Friday, July 30, 2010

That’s one a-spicy meat-a-ball!!

I didn’t always appreciate my Mom’s cooking.

Let me e’splain.

I used to think it was weird when she would use the same 3 seasonings over and over again.  Salt and pepper, garlic salt, and lemon pepper. In every meal, all the time.

Once she mixed spaghetti noodles and de-hydrated onions with scrambled eggs and her signature spices all cooked together. I’m sure I refused to eat it. (I exaggerate…slightly)

I discovered later as a grown up, that sometimes when you don’t have a lot of money and a few staples in the pantry and fridge, that you can cook up a delicious meal for one and it’s not weird! It tasted REALLY GOOD!  I had the epiphany that my Mom DID know what she was doing and I could do it too!

That day in the kitchen, I warmly remembered a time when her food was made with love and flavor. I smiled and silently thanked her. (Her cooking is still made with flavor and love today, I just don’t get to eat her cooking all that often. Mom? I miss your cooking!)

Then I ate my yummy dinner! 

Some of the most beloved dishes I grew up with-

  • Mashed Potato Salad
  • Leg of Lamb on Easter
  • Spinach Torta
  • Broccoli and Chicken over Rice
  • Zucchini and Red Potatoes
  • Joe Special
  • Meatloaf (I still can’t make it like she used to!)
  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Chicken Soup with Dumplings
  • Wine Cake (she did not use those spices, but it’s the best cake ever!)

That’s just a short list of my favorite foods!!  I have a ton more!

As an adult, I’ve learned to appreciate the foundation of spices she used to make all those great dishes.  I find myself reaching for the garlic salt and more recently the lemon pepper to use in almost every savory dish I make. I’ve added some more to my cooking repertoire and I’d like to share them with you and how I use them. spices collage

  • Garlic Salt, California Style (with parsley flakes)

    I used garlic salt in about 80% of my meals. Here’s another bullet list of what I use Garlic Salt in:

    • Tuna salad
    • Salad dressings- specifically my Mom’s homemade Thousand Island dressing (it’s THE best!) and sprinkled over a green salad with olive oil and red wine vinegar (my Sister taught me the oil and vinegar dressing trick and it’s become my most recent favorite! Thanks Leslie and our trip to Florence!)
    • Meat marinades or sprinkled over the meat with grill seasoning
    • Anything with a cream gravy or mushroom style gravy or sauce. It has a stronger flavor that minced garlic and I am a salt fiend. I guess that’s why I have high blood pressure.


  • Wildtree Herbs Dill Blend (dill weed, sea salt, onion, and pepper)

    This is a product I discovered a couple of years ago while at a home party for Wildtree Herbs. It makes a wonderful Dill Dip that I adore!! I used it in other recipes or where ever I love that dill flavor. I seem to be the only person I know who loves the flavor of dill in a form other than pickle.

    • Egg Salad
    • Tuna Salad
    • Salad dressings
    • Seasoning for Salmon
    • Marinade for fish
    • Always in sour cream because I LOVE it as a dip!

  • Lemon & Pepper Seasonings Blend

    Lemon Pepper has been in my life as far back as I can remember. I don’t think my Mom has ever cooked without it. She probably has used it in recipes I can’t even think of! Here is what I use it the most for.

    • Lemon Pepper Chicken (It’s one of the most requested meals when my Mom comes to visit my Sister. In second place is probably Spinach Torta and it’s used in there too.)
    • Tuna Salad ( I use a lot of spices in my tuna salad and my Mom taught me that too. This would be why my husband says I make the best he’s ever had!)
    • Meatloaf
    • Sprinkled on chicken, beef, and fish
    • Pasta dishes with a cream sauce


  • Ground Cumin
  • Chili Powder

    More recently I’ve been cooking with Cumin and Chili Powder in a lot of my Mexican style dishes. It has a smoky pungent smell and sometimes reminds me of B.O., but I like what it brings to my soups and meat marinades!  Here’s what I used it in lately.

    • Black Bean “Soup”
    • Yogurt sauce for fish tacos (sprinkle some of that in plain yogurt and add some garlic salt and pepper, and you’ve got a YUMMY addition to fish tacos with cabbage slaw)
    • Seasoning for Chicken for black bean soup (Mix cumin and chili powder together on raw chicken, with salt and pepper and olive oil. Toss to coat, then cook in hot pan or grill, then add to soups and stews. Have it grilled fajita style-that’s always good!)
    • Tortilla Soup
    • Sometimes I put it in pico or salsa that I make. All depends on my mood and how smoky I want the flavor.


I’m sure there are a ton more uses for those spices and blends, but those are all I can think of for now! I use them so much, I keep then all crowded together on my counter next to the stove. The other spices tend to migrate there as well, and every once and a while I have to redistribute them all back to where they came from. I used to have the whole upper cabinet, bottom shelf full of spices and seasonings before we did the kitchen makeover.

Are they trying to tell me something? Maybe they all come out at night and have a party next to the stove while I’m sleeping?! That would be yummy! Maybe someday, those spices and seasonings will cook dinner for me while I take a nap! That would be awesome!!

What are your go to spices and seasonings? What can’t you live without?


Love and heartburn,



  1. Thank you for the look back and taste trail of the one bowl wonder years. Was thinking back when I was reading the first part and I think Lemon Pepper popped in to our family through Auntie Mari. She had a small apartment for awhile before she went to Hawaii and then got married. She had me over for dinner and fixed Lemon Pepper chicken. I'll have to ask her but I think she's the one that started it all!

  2. Ohmigosh...the chicken and broccoli over rice was one of my favorite dishes that Aunt Lorraine made. So yummy! Just seeing that listed on your blog brought back some delicious memories. Here is a list of my go to spices:

    Cumin (so yummy)
    Garlic (salt and powder..a must)
    Black pepper (everything needs pepper as far as I'm concerned)
    Pepper flakes (good in pasta dishes)
    Cayenne Pepper (yup, Sweet Bippy, I still love it!)
    Chili Powder (different types including a delicious Sweet Chipotle)
    Oregano, Basil (for Italian cooking)
    Five Spice (Chinese dishes)
    Old Bay Seasoning (for fish dishes)