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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Southwest Chicken Burger

When I was a first year graduate student, living alone for the very first time, the Better Homes & Garden cookbook fed me all year long.  How I managed with just one cookbook and a minimal knowledge of online recipe websites, I'll never know. 

I grew up, making very few dinners myself. My mom worked evenings for most of my childhood so we were often left with two options for dinner. 1. A casserole that was prepared by mom and waiting in the fridge for us to heat up in the oven. 2. Dad was cooking.

Now, my dad is great. He's a smart guy, a chemical engineer in fact, but cooking just isn't his forte. Even to this day, he likes meals that require no more than four ingredients. His specialty is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And many a times I've seen him eat Perry's ice cream for dinner. If dad was 'cooking,' that usually meant we were having a frozen dinner or some soup. He heats and eats, no prep required.

The only thing I ever did in the kitchen was bake and the recipe was generally from the back of the chocolate chip bag.

The last Christmas before I moved to Madison was used to prepare me for my eventual move out of the house. I got pots and pans, towels, a laundry basket and the BHG cookbook. All a single girl needs!

These days I have cookbooks for anything I'm looking to prepare, but I still enjoy looking back at my first cookbook, leafing through its wrinkled, sauce-coated pages, my own handwritten notes adorning the margins. I think of the time I spent in my closet-like kitchen, cooking on my 1950's stove and turning out my first meals on my own.

One Year Ago: Baked Pear Salad
Two Years Ago: White Chicken Chili

Southwest Chicken Burger
Adapted from Better Homes & Garden New Cookbook

This recipe was one of my favorites from back in the day.  You'll notice I wrote "So Tasty!" next to the recipe!  I remember clearly making these burgers several times and crossing the avocado from the ingredients list (I'm not a fan).  I even made these for boyfriend at the very beginning of our relationship!  As I later learned, boyfriend has a serious disdain for most Mexican food.  I had no idea and put salsa on his burger, so either he secretly likes hot salsa, or he really liked me!

1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
3 tbsp green pepper, finely chopped
3/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken
4 Monterey Jack cheese slices
4 hamburger buns
Lettuce leaves

In a medium bowl, mix first five ingredients with a fork.  Add ground chicken and mix together with your hands.  Work quickly to distribute the ingredients.  Divide mixture in four and form 3/4-inch thick patties.

Cook patties on the grill (or your grill pan) for about 7-8 minutes per side.  The internal temperature should reach 165 F.  Add slice of cheese in the last minute of grilling.

Place each burger on a bun and top with lettuce and salsa.
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