Turning Cheeseburgers into Chili: Tasty Recipe from Sunny Anderson and Extended Stay America

Traveling can be fun, but eating on the road isn't always a delight. Either you spend too much on a sit down meal, or you end up eating the same old fast food for dinner. Wouldn't it be nice to land at your hotel and have a nice warm meal that's easy to make? If you stay at an Extended Stay America, you can do that in their mini kitchens!

Sunny Anderson and Extended Stay America have put together a few recipes for travelers that are weary of eating the same old thing on the road. By jazzing up ordinary convenience food, you can have a really nice meal.

I put together one of the recipes in our home away from home: my mom's house. I grabbed a few burgers from In-N-Out. I had them put the spread and the cheese slices on the side, which most fast food restaurants can accommodate. Then, I stopped at a 7-Eleven in the adjacent parking lot for a couple more ingredients.

Cheeseburge to Chilii Ingredients

I had some beans on me. I mean, I'm Mexican. I should have beans on me at all times, right? Just kidding. Sort of.

Beans Beans

Then I deconstructed the burger into all of its parts and chopped or sliced into pieces. The lettuce I left as is and the bread I cut up into crouton sized bits for toasting later.

Five Easy Pieces
Deconstructed Cheeseburger.jpg

Start by heating a little bit of oil into a medium sized pot.

Start with Oil

Next, add the chopped hamburger patties.

Add Chopped Cheeseburger Patties

After that, add the salsa and beans.

Add Beans and Salsa

Let that simmer for about five minutes. While that's simmering, put the chopped up buns in the oven to toast for croutons

Chili Simmering
Toast Buns for Croutons

Then add the tomatoes and onions.

Add Tomatoes.jpg
Add Onions

Stir that around for a few more minutes. Top with cheese and croutons (and a little sour cream, if you've got it), and voila! You have a warm and tasty bowl of chili to chow down on!

Sugar with Cheeseburger Chili

And, of course, serve with a side of Frito's. Because it's just not the same without them!

Kids Eating Chili

By the way... my son who was mad that we weren't eating the burgers right away later said, "That chili was WAY better than having burgers!"


I have FIVE copies of Sunny Anderson's Away From Home Cooking cookbooks from Extended Stay America to giveaway! To enter, just leave me a comment about any eating-on-the-road stories you have. Five random commenters will be chosen next Friday to receive a copy of this book full of great recipes and tips for eating on the road.

GIVEAWAY: Sunny Anderson ESA Cookbooks


Thanksgiving in the Raw

If you're hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year, you've probably gone out of your way to put together a great menu. And being the host/hostess that you are, you want everyone to feel welcome, so you'll find vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/paleo options for those of your guests that have restrictive diets, and that's just so sweet and thoughtful of you!

But did you forget someone?

You did.

It's your favorite Aunt Irma. Didn't you just hear from Cousin Gladys that she's only eating raw food these days? Oh dear. What are you supposed to serve your favorite aunt who only eats RAW FOOD? She could have salad, but is that all she gets?

Fear not, my little nugget... I've rounded up a few recipes for you! Don't be surprised if the rest of your guests start to dip into these delicious dishes!

Asian Chopped Salad - The Raw Food Chef

Raw Vegan Lasagna - From Rawmazing

Raw Stuffing (because ya gotta have stuffing!) - The Rawtarian

And these recipes below, courtesy of Excalibur Dehydrators and Omega:

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish #raw #food


  • 2 cups frozen cranberries (defrosted and allowed to drain)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • ¼ cup chopped sweet onions
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger root
  • ¾ cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp Psyllium powder
  • 2 cups Orange segments, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped sweet and salty walnuts (optional)


To quickly defrost cranberries, place them in a 125°F Excalibur dehydrator for 30-40 minutes. To make orange segments, peel and section oranges, removing the seeds. Chop each segment into about 4 pieces. Put the defrosted, drained cranberries, oranges, nuts, celery, onions, ginger root, coconut, sugar and Psyllium powder in a food processor outfitted with “S” blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer the mixture in a shallow glass dish and place it in an Excalibur dehydrator for 2-3 hours at 115°F. Transfer to a glass quart jar and refrigerate for a day or longer prior to serving. Store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Black Bottom Pecan Pie

Black Bottom Pecan Pie #raw #food

This recipe has four parts to it that in the end create a deliciously decadent dessert that might make you think about going along with Aunt Irma on her Raw Food journey.



  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1 ½ cups pecans
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar or evaporated cane sugar
  • 6 soft dates, pitted
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Chocolate Bottom:

  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup soft pitted dates
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped pecans

Candied Pecans:

  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • Chocolate Drizzle:
  • ½ cup organic cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp vanilla



Place almonds, pecans, dates, evaporated cane sugar and cinnamon in the food processor using the S blade, and process until crumbly, yet sticky. Press mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie plate and set aside.

Chocolate Bottom:

Blend ingredients in a high-speed Omega Blender to achieve a smooth consistence. Pour ¾ cup of the mixture into the pie crust and refrigerate until firm, about two hours. Save any chocolate mixture that remains to roll into chocolate truffles.

For the Filling:

Place dates and coconut oil in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to blend until smooth. Fold in the chopped pecans by hand and spread on top of the chilled chocolate bottom.

For the Candied Pecans:

Mix together syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Coat the pecan halves with mixture and use to decorate the pie. Arrange nuts in symmetrical fashion around the edge of the pie. *Chill the pie for a minimum of four hours prior to serving. *


And because Aunt Irma loves her nog...

