Make Your Own Italian Seasoning Blend

I made a lovely focaccia on Friday from a recipe that was a little more involved than I usually use but I was blown away by how good it is. I found the recipe for Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia on the Mediterranean Dish website. My only change was to make it in a cast iron skillet. That made it rise beautifully and came out of the oven full of flavor and so very, very good.

Once I had the focaccia, I wanted to make sandwiches with it. What could be better than a meatball focaccia hero? I’ve got pint jars of sauce that Michelle canned for me from tomatoes from her brother. I just needed to flavor it and that was when I realized I was out of Italian seasoning. I make a fairly traditional version (minus the marjoram which I never have) that mixes up quickly.

Italian Seasoning

1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Place all the herbs in a bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight jar.

To make the sauce, I added a tablespoon of the Italian seasoning and two garlic cloves to two cups of tomato sauce and simmered for ten minutes. I added a pinch of salt and it was ready to slather on the focaccia with a couple of meatballs and a slice or two of provolone cheese.

So good!


Grilled Greek Lemon Shrimp

I had planned on a different prep for this recipe but the shrimp I had were pretty small. Therefore, I decided to slice the lemons and use them as a base to keep the shrimp from dropping through the grill basket.

It worked really well for the grill – I think I only lost 2 shrimp to the fire!

If you don’t want to grill the shrimp, you could always put a layer of lemon slices on a sheet pan with the marinaded shrimp on them and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or so.

I also used Penzeys Greek Seasoning for the marinade. You could certainly make your own – see below for a recipe.

I served them with grilled zucchini (quartered into spears and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper – grill them maybe 5 minutes longer than the shrimp) and rice.

The shrimp are really flavorful with both the spices, the grilled lemon and smoke. As this was for my mom’s birthday, I was super glad they turned out perfectly.

Grilled Greek Lemon Shrimp

1 ½ lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning
3 lemons

Juice one lemon. Mix together the olive oil, spice blend and lemon juice. Pour into a zip top bag and add the shrimp. Gently massage the marinade into the shrimp and then seal and place in the refrigerator while you set up the grill (no more than 30 minutes).

Set up the grill for direct cooking. I use a Weber kettle and used a half a chimney of charcoal briquettes. After they got ashy, I spread them evenly over the center of the grill, in the shape of my grilling basket.

Thinly slice the remaining lemons. Place a single layer of the slices in the bottom of the grill basket and then spread the shrimp over the slices. Close the basket so no shrimp can escape. Grill for 5 minutes with the lemon side down. Flip and grill for 3-5 more minutes or until shrimp are done. They will be pink, opaque but not too firm to the touch.

Remove from grill and place shrimp in a bowl. Squeeze some of the lemon slices over the shrimp and serve.

You could definitely make your own Greek Seasoning. I’m at my parents and the blend was easier than mixing up my own. Here is my recipe:

[Greek Seasoning]

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Mix together all the spices and store in an airtight jar.


Taco Seasoning

I’m not a fan of commercial taco seasoning packets. Mainly because it is really easy to make your own and know what you’re putting on your food. I make about a cup so I can store the rest in a jar for the next time I want to season everything from tacos to beans and rice to scrambled eggs.

I used 1 tablespoon of it with a pound of ground beef I browned with onions to make the filling for quick, easy and awesome tacos.

Taco Seasoning

3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.

Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub

While wandering through the Fall Plant Sale from the Herb Society of America, New Orleans Unit, I saw lots of rosemary and sage plants (and we even bought a non-edible sage – Salvia oxyphora). When out grocery shopping later and we found a great deal on chicken thighs, I already knew the flavor profile I wanted.

After letting the chicken sit for a while in a sweet tea brine, I prepared a rub with rosemary and sage. I set the grill up for indirect cooking and I started the thighs skin side down for the first 15 minutes to get some lovely marks on them before flipping them over to cook the rest of the way. It took about an hour total for them to reach 170 degrees F.

Sweet tea brine

3 black tea bags
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
10 chicken thighs

Steep the tea in 4 cups of hot water at least five minutes and until good and dark. Add the sugar and salt and stir until they’ve dissolved. Add in the lemon peel and 2 cups of ice. Stir to melt the ice and cool down the brine. Pour over chicken and put in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Drain the chicken and pat dry. Keep in the refrigerator until about an hour before grilling. Sprinkle both sides with the Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub and let sit on the counter until your fire is ready.

Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub

1/4 cup fresh, chopped rosemary leaves (measure after chopping)
1 tablespoon dried sage
2 teaspoons granulated garlic (optional)
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Using your fingers to mix all the ingredients to combine and then sprinkle on the chicken. Place any unused rub in an airtight container.

