Turkey Sliders with Blueberry Compote | Lighter Recipes For Summer

Who doesn’t love to entertain in the summertime? Each season has its own unique perks to inviting people over and hosting them for dinner or brunch. Winter is all about comforting, hearty dishes that are sometimes indulgent but always delightful. Fall has that wonderful crisp air, the smells are intoxicating (who can resist pumpkin and all those spiced baked goods), and the seasonal produce is arguably the best all year. Spring is a light in the dark after a long, cold winter. The days get longer and warmer, there’s sunshine, everything becomes green again and all the seasonal produce is fresh and light. Summer is bountiful with an overabundance of produce from summer squash to tomatoes to berries to greens. There’s an excess of everything and the sun is shining late into the evening. The one downside (and all seasons have one), is that summer can get hot which is not ideal for heating up a kitchen. That’s why I love these Turkey Sliders.

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Since we’re lazy and haven’t restocked the propane tank for our grill, I’ve been forced to do all the “grilling” inside. Normally, I like to use my grill pan as it’s become my favorite stovetop tool but for this recipe I used my cast iron skillet instead. Cast iron skillets are useful for many reasons. You can use them on the stove, in the oven and even on the grill, and they distribute heat the best out of any cooking tool. The trick is to heat them up before getting started. By preheating the skillet, it ensures an even cooking temperature for all your sliders so that they cook perfect every time. The grill is the ideal cooking method for summertime though. So if you’re taking these outside to cook up, use the same instructions but apply them to your grill instead! It’s so easy and you’ll have less clean up than I did.

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Now for the sliders, I actually filmed the cooking process on Instagram stories a few weeks back if you want to check it out! The videos are saved to my highlights in the “Cooking at Home” category. First, get the blueberry compote started. A compote is like a syrupy jam. Fruit cooks over a low heat with sugar until you get a gooey, syrupy consistency. It’s looser than jam but chunky so not a full-fledged syrup. It’s a great way to use up fruit that might be on its last life instead of throwing it out. Once the compote is finished, move on to the turkey burgers. Mix the meat and create golf ball-sized meatballs before squashing them into patties. Cook these over a medium-high heat. You want to cook turkey hot and fast so that it doesn’t get dried out. Because these are little baby burgers and not full-sized, they’ll cook through quick over the high heat. Once the burgers are done, I like to toast the buns. It adds an extra depth of flavor and shows your guests that you’re willing to go the extra mile. Plus, it tastes fantastic.

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These sliders are perfect for summer entertaining because you can prepare them fast, you can prepare them in advance, they’re light but still super flavorful, they can be cooked outside to avoid heating the house, and they cook up in numbers! Double or triple the batch if you need to feed a crowd and serve them as a heavy appetizers along other summery bites like watermelon, pasta salad, Mexican corn and more! Another perk...sliders are finger food so no forks required. Perfect for that upcoming late summer graduation party you’re hosting soon.

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Turkey Sliders with Blueberry Compote
For the Compote:
1 cup Blueberries
1 tbsp. Sugar
Juice of ½ Lemon

For the Burgers:
1 lb. Ground Turkey
2 Scallions, chopped
1 large Garlic Clove, minced
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parsley, chopped
½ tsp. Lemon Zest
4 Slices Gouda Cheese (each cut into four squares)
4 tbsp. Butter
Slider Buns

Directions:
1 - Prepare the compote. In a small saucepan, mix together the berries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a light simmer over medium-low heat and cook until it becomes a gooey, jam-like mixture, about 8-10 minutes. If necessary, use a potato masher to break down the berries a little more if it’s too chunky. Take off the heat and let cool.

2 - Mix the burger meat. In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, scallions, garlic, panko bread crumbs, parsley and lemon zest until well incorporated. Form into golf ball sized meatballs and smash flat to form a patty.

3 - Preheat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Place the patties on the grill (you might need to work in batches) and cook 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through. About halfway through the cook time on the second side, add two gouda slices so the cheese melts over the patty. Once the turkey burgers are all cooked, spread butter onto the inside of each slider bun and toast on the same grill pan or skillet over low heat for a minute or so.

4 - Build the sliders. Place the slider on top of the bottom half of the bun. Spoon a tablespoon or so of the compote on top of the of the slider and place the top half of the bun over it. Serve!

