Adding Spices to Boring Things

While I’ve gotten a lot better about being more creative in the kitchen, as well as making things from scratch, I still use a lot of the skills I developed back when I was still learning how to cook. On days when I’m cranky, tired, or both, I still use some of these tactics without reservation.

Part of my M.O. was to take something store-bought and build a meal around it (Sandra Lee didn’t invent “semi-homemade,” you know). Part of this delicate process was adding a dash (or five) of one or two spices in order to jazz up whatever I was using. This really a great strategy because it keeps your mouth from getting bored, and it makes you feel like you have a little more ownership over a meal that you didn’t work very hard on.

Below are a few of my favorites. By the way, it should go without saying that salt and black pepper are usually used as well. Any other suggestions, team?

Store-bought strips of grilled chicken: Cumin and/or cayenne pepper powder

Box mac and cheese: Ground mustard and cayenne pepper powder

Plain popcorn: Italian seasoning and grated parmesan cheese

Lackluster tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought): Garlic powder and/or oregano

Frozen burger patties: All of the above, plus Montreal Steak Seasoning, chili powder, and nutmeg. (Yeah, nutmeg. Just a touch. Don’t knock it “˜till you’ve tried it.)

Photo: Getty

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