In my quest to  go green, spend less, save more, and know/control what’s going into my food, I decided that I’m not too cool with all the “stuff” in the spices I buy that are unnecessary additives.  This had nothing to do with all the super cute choices for spice jars on the market now…. Okay truth, it had just a little bit to do with that too (rolling eyes).

I mean really which looks better, the 1st one or the 2nd one?  I LOVE the 2nd (and not just because it is actually a better snap) and THIS is what I am striving for.  More on that in another post…

The great thing about making your own spices is that you can adjust the flavors to your taste AND leave out the additives (like silicon dioxide and MSG).  

The Cajun Blend is the first one that I experimented with because my hubby is from Louisiana and it seems that he used Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning on EVERYthing.  And OMG, if we ran out by chance he would up the ante with straight cayenne pepper.  WHOA!  So I started playing with the spices we had on hand to try and duplicate the flavor.  

The result…. No more store bought spice blends for me.

Let me tell you up front that I don’t really measure these accurately. I start out with good intentions and then I end up just adding more of the spices that my family and I enjoy until it tastes like I want it to. That said, the measurements below are my best guess at approximately how much I use.

Cajun Blend

1/4 cup salt (I use kosher, but it really doesn’t matter what kind)
1 teaspoon cornstarch (to prevent caking)
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder and/or onion powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon seasoned chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground basil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

COMBINE all ingredients in a resealable container and shake it up to combine.

(The last time I made this, I used less salt and more of everything else (except the cornstarch).)
**Note: If you don’t have all the individual herbs (basil, sage, oregano, thyme) just use about 2-3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning; it has all of these ingredients plus 1 or 2 more and serves the purpose just as well.

Jerk Seasoning

1/4 cup dried chives
1/4 cup thyme
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper OR crushed red pepper (OR both)
1 tablespoon salt

Add about 3/4 cup oil to the mixture when you’re to marinate the meat (or veggies). I also add some fresh minced onion; it’s not absolutely necessary but it IS delish.

**Note that most jerk seasonings include allspice and I think some also include cloves. I can’t stand the smell or the taste of either, so I leave it out. Some folks also add a little brown sugar; I’ve tried it that way and it’s pretty good – remember that Jerk is supposed to be a spicy flavor with a sweet something going on in the background. If you like it less sweet, leave the brown sugar out; if you like more sweet, add more brown sugar. Again, just adjust it to your taste.

Nik’s Mexican Blend

2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup cumin
1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper OR crushed red pepper (OR both)
1 tablespoon dried cilantro

COMBINE everything in a resealable container and shake it up to combine. I like mine less salty and more “spicy” – meaning I like to taste the actual spices not just salt.

Italian Seasoning

3 tablespoons dried basil
3 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Although this recipe calls for grinding the spices, I just mix them all in my container as is – no grinding. Then when I get ready to use it I “crush” it in the palm of my hand to “release” the flavors and oils.

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