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A burger so full of flavor, you don't need a bun - Carb Check Diet

A burger so full of flavor, you don't need a bun

By Mike Thayer

A bun doesn't make or break a great burger, the meat does.

Here's a recipe that makes for a great burger, a patty so full of flavor, not only is the bun not required, neither is lettuce, tomato or other toppings.....

Sweet Heat Burgers


  • One pound of Sweet Italian sausage
  • One pound of 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Buffalo Wing cheddar cheese


In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  If you can't find shredded Buffalo Wing cheddar cheese at your favorite grocery store, regular sharp shredded cheddar and some Louisiana Hot Sauce is a nice substitute.  Form meat mixture into patties.  When your grill is ready to receive, place the patties over the hot spot to get those great grill marks and a good sear. Keep the lid off and watch for any flare ups. When you see red juices flowing to the top of the patties, flip those burgers over to the lower heat side of the grill and get ready to put the lid on. Before ‘lidding‘, place some butter and garlic in a grill safe dish to melt down on the low heat side of the grill next to those great smelling burgers. Check after about five minutes. The garlic butter should be melted and the burgers should be about ready. For well done burgers, wait to see the juices run clear.  Top burgers with the garlic butter just before plating.

It's another dose of YUM!


Bachelor on the Cheap: Easter ham for breakfast

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Ham and eggs for breakfast, it's another dose of YUM!

Whether it's an Easter ham you made for yourself or leftovers from Mom or a restaurant, you've got a foundation for a great breakfast!

 This morning I opted for a quick ham fried rice.  I chopped up the leftover ham, some onion, fried up the rice (TIP:  Fried rice always turns out better when you use cooked rice that's been chilled in the fridge) and onion until it starts to get that crispy edge, then tossed in the ham and a couple lightly scrambled eggs.  Topped with a little American cheese and salted and peppered to taste and I created a scrumptious breakfast that only took about 10 minutes to prepare and cost around $1.

Re-purposed, delicious leftovers, you can't beat that with a stick!



Bachelor on the Cheap: Fried Rice

by Mike Thayer

Veggie stir fryIf you have some rice in the pantry and just about any kind of veggie and/or leftover meat in the fridge, you can create some rocking fried rice. 

Rice + meat + veggie + an egg = YUM!  And for pennies! 

Leftover steak?  Chop it up, make fried rice.  Leftover pork chop?  Chop it up, make fried rice.  Leftover chicken breast?  Chop it up, make fried rice.  Heck, got some lunch meat?  Chop it up, make fried rice!

There is no reason to pay the $$$ for Asian take out when you've got a decently stocked pantry, a few veggies on hand and some leftovers. 

The key to good stir fry of course, is to have all your ingredients chopped and ready to throw in the pan and knowing WHAT to throw in at what time and on some high heat.....  The beauty of this recipe is that you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand.  Be flexible with it.


  • One cup rice
  • Two cups water
  • One tab of butter
  • Tablespoon, vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces of leftover meat or fish
  • 5-6 baby carrots, sliced Julienne (like match sticks)
  • 4-5 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 green onions, rough chopped
  • Tablespoon, soy sauce
  • Tablespoon garlic powder
  • Tablespoon chicken boullion powder
  • teaspoon hot sauce (your favorite brand)
  • One egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Melt the tab of butter in a medium sauce pan, add the rice, half the garlic powder and chicken bouillon powder, saute for about a minute, then add the water.  Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 20 minutes.  While that rice is cooking, chop up the veggies and leftover meat.  A few minutes before the rice is done, fire up the wok or a large non-stick skillet on high heat.  Once the wok/skillet is hot, add the veggie oil.  Give it 30 seconds, then put in the carrots, mushrooms, meat and let those sizzle for about a minute.  Next, add half the rice and the remaining garlic powder, let sizzle for another minute, giving some of that rice a nice crispy 'edge.'  Next, add the green onion and stir fry for about another minute.  Add the rest of the rice and all remaining ingredients, stirring constantly, for about another minute.  The goal here is tender crisp vegetables and a lightly (but done) scrambled egg.  Salt and pepper to taste.

This is a very satisfying dish, both for the stomach and the wallet.  Enjoy!



Popcorn Shoppe

Popcorn Shoppe

Popcorn Shoppe, in North Liberty, IA, is the area's premier popcorn store serving all of Coralville, Iowa City and the surrounding areas since 2010. We have over 70 flavors of popcorn, including carmel corn, kettle corn, and custom mixes of popcorn. We also sell old fashioned candy, handmade fudge, salt water taffy, custom gift packages and more! Come visit Popcorn Shoppe in North Liberty for all your gourmet popcorn needs!

Popcorn Shoppe Display

We carry a large variety of candies that are sure to satisfy any craving!  Our stock changes regularly so be sure to stop in often!  We even stock hard-to-find, nostalgic candies, sure to bring back memories of your childhood!

We also carry a large variety of homemade scrumptious fudge.  We make several flavors sure to cure your sweet tooth!

