Our family is fortunate to live not too far from the beach and even more fortunate to have family that has a house by the beach. The Fourth of July is spent every year on the beach …. our family’s favorite spot to be. Then we head to my brother and sister in law’s beach house where we are greeted with BBQ hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, fruit, salads and amazing dessert (I am in charge of the dessert every year…. humble pie, eh?) where we all gather as a family. It is the best day!


I know that a lot of people across the good ole U.S. of A are probably serving the same menu. But let’s take it up a notch or ten! I have for you some great burger topping ideas that will take any burger from ordinary to extraordinary! As well as ideas of thinking outside the bun. I mean come on….. don’t you think it is time to switch things up a bit? I have such a great and unfussy (aka… easy) menu for you to serve this year. Let’s celebrate in the most tasty way with a Burger Bar!

IMG_6605Naan bread (I picked these up at Trader Joes). A perfect substitution for the ordinary bun. Ciabatta rolls are another great idea. Experiment on your own… just make sure it will hold up to the meat and not fall apart. Or even better… offer a variety and let your guests pick their favorite!


I went Italian with this burger. With marinara sauce on one side of the bread. Fresh mozzarella melted on the patty. Pesto spread on the other half of bread with some red onions and sun dried tomatoes. This was packed full of flavor!


Head South of the border for these flavors. A ripe, juicy tomato, a moist, tender patty with melted jack cheese, a ring of a sweet onion, roasted poblano chiles and guacamole. To roast poblano chiles, wash and cut the chiles in half. Remove the seeds and the stem. Lay halves on a baking sheet and spray both sides of the chile with an olive oil cooking spray. Roast in a 400 F oven for 15-20 minutes. Once they are cool, peel off the skin, and slice in about 1/2 inch width long pieces. Delish!


Make an easy garlic aioli for this one. Take 1 cup of mayonnaise and add 2 tsp. of garlic paste. Add a nice squeeze of fresh lemon juice and season with some salt and pepper according to your taste. There you have it… an easy garlic aioli that will add amazing flavor to this or any burger! Now let’s get back to business. Spread the garlic aioli on both sides of the bread, top one side with the patty that has melted gorgonzola cheese atop as well as some caramelized onions. (to caramelize an onion, slice the onion into nice thin, long slices. Saute in some olive oil in a skillet over medium  high heat until they are golden with a hint of some browning. They should smell sweet at this point because caramelizing brings out the sugars in the onion and makes them sweet and wonderful!) Top the other side with some sauteed mushrooms (don’t forget to salt and pepper the mushrooms!) and you have yourself another grown up fine sandwich! Mmmmmmm!


Here is my final example. I could go on and on.. but where would I end? The possibilities are endless! For this one, I started with a mayonnaise that I mixed with a bit of horseradish to give it just a bit of a kick. You can add as much or as little as you like according to your taste. Then a juicy patty with some melted sharp cheddar topped with some crushed, thick cut, extra crunchy cheese flavored potato chips (the potato chip flavors are also endless….sour cream and onion, plain, salt and vinegar, BBQ, Doritos, Fritos, etc… just make sure they are extra thick… it gives them crunch staying power. On the other half of the bun, add some mustard if you like, some lettuce and a fried egg (runny yolk a must!). I have to admit, after we tasted all these (I did love them all, by the way) this one was my absolute favorite. There is something about the crunch and saltiness of the potato chips that contrasts wonderfully with the soft and juicy meat and runny fried egg. (I was that girl in school that put chips in my sandwiches. Made them so much better!) It was amazing and my little boy thought so too! 


So there you have it… a burger heaven! Set out all the ingredients in various bowls and let your guests get creative. Let’s see what creations everyone comes up with. Add what you like….bacon, ham, a variety of cheeses, olive tapenade, etc…. Let me know what you came up with and how your burger bar turned out!


On to dessert! A friend told me told me I HAD to try these and come up with a recipe that included them. Well… I don’t know if I should thank or curse her for opening my eyes to these babies. They are that good and hard to resist! And so my friends, this is where dessert starts… at least in part.

IMG_6589Here it is….. Individual Lemon Blueberry Trifle served in perfect serving sized mason jars. And of course they are in keeping with the red, white and blue theme of the holiday. You and your guests will fall in love with the amazing flavors that are combined in this dessert. Lemon and Blueberries…. what’s not to love? They are a breeze to make and easy to transport in these adorable little mason jars. I plan on serving these with red spoons of course! For the full printable recipe, click HERE.