The PERFECT Burger!

I don’t know about your neck of the woods but here in mine… IT HAS BEEN HOT! 

I’ve always said that I much prefer the cold to the heat.  I’m pretty much a bear in reverse.  Hibernation happens during the summer months for me.  Otherwise I turn into the Wicked Witch of the West. 


Don’t ask Anthony about the Lagoon incident.  It was reeeaaaally hot that day.  The end.

So anyway, the nights have been nice lately.  A little thunderstorm rolls in, cools things off a bit, don’t have to worry about watering the lawn or the pathetic garden.  And then it’s hot again. 

But I really didn’t mean for this post to be about the weather.  Let’s talk burgers!

Anthony has perfected the art of burger grilling.  He is the burger master!  The king!  It all started when we kept seeing pins on Pinterest with these delectable burgers.  We’d look at the recipe and think… hmmm, we should try that someday. 

And then one day we did.  There was no looking back from there. 

So, although I couldn’t even begin to tell you which one was ‘the one’ that we actually went for (they were all so similar), I can tell you that Anthony has got this down to a science.  No true measurements or anything just one of those “to taste” recipes, really.  And of course his secret ingredient… BACON! 

And so, for your viewing (and tasting) pleasure, I present to you…. THE PERFECT BURGER!!

Perfect Burger

And some Sun Chips but really, you could switch that out for whatever… totally optional. ;)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ground Beef (he likes to use 85/15)
  • Mozzarella and/or Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • Seasoning salt
  • BBQ Sauce (Anthony swears it has to be Jack Daniels Original No. 7)
  • Bacon, cooked 3/4 of the way and chopped
  • Bacon Grease

Make sure the grill isn’t too hot.  These need to cook fairly slow so that the inside is done at the same time as the outside.  You don’t want these babies to burn!  Nothing worse than having the outside charcoaled and the inside still red. 

Cook bacon about 3/4 of the way.  Not to the point of crispy.  Chop into small pieces.  OH and save the GREASE!  Anthony swears by this!

For every pound of ground beef you’ll add approximately 1/4 to 1/2 lb. bacon, 4-8 oz. cheese (whichever kind you prefer), 1 or 2 Tablespoons Seasoning Salt, and 1/2 to 3/4 of a bottle of BBQ sauce.  Then get your hands in there and just mix it all up!  It’s a messy process. 

Form into patties.  One pound makes exactly 7 burgers for us.  This is just the right amount for my family.  The burgers are thick!  Form a deep well in the middle, this is important! 

Once burgers are on the grill pour bacon grease into the well. 

Burgers and Grease

Flip when that side is done (after a few minutes) and continue cooking on the other side.  Obviously, right?  (You never know… there are people that sue McDonald’s for having hot coffee… don’t most people prefer it that way?  Just sayin’.)

These burgers are so tender they literally fall apart in your mouth!  I think it’s the slow cooking that does it.  OH MAN!  They are GOOOOOD! 

Seriously, go make them.  Enjoy!


Chicken Fajitas

The other day I realized that I hadn’t made chicken fajitas for way too long.  They are seriously amazing and my whole family LOVES them!  It’s now on our regular rotation for dinner… again.  (Forgive the picture.  I didn’t stage it.  Just took a pic last minute :) )

Chicken Fajitas 

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. lemon juice (or juice of 1 fresh lemon)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (or more if you prefer, we keep it right at 2)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 c. cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 green pepper, cut into strips
  • tortillas

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, onion, salt, chili powder, oregano, and thyme in a large frying pan.  Cook over medium heat until onion is tender but still has a bit of a crunch.  Add garlic.  Add chicken and cover to cook for about 10-15 minutes. 

Add peppers and toss until they are still crisp but tender.  You don’t want them to be mushy.

Serve on warmed tortillas with your choice of garnishments:  cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa

Recipe source:  The Diet Rebel’s Cookbook


Cheater Chili

Beans intimidate me.  Not because they cause gas, though that should scare me enough to keep them out of our meals considering a certain somebody that I live with.  I won’t mention names.  I’ll just say it’s one of my husbands ;) .

But seriously, I have never soaked a bean in my life.  I prefer canned.  My mom tells me it’s not a big deal but for a Brooke like me, it is.  Soaking beans makes me nervous.  What if I mess up?  It’s part of the perfectionist in me.  Something I am working on in 2013.  Because I know that if I mess up it’s not the end of the world but somehow I can’t bring myself to try something that I think I will be horrible at.  Negative self-talk.  That’s all it is.  Bad!

