Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beef. It's What's For Dinner Wednesdays!

Not too long ago, I was struggling with really low iron levels. Really low. For months I was under doctor's orders to eat beef as much as possible. After about a week I realized that I only had a handful or so of really good beef recipes. Thus began the challenge to find new recipes to incorporate more red meat into my diet. I really wish I would have found this next recipe back then. It would have been on our menu A LOT.

Today's recipe came to me in a different way: it sought me out. And now as I share it with you, there is a delightful bonus. Let me explain...

I recently received an invitation to join a group of 6 other bloggers to participate in a project called "It's What's For Dinner Wednesdays" and anyone and everyone are welcome to join us! Each week a new recipe will be announced on their Facebook Fan Page and posted on the "Beef. It's What's For Dinner" web site. You can follow the recipe exactly, or use it as an inspiration or jump off point for your own meal idea. By participating, you will have the chance to win a Beef Grilling Gift Bag (which includes The Healthy Beef Cookbook, a set of Crate & Barrel Grilling Tools, Sur La Table mini steak thermometers, a reusable shopping bag and other items to help you shop for and cook healthy beef meals.) Check out all of the contest details on their discussion page.

This week's recipe is Cajun Beef Southwestern Salad. I confess that I had never cooked nor eaten anything with the word "cajun" in it and I was (more than) a little nervous. The idea of the steak salad with a refreshing orange dressing was appealing to me however, so this is what we had for dinner tonight!

(a little note to my lunch-ladies friends: Please do not try this recipe. I'll make it for you next time I host lunch. Promise. It's even gluten-free!)

Ah-mazing! I didn't follow the recipe exactly though, so let me tell you what I did. First of all, I didn't use a store bought cajun seasoning, but instead made my own (I'll add it below). I also substituted peaches for the figs (as it helpfully suggests on the recipe site). I did caramelize them, but next time I won't bother. Fresh peaches would be just fine. Also, I didn't want to bother tracking down blood oranges, so 3 regular oranges did the trick. Instead of thinly slicing the red onion, I cut thick slices, left the rings intact, and grilled those along side of the steak. Then before serving, I cut them up into smaller pieces. Perfecto! It sweetens them up and takes a little of the oniony bite out of them. I'll do that again next time.

The only other change I made was to not use the blue cheese. I didn't have it on hand and I hate-hate-hate running to the store for just one or two ingredients (unless it's something absolutely necessary like ice cream.) If your family is not a fan of blue cheese, you could try substituting Queso Fresco or a Feta, or just omit it.

We loved this salad. The steak is a bit spicy and adds a heartiness to the salad, while the orange dressing keeps it refreshing. Mr. Dinner's on Me requested we have it again next week. Fine with me! Give it a try, put your own twist on it and participate in the giveaway!

Oh and here's a list of the other participating bloggers. Be sure to visit them and check out their take on each week's recipe!

Kristin @ Dine and Dish
Aggie @ Aggie's Kitchen
Amy @ Dinner's for a Year and Beyond
Tiffany @ Eat at Home
Patsy @ Family, Friends and Food
Kate @ Cooking During Stolen Moments

Cajun Seasoning Mix

I did a bit of research on the pre-mixed cajun seasonings that are widely available at any grocery store, and I realized that I had most of the ingredients already in my pantry. This recipe makes about 1/2 cup of mix, so I'm storing the remainder and I'll try it as a dry rub on some chicken this week.

3 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper**
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

Add ingredients to a small bowl or resealable baggie, and combine. ** If you do not have white pepper, just add another 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground black pepper.


Patsyk said...

Love your photo! The seasoning mix you put together looks like it is full of great flavors, and it has to be much lower in sodium than the pre-packaged mixes.

Tiffany @ Eat at Home said...

Great idea to make your own seasoning mix. And I like that you used peaches instead of the figs. I thought about using pears, but then decided to go the tomato route instead. The grilled onions you used look wonderful too!

Kristen said...

Your photo looks great & I like that you used peaches. What a tasty idea!

Valerie said...

This looks so great. I just made my menu for the week and did my shopping so I'll have to add to my menu next week.