When I first announced that I wanted to plan out my menus for an entire year many thought me totally NUTS! My thought was you plan a menu every week, so why not collect all 52 menus and end up with your menus planned for the next year. The benefits of having a meal plan are numerous. These posts are about the menus I planned and how I did them.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


As you already know I make most of my own Master Mixes.  Many people think of only baking mixes when I say Master Mixes, but that is not the situation. The post on making flavored butters I recently did is another Master Mix of sorts.  

I also make my own herb and spice mixes both savory and sweet.  This blog post is just a sampling of all the wonderful blends you can make on your own with just different combinations of some basic herbs and spices.

By making your own herb and spice mixes you can guarantee freshness, adjust to your family’s preference and cut the salt and sugar content. 

If you grow your own herbs from organic non gmo seeds you are guaranteed to have no chemicals in the process as well.

Drying herbs is as simple as hanging bunches of the herbs upside down to air dry.  I do put paper bags over mine to gather things like dill seed as it dries.  Back in history the herbs were traditionally hung from the rafters of the house.  Although I have exposed beams in my home that I could do that with I prefer to use my clothes drying rack to do so.  It’s a lot easier for me to reach since we have nine foot ceilings.

You can also dry herbs in a dehydrator.  They are fairly quick to do that way.  Of course you can also freeze herbs in water in ice cube trays, but then they can’t be used in herb mixes you plan on storing in the cupboard.

The main thing is to make certain any home grown herbs are completely dried before making the mixes if you are going to be storing the blends to avoid mold.

If you don’t grow your own you can still save a lot of money and have better quality herb and spice blends by buying your herbs and spices in bulk.   There are numerous bulk suppliers of herbs on the web, amazon included.  Or check your local phone listings for spice and tea shops   Many health food stores sell bulk herbs and spices as well.

As I list the various mixes with links to their respective recipes the recipe will say put x amount in a foil packet for individual packets of the mix.  You can do that if that is your preference.   I usually put mine in a half pint canning jar that I can vacuum seal to help insure freshness.  Then on the label not only with the herb mix name and date, but also how much to use per recipe. Of course I make numerous multiples of each recipe to be able to justify the use of space for a jar that big.

Good labeling is very important.  Chili seasoning looks a lot like Taco seasoning.  Carrabba’s style seasoning for olive oil looks a lot like pickling spice.  Don’t trust your memory. Label, label, label.

Now it is time for the list, broken down by categories.  As always click on the link for the recipe and how to use. Because of the basics like garlic powder that are included you will also see those items hyperlinked when they are used in a recipe. 

Creamy Dill Crudite Mix:  Great for dipping raw vegetables in, or thin it down with a little buttermilk for a salad dressing.

Create Your Own: by using any of the salad dressing mix recipes and mixing them with mayo, sour cream, yogurt or a combination you can come up with delicious dips for both vegetables and chips.

Olive oil blend a La Carrabas: My son and I love the seasoned olive oil that is served with crusty bread at the restaurant chain Carrabbas. It is only natural that we wanted to have that same blend at home to serve with the homemade Italian meals. 

Once I tweaked the recipe to where we liked it I wanted more uses for it.  I found if I added vinegar to the olive oil mixture it made a great salad dressing.  Add water to the salad dressing and a marinade was born.

Put the olive oil blend on the crusty bread and toast for a different texture.

Use it for your seasoning when making croutons.

Mix with sour cream for a baked potato topping

I’ve even added it to soups for a different flavor for our basic soups.  The possibilities are endless.


All Purpose Seasoning: The name speaks for itself.  It is basically a seasoned salt blend.

Bouquet Garni aka: Fines Herbes: In this household this only occasionally used so why buy an expensive whole bottle of it? I just make what I need as I need it.

Cajun Seasoning: Adjust the spiciness to your family’s taste for certain.

Celery Powder and Celery Salt: Who knew it was so simple?  

Chili Powder: Finally you can adjust the “heat” in your chili powder to your favorite level.

Chipolte Seasoning: Add more of the dried chipolte if you dare.  I suggest you make a small batch and then adjust your chipolte to your liking in future batches.

Curry Powder:  Adjust your favorite herbs and spices in this recipe to make your own private blend.

Italian Seasoning:  So handy to have on hand.

Lemon Pepper: to use in any recipe calling for it or as a marinade.

Pickling Spice: Can’t pickle without it!

Seasoned Salt:  I don’t need to tell you all the uses for this.

Sloppy Joe Seasoning: No more Manwich.

Stuffing Seasoning Mix:  Make your own stove top stuffing quickly and easily.

All American Rub Marinade: Another use for the All American Rub Master Mix

Lemon Pepper: Use your homemade lemon pepper to marinade meats, poultry and fish.

Create your own:  Any citrus or vinegar salad dressing can be used for a marinade. If using the mixes listed here simply add oil, vinegar and a little water to create the marinade.

Apple Pie SpiceEasy as can be.

Pumpkin spice: Make the holidays easier by having your pie spice made ahead of time.

All American Rub and Marinade: This is one of my favorite rubs to keep on hand.  I use it on all proteins as a dry rub before roasting or grilling. 
Mixed with a little oil and vinegar it makes a great marinade.  I’ve even mixed it with bar-b-que sauce to brush on the final stages of cooking on grilled meats.

Spaghetti Seasoning Mix Rub: Another use for the Spaghetti Seasoning Mix

Buttermilk Salad Dressing Master MixDepending on what you mix it with you can use it on salads, to cook with, on top of baked potatoes, dips there are numerous uses for this basic mix.

Buttermilk and Onion: Great to have on hand to add a slight onion flavor to your salads when you are out of fresh onion.

Chipolte Buttermilk: a spicy version for those that prefer a little kick to their salads.

Chive Buttermilk: all the same uses as the standard Ranch version.

Creamy Italian: This can be used in numerous ways as well

Garden Herb: Can be made using Spike or other herbal season salt substitute.

Herb: uses your favorite herb to accentuate different flavors.

Italian: a wonderful marinade for a cucumber and tomato salad, as well as all types of other salads.

Italian French: A sweet and tangy salad dressing that can also be used in cooking.

Poppy Seed: For spinach and bacon, or spinach and strawberry salads this is a good dressing.

Ranch Dressing: Nothing more needs to be said, it’s Ranch Dressing.

Au us Gravy Mix: Make your own French Dips

Chicken and Brown Gravy Mix: If you make this one using butter or margarine you will need to store it in the refrigerator or freezer.  The recipe does include the amount of powdered butter or powdered margarine you can use to make it shelf stable.  It also has variations for Mushroom Gravy and Herb Gravy.

Spaghetti Seasoning: Always have on hand for a quick spaghetti supper or lunch.

Onion: The classic onion soup mix clone.  Use it in any recipe that calls for onion soup mix.  My recipe also has changes for chicken and or adding mushrooms to it in a shelf stable form.

Spice Blend: Add a touch of spice to muffins, sweet breads, cakes, whipped cream, butters, pancakes, waffles and other goods.

Chili Seasoning: Just add your desired meat, beans and tomatoes to get quick chili.

Enchilada Sauce Seasoning: Make your own enchilada sauce with just the right amount of kick for your family.  Simply adjust the heat.

Fajita Seasoning:  Sprinkle on any fajita meat before searing for great taste.  Another use for the Enchilada Sauce Seasoning

Taco Seasoning #1: You may want to start with less salt for this mix and then adjust to your taste.  This is the recipe I originally used, but when I make it now I use about half of the salt as our tastes have changed.

Taco Seasoning #2: This one has far less salt and stronger flavors of the other herbs, I tend to use this one more than the other one.

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