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Category Archives: Burgers

The Hangover Burger

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Thought I was so slick. Went down to the grocery store Friday night and picked up all the things I would need for tonight’s dinner. The supermarket was quiet, peaceful, a virtual oasis of food; unlike on summer weekends, where it transforms into a frenzied circus of activity. But I was ever so clever and got it all taken care of Friday night.

Then, I woke up this morning, not so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; the result of a small child who decided to start his day at 5:00am. I made the kids their breakfast, tended to the labrosaurus rex, and started the coffee. I had a hankering for some eggs in a hole; the dish my mom used to call Rocky Mountain Breakfast. So I heated a little butter in a pan, removed the centers from my bread, cracked the eggs into the middle, and fried them up. Then I sat down to enjoy my delicious breakfast.

Boy, did it hit the spot! I could have eaten two more, but I’d used the last of the eggs. I sat there, lingering over the last bite and then it struck me. Right smack in the middle of my head. I’d intended to use those eggs for tonight’s dinner. Foiled again by my overwhelming food cravings!! So much for avoiding the supermarket on the weekend.

Tonight’s dinner is an indulgence; a guilty pleasure. You’d better start running in place right now, cause it’s going to take some work to burn off the calories in this one. It might be a good idea to have your blood pressure checked before consuming. It will be worth it though.

Austin Grill, a Maryland based Tex-Mex restaurant has a burger on their menu called The Hangover Burger. I’m not exactly sure whether this burger is intended to be the cure or the cause of the hangover. But, lordy, lordy is this a good one! I ordered it once and dreamed about it forever after. The burger features a beef patty, smothered with chili, bacon, queso, roasted jalapeño peppers, and a fried egg. It’s the egg that really does it for me!

Tonight, we’re having my version of The Hangover Burger. Once, you’ve made the chili, there’s really nothing to it, besides putting the pieces together. Here’s how it’s done…

Austin Grill-Inspired Hangover Burger


  • Burger Patties
  • Hamburger Buns or Hard Rolls
  • Bacon
  • Chili Con Queso
  • Chili*
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Jalapeño Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper

*For my easy recipe for Spicy Beef Chili, click here.


Cut the jalapeño in half. Remove the seeds and ribs. Roast in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until softened. When cool enough to handle, cut into small pieces. Set aside. Cook the bacon and place a few slices on each bun. Season the burgers with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the burgers to your preferred doneness. While the burger is cooking, warm the chili and queso. Place the cooked burgers on top of the bacon. Top with a spoonful of chili and a spoonful of warm chili con queso. Sprinkle with the roasted jalapeño peppers. Top with a freshly fried egg.

Serve with a side of steamed broccoli, to make yourself feel better about eating the burger.

I foresee many salads in my future.

Irresistible Spinach Dip and (Possibly) Pasta Chips

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My little brother was in town this weekend! He’s the only one of my siblings who doesn’t live nearby and we miss him terribly. It’s always a good time when he drives up for a visit. And it’s always a good excuse for a soiree of sorts. So, yesterday, some family and friends gathered at my house for some good food and great company. There’s nothing better than being with a group of people, who can have a blast just sitting around a room, after a filling meal, telling stories and laughing together. Excellent people.

There are a handful of recipes I make over and over again when I entertain; the items that people have come to expect when they visit. One of those things is spinach dip, typically served in a hollowed-out bread bowl with chunks of bread scattered all around for dipping. People frequently comment on how much they love my spinach dip, but I can’t really call it mine at all. The recipe is printed on the back of every packet of Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix. My mom used to make it for parties when I was a kid. At that time, it was her recipe. I make it now and it’s mine. You can make it tomorrow, and call it yours. But the true credit goes to Knorr.

Every single time I’ve ever made this dip, I’ve served it in a bread bowl (usually pumpernickel) with doughy chunks of sourdough and pumpernickel all around. Except yesterday, when I didn’t serve it with bread at all. I was inspired to try something new after a recent night out with my sister and a friend. We’d eaten at a restaurant which has several dishes on their menu featuring something called pasta chips. I’d had pasta chip nachos on a previous visit. And last week, we ordered a spinach and artichoke dip that was served with these crispy pasta chips. Following the initial nacho experience, my sister and I pondered how the pasta chips were made. When we had them again last week, an idea occurred to me. Perhaps they were made with wonton wrappers, like the wonton wrappers I used in the Shrimp and Sweet Corn Ravioli. I decided I’d give it a try.

