Land of Leftovers

May is the first official month of the grilling season. Of course, I ignore the "season" altogether and use my grill all year round -- even in the middle of January, when I have to shovel a path to it and heating it up takes just about an eternity! So I have to admit that the weather that May offers is much better suited to firing up the grill.

And what's more traditional than hamburgers on the grill?

But why let it stop there? The great taste of ground beef that's been sizzled on the grill can be easily added to other great meals. All it takes is a little creativity and planning.

When you're grilling burgers, making eight is as simple as making just a few, so I always use two pounds of ground meat to make eight patties. Unless we're having company over, that means that at least 5 of those patties won't get eaten the first time around -- but that's the whole point. I carefully wrap the leftovers and keep them on hand for recipes that call for browned ground beef. When they're needed, I simply toss what I need in the food processor, pulse a few times and I've got a wonderfully smoky ground beef for any recipe I need! What's more, I know that each patty is about 1/4 pound, so I can measure the amounts I add pretty accurately.

Of course, that tip alone saves me a lot of time and effort. But I love making onion burgers by adding one package of onion soup mix to the two pounds of ground meat before I make the patties. The result is a juicy burger that doesn't need any onions added to the bun -- and a wonderfully seasoned ground beef for everything from meat sauce for spaghetti to a great topping for a pizza.

Because many recipes that call for ground beef require it to be browned before being added to other ingredients, this is a great way to save time and effort when you're busy in the middle of the week. I love to make a big batch of burgers on a weekend and enjoy the fruits of my labor throughout the next week. Of course, you can always enjoy them as burgers too -- but there's something neat about being able to introduce the flavor of the grill into your favorite dishes. After all, browning ground beef over the open flame might not be that practical, but who says you can't get there another way?

While you're thinking about leftovers from your hamburger-grilling adventures, you might want to consider toasting leftover buns and processing them in your food processor also. After all, they make some first class bread crumbs and you can make them special by adding your own seasonings to them. The lettuce, tomatoes, onions and other veggies that have been prepared for topping burgers can also find themselves in a fresh garden salad. Even leftover French fries (is there such a thing?) can be added to casseroles and the like. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Keep those creative juices flowing!

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