I am so delighted and honored to share that I am writing this post thanks to a brand-new association with McCormick spices. I have used their spices since I have been in the US (about twenty years)!

The recipe for this post is one that is very close to my heart: my kids love it! It is a treat that I make for them once or twice a year and they gobble it up. The light pink color makes it look a bit magical! I know a number of my readers will be so happy that I am finally posting a dessert recipe! (I heard your feedback that you wanted a few easy Indian-inspired desserts so here goes). The kids like a bit of color so they picked pink (yes, the boys did.. LOL)

Monica’s Pretty in Pink Balls

Yields 10–12 pieces

1 cup ricotta cheese, drained of any whey

1 cup crumbled paneer (this is Indian cheese, easily available at any Indian store)**

1 can (12 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

2-4 drops of McCormick Assorted Food Coloring (red is what I used)

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well by hand or using a hand blender.
  2. Heat a medium non-stick pan. Add the mixture, and cook on low heat, stirring constantly, for about 25-30 minutes or until the mixture dries up and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to a platter. Allow it to cool, about 30 minutes.
  4. Divide into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a small ball ( the kids always help me to do this and I should have taken photos.. ah, next time). Serve.

This dessert is SO versatile. My children have always loved the fresh, sweetness of vanilla, so they prefer it with vanilla. My own Indian tastes tend towards cardamom and if you want to do that, you can omit the color and vanilla and instead add  ground cardamom. If you want to play even more, add the cardamom along with McCormick’s Spanish Saffron.

Spices are really my life-line in the kitchen. I often joke that my spices guide my hands. The cardamom dictates if it wants to be ground or sizzled, the cumin encourages me to explore my savory side, ginger is my friend even on rough days in the kitchen and saffron makes me smile.

Do you love spices as much as I do? I hope you will take a moment to tell me about them and it could even win you a prize.. See below


McCormick has been kind enough to provide a huge HUGE box of goodies for one, lucky, US-based Life of Spice reader:

I hope you will all enter for a chance to win this lovely box!

Here is what you need to do to enter:

  1. Leave a comment here about your favorite spring spice and how you like to use it.
  2. Do tell a friend on FB or Twitter about this giveaway. The honor system is in place here.
  3. Only one entry per person
  4. My kids will pick a winner on Friday evening at 5:00, p.m (may 25th, 2012) and I will notify the winner via email. If we do not hear back from you within 24 hours, we will pick another winner. All decisions are final.

The box of goodies includes:

A beautiful apron

Spring themed cookie cutters

Wilton Ultra Bake 12 cup Muffin Pan

CorningWare 3 quart Stoneware Pan

Meri Meri Cupcake liners (48 count)

McCormick Food Coloring

McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

McCormick Pure Lemon Extract

McCormick Ground Cinnamon

McCormick Ground Ginger

A whisk

Lovely photos of the dessert were shot by the very talented Reem Rizvi of Simply Reem for  Life of Spice. I am grateful to her!

This giveaway is sponsored by McCormick spices.

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  1. Perhaps not too original but basil is my spice of choice. It is the essential ingredient to a delicious caprese which I devour once real tomatoes are available.

  2. My favorite spring spice would have to be mint. As soon as spring rolls around I like to make those light, fresh berry & lemon desserts that pair so well with mint. If I had to choose one in a jar, it would probably be cumin. I know that’s not very spring-like but I love everything spicy and cumin complements those type of dishes so well!

  3. I have to pick a favorite? I can at least tell you our two most-used spices, and that would be hot red pepper flakes, and cinnamon. The pepper flakes go in every red sauce for pasta I make, or in a garlic-oil sauce for pasta. More or less depending on whether the kids are eating it. And the cinnamon? My boys love French toast, so enough said there. One of their favorite stories is about the time their Uncle Johnny, making French toast, grabbed red pepper instead of cinnamon. That must have been some nasty French toast. But what a wake up call!

  4. I am starting to use just a pinch of cayenne in almost everything. I like the little kick it provides. I am now starting to even use it in my hearty cookies like ginger snaps and chocolate chip cookies. Of course, because we like that little pop of heat it goes into my spring risottos, soups etc.