Well, after frying up a batch, I can’t say for certain that the restaurant uses wonton wrappers for their pasta chips. The end result was quite similar, but not quite their pasta chips. But you’ll never guess what they did turn out to be. Drum roll please…. Fried Wonton Chips! And they are good; addictively good. So, I fried the whole batch and served my Wonton/Pasta Chips with the dip.

My Spinach Dip Recipe

(I mean Knorr’s Spinach Dip Recipe.)


  • 1 10-ounce package Frozen Chopped Spinach
  • 1 packet Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
  • 1 16-ounce container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise*
  • 1 can Water Chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 bunch of Green Onions, sliced*

*The original Knorr’s recipe calls for 1 cup of Mayonnaise and 3 green onions.


Defrost the spinach and squeeze dry. (This would be a good time to use a piece of cheesecloth, but your hands will suffice.) Combine the spinach with the other ingredients. Mix to combine and refrigerate. The dip is best after it’s been refrigerated for a few hours. Serve with bread or chips.

Fried Wonton Pasta Chips


  • 1 package Wonton Wrappers
  • Oil (Use a neutral flavored oil, such as canola.)


Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the wonton wrappers, if desired. Pour about 1/4 inch oil into a pan. Heat over medium/medium-high until it’s good and hot. In small batches of about 5-6, place the wonton wrappers in the oil in a single layer. They will begin to cook quickly. Use tongs to flip the wrappers after a few seconds, when they begin to look a light toasty brown. Cook a few more seconds on the other side. Then, use your tongs to remove the fried wontons and place them on a paper towel to drain. Repeat for all wonton wrappers, stacking layers of paper towels, as necessary.

Great visit with my brother, friends, and family. I took full advantage of my group of eager taste-testers to work on a burger recipe I’m planning to submit for a contest. Torrential rain foiled my initial grill plans, but we worked it out inside. Thank you cast-iron grill pan.

Enjoyed a bit of cool, crisp Riesling, my favorite summer wine.

There were warm Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits. Click here for the biscuit recipe.

Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits

I made one more really yummy dish, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that one.

Trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Turkey Burgers with Fresh Tomato Salsa and Avocado

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Recently, one of my readers wondered if I took requests. Sure, said I. This particular request was for a fresh tomato salsa recipe, the only requirement being that it contain lots of fresh cilantro. To be completely honest, when it comes to chips and dips, I’m more of a chile con queso kind of gal. I don’t make or use salsa too often. But if there were going to be a time for a tomato salsa recipe, that time is definitely now. Tomatoes are hitting their flavor peak and backyard barbecue season is in full swing, with bowls of tortilla chips begging to be dipped in salsa.

When I do have salsa, I like it to be singe-your-tongue spicy, but I recognize that not everyone wants to experience pain while they’re eating. So, I’m going to share two salsa recipes with you. The first is a basic mild-medium tomato salsa with jalapeno pepper and lots of fresh cilantro. The second variation features the addition of pureed chipotle pepper for a punch of smoky heat and a handful of sweet corn for a nice contrast to the spice.

To make it a meal, I decided to use my salsa on turkey burgers with a bit of fresh avocado. Turkey burgers are a delicious, leaner alternative to a traditional beef burger. But the lean meat can sometimes be prone to dryness. To combat this issue, I’m adding a beaten egg and some grated onion for moisture. A bit of grated cheddar will contribute additional moisture and flavor. Serve the burgers on a soft roll over slices of fresh avocado and topped with your homemade salsa.

Fresh Tomato Salsa


  • 4 Ripe Tomatoes, seeds removed, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 Red Onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced*
  • 2 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup Cilantro Leaves, coursely chopped
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Salt and Pepper

*Use a teaspoon to easily remove ribs and seeds.


Combine all ingredients. Let the salsa sit in the fridge for at least an hour. As it sits, the salt will draw out some of the tomato juices and the flavors will marry. If a saucier salsa is desired, pulse the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add additional jalapeno pepper for a spicier salsa.

Corn and Chipotle Variation

To the above recipe, add 1 pureed chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotles in adobo) and 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels. Stir to combine.

