1. Pumpkin Pie Spice
photo credit: http://whats4dinnersolutions.com/2010/11/24/mrs-js-perfect-pumpkin-pie/
One of the first things to signify the start of the holiday season is the pumpkin patches that start popping up everywhere in October. Pumpkins are used as decoration leading up to Halloween, and make their way into pumpkin pies and pumpkin cakes once the holiday has passed. Pumpkin pies are the classic end to a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and you can’t make a pumpkin pie without our pumpkin pie spice! The spice is actually a blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and allspice, and it will give your pumpkin pies (as well as the pumpkin cakes, lattes, and other treats) an irresistible flavor.
photo credit: Mat Packer / http://www.matpacker.com/
Rosemary is a fragrant piney herb that has been in use since 500 B.C., particularly in the Mediterranean region where it grows naturally. It is a member of the mint family, but it is also an evergreen with some visual similarities to spruce trees. In fact, because of its needle-like silvery-green leaves, rosemary plants are often sold as mini-Christmas trees during the holiday season. Its aroma, reminiscent of lemon and pine, also makes it a staple of holiday cooking. It is useful for seasoning meat (particularly lamb), as well as vegetables (lemon rosemary potatoes come to mind) and soups.
photo credit: Steven Depelo / renaissance-hotels.marriott.com/united-states/flour-bakery-boston
Cinnamon is usually found as a spicy brown powder in the store, but it is actually the inner layer of bark from a cinnamon tree. It has a sweet smell and is used in sweet and spicy dishes. Around the holidays cinnamon is ubiquitous. It can be found in everything from applesauce to cinnamon rolls to snickerdoodle cookies and coffee cake. Try using a cinnamon stick to stir a hot cup of apple cider, or use cinnamon powder to top off a cup of hot chocolate to give it a holiday twist. Or, try your hand at making homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning.
4. Honey Ham Glaze
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The quintessential meal for a perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas dinner has a freshly cooked ham with a beautiful glaze as the centerpiece. However, with so much pressure to make the perfect holiday meal, it can be difficult to decide which spices and herbs to use to flavor the ham. We recommend a traditional honey glaze. It will bring back memories of Christmases past, especially if you use the same recipe year after year like we always have. A mix like this one makes it simple, so you don't have to be stuck slaving away in the kitchen instead of enjoying your family. After heating the ham, simply add cherries or cloves for garnish, and then serve to gasps and murmurs of delight.
photo credit: tawest64 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/tawest64/
Peppermint is the flavor of candy canes, the red and white stripes and the hook shape that hangs perfectly from the branches of a Christmas tree are so festive! Did you know that the peppermint plant is actually a hybrid of watermint and spearmint? It can be used to make a tea and its refreshing cool flavor lends well to being added to many holiday foods. The combination of peppermint and chocolate is divine - try making peppermint fudge or peppermint hot chocolate.
6. Prime Rib Rub
photo credit: The Delicious Life / http://www.thedeliciouslife.com/
Prime Rib is another dish that often serves as the main entree for important holiday events. Prime rib is cooked resting directly on the rib bones, and when prepared correctly, it should be rich and juicy, and melt in your mouth. When cooking this expensive cut, it is important to properly season the delicate and delicious meat, so consider using a rub made specifically for prime rib. This rub has a mixture of salt, pepper, onion, rosemary and garlic to make sure that the main course at your Christmas dinner is flavorful and delicious.
7. Mulling Spices
Mulling spices make us imagine being snuggled up in a sleigh with someone we love, wrapped in warm blankets on a crisp cool night as the snowflakes start falling. This spice mix can be used like a tea bag in water or spirits (try it with brandy!) to make a sweet and spicy holiday beverage. Mulled cider is the perfect holiday drink to help warm up on a winter's night after an evening of caroling or checking out the neighborhood's Christmas lights.
8. Savory Turkey Blend
photo credit: tuchodi / https://www.flickr.com/photos/tuchodi/
A perfect turkey is the centerpiece to the Thanksgiving meal. Seasoning a turkey is a delicate process that requires the right blend of herbs and spices. We've created this unique, savory turkey blend - a salt-free mix that contains garlic, citrus, sugar, bell pepper, onion, sage, rosemary, savory, and thyme - to ensure that we get it right.