  5. Wait… spices have seasons??? It seems I need to be educated. My favorite spice is cardamon, on pears, in rice pudding, mingled with other spices in a savory dish…heaven.

  6. My favorite spring spice is also mint because it is used in so many of my mother’s Persian recipes. Fresh mint (and parsley!) in Shiraz Salad (onions, cucumber, tomatoes, and freh mint, all diced small) is what puts this simple dish over the top. Nothing like it. In the winter, I use dried so high quality (small package!) dried mint is key. It’s convenient that it is readily available in supermarkets when once upon a time we’d have to go to specialty (Middle EAstern) shop for that.

  7. The perky flavor and warm color of curry powder make it my favorite spice. It goes in chili, chicken broccoli casserole, and of course, curry dishes!

  8. Ground coriander is one of my favorites. Chicken breasts that are marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, ground coriander, and a pinch of red pepper flakes then grilled & showered with minced cilantro is a summer staple.

  9. One of my favorite spices is thyme–being English I love using it in traditional Sunday roast chicken dinners, but, like a lot of English cooks, I like to cook “continental” Europe too. It’s also great on grilled veggies and paired with basil or oregano in Italian fare. I love that it can go from comfort food to robust, more exotic food.

  10. Oregano– that old standby– I use for recipes from my youth and new ones that I’ve learned as a grownup. My mother’s delicious meat sauce is made so fragrant by oregano, and my husband’s fugazetta– a delicous onion and provolone pizza– gets its extra layer of flavor with a sprinkling of oregano.

  11. My favorite spice is ground mustard! I add it to almost everything. White sauce is wonderful with a teaspoon or so of mustard added. Any roast vegetable is better with ground mustard mixed in with a tiny bit of oil to coat them. I add it to any soup, creamed or not. I especially like it in macaroni and cheese casseroles.

  12. My fave spice is garlic powder. I use it on anything and for any cooking method. From rice to stews, grilled or boiled, everything just tastes better with it.

  13. I love thyme and use it in so many savory dishes. A favorite I haven’t made in a while is filet mignon in a cabernet reduction with thyme and garlic. Thank you for the reminder!

  14. Spring and summertime include lots of grilling and enjoying the outdoor patio, so I really love cilantro to add to marinades, appetizers and more.

  15. My husband’s favorite spice is McCormick Steak Seasoning which of course is a wonderful combination of spices. He uses it on steaks, lamb, prime rib, etc., and everyone always asks how he prepares the meat because it is so absolutely delicious!

  16. I looked up the definition of “spice” and it seemed to exclude “herbs” that are the leaves of plants. However, I am going to go with rosemary as my favorite spice, anyway. I love to use rosemary in cooking meats. It makes chicken delicious. I also use it in a marinade for pork tenderloin that my husband cooks on the grill. ( My daughter gave me the recipe for this; she got it from her Italian Mother-in-law.) Lamb chops cooked in a skillet with cannellini and stewed tomatoes, garlic, oil,vinegar and rosemary are mouth watering. I am so thankful for all the herbs and spices that flavor our lives.

  17. I love McCormick oregano and basil in the Spring. I grew up on this brand. It’s a favorite of mine. I make a wonderful tomatoe salad using both, with diced red onion, sea salt, oregano, basil, black pepper and mozzarella cheese. It’s a favorite of my daughter, Daisy.

  18. Probably cinnamon. I add to all sorts of baked goods plus some savory things to warm them up

  19. Not really a spice, but I cannot wait for the lavender to bloom! I just it steeped in cream to make ganache!

  20. My family is Syrian and Lebanese – so I love to use Sumac as a substitute for lemon! Sumac can also be found sprinkled on our rice, to add a bit of that tangy flavor found in Middle Eastern dishes.

  21. My favorite is Cardamom! Any day! But My kitchen must haves are paprika and cumin powder that I add pretty much into most of my dishes! Love Mccormicks!

  22. I love those pink balls! I bet my girls would love them:) As for the spice, I would have to go for thyme for spring:)

  23. Sweet curry powder for curry ketchup. SO delicious with homemade french fries. Or grilled hamburgers. Or grilled brats. Or…just straight as my 1 year old likes to do.

