Last week I was *super* excited to find fresh artichokes at the grocery store--I never find the things when I actually have time to do something with them. Anyway, I bought several. The first few met the grill--and were delicious. Then I decided I should make spinach-artichoke dip--since I just *happened* to have everything for it. So I did. And it was delicious. So delicious, in fact, that it was gone in a matter of hours.

Imagine my surprise, then, when for the second week in a row I found fresh artichokes! Really! Dozens of them! Of course, I bought more. (I really, really, like artichokes. heh.) So, for a scrumptious replay of last week's dip, I thought I'd invite a few friends over and grill some burgers and stuff--and then it hit me.

Put the dip IN the burgers! So in addition to my regular seasonings--garlic, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, and black pepper, I added a fresh batch of spinach-artichoke dip to the center of the burgers. Incredible, I tell you.

If you've never made stuffed burgers before, you should definitely try it--even if all you stuff them with is cheddar cheese. It's super simple. All you have to do is divide your meat as you normally would, then divide each portion in half. Make thin patties, then top half of them with your filling, then the second patty. Seal well--you don't want your filling leaking out on the grill! Once they're sealed and stuffed, all you have to do is cook 'em...and eat 'em.

For these dip-stuffed burgers, I cooked up some bacon and mixed up some garlic mayonnaise--not that they necessarily needed mayonnaise, but, hey, they're *my* burgers!

 
 

My mom isn't Betty Crocker--but sometimes she comes up with some pretty good stuff.Now, I'm sure mom's not the first one to make this dish, but she's where I got it from--so she gets the credit for the idea. I added some...stuff, because I like it this way. Enjoy!

The goods:

4-6 baking potatoes, either 'baked' in the microwave or cut up and boiled (as for mashed potatoes)
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup butter, the real stuff, please.
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
1-2 jalapeños, finely chopped--seed it if you can't take the heat
1 Serrano pepper, finely chopped--same as above
(You can always go with Poblanos if you're heat-shy)
2-3 cloves of garlic, grated. Yes, grated. It's what works the best here. Just do it.
1 small/medium yellow onion, finely chopped--yes, it should be yellow. I have no idea why, that's just what tastes the best. Trust me.
6 slices of bacon--cooked and chopped/broken up--think Bacon Bits, but without the disgusting chemical...aroma.
Spices: salt, black pepper, cumin--easy on the salt and cumin, you don't want to overwhelm the other flavors.

Now, for the peppers--once they're diced (or while you're waiting for the potatoes to cook) and the onions are chopped, and the garlic is grated--sautee in a little olive oil until the onions are softened and just beginning to turn a bit brown. Careful, though--don't scorch your garlic--best to add that after the onions are about half-cooked.

Now, back to the potatoes--mash them--however you break them down is fine. Don't over do it (or put them in a food processor or something) because then you'll end up with potato glue. And that's nasty. Right, once your potatoes are sufficiently smashed up and your peppers, onions and garlic are nicely sauteed, mix in everything except for a handful or so of the cheeses and a slice or so of the bacon. Spread this in a 13 x 9 (or 9 x 13, it really doesn't matter, heh) baking dish, and top with the reserved bacon and cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375--when the cheese is melted and getting bubbly, it's done.

 
 

I thought I'd share a spectacular recipe-ish thing that I (sort of) made up.

And it's easy. REALLY easy.

It has been dubbed: Effin' Delicious Chicken. For good reason. You'll see why.

Let's get started!

First, you need Butter. (Yes, with a capital B.) The real stuff--not that sissy Country Crock. I use a lot of it. You don't (necessarily) have to. But you should.

Flat leaf parsley. Same idea as the butter. You don't even have to chop it up. How easy is that?

Garlic. I chop mine. More garlic flavor that way. If you want it less garlicky, thrown in whole cloves. Or crushed ones. Yep. That's how it works.

Chicken Thighs--however many you need. You can use breasts or whatever if you want--but WHY? (Seriously.)

Bacon. Slices of it. Enough of them to cover the chicken. I cut them in half, but you do whatever you want. Just put the bacon on the skin. (hehe.)

Pop everything into a baking dish. Then the chicken. Then put the bacon on top. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for about an hour. Then uncover. Bake longer. Til the bacon's crispy. This whole process usually takes about 15 minutes--but if you're impatient, you can always pop the whole deal under the broiler. Just be careful. Nobody likes burnt bacon.)

Now, while the chicken is baking away, it wouldn't be right not to make something to go with it--even if it IS good enough to eat the entire pan of bacon-y scrumptiousness on it's own. That's where the polenta comes in.

That's pretty easy too. You have two options. You can be SUPER lazy and buy tubes of pre-made polenta at the market, slice it into rounds, top with mozzarella and Parmesan, and bake til the cheese is bubbly...which is fine. Just lazy.

Or, you can make your own polenta--any basic polenta recipe will do, I use the one in my handy-dandy Better Crocker cookbook. Mhmm. See, once the polenta is 'done'...you layer it with butter, mozzarella, and Parmesan...and then top with MORE cheese...and bake it for about 20 minutes. At 350. How convenient, right? Add a salad--not an iceberg salad, for crying out loud, be creative--and you're good to go.

By the time the polenta's done, everything should be ready. And DELICIOUS.

 
 

Multi-textural Chicken-Bacon Wraps--quick lunch or dinner--or a fantastic party snack--just cut into bite-sized wrap-wiches after toasting!

2 grilled seasoned chicken breasts, shredded

6 slices cooked bacon, chopped

4-6 flour or white corn tortillas

1 avocado, diced

1 roma tomato, seeded and diced

1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
 
1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1 lime

cilantro, finely chopped

spices: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/2 Tbsp chili powder and red pepper flake to taste

Monterrey jack and/or cheddar cheese (grated)

Mix chicken (may be used cold or warmed), bacon, avacado, tomato, onion, garlic, lime juice, and spices. Fill tortillas with mixture, top with cheese and cilantro, and fold. Place wraps on heated griddle, coated with cooking spray or a small amount of unsalted butter. Toast on both sides. Remove from heat and enjoy!