It all started with ramen noodles and one skillet meals as a child. Growing up, my parents worked extremely hard, with one in the military and the other an accountant. Late nights were typical during certain times of the year, as you can imagine. The end result, we had to feed ourselves and I couldn’t expect my other two brothers to pick up a cooking skill beyond frying something, microwaving it, or tossing a frozen dish into the oven.

My first memories of experimenting with dishes started with pizza while still living at home, and then moved on to beef jerky when we got a dehydrator. These two dishes had regular new concoctions added, depending on what I had on hand and the mood I was in. This was the age before the Internet, so you couldn’t just look up a recipe. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had my share of bad recipes, overcooked meals, and more.

One beef jerky “accident” started when I was challenged to make the spiciest beef jerky I could. It started with the basic ingredients of soy sauce, liquid smoke and Worcestershire, but quickly moved on to cajun spices, cayenne, red pepper flakes and more. After 6 hours in the dehydrator, I tried a piece. There’s a point where you can put too much spice on a dish and that’s all you taste! I tried convincing other family members to have a bite, but they couldn’t stand it either. Hating the idea of wasting perfectly good meat, I forced myself to eat the entire batch, while the rest of the family ate my usual jerky.

Granted, I’m no stranger to hot food. My earliest memory of eating something spicy was enjoying jalapenos on nachos at the drive-in when I was less than 10 years old. Today, you’ll see me donning hot sauce and Sriracha on my popcorn. My youngest boy apparently picked up the same taste buds, as he loves chips and salsa and hot sauce on popcorn too.

So, looking past pizza and jerky, it wasn’t until I got married and moved out that I really started cooking. My passion for food and the jobs requiring me to travel put me in front of some of the best dishes in the country. Today, I try making just about anything, but if it goes on the grill, or accompanies a grilled dish, I’m creating new recipes every week. The best ones are posted here for everyone to enjoy.

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