So, I don’t make chili often.  In fact, I’ve only ever tried one other recipe (another cheater version) before this one.  And it was pretty good but after trying this one I’ll never turn back!  We all loved it!

Make it, you’ll like it…


  • 2 large cans (28 oz.) chili beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 28 oz. tomato juice
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used green)
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. chili powder (I used heaping Tablespoons)
  • 1 T. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and bell pepper in a little olive or vegetable oil until fragrant.  Add the ground beef and brown.  In a large pot combine all ingredients together and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, uncovered.  Garnish with sour cream and cheese if desired. 



Pinterest Challenge: Day 5–Cranberry Chicken Crescents

Yes, I’m a couple days behind.  Forgive me!

Well, a couple of days ago my kids and I were at home wondering what the heck we were going to eat for dinner.  It was one of those days that we had practically nothing in the house, a trip to the grocery store was MORE than overdue, and Mom (that’s me) refused to take all the kids to the store so…. we had to do some serious scrounging to figure out what we were going to eat. 

Never mind the fact that we had already done the scrimping and scrounging for lunch.  It was time to do it again.

The only thing we knew we could have for sure was corn on the cob.  We have some awesome friends/neighbors who left to go out of town for 12 days and they were worried about the produce in the fridge going bad.  And we were the lucky recipients of their food!  Woohoo! 

So, the search was on for the main course.  So glad there is Pinterest in my time of need!  First I searched my own boards but for every recipe I found that might work I was always missing a few key ingredients.  I finally resorted to the Search Bar (it still counts for my Pinterest challenge, right?).  I had crescent rolls in my fridge and a couple of cans of chicken.  I searched for ‘Chicken Crescents’ and a whole bunch of things came up. 

Then I saw one for Cranberry Chicken Crescents.  PERFECT!!  I had a can of cranberry sauce downstairs in our storage room. 

Babblin' Brooke  Cranberry Chicken Crescents

This was probably the simplest of simple recipes.  First preheat your oven to the temperature noted on your 2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls (if you’re afraid of opening the tube {like I am} your kids will be happy to do it for you ;) ).  Mix together 2 cans of chicken (drained) and a can of cranberry sauce (whole or jellied).  Put a large spoonful into each crescent, roll, and bake for amount of time noted on package. 

TADA!  Now you’ve got what makes for a GREAT… lunch.  Except that we had it for dinner and everyone loved them!  I was surprised.  Even Anthony (who claims to hate cranberries) loved it! 



Sweet Corn Mac & Cheese

Does anyone else watch The Next Food Network Star?  LOVE that show!!  There were so many people I was rooting for this season but my absolute favorite became Yvan. 

Not only did Yvan have a great story but I loved his POV (point of view… for those of you who are as slow as me to figure out what the heck that meant!). 


Probably because I am a mom with a quite a brood running around which means I have quite a few mouths to feed.  It just goes so well with me!  And everything I saw Yvan make was something I wanted to try. 

Of course, there were others with fun POV’s as well… take Justin (the winner) for instance… Rebel With a Culinary Cause!  He was just kind of a strange boy with weird views on food… good weird.  And I liked him!  But I really wanted Yvan to win because while the fun things are great, I really want someone on the network that makes something the basic home cook can make without having to run out and buy all kinds of strange ingredients. 

Like fish heads… or using fish bones as ‘chips’.  Yes, Justin did that.  No thank you!

On the second to last episode, the remaining contestants were asked to make a pilot of their new shows, then they showed the viewers a quick version with recipes included.  Yvan made Sweet Corn Mac ‘n’ Cheese and I knew I had to try it! 

If you’re like me you’ve been looking for a great Mac n’ Cheese recipe FOREVER!  I’ve never loved any recipe that I’ve tried until this one.  Please note, I did make some changes per the reviews on this recipe and a personal twist and it turned out great!  And wouldn’t you know it, even my ever-so-picky kids who hate all things homemade mac & cheese loved it.  They even asked for seconds!

Umm, who are you and what have you done with my children? 

And now, without further ado, let’s get on with the recipe, shall we?

mac n cheese

  • Two 8-ounce cans creamed corn
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 3 – 5 dashes hot sauces (or to taste)
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni 
  • 12 oz. medium cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces grated mozzarella
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 1 T. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Move one rack to the top of the oven.

Simmer the corn with the milk, onion powder, and garlic powder for 5 minutes.

