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Inspiration by Chicago

August 21, 2010

for your listening pleasure:


When I was in Chicago for the Healthy Living Summit, I was inspired. 

I’ve already shared the ways in which I was inspired by the dozens of runners at the summit, along with how much the blogging community has inspired my personal growth over the last year.  In the next few weeks, you can also expect to hear about more motivation and inspiration that impacted my life while I was in Chicago. 

Today I want to talk about Chicago food inspiration.  After the Summit presentations wrapped up on Saturday evening, I was lucky enough to attend an Arnold’s sponsored Tastebud Tours food tour.  Tastebud Tours is a walking guided tour including food tastings and historical fun facts about Chicago and the city’s awesome food.  The tour was awesome, and I highly suggest that if you find yourself in the Windy City you consider taking a tour yourself!  We covered a lot of ground, and so did our taste buds 😉

caitlin [love this photo of Caitlin taking charge 🙂 ]

Arnold/Oroweat has offered the wonderful bloggers who attended the tour the opportunity to enter a recipe contest creating a recipe inspired by something we experienced on the tour, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get creative in the kitchen!  Especially as I am constantly on a quest to uncover a Savvy Kitchen in my single girl apartment.  


For my recipe creation, I took inspiration from three key points of our tour. 

#1. Root Beer – Our first stop on the tour was Berghoff, the old restaurant in Chicago.  This place is famous for it’s root beer, and I must say I understand why this frosty mug was quite tasty! 
rootbeer katie

#2. Popcorn – We stopped at the glorious snack shop, Now We’re Poppin’ to take part in the savory sweet experience of cheddar and caramel popcorn in the SAME CUP.
CIMG5107popcorn shannon
#3. The Smelly Onion – When crossing the Chicago River, our tour guide, John, informed us that the word Chicago is derived from a Native American word for “smelly onion.” Yum!


So what do you get when you add Root Beer + Popcorn + Smelly Onion divided by a Single Girl In Kitchen Situation?



Chicago Inspired Root Beer Turkey Burger

makes 6 burgers


for caramelized onions:

1 medium sweet onion
1 Tablespoon butter (or substitute of choice)
2 Tablespoons cane sugar

for the marinade:
1 bottle (12 oz) root beer of choice, I used Boylan Bottleworks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper 
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tablespoons brown sugar, not packed 
2 Tablespoons brown mustard


for burger patties:
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

for burger assembly:
6 Slices extra sharp Cheddar Cheese
6 Arnold’s Seedless Rye Sandwich Thins




For onions: While slicing onion into quarter inch rings, melt butter in a deep skillet.  Add onion slices to butter, sprinkle cane sugar over onions, and allow to cook for 30-40 minutes, until onions have browned to a rich caramel color.

For marinade: Mix together dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, add a small amount of root beer to the mustard and whisk.  Set aside remaining root beer. When liquid mixture reaches desired consistency (that of a thin barbeque sauce), add dry ingredients and whisk together.  Set aside.

For patties: Place ground turkey in a bowl. Add egg and oats; mix well. Be aware not to over mix, as you don’t want tough burgers. Add spices and mix again.  Be sure to add the spices after you’ve mixed in the egg, otherwise you will end up with clumps of spices! Form six similarly sized patties, and place in a dish for marinating. (I use Pyrex dishes for their deep sides.) Brush burgers with marinade, flipping to cover both sides, leaving a small amount in the bowl for later.  Pour remaining root beer into dish creating six turkey burger islands in an ocean of tasty soda.  Let marinate for 20-30 minutes. 

Get cooking: You can grill these burgers any way your heart desires – Weber, Foreman, etc. – I grilled mine on the stove top* in a frying pan.  While cooking, brush with excess marinade.  Flip for even cooking. 

Plate: Position Arnold’s Sandwich Thin on plate.  On the bottom thin, place a stack of caramelized onions, followed by a turkey burger patty, followed by a slice of super sharp cheddar cheese.  Top with Sandwich Thin top.


My thoughts on this burger:
I like a burger whose flavors strong enough that you don’t need additional condiments. As condiment queen, this surprises, and pleases, me.

