What I Ate: Vermont Burger

For Mr. J’s birthday I started a tradition a few years ago of a special burger for his birthday dinner. This year’s burger was a hit!

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In 2011 I made stuffed burgers: blue cheese & bacon stuffed burgers

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In 2012 I made bacon wrapped burgers
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This year I was out of techniques to try so I was all about the toppings. I did a Vermont burger: cheddar, bacon, spinach, and maple mayo.
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I loved these! The salty bacon pairs perfectly with the sweet mayo and sharp cheese. Ahhh! Bliss!

I need another one of these. Right. about. now. Life has just been crazy. We just replaced our boiler and water heater. By we, I mean Mr. J and I got about 4 estimates from troupes of plumbers, researched the state energy credits, went back and forth about the best method/pricing/sources etc. Bahh. It’s pretty boring except that I want to have heat, and I don’t want to pay a million dollars. This has been an ongoing discussion with a surprising number of options and it is FINALLY done.

When they finally finished a year three full work days later, we didn’t have power on the main floor. The basement? yup. The upstairs? yup. It was during the crazy monsoon storm and it seemed like power came back, we flipped a switch, and BAM! There was an explosion somewhere. Alarms were going off, the doggies were FA-REAKING out, and we worried about gas lines, the electrical panel, a fire, or whatever else. A call to 9-1-1 later, we had 3 fire trucks, the electrician, the town wiring inspector, and the fire chief at our house. It turns out something happened with the connection to the house. NStar came about 5.5 hours later, replaced it, and we didn’t have to pay for anything. Phew!

I was so worried the basement was on fire, or that there was carbon monoxide, or a gas leak, or something else awful. It was such a relief that everything was fine, minus the smoking/sparking street connection. Our new electrician is our new BFF and hung out while it was all happening. Once we knew everything was OK and were just waiting on Nstar, Mr. J just wanted to see the Bruins and I just wanted the food in the fridge to be ok (win & win for both of us).

If that experience doesn’t deserve a burger, I don’t know what does…this also all happened on the day I had to go to the dentist. What a day!

Black Bean and Squash Veggie Burgers

My event is over, I’m back from vacation, work isn’t stressful anymore, and there are no more excuses. Time to eat real food and better food. Time to cut the crap…so to speak. Last night Mr. J was wanting dessert. I was glad he didn’t end up suggesting a trip to our fav local ice cream place. I might not have had the will power to say go without me. I need to get back on track.

What a perfect segway to veggie burgers! I love them and don’t make them nearly enough. Homemade ones are sooo much better than store bought ones.
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I get it that folks dismiss them. I’m not vegetarian, but I can’t eat beef so I kind of have to like them. People who are lucky enough to eat beef without a problem don’t really understand and can mock them all they want. I love all the flavors, condiments, and options for burgers. I usually make chicken burgers and some restaurants offer turkey burgers and they are pretty good substitutes. It is just such a quintessential summer food I miss out on.

These are so simple, filling, hot-of-the-grill, and hearty. Veggie burgers are filling but not stuffed-can’t-think-about-food-again kind of burgers. I’ve made them with eggplant which I like but the nuttiness of the oatmeal and the crunch from the sunflower seeds is so great. My friend Flying on Jessfuel made Sweet Potato & Pecan burgers a million years ago before we had blogs. The butternut squash in these brought me back to that million-degree apartment in Boston way back when.

Black Bean & Squash Burgers

Ingredients:

1 can black beans
1 cup butternut squash cooked (I used frozen, mostly defrosted)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 tbs olive oil or 1 egg
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded/chopped/grated
1 tsp onion powder
salt & pepper

Directions:

Rinse and drain black beans.
Add black beans, butternut squash (mine was still a touch frozen/frosty), onion, and garlic to a food processor.
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Pulse for a few seconds until mixed leaving some black bean chunks.
Mix black bean mixture with oatmeal, sunflower seeds, egg, cheese, onion powder, and some salt & pepper.
Form into patties

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Grill until crisp on the outside. Flip once, gently.
Serve on a bun with all the traditional burger ‘fixings or on salad or in a pita or bunless.
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I topped mine with avocado, ketchup, and some whole grain mustard we’re obsessed with on the bottom. It was so good. I froze the other 3 burgers separated by parchment. They’re ready and waiting for the next burger night!

Mr. J saw me whipping these together (he formed his own beef burger) and saw something orange go in from the freezer. Mango? Hahaha, nope! That frozen butternut squash wasn’t our fav and it hung around so long he didn’t even think of it. He magically grilled this bad boy to perfection while I feared it would fall apart. He’s the grill-master for sure.

(p.s. wish him a happy birthday tomorrow!)

Cheeseburger Calzone

Let’s start the week off right. Let’s talk burgers…no calzones. Seriously, this is just pure goodness whichever way you look at it..

