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Ingredient Experimentations and Quick Weeknight Dinner

Posted Mar 02 2011 9:19pm
Welcome back to The Soulful Spoon!

From my last post, I'm sure you're all wondering if this blog is only about smoothies. Well, not completely, although I will say, I get more emails about smoothie recipes than any other type of response. Either way, I love them, but definitely don't want to exclude lots of other wonderful ingredients that you can use to create delicious dishes in new recipes for your kitchen.
Recently, I've been attempting to try some new flavors, cooking ideas and methods when it comes to cooking meals for myself. Instead of blending lots of yummy ingredients, I've been baking, broiling, sauteing and slicing away to discover just what it is I can create with what I have here at my house, or what is inexpensive at the market that anyone could buy to use. Of course it has to taste good too!

If you're tired of your salt and pepper shakers like most people, I urge you to embrace the spice cabinet! It's not just made for pulling out the sage and cinnamon at Thanksgiving folks!!:)

  Spices are a HOST of antioxidants and major flavor. Even I didn't know this until recently, but 1 tsp. oregano has 10 times the antioxidants as a cup of blueberries! Since a little goes a LONG way, you can save money, time and hassle, plus ADD flavor by incorporating more natural spices into your diet.

Recently, I tried a new Thai-flavored dish. I'm not a fan of Thai food, but the recipe called for a spice I love, turmeric, which is what gives mustard and curry powders their orange-yellow glow. So, using some ground turmeric I had in my cupboard, I cooked up a dish of Indian-flavored chicken and asparagus, from a recipe I found in a magazine. I simplified the recipe by substituting most of the expensive recipes for only turmeric, ginger, ground black pepper, oregano and cilantro. The mix may sound a little odd, but it was really very tasty. 

What is turmeric?  It's a pungent, spicy and very warming spice that can generally transform a dish into an appetizing and fulfilling meal. It's also high in antioxidants and pretty inexpensive. You don't need much turmeric to really make a dish stand out with a nice warm flavor. A little goes a long way when it comes to the spice cabinet.

Other spices I've been experimenting with include Garam Marsala   (pictured above), which is a mix of coriander ( cilantro's sister herb), cinnamon, black pepper and nutmeg. Since I love all these spices separately, I thought I would give the spicy, hearty and warm spice blend a try. Needless to say, I love it! Try Garam Marsala in any Mexican, Thai, Latin, or Indian dish, or just do what I do and try it on your favorite dish you would normally use black pepper. It's pretty spicy, so I wouldn't suggest using it in sweet dishes unless you just get really brave in your next baking session:)

Like turmeric, Garam Marsala can be found in most markets but can be a little pricy depending on where you buy it. I usually find it for around $4-5 by the brand, McCormick. Until next time, here's an easy recipe to get you started with the two spices, turmeric and garam marsala

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Serves 1

Optional Companion Dish: Fresh salad made with romaine lettuce, celery, tomatoes and sliced almonds 

1. In a medium sized skillet, heat the oil for 2 minutes, until melted and simmering. Add the fish or chicken, the spices and use a little more oil if you need to. Squeeze the lemon juice on top and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked thoroughly.

2. Next, add in the asparagus pieces and add the black pepper and saute 2 more minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and serve alone or over a salad as suggested above.

This is a great quick weeknight meal! Try something new this week and purchase 1 new spice you've never heard of on your spice aisle. Come home, google the ingredient and recipes associated with it, and see what you can do! I'd love to hear what you find so please do share!!:)

Happy Experimenting!

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