I don’t cook much and realize that many people on Gather are much better cooks than I could ever hope to be. My tips might not do anyone any good, but maybe they will. Anyway, here goes.
I use recipes mainly to get ideas or to find out how much of an item like flour or sugar I might need. Off hand I don’t remember ever following a recipe exactly.
Most recipes contain items I don’t like or don’t have available. I just don’t use these items. I think about things I like and have available that would make the dish taste better to me.
One example would be pineapple salad. I don’t remember where I first saw a recipe for pineapple salad. I love pineapple. I just think about the items which would taste good with pineapple. I usually put cheese and mayo with the pineapple, but not always. Different kinds of fruits and nuts go good with it. Whipped cream can be used instead of mayo. I often put shrimp or ham in the salad. Use anything you like that would taste good with pineapple. I doubt that I ever followed the original recipe exactly.
The same thing applies to BBQ sauces. I don’t even remember where I first got the idea for making my own sauce. I’m sure the idea came from someone’s recipe. I usually start with catsup. After that it depends on the taste I want. Sometimes I add mustard. Sometimes I don’t. If I want it hot, hot sauce or pepper or anything else that will make it hot is added. If I want it sweet I use brown sugar, honey or syrup. I have grated sweet pickles or onions or garlic and added them to the sauce. You can add almost any kind of spices you like. If I want it lemon flavored I add powdered lemon flavoring or you can use real lemon juice.
If you don’t like these ideas you can take them with a grain of salt. Or you can put that salt into your recipe.