Beef Up Romance with Easy Valentine Steak Dinner

By Jennifer Fisher, TheFitFork.com

Pan Seared Tenderloin Steak with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com

Impress your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day with a stay-at-home dinner that gives the best steakhouse in town a run for its money . . . at a fraction of the cost!  Eating in an upscale steakhouse can easily set you back a hundred bucks per person, or so I’m told by friends with expense accounts. Purchasing two servings of top-notch steak from your butcher counter along with all the ingredients for side dishes costs very little in comparison – saving you beacoup de funds for French wine, fancy chocolates and other treats for your sweet.     

Making a memorable meal for a loved one is much more personal than a chef-prepared plate and isn’t nearly as difficult or time consuming as you’d imagine — although I speak from experience, I never let the beneficiary of my beef masterpieces know just how easy.  I’m sharing a swoon-worthy recipe for Pan-Seared Tenderloin Filets with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes that will have your heart beating and mouthwatering in all the best ways. I hope you get a chance to make it for someone special.

Uncooked Tenderloin Steaks - TheFitFork.com

I’ve picked tenderloin steaks (filet mignon) for this recipe because it’s my hands-down favorite for special events and everyday celebrations – it’s a lean cut with just 6.7 grams total fat (2.5 saturated) per cooked 3 ounce serving, so tender a knife is nearly optional, and the meaty flavor and succulent texture shines in the spotlight without the need to marinate or over season.  Sometimes the names of steak  can get confusing, especially when certain cuts have multiple monikers. A filet mignon is a steak from the center of the large tenderloin cut that runs down the back of a cow. Cattle don’t use this muscle much and, as a result, roasts and steaks from this hunk of meat deliver a consistently tender experience.

Pan Searing Beef

To get this Valentine’s Day dinner recipe started, these steaks are seared on the stove top in a grill pan (if you want the faux grate marks) or a heavy cast iron skillet. Next, the filets are finished in the oven at a high heat – this two-step process not only saves you from grilling outdoors on a cold winter’s night, but (most importantly) locks in juiciness by creating a caramelized crust that is evenly distributed. Researchers of such meaty studies even say that pan-seared steaks are 4-percent juicier than their flame-kissed cousins.

Slow Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com

Now, the crowning touch on each steak is a roasted tomato dripping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Let’s be honest, tomatoes this time of year usually flunk out when it comes to flavor – but slow roasting tomatoes in the oven concentrates the sweetness and magnifies the magic that happens when paired with beef – or anything!  You can oven roast any type of tomato, even grape tomatoes, but I choose simple Roma tomatoes because they seemed the right shape for the top of a tenderloin filet! The recipe below makes more tomatoes than you need for atop the steak, but the leftovers (if there are any) can be kept in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.

Tenderloin Steak and Roasted Tomato for Valentines Day

 

Pan-Seared Tenderloin Filets with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes
 
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Beef up the romance on Valentine’s Day with this surprisingly easy recipe for filet mignon steaks topped with a slow-roasted balsamic tomato!
Ingredients
  • 2 (4 to 6 ounce) tenderloin steaks, approximately 1 ½ inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 Roma or plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons prepared balsamic syrup (find on vinegar aisle)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Slices tomatoes in half lengthwise and gently scoop or squeeze out seeds without disturbing pulp.
  3. Place tomatoes cut side up on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar; sprinkle with thyme.
  4. Roast tomatoes for 40 minutes and then raise heat to 400 F degrees.
  5. Continue roasting tomatoes at 400 F degrees for an additional 20 minutes.
  6. While tomatoes are roasting, remove steaks from refrigerator and season generously coat top, bottom and sides with coarse sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
  7. When heating oven up to 400 for second stage of tomatoes, start steaks by heating a cast-iron skillet or oven-safe grill pan to medium-high heat. Place steak steaks in pan and let sear for 2 minutes without moving. Using tongs, flip steaks and sear other side for 1 minute.
  8. Place pan containing seared steaks into the center rack of oven (near tomatoes). Cook for approximately 9 – 12 minutes, or until instant-read thermometer reads 135 F degrees. Thinner steaks will cook more quickly.
  9. Using oven mitt, take pan out of oven and promptly remove steaks from hot pan to rest for 10 minutes. Also, remove tomatoes if they are done. During this time, the steaks will continue to cook until reaching about 145 F degrees (medium-rare) and then the temperature will fall back down. Do not cut into steaks until temperature has dropped to 120 F degrees or below.
  10. To serve, top steak with a roasted tomato and drizzle with balsamic syrup.

Eat Real Food & Tips for a Healthy Plate

By Jennifer Fisher, TheFitFork.com 

Eat.Real.Food

Each January, it seems like most of the world begins some sort of “diet.”  I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of “diets,” especially freaky fad diets and super-strict eating regimes that come to a screeching halt once a specific weight goal is attained. However, when the term “diet” is used to reference a life-long commitment to eating healthy, whole REAL foods in moderation along with daily exercise, I’ll eagerly endorse that use of the word! Instead of dieting, per se, I achieve a healthy balance on my plate by visually dividing it up. Half of the plate is dedicated to salad and/or seasonal vegetables; about a quarter is filled with typically lean proteins like beef, chicken, fish and even non-animal sources); and the remaining quarter is earmarked for quality carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, a piece of fruit or whole grains.  I also like to look at my food and make and educated guess if my choices are something my relatives would have eaten generations ago – if it wasn’t a “REAL” or wholesome food 100 years ago, it probably isn’t a “REAL” or wholesome food today.

