Pepper Crusted Bacon Cheeseburgers

In my world there’s nothing better than a burger cooked on a super hot flat top griddle. Boy do I love that nice little char you get on the patties. These pepper crusted bacon cheeseburgers amp up that great flat top (though you can certainly grill them!) flavor even more.

The patties are loaded with sweet onion and lots of black pepper. Lots of black pepper. Crispy bacon, lettuce, smoky cheese and a fantastically garlicky aioli top it all off Every bite is loaded with flavor.
Pepper Crusted Bacon CheeseburgersDo not be shy with the black pepper when you roll the burger patties in it. You really want a good strong pepper flavor. I used smoked pepper but any good freshly cracked pepper will do. For extra smoky flavor used smoked garlic instead of regular raw garlic.

Pepper Crusted Bacon Cheeseburgers

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the garlic aioli

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon parsley minced

For the burgers

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream you can omit this if you don't have cream on hand
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 hamburger buns
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • 8 slices smokehouse cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices bacon cooked

Instructions

For the garlic aioli

  • Place garlic in a small bowl. Add the salt and mash with a fork until it becomes a paste.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the burgers

  • Place beef into a large bowl.
  • Great 2 tablespoons of the onion into the beef. Slice the remaining onion thin.
  • Add cream, salt and pepper and mix well. Form into 8 1/4 pound patties.
  • Spread cracked black pepper out onto a plate. Lightly press each side of each patty into the pepper.
  • Cook patties as desired. I prefer them grilled on a flat-top griddle, but you can also cook them in a skillet.
  • Lightly toast the buns.
  • Assemble burgers by slathering buns with the garlic aioli. Add the lettuce, cooked patties, cheese and bacon and serve.

Copycat Burger King Whopper

My fast food dining days are pretty much behind me. Oh I might stop and grab something every once-in-a-while, specially if I’m traveling. I still crave some of my fast food favorites, but now I’m more a make-it-at-home kinda guy. So that’s how we ended up here, with a copycat of my favorite chain burger, the Burger King Whopper (although truth be told, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and BigMac are close behind on the list!).

Copycat Burger King Whopper

I like to cook my copycat Burger King Whoppers on a flat top griddle on my grill. I get the griddle hot, screaming hot, first. That gives me that little char, that little crunch around the edges. And of course cooking on the grill gives you that char-grilled flavor just like at the restaurant!

If you don’t have a grill cook the burgers in a hot skillet!

Also try my copycat of McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Copycat Burger King Whopper

Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 4 sesame-seed hamburger buns
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt I prefer a little more
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper I prefer a little more
  • 4 slices American cheese optional
  • 12 dill pickle slices divided
  • 2 slices white onion separated into 8 rings, divided
  • 2 small tomatoes cut into 8 slices, divided
  • 4 teaspoon ketchup divided (just eyeball it)
  • 1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce divided
  • 8 teaspoons mayonnaise divided (just eyeball it)

Instructions

  • Heat a skillet, grill pan or flat top griddle over high heat.
  • Brush butter on buns and toast until lightly browned.
  • Season the meat with salt and pepper and form into thin patties. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, not flipping until you get a nice crust.
  • To assemble the burgers, place the patties on the bun bottoms.
  • Add the pickle, onion and tomato slices.
  • Add a good squirt of ketchup.
  • Add the shredded lettuce. Spread mayonnaise on bun top and serve.

Tropical Shrimp Salad

I’ve been a subscriber to Louisiana Cookin’ magazine for years. This tropical shrimp salad is a great example of why I’ve been a loyal reader for so long. This salad was incredible. A wonderful combination of fruits and shrimp, with a light creamy dressing that has a hint of vanilla. It was the perfect dish on a hot summer’s day.
Tropical Shrimp SaladI made this tropical shrimp salad a main dish by using large shrimp and large melon balls. You can also serve this as a side or a great pitch-in dish by using smaller shrimp and melon balls. This salad is also absolutely fantastic without the shrimp.

I used a Greek vanilla yogurt but regular ole yogurt works just fine too. There’s no way you can go wrong with this salad.

Also try my Peruvian Palta Rellena.

Tropical Shrimp Salad

Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked large shrimp peeled
  • 2 cups chopped pineapple
  • 1 1/3 cups honeydew melon balls
  • 1 1/3 cups watermelon balls
  • 1 1/3 cups cantaloupe balls
  • 1 cup peeled seeded, sliced cucumber (1 medium cucumber)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion plus more for garnish

For the dressing

  • 1/3 cup fat free vanilla yogurt Greek is fine
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

For the salad

  • Place all salad ingredients into a large bowl and stir gently.

