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It’s a little known fact that Andy is actually an awesome cook. A few weeks ago we fed the girls dinner, put them to bed a little early and then Andy cooked dinner for me which we enjoyed out on the porch. He made grilled BBQ salmon from Clean Eating. It was SO yummy!!

Fast Forward to Memorial Day. Trinity’s horseback riding lessons were cancelled and our afternoon suddenly opened up. After a disappointing bout with sickness in our household we decided we would grill something fun to salvage the last of our Memorial Day weekend.

We had some awesome grass fed beef (Given to us by Trinity’s riding trainer. Her sister-in-law has a ranch. Thanks Mary!) so I started perusing slider recipes for inspiration. Most of them looked delicious but (pardon the dork in me) I looked into the calorie count of some of them and they were easily 500 calories….EACH! And who eats only one slider?!

I wanted to make something that felt decadent and tasted like a splurge without actually being over the top on calories and fat. That’s when Andy suggested we use the BBQ sauce he had made for the salmon. Perfect! I decided to modify it slightly to make a Whiskey BBQ sauce, and added a couple of other flourishes to the meal: crispy caramelized onions, and parmesan crisps (this little splurge has only 20 calories!) My final calorie count? Each slider is about 270 calories. If you really want to shave off some more you can eat them open face using half of a bun (215 calories) or protein style, wrapped in some butter lettuce and skip the bun altogether (about 160 calories) but I think eating cute little burgers on cute little buns is kind of the point of sliders.

They were a big hit and I got requests from all three Shaffers to make again (“and again and again” I believe were Trinity’s words!)

This recipe makes 10 sliders.

To make the Crispy Caramelized Onions:

Take your time with these and let them cook for a long time for maximum flavor.

  • 2-3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced

Pour a glug or two or olive oil into a large sautee pan. Heat over medium heat, then add the sliced onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow them to cook slowly for about an hour. Check on them about every 7-10 min and give them a stir. I just let them hang out cooking while I make everything else.

To make Parmesan Crisps:

  • 10 Tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 300*F.

Place grated cheese by tablespoon onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Leave a couple of inches between rounds. Lightly flatten the rounds:DSC_0382

Bake for 5-6 minutes until melted and beginning to brown around the edges.DSC_0383Set aside to cool completely. These will peel right off when you are ready to use.

Make Whiskey BBQ Sauce:


  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 Tbsp good whiskey (We used Scotch) – I used Bourbon the 2nd time we made this and it was far stronger, so you could start with 2 Tbsp and add more to taste depending on what kind you are using.

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside:DSC_0388

Make the Burgers:

  • 1 lb lean grass fed ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tsp Worcestershire sauce (eyeball it)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.

Mix the ground beef with the remainder of the ingredients until combined. Form into 10 patties. I have to level with you, the minced garlic was my intent but I formed the patties and realized I forgot the garlic…so I lightly sprinkled each patty with garlic powder. They were good…so you can go either way.

Coat your grill with cooking spray (remember these are very lean burgers!) Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill burgers 2 1/2 – 3 minutes per side or until desired doneness.

If you so desire (and we did!) toast your buns on the grill. We used whole wheat dinner rolls.

Assemble your sliders:

Spread some BBQ sauce on the bottom portion of your bun.

Place burger on bottom bun, then top with parmesan crisp and dollop with some more BBQ sauce:DSC_0390Add desired amount of crispy onions:DSC_0391Then, if desired (I did, Andy didn’t), top with roughly chopped fresh arugula:DSC_0394Tangy, smokey, BBQ sauce paired with sweet, crunchy onions, a salty parmesan crisp, and that oh-so-good grass fed beef…Now I’m craving these again! I may just have to make them the next time we have company in town (which is pretty soon!) Maybe next time I won’t be in such a hurry to eat and I’ll get some better photos. Maybe. But probably not. đŸ˜‰