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Monday's With Michelle: Must-Have Spices for the Kitchen

Happy Halloween! I hope you didn’t gorge yourselves too much with your Halloween treats this weekend. If so, back away slowly from the candy and let’s get to some foodie fun…

A few weeks ago I shared a few insider tips on my Foodie Blog for two of my favorite homemade seasoning mixtures. Sure you can buy the pre-mixed spices, but if you read the ingredient list on the back you will see that you already have most of the items in your pantry. When you create your own mixture you have more control over the flavors, and it’s more cost effective. You can make multiple batches and finally clean out your spice rack.

I'm a big fan of these small 4 oz Gladware containers to store my mixtures in. They are inexpensive (about $3), and they have airtight lids that allow me to store my seasonings for months at a time.

My favorite and most used blend is a simple sea salt and white pepper mix that I like to call, White Spice.

It's a very easy mixture:
1 part white pepper to 10 parts sea salt.

If you are anything like me... a non-measuring, fly by the seat of my taste-buds kinda girl, just pour a little white pepper into the container until it just covers the bottom, then fill the rest up with sea salt and shake like mad (with the lid on of course) until it's completely mixed and a slight beigey/off white color. If you prefer to live on the edge, add a tad more white pepper for an extra kick.

I literally use this mix every time I cook. Think about it, what doesn't need salt and pepper? It's handy and super easy to just grab a pinch and toss into whatever you're cooking. You’ll also notice that most of my recipes call for this seasoning.

In case you are wondering, why white pepper instead of black pepper? It's mostly for aesthetic reasons. Traditionally in white sauces, cream soups, fish or poultry it's thought to be more aesthetically pleasing to not see the little specs of black pepper so white pepper is used instead. For me, I prefer the milder, but more pungent taste of white pepper.

The next mix that I live by is a spin off of Emeril's Essence, or as I like to call it Michelle's Essence:

3 Tbs Paprika
1 ½ Tbs Sea Salt
1 ½ Tbs Garlic Powder
1 ½ Tbs Onion Powder
1 Tbs Dried Parsley
½ Tbs Cayenne Powder
¼ Tbs White Pepper
¼ Tbs Cumin

Mix all the above ingredients into the 4oz container with lid and shake until thoroughly mixed.

This mix is excellent on my Crispy Baked Chicken recipe, my Baked Tilapia recipe, my Shrimp in White Wine Butter Sauce recipe, perfect as the spice mix for my Crostini recipe and yummy on pretty much anything else. Just like the previous mix, this one can be altered to your taste buds. Don't like it spicy? Take the cayenne out. Like it extra spicy? Add a little extra white pepper and cayenne.

Good seasonings are the beginning of good food. Take a break from store bought mixes and explore these combinations or be daring and create your own blend. Let us know how it works out for you!

Thanks for reading! Make sure you stop by my Foodie Blog for more insider tips and other foodie fun! See you back here on Monday for another installment of “Monday’s with Michelle”!

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