The Ultimate Cheeseburger

Reel Good Recipes concludes Black History Month with the 1975 classic "Cooley High" starring Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs. This film brings back bittersweet memories for those of us who remember the music, youth and love of the decade like no other, the 1960s.  

Our recipe for the Ultimate Cheeseburger pays tribute to Martha's Restaurant, which was a little corner "joint" where the Cooley High kids hung out. No one made better burgers - big, juicy and bold, just like Martha. Let this cheeseburger take you back to a time when food was good, simple and easy, even when life was not.


1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 
Dash seasoned salt
Dash lemon pepper
Dash crushed red pepper

Add butter to a saute pan over medium high heat. Add shallots, red wine vinegar, dashes of seasoned salt, lemon pepper, and crushed red pepper. Saute for 3 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

1/2 lb. ground sirloin
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Dash salt
Dashes freshly ground black pepper
2 slices provolone cheese
2 slices cheddar cheese
6 crunchy waffle fries - prepared according to package directions
2 gourmet hamburger buns
Optional toppings - shredded lettuce, Dijon mustard, ketchup, jalapeno peppers, light mayo.

Add ground sirloin, milk, seasoned salt, salt and black pepper to mixing bowl. Mix well. Make four equally sized thin burgers. Add 1 slice of provolone cheese to two burgers. Top with the other burger and press closed. Preheat a grill or large saute pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Add 1 slice of cheddar cheese to each burger. Turn off heat, cover and let rest in pan for 5 minutes (cheeseburgers should be medium well, but you can adjust the cooking time to your liking).

Warm 2 gourmet hamburger buns. Add a cheeseburger to each bun.  Top with sauteed shallots and waffle fries.  Optional:  Add lettuce, mustard, ketchup, light mayo, jalapeno peppers or other condiments.

Serves 2 to 4.


A Celebration of "Roots" - Mama's Sweet Potato Pie

Today's post is dedicated to the groundbreaking 1977 television mini-series, "Roots", which is based on Alex Haley's Pulitzer Prize winning book.  "Roots" is such an incredible achievement that I struggled to develop a recipe that is special enough, important enough, for this film, because it has touch me and millions of other viewers, regardless of race or age.

I finally realized I needed to get down to my own "roots".  I had already blogged about the perfect recipe for this film, my mother's Sweet Potato Pie.  Her recipe, which called for a "pinch" of this and a "handful" or "swallow" of that, is based on the oral handing down of the recipe from her mother, and so on.  Although I did cheat a little by using Pillsbury pie crust, it is almost as good as Mama's.  CLICK THE LINK BELOW FOR THE RECIPE:
Mamas Best Sweet Potato Pie



Oven Fried Catfish

"Lackawanna Blues" is the award winning HBO film based on the true story of actor Ruben Santiago Jr., and his relationship with his guardian Rachel "Nanny" Crosby. During the 1950's and 1960's in Lackawanna, New York,  Ruben's parents separated, but he live with Nanny and her younger husband Bill in her boarding house. Ruben grew up in a world of music, and all the "characters" in Nanny's boarding house. Nanny is played by Law and Order star S. Epatha Merkerson, who won the Emmy and Golden Globe for her dynamic performance.  A must-see film! Our recipe for Oven Fried Catfish pays tribune to Nanny's Friday night fish fry dinners, but our recipe will be baked with a crunch, not fried. All the soulful taste with less fat. Nanny would be proud!

1 -1/2 lb fresh large catfish fillets
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup Bakin' Miracle Seasoned Coating Mix
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Fresh lemon slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Moisten catfish with milk. Add lemon pepper to both sides. Place Bakin' Miracle Seasoned Coating Mix onto a plate. Coat both sides of catfish and shake off any excess. Coat non-stick baking sheet with olive oil. Place catfish on sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn catfish over and bake another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and squeeze juice from a fresh lemon slice.

Serve with salad, greens, and or cornbread.

Serves 4


The Best Fried Chicken Ever!

Reel Good Recipes celebrates Black History Month with films and recipes inspired by great African American actors. Our soulful and outrageously deliciously recipes are from millions of Black family homes, but we always put our special twist on everything! We start February with the film "Claudine" starring the beautiful and talented Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones. Our first recipe celebration is The Best Fried Chicken Ever!  Our chicken will take on any of your favorite carry-out chicken brands. Better taste at a much lower cost. Please enjoy this clip where Claudine and Roop have carry-out chicken rather than the fancy restaurant meal he promised her. Just as her daughter predicted "Its gonna wind up chicken anyway."

Visit Bio Black History Website


4 chicken pieces, cleaned with excess fat removed (Use your favorite parts of the chicken. I used chicken thighs)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon Season Salt
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper, grounded
1/4 teaspoon Thyme Leaves
1/8 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Emeril's Original Essence Seasoning
1 -1/2 cup vegetable oil

Add egg, chicken, Season Salt, pinch of salt, Cayenne Pepper, Thyme Leaves, Paprika, and Lemon Pepper to a mixing bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

Add flour and Emeril's Original Essence Seasoning to a bowl. Mix. Add chicken one piece at a time. Cover well and shake off excess.

Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add vegetable oil. Heat oil until hot. Add chicken. With a large skillet you should be able to fry 4 pieces without over crowding pan. Keep chicken frying over medium heat (don't cook too fast). Cook on each side for approximately 13 minutes, there should be no bleeding. Chicken should be a beautiful golden brown.

Remove chicken from pan and drain on paper towel.

Serves 4