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5 Recipes to Celebrate National Pineapple Day

Happy Wednesday! You know what that means? We’re halfway through the week which means the weekend is almost here. And it’s even better because next week is a holiday week which means...short week!!! To say I’m excited is an understatement. Did you also know that today is National Pineapple Day? It’s also International Pineapple Day but the point is, it’s a day for celebrating pineapple, one of my favorite fruits! I love the versatility of it. It’s great fresh, on its own or grilled on top of a burger. I’ve come to enjoy it so much, that it’s even been sneaking it’s way into quite a few recipes lately. Keep scrolling to grab a few.

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I’ve always known Hawaii to be the land of the pineapple but did you know that they’re actually native to South America? The Spanish brought the fruit to Hawaii where they ended up commercializing it. For a while, pineapples became a sign of wealth among European aristocrats since it was so expensive to either import them or grow them through early versions of greenhouses. I find this fascinating! And now, Hawaii barely produces any of the world’s pineapple contributions. Imagine my surprise considering I visited Hawaii back in 2006 and we had plenty of pineapple and even visited a plantation. But now that I realize it was 12 years ago, I guess it shouldn't be so surprising.

I could go on all day about pineapple but I’m sure you’d rather check out a few recipes. My favorite use of pineapple lately has been grilled and on top of burgers. Something about the combination of savory, juicy meat and the tangy sweetness of pineapple gets to me. It’s a flavor combo that can’t be beat and it’s an easy way to add a little pizzazz to your dinner table or impress guests. Where else (other than a restaurant) will you get a burger with a pineapple on top? People are generally too apprehensive to go out of their comfort zone with food when they’re hosting guests. Me? I like to challenge people’s comfort zones so don’t come to dinner at my house if you’re not ready to see something non-traditional on the dinner table. I love the classics but boy, do I love a twist!

BBQ Chicken Burgers with Grilled Pineapple
This recipe is one of my favorites. Ground chicken is used instead of beef for lighter burgers that are packed with flavor. Keep the patty from disintegrating on the grill by using a full cup of breadcrumbs in the meat mixture. I used regular breadcrumbs but panko will work as well and might even give the burgers a light, airy quality.

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BBQ Hawaiian Chicken Bowls
This is a great weeknight dish. Everything (except the rice) is grilled, or cooked on grill pan over the stove. Start with the chicken breasts and while they rest, grill up the pineapple and peppers. Serve over rice with my homemade barbecue sauce and this is a winner.

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Frozen Mango-Pineapple Daiquiri
Fresh or frozen pineapple will work for this delightful cocktail. I call it sunshine in a glass because you can’t help but be happy while drinking it and it looks so sunny! White rum, my preferred choice of liquor, has a mellow flavor so I will warn you - it goes down a little too easy. This would be a great cocktail to whip up for a few friends on a casual night in but I wouldn’t recommend making it in larger batches since the slushy quality really makes it special.

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Grilled Pineapple Burgers
Inspired by one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, this recipe was my first try at putting a pineapple on my own burger. Modeled after a burger I had while visiting Denver, it has a lot of flavor packed into the meat patty so that the pineapple doesn’t take over. Provolone cheese adds a mellow touch to all the strong flavors and provides a nice balance.

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Mango Pineapple Salsa
Probably my favorite salsa recipe...ever. Nothing mixes better with pineapple than other tropical flavors. This salsa, while very yellow in presentation, is addictive. So addictive that in the original post I wrote a disclaimer releasing me from any responsibility of future salsa addictions. It’s so easy to make and is 100% worth making in triple or even quadruple batches. It will go fast. Believe me!

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BBQ Chicken Burgers with Grilled Pineapple | BBQ Recipes

Did you know that May is National Barbecue Month? It’s true! So I hope you’ve been indulging in all things barbecue and grilled. I meant to start sharing these recipes earlier in the month but, as you can relate to, life got in the way. I was also very focused on getting the Official Lattes, Life & Luggage Shop launched and boy am I glad that baby is finally live! I actually have three barbecue recipes to share with you starting with today’s Chicken Burgers. They were all meant to be cooked on the grill but in true Christine fashion, I didn’t check to see if the propane tank had any juice left from fall. So when I went to grill these babies up, the grill wouldn’t start. It’s a great lesson learned but here’s the best part: you don’t have to actually grill outside to get the grill effect.

