Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Giving Ground Beef Its Due Glory

When I was eleven, I declared myself to be a vegetarian. I don't remember why - it was likely the cool thing to do at the moment. My mother rolled her eyes at me but put on a brave face as she agreed to meatless spaghetti sauce and plenty of PB&J sandwiches and mac n' cheese.

My vegetarian period lasted three days. Turns out, McDonald's doesn't make a non-meat burger, and what's the point of eating just the fries? Since then, I've never been tempted to go meatless again.

My husband is even more of a meat lover than me. When we first met, I remember he described himself as a "carnivore" and declared that vegetables were "stuff that food ate." (Thankfully, he has since learned to embrace some vegetables to round out his diet.)

There are all kinds of exquisite cuts of beef out there, many touted as the best part of the cow, but today I'd like to pay homage to the lowly staple of ground beef. Ground beef is often seen as the cheap, red-headed step-child of the culinary world, reserved for such non-gourmet classics as casseroles, sloppy joes, and meatloaf. But ground beef has more uses beyond food your great-aunt Wanda would bring to the family cookout in her slow cooker. I'd argue ground beef is the most versatile cut of meat and deserves a lot more respect in the world of meat.

No matter what, my downfall will always be the cheeseburger. Give me a well-cooked patty of good beef, and I'll always show up for the party. Sure, there may be thousands of cheap burgers shoveled out in fast-food chains daily, but a burger is certainly not classless. Many of the fancier restaurants I've visited still have a burger on the menu, only it's better prepared and served on a higher quality bun with more exotic toppings. Dressed up well, a burger can be a work of art. (My fav? An American Kobe beef burger with portobello mushrooms. Yum...)

I've been bouncing around on the website looking for more proof that ground beef can be stylish, and I found a recipe I had to share with you: Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers. Sounds wonderful, right?

First, I should state up-front that I prefer organic, grass-fed beef. Your tastes may differ, but for my family we find organic, grass-fed beef to have a richer flavor, and I like knowing it's free of all those pesky added hormones and antibiotics.

Here's the recipe for Beef Stuffed Peppers:

1 pound ground beef
4 medium green, red or yellow bell peppers
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup uncooked regular white rice
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Italian-style stewed canned tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Cut tops off bell peppers; remove seeds.
2. Combine ground beef, onion, rice, 3 tablespoons ketchup, salt, 1/2 teaspoon oregano and pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Spoon into peppers; stand peppers in 8 x 8-inch baking dish.
3. Combine sauce ingredients; pour over peppers. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in 350°F oven 1-1/2 hours, until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pepper registers 160°F.

I'm making it again tonight, and will have photos of my dinner in tomorrow's post, along with another favorite recipe of mine. So be sure to check back to see if this domestic zero can make it look anything like the professional photo!

You can find hundreds more recipes at Beef It's What's For Dinner, along with cooking guides, videos, and tips on how to select and prepare various cuts of beef.


Now it's your turn to share, and in return I've got a $100 Omaha Steaks gift card to give to one lucky reader!

How to enter: I may love ground beef, but that doesn't mean it's your favorite cut of the cow. Take a look at Beef It's What's For Dinner and browse their recipe section - you can search by cut of beef, cooking style or type of cuisine. Then come back here and leave me a comment with a link to a recipe you'd love to try from the site and a quick story about a favorite meal or memory involving beef. This entry is required.

For an additional entries:
1. Tweet about this contest with a link back to this post and include @mommystory in your tweet. You must leave a separate comment with a link to your tweet for your entry to count.
2. Follow @BeefForDinner on twitter. 
3. On Facebook, become a fan of Beef It's What's For Dinner.
4. Write a blog post about a favorite beef dish with a link to Beef It's What's For Dinner and this post.
**For all of these additional entries, be sure to leave a separate comment for each method of entry!

Entries will be accepted until Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 11:59PM EST. One winner will be chosen at random (using and contacted by e-mail. Winner must respond within three days or another winner will be chosen. Please be sure you leave a valid e-mail address in your comment entries.

Good luck and good eating!

Full disclosure: I wrote this review while working on a “I Heart Beef” campaign with on behalf of The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. I was compensated for my time and given the gift card as a giveaway for one reader. All opinions are my own, however, including my true love for a good cheeseburger.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Three Days To Softer Lips With Neosporin

Ohio winters are brutal on skin and hair. My skin is always dry and flaky in the winter, and my hair carries enough static to jump start a car battery. But my lips show the worst of it. They're always dry, flaky, and when the temperatures really plummet, they crack and bleed.

Mom Central offered me the chance to take the Neosporin Three-Day Challenge, trying both the Neosporin Daily Hydration Therapy lip balm, and the Overnight Renewal Therapy balm. Seeing how no amount of lip balm has ever given me totally smooth lips in the winter, I was skeptical but willing to try it.

The Neosporin Daily Hydration Therapy is to be used several times a day, and contains a SPF 20 sunscreen. It comes in a squeeze tube instead of a stick - I generally don't like squeeze tubes, but stuck it out for the purpose of the challenge. The lip goo has a slight tingly feel to it, and maybe a hint of mint. Otherwise it's pretty tasteless, which I prefer to tasting bad.

The Overnight Renewal Therapy is a small container of cream that you apply to your lips once at night. A small dab goes a very long way! It's taste and feel are similar to the daily balm, although it does feel a little thicker and creamier on the lips. It absorbs fairly quickly and in the morning my lips were much softer. I actually like this one far more than the daily therapy, and have since used it more even during the day. (Although it doesn't have any sunscreen, so be aware of that!)

The results? After three days, my lips were smoother and showed no signs of flakes. But I had to keep up the therapy - if I didn't reapply the daily balm at least 3-4 times a day, the dryness returned if I spent any amount of time in the cold, parched air. Since switching to using the overnight balm even during the day, I find I need to reapply it less and it doesn't feel as sticky on my lips.

Overall, I think Neosporin does deliver on its promise of visibly healthier lips in three days. I prefer the overnight renewal therapy to the daily hydration therapy, but your experience may vary. If you suffer from chronic dry lips, especially in the winter, the Neosporin Three-Day Challenge is worth a try. This might just be the first time I've had smooth lips in the winter, and I like the feeling.

Full disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Neosporin and received a sample of the Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy and the Lip Health Daily Hydration Therapy to facilitate my review and a $20 thank-you gift certificate to All opinions are my own and should not be taken as medical advice.