Popular Spices and Herbs used for Cooking

Popular spices and herbs used for cooking differ for many reasons. Different countries use different spices and herbs. Different cultures use different spices and herbs. Popular spices and herbs used for cooking can also vary from region to region, by religion, family, individual and/or health situations. They can also differ dish to dish. What I use in my cooking could be very different from what you use and vice versa. I know I use an entirely different array of spices and herbs than my mother did. My sisters even have different spices and herbs that work for each of them, so I’m sure there are many different combinations of spices and herbs that can be used in cooking.

The most popular combination of spices and herbs used in cooking are salt, pepper and garlic. Different types of salt, coarse, ground and hot pepper, and whole, minced, chopped or roasted garlic is added to a number of dishes. This classic trio doesn’t vary much from one country to another. Most people use them. They’ve even come out with a bottled version called grill seasoning. It goes good with anything from salads to meats and adds plenty of flavor to your cooking.

Different countries have combinations of spices that are used in most every dish. Italian foods usually contain a mixture of basil, oregano and thyme and Southern American fare uses cilantro, parsley and oregano. The French have their own combination as I’m sure do the Africans, Spanish and Australians. Depending upon where you live, the combination of herbs you use reflects your culture and is a part of your heritage.

Different dishes call for different spices and herbs. While I would cook seafood with garlic, butter, dill, salt and pepper, I would not use that combination on steak. I might use garlic, oregano and salt, pepper and lemon. Most vegetables only need salt, pepper and garlic, whereas chicken or turkey tastes better with rosemary and sage. Some cultures like to heat up their foods by adding hot sauce or hot peppers. Some regions use what is locally grown such as tomatoes, onions or even fruits.

If you or your family have health concerns, you may not be able to use certain spices, herbs or flavorings. Some people have allergies or other health or diet related issues that only allow the basic seasonings and do not allow salt, pepper or things that interfere with medications. Usually this type of diet allows fresh herbs or other natural flavorings. Check with your health professional before adding any new spice to your diet if you suffer from a condition that requires medical attention.

Finally, individual tastes dictate what types of spices and herbs people use. My mom didn’t like the taste of salt so she never used it. I cook with salt but don’t add it after cooking. My daughter doesn’t like onions, but she has learned to pick them out when she comes to dinner at my house. Whatever your tastes are, there is probably a group of popular spices and herbs you like to use for cooking. If I were to ask ten different people, I’m sure I would get ten different combinations of popular spices and herbs used for cooking.

Recipes: Enchilada casserole in a slow cooker

Mexican food has a flavor and texture all of its own. The dishes are colorful and so full of flavor that most people have at least one favorite Mexican dish. Enchiladas are one such dish that people seem to really enjoy.

Many families enjoy enchiladas, but have a hard time figuring out how to create them at home. The following recipe is easy to prepare and delicious to eat. When you and/or your family want to try something “south of the border”, give this recipe a shot.

Ingredients

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon garlic powder works)
2 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce
2-3 teaspoons chili powder (more to taste if desired)
Salt and black pepper  
24 corn tortillas 
2 cans cream of chicken soup with herbs
4 cups shredded cheese (more if desired)  

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Instructions

Brown beef in skillet with garlic and onion, drain and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, combine tomato sauce and chicken soup with salt and pepper and chili powder. Heat through. Set aside.

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

Pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of slow cooker and then line with 4 corn tortillas.

Pour enough sauce to barely cover tortillas and then spoon beef onto each tortilla. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the beef and then cover with 4 tortillas. Repeat this step until beef is gone. 

The top layer will be tortillas; pour remaining sauce over everything and then cover with cheese.

Set slow cooker on low and simmer for 4-5 hours. Serve warm.

This recipe can easily be cut in half to accommodate smaller slow cookers.

This recipe can be altered to suit your own family/individual tastes. Feel free to experiment with spices and even adding additional ingredients. This is a good base and tastes great with sour cream. You can also try substituting flour tortillas for the corn tortillas.