Quick Cheeseburger Soup

I cannot even put into words how amazing this soup was. One of my favorite things I’ve cooked in awhile. Gahhh. It is so amazing and I want to make it again immediately. It is the perfect non-grilling-weather way to taste a cheeseburger. The tomato flavor and garlic and onions seemed spot on flavors to make me think of a burger.

The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup

I tweaked a recipe I saw on Family Fresh Meals. That one uses a crockpot and I was making this on speed. I also didn’t include the bacon that this recipe did. I know! I know! Blasphemy. I was attempting to lighten this soup up just a bit while maintaing the flavors. I skipped the potatoes, used less cream cheese, nixed the milk/flour slurry, and swapped beef for ground chicken. But then I served it in mini breadbowls so maybe lightening it up didn’t really do much. Next time I might even skip the shredded cheese and just sprinkle some on to serve it. Gasp!

I skipped the crockpot since I didn’t think there were that many more flavors to develop here. Some things (read: chili, pork shoulder, etc) develop more and better flavors the longer they cook. This one wasn’t likely to do that, but don’t get me wrong, crockpots are great to keep food hot for a crowd.

Cheeseburger Soup

adapted from Family Fresh Meals

Ingredients:

1 lbs ground chicken (or ground pork)
3 large carrots
2 celery stocks
1 medium white onion
16 oz can crushed tomatoes (I swear by Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbs dijon, or whole grain mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
4 oz (1/2 brick) of cream cheese
4-6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
green onions for topping

Directions:

Heat a large heavy pot (to become the soup pot) over medium-high heat and heat a large skillet (for the ground chicken) over medium heat.
Peal the carrots, and chop carrots, celery, and onion.
In a large skillet, brown the ground chicken until cooked most of the way through. Break into crumbles with the back of a spoon.
In the soup pot, add in 1 tbs olive oil, chopped carrots, chopped celery, and chopped onion cooking for about 10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Drain the meat discarding any excess fat/grease and add to the soup pot.
Add in the crushed tomatoes.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Add in chicken broth, worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, stirring well.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Cook for another 10-15 minutes covered. It was at a low boil which helped it thicken up a bit (without needing a milk/flour slurry).
Uncover and reduce heat to low.
Add in the cream cheese, stirring well as it melts.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Finally, add in the shredded cheese. Stir to melt.
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
Serve topped with green onions in mini-bread bowls!
The Three Bite Rule - Cheeseburger Soup
This is a serious crowd pleaser. I loved it and would totally make it again! I was a bit heavy handed with the green onions, don’t do that. This was pretty quick but is a recipe where you could do some prep in advance. You could make pretty much the whole thing in advance and refrigerate or freeze it until needed – I’d leave off the cream cheese until just before serving.

I split a ball of pizza dough into 3-4 balls to bake into bread bowls. Just bake, let cool, slice off the tops, and hollow out the middle.

This would be a perfect recipe to whip up for some family or for a potluck. It could surely be a time savor (and leftover source) during this very busy time of year.

adaptations/suggestions
this recipe + some beans + cooked longer + cumin = cheeseburger chili!
this recipe + some chunks of soft onion rolls with butter for bun croutons
this recipe – cream cheese + a very little dash of cream = lightened cheeseburger soup
this recipe – cream cheese + 5-8 hours in a crockpot + cream cheese at the end = less fuss cheeseburger soup
this recipe + a whole bar of burger toppings (bacon, blue cheese, dollop of mustard, green onions, shredded cheddar, etc)

GO Burger NYC

Everytime I get back from NYC I say that I don’t go nearly enough. It is true, it is actually pretty close & easy to get to. Mr. J and I hopped a bus after work and were there in just a few hours. Enough time for a brief snooze and a movie on the laptop.

We got in and hung with S & E and their cute puppy Stella. Before we knew it, it was morning and the rest of the gang was arriving. When in NYC, we got bagels and devised our plan for the day. We picnicked and played in Central Park for a bit, did a beer tasting/sampling, got cupcakes and regrouped for dinner plans.

There was pretty much food & beverages all day. We took the dog for a walk along the East River to build up some space for dinner.
The Three Bite Rule - NYC Eats

I love that NYC has everything you’d ever want, and many many many locations of just what you want. We went to Go Burger and loved it.

I got the Mac & Cheeseburger. I mean, how could I not? When I saw that it had fried mac & cheese on top I really couldn’t look elsewhere. I thought about the salmon burger with pickled red onions & avocado but I just couldn’t.
The Three Bite Rule - NYC Eats

My Mac & Cheeseburger was a turkey burger topped with fried mac & cheese, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, and homemade ketchup. It was so good.
The Three Bite Rule - NYC Eats

Mr. J got the same, but on a beef burger. There were some BLT burgers, a smashed burger, and a turkey burger amongst our group too.

