Fail-Safe Spices

Like most people who enjoy cooking, I have always liked to play around with different flavor profiles, trying new tastes and experimenting with various spices.  However, I have a certain combination of spices that I always come back to that go with just about anything you can imagine.  I use them on meat, poultry, and fish; they go great in soups and stews; and they even work very well in olive oil for homemade salad dressing or dipping oil for crusty bread.  Most people have their fail-safe spices they always fall back on, here are mine.

 

Garlic Pepper

Garlic Salt

Lemon Pepper

Season All Seasoned Salt

Parsley

Salt and Black Pepper to taste

 

I would also like to point out while I am talking about spices that they do need to be replaced from time to time.  No, they are not made to last forever, and yes they do lose their flavor.  Your herbs should all be greenish in color; if they are brown, it is time to replace them.  They do not have to be thrown out as often as, let’s say, old cereal, but you should probably look at them about the same time you would your canned goods or perhaps medicines.

So these are my fail-safe spices.  I use them on everything.  They even taste great on grilled asparagus and in my tomato soup (which is in my posted recipes if you would like to have it).  But I think my all-time favorite is a juicy steak using these particular seasonings.

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Symphony in My Mouth

Pan Seared Chicken With White Wine Tomato Sauce

For those of you who like precise measurements and control over what every little ingredient is doing, this one is probably going to drive you a little crazy.  For those of you who love to go by “feel” and watch everything tie in together beautifully like a great story,  give this recipe a try.  No matter the personality type (whether you have to struggle through or it comes easily to you), you will not be disappointed.  Believe me.  I made this for dinner tonight; we have no chicken left, but I am figuring out what to have for lunch tomorrow, so I can enjoy that sauce all over again.

Stage 1:  Heat some olive oil over medium in a large skillet (choose a skillet with a lid).  Add raw chicken pieces to hot oil (I used 5 good-sized, bone-in thighs).  Let the chicken brown a bit, cooking about 20 min.  Add a bit of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, white wine (about half a cup, whatever you have will work – I actually used some white zinfandel tonight), and spices.* Cover with the lid. Cook about another 15 minutes.  Be sure you are turning your chicken every 10-15 min or so throughout the entire process.

* My spices: Season All Seasoned Salt, Garlic Salt, Garlic Pepper, Lemon Pepper, and Sage (be liberal with the seasoning)

Stage 2:  Add fresh minced garlic and finely chopped onion (about a third of a cup).  I also added a dash of salt and black pepper at this point.   Cover with the lid and cook for another 20 – 25 min.  (You do not want to add this too early or it will burn in your olive oil and wine sauce.)  Be sure to use your lid most of the cooking time to keep that lovely moisture in your chicken.

Stage 3:  Add chopped tomatoes (I used 3 romas, and left them in rather large slices), chopped fresh parsley, and about half a cup to a cup of chopped fresh spinach.  Just distribute evenly over the top of your chicken and sauce, and cover with the lid again.  These need to be added around the last 10 minutes of cook time to keep them from burning up or withering to nothing as well.  Don’t forget to turn that chicken!

Cooking chicken can be tricky.  If you are a pro at it, then you will understand the importance of my 3-part stages.  If not, do not be ashamed to cut into your chicken periodically to check on it.  Better to have some chicken that has been hacked at a little than to put out raw food or burn everything else because it took longer to cook the meat than you originally thought.  Plus, this sauce is so wonderful that you will want to spoon some over your chicken when plating, and no one will be able to tell the difference.