ground beef and 1/2 cup chopped onion in a skillet over medium heat. When almost cooked through, add 2 tbsp of seasoning. Add 1/3 cup water and stir to distribute seasoning. Serve as desired.

Hot Cocoa Mix

Gather this:

4 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp cane sugar

2 tbsp coconut sugar

Do this:

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a jar.

Use 1.5 tbsp of mix whisked into 1 cup of hot milk. Makes about 5 cups of cocoa.

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