My Favorite Spices + A Giveaway! (WFMW)

For this week’s Works for Me Wednesday post, I thought I’d share one of my best secrets for great tasting foods… Herbs and spices!

That may seem a bit obvious, but I’m often surprised by how little some of my friends and family use herbs and spices in their cooking. Even when they do use a dried herb or a spice to flavor their food, they use so little of it that it hardly makes a difference (granted, there are some flavors where a little goes a long way, and I realize that!).

When people prepare under-seasoned food, I don’t think it’s because they have poor taste or because they can’t cook… Instead, I think they are just afraid.  They aren’t sure which spices to use and how much to add, so their err on the side of caution. I’ve been there, and I get that.

works for me wednesday at we are that family

So, today I thought I’d share a few of my favorite herbs and seasonings along with the foods that they pair well with…  The best way to learn to use herbs and spices in your cooking is to just jump right in there and give them a try!

The flavor of basil reminds me of summer, and I especially love the flavor of dried basil in tomato-based soups and sauces. I usually add about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon to the onions and garlic when I am making pizza sauce and marinara sauce.

Cardamom has a floral flavor that goes well with both sweet and savory flavors.  I particularly like it in sweet dishes paired with chocolate, espresso, cinnamon, or fruits.  This is one of the spices where a little bit goes a long way, so I typically only use 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon.

Chili Powder
I love Mexican food, so I use chili powder quite a bit.  There are lots of different varieties of chili powder, some spicier than others.  Ancho chili powder tends to have a smokey, yet sweet flavor to it, and doesn’t pack a lot of heat.  Chipotle chili powder is also smokey, but tends to be a lot spicier.  You will often find blends that feature a variety of chiles. I use it to flavor sauces for enchiladas, season meat for tacos, and mix it with other flavors for a great spicy dry rub for grilling. Based on your taste and the heat of your chili powder, you can use anywhere from 1/2 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon in a dish.

Cinnamon is another spice that I love in both sweet and savory dishes.  It pairs well with fruit (everyone loves apples and cinnamon), chocolate (think Mexican hot chocolate), and fall favorites like pumpkin and butternut squash.  I also think it works well in some dry rubs for meat, such as pork and beef.  Most recipes will use about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Cumin is another one of my favorites for Mexican cooking.  It has a warm, earthy (and sometimes slightly smokey) flavor that adds depth to dishes.  I often pair it with chili powder in my favorite Mexican dishes using about 1 teaspoon or so.

Dill Weed
Dill is another spice that often reminds me of summer, partly because I grow fresh dill in my garden and partly because a lot of my favorite summer foods contain dill.  I most often use dill in salad dressings, dips, and salads.  It’s especially good mixed into egg salad and potato salad.  I usually use about 1/2 teaspoon of dill in a dish, but it also works well as a garnish sprinkled on top of a salad or dressing.

Nutmeg is great paired with cinnamon in sweet recipes like cookies, pies, and cakes.  I also love to add a bit of nutmeg to white sauces and even mashed potatoes.  Nutmeg is another spice where a little bit goes a long way.  When I’m baking, I will often add 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon to a batch of cookies or a pie filling. When I use it in a savory sauce, I add just a pinch (or grate just a small amount when I have whole nutmeg on hand).

Smoked Paprika
Smoked paprika is one of my favorite spices.  I especially love to use it in the winter for savory, comforting dishes.  It adds a wonderful smokey flavor to dishes, so I find it especially great in chili.  It also works well in homemade barbeque sauces and dry rubs. I will often add up to a tablespoon of smoked paprika to a big batch of chili.

Thyme is another herb that I love in Italian dishes, and I often pair it with basil.  I add about 1/2 teaspoon to my marinara and pizza sauces. I think it also pairs well in creamy and cheesy dishes, so I will often add some thyme to my macaroni and cheese and gratins – typically about 1/2 teaspoon.

Spices Inc. Giveaway!

Spices Inc. sent me a care package of 10 spices chosen specifically for me based on the recipes that I share here on my blog (including many of the spices I mentioned above). They are excellent quality spices (many organic) that add great flavor to my dishes.  I especially love their collection of whole spices, organic spices, and salt free seasonings. In addition to loving their great products, I am also impressed by their dedication to help fight hunger.  They donate 1% of their sales (that’s right, sales, not profits) to Feeding America.

You don’t have to just take my word for it, though… Spices Inc. has generously agreed to give one of you the chance to try out their spices, as well. They’d love to learn more about your favorite spices, so they are giving you the opportunity to create your own collection of spices from the selection on their website.

