Friday, July 29, 2011

The good kind of greasy

Burgers can be a very healthy option. Grill up some 90 or 95 percent lean ground beef, throw it on a whole-wheat bun and you’ve got a tasty and waistline-friendly meal that’s as good for a cookout as it is for a sit-down dinner for 2.
This isn’t that burger.
This is the burger reminisce of small town cafes, diners, greasy spoons — or for people in my industry, cattle auction markets. Because, you know, sometimes you just want a “greasy-in-a-good-way” indulgence. This burger tastes heavenly and cooks indoors, allowing you to enjoy the air conditioning and the latest episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives while you cook.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Ground chuck, 85/15 or 80/20
Garlic pepper
American, Swiss and cheddar cheese slices
Hamburger buns (I'm loving Sara Lee's Hearty & Delicious Sesame Seed buns right now!)
Butter or spread
Condiments and toppings
Family-size electric griddle

Start by dumping (please excuse my very technically terminology) the ground beef into a large mixing bowl.
Generously sprinkle in some garlic pepper. Mix/mash well, add more garlic pepper and repeat. Do this until all of the meat is well-seasoned.
Form into patties.
Preheat griddle to 350 degrees.
Add patties. Cook until seared on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip.
Add cheese slices (one of each kind of cheese, per burger).
Cook bacon.
Cook hamburgers to 160 degrees for medium doneness, which will take about 8- to 10- more minutes after the flip for a thick, half-pound patty.
Let rest for 3- to 5- minutes.
Butter the insides of hamburger buns. Toast on the griddle so they'll absorb a little burger juice (also known as goodness).
Add patties, bacon and desired condiments and toppings to the toasted buns.
They’ll look like the one below, except ideally less blurry.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ramblings from an absentee blogger

You may have noticed the blog’s been pretty quiet this week. My reason is two-fold: when travelling for work, no kitchen = no cooking; and I’m too cheap to spend $16/day for hotel Internet. (Seriously — why is it that the more expensive, conference-worthy hotels charge exorbitant prices for Internet when the Holiday Inn Expresses of the world — my personal favorite chain — give it away? I digress…)
But, I’m back now, albeit only for a couple of days, and I thought I’d tell you a little about my trip and what I have planned for Make Mine Beef when I return from the next leg of travel, which is Sunday through Tuesday.
Sunday through Wednesday, I was in New Orleans for the Agricultural Media Summit. It was great seeing so many of my communicator friends from across the country, and the sessions were very informative. Of course, New Orleans is a tough town for someone who shares a name with the city’s biggest nemesis, but overall I left unscathed and full of beignets.
While there, I got a lot of questions about this horrible drought, wildfires and cow culling. It’s always great to talk about what’s going on in your part of the world — I just wish I’d had more good news to share!
I live in a small town in Far North Texas, near the Texas-Oklahoma border. We’ve only seen a little more than one-half inch of rain since Nov. 1, have had more than 50 days in a row over 100 degrees or more (many of those days at about 110, and today it got to 116 in the shade of my yard) and have had more than our fair share of wildfires.
Cattle have been brought in to the local auction markets in record numbers, to the point some ranchers were turned away a couple of weeks ago. I moved to this area a little less than 1 year ago when I married the Mr., and just driving around the county it’s easy to see how many fewer cattle graze here than this time last year.
Like many others, I pray for rain daily and do try to remember that every day it doesn’t rain is one day closer to the day it does.
While I may have been an absentee blogger while I was away, the project definitely wasn’t forgotten. I did a little brainstorming on a sauce I’ve been wanting to create, I found a steak recipe in EveryDay with Rachael Ray that I can’t wait to put my own spin on and I even came back to a card from my mom that included a recipe she’d cut out and marked “I bet this would be great with BEEF!”
Needless to say, I think August will be a big month for the blog…and I might just get 1 more post in before the month’s end, between loads of laundry.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Flat iron steak nachos

A couple of weeks ago, I featured Certified Steak and Seafood’s (love them!) Certified Angus Beef flat iron steaks on the blog in this recipe. I still have 4 of their super tender steaks left, so I thought I’d show you just how versatile this economical cut is. Tonight, it's a flat iron with a Tex-Mex twist!