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Grill pans are the most genius invention to ever enter the kitchen. For those of us who live in locations that have more cold months than warm months, grill season is limited. Being able to grill up an easy dinner inside is convenient all year round. Ever since I started using the Porcelain Enamel Grill Pan from Ayesha Curry’s Target Collection, I’ve begun grilling everything on the stove. Her porcelain enamel kitchenware is honestly the best I’ve ever used. One of the main reasons to grill outside is to keep the house cool. Lucky for us, we haven’t had tons of hot weather yet. A few days here and there but for the most part, cooking inside has yet to pose a real problem. With that said, this recipe works with an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan on the stove.

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Chicken burgers tend to get the side eye. People say that chicken burgers aren’t real burgers. Well, of course not, they’re not beef. But the same idea applies and just because they’re chicken doesn’t mean they can’t blow your mind. In my experience, the most difficult part in dealing with chicken burgers is that they have a tendency to fall apart, especially on the grill. Beef is sturdier than chicken when ground so you have to give it something to firm up the patty. This is where the breadcrumbs come in. It might seem weird that the ratio of ground chicken to breadcrumbs is 1:1 but it’s for good reason. The burgers gain density and they’re bound well which keeps them from falling apart. Add in some dried herbs and garlic, top with a few delightful ingredients like grilled pineapple, and you have yourself one damn good burger. Bon appetit!

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BBQ Chicken Burgers with Grilled Pineapple & White Cheddar
Ingredients:
1lb. Ground Chicken
½ small Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Breadcrumbs
¼ tsp. Dried Thyme
½ tsp. Dried Marjoram
4 Pineapple Slices
2 slices White Cheddar Cheese
4 Hamburger Buns
Salt & Pepper
Optional Toppings: tomato, lettuce, aioli, thousand island dressing, barbecue sauce

Directions:
1 - Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Brush with a little oil or spray with cooking spray.

2 - Prepare the chicken patties. In a large bowl mix together the ground chicken, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Mix well and form into patties. The breadcrumbs will create a pretty dense patty.

3 - Place each chicken burger on the grill or grill pan. Let cook 6-8 minutes on each side until browned and cooked through. Add the cheese and cover for a minute or so to melt. Set aside.

4 - Add the pineapple slices to the grill or grill pan. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until you see char marks.

5 - Top the burgers with the pineapple slices and your preference of other toppings. I added barbecue sauce for extra flavor but a garlic aioli, Thousand Island Dressing, or buttermilk ranch would be equally tasty.

Eat Like A Gilmore | Cookbooks By Lovely Ladies

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re all enjoying your day as much as I am. While you all know that I am not a morning person in the slightest, I have been up since 5:30am. I’ve staffed a work thing, had breakfast at one of my favorite places (Le Pain Quotidien), and now I’m sitting in a coffee shop working on the computer to pass time until someone meets me for coffee. Normally my Saturdays consist of dozing till 9am, catching up on the Food Network until Noon and casually going through the rest of my day. Not a bad life but I have to admit that I’m enjoying the early start I got to today. Strolling through Chicago in the early hours on the weekend is an experience I don’t enjoy often but savor when I do. It’s a brief period of time when the city is at its most peaceful and everything feels so fresh. Now, as I sit here ready to introduce you to a new cookbook series for this month listening to the Beatles on vinyl, I can’t help but be grateful for being able to live in this gorgeous city. But enough about my morning...let’s get to the good stuff.

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Gilmore Girls was one of those coming of age shows that I grew up with. I saw Rory through high school, college and the beginning of her career. I watched her go through heartbreak in three serious relationships and I couldn’t help but notice each one was with a completely different type of guy. There are hardly any similarities between Dean, Jess, and Logan except for the fact that every single one is H.O.T. Am I right or what? When I heard about Eat Like A Gilmore, I knew without any certainty that I had to have that cookbook. Kristi Carlson brought a little piece of Stars Hollow to all of us by sharing recipes that are attached to a memory from the show. I’ve been working my way through this cookbook (along with the million others I have), and I haven’t found a recipe that I’ve been disappointed with yet! That’s why I wanted to premier this cookbook series for March with Carlson’s book. Last month, I shared cookbooks that featured recipes from different cultures around the world. This month, to celebrate some kick ass women, I’m sharing my experience cooking through books by ladies-only. So let’s get started.

