Have you ever given any thought to what type of food you would eat every day of your life if you only had one choice? Or perhaps more specifically, what type of FLAVOR you would crave?
If you were to meander through the meal recipes here you would most likely discover that the bulk of them are probably along the lines of flavors from the Southwest / Mexico / Tex Mex world. Carnitas, enchiladas, tacos, chili, etc. are what I could eat every day and never get tired of it. The flavors of the Southwest are just an absolute party. And when you are completely over winter and in need of some sunshine, heading south in the kitchen is the best bet as far as I’m concerned.
I was recently invited to participate in a recipe challenge from Kraft using their Fresh Take products (#KraftFreshTake). I’ll admit, I hadn’t actually seen the Fresh Take products yet before and had to do some quick research. Once I did, three things happened almost simultaneously — (1) I took the challenge, (2) I started thinking about the flavors and *may* have gone a little wild, and (3) I thought it would be nice if the store had put up a big sign that said “take notice – killer shortcut ahead!”
It’s pretty simple. I love to cook from scratch, but there are certain types of shortcuts with ingredients I don’t mind taking and Kraft’s Fresh Take is perfect for it. I’m generally not going to make my own breadcrumbs, and will most likely have to buy cheese, spices, breadcrumbs and figure out the flavor combination for a particular dish. By the time I’ve either checked to see what spices I have on hand (which unless you use them pretty often can easily lose their impact on you), bought what is needed, plus the other ingredients, it’s easy to see how a grocery bill can get pretty high these days (and easy to understand why so many people don’t bother to branch out in their cooking).
Enter Fresh Take. Did I mention that it comes in a sturdy plastic bag of its own that you can easily just add your protein of choice to and shake to coat, bake it and call it dinner? I seriously love no clean up. It’s all together in one package that only cost around $4 total (and there were coupons right in the store). It has the good, shredded cheese from Kraft already in there, plus specially seasoned breadcrumbs. There are several varieties of the flavors and so, no surprise, when I got to choose my variety, I went for the Southwest Three Cheese. (You may be looking back up at the title and thinking about the fact that the recipe is for a FIVE cheese slider… yeah. I went over the top!)
So the #KraftFreshTake challenge will be a 4 part series here on the blog over the next few weeks including a great giveaway at the end! For my first challenge I received a ‘card’ which included the criteria for my first recipe to brainstorm. The criteria was pretty straightforward. As usual with me, what wasn’t as straightforward was reigning in all the ideas bopping through my head!
Here was my first challenge:
1. Must include one protein other than chicken
2. Meal can be made in 30 minutes or less
3. Have your family help you in the kitchen
What challenged me with this was narrowing things down to what I wanted to do. I’m a little bit of a rebel, which is probably a little hard to believe with how domesticated I am these days, but back in the day I was known to be a bit wild. When you consider I’m married to a guy who jumps out of airplanes for a living it probably gets less surprising.
Anyway, the package for the Southwest Three Cheese says right on the front to use it with Chicken, Pork or Fish…
So, obviously, I chose to use BEEF! Don’t ask me why. But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. The thought process went something like this:
Cheese, spices a little breadcrumbs… that would be good with some ground beef – maybe a meatloaf – no, the kids don’t always like meatloaf.
Oh, but they love burgers! But I’d have to make them small. Sliders! Yeah, sliders. Mmm.
Southwestern… how about some green chiles from New Mexico. Oh! I could mix the green chiles into some cream cheese and STUFF the sliders.
There’s already three cheese – is that overkill? Ah. Who cares if it is!? Might as well further gild the burger and add some sliced pepper jack to melt on top. It’ll seal in the cream cheese. THAT’S FIVE CHEESES IN HERE! It’s a good thing these babies are going to be small-ish.
Hmm. Still thinking about meatloaf… I’ll glaze the burgers before broiling them so they get all saucy in the oven. Then add the pepper jack so it’s all melted.
There should be bacon. There should always be bacon.
So it was dreamed up, and so it was done. Because these sliders are PLUMP I only made 8 sliders from 1 lb of ground beef, which was perfect for our little family. They look deceptively large because of the thickness of the stuffed burger, but the rolls are only about a 3-inch dinner roll so it’s a bit misleading. These were perfect kid, single serving size with a couple for the grown ups. It would be super easy to double up and make more. Add to that that these are fast to mix and make, take only a few ingredients, and can quite literally be mixed and shaped by a child, and this was a winner all around.
And the flavor? OH MY. These were SO good. I can’t even begin to explain and do them justice. Let’s just say that my 9YO non-eater ate two of them and LOVED them.
The beef is tender because of the cheese and breadcrumbs mixed in so it was easier for little mouths to eat. The surprise cream cheese layer inside with a little bit of green chiles mixed in gave the whole thing just a little extra kick of heat, but really weren’t too spicy at all.
Would I make these again? As soon as possible… and probably full size to fit even more of the cream cheese goodness in the center. And I was serious about the child labor help in making these. As far as I’m concerned burgers are one of the best ‘gateway’ meals for kids to learn how to help with. They love playdough and this isn’t much different. So, here Cole shows you the steps (and they may be slightly out of order at the end, but that is mom’s fault!)
Southwest Chile Five Cheese Sliders
For the sliders:
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 package Kraft Fresh Take Southwest Three Cheese
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the cream cheese filling:
- 1 – 3 ounce package Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon chopped canned green chiles
For the glaze:
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used chipotle) (optional)
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar (optional)
Toppings & Assembly:
- 4 slices of Kraft Big Slice Pepper Jack Cheese (or another variety) cut into 8 smaller pieces
- 8 small buns or soft dinner rolls, split in half and buttered lightly for toasting on a pan just before serving
- Cooked bacon, Mayo, Lettuce, etc. for topping
- Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F or your broiler to high.
- In a large bowl combine the ground beef, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and Southwest Three Cheese blend. Use your hands (or you could use a stand mixer) to combine all the ingredients until well combined.
- Scoop into 8 equal portions (about a generous 1/4 cup each) onto a clean work surface and roll into a small, thick patty, about 3 inches and a 1/2 inch thick.
- To make the cream cheese mixture, stir the softened cream cheese together well with about a tablespoon of the chopped green chiles (or more if you want the burgers to be spicier).
- Make an indentation in each slider patty and add about a teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture to the center. Gently squeeze and reshape the patty up and around the cream cheese until it is covered. The finished burger should be roughly the same size as your bun and about a generous 1/2 inch thick.
- Place the stuffed sliders onto a lightly greased baking sheet with a rack or broiler pan.
- In a small bowl make the glaze by stirring together the ketchup and hot sauce (or just use ketchup). Brush the glaze generously onto all of the sliders over the top and sides.
- Place the glazed burgers in the oven about 6-inches from the broiler if using and broil them for 10 minutes (if you are baking them instead let them bake for 15 minutes).
- Remove the pan from the oven and top each burger with a half slice of pepper jack cheese. Return the pan to the oven for another 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and a little crispy (depending on your preference). The total cook time for the burgers should be around 15 minutes under the broiler or 20 minutes baking.
- Assemble the burgers on your toasted (or untoasted) rolls and serve hot.
DISCLOSURE: I was compensated for my participation and the materials and ingredients used in working on the Kraft Fresh Take program and as always my opinions, recipes, and thoughts are 100% my own.