By Elesha Ergle, RDN
Changing colors. Changing seasons. Changing wardrobes. Hallmark Christmas movies. Pumpkin-spice everything.
It’s that time of year where we embrace the coming of fall and winter holidays and the going of yet another year. Most of us cattle farmers in Alabama are done with calving season for the year and are busy preparing our herd to be bred back for fall calving next year while others prepare for spring calves soon to arrive.
While Thanksgiving may be dubbed “Turkey Day,” as a beef producer and dietitian, I wanted to change it up a bit and highlight some amazing, nutritious ways we can use beef during this holiday season. Let’s try some new things, bring up some memories and maybe even start some new traditions!
Baby, It’s Cold Outside!
In Alabama we may or may not experience a cold winter…but when it’s cold, it’s COLD (to us Southerners anyway). When the cold weather starts to come, there’s always the first pot of chili. Whether it’s stove top, pressure cooker or in a slow cooker, a good, hearty chili is the love language that will warm you up from inside out. Most of us have a chili recipe we love that might spark a childhood memory or two…maybe it’s grandma’s recipe, or maybe you remember it from your first Iron Bowl tailgate. I love to make chili in an electric pressure cooker (EPC) and keep it warm in a slow cooker as the flavors continue to marry. If you’re like us and have plenty of frozen ground beef, use you’re EPC to thaw and cook. Place the frozen meat (approximately one pound) in the EPC along with about one inch of water. Close the lid and seal, pressure cook on high for 22 minutes. Quick release the pressure and drain water. Turn the EPC on sauté, chop the meat into crumbles and continue cooking to 160 degrees. Now all you have to do is add the other ingredients and your chili will be ready to go! Don’t have a good chili recipe? Give this easy Chili Recipe from Beef It’s What’s For Dinner a try!
Cooking for a Crowd
Before sitting down to celebrate “Turkey Day,” as family starts to pile in, get a hearty pot of beef stew together. Whether you like the ease and quick cooking of the EPC or cooking it low and slow in the slow cooker, greet your family with the smell of a home-cooked beef stew. If you decide to go the EPC route, this recipe from Family Fresh Meals is a great one to try. Taste of Home has a great slow cooker Beef Stew recipe that you will want to use over and over again. I love to serve beef stew with a good crusty bread to top off a quick and easy meal. Stock your pantry with ingredients for these recipes and maybe even some disposable bowls for easy clean up! You can grab a quick bowl of stew while you’re still prepping items for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Day meal.
It’s Thanksgiving Day. Your mom cooks the turkey, your grandma makes the dressing, Aunt Betty makes the pies. What are YOU bringing to the table? These easy beef recipes will give you time to sit down and watch the Macy’s parade or check the Black Friday sale papers. Try this easy One-Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes Supreme in your EPC. Put everything in your EPC and let it do all the work. One-pot means little to no mess, which is a win-win if you ask me! Start a new Thanksgiving mac and cheese tradition with this Slow Cooker Beefy Mac and Cheese that you will want to add to your regular recipe collection or add a Shepherd’s Pie to the Thanksgiving spread that even the pickiest of kids will love! Set it and forget it in the slow cooker to have an easy, beefy and delicious dish that is sure to please even the biggest turkey lover.
Lasso Those Leftovers
The day after Thanksgiving is a coveted day for many. I have been Black Friday shopping one time…but never again. I have tons of friends who will deny themselves sleep and maybe even throw a punch to get a hand mixer for $5. Not me. I opt to stay home, watch a Christmas movie, shop online or go hunting. Whether you’re planning your shopping strategy or getting your camouflage ready on Black Friday Eve, look ahead to the morning with this easy slow cooker Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole recipe from Pillsbury, substituting the bacon for a pound of cooked Basic Beef Country Breakfast Sausage. Using lean beef instead of bacon will lower the fat and calorie content as well as giving it that beefy protein boost. Loaded with flavor and protein, it will be the perfect fuel after a long morning of power shopping, decorating or hunting.
War Eagle, Roll Tide
The end of Black Friday marks a State of Alabama tradition in two words…Iron Bowl. Those words inevitably stir up some sort of memory in all of us. It is said that we Alabamians declare at birth whether we will yell “War Eagle” or “Roll Tide.” My brother and I grew up in a house divided. As much as my parents loved each other, the Iron Bowl was the time that my dad was on one side of the house and mom on the other. With Eli Gold on the radio and televisions muted, watching the Iron Bowl was always fun no matter what side of the house we were on. My mom loved to cook, and beef was often a staple of our Iron Bowl gatherings. Beef is the perfect food for the Iron Bowl, providing 12 percent of our daily value of iron per 3-oz serving.
What beefy foods do you think about for the Iron Bowl? How about some beefed up cheese dip? Give this Slow Cooker Cheese Dip a try at your next tailgate- it is sure to be a keeper. Beef up your Iron Bowl party with this amazing recipe for Brisket Cowboy Nachos. Cook the brisket in a slow cooker instead of the oven and hold on low. Set up other toppings and ingredients for a delicious beefy nacho buffet that your friends will want a repeat for the playoffs. Finally, what could be better for the Iron Bowl than using some flat iron steaks!? Flat iron steaks are packed with flavor and plenty of protein to keep you going through the entire game. This recipe for Slow Cooker BBQ Flat Iron Steak Sandwiches will be your new Iron Bowl tradition. Serve as suggested on a hoagie roll, or grab some Hawaiian sweet rolls to serve in smaller portions for your guests to graze during the big game.
While the holidays are usually a time of indulging and often associated with packing on the pounds, you can cut down on calories and increase your intake of protein, vitamins and minerals by using lean beef. Lean beef is a protein powerhouse that provides 25 grams of protein per 3-oz serving with only 173 calories.
So let’s get this season started by grabbing some of these great beef recipes or visit Beef It’s What’s For Dinner for even more recipes and learn all about beef from pasture to plate. Happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Iron Bowl and Fall Y’all!