  24. Roasted Saigon Cinnamon because I like its versatility of using it from meat to desserts.

  25. My favorite spice, no matter what season, is cardamom. But if you ask me about a Spring favorite I must say,mint . I love it in my raita, lemonade,cocktails etc.
    Congrats on your association with McCormick.They are my favorite choice when it comes to dried spices . And those pink balls look so cute !

  26. My favorite spice is cardamom — any season – great giveaway – I retweeted on Twitter! jenhartin at optonline dot net

  27. Tandoori Spice Blend always heralds the Summer for me:) Marinated meats grilled outdoors or grilled veggies with a sprinkle of the blend and lots of lime juice. Yum!

  28. My favorite spice is garlic…as a lover of Italian food I tend to use garlic with everything…and alot of it 🙂

  29. Cumin is my favorite…season-free, I use it every season, and probably every day. Roasted, ground, and aromatic, it is the MOST essential spice (well along with red chilis!) in my spice tin…..

  30. We use a lot of garlic in our household too…but I really love to add some spice to things by using crushed red pepper!

  31. Being Indian,I think we love all spices:-)
    If I had to pick one-I love fennel because its always adds subtle layer of surprise flavour in any dish and a little goes a long way

  32. Opting out of the giveaway (already have a stockpile of McCormicks stuff) but would love to share this on my FB page

  33. I absolutely love cinnamon! There’s nothing like the smell or the taste of cinnamon added to an apple pie or apples cooking in the crock pot after a fall weekend outing with the kids to pick apples fresh from the orchard in the hills of VA!

  34. I can’t imagine life without cinnamon or vanilla.

  35. Mint..mint ..mint all the way in spring. we have a fresh batch growing right now after last weeks harvest. we have made fresh mint lemonade with simple syrup and then turned it into a sorbet. it was out of the world. mint flavored rice with ginger and garlic. with Mc cormick i love their Italian blend. its a go to thing with grilled veggies, all from potatoes to broccoli to grilled carrots and everything.and not to forget the food colors. we even made our own holi colors this year using white flour+baby powder+ food color

  36. Cinnamon and lemon!

  37. Spice spice? Probably Herbs de Provence. I find myself using that more in the late Spring and Summer as the weather warms up.

  38. My favorite spring spice is Ginger. Although its always associated with warm spices and gingersnaps for the holidays, ginger paired with lime or with mint or basil or cardamom(!) or anything fresh and springy it brings it even more so to life! It’s wonderful. People always associate ginger with extreme spiciness but when paired with fruits and sweets kids are also able to enjoy this wonderful spice! It’s great all year round! But I especially love it in spring!

  39. My favorite spice in the Spring is Lemon Peel and Ginger. So many fresh delicious dishes to make with those esp. for grilling and salads!

  40. I love using dill to perk up pasta with veggies and goat cheese.

  41. garlic is my favorite, i can’t imagine cooking without it, year-round go to spice.

  42. My new favorite spice for spring and summer is cumin. I love it in Mexican dishes, especially those with lots of fresh veggies. It pairs well with good friends and some tasty margaritas!

  43. So hard to pick just one favorite spice as I love to cook all kinds of different foods. I would have to say, however, that my all time favorite spice is Cilantro. My family’s favorite food is Thai and having never visited Asia myself, learned to cook Thai from a dear friend who spent several years in Thailand. I go through at least a bottle of Cilantro per month with the various green, red or yellow curry sauces that I make, and of course, always served with tons of sticky, Jasmine rice. Cilantro’s tangy, lemony flavor can’t be beat! It’s also a favorite with Mexican food lovers and makes an outstanding addition to garlic, olive oil and lemon as a marinade for summertime chicken on the grill. Viva cilantro!

  44. I use fresh ground black pepper on everything, and it’s especially great on roasted spring vegetables and on strawberries.

  45. Pepper is always my favorite spice, in the spring and all year.

  46. Lemons are available all year round now, but I associate spring with lemon zest and some of my favorite dishes: lemon pepper pasta and, of course, lemon bars!

  47. My favorite spice – wow that is so hard – I guess I have to say cardamom – it is so fragrant and great in desserts and have now started using in smoothie/lassi

  48. Cumin is a new spice I have recently discovered. It is a great source of antioxidant and also helps relieve digestive problems. I sprinkle on scrambled eggs and also use in Black Bean soup.

