Category Archives: Homemade Seasoning Blends

“Knock-Off” Carabbas Italian Seasoning Blend

So last week when I made Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce for dinner, I had a craving for what we refer to in my family as “dippy bread.” For slightly more mature people, this is a seasoning mixture in a shallow dish with olive oil (and sometimes vinegar) that you dip slices of nice, crusty bread in and eat. This practice is frequently seen at Italian restaurant chains such as Carrabba’s and Macaroni Grill. And it’s delicious.

We went through a phase when I lived at home with my parents where he ate this with dinner almost every night. It effectively replaced bread and butter as a side dish for us. In recent years, I haven’t eaten this much anymore. I’m not sure of the reason, maybe because it’s just me in the house or maybe because I frankly don’t eat bread that much anymore. But last week when I made that pasta, I was craving some dippy bread! I picked up a loaf of fresh-baked bread at the bakery, and then set about to making a spice mixture.

Well let me back up a step, first I got home and dug through my spice cabinet and found the ubiquitous seasoning container that I used to use that has four sections labeled with things like “Sicilian blend” and “Rosemary and Garlic.” I haven’t used this seasoning a quite a while (frankly it was probably old enough that it needed to be thrown out anyway), so I checked the ingredients list and was shocked at what I found. First of all, one of the first ingredients was salt but then I saw something even worse – one of the ingredients on each of the four varieties was “partially hydrogenated oil”. Blah! What are trans fats doing in my seasoning blend? No sir – that seasoning went straight into the trash.

Now we’re back on track. I knew I could make a tasty seasoning blend all on my own based on spices I already have in my cabinet. Making my own seasoning blends is sort of a habit of mine so I was happy to undertake this task. After a few tastings, I landed on the mix below. I’m going to give you two recipes – one for a “single serving” which would be a dish that approximately 4 people could dip bread into with their dinner and one for a whole container of the seasoning. As I live alone (which I’m starting to think I mention too often!), it’s easier for me to make a big batch of seasoning and then portion out a tablespoon or so of the pre-mixed batch for my dinner. Plus I always have these plastic containers around to re-purpose!

Without further ado…

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“Knock-Off” Carabbas’ Seasoning Blend (dinner serving – approx. 4 servings)


    – 2 teaspoons basil, dried
    – 2 teaspoons parsley, dried
    – 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
    – 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    – 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or marjoram)
    – 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    – 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    – 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, dried
    – 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    – 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
    – 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (I do this by sight – just fill the dish enough to dip in, and you can always add more!)

”Knock-Off” Carrabbas’ Seasoning Blend (large serving – to store in the spice cabinet)


    – 1/4 cup granulated garlic
    – 1/4 cup dried basil
    – 1/4 cup dried parsley
    – 1 tablespoon dried thyme
    – 1 tablespoon dried oregano (or majoram)
    – 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
    – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    – 1 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
    – 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake


Mix all ingredients together in an air-tight container and store. To serve, mix a tablespoon of the seasoning with a few drops of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of olive oil (for one bread-loving person, or two normal people) and serve with crusty bread. You can also mix the seasoning with just olive oil, or with oil and vinegar – all these combinations are equally delicious! And if you have “Italian Seasoning” in your cabinet – it usually contains some combination of basil, parsley, thyme and oregano so you can substitute that for several of the above ingredients.

Enjoy! 🙂

Homemade ‘Taco Seasoning’

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I don’t see any reason to spend money on pre-mixed seasoning packets when it’s so easy and inexpensive to assemble them from your own spice cabinet! One of my favorites is “taco seasoning” although I use it for a variety of recipes that I want to have that tex-mex quality. For example, last night I used it to season a combination of 1 lb ground pork and 2 cups of cooked lentils to make a filling (along with my homemade refried beans) for tacos. It made a ton of filling! I’ll probably be eating it in both tacos and on salads for the rest of the week. Which is fine by me 🙂 When you have good, healthy, food handy in the fridge then you aren’t as susceptible to eating quick, processed foods. And, since I used up the last of my homemade seasoning last night it was the perfect time to make some more! Here’s the line up…

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Homemade ‘Taco Seasoning’ – makes approximately 1/2 a cup

  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons hot, smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in your chosen storage container (I use a small mason jar) and shake to combine. This recipe makes about 1/2 a cup but you can double or triple it based on the size of your container. I use approximately 2 tablespoons of seasoning for around a pound of meat (I usually season to taste) so this little container makes plenty for a couple of months. Also, you’ll notice that I didn’t include any salt in my mix! It seems unnecessary to me as I prefer to salt and pepper the meat separately when it hits the pan. It’s just SO easy to over salt food and most of us eat WAY too much sodium so I feel like this is a better approach.

I use this seasoning mix on ground meat or chicken pieces for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, salads, etc. There are a lot of different options – and it’s easy and healthy!