-I love love love the sweetness of the onions along with the sharpness of the cheddar.  That popcorn man really knew what he was doing when he made that combo.

-The root beer flavor isn’t at all overpowering, yet adds a distinct flavor that I can’t get out of my mind.  I foresee some other root beer infused dishes in my future – pulled pork, perhaps?


Thanks to Arnold’s for a delicious way to experience Chicago, and for inspiring me to sprinkle some Chicago tastes into my own single girl kitchen this week!


*Now may be a good time to admit that my sophomore year of college, I called my mother from my on-campus apartment asking if “making a hamburger on the stove top was even possible.”  You will be happy to know she laughed.



Special thanks to Katie and Shannon for sharing some Chicago photos with me.  xo

18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2010 3:18 pm

    I may be stealing this from you for my dinner tonight. My stomach growled when I saw it. I think that means God wants me to.

    • August 21, 2010 3:31 pm

      Bahaahahahahha- so all those growls were God’s voice? good to kno!

  2. August 21, 2010 3:22 pm

    I am drooling over this recipe! I love turkey burgers. I love caramelized onions. I love cheese. I love root beer. We have a winner!

  3. August 21, 2010 4:06 pm

    This is creative and awesome! I could try this with black bean burgers, too. I ❤ caramelized onions. I'd probably add a bit of spicy mustard b/c I just can't resist the stuff. I hope you win – good luck!

  4. August 21, 2010 4:30 pm

    I’m so proud of your kitchen savvy-ness on this one. 🙂

    When I come visit, can we make rootbeer -infused burgers?

  5. Jenn permalink
    August 21, 2010 5:37 pm

    sounds interesting. I might just try that sometime soon!

  6. August 21, 2010 5:44 pm

    I think you’re going to win! This is SO creative and encompasses so much from your Chicago experience. How could this NOT win?!

    Your pictures are pretty good, too! I thought you weren’t a foodie blogger? 😉

  7. August 21, 2010 8:18 pm

    This burger screams MOUTH WATERING. I think I want make this next week for dinner! Chris just said ” OOOOOH” after I told him the name of the buger!

  8. August 22, 2010 9:14 pm

    Sounds like everybody had a blast at HLS ( maybe one day I can make one) :0)
    Oh that root beer looks tasty- when I was little root beer was my favvvvvv
    And I love me some sandwich thins !

  9. August 23, 2010 2:57 am

    Hi Heather. I have recently discovered your blog and I really love it, so I thought I’d say hi!

    I find what you write really interesting to read and this recipe sounds good. I am trying to write a healthy living blog myself but not in the style of ‘this is what I ate today’. I am finding it quite difficult. Sometimes I think it would be so much easier just to show everyone what I eat! Any tips for a relative newcomer on finding my style and blogging ‘voice’?

    • August 24, 2010 10:04 pm

      Finding your blog voice is something that we spoke a lot about on our HLS panel. I haven’t done a recap of the discussion yet, but be on the look out for my thoughts on the questions we covered soon. and at some point videos of the presentations will be available as well.

      The most important tip i can give you is to remember that it TAKES TIME. my blog has changed A LOT in the last year. Finding the voice you are most comfortable with is a process – don’t be afraid to try new things and step outside of your comfort zone.

      Also – dont feel like you have to blog a certain way, a certain number of times a day/week, or about a certain issue/thought/style. Your blog is YOUR BLOG and that’s what makes it awesome. If we all blogged the same, the community would be REALLY BORING!

      also – check out this post from my friend, Julie. She recently wrote a great post about blog voice –

      I could go ON and ON and ON about this – seriously.

  10. August 23, 2010 2:46 pm

    I’ve called my Mum with similar kitchen questions which may or may not have included, “How do you cook chicken on the stove?”

    Yes, I am challenged when it comes to cooking, too. You are not alone.

  11. RegHastings permalink
    August 31, 2010 5:25 pm

    This turkey burger sounds absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to try and make it. Do you ever make them and freeze them? If so, what’s the best way?

  12. August 31, 2010 8:36 pm

    Congrats! What a creative burger recipe!


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