Stir cornstarch into 2 tablespoons water.  Add the cornstarch to the corn mixture.  Whisk for about 3 minutes (or until thickened) over medium heat.  Add nutmeg, salt, pepper, mustard powder, and hot sauce if using.  Remove from heat, cover and keep warm.

Boil macaroni for 5 to 7 minutes.  Drain, and add to corn cream.  Add the cheese and the egg.  Stir well.  Pour into a casserole dish or 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

Lightly crush the croutons inside zip lock bag using a small mallet or rolling pin. Add oil and crushed croutons and spread over the top of the macaroni mixture. Cook on the top rack until golden… about 15-25 minutes. 



Thai Chicken Pizza

Papa Murphy’s is one of my family’s favorite pizza places.  Not too long ago, they had a ‘limited time only’ pizza… Thai Chicken Pizza.  On a whim one night, just for kicks and giggles, I bought it not really knowing what I was buying. 


It quickly became Anthony’s very favorite pizza and we bought it several times over the course of a month or two… and just like that it was gone. 

It seemed like such an easy pizza to make that I thought What the heck, let’s try it on our own.  And then of course, the very next day I got a flyer in the mail saying that Papa Murphy’s is carrying it again.  Isn’t that how it always works?  But it doesn’t matter because ours was every bit as good!  Plus, they have it on an extremely thin crust and I prefer mine to be just a bit thicker. 

pizza 5

pizza 6

Thai Chicken Pizza

  • your favorite pizza dough
  • Chili Sauce (I got mine at Costco)
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled & cut into small pieces
  • green onions, sliced
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • thinly sliced Zucchini
  • cornmeal

Preheat oven to 425*.  Roll your dough to whatever size pizza pan you are using.  Remember if you are using a pizza stone, allow it to preheat in the oven.  Once the dough is rolled, sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on the stone or pan and set dough on top.

Put up to 1/2 c. chili sauce on the dough as your pizza sauce.  Spread evenly almost to edges with a spoon.  Sprinkle red pepper flakes to taste.  It’s supposed to be a little spicy but not TOO spicy.  Spread chicken and green onions (I used only the green part) over the pizza. Sprinkle with cheese to taste.

Slice a zucchini as thinly as possible and place on pizza. 

Bake for 12-18 minutes. 




Crockpot Lasagna

Please tell me I’m not the only one who had no clue that lasagna could be made in a crockpot.  Anyone else? 

Not that it really would have mattered because I’ve only owned a crockpot for maybe a month or two.  It’s my new favorite kitchen appliance!  Who knew a simple crockpot could make dinner so simple?  Obviously not me or I would have bought one a looong time ago. 

When I heard that lasagna could be made in my new handy dandy kitchen device, I was elated.  Plus to hear that you don’t even have to cook the noodles ahead of time made me even more excited.  Maybe I was a bit skeptical thinking that the noodles wouldn’t turn out but guess what, they did!

I didn’t follow an exact recipe, I just made it the way that I normally do… simple but delicious!

lasagna 3 

You’ll need:

  • 1 – 1 lb. package lasagna noodles
  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground beef (I prefer turkey)
  • cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (I had cottage on hand so we used that.)
  • 1-2 jars of spaghetti sauce (I use traditional Prego)
  • mozzarella cheese 
  • spinach (optional)
  • diced onion (optional)

Brown ground turkey or beef along with diced onion (optional).  Start by spraying inside of crockpot with non-stick spray.  I don’t know if it’s a necessity but I did it just in case.

Place just a tiny bit of sauce on the bottom of crockpot and spread it around.  Now place a layer of noodles, breaking them as needed to fit.  It doesn’t have to be pretty.  Spread a layer of cottage (or ricotta) cheese, spinach, meat, a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, sauce.  Repeat over and over until the noodles are gone.  We like our lasagna saucy so we used a lot more than 1 jar of sauce.


On the last layer of noodles, put a thin layer of sauce and a heavier layer of mozzarella.  There you have it!  Put the lid on your crockpot and set it on high for up to 4 hours.  Ours was done after about 3 1/2 hours.

lasagna 2 

Your crockpot may be a different size and/or shape than mine so you may have to modify for that. 

This fed eight people (3 adults, 5 kids) and we still had leftovers for 3-4 more servings. 


Fried Chicken… Paula Deen Style

Actually, she calls it Gussie’s Fried Chicken so I guess it’s more like Gussie style. 

I can’t believe I’m actually posting this because it goes completely against my New Year eating plan.  But I’m allowed a cheat meal (or seven) every week.  Food is my friend and I have very few enemies in that world. 