One lucky winner will not only receive their customized gift set of spices, but the spice set will be added to their website so that your friends and family can also purchase your customized set of spices!

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment here including the following information…

  1. Choose any 10 spices, herbs, seasonings, chiles or extracts from the Spices Inc. site.
  2. Select a creative name for your spice set
  3. Provide a sentence or two on why you picked the selection you did… Are they family favorites? Your favorite baking spices? Maybe a great collection for summer grilling?

To enter the giveaway, please be sure to leave a comment by next Friday, February 18th at 10:00pm EST.

Once all of the comments are in, the reader with the most creative blend of spices will be selected as the winner, and will receive their customized gift set.  As I mentioned above, the set will also be added to the Spices Inc. site as a special limited edition spice set!

My Kitchen Addiction Product Review Policy and Disclosure– I received this product (custom spice set from Spices Inc.) at no cost from the manufacturer (or a representative PR firm) for the purpose of testing and reviewing the product. Unless otherwise specified, I do not accept monetary compensation for reviewing or writing about products. I only review products that I have personally tested and used in my kitchen/home, and all opinions expressed are my own.

84 Responses to My Favorite Spices + A Giveaway! (WFMW)

  1. 1. Adobo Seasoning
    2. Organic Cacao Nibs
    3. Organic Cocoa Powder
    4. Organic Vanilla Beans
    5. Pizza Seasoning
    6. Saffron
    7. White Cheddar Cheese Powder
    8. Organic Korintje Cinnamon Powder
    9. Buffalo Wing Rub
    10. Granulated Honey
    I’d call it ‘Bike People Pleasers’ – my friends are all dirty bike hippies, and my house tends to be the one for get-togethers. Pretty sure any experiments I carried out with these spices would make a lot of happy bike people! A couple of these (cheddar powder and cacao nibs) I’ve wanted to experiment with for a long time, adobo is a perennial favorite around here, and I didn’t even know granulated honey existed, but I’m curious…

  2. World Traveller

    Tahitian vanilla beans
    Turmeric powder
    Sweet Spanish Paprika
    Tellicherry black peppercorns
    smoky citrus salt
    Ras El Hanout
    Long pepper
    Korintje Cinnamon
    Chipotle flakes
    Cardomom seed powder

    Remember in school when the teacher would drone on and on about the ancient spice trade and the wars of conquest that had been fought for it? Today, we can toss spices into our shopping cart that would have represented untold wealth and world domination just to possess. Exotic spices inspire me, sometimes I begin with the spice and build the dish from that. I’m imagining what could be created from this list.

  3. “Roadtrip”
    1. Vanilla
    2. Salt Free Chili Powder
    3. Habanero Flakes
    4. Hawaiian Black Salt
    5. Organic Rosemary
    6. Organic Chia Seeds
    7. Organic Lavender
    8. Ground White Pepper
    9. Mexican Oregano
    10. Organic Saigon Cinnamon Sticks

    I decided to call this roadtrip because the collection of spices doesn’t necessarily go together, but it makes me think of adventure! I picked things I have never tried before, I picked things that remind me of places I have visited (like Hawaii!) and people I miss, and I even picked things I use often because even on a good road trip, sometimes you just want to be at home.

  4. “Spicey sweetness”
    Grains of Paradise
    habenaero flakes
    Manzanillio Mexican Seaoning
    Chipoltle Powder
    Sichuan Peppercorns
    Cayenne Pepper Hot Heat
    Organic Saigon
    Cinnamon Powder
    Long Pepper

    I loved cooking with mexican spices and threw in few fruit spices for an added sweetness.

  5. -Organic Vanilla Beans
    -Maharajah Curry
    -Organic Ceylon Cinnamon
    -Organic Cocoa Nibs
    -Tomato Powder
    -Honey Powder
    -Organic Lavender
    -Organic Mulling Spice
    -South Australian Flake salt

    I’m calling this “My First Chemistry Set” because this is all made up of things I would love to experiment with and that I have rarely or never used them in cooking. I would love to see what I can do with some of these and if it would change my thoughts about spices.

  6. 1. Ginger Root Powder
    2. Organic Garlic Salt
    3. Blackened Seasoning
    4. Chipotle honey rub
    5. Dried Ancho Chilies
    6. Dried Anahemin Chilies
    7. Jamaican Pepper
    8. Smoked Sweet paprika
    9. Dried Chives
    10. Cayenne Pepper Hot Heat

    I’d call this “T’s Jerky Jerk” chicken rub.

    When my hubby is being a snot I call him a jerky jerk out of love of course and I love all this spicy and hot so this would be a perfect rub for some grilled chciken to share with my sweetie.