Looking for that perfect gift?  Gift baskets and popcorn tins are a wonderful way to show someone you care!  We have a large collection of baskets and tins available.  Let us create something special for you!  Contact us for more details

Popcorn Shoppe
Located in Penn Landing
725 Pacha Parkway, Suite 4
North Liberty
PH: 319-665-2297


Carb Check Diet: Day 3 menu - eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper

By Mike Thayer

Always try to make breakfast your biggest meal of the day.  The purpose is to refuel your body after a period of sleep, giving you the rest of the day to burn those calories.  And if you are going to eat carbs, in the morning is the time to do it. 


  • 3 eggs any style
  • 6 thin slices of deli ham
  • Two slices of American cheese

This is a go-to breakfast for me, delivering about 36 grams in protein and just 6 grams in carbs to your body.


  • 6 - 8 baby carrots
  • One Tablespoon Ranch dressing, dash of seasoning salt

This snack has crunch and that satisfying savory taste of Ranch!   There's not a whole lot of protein in this snack, but it is satisfying nonetheless delivering about 1 gram in protein and 9 grams in carbs.  Cumulative total breakfast & snack:  37 grams in protein and 15 grams in carbs.


  • 6 ounces of tuna salad
  • 2 Romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

It's a tuna salad wrap providing you with 26 grams in protein and about 5 grams in carbs.  Cumulative total for the day is 63 grams in protein and 20 grams in carbs.


  • 1/2 cup of whole milk cottage cheese

Don't do the 2% or the 'low fat', they won't keep you full until dinner, there isn't as much good fat and that also means not nearly as much flavor.  That's the key to cottage cheese, most folks have only tried the so-called 'low fat' varieties and they think that's what cottage cheese is supposed to taste like, hence the 'boring diet food' label.  Natural fat is good fat!  Get into that mindset.  EAT THE REAL DEAL and topped with a little black pepper, cottage cheese is delicious!  This snack delivers 12 grams of protein and 4 grams in carbs.  Cumulative total for the day is 75 grams in protein and 24 grams in carbs.


  • 3 all beef hot dogs, prepared any style with a side of yellow mustard

This is a no nonsense dinner on a pauper budget, providing 18 grams in protein and 3 grams in carbs.    Cumulative total for the day is 93 grams in protein and 27 grams in carbs.

Now THAT is a royal day!



Grilling Good Eats: Season your hot dogs

By Mike Thayer

Do you just throw hot dogs on the grill, as is?


You don't throw hamburgers on the grill unseasoned right?  You probably at least put some salt and pepper on those patties, perhaps some seasoning salt before placing them over the coals.

When it comes to steak, chops, or chicken, again, you're probably hitting them with salt and pepper, if not a dry rub or a marinade before grilling.

So why aren't you doing the same thing with hot dogs?

Kick things up a notch.  Hot dogs are great grill fare and a go-to for many folks, so they deserve the same attention you would give that steak, chop, chicken breast or burger.

I don't put naked hot dogs on the grill.  My go-to is to dress them first with olive oil and seasoning salt or my signature dry rub.  It just makes for a better bite!

A salted and peppered hot dog on a bun with all the condiments is better than a naked hot dog on a bun with condiments.  The salt and pepper embraces and enhances the charcoal flavor.  An olive oil and dry rubbed hot dog is even better!   Mrs. Dash is a great alternative if you're worried (paranoid... just drink more water) about sodium levels. 

Dressing alternatives: 

  • Brush on some BBQ sauce, before putting them over the coals
  • Hit them with mustard, any variety
  • "Frost" them with Sriracha, for a hot link kind of bite
  • Marinade them in soy or Terriyaki for some Asian flare (Excellent with shredded Napa cabbage, pickled carrots and cilantro)

Play with the flavors, half the fun in grilling!


Looking Forward to Competition Barbeque

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that I am now a Certified Competition BBQ Judge and member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Being a Certified Barbeque Judge means not only that I get to taste award-winning barbeque.... I get to help determine which barbeque wins those awards. It's about America's cuisine - barbeque! Grading world-class chicken, pulled pork, ribs and brisket, does it get any better than that?

~ Mike Thayer


McDonald's Quarter Pounders will soon be made of fresh beef

Hoping to bring back diners who left in droves in search of tastier food, McDonald's announced Thursday that it will start making one of its signature hamburgers, the Quarter Pounder, with fresh beef patties.

The announcement follows executives' admissions earlier this month that "hundreds of millions" of visits had been lost by once-loyal customers who drifted away in search of better quality, convenience and value. By embracing fresh beef for its Quarter Pounders, McDonald's seeks to head off Wendy's, a traditional rival, which likes to emphasize its usage of the fresh, not frozen, beef. It's also edging closer to the so-called better-burger chains, like Five Guys and Smashburger.

The changeover from frozen beef in the Quarter Pounder will begin next year in a majority of the U.S. restaurants at the nation's largest fast-food chain.