First off, I have to say it's well worth it to invest in a good spice cabinet. And I do mean invest. They're expensive, but have say, a little curry, on hand will be just the thing to kick-up your chicken salad. Or cumin for your meatloaf (go ahead and throw in some cheddar cheese, black beans, and a dash of salt while you're at it.*) A few new spices can make your bland grand.
With that in mind, here are couple recipes so you can try out those new spices I'm sure you'll dash off to buy.
Beer-braised pork and black bean soup. Don't you dare open a can of Pace for this. If you don't want to buy the fresh stuff, make your own.
Serve with cornbread.
And, a new one I intend to try this weekend:
Chicken with Curry Sour Cream Sauce.
Heat some oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Brown 4 breast halves (or 2 1/2-3lbs cut up boiler-fryer chicken). Drain fat. Sprinkle chicken with salt, add some chopped onion and a couple tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until juices run clear. Remove chicken, keep warm. Add 1/4c. water to the skillet, 2 tsp. curry, pinch of ginger and a pinch of cumin. Bring to a boil. Be sure to scrape up all those little brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat, stir in 1c.sour cream until it's hot. Pour sauce over chicken and rice. Serve with chutney.
You can also put dry-roasted peanuts, shredded coconut, mandarin orange segments, and chopped green onions out to sprinkle on top of the chicken.
Vegetable options: Well here I'm no good. I'm not knowledgeable enough with Indian cuisine to know what would be good. You decide.
As with the last one, if you have a great idea for a non-American salt-and-pepper-spiced meal, let me know.
*I ought to give credit to my Sister-in-Law for this idea. I threw in the beans myself, but the cumin and cheese was all her.