Dinner is the perfect time for families to reconnect and enjoy a nourishing meal, but when evenings are hectic, firing up the range can seem daunting. While people often turn first to non-perishable pantry staples in a pinch, a well-stocked freezer also can inspire convenient, easy-to-prepare meals.
Many Americans’ freezers are full of versatile, flavorful possibilities for dinner, such as beef. In fact, 60 percent of consumers purchase enough beef to store in their freezers and use later. So, it’s helpful to know that when coupled with some basic pantry ingredients, a roast, steaks or ground beef — after defrosting in the refrigerator — are convenient building blocks for a great-tasting dinner.
According to Dave Zino, executive chef of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, consumers can customize their beef by turning to what’s already in their pantries, such as spices, seasonings and other ingredients to create a marinade or rub.
“Marinades and rubs not only add flavor to beef, but with the right ingredients, marinades also can be helpful in making some steaks more tender,” says Zino.
He offers these tips for getting the most from the beef you have on hand:
Know your cut
• Tenderizing marinades are very helpful for steaks such as top round, flank, and eye round. When tenderizing, marinate for at least six hours but no more than 24 hours.
• Tender cuts such as tenderloin or T-Bone only need to be marinated for 15 minutes to two hours to soak up the flavor.
Open up the pantry
The ingredients you need to easily mix up a marinade are often ones you have on hand.
• A tenderizing marinade contains acidic ingredients as a base, like lemon or lime juice, vinegars or wine.
• A marinade or rub that’s meant to add flavor often uses oil, mustard or soy sauce as a base.
• Allow a quarter to half a cup of marinade for each one to two pounds of beef.
Mix it up
Make your own dry rubs by combining your favorite herbs, spices and other dry seasonings from your pantry.
• Apply a rub for at least 15 minutes, but no more than two hours.
• Rubs not only add flavor, but they can also help seal in juices and form a delicious crust.
For some mealtime inspiration and more on beef marinades, recipes, storage guidelines and cooking tips, visit BeefItsWhatsforDinner.com.
Balsamic Marinated Steak and Asparagus
Marinade time: 15 minutes to 2 hours; total recipe time: 25 minutes; makes 4 servings.
4 beef round (sirloin) tip side steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 8 ounces each)
1 pound fresh asparagus
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup prepared balsamic vinaigrette
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
Combine marinade ingredients in small bowl. Remove and reserve two tablespoons. Place steaks and remaining marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn steaks to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes to 2 hours.
Place asparagus in shallow microwave-safe dish; add half a cup water. Cover and microwave on HIGH 3 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain asparagus. Add reserved two tablespoons marinade to asparagus; turn to coat. Set aside.
Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade. Place steaks on grid/grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 12 to 14 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees) doneness, turning once. (Do not overcook.)
During last 3 minutes of grilling, arrange asparagus on grid/grill around steaks; grill 2 to 3 minutes, turning once. Season steaks and asparagus with salt and pepper.
Courtesy of The Beef Checkoff — BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com
Pump up nutrition
Spring is here and so is National Nutrition Month, a great time to start eating right and exercising outdoors. A cornerstone of healthy meal plans are foods containing whole grains, which are known to reduce heart disease, help to sustain healthy weight and demonstrate a reduced risk in certain cancers.
According to data published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, today’s youth are consuming less than one serving of whole grains per day, which is far less than the recommended three daily servings.
The data goes on to say that lack of access to whole grains at home and at school has led to this consumption shortfall. Registered dietitian Michele Powers says, “Although everyone wants to be healthy and feel great, many people struggle with the common perception that serving whole grains has to come at the expense of flavor and satisfaction, but that is just not true. With the right recipe, whole grains are an easy way to get nutrition into a family meal.”
With only a single gram of fat per serving, Uncle Ben’s Boil-In-Bag Whole Grain Brown Rice provides 100 percent of the daily whole grain recommendation in just one serving. It’s the perfect base to a meal. Just add flavorful ingredients, such as ground chicken or black beans, to brown rice for an easy, healthy meal solution. Additionally, according to researchers, continually providing kids with whole grain tasting opportunities can help enhance their taste preference for that food.
Below is a kid-friendly, heart healthy and easy whole grain dish to add to your menu: Chicken and Brown Rice Sloppy Joes. Find other delicious and healthy recipes at www.UncleBens.com.
Heart Healthy Chicken and Brown Rice Sloppy Joes
Preparation time: 5 minutes; cooking time: 18 minutes; makes: 6 sloppy joes (1 per person)
1, 2-cup bag Uncle Ben’s Boil-In-Bag Whole Grain Brown Rice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup water
6 whole wheat hamburger buns
Prepare rice as instructed on box.
While rice is cooking, begin making sloppy joes.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add chicken. Stir to separate meat and then add onions, green peppers, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until meat is cooked and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
In measuring cup or small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar and a quarter cup water.
Once rice is cooked, drain and add to skillet. Add liquid ingredients into meat and rice mixture and stir well to combine all ingredients. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes to meld flavors.
Serve between whole wheat buns.
Source: Uncle Ben’s
Salt sense for deli lovers
Love the taste of deli meats and cheeses but wonder how it fits into a salt sensible lifestyle? The answer is, easily! Like much of the advice regarding the food we eat — from fats to sugars to salt — most nutrition experts will agree that the best approach to healthful eating is moderation. One of the ways that food lovers have found to live within health organization guidelines of no more than 2,400 milligrams of salt per day is by selecting lower sodium foods that offer great taste and by making wise choices when adding seasonings.
Today, consumers concerned about salt have a wide range of lower sodium fare to choose from for appetizing, satisfying and nutritious meals. Boar’s Head, makers of quality deli meats, cheeses and condiments, has long offered a range of meats and cheeses that are no salt added, low sodium, lower sodium, and even gluten free that provide delicious deli flavor as well as essential protein and nutrients. These lower sodium products make it possible to still enjoy the taste and convenience of deli ingredients in salads, sandwiches, and other mealtime favorites.
Skip the salt, turn up the taste
• Perk up any recipe with the zest of citrus or a splash of fruit juice.
• Flavor sandwiches, salads, side dishes and casseroles with dried fruits such as cranberries, raisins, apricots and blueberries.
• Sprinkle roasted seeds and nuts onto foods for added texture and rich taste.
• Grind spices over food for a fresh shot of flavor.
• Wake up any dish with hot peppers or flavor-filled, dried vegetables such as sun-dried tomatoes.
For more product information, as well tips on salt sensible eating, visit boarshead.com/lower_sodium.php.
Chicken Pizza with Roasted Peppers
Makes 6 servings
Although most pizza sauces are high in sodium, this recipe uses roasted bell peppers and lower sodium chicken and blue cheese for an entirely new taste in pizza that’s long on flavor and less on salt.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large leek, sliced
1, 12-inch prepared pizza crust
3/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 pound, quarter-inch thick julienned Boar’s Head Golden Classic Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Chicken Breast
1/2 cup Boar’s Head 28% Lower Sodium Creamy Blue Cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons dried basil, plus fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In large skillet melt butter over medium heat and sauté leeks until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes.
Place pizza crust on a non-stick baking sheet. Layer peppers around pizza, leaving about a three-quarter-inch border. Add leeks, chicken, and top with cheese. Sprinkle with dried basil and bake 15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese melted. Add fresh basil leaves if desired.
Source: Boar’s Head
Courtesy of Family Features