Archive for February, 2010

Beef Cuts 101

Do you reach the meat case and feel completely overwhelmed?  Or maybe you have a freezer full of Sharpie marked butcher paper that needs to be used in a great meal!  Don’t fear because you can use every cut of beef!  The butcher, with years of practice and skill, cut the meat apart into specific cuts of beef.  It is important to realize that each cut has the best flavor when cooked to its specific needs or when used as a specific ingredient.  Today’s post is dedicated to help you understand how to take advantage of the butcher’s skill!

In talking with a dear friend of, it was brought to our attention the true importance of cooking beef the way it tastes best.  Our friend and Amy’s cousin, Brad Bellah, reiterated our belief that it is important you understand there are choices of beef for every occasion, recipe, taste and budget and they have specific cooking needs!

Ground Beef, most commonly found in the market place and often the beef option most used by consumers, can be used multiple ways.  It can become that great cheeseburger, can be used on pizza, in hamburger steaks, spaghetti, can be seasoned for breakfast sausage, in tacos or burritos, or in breakfast casserole.  The uses of ground beef are endless!  We recommend seasoning it well, draining the fat and cooking it through. 

While it is highly usable, it can become boring.  Don’t be afraid to try other cuts, and don’t assume that because you are on a budget you are limited to ground beef.  In fact catching other cuts on sale or utilizing other cheap cuts of beef can be a more economical option. 

**It is important to note that all ground beef has a different color.  Do not be afraid if it is not cherry red, as meat oxidizes it takes on a brown color.  This is not a bad thing; it will keep its flavor.  Ground beef is perfectly safe if purchased by the purchase date.  Don’t forget that it freezes well too!

Pot Roast, a very welcomed supper on a brisk evening, is best in the oven or a crock pot.  Put this flavorful cut on to cook while you are fixing breakfast and enjoy a delicious and no fuss meal for lunch or supper.  Best with carrots, onions and potatoes, pot roast is a classic!  The fork tender cut may take quite a bit of time to fully cook (depending on size up to 4 hours), so be prepared!  **Note that round roasts can be substituted for pot roasts, so take advantage when round roasts are on sale and pot roasts are not!  A cooked pot roast will freeze excellently making for a great heat and go meal option.

Steaks, possibly what comes to your mind when you think beef, are very often used in the restaurant industry, but can be even more rewarding at home! Keep in mind there is a steak for every budget!  It is merely a matter of being brave and taking a risk, a delicious risk in my opinion. 

It is important not to overcook steaks! That is the surest way to make them bland and boring. Steaks are best when they are cooked medium rare to medium, some people prefer rare and some people medium well. Well done steaks should be banned in our opinion, try it medium well if you must have it dry but please don’t overcook, it will not taste right! Because steaks are not ground up like ground beef, there are not germs inside the steak, allowing for steaks to be eaten rare. You have to sear both sides, but leave the inside to your desired degree of doneness. 

We prefer to lightly season steak, allowing its true flavor to shine.  Try some Montreal Seasoning if you are using a grill, or if you are pan searing, stick to salt, pepper and garlic!  It is important to realize that unlike a chicken breast, which really is just a transporter of whatever sauce it’s served with, steak has its own delicious beef flavor.  Please, please, please do yourself a favor and only season it lightly!

Beef Brisket, often found in  BBQ joints, is best when braised or smoked but can be cooked in the oven.  Often served with BBQ sauce this cut is also processed to make a St. Patrick’s Day tradition, corned beef.  This cut is found primarily in Texas and Oklahoma and if smoked until it is falling apart and tender (which takes many hours) is hard to beat.  You can find pre-cooked brisket on sale often, which makes for a very nice meal on a budget.  Prior to smoking use a rub to season.  Remember to rest prior to slicing and don’t forget to slice against the grain.  **If your first brisket cooking experience does not go as you imagined, take heart, the most experienced beef cooks struggle with brisket from time to time.  