  7. Simple Elegance

    Organic lavender
    Organic rosemary
    Organic dillweed
    Organic peppermint
    Organic cocoa powder
    Organic flax seed
    Organic cardamom pods
    Organic Ceylon cinnamon
    Organic Vanilla pods
    Organic Cacao Nibs

    All these are organics, and kept simple yet will add “just a touch” of flavor to dishes. Lavender buds can be used to flavor honey, peppermint for tea, or cocoa powder for those comforting days.

  8. “A Leap of Faith from A to Z” would include:
    Bourbon Vanilla Beans
    Guajillo Chile
    Himalayan Pink Salt
    Nigella Seed
    Piri Piri Seasoning
    Ras El Hanout

    I wanted to select spices that I have never used (and some I have never heard of!) and just have some fun trying to concoct new dishes using these unusual spices/seasonings.

  9. 1. Ground cumin
    2. Mild chile powder
    3. Dried cilantro
    4. Chinese five-spice
    5. Hot Chinese mustard powder
    6. Ginger powder
    7. Sesame seed
    8. Dried sweet basil
    9. Tomato powder
    10. Mediterranean oregano

    I would call this the “Around the World” set. Being a Mexican/Japanese individual, I’m very interested in “cultural-fusion” types of restaurants. This spice set provides various spices and seasonings, which can be used to make dishes of various world cuisines (Mainly Mexican, Italian, and Asian cuisine).

  10. Basil
    Curry Powder
    Whole nutmeg
    Ancho Chili Powder
    Lemon juice

    “From Sicily with Love”
    Some of these aren’t exactly Italian spices, but they all work well in Italian fusion dishes. I love nutmeg for it’s refreshing smell (I have to have whole nutmeg because it just looks so pretty when you grate it). Go Lemon juice! Best seasoning ever!

  11. “Exotic Comforts Winter Chill”
    1. Tahitian Vanilla Beams
    2. Chinese Cinnamon Powder
    3. Coco Chili Rub
    4. Crystalized Ginger
    5. Espresso Rub
    6. Nutmeg Powder
    7. Organic Cloves
    8. Organic Peppermnit Leaf
    9. Pumpkin Pie Spice

    10. South Australian Flake Salt

    I can feel each one of these spices comforting me one a cold winter’s night and warming me to the soul. Combining flavors to remove oneself from the frigid winds that blow outside the window to a place of comfort and warmth.

  12. 1. Wasabi Powder
    2. Organic Vanilla Beans
    3. Ceylon Cinnamon
    4. Cardamom Pods
    5. Sichuan Peppercorns
    6. Himalayan Pink Salt
    7. Sumac
    8. Chipotle Powder
    9. Coriander Seeds
    10. Smoked Paprika

    I’ll call this electic grouping – “Around the World with 10 Spices.” Through my Persian husband and my Sri Lankan best friend, I have become aquainted with many “exotic” spices. I have also recently begun to experiment with Asian ingredients – I’m in love with miso, and I would love to try wasabi powder and sichuan peppercorns!

    Thanks for a fantastic giveaway!!!

  13. “International Heat Wave”
    1. Habanero Flakes
    2. Berbere
    3. Chipotle Powder
    4. Cayenne Pepper Hot Heat
    5. Hot Chinese Mustard Powder
    6. Cajun Rub Hot Heat
    7. Piri Piri Seasoning
    8. Ancho Powder
    9. Salt Free Thai Spice
    10. Curry Powder (Hot)

    My household LOOOOOVES it spicy. This is an international blend of hot (and, well, sometimes not THAT hot) spices and peppers that will work well with any type of cuisine and, because you only need a little bit of something really hot to flavor an entire dish, will be economical (because the jars will last a long time!).

  14. “Just Add Chocolate”

    Black cardamom
    Habanero Powder
    Ceylon Cinnamon Sticks
    Maharajah Style Curry Powder
    South Australian Flake Salt
    Organic Lavender
    Sichuan Peppercorns
    Tahitian Vanilla Beans
    Dried Rose Petals

    I chose this combination of spices, flowers and salt because of the possibilities they present when mixed with chocolate. I love exotic and bold flavors –especially with my chocolate. I know all these spices would be wonderful compliments to chocolate, be it white, dark, milk or something in between.