This was delicious, and fresh, and comforting all at the same time. I was thinking back to when I messed around with a biscuit crust for a burger pizza (it was a no-go, seen here).  ‎It was pizza topped with salad. It was a good idea, but needed a re-do. I made a big mac pizza here, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted.
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Ingredients:

3/4 pound ground chicken
1 ball pizza dough
12 oz shredded cheddar melting blend
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
3 tbs ketchup
1 tbs mayo
1 tbs relish
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400 degrees.
In a skillet, over medium heat, brown ground chicken until cooked through.
Mix in 1/4 cup of cheese. Stir.
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Whisk together ketchup, mayo, relish, and garlic salt, or shake in a glass jar.
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Spread pizza dough out into a large circle. Lay it onto the pan/stone off center (off center so it is loaded up and not moved, only closed)
Layer cheese, ground chicken, spinach, tomatoes. Dab with special ketchup sauce.
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Repeat for 2 layers (or until layer ingredients run out).
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Stretch pizza dough “overhang” across to meet the other side and close up.
Pinch edges together.
Slice a few vent slits into the top of the calzone.
Bake 10 minutes.
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Remove, brush with olive oil and shake sesame seeds onto the top.
Return to the oven, baking for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

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The dough provides the perfect crispy pseudo-burger bun. The meat mix with cheese in it was great. I think it would have been too dried out without the cheese. I like the spinach in there or arugula would be good. These two greens are so good cooked that I can’t quite picture other greens, but some lightly dressed on the side could be fresh and bright.

Calzones have some great pre-prep opportunities. The whole thing could be made and baked for only 10 minutes to firm up. Then heated for 15 minutes before serving. The meat/cheese mix and special sauce could be prepped the night before too, to speed up dinner prep. At this time of year, I like all the help I can get for dinner ;)

What I Ate: Nacho Burger

I feel like a genius. I created an amazing burger out of nowhere. I made burgers out of ground pork, taco seasoning,  and some salsa con queso.

The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger

Ingredients:
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tbs taco seasoning
2 tbs salsa con queso

Directions:
Mix the ground pork (or beef/chicken/turkey) with taco seasoning and salsa con queso.
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
Form into patties and grill
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
Top with sliced pepper jack cheese and some more salsa con queso!
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger

This had some great spice and perfect cheesiness. I think the cheese sauce was a perfect way to keep the meat juicy. I served it with a vinegar based bean salad. We loved this one!

Onion Dip Burger

Grilling the best part of summer. Dontcha think? Or maybe it is the beach. I think food is best in the summer. I capitalize on burgers at home since not everywhere offers their delicious combos ontop a burger I can eat. I can make my own chicken, pork, turkey, etc burger at home. Let’s be honest, I’ve been all about the ground pork lately since it is by far the cheapest, and tends to not get as dry as turkey. Try it.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
This idea came from Ms. L long enough ago that she had forgotten about it. I didn’t. I heard onion-dip burger and was all about it! I modeled this one off my technique for ranch burgers.

Ingredients:

½ pound ground meat (I used pork)
1 container of onion dip
1 packet of onion soup mix
2 slices of cheese
3 tbs fried onions

Directions:

Mix the ground meat with the onion soup mix, and 1/3 cup onion dip until well incorporated.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
Form into patties and grill (or cook) until cooked through.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
Lightly warm fried onions in toaster oven or skillet.
Top burgers with cheese, onion dip, and fried onions.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
Enjoy!

The onion burgers were juicy and completely flavor packed. I’m salivating just thinking of them. They stayed together perfectly on the grill (unlike some of my stuffed burgers).

These are such a great treat and EASY way to amp up your regular burger. I think the dip as a condiment is perfect and the crunch from the onions was awesome. They do have a use other than green bean casserole!

When I heard about onion dip burgers I was going to top it with chips, like Bobby Flay’s crunchified burgers but the onions seemed like a fun but unexpected topping.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger

I do need to crunchify my next burger though.

What I ate: Cowboy Burger

I’ve made a few stuffed burgers and every time I make them I think of a new one! This time I did a cowboy burger with caramelized onions and cheddar cheese stuffed into the burger. I mixed in and topped them with barbecue sauce.
Three Bite Rule: Cowboy Burger
It was a a good combo and I think the barbecue sauce in the ground chicken was great touch to keep it juicy.