Skirt Steak, great for stir fry or fajitas, is a thin slice of beef found in the meat case.  This very lean cut is best if marinated prior to cooking.  Orange juice, grapefruit juice, Italian dressing or a salt brined are great options for marinated skirt steak.  This will increase tenderness and flavor without removing the beef flavor you love.  If you are rushed, go ahead and use it without a marinade, but trust me, you will enjoy it better marinated.  Slice into strips or chunks, or even grill quickly and enjoy.  ** Note that skirt steak cooks very quickly because it is so thin.  Watch it close and cook it hot and fast.  Remember there is nothing you can do more destructive to beef than to overcook it!

Tri-Tip, a family favorite, can be used at every meal.  This cut, found primarily west of the 100th meridian, is often made into ground beef which is, in my opinion a shame.  Cook it in a barrel, another family tradition, or on the grill.  It is most often sliced, against the grain of course, and served for lunch or supper.  It is also great with eggs for breakfast or in breakfast burritos.  No need to serve with sauce, salt, pepper and garlic prior to cooking will do.  This juicy cut of meat is best when cooked to medium.  **If cooking in a barrel or on a grill, keep in mind some of the seasonings will drip off into the fire, so don’t be shy.  Also it is important to let try tip rest prior to cutting.  Wrap in tin foil and let it sit for a few moments so that when you slice it you don’t lose all your juice.

Stew Beef, homemade stew is hard to beat, is often cut from chuck or round.  A beef stew practically cooks itself.  Another crock pot special!  However, you are not limited to classic stew with stew beef.  You can make hashes, soups, gumbos, kabobs and even cook it like roast in a pan with carrots and onions.  Stew meat is ideal when cut into ¾ to 1 ½ inch cubes.  Cook slowly and simmer for the most tender and flavorful results.  **If you are in a bind and have an abundance of stew beef in the freezer cut it smaller and stir fry it or use it as fajita meat.

I hope that this is helpful!  If you have any questions or need help with ideas give us a shout at  Thank you to for some of the previous information.  For further help, check out Matching Cooking Methods to Beef Cuts Ensures Success, brought to you by American cattle ranching families and The Beef Checkoff.  


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Southwestern Stir Fry

Before I continue with today’s recipe post, I wanted to say a quick, but very heartfelt thank you for all the support Beef on a Budget has received! We are overwhelmed at the amount of viewers who have visited  our site, to date there have been 1133 views with 615 of them being just on Tuesday alone. I want you to know that Anna-Lisa and I are humbled, and appreciate the support of so many industry leaders. Your encouragement has reiterated our belief that this is a unique marketing strategy and is for the benefit of every American Beef Producer. From the cow calf producer to the meat case, increased consumption of this quality, safe and convenient product is our main goal.

I want to take a few moments to highlight a few people that we owe special thank you’s too, Todd McCartney at Working Ranch Magazine, Rachel Williams at Ranch House Design, President Jill Ginn and Desta Crawford of American National CattleWomen, Kalyn Bischoff for use of cited photos, as well as Agricultural Communications and Animal Science professors here at Oklahoma State University. Your belief and blessing of this venture mean more to us than you may realize. Thank you!

Now, let’s spice it up with a new creation making its debut on Beef on a Budget!

Southwestern Stir Fry

This is a new twist on two favorites, fajitas and the typical Asian stir fry. Our guest photographer of the evening, the talented Miss Michelle Jones, aided us in taking pictures while we collaborated on this new recipe’s creation.

Southwestern Stir Fry | Mr. Brown’s Pico de Gallo

Stir Fry you will need:
2 lbs. Sirloin Tip Steak, thinly sliced
2 Colored Bell Peppers (or whatever you have on hand)
1 Chipotle Red Pepper, canned and fire roasted
1/2 Onion
1 T. Minced Garlic (we like in the jar)
¼ cup Cilantro, chopped
1 lemon, squeezed
½ cup Grapefruit Juice
¼ cup Shiner Bock, Texas Brew
Cooked Brown Rice

Step 1. Thinly slice the steak across the grain and combine with grapefruit juice, garlic and cilantro in a large skillet. Cook on med-high heat (if you are using electric, like we unfortunately do, be careful the heat will get away from you!) Below you will find the Nutritinal Facts on the beef we bought today.