9. Tasty Turkey Brine
photo credit: Scott Feldstein / https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottfeldstein/
Another way to prepare your turkey for the main event is to brine it. Brining is essentially just soaking in salty water. This method makes the bird tender and succulent. There are a lot of variations on the salt mixture to use as brine, but we like this one. It is a tasty blend of holiday flavors like sea salt, brown sugar, cloves, nutmeg, juniper berries, black peppercorns, garlic, rosemary and dried fruit. Simply let it soak in the brine overnight, and your turkey will be deliciously juicy and flavorful.
10. Vanilla Bean Sugar
Vanilla is one of the oldest and most common flavors- but it got its reputation for a reason. Derived from the bean pod of vanilla orchid flowers, vanilla is aromatic and sweet. Anything but ordinary, it can be paired with a huge variety of other flavor profiles to enhance their taste. However, one of the simplest pairings is also one of the most delicious: vanilla bean and sugar. Vanilla bean flavored sugar can be used to rim cocktail glasses at a holiday party or in baked goods. Or, start a tradition of making Christmas cookies. Baking Christmas cookies for Santa (or just yourselves, or your friends and neighbors) is a fun activity that will help to get everyone into the holiday spirit.
11. Orange Peel
photo credit: Rebecca Siegel / https://www.flickr.com/photos/grongar/
Have you ever wondered where the tradition of filling out the toe of a stocking with an orange originated? Some say it was because during World War II (or the Great Depression, depending on where you get your information), oranges were expensive and such a rare treat (especially in Northern Climates) that to receive one on Christmas morning was the finest of gifts, and the tradition stuck because of how nicely the round orange fills out the hard-to-reach toe portion of the stocking. Others say that the orange is meant to represent balls of gold that Saint Nicholas left in the stockings of three daughters needing a dowry, according to the legend. In any case, orange has become associated with the holiday season despite the warm-weather climates from which it originates. Use orange peel by itself as candied citrus, or to make potpourri to give the house a cheerful fresh scent, or to season meats, or to flavor a holiday cocktail.
photo credit: Mike Poresky / http://mikeporesky.wix.com/photo
Ginger is a key ingredient in Asian and Indian cooking, but it has also been used in European recipes for centuries, particularly during the holiday season. Gingerbread, for example, has a long history dating to the middle ages, when it was used by maidens as a gift for knights heading off to war. Today, ginger is used as Christmas approaches to make gingerbread cookies in fun shapes or to build little gingerbread houses that can be decorated with icing and candy. Ginger is also used in holiday beverages like ginger ale and ginger beer.
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Sage is a Mediterranean herb with both culinary and medicinal uses. It can be used to treat stomach inflammation, cure a sore throat, or boost memory. However, our favorite use for it is in traditional bread or bread-and-sausage stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey. It has a slightly bitter, slightly musty flavor that is a good balance to poultry. It can also be used to make flavored butter to smear on freshly baked rolls.
14. Star Anise
photo credit: Luca Nebuloni / http://lucanebuloni.omou.net/
Star anise is a powerful spice with a sweet and licorice-like taste. It is particularly fun to use when decorating and cooking for the holidays because of its pretty star-shaped pods. A little bit goes a long way with this pungent spice (it can actually make your mouth go numb if you use too much!), but it is pretty in potpourri or useful to warm up desserts with seasonal flavors like ginger, apple, or pumpkin. It also combines well with cranberries, and adds nuanced flavors to this traditional holiday dish.
photo credit: Katie / www.whatkatiesbaking.com
Nutmeg has been an extremely popular spice throughout history. In fact, it is one of the spices that Christopher Columbus was seeking when he sailed for the New World! It grows on trees in the tropics, and has a sweet, warm spiciness that pairs well with cinnamon. During the holidays it is often used in baked goods, or in milk-based products and custards. For example, it is one of the key ingredients in everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage, eggnog. We also love it in cheesecake or to season squash as a side dish on the holiday table.
photo credit: Bradley Gordan / http://www.stayathomebrad.com/
Clove is one of the world’s most important spices, used in both sweet and savory contexts. During the holidays, cloves are used in many foods, from the turkey to the pumpkin pie. Using whole cloves to stud the outside of a ham or the outside of an orange or onion looks beautiful on a serving plate, and will impart a sweet aromatic flavor to the substrate (remove them before eating).For us, these are the herbs, spices, and unique blends that make the holiday season feel so special. Our herbs and spices are gluten free and add flavor and sometimes nutritional value, generally without increasing the calorie count of a food item. We suggest trying to use one or all of these seasonings this year to make your holiday season as flavorful and memorable as possible!