I discovered the magic of The Food Network several years ago and absolutely fell in love with Miss Paula Deen.  She’s funny, charming, beautiful, and man oh man that woman can COOK!  Haven’t met a recipe of hers I haven’t liked.  One time, she was making this fried chicken with a honey-pecan glaze and I was intrigued.  I had to make it and let me tell you, this recipe did NOT disappoint!  The whole family loves it!!

chicken 3

Gussie’s Fried Chicken 

  • 1 whole chicken, cut up or boneless skinless chicken breast (I prefer the latter)
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 cups self-rising flour (**see note at bottom for recipe if you don’t have this on hand)
  • Oil for frying (or shortening)

Heat oil to 375* in large skillet or cast iron pan, enough to go up halfway on the chicken.  Beat eggs and pour into 9×13 pan if desired.  This makes the process easier.  Mix salt and pepper, garlic powder, and flour together in large bowl.  Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Dredge the chicken by first coating each piece in egg and then coating in flour mixture.  Place in hot oil and fry for about 10 minutes, flip and cook the second side for another 10 minutes.  

Very large pieces may need to be cooked a little longer. Drain chicken on paper towels and transfer to platter.


Honey-Pecan Glaze

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

To make the glaze, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in the honey, bring to a simmer and add pecans. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve over fried chicken. 


Self-Rising Flour (in case you don’t have it)

For every one cup of flour, add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. baking powder


Sweet & Sour Meatballs (aka Grape Jelly Meatballs)

If you are completely unfamiliar with grape jelly meatballs, you probably looked at the title of this recipe and grimaced.  Am I right? 

On the other hand, if you’ve ever experienced the delightfulness that IS grape jelly meatballs, then you just KNOW!! 

My grandma used to make these quite often for family get-togethers.  They were always the hit of the party and everyone always came back for seconds… and thirds.


Have I mentioned yet how easy they are to make?  Easy as pie!  Although I’ve never thought that pie was all that easy.  This is MUCH easier than that. 

Are you ready for your list of ingredients?  It’s so short that you won’t even need to write it down! 

  • Meatballs (I buy the big bag at Costco [Italian Style] but if you prefer, you could make your own)
  • 1 jar of grape jelly (NOT jam)
  • 1 jar of chili sauce (usually found by the ketchup in the store)

Normally, I make this with Heinz brand of chili sauce (I think it’s 16 oz.) but I saw a larger bottle of another brand at Costco.  We used half of it and a whole 32 oz. jar of jelly.  Worked just great!  (you could adjust it to your taste)

Stick all the contents in a crockpot or heat over the stove until meatballs are heated clear through.  Stir occasionally. 

Are you still baffled by the idea that grape jelly and meatballs can go together?  They do, just trust me on this.

Everyone will love them!  And if they don’t, they’re nuts.  


German Pancakes

You probably already have a German pancake recipe.  And no, I’m not going to give you any new spin on it. 

Truth is, this is your basic recipe for German pancakes but I thought I’d post it just. in. case….

You never know, there may be one person out there that has NEVER had German pancakes and doesn’t have a recipe for them either. 

This is my emergency go-to recipe for dinner.  Yes, I know it’s a breakfast food.

I’ve only made them for breakfast… once.  That’s right, one measly time! 

They’re perfectly acceptable for dinner, right? 

I say yes!

Next to spaghetti, this is the thing I most often go for when I haven’t been to the store and we’re in dire need. 

My kids LOVE it when we’re in need… they go ballistic whenever this is served. 



German Pancakes

6 T. butter (not margarine)

6 eggs

1 c. milk

1 c. flour (whole wheat or white both work)

1/8 – 1/4 c. sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 400*.  Cut butter into cubes and melt in 9×13 pan in the heated oven. 


Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until blended (you can also blend it in a blender). 

Once butter is melted, pour batter into the pan and let bake for about 20 minutes.  It will grow to gargantuan proportions.  Kids love to watch it grow!  But….

DO NOT BE FOOLED!!  When you first pull this out of the oven, you’ll think you could feed an army.  Not so, my friends, not so.  It shrivels up to almost nothing after a few minutes of being out of the oven.  I always have to make 2 pans of it to feed my family.  Serve hot with maple syrup.  Or you could make it more savory by omitting the sugar and adding cooked breakfast sausage, bell peppers, mushrooms… the possibilities are endless!!


So easy, so yummy! 




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