I don’t know about you, but I love nachos. Beef fajita nachos are one of my all-time favorite foods. But, tonight, I’m putting a twist on the dish by substituting sliced flat iron steak as the topper. These would be a great appetizer or snack when you’ve got a bunch of guests over, or a full dinner for 2-3 people.
Here’s what you’ll need:
7 oz. flat iron steak
Fajita seasoning or garlic pepper
Tortilla chips
Mexican blend cheese
Nacho sliced jalapenos
1 can refried beans
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Season the steak with your choice of fajita seasoning or garlic pepper. I used Fiesta fajita seasoning because it’s pretty much awesome on a variety of meats and in a variety of dishes. Grill or pan broil the steak to desired doneness. On average, that’s about 14 minutes on a gas grill or 16-17 minutes in a skillet for medium rare to medium.
Once you get the steak started, pour the vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Add refried beans. Sprinkle in a little cheese. Cook according to package directions or until hot, stirring regularly. (The oil and cheese are optional, but I find they make canned refried beans a little more homemade-tasting.) Note: you could, of course, make homemade refried beans if you've got the time. Or you can omit them all together. Totally your call!
Let the steak rest for about 3- to 5- minutes, and then slice. Cut each slice into halves.
Cover a baking sheet in foil. Spread generously in chips.
Add beans, then steak pieces, then jalapenos, and then finish with lots of cheese.
Pop in the oven and broil until cheese is good and melted, rotating the pan once if needed.

Serve with pico de gallo, sour cream and/or salsa if desired.
They’ll look like this:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ask Make Mine Beef: Part one

Since the launch of Make Mine Beef back in May, I’ve received quite a few questions about beef, the cattle industry and my cooking. I love that! I’m always happy to answer questions — and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does!
From time to time, I’ll choose a couple of the most-asked or recently-asked questions and post the questions and answers on the blog. After all, I’m a firm believer that if one person has a question, someone else probably has the same one.
So, let’s get to the first edition of Ask Make Mine Beef!
Q:  Do you eat beef every day?
A:  Almost. Probably, on average, I eat beef about 6 days per week.
Q:  Do you eat so much beef out of obligation, because you work in the industry?
A:  Absolutely not. I grew up eating a lot of beef, and just never really quit. I love the taste and versatility, and lean beef is much more satisfying (and gives me more energy) than comparable lean meats. While I do feel even better about choosing beef because of my occupation and the hard-working ranchers I’ve made friends with along the way, it’s not the only factor in my purchasing decisions.
Q:  Do you have a favorite dry rub for steaks? What about a marinade?
A:  As regular Make Mine Beef readers know, my go-to seasoning for beef is garlic pepper. However, when I’m not using garlic pepper to season my steaks or burgers, I’m usually using the Perini Ranch Rub, developed by the legendary Tom Perini.
As for a favorite marinade, it depends what I’m making. If I’m marinating flank steak or a sirloin for fajitas, quesadillas or nachos, I use my own blend of oil, lime juice and garlic. (For the specifics, see this recipe.) But, if I’m marinating a roast or a sirloin to eat traditionally, I’m a big fan of Weber Grill Creations Black Peppercorn Marinade.
Have a question for Make Mine Beef? Comment below or send an e-mail to!

Monday, July 18, 2011

WebLove: Men’s Health Mythbuster

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a feature story from the latest issue of Glamour that praised hamburgers as the best pick at the barbecue. Today, I was glad to see the guys are getting the good news, too, in Men’s Health’s 15 Biggest Nutrition Myths,” which I saw today via Fitbie.

And if that’s not enough reason to add more beef to your diet, keep these facts in mind:
  • Lean beef is an easy, low-calorie way to get the nutrition you need, including nearly 50 percent of your daily protein and 10 essential nutrients necessary for a healthy, active lifestyle.
  • A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides all of the essential amino acids you need in about 150 calories on average. The same effect from plant protein requires 2- to 3- times more servings and many more calories.
  • There are more than 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean, such as the tenderloin, T-bone steak and 95 percent lean ground beef.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sonora casserole

This Tex-Mex casserole is a family recipe that’s inexpensive to make and will feed a group (or allow for plenty of leftovers).
You’ll need:
2 pounds ground beef
1 chopped onion (Can use frozen)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small can evaporated milk
1 small can chopped green chiles
1 pound grated American cheese
12 corn tortillas, torn into quarters

Brown the ground beef.
Add onion, soups, evaporated milk and green chiles and stir well.
In a disposable giant lasagna-sized pan or glass casserole dish, layer tortillas, meat mixture, and then cheese. Repeat.
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Flat iron steaks with garlic butter sauce

This blog post is brought to you by… Seriously, this is a sponsored blog post on Make Mine Beef! I know — I couldn’t believe it either. But even after informing the super nice people at Certified Steak and Seafood (CSS) that “I’m not a real foodie” (as if that isn’t obvious to anyone who has read my blog) and am “just a cattle industry writer who really believes in the product and people behind it”, they still wanted to support my little blog by providing the Certified Angus Beef brand steak for tonight’s recipe.

