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Happy National Burger Day!

Happy National Burger Day

Happy National Burger Day!

I love to make burgers! Burgers are the reason that I started blogging in the first place. I was constantly asked about my burger recipes and I needed a place for people to find the recipes. My first blog was named Boating, Boarding and Burgers.

Since I started blogging in June 2014, I have been fortunate to showcase my burgers on some great shows. I have grilled my burgers on lifestyle tv shows from Michigan (WZZM TV13) to Indiana (Indy Style Wish TV) and in Florida (WTSP - Studio 10). And my burgers have even been featured by the TODAY Show Food Club, The Rachael Ray Show for their Fantasy Foodball, a shout out from ABC The Chew in honor of National Burger Month on Instagram and NYCWFF for their #nycwffdish challenge on social media. And I'm even dedicating a whole chapter on burgers and sammies in my upcoming cookbook "Meals From The Mitten" that will debut in Spring 2018.

Since asparagus is in full swing right now in Michigan, here is a great burger to make this weekend for Memorial Day. It's my Asparagus Cheddar Cheeseburger. I made this burger on Indy Style - Wish TV in Indianapolis.

Asparagus Cheddar Cheeseburger



2 pounds beef ( I use equal parts chuck, brisket and short ribs-at least 80% meat/20% fat)

3 tablespoons soy sauce

Salt and pepper

8 slices thick-cut bacon (I like maple bacon or jalapeño bacon)


1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons dill relish or chopped green olives

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

4 slices asparagus cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)

4 tablespoons garlic butter, softened

4 hamburger buns, split


Tomato slices

Red onion slices

Pickled asparagus


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Add meat to a cutting board and cut into cubes. Lay meat cubes on a baking sheet, then put in freezer for 10-15 minutes. Add meat grinding attachment to a stand mixer using the coarse grinding plate (if you don't want to grind your own meat, simply use ground chuck 80/20). You can also finely chopped the cubed meat, if you don't have a meat grinder. Once the beef is very cold, but not frozen, add the cubed meat to the hopper and turn the mixer on. Press the cubes down until all the meat is ground. Then add soy sauce to ground beef and gently mix together. Form into 4 equal patties that are slightly larger in circumference than the bun, then depress the centers for even cooking. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

Place bacon on a slotted pan or parchment lined baking sheet and cook in oven for 17-20 minutes, or until crispy. Lay bacon on paper towels to drain.

While bacon is cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, mix together mayo, ketchup, relish and horseradish. Refrigerate until assembly.

Pre-heat a grill or cast-iron skillet to medium high heat. Grill patties for 10-12 minutes, or to desired doneness, only turning once. Add cheese during the last few minutes of cooking, making sure it is thoroughly melted. Spread butter over cut sides of the buns and lightly toast.

To assemble the burgers, add some lettuce to each of the toasted bun bottoms followed by a cheeseburger patty. Then add two slices of bacon to each patty, followed by a tomato slice and some onions. Add the pickled asparagus and drizzle on some sauce, then add toasted bun top. Feel free to add a large burger toothpick or a steak knife to hold it all together. Enjoy!

Serves: 4 burgers - 1/2 pound each

Asparagus Cheddar Cheeseburger

Here are my Top Ten Burgers Tips that aired on WZZM TV13 in honor of Grilling Week. Feel free to check out the video here!

Gina's Top Ten Burger Tips

1. Meat - You want to select ground chuck 80/20 if you are buying the beef pre-packaged. (I like to freshly grind my own meat. You can see how to freshly grind your beef in my YouTube video.) Use ground chuck and not ground beef, ground sirloin or hamburger. Ground chuck is 80% lean meat and 20% fat and it will be juicier than a ground round or ground sirloin. Why? Because ground sirloin and ground round are too lean. Ground chuck will also be more flavorful than ground beef or regular hamburger. Ground chuck is from one of the primal cuts of beef, known as chuck. Chuck has great marbling and that imparts an amazing flavor. Ground beef and hamburger can come from any of the primal cuts of beef and their trimmings. So stick with ground chuck when grilling burgers if you are buying pre-packaged meat.

2. Bun - Choose any bun that you like, just make sure that you lightly toast the cut sides of the bun. You will still have a soft bun, but the lightly toasted area will help absorb the juices from the patty so your bun doesn't get mushy or fall apart. I like to lightly toast my buns with garlic butter.

3. Patties - When forming your patties, don't overwork your meat. Gently shape the meat into a round patty a little bit larger in circumference than the bun because the patty will shrink a bit when cooking. You want to maintain a good meat to bun ratio. If you are making a thick patty, have a thicker bun. If you are doing thin patties, have a thinner bun. You also want to dent the center of the patty with your thumb, this will help the patty evenly cook while not puffing up like a ball. Also once you form your patty, you need to refrigerate the patties until you are ready to grill. Burgers are not like steaks, where you need them to be at room temperature before grilling. Keep your burger patties cold.

