Spice up the holidays by adding herbs to many favorite foods

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When you think of herbs to add to a holiday meal, you may only think of sage for sage stuffing.

Many of the smells and tastes associated with holiday memories come from familiar herbs and spices. Cooking and garnishing with herbs and spices during the holidays add aromas and a special touch to entertaining in your home and gifts from your kitchen. Here are some seasonings for the season:

• Bay leaves: Adds a woodsy flavor to soups, sauces and roasts; use them for garnishing serving dishes and to make small wreaths for gifts

• Parsley: Try adding some to freshly mashed potatoes, fish or as color to a bland dish

• Peppercorns: Black, green, white or pink can add a wide range of spice and color

• Nutmeg. Adds spicy sweetness to custards, sweet potatoes, squash dishes and hot beverages

• Mint: Gives a fresh finish to pork, ham, green beans, spinach dishes and desserts

• Vanilla: Keep both extract and beans on hand for holiday cooking to use in desserts, baked goods and hot beverages

• Cloves: Adds extraordinary spiciness to breads, pies and cookies

• Sage: For an earthy touch in stuffings, dressings and baked goods

• Savory: Adds a light, peppery appeal to many foods including eggs and beef. 

• Rosemary: Perfect on roasted potatoes and in egg dishes

• Tarragon: Adds a fresh flavor to green bean casserole, also add to fish or salad dressings

• Cinnamon: In sauces, pies, cobblers, cookies and on fruit; keep sticks on hand to use in hot tea

Herbs can add flavor and color to any food. Knowing which herb flavors your family likes will help you keep meals interesting all year long but especially during the holidays and winter months ahead.

Great last minute gift

If you still need a special Christmas gift for someone who loves to cook, I have the perfect gift for you!.Our National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Agents is selling cookbooks – that are more than a cookbook. The book, developed by our professionals from across the nation, captures the rich tradition of wonderful healthy foods. It is filled with time-tested recipes and educational information to enhance your life. Included are recipes of traditional foods from each state in the nation plus information about why that food is an important part of that state’s heritage.

The book is $25 and will easily become a favorite resource for not only recipes, but cooking terminology, food safety, cooking and baking tips and techniques.

Holiday closing

The Carroll County Extension office will be closed from Friday, Dec. 23 until Tuesday, Jan. 3. We wish you, your family and loved ones a very safe and happy holiday. See you next year.


Grace Angotti is Carroll Co. Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to gangotti@uky.edu.