Stop 2. Cook for 8 minutes before you add your thinly sliced vegetables and chipotle pepper, cook for another 5 min, because you want your veggies soft, but not falling apart.

Step 3. Right before you remove from heat add your Shiner. Turn off your heat and serve with rice.

Mr. Brown’s Pico de Gallo

My dad is one of the best cooks in the country and he has taught me more about cooking beef than anyone else! His Pico de Gallo is the best you’ve ever tasted, this is my attempt at making it with all the same ingredients, yet I still can’t get it to taste just right, missing his magic touch I’m afraid.

When making Pico de Gallo, a small chop is best. It makes it easier to scoop with a tortilla chips. This is a great appetizer, and be prepared you can NEVER make too much, it does not go bad. That is if you ever have left over’s. It can be double tripled or quadrupled and is good for breakfast, lunch and supper!

1 Onion, fine chop
4 Roma Tomatoes, fine chop
1 Jalapeño (for mild version, cut in half)
½ Bundle of Cilantro
1 large Lime (squeeze and leave in bowl)
Salt and Pepper to taste (he uses a lot of pepper)

Stir, serve early, and expect a crowd! When I get the chance to go home, I ask for Steak and Pico, nothing says home like it!

Anna-Lisa’s Guacamole

My new favorite way to eat this southwest favorite!

3 Ripe Avocados
¼ cup Cottage Cheese (trust me, makes it!)
¼ bundle Cilantro (yes, third times charm!)
1 T. Garlic, fresh or from jar
¼ Onion, fine chop
1 Lemon, squeezed
½ sm. jar Green Chilies’ (if you can get ‘em from New Mexico, they are the best!)

Smash the avocados with a fork or spoon, add the cottage cheese, cilantro, garlic, onion and chilies’ in the bowl you plan to serve it in.  Mix well, add the lemon juice.  Leave the pit of one avocado in the bowl to reduce oxidization.  Serve with chips and enjoy!

Total Cost For 3 People:
Steak : $3.98
Peppers: $3.50
Cilantro: $0.88
Green Chilies’: $.78/2 .39
Onion: $0.68
Jalapenos: $0.95
Rice $0.35
Avocados (on sale) $0.38 * 3 1.14
Cottage Cheese $0.40
Lemons and Limes: $1.00
Tomatoes: $1.74

Total Cost per plate: $5.00

**A dollar stretching favorite of my family, is buying is the new and improved Great Value Tortilla Chips, they are a good buy compared to the more expensive brands, but still have that great taste!

Enjoy being with the ones you love and eat up!

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Steak Convenience

As college girls convenience is key!  We love to cook with beef and enjoy nothing more than a steak.  As we mentioned yesterday in our inaugural post, steak is a comfort food for us.  Any opportunity to sit at the table with a rare steak is more than welcomed.  Another factor that college girls face is cost.  We are on a budget, like many of you, and value our hard earned dollar.  The product name of the steak  that we found at Wal-Mart is distributed by Stampede Meat Inc. and is found in the frozen beef section of your local store. (Next to the frozen hamburger patties) They come individually vacuum sealed in a box of 6 for $8.98.   Two varieties are available, New York Strip and Ribeye. We have not yet tried the New York Strip but we plan to soon.  A reliable source, our friend Ryan Goodman, tried them today and thoroughly enjoyed them.  He is the source of the picture for today’s post.

I don’t think you can even imagine our excitement, when we stumbled across this find!  We were thrilled! So now you too can enjoy a delicious steak at the drop of a hat, just like on the ranch.  It’s this simple, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in lukewarm water in the sink.  Then, grill or pan sear according to your liking.

