During my end of summer barbeque, I want guests to relax, mingle, and enjoy the last long days of the season with some delicious dishes. I'll serve store-bought dips and chips for appetizers, along with one homemade treat: nacho potato skins. Next, I'll set up a burger bar and give each guest a grilled burger and a variety of options for toppings ranging from the classic lettuce and tomato to the gourmet caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. Guests can assemble the burgers to their own liking. All toppings can be made ahead and warmed just before serving. A pesto pasta salad filled with fresh basil and bursting cherry tomatoes will pair perfectly with make-your-own burgers. For these tasty recipes please, read more
6 medium potatoes, such as russet (2 pounds)
Cooking oil, shortening, butter, or margarine
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
Ground red pepper
4 ounces co-jack cheese, cheddar cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese with peppers, shredded (1 cup)
Toppers, such as sour cream, salsa, guacamole, chopped tomato, chopped sweet pepper, sliced green onion, sliced pitted ripe olives, or snipped fresh cilantro
- Heat oven to 425 degree F.
- Thoroughly scrub potatoes; pat dry. Rub with cooking oil, shortening, butter, or margarine; prick potatoes with a fork. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or till tender. (Or, microwave on high for 15 to 20 minutes or till tender.)
- Cut potatoes lengthwise into quarters. Scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Reserve the pulp for mashed potatoes or another use.
- Brush both sides of the potato pieces with the 1/4 cup butter or margarine. Sprinkle the insides with seasoned salt and ground red pepper. Place potato pieces, skin sides up, on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat for 3 minutes.
- Turn potato pieces skin sides down. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Broil 2 minutes more.
- Arrange the potato pieces on a heated serving platter. Serve with desired toppers.
10 ounces ground sirloin
10 ounces ground chuck
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 slices cheese, such as cheddar, American, Saga blue cheese, and Swiss (optional)
4 soft hamburger-style buns, split
4 slices beefsteak tomatoes (optional)
Assorted toppings: caramelized onions, sliced red onions, sun dried tomatoes (optional)
Assorted lettuces and greens, such as iceberg, romaine, or watercress
Assorted mustards, such as whole-grained, Dijon, or French's (optional)
8 slices cooked, crisp bacon (optional)
- Using your hands, break the meat into small pieces and combine evenly but loosely on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the meat out and season it generously with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Place a roasting rack on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven.
- Divide the meat into 4 portions (about 5 ounces each). Using your hands, form each portion into a ball-shape by gently tossing it from one hand to the other. (Don't over work or press too firmly on the meat.) Gently form each portion into a patty about 3 inches wide and 1-inch-thick.
- Preheat a large cast-iron skillet or over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
- Raise the heat to high and add the oil. Add the patties and cook, turning once, until well-browned, about 2 minutes the first side, and 1 minute the second side.
- Using a spatula, transfer the hamburgers to the roasting rack in the oven and continue cooking to desired doneness, 5 minutes for very rare (blue), 6 to 7 minutes for rare, 8 to 9 minutes for medium-rare, 10 to 11 minutes for medium, and 13 to 15 minutes for well-done. You could also cook the burgers outdoors on the grill. If you are using the cheese, top the hamburgers during their last couple of minutes of cooking to melt.
- Transfer the hamburgers to a plate let rest for a couple minutes before serving.
- Meanwhile, toast the hamburger buns. Assemble the hamburgers with the condiments and toppings of your choice. Serve.
4 cups uncooked spiral pasta (use rice pasta for wheat-free version)
1 cup fresh basil pesto
2 Tbsp chopped green olives, or olive tapenade
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted (or fresh if you can get them)
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
Several fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Make sure the water is salted (at least a half teaspoon per quart). Remove pasta from heat and strain when pasta is cooked, but still firm (al dente).
- Put pasta in a big bowl. Mix in fresh basil pesto, green olives, and pine nuts. Gently mix in cherry tomatoes, peas, fresh basil leaves and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill or serve at room temperature.