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Instead of a cheeseburger, grill a stuffed burger / Renee Comet /USA WEEKEND. Food styling /Lisa Cherk

Tweet with Ellie

Join Ellie Krieger for a Twitter chat about summer food at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, May 29.

Use hashtag #USAWEllie and follow @usaweekend on Twitter.com.

Your Summer Menu

Entrees:
• Cheesy Stuffed Burgers
• Steak and Mushrooms Chimichurri

Sides:
• Colorful Coleslaw
• Creamy Potato Salad

Dessert:
• Grilled Fruit Sundaes

More

Summer meals have a built-in element of relaxed fun. They are leisurely and fuss-free, a chance to take advantage of just-picked produce, fresh air and lingering sunshine. Cooking outdoors over an open flame, whether in your backyard, on the beach or in a park, creates a party atmosphere and adds a smoky aroma and taste that completes the scene perfectly.

But many typical summer dishes, such as fatty meats served with mayonnaise-drenched salads, fail to make the most of the season’s bounty. The good news: You can enjoy cookout favorites in a healthier way, simply by taking a fresh approach to how you prepare them. These five crowd-pleasers — char-grilled steak and juicy burgers, creamy potato salad and coleslaw, and a sweet sundae for dessert are delicious proof.

These burgers are big in every way — big in size, big in flavor and big in wow! factor. By stuffing the meat with high-impact flavors, you get the juicy bun-filler you crave while still using a modest amount of meat and cheese.

Horseradish, Cheddar, and Caramelized Onion-Stuffed Burgers

• 1 Tb. olive oil
• 1 large onion, sliced into half moons
• 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
• 2 Tbs. prepared white horseradish, drained of excess liquid
• ¾ cup lightly packed shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
• ¼ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• Nonstick cooking spray
• 6 whole-wheat hamburger buns
• 6 medium leaves Romaine lettuce, ribs removed
• 2 large tomatoes, sliced
• Ketchup, optional

Heat the oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes more.

In the meantime, shape the beef into 12 small patties, each about 4 inches in diameter. To make a stuffed burger, spread 1 tsp. of the horseradish on to one of the patties. Top that with 2 Tbs. of cheddar cheese and 1 Tb. of the caramelized onions. Top with another meat patty and pinch around the edges of the patties to seal the burger closed. Repeat with the remaining patties. Season the stuffed burgers on both sides with salt and black pepper.

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Cook the burgers until the cheese is melted inside and meat is at desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium doneness.

Don't miss our Twitter chat about summer food with Ellie on May 29 at 1 p.m. ET #USAWEllie.

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Ellie Krieger is host of the The Food Network’s hit show “Healthy Appetite,” which airs on The Cooking Channel. The author of three cookbooks, her latest is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy. A registered dietitian, Ellie has helped out with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and has teamed up with New York City SchoolFood initiative, where she created healthy, delicious menu items for students citywide.