Restaurant Recreation: Big Mac Pizza

I was sad to miss out on the Mac Daddy pizza at the Pizza Rumble so I knew I’d have to recreate it ASAP at home! I can’t eat red meat so I couldn’t partake in the beef one so I made it Emily-friendly at home. It was such a winner and one I’ll totally make again!
3 Bite Rule: Big Mac Pizza

Ingredients:

Pizza dough
¾ pound ground turkey/chicken/pork
1 white onion, chopped
8 oz shredded yellow cheddar
2 tbs sesame seeds
3 tbs ketchup
2 tbs mayo
1 tsp relish
1 cup shredded lettuce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425-degrees and precook pizza dough until starting to get puffed and the bottom is getting crisp (about 15 minutes).
While dough is cooking, brown the ground meat and add onion after about 7 minutes of cooking. Continue cooking until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent.
Remove crust when semi-cooked and top with cheese. Add the onion and meat mixture on top of cheese. Sprinkle with ½ the sesame seeds and return pizza to the oven for about 10 more minutes.
3 Bite Rule: Big Mac Pizza
Mix mayo, relish, and ketchup together to make special sauce.
3 Bite Rule: special sauce
Remove pizza and top with lettuce, special sauce, and the remaining sesame seeds.
3 Bite Rule: Big Mac Pizza

This was really a fun pizza. The flavors went together really well and although I can’t say I’ve ever eaten a Big Mac, there’s a reason everyone knows the jingle and why the burger has been popular for 40+ years. The special sauce really makes this.
3 Bite Rule: Big Mac Pizza

I found a cheddar blend of shredded cheese intending for melting, aka, it had some processed American cheese which was perfect.

I actually didn’t want to buy iceburg lettuce just for this so I used spinach. Choose your green, you’re in charge! I only topped the pieces we’d be eating that night so we weren’t reheating lettuce on top of pizza the next day. I forgot pickles on mine. Oops. There will definitely be a next-time so I can right this wrong in the future.

This would be a really fun one to make as mini ones as apps or to a potluck. How come nobody brings pizzas to potlucks anyway?

Bacon Wrapped Burgers

I was really excited for my menu for Mr. J’s birthday. My guy loooves a good burger so I thought about a bacon wrapped burger. I guess Birthday Burgers are a tradition now since I made stuffed burgers for his birthday last year.

I googled and saw a few that put bacon around the edge. That’s not good enough. I was thinking of weaving it to make a little bacon wrapping.
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It seemed like it would cook ok, it just might need to be secured with toothpicks (I recommend counting them to be sure they all come out). We strategized that getting the bacon crisped on the first side might help keep it all together before flipping.

Ingredients
2 burgers
strips of bacon (4-6 strips per burger)

Directions
Lay 3 strips of bacon and interlace 3 other strips in the opposite direction to form an L.
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Place burger on the bacon intersection. Fold the flaps over and weave them together.
bacon_burger_assembled_590_390Mr. J’s was a beef burger. I did ground pork. Though I didn’t eat Mr. J’s burger, I have to say I think the 4 strips of bacon is plenty (versus the 6 on his).

I served it with a cucumber ribbon salad. It was plain greek yogurt, dill, garlic, and pepper.
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I sliced the cucumber with a mandolin but was afraid to make them too thin. I figured not slicing my hand off was a good birthday present too.
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The burgers were reallllly good. I topped mine with swiss and Mr. J’s with American cheese. I think it was a fun meal.
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Now what kind of burger am I going to make for his bday next year??

Cheeseburger Pizza

Sometimes when I have a good thing going I don’t know why I change it up. I have pizza dough I love (Portland Pie Co) that I get at the grocery store. It comes in regular, beer, and basil but I especially love the garlic.

I’m not sure why I haaaad to try making biscuit dough crust. It was terrible. It tasted OK but looked quite sad. It was crumbly and never molded together. I made Cheeseburger Pizza which was phenomenal despite the crust being not so great.
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Ingredients:

Pizza dough
1/3 pound ground meat (I used ground pork)
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (or cheddar and mozzarella mixed)
1 tomato, chopped
1 onion, chopped
pickles, chopped
lettuce
ketchup and mayo to drizzle

Directions:

Prepare pizza dough and prebake until crisp at 400 degrees.
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Cook the ground pork until cooked through and drain. Return to the pan and add onions for a few minutes until softened.
Assemble the pizza by topping the dough with sauce, meat, onions, and cheese.
burger_pizza_assembled_590_390 Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and the cheese melts.
burger_pizza_baked_590_390 Top with pickles, lettuce, tomato, and drizzle with ketchup and mayo.
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This was a really good pizza. I liked the flavors and it was a great use of some basic ingredients. I had the pork leftover and frozen from another dinner so it was also a great use of frozen meat. Frozen ground meat isn’t great as a burger but as taco meat, or pizza toppings the lack of freshness isn’t apparent.

I’ll make it again I’m sure. Pizza is such a regular weeknight dinner because the leftovers are so good too. I ate leftovers even though the “biscuit” crust wasn’t great. Here’s the biscuit recipe if you want to give it a go but I recommend sticking to regular dough.

I have another pizza to post soon and I have an idea I haven’t tried yet so stay tuned!