  15. “Feelin’ hot, hot, HOT!”

    ancho powder
    cayenne pepper
    chinese mustard powder
    chipotle chiles
    ground serrano
    habanero chiles, dried
    New Mexico chili powder
    pasilla chili powder
    red pepper flakes
    wasabi powder

    I LOVE spicy food and can never get enough heat! These spices would satisfy my need, for sure ;)

  16. “Use with care-use every day” spice box :)

    Chipotle powder
    Vanilla Extract
    Garlic Powder
    Cracked pepper corn
    Cajun seasoning
    Taco Seasoning
    Garam Masala

    Truly these are the spices I would use often, many of them daily. I love using spices to add flavor without sodium and without fat!

  17. Here is my selection. The name:
    ‘The Slightly Schizophrenic Globetrotter Collection’

    Ras El Hanout Powder
    Fleur de Sel
    Madras CurryPowder
    Italian Seasoning
    Baharat Curry Powder
    Salt Free Adobo Seasoning
    Sweet Spanish Paprika
    Moroccan Vegetable Rub
    Lemon Peel
    Maharajah Style Curry Powder

    I can blame my love for cooking on my parents. They cooked it all, from Indian, French, Spanish, Chinese to Italian. Once started cooking I added Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Mexican to the mix. My daughter’s favorite food? Samosas, Hummus and her daddy’s meatsauce LOL. My son is still young but he grooves a good Tandoori Chicken.

  18. I’d call this set the Traveling Spice Rack:
    1) Bourbon island vanilla beans
    2) garam masala
    3) lemongrass
    4) cacao nibs
    5) herbs de Provence
    6) saffron
    7) salt-free Thai spice
    8) sweet paprika
    9) pizza seasoning
    10) thyme
    I chose these ten spices mainly because where I live (Iowa), it’s difficult (if not impossible) to find many exotic spices (numbers 8 & 9 just sounded fun!). And number 10 is simply my favorite spice to use!

  19. 1. Apple Pie Spice
    2. Organic Vanilla Beans
    3. Organic Thyme
    4. Fleur de Sel
    5. Smoky Citrus Salt
    6. Garlic and Herb seasoning
    7. Organic Cacao nibs
    8. Organic Almond Extract
    9. Organic Lavendar
    10. Organic Yellow Mustard Seed Powder

    I would call this “A Bit of Home”. As a college student who is living off-campus in the middle of nowhere, good food and bakery items are hard to come by. Going from a city with everything to a town with barely anything, when cravings hit, there isn’t much you can do. If I had this set, I would be able to satisfy my cravings instead of sitting in front of my computer, browsing through flickr sets.

  20. “Taste the Rainbow”
    fleur de sel
    grains of paradise
    organic saigon cinnamon
    organic fennel
    orange zest
    almond extract
    organic chia

    The almond extract would be excellent to have on hand as I use it quite a bit. The orange zest would be a lifesaver when i forget to have oranges on hand. Chia is fun to play with, and the rest I have never tried cooking with before!

  21. I would call it “Subcontinent Escape”:
    Organic Cayenne Pepper
    Organic Turmeric powder
    Ground Coriander
    Organic Cumin seed
    Cinnamon Sticks
    Organic Paprika
    Organic Cloves
    Organic Yellow Mustard seed
    Caradamom Seed powder
    Any combination of these spices work great in Indian dishes (north and south). They’ll also let you make your own ‘garam masala’ based on your regional preferences. The organic ingredients could always be changed to their non-organic counterparts if needed/desired. They’ve helped me beat the grey, winter blues with a warm Indian curry once a week. Many of these spices can be used in many non-Indian dishes as well!

  22. The Opportunist’s Diverse Gourmet Collection
    These unique and expensive spices are from many areas of the world and only a true gourmet can appreciate their rarity, aroma, richness and origin. They can be used in many dishes, from main courses to desserts, virtually every day in order to develop some of the beautiful flavours found in the world. These spices create opportunity for those who can’t travel, or for those who want to bring about sweet reminiscence, to share these flavours and memories with others.
    1. Organic Garam Masala
    2. Saffron
    3. Organic Cardamom Pods
    4. Organic Vanilla Beans
    5. Organic Ground Black Pepper Medium Grind
    6. Fleur de Sel
    7. Star Anise
    8. Organic Herbs de Provence
    9. Organic Lavender
    10. Organic Mustard Seeds
    Thank you!! :-)

  23. 1. Guajillo Chile Powder
    2. Lemon Grass
    3. Amchur
    4. Anise Seed
    5. Cracked Black Pepper
    6. Cardamom
    7. Saigon Cinnamon
    8. Pacific Sea Smoked Sea Salt
    9. Sweet Basil
    10. Onion Flakes

    I would call this spice mix “A Sweet Kick”. Generally when seasoning, I like to combine spices that have peculiarities that overlay with one another. In this mix, I imagine the strange sweetness of the basil and anise contrasting the more pronounced tones of the cardamom, guajillo, and lemon grass. All of these would make a light sauce to coat Asian rice noodles in with a Holy Basil base.

