The Spice Master

My husband calls me the Spice Master.  I don’t know if that’s really true, but I do use seasonings liberally when I cook. I usually don’t follow a recipe’s measurements, because it’s guaranteed that there will not be enough garlic or crushed red pepper for our taste.  I often add extra cinnamon, cardamom, or other spices to baked goods.  Chocolate chip cookies are always better with a hit of cinnamon, and sometimes a pinch of cayenne for flair.  Hot chocolate also isn’t complete without cinnamon.  We go through garlic by the bulb and crushed red pepper by the bag (bulk spices are awesome).

I have a couple favorite homemade spice mixes that I keep in containers in the pantry for emergencies.  I never purchase taco or enchilada seasoning, because I found a great recipe online and tweaked it to our tastes.  The following seasoning mixture is loosely based on a jerk rub in that there are sweet and spicy elements, but this is a pretty tame version of the traditional jerk marinade.  Which is awesome in its own right, but I don’t always have fresh habaneros at my disposal.  Hence this substitute.  It’s great as a rub on pork tenderloin or chicken breasts for the grill, and I’ll bet it would be good on fish as well (Tom is allergic, so I’ve never tried it).  It also adds sass to a slow cooker chicken and rice, so I’ve included the recipe for that as well.  (No photo of the chicken and rice, though, because no matter how hard I try it really doesn’t look as appetizing as it tastes.  You’ll have to trust me on this one.)  Sweet Pea devoured this chicken and rice for dinner on Friday night, so it passes the child-friendly test.

I’ve decided that Spice Master would be a totally sweet ninja name.  My weapon of choice would be pepper spray or possibly nunchucks made out of rosemary twigs.  My mission would be to destroy the Olive Garden and our local Italian chain with cockroaches in the kitchen.  I would steal into their kitchens under the cover of darkness and make their marinara actually taste like marinara.  Oh, and exterminate the roaches.  You’re welcome.

Wow, I need to get out more.

Not-So-Jerky Seasoning

1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. dried thyme

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. black pepper

2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Mix all ingredients together in a container with an air-tight lid.

Fruity Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice

1 (32 oz.) box chicken broth

1 1/2 lb. chicken breasts, diced

1 small onion, diced

1-2 Tbsp. Not-So-Jerky Seasoning (depending on how spicy you like your dishes)

1 c. water

1 c. diced dried apricots

1/2 c. golden raisins

1/2 c. dried cranberries

1 c. long-grain white or brown rice

Place chicken breasts, chicken broth, onion, and seasoning in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 3 hours, or until chicken is nearly cooked through.  Add one cup of water to slow cooker, then stir in rice and dried fruit.  Cook until rice is tender, 1-2 hours.  The ingredient amounts are flexible, so feel free to add more chicken, fruit, or rice depending on your taste.  Be sure that if you add additional rice, you add water accordingly.

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