Turkey Burgers


  • 1 pound Ground Turkey
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Grated Onion
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp Salt


Preheat broiler. Using your hands, gently combine all ingredients. Form into 4 patties. Broil for about 10-12 minutes until fully cooked. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the middle should read 165 degrees.

Blue Cows in a Blanket

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When my husband and I got married, we decided to have an all hors d’oeuvres cocktail reception. When we shared this idea with my parents, my dad made a joke about the quantity of pigs in a blanket that the caterers would be dealing with. Though we were thinking more along the lines of Smoked Duck on Pecan Crackers with Red Currant Chutney, Saga Bleu Polenta Rounds with Beef Tenderloin, and Seared Sea Scallops on a Salpicon of Lump Crabmeat and Sweet Yellow Corn with Poblano Pepper Aioli, the idea of a Pigs in a Blanket themed reception made us giggle. We even arranged for the caterer to present my father with his very own tray of pigs in a blanket just prior to the ceremony. I think the bill from the caterer listed them as ‘Cocktail Franks en Croute’. Fancy! Whatever you call them, the tray was empty in a blink.

Blue Cows in a Blanket is my beefy little twist on Pigs in a Blanket. It’s basically a bacon blue cheese burger, wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. I came up with the idea awhile back, while trying to devise a way to fit bacon blue cheese burgers into a cocktail party menu. You can make the burgers larger or smaller, depending on your needs. And, the best part is that they can be almost fully prepared ahead of time.  Just wrap the cooked burgers in the pastry and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake and serve!

Blue Cows in a Blanket work well as an hors d’ oeuvre or as a main course alternative to a traditional burger. Tonight, we enjoyed them as a main course with a Wedge Salad on the side, playing off the blue cheese and bacon in the burger.

Blue Cows in a Blanket


  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Bleu Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 package (2 sheets) Puff Pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently combine ground beef, bacon, cheese, and salt with hands, just enough to evenly distribute the bacon, cheese, and salt. Form the mixture into about 18 small meatball-sized balls.  Gently flatten into small patties. Place on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Keep the oven at 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the thawed puff pastry sheets into squares that measure approximately 12 x 12 inches. Use a pizza cutter to cut each sheet into 9 equal-sized squares. You should have 18 squares that measure approximately 4 x 4 inch each. (Don’t worry if they aren’t exactly square or equal-sized. The dough will stretch when you wrap the burgers.)

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place one cooled patty in the center of each square. Wrap the pastry around the patty and press the dough together on the bottom. Place each wrapped patty on the baking sheet, seam side down. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and brush each pastry with the beaten egg. Return to oven and cook for 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.

For the Wedge Salad: Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into 4-6 wedges. Top with chopped tomatoes and crumbled bacon.  Drizzle with blue cheese dressing.

The “Mona Lisa” Burger and Roasted Garlic Aioli, two ways

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Several weeks ago, I ran across a website for the Cheese and Burger Society, a site designed to showcase delicious Wisconsin cheeses. My mouth watered as I flipped through their slideshow of delicious cheese-laden burgers. I made the immediate decision that I would gradually cook my way through each of the burgers on that site. With perfect grilling season now upon us, it is an ideal time to be embarking on a burger adventure. A few weeks ago, I cooked my version of The Miss Daisy, a beef patty on sesame semolina with apple butter and brie. Tonight, I’ll be making my version of The Mona Lisa (#20 in the slideshow), featuring a beef patty on ciabatta, with gorgonzola cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, prosciutto, and a roasted garlic aioli.

An aioli (pronounced ay-OH-lee or eye-OH-lee) is a garlic sauce, similar to a mayonnaise, which is traditionally made with raw egg yolks, olive oil and crushed garlic. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of mayonnaise.  Something about the texture of it and the feel of it in my mouth gives me chills. But, it really does seem to belong on this burger. I love the flavor combination of sweet roasted garlic with gorgonzola, so I decided to use a roasted garlic aioli in my version of The Mona Lisa burger.  As I mentioned, aioli is traditionally made with raw egg yolks, though with concerns about salmonella, some people opt to use a prepared mayonnaise base.  I went back and forth about which version to share with you and ultimately decided to share both. If you do decide to use the raw egg version, be aware of the potential risks of consuming raw eggs and use the freshest, highest quality eggs. Pregnant women, children or people with compromised immune systems should probably avoid the raw version completely. (To see what the FDA says about egg safety, click here.)

