By Amanda Smith
Updated February 19, 2014

Ever find yourself getting away with your thoughts? Say you’re at work and your brain starts to conjure up images of a tropical island, accompanied by the sound of steel drums and the pounding Caribbean surf. In the words of Zac Brown, bikinis and palm trees dance through your head... Sound familiar? Rest assured, readers, because we’ve found a cure for island fever.

(Johner Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

If you’re caught up in the winter blues, chances are you may be imagining yourself on a beach somewhere, coconut drink in hand, of course. While an island vacay may not be feasible, concocting your own batch of jerk seasoning or slicing some ripe mangoes might be just the boost you need to shake off that pesky winter ice. The beauty of cooking is that you can travel the world without ever leaving the comfort of your own kitchen.

Jamaica is a Caribbean island known for its sugary sand beaches, laid-back lifestyle and hospitable people. But good vibes and sunny rays aren’t the only things this tourist hotspot boasts… And we’re not just talking about the rum. Jamaican food is full of fresh island flavor (think coconut, tropical fruit, seafood and spices) blended with international influences from Spain, Great Britain, Africa, India and China. Jerk seasoning, a quintessentially Jamaican spice rub, is widely used to flavor chicken, pork and seafood.

We picked a few of our favorite Jamaican dishes to help spice up your next meal. Start by buying a good quality Jamaican jerk seasoning (available from most grocery stores) or make your own using the recipe below. Choose chicken, pork ribs or fish as a base for the seasoning, add a few sides and a dessert, if desired, then crank up the reggae music, break out your flip-flops and get cooking!