Have you ever avoided a recipe because it called for a spice you did not have on hand and did not want to buy for just one dish? Maybe the better question is, How many times have you avoided a recipe because it called for a spice you did not have on hand or did not want to buy for just one dish?
I avoided a jambalaya recipe far longer than I should have simply because I did not have any creole seasoning on hand. When I finally came to my senses, I realized the salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder I did have on hand were all that I really needed.
Since that learning experience, I have mixed my own chili powder, taco seasoning and pie spices. Though these common spice blends are inexpensive, I prefer to buy individual spices as they allow me to have on hand what I need for multiple dishes. I can also adjust the amount of spices in my personal blends to suit my taste preferences and avoid ingredients I do not want to consume, like the MSG found in multiple taco seasoning mixes.
I obtained the basic recipes for my spice blends from the Southern Food section of about.com. This is one of just hundreds of resources regarding spice blends, so feel free to consult other sources or more importantly, trust your palette!
Homemade Chili Powder
The basic spices in chili powder are cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika and oregano. Ground chilies can be substituted for paprika, and another spice sometimes found in chili powder is coriander. I also like to add a dash of cinnamon to my chili powder.2 teaspoons ground cumin 2 teaspoons garlic powder 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon oregano
Homemade Taco Seasoning
A chili powder blend is used as the base for taco seasoning, and the basic spices in taco seasoning are much the same of those found in chili powder. In addition to cumin , garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika, onion powder makes an appearance and oregano leaves the recipe.2 teaspoons chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Pumpkin Pie Spice
The basic spices found in pumpkin pie spice are cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, though allspice and cloves are recommended. There are many variations in the amount of each spice, but cinnamon is generally the most abundant followed by ginger, nutmeg and any remaining spices.2 tablespoons ground cinnamon 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Apple Pie Spice
The basics of apple pie spice are very similar to those of pumpkin pie spice. Simply swap the ginger for the allspice and add a pinch of cardamom.1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
A quartet of homemade spice blends would make a nice hostess gift during the holiday season. Unless you’re coming to my house that is, then bring wine. Another idea is to present an individual spice blend along with the recipe and dish it is featured in to your hostess. Enjoy the season!