For the dressing

  • Whisk together all ingredients and pour over the shrimp and fruit mixture.
  • Stir gently.
  • Serve garnished with chopped green onions and dill.

Easy Fry Dipping Sauce

Even if you’re a die-hard I-only-put-ketchup-on-my-fries person, you have to try this easy easy fry dipping sauce. Fear not since it does contain (some) ketchup! And mayonnaise (a worthy fry dipping sauce on it’s own!). A few other ingredients and a little spiciness and you’ve got something different for your next batch of fries.

Easy Fry Dipping Sauce

I have quickly learned that one of the most valuable things in my fridge is a jar of pickle brine. It’s the liquid left after you’ve taken out the last pickle. Don’t ever toss it out. You can use it in so many recipes, from this easy fry dipping sauce to fried chicken.

Also try my Yum Yum sauce!

Easy Fry Dipping Sauce

Course Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pickle brine
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne

Instructions

  • Whisk everything together in a small bowl.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour before using.

Notes

Never toss out the juice left in your pickle jars when the pickles are gone. You can use that brine in great recipes like this fry dipping sauce to fried chicken!

Hidden Valley Ranch Fried Chicken using the Vortex

The beauty of the Vortex BBQ insert is that you can take pretty much any deep-fryer recipe and use it on a charcoal grill. It doesn’t have to be for chicken either. This Hidden Valley Ranch fried chicken using the Vortex is a perfect example of just how amazing it is. The meat is crazy tender, unbelievable moist. And the skin? Well, let’s just say I leave it for last because it’s almost like dessert. A true treat.
Hidden Valley Ranch Fried Chicken using the Vortex

Hidden Valley Ranch fried chicken using the Vortex is incredibly easy to make. And there’s no mess or clean up like if you’d fried the chicken on the stovetop or in a deep fryer. It’s why I love all my Vortexes. I have some for my big charcoal grills and some for my smaller charcoal grills. Which one I use depends on how much I’m cooking, but no matter what, everything comes out fantastic.

Also try my Granny’s Secret Fried Chicken using the Vortex.

Hidden Valley Ranch Fried Chicken using the Vortex

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 pieces
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 8 pieces chicken I used skin-on, bone-in thighs
  • 1 cup Hidden Valley Ranch dressing prepared per package instructions
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • vegetable oil

Instructions

  • Place chicken in a resealable container or bag. Add the dressing. Seal and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  • Fire up your grill with the Vortex insert. Let the coals get good and hot.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any excess.
  • Combine the pepper, flour and salt in a pie plate, bowl or baggie. Add the chicken and coat well.
  • Transfer chicken to your grill around the Vortex. Do not let the pieces overlap or touch.
  • Cook for approximate 45 minutes or until the chicken is done. Test for 165 F in several places then remove.
  • If desired, lightly brush the chicken with oil and let cook another 5 minutes. This will produce even crunchier chicken.
  • Let cool slightly and serve.

Smoked BBQ Baked Beans

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Double this recipe. And if you have a lot of leftover smoked pulled pork (or brisket) laying around, quadruple the recipe. Because these smoked BBQ baked beans are fantastic you’ll want to make as much as will fit on your smoker at one time. I got this fantastic (and easy) recipe and many others from Brother Jimmy’s BBQ: More than 100 Recipes. If you’re a fan of smoking and grilling, you need Brother Jimmy’s now.

Smoked BBQ Baked Beans

Just about any smoked meat will work just fine in these smoked BBQ baked beans. I prefer brisket or pulled pork, but chicken and turkey are good too. This is an excellent way to use up leftover (or not leftover) meats.

Also try my peach BBQ beans.

Smoked BBQ Baked Beans

Note: You can make this dish in the oven. Just bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. I recommend that you use a smoky BBQ sauce if making in the oven.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 32 ounce can pork and beans, undrained
  • 1 cup leftover smoked pork butt cubed or shredded
  • 1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses

Instructions

  • Fire up your smoker for smoking at 225 F.
  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.
  • Combine the onion and remaining ingredients in a medium disposable aluminum pan.
  • Transfer to your smoker and smoke for 45 minutes-1 hour or until hot and bubbly, stirring occasionally.

Okra Hush Puppies

This is the first time in a long, long time that I didn’t take a picture of a dish after I plated. Why? Well, because my okra hush puppies were only on a plate for about 30 seconds. Yeah, sure, my hush puppy shaping skills are lacking, but it so didn’t matter. They were incredible. I mean just flat-out absolutely the best hush puppies ever. The perfect batter. And my favorite, fresh okra. I loved it!
Okra Hush Puppies

You pretty much gotta go with fresh when it comes to the okra for these hush puppies. You might bet away with frozen when fresh is out of season, but the color, the crunch, won’t be quite the same. It’ll still taste delicious though.