Roasted Garlic Aioli

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 8 cloves of roasted garlic
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt and Pepper

Use the edge of a knife to smash the cloves of garlic into a paste.  In a bowl, whisk together egg yolk, roasted garlic, and lemon juice. Very slowly, begin to drizzle the olive oil into the bowl, whisking continuously.  (Adding the oil too quickly may cause the sauce to “break”, which occurs when the oil and the egg yolks separate.) Slowly continue to incorporate the oil, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens to a consistency similar to a thin mayonnaise. (If the sauce becomes too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water.) Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Add additional roasted garlic, if desired.

Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

  • 5-8 cloves of roasted garlic
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 tsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of cayenne

Use the edge of a knife to smash the cloves of garlic. Combine the roasted garlic, mayonnaise, cayenne, and lemon juice until smooth.

Little Chef

My “Mona Lisa” Burger

Beef Patty on Ciabatta with Gorgonzola, Prosciutto, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Olives, and a Roasted Garlic Aioli


  • Beef Patty
  • Ciabatta Rolls or Loaf
  • Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Prosciutto
  • Sun-dried Tomatoes, sliced
  • Olives with Pimento, sliced
  • Roasted Garlic Aioli
  • Lettuce
  • Red Onion, thinly sliced


Form the burgers to the shape of your bread. Grill burgers over medium heat until they reach a minimum temperature of 160 degrees. Split ciabatta in half. Spread roasted garlic aioli on the bottom half. Top with lettuce, onion, and sun-dried tomatoes. Place the burger on top of the garnish.  Top with gorgonzola, olives, and prosciutto.

Salmon Burgers with Horseradish Sauce and Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter

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I make my salmon burgers the same way I make my crab cakes… heavy on the seafood, light on the filler. I like big chunks of salmon, blended together with just enough egg, bread crumbs, and mayo to hold it together.  A bit of mustard and creole seasoning adds the perfect flavoring! Served on an kaiser roll with a spicy horseradish sauce, this is a delicious way to enjoy salmon! I use fresh salmon fillets in my recipe, but you can substitute canned salmon, if desired.

Corn on the cob, served with chipotle butter makes a perfect side dish for this meal.  Chipotles are smoked jalapeno peppers; spicy and delicious! You should be able to find canned chipotles in adobo sauce in the Mexican or Latin foods section of your grocery store.  Adobo is simply a seasoned tomato-based sauce.  You can either discard the adobo sauce, or use some of it in the butter. You’ll only need 1/8 cup of pureed chipotle peppers for the butter, but puree all the peppers.  You can store the unused puree in the freezer for future use. (I’ll share my recipe for Chipotle Steak Quesadillas with you soon!)

Chipotles in Adobo

Salmon Burgers with Horseradish Sauce

For the burgers:

  • 1 pound salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp Creole Seasoning
  • 4 Kaiser Rolls

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 2-3 Tbsp Horseradish Sauce

To prepare the salmon – Preheat your broiler. Place the salmon fillets under the broiler and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through. When the salmon is cool enough to handle, flake the fish into large chunks.

To make to burgers – Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, combine all ingredients, except the salmon, until well blended. Gently fold in the salmon. Form into four burgers. Spray a baking sheet with a little Pam or a small amount of olive oil. Place the burgers on the baking sheet. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until heated through.

For the horseradish sauce – Combine sour cream with 2-3 Tbsp horseradish. (I use 3.)  Stir until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve burgers on kaiser rolls with lettuce, tomatoes, and horseradish sauce. Makes 4 burgers.

Salmon Burger with Horseradish Sauce

Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter

  • 4 ears of corn, husks removed
  • 1/8 cup pureed Chipotle Peppers
  • 1 Stick Butter

Remove chipotle peppers from adobo.  Wipe off excess adobo. Puree peppers in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Melt butter in a small saucepan over very low heat.  Add 1/8 cup pureed chipotle pepper and stir. Gently cook over very low heat for a minute or two. For the smoothest result, you can pour the melted chipotle butter through a fine sieve to remove seeds and any large chunks. (I skip this step!) Pour chipotle butter into a bowl and refrigerate, stirring every 15 minutes, until firm. Allow butter to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using. To cook the corn, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and boil for about 5-8 minutes. Spread chipotle butter on corn and enjoy!!

