Let’s Talk Burgers

Let’s face it, everyone loves burgers and have come up with many many ways to make them and even make them with a lot of different types of meat including Buffalo, Elk, Turkey, Chicken, Bison and of course good ole beef.  Even if you are a vegetarian you still try and find a way to make something like tofu into a burger. Why do you think that is? Well it’s because burgers are great, plain and simple. For most of us you have a big patty of meat tucked neatly (or not so neatly) between to halves of a bun and piled high with all of your favorite toppings and condiments. You can add just about anything to a burger to change it up and give it a different taste. I have been known to add many different things to mine over the years such as bacon, avocado, and yes even a fried egg. Burgers are versatile and delicious. If people didn’t love burgers they wouldn’t be sold in mass quantities just about everywhere you go.

That brings me to this past weekend. I wanted to make burgers at home and also wanted to come up with something for you fine folks to try out that is a little different than your normal burger. So I started searching the fridge and wracking my brain to come up with something that turned out to be one of the best burgers I have ever made.

I now give you the salsa burger.

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Ingredients

2 lbs lean ground beef

1/2 cup salsa fresca (finely chopped)

Tip: I used salsa fresca in this because it has a unique mix of ingredients and is usually more finely chopped than regular salsa. Ingredients usually include tomato, cilantro, lime, onion, garlic, red wine vinegar and chile pepper. This mix of flavors gives the meat a great taste.

chili powder

black pepper

salt

Sliced Colby jack cheese

Onion Rolls (cut in half to make a bun)

And whatever your favorite toppings may be. I used Lettuce, tomato, dill pickle slices, onion and Mayo

Prep

Put the ground beef into a mixing bowl and then add the salsa. Using both hands get in there and really mix it all together until everything is nicely blended. Now pat out your patties. I like to do nice thin patties with about 4 or 5 ounces of meat each.  Make sure to flatten them out good because they will shrink a little when cooking. Once you have the patties all made and laid out on a plate you want to salt and pepper them and also sprinkle a little chili powder across the top. Let those sit so they get close to room temp. Meat always cooks better and more evenly throughout if it is room temp and not cold straight out of the fridge.

Cooking

You can cook the burgers a couple of different ways. I usually go for the grill but I ran out of propane so this go round I went old school with the frying pan. Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat. You want it to be hot when they go in but not super hot or they will burn on the outside and be raw in the middle.

Drop your patties in a nice even layer in the pan and let them cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on one side. Then turn them over let them cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side depending on how rare or done you like your burgers. I prefer mine to be medium to medium well.

If you like cheese on your burger like I do you will want to place a slice on top of the burger with about 30 seconds left to cook. This will get it started  melting evenly across the top.

With the burgers now done and the pan still hot place your cut onion rolls (cut side down) in the pan for about 30 seconds to get a nice lite crunch on them. (or use regular buns if you aren’t feeling adventurous).

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Assembly

Now its time to assemble the burger. Place a patty on your bun and add whatever condiments you prefer and then pile it high with your favorite toppings. To recreate the one I made you will want to add mayo to both halves of the bun, place the patty on the bottom and add thin sliced white onion, fresh Romain lettuce, sliced dill pickle, and thin sliced Roma tomato. I highly recommend trying it this way first.  You are now ready to embark on a truly unique burger experience.

Enjoy and thanks for reading

JMW

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Firebowl Cafe

Great

Pretty Good ***

OK

No Thanks

If you are like me then you love Asian cuisine of all types but while you would still like to pick your own ingredients you don’t always want to cook it yourself. This is where restaurants like HuHot, Genghis Grill and Firebowl Cafe come in to play. They allow you to go in and select all of the ingredients that you want and have someone else cook it for you. Being a fan of this type of restaurant I decided to give Firebowl Cafe a try to see how it stacked up against the other big players out there. Firebowl Cafe is similar to Genghis Grill in regards to being able to build your own meal and have them cook it for you but does not have the same level of selection. You can choose to order right off the menu from quite a few different meal types and add noodles or a couple different types of rice and choose what you would like added to it such as sauces and meats or you can create it yourself. The create it yourself method is the most appealing and fun since you basically get to create something unique and different each time. Unfortunately Firebowl is more of a simplified version of what you get at the other guys. Here you can select all the veggies and tell them what sauce you want added and choose what meat you would like them to use from Chicken, Beef, Shrimp or Tofu for the vegetarians out there but you don’t get to choose how much of it you want like you can at the other guys. On the plus side you get a few more choices that places like Genghis Grill don’t offer like Orange Chicken, Pepper Steak, Sweet & Sour chicken and several other Asian favorites.

Inside Firebowl Cafe is set up more like Chipotle Grill and is basically an upscale fast food restaurant. As a matter of fact when you walk in the door and start looking around at the menu and dinning room layout it is set up almost exactly like a Chipotle Grill.

For this visit I was feeling especially lazy and decided to go with one of the standard menu items instead of building it myself so I ordered the Fire Noodles. This is a Chow Fun type of flat rice noodle with green onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, snap peas, Thai basil, cilantro and jalapenos although now that I think about it I am pretty sure they forgot the Jalapenos and cilantro in mine. I also chose the beef for mine and I added a couple of egg rolls.

The egg rolls came out almost as soon as I sat down and I will go on record saying that these were some of the best egg rolls that I have ever eaten. They were hot, crispy and had a nice mixture of ingredients unlike a lot of egg rolls that can be filled with mostly cabbage. With only a couple of bites of egg roll left my meal came out in a pretty decent sized bowl. I gave it a good stir to mix everything up and tried my first bite which was pretty good but a little on the bland side of things so since I am a soy sauce junkie I had to add quite a bit to get it up to my flavor standards. I also added a bit of their spicy Thai sauce (a little goes a long way) to give it the kick that I like in my food. After that it was a pretty good meal all in all. I would definitely go back when I get one of those lazy day feelings where I don’t want to cook but would like Asian food. I would put Firebowl somewhere between Panda Express (on the low end) and Genghis Grill (on the high end). Decent food overall with a great egg roll at an affordable price and a fair amount of freedom to customize your own dish. So if you are in the mood for a quick but good Asian meal go out and give it a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Thanks for reading,

JMW