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Meal #1: The Classic Cheeseburger from Luke’s Diner and Rocky Road Cookies
If you don’t know about Luke’s Cheeseburger, get out from whatever rock you’re living under. The cheeseburger from Luke’s Diner is basically a food group when it comes to Gilmore Girls. That and his pancakes...blueberries or chocolate chips optional. Gilmore Girls has successfully made a diner burger look so fantastic that any burger I have at real life diners doesn’t add up and I don’t even have anything to compare it to! Do you know what the trick is?? Absolutely nothing. The recipe for Luke’s Cheeseburger is a giant meat patty seasoned with salt and pepper then either grilled or cooked over the stove. That’s all. There are no secret ingredients, no hacks. It’s just ground beef and a stove. And let me tell you, it’s a damn good burger. Add a slice of cheddar cheese on top, whatever fixings you like and that’s all she wrote! There’s also an option to caramelize some onions to include on top. I did that the first time I made these burgers and it was fantastic. The second time, I kept it simple and it was just as good. My biggest tip, don’t skimp on the meat. This recipe calls for ½ lb. burgers. Use a ½ lb, of beef per patty or you will have sliders, not burgers.

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The Rocky Road Cookies might not ring a bell for you as much as the burger. I know they didn’t for me. When Rory and Dean started going out, she had Sookie make him his favorite cookies and she took a container to wait for him at the bus. It was a sweet moment for Rory and Dean and one of annoyance for Lane. And really, I feel like I relate to Lane on so many levels...sometimes more so than Rory. These Rocky Road Cookies are GOLD. Normally, I don’t like marshmallows at all. They work really well with these cookies though. They were a hit with my family too. I made them for Christmas and then my cousin’s birthday and they went quick. You might notice that my cookies look a lot darker than the ones in the photo. There’s a perfectly good reason for this. I didn’t realize that the cocoa powder we had was dark cocoa instead of the typical semi-sweet. So we ended up with extra dark chocolate rocky road cookies. Still tasty, I might add. I also omit the pecans because of our nut allergy so they can be nut-free.

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Meal #2: Warm Potato & Chorizo Salad with Cornbread
Nothing is better than cornbread. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savory all in the form of bread. It’s even better when made from scratch and paired with something that complements it well. Kind of like the Warm Potato & Chorizo Salad which sounds healthy because it’s a salad but doesn’t taste healthy. Is it healthy? We’ll never know! It sure is tasty though. It’s also really simple. Chorizo is browned and tossed with blanched asparagus, boiled potatoes and spinach before dressed with this Creamy Avocado dressing. It’s hearty enough to serve as a main course with a side of the cornbread. If I haven’t sold you on the cornbread yet, will you believe me that it’s amazing if I told you it’s made with cheese? Yes, you read that right! A little cheese gets mixed into the batter before baking and it is divine.

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If you haven’t picked up Eat Like a Gilmore yet, do so. Even if you’re not a Gilmore Girls fanatic like me, it has a ton of great recipes from muffins to wedding cakes. There’s even a recipe for deep fried turkey...the whole thing! I don’t have the confidence, or equipment, to try that one out but I’ll eventually work my way through quite a few of the recipes. I’ve even featured the pancakes from Luke’s Diner in a recent #FoodieFriday post!

Grilled Pineapple Burgers | Grilling Recipes

Nothing beats a good burger on a summer day. If it’s grilled, even better! While traveling in Denver earlier this year, I discovered something amazing. Something I have never seen before. It was a shock when I first encountered it, something I couldn't believe I was seeing. Pineapples on burgers. You might be one of the many who think I’m crazy because apparently this is not such an uncommon thing. But to me, it was a life changer.

My first night in Denver, I went to a restaurant at Union Station called Next Door. The last time I ate was literally twelve hours earlier back in Chicago and I was starving. Thank you, time change. There are generally two things that I crave when I’m exponentially hungry: burgers or pasta. Occasionally soup. Lucky for me, they had a bomb burger menu. A burger menu that included a “Pineapple Express” burger which featured bacon, arugula, a few other things and...oh yeah, a pineapple. I asked the server what she thought about it and apparently this thing is super popular. So I figured why not. When in Denver? Ladies and gentlemen, that was the last moment I’d criticize pineapple appearing on anything ever again.

