Do you get tired of bringing the same potato salad every year to whatever cookout you are going to? Are you sick of being the one that always brings the deviled eggs? Does the thought of eating another over-cooked hamburger make you gag? These four recipes are the most requested and raved about things that I either take or have when I attend or host, respectively.

1. Sweet N' Spicy Jalep Poppers


  • 10 Jalapeños (I call them jaleps. fight me.)
  • 6-8 oz. goat cheese log (room temperature)
  • 1-2 tbsp Honey / coconut nectar / agave / maple syrup
  • 5 strips of bacon, cut in half
  • Toothpicks to secure the bacon and the jalep

  1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with either parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick cook spray.
  2. Mix goat cheese and honey (or whichever sweetener you are choosing) together in a small bowl.
  3. Slice jaleps in half, removing the seeds.
  4. Evenly distribute cheese mixture in each half of jalep and wrap with half a slice of bacon. Secure with toothpick and line up on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes or until bacon is at desired crisp. This may vary depending on the size and type of your bacon.
  6. Serve alone or pair with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce, such as a raspberry habanero or a pineapple rum sauce.

*Tip: Do not wipe your eyes after handling the jaleps. They are deliciously sneaky and will leave their oils on your fingers to further penetrate their spice into whatever you touch. This could lead to a trip to the ER depending on where you are touching. Always practice safe food handling and wash your hands with soap.

2. Grilled Shrimp Skewers


  • Frozen bag of shrimp thawed & deshelled, or 2 pounds fresh shrimp, deshelled
  • 1-2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tsp Blackening Seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp Lemon Pepper
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, minced
  • Lemon Wedges from however many lemons you want
  • Kabob skewers
  1. Toss shrimp in olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and other seasonings to shrimp. Mix well. Start with 1 tsp of each seasoning and add more to your liking. I prefer more blackening and half the lemon pepper.
  3. Put in an airtight container to absorb flavors for about 1-2 hours.
  4. Carefully skewer shrimp onto kabob sticks without stabbing your fingers and bleeding all over the place.
  5. Grill shrimp skewers on medium heat for about 5 minutes, flipping halfway. You will know the shrimp is done when it has turned a soft pink and no longer translucent.
  6. Serve with a fresh lemon wedge to squeeze over shrimp. Try not to get lemon juice in your eye as it stings.

Tips: These shrimp save well. I like to use this same recipe when making my Grilled Shrimp tacos. Repurpose this recipe with your favorite tortilla and top with avacado, cilantro-lime slaw, and salsa. Pair with the left-over Elote salad listed below.

3. Grilled Corn "Elote" Salad


  • 4 ears of corn, grilled and removed from cob
  • 1-2 tbsp real mayo -- DO NOT even think of using Miracle Whip. Throw that $h!t in the trash now.
  • 1/2 C cotija cheese
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, green parts only
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Paprika, to taste
  • 1/4 C cilantro, chopped
  1. Mix grilled and shucked corn with ingredients above.
  2. Serve immediately after you have gotten your serving. It will not last long.
  3. Refrigerate leftovers.

**Tips: Can use frozen corn, but will need to cook in skillet with unsalted butter to brown. I suggest a cast iron skillet to get that nice crisp. Also, when grilling corn, I suggest lightly buttering corn, then wrapping in aluminum foil.

4. Dannified Summer Sipper


  • berries, any kind
  • 1 shot vodka
  • 1 shot coconut rum
  • Sparkling water, flavored if you are feeling adventurous
  • fresh lime wedges

  1. In a decent sized glass, fill 1/3 glass with berries and smash in glass. Add ice.
  2. Add shots of vodka and rum, fill remaining with sparkling water.
  3. Squeeze 1 lime wedge and stir.

Tip: This drink is sneaky. Have fun with it by playing around with different berries and even different flavor of vodkas. I also like getting the sugar-free flavored waters to spice it up a little.