I served the chicken with chicken broth potatoes and a small spinach salad (Michelle insisted on something green!).

Scarborough Fair Rub for Chicken

I soaked 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters overnight in a rosemary buttermilk brine:
2.5 quarts of buttermilk
4 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons kosher salt.

The next day I put on a dry rub that harkens back to that 16th century English folk tune – as the main ingredients are sage, rosemary and thyme. The parsley is added as a final step while the meat rests.

I grilled my chicken over indirect heat for about an hour. The chicken can also be roasted in the oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour.

Scarborough Fair Chicken Rub

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground sage
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken. Store any unused in an airtight container.

Grill or roast the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Sprinkle on the parsley after the meat comes off the fire, while it rests for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Cocoa Espresso Rub for Ribs

It has been cold and rainy here in New Orleans. I wanted ribs but I didn’t want to have to actually go outside to deal with the grill. Therefore, I’m going to cook them in the oven.

I needed a rub that has a lot of smoked flavor, so I started with some chipolte powder and paprika. I also wanted some depth so I used a trick from steakhouses to add a dry aged flavor by using instant espresso, cocoa powder, salt and pepper. A little brown sugar to counteract any bitterness from the espresso and cocoa and I had an awesome rub.

Cocoa Espresso Rub for Ribs

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/2 teaspoon chipolte powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix with your fingers to break up any lumps. Store any extra in an airtight container.

Turmeric Brine and Rub for Chicken

I’m doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) again this year and thought I could use some brain boosting to help get me started on writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Turmeric, with its curcumin content, has a number of health benefits (especially when paired with black pepper to assist your body in absorbing it), including helping fuel your brain. It also tastes good and adds a pretty golden color to food, so what’s not to like?

Turmeric Buttermilk Brine

1 quart buttermilk
1 quart water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
10 lbs chicken leg quarters

Combine buttermilk and seasonings in a large container. Add chicken. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours and as long as overnight. Remove chicken and discard brine.

Drain chicken and pat dry. Place in a single layer in a large pan. Place in the refrigerator until ready to build your fire.

Turmeric Rub

4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and mix with your fingers to break up any lumps. I needed to double the recipe for 10 lbs of chicken. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken at least 1 hour before grilling.

Grill over indirect heat until the internal temperature registers 165 F. I usually put it skin side down for the first 20 minutes and then flip it over for the next 40 or so minutes, placing the drumstick closest to the heat.

Memphis Style Rib Rub

This is a milder take on a dry rub and it is perfect for ribs. After giving them a good rub, I grilled the ribs on my Weber over indirect heat for two hours with some hickory chips before moving them into the oven for three hours at 225 degrees F.

Memphis Style Rib Rub

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients. Store any remaining in an airtight container.

Basic Rib Rub

IMG_20150927_121046483My beloved New Orleans Saints are playing this afternoon and, based on their play so far this season, I fear I will need to drown my sorrows in piggy goodness once it is all over. Of course, if they play well, I can always celebrate with a hog feast. I’m a winner either way.

What can I cook that will be ready by game’s end? Answer: a rack of St. Louis style ribs, slow cooked on indirect coals for about 2 hours, then rested for thirty minutes. I’m not doing wet ribs, so there is no basting, just a pan of water that doubles as a drip pan below the rib rack.

While I love to use Emeril’s Rustic Rub on pork, it can be a bit overwhelming on ribs. Instead, I use a basic rub cobbled from Steven Raichlen’s Primal Grill.

Basic Rib Rub

2 tablespoons coarse salt (I use kosher)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Colman’s dry mustard
2 teaspoons granulated garlic

Place the salt, brown sugar, paprika, pepper, mustard and garlic in a small bowl and mix, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar. Fingers work best for this job.

Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of rub per side of a rack of ribs.

Store remaining rub in an airtight container.

Cacao Nib Dry Rub

I sometimes like savory in my desserts and I also like to occasionally add sweet to my savory dishes. This particular dry rub contains cacao nibs (roasted, shelled cacao beans) ie raw chocolate.

This recipe is for a dry rub. I usually make this the day I want to use it. Typically, I coat a venison or beef roast with it and then wrap up the meat in plastic wrap for a few hours before grilling. The nibs adds a depth of flavor – chocolatey, a little nutty with a hint of bitterness. I use Scharffen Berger Cacao Nibs and they can be found in a lot of natural food stores.

Cacao Nib Dry Rub

2 tablespoons Cacao Nibs
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard, I like Coleman’s
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons Kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle. Grind until the nibs break into particles about the size of coarse cornmeal. Use immediately or store in an air tight container.

cocoa nibs dry rub