A few months later while writing recipes, I could not get this burger out of my head. Instead of drooling over the photos I had, I decided to recreate it. My version is nothing like the Pineapple Express. There’s no bacon, I use lettuce instead of arugula and instead of this sriracha goodness, I slap on barbecue sauce. But make no mistake, the pineapple is there and the burger is mind blowing.

If you are not sold yet, I insist you try this recipe. If you don’t like it, just take the pineapple off and eat your burger naked. I guarantee you will become a convert like me. I’m honestly terrified that I’m going to become a pineapple on pizza kind of person next. What’s wrong with me?!

Grilled Pineapple Burgers
Ingredients:
1 pound Ground Beef
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tbsp. Onion Powder
¼ cup Parsley, chopped
¼ cup Breadcrumbs
4 Pineapple Slices
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
4 Hamburger Buns
4 Tomato Slices
4 Lettuce Leaves
4 slices Provolone Cheese

Directions:
1 - Preheat the grill to medium-high. Spray with grill spray or brush with olive oil.

2 - Mix together the beef, garlic, onion powder, parsley and breadcrumbs. Form into four patties and create a well in the middle so they don’t get too puffy. Place on the grill and cook about 5-6 minutes per side (longer if you like no pink).

3 - When the burgers are almost done cooking, place a slice of cheese on top to melt. Brush each pineapple with olive oil on each side. Place on the grill while burgers finish for about 1-2 minutes per side until you see grill marks.

4 - Arrange the burgers on buns. Top with the pineapple, lettuce and tomato. Serve.

**Note: I also added barbecue sauce to mine and it was out of this world.

Boston Restaurant Round-Up | Donuts, Wahlburgers & Cappuccinos!

This round-up of good eats in Boston is a tad more casual compared to the first round. From next-level condiments to out-of-this-world donuts, there's a lot to cover. I wish I could send each of you a sample of all the food I’m about to assault you with, especially the donuts. I think I can say that I ate my way through Boston, at least as much as I could in five days. Tell me in the comments below if I missed one of your favorite spots.

Saus 33 | 33 Union Street
Saus is a small eatery in the North End known for Belgian-style fries and a variety of sauces made in-house. It’s most likely a local favorite. I tried going here three times before I was able to grab a seat. Saus serves “made-from-scratch food with a focus on condiments.” Choose from hand-cut fries to poutine. Grab snacks like Mini Chicken n’ Waffles or Crispy Wild Mushrooms. If you're extra hungry, order a sandwich plus dessert. The poutine in every form comes recommended. I opted for The BBQ One, brioche roll with dry rubbed pork belly, scallion slaw and Sweet Bill’s BBW. I also ordered a side of Hand-Cut Fries with the Bacon Parmesan dipping saus. They feature 13 different saus’ to choose from and I wish I had the time to try them all. Their house-made ketchup is also amazing. A little sweeter and definitely more addictive than the traditional bottled variety.

Tatte Bakery & Cafe | 70 Charles Street
Tatte’s has a few locations, one of which is on Charles Street in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. This popular spot serves everything from your average morning coffee to happy hour specials. Open morning, noon and night, there’s something for everyone on their menu. I visited Tatte Bakery my second day in Boston. It was cold and rainy but I couldn’t help myself. I had to walk around and explore the city. One Belgian Hot Chocolate later and a hearty meatball sub, I was warmed up and fueled for a little more exploring.

Grab a coffee and pastry to go, find a table and work for a while or take a window seat and people watch on Charles Street. Tatte’s is a relaxing, welcoming environment that you don’t want to leave. It makes sense friends like to come here for brunch on the weekends.

Thinking Cup | 236 Hanover Street
A not-so-small coffee shop in the North End, The Thinking Cup is a great spot to start your day. Find both hearty and light breakfast options and delicious coffee. The cappuccino is on point. It’s a great place to grab something on-the-go, meet up with friends or sit down and work. There’s plenty of natural lighting towards the front and as you work your way towards the back of the cafe, the lighting dims. If you’re pulling a tourist day, this is a great location to sit down and plan out your agenda. It’s right in the heart of several historical locations along the Freedom Trail which I will talk about very soon.