Sunday morning we squeezed in a jaunt through Central Park and may have had Pick a Bagel…again. I was thinking about why bagels aren’t as good other places and maybe that’s how it should be. Maybe I don’t need a whole-wheat-everything-bagel that good to be around the corner from me.

It was definitely a weekend of eating, drinking, and catching up with longtime friends. Exactly as life should be.

Breakfast Burgers

Happy Labor Day! I figured what was more Labor Day than a burger? This one has a twist!

I had some English muffins from the farmers market and thought they’d be great for a burger since they’re a bit more substantial than Thomas’. I went bfast inspired topping the burgers with cheese, a fried egg, and bacon jam. So good!

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Ingredients:

2 english muffins or bagels
2 tbs bacon jam or bacon slices
2 slices of cheese
2 fried eggs, over easy
tomato slices
2 burgers

Directions:

Timing is key for these burgers, so prep the toppings (bacon jam/bacon slices & tomato slices) and sides in advance.
While the burgers are cooking, heat a frying pan to medium.
Toast the English muffins.
Once the burgers come off the grill, in the pan, fry 2 eggs to your liking (I did sunny side up).

I liked the egg yolk becoming an instant condiment on here. The tomato slices also replaced ketchup. I served these burgers with tots for a grilled dinner giving breakfast a nod. This was oozy and delicious. I had tomato, bacon jam, and egg yolk dripping out and it was glorious.
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The timing is everything here. Eggs take only a minute to fry so I didn’t want them ready before the burgers came off the grill. I think this would take 2 people, or an octopus. I don’t think I could “man the grill” and have the English muffins toasted, the bacon/eggs/sides ready.

In the breakfast for dinner cookbook there’s a burger topped with an egg and a super-thin crispy shredded hash brown layer. Yum. These burgers could be even more breakfasty by grilling a sausage patty.
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Falafel Burgers & Basil White Bean Spread

I’ve been all about the meatless meals lately. Summer seems like such a perfect time for that. I saw Jess Fuel make a white bean and basil spread and I thought it would be really good as a hummus alternative. I make baked falafel regularly so this was a perfect time to make a spread. It would be a good dip as well, but I used mine on a falafel “burger” as a condiment.

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Ingredients:

1 can white beans
2 cups basil
1 tbs garlic, chopped
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tbs olive oil
salt & pepper

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, add all the ingredients.
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Blend well, taste, and season with added salt and pepper accordingly.
Enjoy!
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This is so simple. The beans make it thick and hearty and the basil adds the freshness. I don’t know that it would be my go-to dip or anything, but I liked the flavors and love how easy it was. It was a great way to use fresh basil since it only has a few days of shelf life. It would be easy to customize with roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, lemon + mint, or adding cuke chunks and feta. I have to remember this when needing to make something cheap or easy.

For the falafel, I baked them like usual, but I made us each a big patty rather than a bunch of small falafel balls. I served them like a burger but with the bean spread, lettuce, and cucumber slices. These were good, but probably won’t be my go-to for falafel night. I think I still like them in a pita or wrap with feta and hummus. They make great little sliders for an appetizer too!
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Have more basil? Use it for Strawberry Basil Sangria or Grilled Bruschetta Pizza or on a made-at-home sub!

What I Ate: Rodeo Burgers

‘What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with ya for the idea or inspiration.

Sometimes the burger is about the quality and correct cooking. This burger is all about the toppings.
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I topped these burgers with cheese, onion rings, and barbecue sauce. Ohhh wow. This is amazing. It is so fun to have bbq sauce dripping even when there isn’t a bone in sight!

Ingredients:

2 burgers (we did 1 beef for Mr. J and one ground pork for me)
½ chopped onion
1 tsp spice rub
2 burger rolls
4-6 onion rings (I used some frozen o-rings)
3-5 tbs barbecue sauce

Directions:

Finely chop the onion and mix it into the ground meat.
Form the patties and sprinkle the outside with the bbq spice rub mix.
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Grill until cooked to your liking.
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It was so good. I like the spice rub with the sweet BBQ sauce. The onion ring was the best part. I love onion rings so this was just perfect.

Enjoy the weekend! I’m looking forward to celebrating my dad’s bday with a FEAST! and the whole C family is coming so we can take the cutest nephews to a baseball game! We’ll be enjoying some lobsters and hoping for sunshine. Yay! I have a super exciting surprise for Monday so stay tuned!! :D

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!