  49. Is basil a spice? I am growing it in a pot on my patio and putting it in many dishes. Especially salad. It is really fresh when you pick it within minutes of eating it.

  50. Spring means barbecue season is coming back & I love to keep is simple by just rubing herbes de Provence on my steak before grilling. Definitely my favourite spring spice!

    1. FrenchTwistDC – You win the McCormick giveaway!! Please email me your address asap and I will get this on it’s way to you!!

      THIS GIVEAWAY is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!!

  51. My favorite is garlic–it goes well with so many things. We even tried a grilled cheese sandwich made with garlic toast, delicious!

  52. For me, spices say “winter” — “spring” means herbs, like cilantro, dill and mint.

  53. Spring? Did somebody say Spring? Then it would have to be Rosemary. What would Spring Lamb be without Rosemary. Yum! Oh, and garlic. How could I roast a leg of lamb without garlic, rosemary and olive oil. I can just smell it cooking. I am making myself very hungry. 😉

  54. McCormick Spanish saffron would go very well in my kulfi (Indian style ice cream) ~ sultry and refreshing at the same time

  55. Mustard seeds – just pop them in hot oil and quickly stir fry any vegetable or use it as a “tadka”/dressing for a salad.

  56. Absolutely cannot do without the mustard seeds and curry leaves (Kadi Patta). The combination of the mustard seeds and curry leaves is deadly in the aroma it infuses in the dishes. Great for a whole array of North and South Indian delicacies!!!

  57. Absolutely cannot do without the mustard seeds and curry leaves (Kadi Patta). The combination is deadly in the aroma it infuses in the dishes. Great for a whole array of North and South Indian delicacies!!!

  58. Since relocating from Southern CA to NYC, I’ve been stocking dried cilantro. I’d never cooked with this herb it before I moved to CA and now that I’m back east and it’s not as easily accessible, I’ve found the dried stuff is a terrific go to.

  59. My favorite spice has to be fenugreek seeds. I just love the aroma they release while tempering them in hot oil. They are absolutely fantastic in chicken curries as well as in lentils.

  60. Ginger is my vice! Just that slight warmth that ginger adds to a dish — whether it’s sweet or savory. I’m a bit of a ginger addict, what can I say?

  61. Love the color of these – they look so happy! And the giveaway would make ME look happy 🙂

  62. My favorite spice is cinnamon. I sprinkle it on my oatmeal, french toast, and bake cookies, muffins, breads, etc. with it. I love the way it makes my kitchen smell.

  63. My favorite spring spice would be mint. It livens up a zucchini and feta frittata. It is wonderful in a lemon sorbet. And “nana” (as the Israelis would say) is wonderful in tea.

  64. Thyme! I love Thyme, fresh or dried & year-round. Spring/summer means grilling. I rub it in chicken, fish or pork usually with S&P, maybe garlic & oregano or maybe marjoram. So many different ways to go depending on what else you use. I also use it in Fall/winter in Beef Stew, pork roasts, pan-sautéed pork chops w/balsamic vinegar & chicken broth pan sauce. It’s my favorite all the ways to combine it or when I can’t think what to do with another piece of chicken – thyme always tastes good. It can be used on pretty much any meat or vegetable & works with many in so many different directions.

  65. My favorite spring spice is vanilla. It brightens the flavors of the early berry harvest that we enjoy!

  66. Being of Italian heritage I can cook almost anything with salt, pepper, and garlic, a little olive oil, add some lemon and it IS spring. The spice I learned to love and use since is Cumin – mmmmm!

  67. My favorite was garlic as it goes well with everything, but my daughter can’t eat it anymore. So this has let me explore so many new spices and herbs out there. Pick one? That’s hard! I would say we use cumin, paprika, and any kind of pepper!

    Wonderful giveaway, thanks!

  68. For me it’s fennel. Goes great on the bbq with meats and fish.
    Mix it with herbes de provence and shrimp is great.

  69. My favorite spice at any time of the year is cumin. I just love the flavor it gives everything.

  70. Vanilla Essence – Love the smell and can’t make French Toast without it! My kids and spouse love French Toast which I make for them on the weekends…so Vanilla says lazy weekend mornings with cozy family breakfasts!

