Best Home Cooks: Eric Jones

Food blogger and Best Home Cook Eric Jones takes to the kitchen to strike a balance between the comfort food he loves and the healthy fare that makes him feel good. The result? Deliciousness!

Eric Jones might be the “dude” behind dudethatcookz.com, but he makes it known that, really, it’s an all-hands-on-deck production. His wife, Shanna, is the photographer and website developer. His kids moonlight as his favorite (and harshest!) testers. And his grandmas? They’re the inspiration. On his blog, find wholesome comfort food from, and for, the whole family.

Taste of Home: What’s your greatest takeaway from your years in the kitchen with Momma Pearl and Gramms?

Eric Jones: No one ever left their homes hungry. To me, that is the utmost expression of service, and it’s how I mindfully show my appreciation and gratitude.

TOH: You’re an advocate for homemade cooking. What do you always prepare from scratch?

EJ: I never take shortcuts on my sauces. To develop sauces that taste amazing with the perfect consistency is a process that requires intentional layering of ingredients and flavors.

TOH: It’s time for another round of New Year’s resolutions! What are some better-for-you substitutions you like?

EJ: I balance awareness of what I’m eating while still enjoying the food I love. I love creamy sauces, so I’ll swap in coconut milk for heavy cream. I also try not to use a lot of salt. Adding Himalayan pink or sea salt in small amounts helps keep sodium levels down.

TOH: When you do decide to indulge, what’s your go-to?

EJ: I love a hearty deep-dish pizza loaded with cheeses in a soft golden crust. I always say, “If I could be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, I would!”

TOH: What is your favorite thing about cooking—the “why” of why you cook?

EJ: You really cannot beat the energy in a room when everyone is in great spirits, enjoying a fantastic meal. It’s priceless.

Low-Carb Cheese Taco Bowls

Low Carb Cheese Taco BowlsCourtesy Shanna Jones

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha chili sauce

Avocado Crema

  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce and jalapeno pepper slices

Directions

Step 1: Make the cheese shells

Preheat oven to 375°. Mound 1/4 cupfuls shredded cheddar cheese 3 in. apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Invert a muffin tin; spray with cooking spray. Remove cheese from oven; let stand 30 seconds. Peel off parchment; quickly place cheese over 8 prepared muffin tins and press to form bowl shapes. Let cool 10 minutes.

Step 2: Cook the filling

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the ground beef, garlic powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, dried cilantro flakes, pepper and onion powder over medium heat until beef is no longer pink, 6-8 minutes, breaking meat into crumbles; drain. Stir in pico de gallo and Sriracha chili sauce; heat through. Remove from heat.

Step 3: Make the avocado crema

For avocado crema, mash the avocado, sour cream, dried cilantro flakes, salt and pepper until smooth.

Step 4: Assemble and enjoy

Spoon ground beef mixture into cheese cups. Top with Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, jalapenos and avocado crema.

Meet more of Taste of Home‘s Best Home Cooks, and nominate one, too!

Annamarie Higley
Annamarie is Taste of Home’s Shopping Editor and previously worked on the brand’s magazine and special issues. It was during this time she tapped into her love language, gifts, and spearheaded the print holiday gift guides in 2021 and 2022. She’s thrilled to continue creating gift guides full time for the shopping team, in addition to testing and reviewing products, spotlighting viral gadgets and editing freelanced content. A midwestern transplant from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, crafting and—you guessed it!—shopping and cooking.