Holiday Nut Nog

Holiday Nut Nog #raw #food


  • 1 Quart Almond Milk, Strained
  • 2/3 Cups of Macadamia Nuts
  • 8 Soft Pitted Dates
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or ½ vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp flax oil
  • 2 frozen peeled bananas
  • ½ tsp nutmeg


Dehydrate macadamia nuts in 105°F in an Excalibur dehydrator or 12 hours. If using vanilla bean, sit the bean lengthwise, scrape out the soft center (seeds) and discard the outer shell. Put the vanilla, almond milk, macadamia nuts, dates, maple syrup and flax oil in a blender. Blend with an Omega Blender until perfectly creamy. Just before serving, add bananas and blend until smooth. Serve chilled, sprinkled with a little nutmeg. 

Hope you and your Aunt Irma have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce

On the final day of my #FeastPDX experience, I got to take a couple of cooking classes. I briefly mentioned them in my Day 3 recap, but I forgot to share a special recipe with you: Salted Caramel Sauce!

Pretezel Making at Home by Andrea Slonecker

This recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce is adapted from Andrea Slonecker's book, Pretzel Making at Home. Andrea was a fabulous instructor and was kind enough to give me permission to reprint this for all of you.

Before I jump into the recipe, I need to tell you about a special substitution of ingredients we made in our class. It's not reflected in this list of ingredients, but I did make a special note of it in the instructions. Rather than using 1/2 a vanilla bean and 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, we used a combined ingredient, Vanilla Bean Flake Salt, from another FeastPDX find: Jacobsen Salt. Lucky for us, they have an on-line shop, so you don't have to go all the way to Oregon to get this special salts... unless you really want to visit the picturesque Oregon coast, which I highly recommend.

Anyway... here's the best Salted Caramel Sauce you will ever make: 

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Makes 2 cup/ 480 ml
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean*
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup (helps prevent crystallization of the sugar)
  • 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (such as fleur de sel or sel gris)*
*Should you be one of the fortunate gourmands to have Vanilla Bean Flake Salt in your possession, you can just skip ahead to Step 2 and start with the sugar.  Needless to say... all good things start with Sugar. ;)

1. Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds into the cream; add the pod. Warm the vanilla cream mixture over medium-high heat until it is foamy around the edges, stirring occasionally. Discard the empty vanilla pod and set the vanilla cream aside.

How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce

2. Using a heatproof silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water in a 2-qt (2 L) heavy saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is clear. Increase the heat to high and stop stirring. Boil the sugar mixture until it turns deep amber, 5 to 7 minute, swirling the pan from time to time to cook the sugar evenly. (Note that once it begins to brown, the color quickly darkens and the sugar burns easily. Use a wet pastry brush to wipe down any crystallized sugar that accumulates on the sides of the pan.)

3. Remove the pan from the heat and VERY SLOWLY pour in the warm vanilla cream. The mixture will violently bubble and spatter, almost to the point of overflowing, so take your time pouring in the cream. It's also wise to wear an oven mitt on the hand holding the pan.

4. Return the pan to medium heat and whisk to melt any solidified caramel, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and salt. Cool the caramel for at least a few minutes before serving, or cool it completely and serve it at room temperature.  

The Salted Caramel Sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks... if it even lasts that long! 


Making Albondigas Soup

Remember I said I was going to start cooking again?

Now, I don't mean like making basic food that meets the nutritional requirements of a family. I mean like, really cooking... like, making something with love.

This week, I decided to make one of my favorite comfort foods: Albondigas Soup.

Albondigas Soup is a popular meatball soup in Hispanic communities and can be found in most Mexican restaurants. (If it's not, slowly get out of your seat and walk away... those are not real Mexicans!)

The basic ingredients of Albondigas Soup are simple, but as you'll notice, I've made some adjustments.


  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef*
  • 1/2 lb soyrizo**
  • 1/2 cup of rice (make a little extra to throw in the soup)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste

* For the ground beef, I used the leanest I could find: 85/15. I wouldn't try to substitute it for turkey as the beef really makes the broth.

** As for the chorizo substitution, I might get some angry emails over this, but I am a HUGE fan of Soyrizo. Yep... soy chorizo. Regular chorizo is super yummy, but can be really greasy, and you know it leaves you feeling weighed down later. Soyrizo is a fantastic substitute. The only thing you'll notice is that you're not feeling like you have a pound of manteca lard in your belly.  And guess what? Nobody noticed the difference.

Feel free to add a couple more cloves of garlic, if you're a fan. I am, so I used about five cloves. 

Oh! And some people like to add a tiny bit of chopped mint leaves to the mix. Not too much, or BLECH!!! 

Combine all the ingredients. Roll the mixture into balls. Make sure to put some pressure on them when rolling. You don't want them to be loose and fall apart in the soup. Once you've made all the meatballs, set them aside and get to work on the actual soup.

Albondigas Soup - Meatballs.jpg


  • 6 cups broth (chicken or veggie)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 3-4 diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tblspn can of tomato paste
  • 1 tspn ground cumin
  • 1 tspn dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 cups of assorted veggies
  • salt & pepper to taste

The veggies you'll usually find in Albondigas soup are yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, and celery. You can also throw in a handful of peas to the mix. Include some or all, it's up to you.

Combine all ingredients except for the squash, zucchini, and/or peas (those will be added at the end).  Bring the soup to a boil and then set it to simmer for about 10 minutes. Now you're ready to drop the meatballs in. Raise the temperature up just a tiny bit to make sure it's good and hot because those balls are going to have to cook all the way through. Cook for about another ten minutes, then add in the little bit of extra rice you had from making the albondigas. Then add in the squash, zucchini, and/or peas. Ten more minutes of simmering and the Albondigas Soup is ready!

Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze and top with a little fresh cilantro. For extra yums, top with avocado slices. 

Albondigas Soup in a Bowl.jpg

Buen Provecho!