Chipotle Butter

Salmon Burger with Corn on the Cob and Chipotle Butter

Greek Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

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Lamb Burgers. Yummy, yummy! Lamb Burgers. Yummy, yummy!

It’s Lamb Burger Night!  Everybody sing along!

Greek Lamb Burger with Tzatziki Sauce

About a year ago, my husband walked into the room, with a copy of my Food and Wine magazine in his hands and a goofy grin on his face. He was excitedly pointing at the picture on the cover; a picture of what he’d assumed was a gyro, in burger form. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be something completely different (Beef and Lamb Burgers with Cheddar and Caper Remoulade).  But, the seed had been planted. A gyro burger!  Yes, I could totally make a gyro burger!  We realize now, that the idea of a gyro burger isn’t exactly a novel one, but for us, in that moment, we had discovered a map to the holy grail.

Meat Thoughts (I sure never thought I’d say that!)  – I have seen other recipes for lamb burgers, which use a part lamb, part beef combination.  I use 100% lamb in this recipe. The choice is yours.  If you don’t care for the taste of lamb, go ahead and use a half lamb, half beef mixture.  Don’t like lamb at all or perhaps you follow a vegetarian diet?  Then, try this recipe with beef, turkey, or even a veggie burger. Your supermarket may carry ground lamb or lamb patties, which are likely made from ground lamb breast or flank.  They are a convenient choice, but an even better option would be to ask your butcher to grind a lamb shoulder for you. It’s a tasty cut of meat, perfect for burgers. Or, as a leaner alternative, ask for ground loin or leg of lamb.

Personally, I prefer to grind my own lamb. I am the proud owner of my very own food grinder attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, which I acquired under the direst of food emergencies.  It happened one evening, during a visit from my brother-in-law. In the course of conversation, my husband mentioned the delicious lamb burgers he’s been enjoying. Almost instantly, the lure of the lamb burger took hold and a full on hunt for ground lamb was underway. Only, all of the local butcher shops had closed by that time. After visiting multiple supermarkets in a fruitless search for ground lamb, my husband and his brother returned home with a food grinder and a bag full of meat. I love it when my husband’s cravings result in a new piece of cookware for my kitchen! (Just have to figure out how to get that tandoor oven!) So, lately I grind most of my own lamb.  The benefit is that I have the ability to trim the meat to my liking, choose what cuts I grind, and I am assured the freshest product (sans raising lamb in my backyard, which I’d never have the heart to handle anyway).

Without further ado…

Greek Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce


  • Pita Pockets

For the Lamb Burgers:

  • 1 pound Ground Lamb
  • 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 cup Feta Cheese (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Tzatziki Sauce:

  • 7 ounce container Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 large, seedless English Cucumber or 1 large cucumber, seeds removed
  • 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

For Garnish:

  • Romaine Lettuce Leaves
  • Slice of Tomatoes
  • Slice of Red Onions


For the Tzatziki Sauce: Place a piece of cheesecloth in a bowl. Using a box grater, grate the cucumber into the cheesecloth. Use the cheesecloth to lift the grated cucumber out of the bowl.  Squeeze excess liquid out of the cucumber. Discard the cucumber liquid.  Combine grated cucumber with the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Place a piece of cheesecloth in a bowl.

Grate the cucumber into the cheesecloth.

Lift the grated cucumber in cheesecloth.

Squeeze the excess liquid from the grated cucumber.

Combine cucumber with other ingredients.

For the Burgers: Combine ground lamb with seasonings and cheese (optional). Mix just enough to evenly disperse seasonings. Gently form the meat into large, flat burgers big enough to fit the pita. To cook, grill or broil, flipping as necessary until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees, as measured with a meat thermometer inserted in the middle. **Ground meats, of any kind, are typically not the best choice for cooking rare or medium-rare.  Unlike roasts and other non-ground cuts of meat, where the surface bacteria is killed during cooking, the bacteria in ground meat has been dispersed throughout.  Unless you can be absolutely certain about the freshness and safe-handling of the lamb before and after grinding, it is safest to cook to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees.

To assemble the burgers: Carefully cut around the edge of the pita to split it into two pieces. Line the bottom with romaine lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Place the burger on top of the garnish and top with tzatziki sauce.

Serve with a side salad of mixed spring greens and a little feta in a lemony vinaigrette.

(Makes about 3 generous sized burgers.)

Lamb Burger! Yummy, yummy!

Are you singing yet???

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