  71. I have been silent reader of your blog and your writing really inspires me.
    My favorite spice is Coriander and cumin. slighlty dry roast the seeds and powder it and use it curries and soups. Fantastic. My grandma even makes a drink with these spices called as sukku malli coffee in Tamil(sukku – dry ginger & malli – coriander seeds). thats the only medicine we take when we have cold.

  72. Lavender! Lavender on lamb, lavender on chicken, lavender in cookies, lavender in cocktails …

    And your Giveaway is reposted here! http://www.facebook.com/mary.baker.1420

  73. My favorite spice has to be really good sea salt. I use it for everything! Of course I also love fresh cracked pepper and garlic as close runner ups!

  74. My favorite spice has to be rosemary. When I lived in California I had fresh Rosemary outside in my yard year
    round for cooking.

  75. Chili powder………..it makes everything good!

  76. Ok, we use Mc Cormick’s Grill Mates® Mesquite Seasoning on just about everything we BBQ! Love the smokey flavor!

  77. My favorite spice is Fennel Seed; it has such a fresh taste and brings that to whatever recipe I am making. Thank you for this opportunity and great blog!

  78. My fav spring spice is lemon leaves.Just add to ur boiling rice and get a rich fragrant odour instantly..Cool for summers.

  79. we use garlic quite a bit-use it on pork loin roast,potatoes, etc
    thanks for the giveaway and have a great day
    shared on fb Julie A Scott Laws

  80. Herbs! Spices! Spices! Herbs! Lately I find myself putting fresh thyme in everything, both for its flavor and for the déjà vu it gives me to clip it from my voice teacher’s plants out on the terrace of his apartment – my mother also grows thyme in her garden and whenever I visit her she and go out at dusk and clip some for dinner. I salt-roasted some beets with it the other night and was amazed at how much flavor the thyme imparted. Later, I cut the beets into a salad of spinach, strawberries, cherry tomatoes (color scheme! Priorities!), almonds and blue cheese. The thyme added something that really bound it all together. Yum.

  81. paprika! All time fav 🙂

  82. I love so many spices, especially McCormick’s but I go through Sweet Spanish Paprika the most. Spring in the south means family get togethers & potato salad. I have four children & we all love to grill & potato salad & devilled eggs are a requirement! McCormick’s paprika goes on our salads, eggs, & barbeque sauces. I go through several cans every spring.

  83. Dill seems like the best spring spice!

  84. Spring brings the first fresh sweet corn of the season! I like it Mexican street style, grilled on the cob then slathered in mayonnaise mixed with Cotija cheese, cayenne, and chili powder and served with a wedge of lime.

  85. Wow, anything with Cheese is great, and you even mix in Indian cuisine. Fancy! Fancy!

  86. Standing alone: CARDAMOM has been a favorite for so long! I enjoy baking with it in sweet breakfast bread rolls, and certainly spice cakes. My favorite fresh mix of spices is ras el hanout (cardamom, cumin, fennel, black pepper, tumeric, cinnamon and smoky paprika), therein CARDAMOM is an integral ingredient that helps to bring all of the spices involved to become one magical flavor. This weekend (without a grill by my side) I will be slow cooking a chuck roast to perfection with this dreamy spicy, softly hot combination of CARDAMOM and its comrades. Add lots of garlic and onions, preserved lemons, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro and serve with couscous. So easy to get excited about this! Did I say I love CARDAMOM?

  87. Love putting Herbs de Provence in scrambled eggs. My mother taught me and it adds such a nice flavor

  88. It is an absolute honor for me Monica!!

  89. Pink Balls seems to be as funny as good 🙂 I will try it, thanks for the recipe.

  90. I love coriander and I grow it all year but it does best in the spring!

  91. In addition to garlic and lots of it, I love the taste and scent of fresh basil. Simmered gently with any meat or vegetable gives the dish a delicate flavor and the aroma is wonderful. Food without spices is like a day without sunshine.

  92. thats a great looking and a pretty easy recipe, am dying to try it out..my daughter is surely gonna love it because pink is her favourite colour and sweet too!

  93. Monica, these pink treats are so intriguing to me! The color and presentation is sensational, and I’m trying to imagine the taste. Must try soon. And I just featured them over at All Gluten-Free Desserts … All The Time. 🙂


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