4. Grill - Make sure that your grill grates are clean and lightly oil them, if necessary. You don't want you meat to stick to the grill. Before adding your patties, make sure your grill is at a medium high to high temperature (somewhere between 400-500 degrees). When you add your meat to the grill, you want to get a nice sear on the outside. Grill to your desired temperature.

Medium Rare - 3-4 minutes each side

Medium - 4-5 minutes each side

Medium Well - 5-6 minutes each side

Well - 6-7 minutes each side

Remember these times vary with the size of the patty, the temperature of your grill, the wind, how many times you open the lid on the grill, etc. Don't press down on the patties, that releases the juices and then your burger will be dry. Don't flip your patties until they achieve a nice sear on the first side.

5. Seasoning - You can add whatever seasoning you want to your patty, but simple salt and pepper is all that is needed. Don't salt and pepper too early, this will draw moisture out of the meat. I, liberally, add salt and pepper to the outside of the patty just before it hits the grill. (I am also known for adding some soy sauce to the ground chuck when forming the patties for extra umami flavor.)

6. Cheeses - You can add cheese on the inside of the patty or on top at the end of grilling.

Inside - Make two thin patties, then add some cheese in the center of one patty and add the second patty on top and gently form the edges to seal the cheese in. Grill as usual.

On top - When adding cheese on top of the burger, I like to add it during the minute or two of grilling. Close the lid and it will melt faster.

7. Toppings - You can add any assortment of toppings that you like. If I am doing a really juicy burger with different aioli's and sauces, then I like to start with the lettuce on the bottom before adding the patty. The lettuce acts as a barrier to help gather some of the juices before they soak the bun bottom. I love themed burgers. Pick your favorite food then create a burger around it. If you love lasagna, make a lasagna burger. If you love tacos, add taco seasoning to your beef and create a taco burger. If you love chicken parmesan, make a chicken parmesan burger. I love chicken satay, so I recently made a chicken satay burger. Don't just get stuck in the old cheeseburger deluxe mode, add some unique toppings and make it your own. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't put that on your burger, you do you. My husband puts peanut butter on his, not my gig...but that's his burger. Add whatever toppings you would like!

8. Add ins- Optional things to add into your patties to increase the juiciness of your meat. You can add soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, butter, beer, wine, cherries, grated onion, grated garlic, dill relish.... the list goes on. Just remember if you add things to your beef, you'll need to incorporate them into the meat without over handling the beef. So, less is best.

9. Spreads, aiolis and sauces - One of my favorite parts of a burger is the sauce. I love a good home made thousand island or russian dressing. I'm crazy for horseradish, so it's in just about every sauce that I make! I make home made horseradish that will make grown men cry, just saying. I also do a great zesty sauce and I love to use hot sauces. I like to make different aioli's, which is just a fancy word for garlic and oil. An easy way to make aioli is to add some garlic in with some mayonnaise and then whatever else you want. I love my adobo avocado aioli, it pairs well with most burgers. I also like my harissa aioli that I use on my chicken satay burger.

10. Non-beef burgers - Beef burgers are easy to make without adding a thing. But, non-beef burgers can be a very tricky because they don't contain as much fat as beef so they have a tendency to dry out quicker and fall apart. So, here's a few quick tips. Add some liquid to your chicken or turkey burgers. For example, when making my chicken satay burger, I add soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, ginger paste, garlic paste and peanut butter powder to the ground chicken before cooking. These will help to bind that chicken together and keep it juicy. I also use a cast iron skillet when making non-beef burgers. You can still use the grill, just put your skillet on your grill and when the burger is almost complete, throw it on the grill for a minute each side to impart that grilled flavor. You can make chicken, turkey, pork, shrimp and veggie burgers. They just need extra things, like eggs and breadcrumbs, to bind them together. (But never add eggs or breadcrumbs to your beef burgers, unless your naming them meatloaf burgers.)

Ham & Cheese Asparagus Fries


12 asparagus spears, trimmed

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I like garden vegetable or jalapeño cream cheese)

12 slices deli ham, thinly sliced

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon salt, divided

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (I use Italian seasoning panko)

PREPARATION- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then remove and add to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Or you can microwave the spears on high for 2 minutes. Remember the thinner the spear, the less time they’ll need to cook.

Add a thin layer of cream cheese to each ham slice. Place an asparagus spear at one end of ham slice and roll up. Do this for the remaining spears, then refrigerate until ready to dredge.

For dredging station, set up 3 dishes. In the first dish, mix together flour and half of the salt. In the second dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic and dill. In the third dish, add the panko.

Dip each ham and cheese asparagus spear in the flour, followed by the egg wash and then the panko.

Add asparagus spears to a baking sheet and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Sprinkle remaining salt on spears.

Makes - 12

Everyone loves deep fried asparagus and ham and cheese asparagus rollups, so I came up with a recipe that combines the best of both. These are my Ham & Cheese Asparagus Fries. YUM! These are oven baked, but feel free to fry them if you want.

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