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Tucking tasty treasures into burgers


With thoughts gravitating to the grill for a Fourth of July menu, I hauled out some old recipe favorites. I last served Treasure Pocket Burgers for a casual grilling party and they drew raves and requests for doggie bags for the leftovers. There is a tasty little treasure of flavor moistening the center of the burger. I chose a combination of onion, mustard, capers, cheese and tomato for the center, but you can use your imagination or personal taste for the filling and also, if you are looking to reduce cholesterol, use ground turkey instead of ground beef. Treasure Pocket Burgers will make four large burgers, but can be easily doubled or tripled for a larger holiday crowd.

For a flavorful companion salad with a minimum of fat, serve a Southwestern combo of beans, corn, bell peppers and scallions. First, drain and rinse a 16-ounce can of kidney beans and place in a medium size bowl. Add a 10-ounce package of frozen corn that has been rinsed under cool water to thaw and then blotted dry with paper towels. Or, use fresh corn. To prepare, lightly balance two ears of corn and then cut the kernels from the cob. Toss in one medium diced red bell pepper and two thinly sliced scallions for color and crunch. Sprinkle with your favorite vinaigrette plus a -- of cumin and chill in the refrigerator until the burgers are ready. Or make a day in advance, for improved flavors. This recipe can also be doubled.

Bring out a red, white and blue dessert to top off the Fourth with seasonal low-fat pizazz. Combine plump fresh blueberries and stemmed strawberries (about one pint of each for four servings) in a medium bowl. Mix 2 tablespoons brown sugar with 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate. Fold this into 1 cup reduced or non-fat sour cream. Serve on the side.

Items you should have as staples are: capers, onion, sweet and spicy mustard, Parmesan cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, kidney beans, frozen corn (or two ears fresh corn), scallions, vinaigrette salad dressing, cumin, orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, low-fat or non-fat sour cream.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list: lean ground beef; hamburger buns; red, yellow or orange bell pepper; fresh blueberries and strawberries.

Treasure Pocket Burgers

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1 tablespoon capers

4 teaspoons minced onion

4 teaspoons sweet and spicy mustard (or honey mustard)

4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced

Heat grill or broiler unit of oven.

Form the meat into eight 3-inch balls (about 3 ounces each) and then flatten four to one half-inch thick. This will be your bottom layer. Using all of the condiments, place an equal amount of capers, onion, mustard, cheese and tomato on the center of each burger patty. Flatten the other four balls and place over burger fillings. Press top and bottom edges of the burger patties firmly together, making sure the filling is enclosed. This will form four thick burgers.

To grill: allow three to four minutes per side on a medium hot grill.

To broil: Place burgers on a broiler or a rack lined with a flat pan with sides. Burgers should be 2-3 inches from heat source. Broil three to four minutes per side. Serve on a toasted bun with additional condiments such as lettuce, sliced tomato and salsa ketchup.

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