This weekend is Labor Day, and there is no better way to end the summer than burgers and dogs on the grill! The last couple of years I have been doing a lot of research on how to make a better burger. There are a couple of tips that I employ that really seem to be a constant in my research for a better burger. Next time you fire up the grill for burger time, try these tips, and you will not be disappointed!
- Choose the right ground beef! You want ground beef that is around 20 – 25% fat. Most of that will burn of during cooking, but your burgers will be moist and flavorful because of it.
- Season the meat. A lot of people neglect to ad any seasoning at all. Always use salt and pepper. Ad it right to the raw meat and mix in. If you want to use other spices, garlic or onions etc that you to ad to the raw meat, cook them lightly in a frying pan to bring out the flavor before adding to the meat.
- Don’t overwork the meat. Try not to smash the ground beef up to much, or pat the burgers down too tight. This will give you dense drier burgers.
- Indent the tops. After you form your patties push your thumb onto the top of the patty to leave a good thumb sized indentation. This keeps the patties from turning into balls while you cook them, which allows for a nice even cooking.
- Let them sit out. Let your raw burgers get to room temperature before you put them on the grill. After you make your patties, cover them with plastic wrap, and allow them to sit out until they are room temp. This will allow the middle of the burger to cook evenly with the outside.
- Don’t squish. When you are cooking your burgers, don’t squish them with your spatula. All that does is dry them out, and makes more potential for a fire in your grill.
- Divide your grill. If you are using charcoal, pile your hot coals on one side of the grill. Put the raw burgers on the hot side of the grill, for 1 – 2 minutes on each side to char the outside. Then, rotate the burger a half turn and place them on the cool side. This will give you the crisscross pattern of grill marks. Then cover the grill and cook for another 4-6 minutes per side to “bake” the inside of the burger without overcooking the outside.
- Let them sit. Let the patties rest covered with aluminum foil for about 5 minutes before serving. This will lock the juices into the burger.
Looking at salad dressing labels can be a scary thing sometimes! Although it tastes great, it most often is not great for your body too. This is why I was elated when I came across recipes for my three favorite dressings — homemade dairy free ranch, honey mustard and balsamic! These three recipes are extremely versatile, as they not only go with salads, but also can be paired with any kind of chicken dinner, especially homemade chicken tenders for the kids! Your mouth and body will thank you for taking the extra minute to make your own sauces for your meal.
You can find the recipes for the other two dressings on My Whole Food Life, and here is the recipe for the balsamic vinaigrette:
Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic minced or pressed
1/4 scant tsp ground mustard
1 T lemon juice.
Whisk all the ingredients together. That’s it. I store my dressing in a small mason jar in the fridge. It should keep for a couple weeks. Since there are no additives in this, it will solidify in the fridge. Pull it out a few minutes before you use it again. Or just make it as you need it.
I’ll be honest, I consider myself to be pretty good on a grill, but I have had very mixed results when it comes to grilling corn. Grilled corn is a flavor I truly love, so I attempt it all of the time. However, that being said, I have only tried to develop my own technique. I think this summer I am going to start with a tried and true technique, and then adapt from there. This is a recipe that is adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless, which is an amazing Mexican cookbook everyone should own.
I found this adaptation on ScarpettaDolcetto, and here is how they do it:
- 6 ears of sweet corn, in husks
- 3 Tbsp melted butter
- 1/2 C sour cream with enough milk or cream to loosen
- 1/3 C crumbled Mexican cheese (queso fresco, anejo or cotijia)
- 1 Tbsp hot chile powder
- minced cilantro
- 1/2 lime
Soak the corn for an hour in a deep bowl of water or a clean sink, weighted down with a plate. Grill in the husks over medium-high heat, about 15-20 minutes, until blackened. When cool enough to handle, remove the silk and husks. (Or remove the silks and use the husks as a handle.)
10 minutes before serving, brush the corn with butter and grill until browned. Remove from heat. Serve with the fixings or prep for your guests: brush the corn with sour cream; sprinkle with chile powder, salt, cheese and cilantro. Squirt a bit of lime juice over all. Serve warm with the remaining fixings.
Ahh the BLT, one of humankind’s greatest inventions! This is a (almost) guilt free way to take the BLT to the appetizer plate. I would love to have these anytime, but would be particularly pleased if these were served at father’s day this year! I found the photo below that sparked my interest in making something like this from Greatist.com. They also have a nice list of other guilt free snacks for dudes.