Cost for box of 6 steaks: $8.98

** It is important not to overcook beef! That is the surest way to make beef bland and boring. Steaks are best when they are cooked medium rare to medium, with some people eating theirs rare and some people medium well. Well done steaks should be banned in our opinion, try it medium well if you must have it dry but please don’t overcook, it will not taste right! Because steaks are not ground up like hamburger, there are not germs inside the steak, allowing for steaks to be eaten rare. You have to sear both sides, but leave the inside to your desired degree of doneness.

Sit down and enjoy a delicious steak produced by families like yours today!

~ Anna-Lisa

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Sunday Steak

Nothing quite says Sunday like steak.  Sunday Dinner is a ranch tradition.  Gather everybody up, sit at the table and enjoy steak and homegrown conversation.  While Amy and I are not on the ranch, the best we can do is get together listen to some great music and enjoy steak at the coffee table.  While driving to my apartment Amy heard this song and we wanted to share it with Y’all so…. Pour  yourself a glass of wine, turn on the music and get in that kitchen!

Drift Off To Dream by Travis Tritt

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Pan seared Steak | Wine & Butter Sautéed Asparagus |
Salad with Balsamic Vinegar

Last week we found an awesome product at Wal-Mart –
vacuumed packed Frozen Rib-eyes, at $9.00 for 6 individually wrapped steaks.

Directions when you don’t have a grill:
1. Two steaks
2. Lawry’s Seasonings
3. 2 tablespoons Butter
4. 2 tablespoons Oil
5. SkilletThaw steaks either in a refrigerator overnight or in warm water until thawed. Heat butter and oil in skillet until hot on medium heat, lay steaks in the skillet not touching Sprinkle with Lawry’s seasoning lightly on one side. Flip when done on one side, sprinkle again with spices. Cook to desired doneness* and plate immediately and eat hot.It is important not to overcook beef! That is the surest way to make beef bland and boring. Steaks are best when they are cooked medium rare to medium, with some people eating theirs rare and some people medium well. Well done steaks should be banned in our opinion, try it medium well if you must have it dry but please don’t overcook, it will not taste right! Because steaks are not ground up like hamburger, there are not germs inside the steak, allowing for steaks to be eaten rare. You have to sear both sides, but leave the inside to your desired degree of doneness.
*Rare – cook 2 min. on each side.
Medium Rare – cook 4 min. on each side
Medium – cook 5 to 6 min. on each side
Medium well – cook 7-8 min. on each side


  1. 1 stick butter
  2. ½ sliced yellow onion
  3. 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  4. Half a bundle fresh asparagus
  5. ½ Cup of red wine (Whatever you have on hand)

In a large saucepan melt ½ the stick of butter.  Add sliced yellow onion and cook down to caramelize.  Add garlic.  Let simmer for about 6 minutes or until the onion starts to caramel.  Break bad ends off of the asparagus (not the tassels) and break in half.  Add to the pan with the onion and garlic.  Add the other half of the stick of butter and let simmer for 10 minutes.  When there are about 3 minutes left add the red wine and let it cook with the asparagus.  Remove from heat and let sit for a minute or two to blend the flavors together.  Enjoy!


  1. 2 Bowls Mixed Greens
  2. 2 Slices Pepper Jack Cheese
  3. Cup of sliced Carrots
  4. ¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds
  5. ½ Cup Chopped Cabbage
  6. ½ Cup of Kidney Beans
  7. 1 Hard Boiled Egg Diced
  8. Balsamic Vinegar To Taste

In a separate bowl combine the sliced carrots, sunflower seeds, chopped cabbage, kidney beans and diced hardboiled egg.  Tear up sliced pepper jack cheese and add to mixture.  Combine with bowls of mixed greens and toss with balsamic vinegar for a refreshing and hearty addition to your meal.

Meal Costs:
Steak: $1.50 a piece ($9.00/6)
Asparagus ½ bundle = $1.00
Butter: 0.37 a stick
Onion ½  = $0.43
Salad: $2.58
Total: $7.38

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