If it wasn't for the frost on my grass this morning (in May! in Connecticut!), I would talk about how the warm air is signaling a time for grilling. But today, I think hot cocoa might be more in order.
That said, I do hope and trust that summer weather will be coming soon. And with those warm temperatures and lazy days, comes the grilling that I so adore. Burgers are practically a requirement of this time of year.
How many neighbors have been tortured by the smell of grilling burgers wafting across hedges and down streets? You can't help but smell that and immediately want to plop some on your grill too.
In my house, burgers are consumed at least once a week during the summer months. Typically, we make our own, using 88 percent lean ground beef, which is our favorite for making juicy - but not greasy - burgers.
Into the ground beef (or ground sirloin!) goes some sort of seasoning. Sometimes it's Italian dressing mix. Other times we use taco-inspired flavorings. Sometimes it's just salt and pepper. Whatever it is, the flavorings are important to take the burger from ordinary to extraordinary. Then it's all mixed up and patties are formed.
If you want to avoid shrinkage while cooking, there is a little trick: When you form the patties, shape them as desired to the size you want. Press the edges in to create a clean, fat edge. Then, stick your thumb in the center of the patty and press down. You want to form an indentation that is about ¼ inch deep. That's all there is to it.
Now, let's talk recipes. My very favorite summertime burger is my Blue Cheese Stuffed Burger. The melty blue-veined cheese oozes from the center when you bite in. It's simply amazing.
Another favorite is the aforementioned Taco Burger. It takes the goodness of a (mild) taco and transforms it into a burger form - which is both tasty and easier for little hands to grasp. Serve it with taco-inspired toppings like salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
Of course, beef-based burgers aren't the only way to go. You can make a fabulous Tuna Burger or a delectable Turkey Burger. For a meatless option, check out the Bean and Veggie Burger recipe or Zesty White Bean Burgers.
And, of course, if you are so inclined ... I totally recommend making your own hamburger buns.
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.