These could be very simple to make, and you could do these in a lot of different ways. Here is the way I would make them.
- Cut off the tops and bottoms of the cherry tomatoes so they can stand up, and so you can fill them
- Using a pairing knife, hollow out one side of the inside of the tomato from the top.
- Ad a small amount of mayonnaise mixed with salt and pepper
- Put in a piece of very crispy bacon, and a leaf or two of arugula
- Place on a thinly sliced mini baguette, and hold it in place with a toothpick.
Photo by Perry Santanachote
Lunch is a tough one for me. I never know what to make. I like salads and sometimes a light sandwich but those two options get old fast. The most important thing for me as I work from home and have a 13 month old running around, is something healthy but quick! This recipe totally fits the bill. It doesn’t hurt that I absolutely LOVE avocados
Corn & Tomato Stuffed Avocado (recipe & instructions found on Pip & Ebby)
Ingredients: (feel free to get creative with whatever you like though!)
- Salt & Pepper
- Lime (juice)
This will be my husband’s second Father’s Day. It’s such a fun holiday to celebrate. He’s an amazing father and I love doing something special to celebrate him. Last year we got him a hand crafted leather football which he absolutely adores….so much so that he has it on display and won’t even throw it, lol! This year I thought it would be fun to make something. He’s a fantastic cook and an even better grill master. This DIY BBQ rub seems like a perfect gift!
Big Batch Barbecue Rub (found on Real Simple)
Makes 1 1/3 cups
- 1/2 cup paprika
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons ground coffee
- 4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoons black pepper
- Combine the ingredients and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.
- Instructions to include with your gift: Up to 2 hours before cooking, coat 2 pounds of chicken, beef, pork, or seafood with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with 2 to 4 tablespoons of the rub. Cook as desired.
Now if this salad doesn’t say summer, I’m not sure what does! I love finding new ways to enjoy healthy greens as I often get stuck in a rut of creating the same ol’ salad. I love that this one incorporates berries, they’re such nutrition powerhouses! I imagine you could substitute blackberries for whatever berry suites you. Oh, and if making your own salad dressing seems difficult, this recipe will prove just how simple it really is!
What you’ll need (please visit The Doctor’s Daughter for full recipe & instructions)
- Arugula (or whatever greens you’d like)
- Blackberries (or whatever berry you’d like)
- Olive oil
- Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
- Salt & Pepper
Lunch is a tough one for me. It’s an important meal in my book because it has the potential to fuel me through that tough afternoon slump if chosen wisely. The issue is that I never seem to have great ideas and am often last minuting it. I like this recipe for a Loaded Baked Sweet Potato found on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures! Not only is it healthy but it can be prepped the night before and warmed up in a cinch!
For the detailed recipe please visit Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.
- Sweet Potato
- Greek yogurt
- Taco seasoning (homemade is best in my opinion as it’s got less sodium & preservatives)
- Olive oil (although Tracey’s Culinary Adventures calls for canola)
- Red bell pepper
- Red onion, diced
- Mushrooms, diced
- Chili powder
- pinch of salt
- Canned black beans
- Scallions, thinly sliced
- Cheese (optional, I’ll be omitting this)
I’m always looking for new fresh ways to enjoy produce. This salad sounded amazing to me! In our local market both radishes and oranges have been looking great and fairly inexpensive. Per my usual, my one tweak would be to omit the sugar and instead maybe just drizzle a bit of honey.
Ingredients – for full instructions & original recipe please visit Kitchen Riffs
- 1 or 2 bunches of radishes
- 1 tablespoon of honey (although the real recipe calls for 1-2 tbsp of sugar)
- juice of one lemon
- ~1 tablespoon orange blossom water (optional, but read Headnote on Kitchen Riffs for why you should use it)
- salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional; not traditional in this recipe, but nice; see Notes on Kitchen Riffs)
- 3 navel oranges
- 1 or 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves or a dusting of cinnamon to garnish
I love pasta but have been trying to come up with some new healthier ways to enjoy it. With the emergence of nicer weather lighter food is welcome in our household! This recipe for Arugula Pesto would be great enjoyed with either brown rice pasta or a whole wheat pasta. The other nice thing about pesto is there’s no cooking involved so it’s a quick and easy weeknight dinner idea!
Full recipe on Slim Palate