  24. “Home Seasoning”

    garlic powder
    ancho powder
    celery seed
    ground cloves
    cayanne pepper
    red pepper flakes

  25. Barbecue Blitz

    1. Cayenne
    2. Smoked Paprika
    3. Celery seeds
    4. Onion powder
    5. Garlic powder
    6. Cinnamon
    7. Ancho chili powder
    8. Chili powder
    9. Smoked salt
    10. Black pepper

    With barbecuing being one of the few ways left to cook outside, I feel a good barbecue seasoning will drive people away from the packaged foods and bottled marinades. A good rub will put a smile on any outdoor cooking connoisseur.

  26. “World Traveler Spice Kit for the Homebody”

    1. Chinese Five Spice
    2. Greek Seasoning
    3. Jamacian Jerk Seasoning
    4. Organic Paprika
    5. Italian Seasoning
    6. Morrocan Chicken Spice Rub
    7. Organic Gingerroot
    8. Pacific Sea Smoked Sea Salt
    9. Organic Saigon Cinnamon Powder
    10. Organic Chipotle Powder

    I love experiementing with different ethnic cuisines. My favorite spice set would include influences from Italian, Greek, Asian, Middle Eastern, Africian, Carribean, and Spanish flavors.

  27. The Set to Get Cause I don’t have it Yet Set.
    because all the “Around the World” set names were taken :)
    1. Chinese Five Spice
    2. Creole Seasoning
    3. Greek Seasoning
    4. Mediterranean Dry Rub
    5. Southwest Seasoning
    6. Moroccan Chicken Spice Rub
    7. French Quarter Seasoning
    8. Himalayan Pink Salt
    9. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
    10. Pacific Seas Smoked Salt

    • Oops I forgot to tell why I selected these. I did pick these because I wanted to try a variety of flavors that I don’t already have and I love to be able to grab a bottle and shake it on my meat and go when I haven’t really planned ahead for what to do with that thawed meat. Thanks for the introduction to Spices Inc. I learned a lot just from looking at the descriptions of all these spices.

  28. cinnamon chips, allspice, bourbon vanilla beans, citrus seasoning, cardamom seed, ground ginger, ground cloves, whole nutmeg, cacao nibs, cocoa powder; Baker’s envy… I love to bake and my cainet would be thrilled to house these!

  29. 1. Organic Ground Allspice
    2. Organic Cocoa Powder
    3. Organic Ginger Powder
    4. Cream of Tartar
    5. Cardamom Seed Powder
    6. Ground Cloves
    7. Orange Zest
    8. Lemon Peel
    9. Apple Pie Spice
    10. Pumpkin Pie Spice

    I call this spice set: “Baker’s Light n’ Lively”

    I chose that name and those spices because those are some of the core spices that my late grandmother used in her kitchen to bake up such wonderful yet heart-conscious and healthy treats for our family to enjoy.

  30. “Newlywed Nine + One”

    Oh ho ho, we are not talking about gaining weight here! We are talking about the quality essentials one must have in their kitchen as they start their lives together! Being a current newlywed and trying to please new hubby’s taste-buds, starting a new spice collection can be a hassle! Time consuming and costly! Here are the essentials I would be absolutely stoked to have:

    1. Lemon White Pepper
    2. Yellow Mustard Seed Powder
    3. Celery Salt
    4. Ground Allspice
    5. Sweet Basil
    6. Bay Leaves
    7. Cayenne Pepper Medium Heat
    8. Smoked Paprika
    9. Marjoram
    10. Pumpkin Pie Spice

  31. The “Kiss my Grits and butter my biscuits” spice list:
    1. Deep South Dry Rub
    2. Kickin’ Chicken
    3. Lime Pepper
    4. Seafood Boil
    5. Sumac
    6. Sweet Tweetie
    7. Sweet Chili Powder
    8. Salt Free Thai Spice
    9. Saffron
    10. Manzanillo Mexican Seasoning

    Each of my picks is designed to make you sit and pay attention! Because, honey, it’s not done until it’s overdone ;)

  32. I am calling this spice collection “bake a little spice in your life”.

    Organic Vanilla Beans
    Nutmeg Whole
    Korintje Cinnamon Powder
    Organic Ground Allspice
    Organic Ginger Powder
    Cardamom Seed Powder
    Vanilla Extract
    Lime Zest
    Organic Cocoa Powder
    Crystallized Ginger

    I picked these because these are some of my favorite spices and they make me happy when I bake with them.