And, for the record, I was a big fan of theirs even before they contacted me offering product. They share some awesome steak and seafood recipes via Facebook and have some great products available on their website. (And, if that weren't enough to send you to their site, they might just be having a 50 percent off sale on Prime Certified Angus Beef right now!)
But, back to the kitchen…
A few weeks ago, I mentioned the flat iron steak with garlic butter sauce I enjoyed at a New Braunfels, Texas, restaurant while travelling for my job. Since then, I’ve wanted to duplicate that dish and the product from CSS gave me the perfect opportunity to try. I think it was a big success, and would love to share it with you. (And, if you haven’t yet tried the flat iron, I highly recommend it. It’s the second most tender cut of beef and an extremely economical way to enjoy Choice or better beef. It also has lots of flavor.)
I served 4 tonight, so the ingredients will vary from my usual dinner-for-two posts.
4 flat iron steaks
Garlic pepper
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
To make the steaks:
Season steaks generously with garlic pepper.
Spray cold grill with non-stick spray.
Preheat grill to medium heat.
Cook the steaks about 6- to 8- minutes on each side. While they are cooking, add butter and garlic to a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally, cooking for about 10 minutes.
Remove steaks from grill and brush with the garlic butter mixture. Spoon a few garlic chunks onto each steak. Let steaks rest about 3- to 5- minutes. Slice if desired. I served ours with grilled sourdough bread and The Pioneer Woman’s roasted potato wedges, which have quickly become a favorite around here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A salute to my No. 1 kitchen "helper"

Those of you who regularly read Make Mine Beef no doubt have heard me mention the Mr. But you likely haven’t heard about the other being we share our home with — the one who’s always helping me keep an eye on dinner (you know, just in case something were to hit the floor by mistake).
Meet Deuce. We’ve lived in 5 different cities and travelled many miles together during her 8 years of life!

Today is Deuce’s birthday, so what better time to introduce her to you guys?
Deuce loves when I cook bone-in steaks for the Mr. and me, because that means she gets to enjoy a frozen bone the next day. She rarely gets human treats, but when she does, her favorites are popcorn and Cheetos.
She likes car rides, though she rarely stays awake more than 5 miles.
She likes pillows, and has been known to steal one to rest her head on.
She dislikes when cats wander up on our front porch.
Her nemesis is the vacuum cleaner.
I’ll leave you with a few more pics of Deuce, because, well, I take a lot of pictures!
All dressed for a rare snowy day in Texas!

Oh, now I remember green grass!

One of my favorites. Taken with actual black and white film!

A long time ago - Deuce was a puppy and I was (almost) a blonde!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WebLove: Skinny chicks eat beef

For a girl who happily tramples through pastures photographing cattle for a feature story and whose Facebook photos often show me sporting a baseball cap advertising either my alma mater, a sports team or the name of a drug administered to livestock, I’m still relatively girly. I am a total Sephora junkie, I love a good pedicure with a friend and my rain boots (haven’t needed those in awhile!) are zebra print. So, yes, I subscribe to Glamour.
And this month I couldn’t be happier to see lean beef getting props in their story, “The Summer Foods Even Skinny Chicks Eat” and I just knew I had to share it.
What are some of your favorite summertime foods?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beer biscuits

I love beer bread. But, let's face it, sometimes usually you just don't have time to make an actual loaf of the good stuff. But beer biscuits made with Bisquik? Those can be made in about 20 minutes!

I originally got this recipe off of a hand-written card out of one of my mom’s recipe boxes that pre-dates my existence. Recently, however, I saw the same recipe online and it reminded me I just had to make these bad boys sometime soon. I served them with last week's steak and potato kabobs.

Here’s what you’ll need to make about 8 biscuits:

2 cups Bisquick
¼ cup sugar
6 ounces beer
1 tablespoon melted butter
Muffin tin, greased or lined with muffin cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix ingredients together and pour into muffin tin. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

(By the way, I had a picture of these, but it seems I accidentally deleted it off of my phone. Just know they looked good but tasted even better.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fun Fact Friday: Biggest grilling day of the year

Today’s fun fact relates to the upcoming holiday weekend. Did you know the 4th of July ranks as the No. 1 grilling day of the year (with Memorial Day close behind)?
For some great grilling tips, be sure to visit this page.

Here’s wishing you and your families a happy and safe holiday weekend. And since I hate  writing pictureless blog posts, I’ll leave you with an Independence Day-appropriate photo of the Mr. and me, courtesy of McGowan Images.