Union Square Donuts in Boston Public Market | 100 Hanover Street
Down the street from the Boxer Boston, is a market with a variety of vendors. One of them is Union Square Donuts and each day they bring all the flavor to Hanover Street. Union Square Donuts is a small team of donut magicians out of Somerville, MA that make gourmet donuts from scratch daily. The two beauties pictured below are the Maple Bacon donut and a Glazed Pumpkin (seasonal). I wish I took a photo holding these donuts because they are enormous. They’re also dense so if you buy two, make sure you have someone to share with. The flavor, however, is out of this world. If you have a chance to try Union Square Donuts anywhere in Massachusetts, please do. You will not regret it. Vegan? Not a problem. They also have vegan donuts!

Wahlburgers | various locations
Oh, Wahlburgers. As I was standing in the lobby of The Boxer Boston with my luggage, I realized that the one restaurant I had to visit while in this fabulous city somehow escaped my list. A quick Google search and a lot of luck later, I found out there was a location in Boston Logan Airport. Why Wahlburgers, you ask? Burgers and fries don’t seem particularly exciting. I won’t lie, the celebrity status was a huge reason. My family and I are huge Mark and Donnie Wahlberg fans. Having a young mom growing up, I got to experience the end of NKOTB’s initial run of fame. To that point, I was probably one of the only 4 year-olds that knew the words to “Good Vibrations” which, by the way, came out the year I was born (don’t judge).

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I had only anticipated visiting Wahlburgers once but after that first time, I knew I had to return on my layover coming home from DC. Between the two visits, I tried the BBQ Bacon Burger (Donnie’s Fave), Thanksgiving Day Sandwich (Mark’s Fave), Sweet Potato Tots and regular Tater Tots. The BBQ Bacon Burger has white cheddar, bacon, fresh jalapenos, house-made BBQ sauce and avocado spread. This classic barbecue burger was indulgence at it’s best. It was finger lickin’ good. I normally don’t go for bacon on burgers because I feel guilty but this was worth it. The Thanksgiving Day Sandwich features a fresh ground turkey burger, stuffing, mayo, house-made orange-cranberry sauce and roasted butternut squash. It doesn’t sound like it would work but it does. There’s sweet, savory and salty all on a bun, possibly one of the most delightful sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life. I wanted to stop in their original location, but my experience in the airport location was amazing. If you can’t get to the original either, they a few Massachusetts locations as well as six other states. Hopefully a Chicago coming soon?? Please?

Cheddar Jalapeno Burgers: 4th of July Recipe

4th of July weekend is approaching fast so you know what that means. Time to get your summer cooking on! Barbecues, birthday parties, graduation parties...literally every kind of party happens over the summer. When it comes to summer cooking, the staples are always classic: burgers, hot dogs, etc. But let's be honest, they get a little blah after a while. Even the juiciest of cheeseburgers gets old when you've had them twice every weekend for a month. Instead of starting at square one and revamping the menu completely, why don't you just spice up what already works?

The idea for this recipe was born out of a cheese craving and need for more than one flimsy slice on top. Cheesy and spicy, these burgers definitely take the traditional summer barbecue favorite to a new level. Use a basic hamburger recipe, add a few cheese cubes throughout the entire patty, chopped jalapeno and you've got yourself one bangin' burger. Serve as is or top with even more cheese. Use two slices of extra thin sliced or one slice of regular. Whatever floats your boat. This would also be fantastic topped with guacamole. 

CHEDDAR JALAPENO BURGERS
Ingredients:
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Jalapeno, finely chopped
1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
1 Egg
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped
4 oz. Cheddar Cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 slices Cheddar Cheese
4 Hamburger Buns
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

2. Mix together ground beef, jalapeno, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic and onion. Form the meat into four patties. Tuck the cheese cubes into the beat sporadically throughout the burger with your thumb to create little cheese pockets. 

3. Place the patties on the grill. Cook on side one for about five minutes, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes. Place a cheese slice on each patty and close the grill for another 1-2 minutes. Remove to a plate and serve on hamburger buns with your choice of toppings.

Doesn't that cheese oozing out look amazing?!

Doesn't that cheese oozing out look amazing?!

Yields 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Not Your Typical Burgers. Experiencing The Hard Rock Cafe World Burger Tour

When there is an explosion of flavor in your mouth, you know you're eating a good burger. Last month, I introduced you to the World Burger Tour Hard Rock Cafes are hosting all around the world. It was only a matter of time before I had the opportunity to try some of the burgers out for myself and I cannot say enough about the experience. This limited-time event is only happening through the rest of this month so if you have not had a chance to stop by yet, make sure to do so asap.

