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Make-ahead meals: chili burgers

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Now that spring has finally arrived, there are so many things that take priority over cooking. Playing out in the garden, lacing up the jogging shoes and tackling a trail or just sunbathing are far more interesting and exciting than is preparing a meal. That's why we're featuring several make-ahead main dishes that can be prepared on a rainy day, frozen and then cooked when they're needed.

Make-ahead meals are not only great for harried households, they can be packaged as single-serving meals for one. This is also a blessing for dieters, because each single serving is automatically portion controlled.

The hamburger is a nice, simple make-ahead main dish. Once the basic hamburger and spice combination is mixed, the individual patties can be individually frozen, separating patties with squares of waxed paper. When a burger is needed, just remove one patty, thaw using the microwave and grill. It's faster than fast food and better because you made it.

Chili burgers
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/4 c. finely chopped green pepper
1/4 c. finely chopped onions
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
dash Tabasco sauce

In medium mixing bowl, combine beef, pepper, onions, chili powder and Tabasco sauce. Thoroughly mix spices and vegetable pieces into ground beef.

Separate ground beef mixture into 4 large or 6 medium sized balls; gently flatten into patties.

Place each patty onto a square of waxed paper; stack patties in rigid freezer container, cover tightly and store in freezer until needed.

To cook, remove patty and thaw in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Grill, broil or pan fry in skillet until internal temperature reaches 165.

Makes 4 large or 6 average patties

Sunday: Better for you chicken wraps

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