Note: Yeah, I might have eaten several of these before they even cooled off. And yeah, they were pretty darned hot but I could not control myself. You won’t be able to either.

Also try my copycat of the hush puppies from Long John Silver’s!

Okra Hush Puppies

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 cups fresh okra sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup onion minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising cornbread mix I used a small box of Jiffy
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350 F.
  • In a large bowl combine the okra, garlic powder, onion, and parsley.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and sugar. Add to the bowl of okra and stir gently to combine.
  • Stir in the cornbread mix. Add the salt and pepper and stir..
  • Working in batches, scoop out a spoonful of batter and gently drop into the hot oil. Fry for about 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, flipping as they cook.
  • Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Hawaiian-Style Potato Macaroni Salad

You want pasta salad. She wants potato salad. Now you both can get what you want, in one bowl! And with a little tropical twist, to boot. This Hawaiian-style potato macaroni salad is a wonderful side dish, perfect for a family get-together (it does make a pretty big batch!). It really is the combination of two favorites.
Hawaiian-Style Potato Macaroni SaladWhat’s Hawaiian about this Hawaiian style potato macaroni salad? Well, you’re supposed to use sweet Hawaiian onions when you make it. I couldn’t find them, so I used good-ole Vidalia’s, my favorite onions. I don’t think it matters, because this salad turned out to be fantastic!

Also try my Creole macaroni salad.

Hawaiian-Style Potato Macaroni Salad

Note: You can cook the potatoes and pasta together, but I prefer to steam my potatoes. A hard boil tends to beat up the potatoes, whereas steaming keeps that nice cube shape. To do so, place the potatoes in a steam basket over the boiling pasta and steam until tender. The potatoes will likely take longer to steam than the pasta will take to cook.
Course Side
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings 16 -20 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Russet potatoes peeled (if desired), chopped into 1" cubes
  • 1 pound dried elbow noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded onion
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • 10 ounce bag frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup green onions chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil for 5 minutes.
  • Add the pasta and cook 6-8 minutes or until the noodles are al dente.
  • Carefully drain the potatoes and pasta into a large colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and add the onion, carrot, peas and green onion.
  • Combine the mayo, relish, vinegar, mustard, allspice and salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold into the potato pasta mixture.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Sweet Black Pepper Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Oh let me at it! Delicious, tender, juicy chicken, packed with peppery goodness and a hint of sweetness. Sweet black pepper chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy proves what I’ve said time and time again. Nothing cooks chicken like the Big Easy. Add a little marinade like this sweet black pepper anytime sauce from Stubb’s and you’ve got tremendously flavorful chicken.
Sweet Black Pepper Chicken on the Char-Broil Big EasyNine times out of ten I use split chicken breasts when cooking chicken on the Big Easy. They don’t ever dry out, a problem you can run into with boneless chicken breasts. So any time I see them on sale I pick up a few family packs and get to cooking. I love to have them on hand. They make for an easy dinner salad: just chop up the roasted chicken and top some greens with it. Dinner. Done!

Also try my lemon pepper chicken.

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!

Sweet Black Pepper Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the chicken into a resealable bag or container.
  • Add marinade to taste. Toss to coat.
  • Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, turning occasionally.
  • Fire up your Big Easy.
  • Transfer the chicken to the Big Easy basket.
  • Cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound or until it reaches 165 F as checked in several places.
  • Remove and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Yum Yum Sauce

I went on a deep-fried shrimp kick the other day. It happens. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen often enough, because deep-fried shrimp are definitely one of my favorite things. To make the shrimp even better I always make a dipping sauce or two along the side. Usually that means some sort of variation on a cocktail sauce, but this time I went with a mayonnaise-based sauce often found in Japanese Hibachi restaurants, Yum-Yum sauce. Nice and creamy with a slight vinegar twist, this sauce was perfect with the crispy shrimp.
Yum Yum SauceAs I note in the ingredients, you’ll want to use full-strength (not light) mayonnaise. Light mayonnaise is too thin, you want something that’ll stand up to the shrimp.

I wouldn’t be afraid to add a few shakes of hot sauce, either. Or maybe a few good-sized pinches of dried pepper flake.

Also try my easy fry dipping sauce.

Yum Yum Sauce

Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Author Based on a recipe from My Fridge Food

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise do not use thin, light mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  • Whisk together all ingredients. Cover and place in fridge at least 30 minutes before using.