Spice it up

I can’t believe it is already Thursday! This week just flew by. No class on Fridays :) Maybe it’s because we got a heat wave in Minneapolis, almost 70 degrees in November! Mother nature, you are teasing me. Tomorrow a cold front is rolling through…back to low 40’s and rain/snow. EEK! I think tonight was my official last “comfortable” run of the season. I am constantly pondering why I live in a tundra. Warmth, I need warmth! Minneapolis definitely has its pros and cons…a long and blustery winter being one of its turn-offs.

During my run along the river, the Mississippi that is, I contemplated what to make for dinner. One of life’s toughest decisions I tell you… I realized that I had a random assortment of fresh produce in my fridge which I purchased earlier in the week that need to be eaten! I love me some veggies :) I whipped up some steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans along with a baked chicken breast. Sounds pretty boring eh? This is where my large plethora of spices comes in handy. Spices really “spice” up a meal. Cliche? The truth!

Bland food is just boring. Flavor is what helps me feel satisfied and lets me enjoy eating healthy foods. I  am not a really “saucy” kind of girl who douses her food in ketchup, buffalo sauce, sweet and sour sauce, mayo, etc. I like to use spices because they are a great healthy alternative to give flavor to simple a dishe. I keep my cabinets stocked with pretty much all of the staple spices. I recommend checking out Penzey Spices, there is one in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul. They have hundreds of different spices to choose from, you can buy in bulk, and they also give out free, easy recipes!

Top 5 spices/seasonings every college student should have (in no random order)

1. Italian Seasoning: I love adding it to plain tomato sauce/puree to create a healthier version of red pasta sauce.

2. Garlic salt: An easy way to give flavor to sauteed/steamed vegetables, pizza, or bread.

3. Ground Cinnamon: Cinnamon has such great flavor and aroma. You can add it to so many different things ranging from hot cocoa to cookies. My favorite thing to do is to dust sweet potatoes with it and bake in the oven to make sweet potato fries.

4. Sunny Paris Seasoning: My all time favorite seasoning from Penzey’s that I use on roasted vegetables, chicken, and fish.

5. Fajita Seasoning: I use this on one of my favorite mexican dish, fajitas! All you need is green peppers, onion, and chicken.

Runner Ups: Vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, ground pepper, cocoa, and chili powder.

Back to tonight’s dinner. I began by lightly sprinkling my thawed chicken breast with Sunny Paris Seasoning. I used roughly 1/2 t on each side. I baked my chicken at 365 for approximately 32 minutes. While my chicken was-a-cookin’, I steamed my veggies with some garlic. (you can also sprinkle garlic salt on top of your veggies after they are steamed if you don’t have fresh garlic). For the sauce, I used plain tomato sauce, spiced up with some italian seasoning. Mix it all together and…Voila!

Of course I have to end my dinner with something sweet! I had a slice of banana cranberry bread, which I whipped up this morning. I know, I have way too much time on my hands… I topped it with a drizzle of all natural honey. (Stay tuned for the recipe)

Off to get some homework out of the way before my hectic weekend begins…University of Minnesota Campus Events, Sister Saturday, 21st birthday celebrations, and Roommate Sunday Brunch!

What are your favorite spices?

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