*Thanks to Hard Rock International for the gift card provided to experience this tour. The information and gift card have been provided to me by Hard Rock International. Any opinions remain my own and are in no way influenced by items received.

My aunt recently celebrated her birthday and I thought a night out in Chicago with dinner at at the Hard Rock was a great idea. Upon our arrival, we were greeted warmly with tons of enthusiasm. I have never felt so welcome at a restaurant before. The Hard Rock Cafe Chicago staff are quite honestly some of the friendliest people I have met. They escorted us to a seat next to a window with plenty of sunlight (which makes for great photos) and introduced us to our server, Chris. Chris put up with our shenanigans like the inability to make a decision, gave us fabulous drink recommendations and even took my aunt on stage to have everyone tell her "Happy Birthday." But on to the World Burger Tour...

My mom and aunt both ordered the All-Jacked Up (a cocktail featuring a mix of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, PJ, Orgeat and lime juice, garnished with orange and pineapple wedges and a cherry). Being the designated driver, I ordered the Black Cherry Melonade (a mocktail featuring a mix of Black Cherry Real and Monin Cumumber, topped with ginger beer, garnished with a cucumber slice and a cherry). I did have a sip of the All-Jacked Up to taste it and let me tell you, amazing. I love when drinks have pineapple and this one was bomb. I will be back just to have one all for myself. That's not to knock the Black Cherry Melonade though. Refreshing, sweet and even a bit tart, this mocktail has it going on. I hope they keep it around for a while because it's delicious and the perfect summer sipper. I might even try to recreate it at home one day.

The Hard Rock Cafe Chicago location is currently offering four of the World Burger Tour creations (as of Friday, June 3rd): ATOMIC! Burger from Las Vegas, Tango Salsa Burger from Buenos Aires, Greek Burger from Athens and Aloha Burger from Honolulu. We tried the ATOMIC! Burger and the Tango Salsa Burger. I couldn't resist a fried egg, it's been years since I had one on a burger. Their descriptions reads:

ATOMIC! Burger (Las Vegas, United States) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with Atomic beer-battered peppers, pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, garlic chipotle ketchup and chipotle mayonnaise

Tango Salsa Burger (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with andouille sausage, Monterey Jack cheese, chips de batata, a fried egg, salsa criolla and garlic aioli

The ATOMIC! Burger had this sweet yet salty but a tiny bit spicy component going for it. The chipotle ketchup and mayonnaise were something to be reckoned with. One might say that all those ingredients are too much but I have to disagree. They all work together. The peppers have a slight tart flavor that contrasted with the sweetness of the fried beer batter. The pepper jack cheese has a light spice to it but it's complimented with the sweetness of caramelized onions. It was an culinary experience bursting with flavors that were over the top but beautifully done (kind of like Vegas). 

The Tango Salsa Burger was a completely different and equally satisfying experience. Where do I start? The andouille sausage had a smokey quality. The fried egg added richness to the burger. The garlic aioli lent a finishing punch of flavor and the salsa a freshness that rounded everything out well. To top everything off, the fries came with a Siracha Mayo that I would eat with anything. The burgers were cooked to perfection, tender and juicy with a slight char on the outside, exactly how I like them. 

I can sit here all day and write positive notes about my experience at the Hard Rock Cafe Chicago and the outstanding meal we enjoyed. However, you cannot experience it simply by reading this post. I encourage you to find the nearest Hard Rock Cafe to where you live (there are plenty around the world) and try one of the options they are offering for the World Burger Tour. It is a unique and satisfying experience. I'd like to thank the wonderful staff for being kind and accommodating to us, especially our server Chris who was entertaining, patient and friendly. I always want to thank Hard Rock International again for providing a gift card so that we could enjoy this fantastic event.

The World Burger Tour is only available until June 30th so be sure to visit your local cafe before then. For more information regarding the tour, visit my original post with complete details or the World Burger Tour website. The World Burger Tour travel package is additionally still available for booking. The tour stops in cities including London, Athens, Buenos Aires and Seattle over the course of a 10-night trip. Visit their website to enter your email address and get your trip started.