Brock’s and Family’s Favorites: Burgers, Spaghetti, and Butter Cookies

Home-cooked meals are rare in this day and time, and they certainly are a treasured blessing when you are hungry or famished from a long

day at work or school and this special meal is there for you on the table. There’s nothing like a good bowl of homemade spaghetti, some homemade bread, a beautiful salad, and a decadent dessert. Also, the smell of burgers grilling and buns being toasted for preparation of big and delicious burgers always makes my mouth water. And at the end of a meal like these, wouldn’t a nice light cookie be delicious to have with a scoop of quality vanilla ice cream? Well, enough said! Here are your recipes this week, readers. Good recipes for burgers, my own “almost homemade” spaghetti (which leaves all my dinner guests wondering if the spaghetti was really homemade ha ha), and my own butter cookies, which are popular around my house all seasons.
Enjoy, readers!

Mike’s Juicy Ranch Cheeseburgers
Note: My father loves big and juicy hamburgers, straight off the grill. So when ranch dressing is included in the recipe, the burgers are always better. After they are done, pile them up with whatever you like—of course you want cheese, sweet pickles (that’s what we do in the south), a fresh garden tomato slice, and a thick slice of crunchy bacon. Now that’s a cheeseburger!
One & one third lbs. quality chilled ground beef
One fourth cup finely chopped onion
One fourth cup chopped fresh parsley
One third cup ranch dressing
One fourth tsp. ground black pepper
4 slices (three fourths oz each) Cheddar or American cheese
4 big sandwich buns, split
12 sweet pickle slices
Heat closed medium-size contact grill for 5 minutes. In medium bowl, mix beef, onion, parsley, 3 tablespoons of the dressing and the pepper. Shape mixture into 4 patties, about three fourths inch thick. Place patties on grill. Close grill. Grill 6-8 minutes, or more or until meat thermometer inserted in center of patties reads 160 degrees F and patties are no longer pink in center. Top each patty with cheese slice. Let stand on grill about 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Spread remaining ranch dressing on cut sides of buns. Place cheese-topped patties and pickles in buns. You may add some slices of tomato or crunchy bacon to the burger as well. Your choice.

Brock’s “Almost Homemade” Spaghetti
Note: This stuff tastes like homemade – like it took all day to prepare!!! Well, your guests won’t even know the difference if you don’t tell them that it was way too easy to prepare! Ha ha!!!
1 lb. thin spaghetti
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork sausage (Jimmy Dean mild)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 large jar Prego or Hunts spaghetti sauce*
*Four Cheese or cheese-style sauce is best
1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
One half cup parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz cream cheese, softened
Boil noodles with oil and butter. Drain and keep cover over them to keep warm. Then cook your beef and sausage with your onions, until done. Drain well. Return to heat and over medium heat, add your spaghetti sauce, brown sugar and parmesan cheese. Then add small globs of cream cheese to the sauce. This will not change the sauce’s appearance, but it will make it richer and tastier. The cream cheese should be totally melted into the sauce. No lumps should be seen at all. Bring the sauce to a boil and remove from the heat. Prepare some crescent dinner rolls or some frozen breadsticks, and ladle your spaghetti sauce over a helping of pasta. And enjoy!

Brock’s Easy Butter Cookies
Note: My favorite cookie in the world is shortbread. These are the easiest shortbread butter cookies in the world. Recipe came from a lady who used to live in the south but now lives out west. I’m sure she misses all the good southern ways of cookin’ it up good good good!
1 cup unsalted Land O’Lakes butter, room temp
Half cup powdered sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Dash salt
Mix together the flour and salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt mixture a small amount at a time, kneading into creamed mixture with your hands until you have a stiff dough which can be rolled. Do not overwork the dough. Turn dough onto floured surface and pat or roll out to one fourth inch thickness. Cut into squares (or any shape you want) and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and store in airtight containers. Makes about 3 dozen.

Editor’s note:  Brock Wetherly Rogers is an experienced southern food writer, college and high school educator, overseas traveler, and passionate student of the culinary and pastry arts.  
E-mail your comments to him at brockrogers1@gmail.com, or find him on Facebook at Brock’s Bites-Southern Recipes.