Beef is definitely a real and wholesome whole food that can be part of a healthy lifestyle when eaten in moderation. Not just the lean cuts of beef that overwhelmingly populate the butcher’s counter (like cuts of sirloin, round and low-fat grinds), but also the more indulgent offerings like ribeye or porterhouse that have a just a touch more fat. That’s because ALL beef includes roughly the same amount of protein and beneficial nutrients per serving, including iron, B vitamins, zinc, selenium and more. And, when being mindful to “eating in moderation,” I’ve found that I can satisfy myself cravings for red meat without overdoing it — still have plenty of room on my plate for all of the other nutritious foods in on the planet like fruit, veggies, and whole grains.

This is what 3 ounces of cooked beef looks like.

This is what a health serving size of cooked beef looks like (3 oz.).

But, what IS moderation when it comes to eating beef? Many nutritionists say about ¼ of our plates should be filled with a quality protein – that’s about 3 ounces of cooked beef, the size of your fist or a deck of cards. Three ounces of beef provides approximately 25 grams of protein, and research suggests this amount is the optional single-sitting portion to assist with weight management and satiety. I’m not a scientist, so please check out this handout which sums up getting lean with protein quite nicely.

Jennifer Fisher - TheFitFork -- Beef Serving Size Fact

So, eating 3 ounces of beef is the “just right” amount. But, you may also be wondering how many times per week to eat beef. Participants in the study for the BOLD diet (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) at 4 ounces of beef per day, and many even had reductions in their cholesterol levels! Ounce for ounce, beef provides a very dense source of nutrition – and while it provides more than its fair share of nutrients, supplementing with other proteins ensures that you are addressing all your body’s needs – for example, wild salmon is just a far better source of Omega 3 fatty acids than beef, even grass-fed beef. Cattle ranchers won’t even argue this point. Eat beef a few times per week, at a minimum. If you love to eat beef every day, it IS healthy to do in a 3 ounce cooked portion – but add variety to your diet for the remainder of the day by getting protein from other sources, both plant and animal.

Portion Control Tips - TheFitFork.com

In terms of portion control, I have a couple other plate tips to share besides dividing your plate up and filling one quarter with 3 ounces of beef! Another tip is to serve your food on a smaller plate – a fist-sized serving of protein doesn’t look like very much on the super-sized plates of today. But, partnered with loads of veggies on a salad plate, a smaller plate tricks your mind into thinking you’ve just been given a very generous serving. Another optical illusion is to serve on a plate that contrasts the color of your food – because doesn’t blend right into the plate, you’ll be more aware of how much you’re eating. Participants in this interesting study served themselves 22 percent more food when using a plate that matched their food!

My final portion control tip may be silly, but it works for me. I like to choose food that looks big!  The perfect example is my recipe for Beef & Veggie Baking Sheet Frittata This super simple breakfast recipe (a creative cross between a casserole, crepe and omelet) is prepared to cook very quickly and be very thin. Because it’s so thin, the serving size looks magnificently large when plated – but really, it’s a modest amount of food.

Beef & Veggie Baking Sheet Egg Recipe

 

 

Beef & Veggie Baking Sheet Frittata
 
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Recipe type: Breakfast
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This easy breakfast recipe cooks up fast in the oven and uses deli roast beef or leftover steak and whatever vegetables you have in the produce bin!
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups egg whites from carton
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ounces deli roast beef, sliced thinly into strips
  • ½ cup spinach
  • ½ cup assorted chopped vegetables (I used broccoli)
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Instructions
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites, whole eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
  3. Spray rimmed baking sheet (15.5” x 10.5”) with cooking spray.
  4. Pour egg mixture into pan. Top with roast beef and vegetables. Sprinkle top with cheese.
  5. Bake for approximately 8 minutes or until eggs cooked through.
  6. Cut into 9 rectangles

Holiday Roast How-To + Tenderloin with Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe

Holiday Roast How-To from BeefLovingTexans.com

‘Tis the season for eating well and enjoying the experience with family and friends. Serving a perfectly prepared beef roast is always a showstopper at holiday celebrations and dinner parties. It’s more than worth the trouble – that’s because roasting beef actually requires very little time and effort! With our easy-to-follow tips, we’ll show you how to transform a large hunk of beef into a delicious roast ready to be carved into succulent slices. Even if you generously size the portions, guests are likely to be so impressed with your culinary talent that there won’t be a leftover morsel in sight – we suggest making two holiday roasts! Also, if you’d like to test out your skills and don’t have a recipe, try the mouth-watering recipe for Garlic and Rosemary Rubbed Tenderloin Roast with Roasted Root Vegetables featured below.

Tips for the Perfect Roast Beef:

Selecting the right cut -- Beef Tenderloin for Roasting. - BeefLovingTexans.com1) Choose the right cut. We’re demonstrating roasting tips with a beef tenderloin roast, but the same process will work with other cuts including ribeye and tri tip roasts and more economical cuts like sirloin and round roasts. The way to ensure perfect outcomes when preparing beef is to pair a cut with the appropriate cooking method – and also your budget. The Interactive Butcher Counter  helps take the uncertainty out of selecting the right cut of beef to roast – check it out!

Beef Tenderloin with Dry Rub - BeefLovingTexans.com2) You can’t flub a rub. Dry rubs are an easy way to add flavor to a roast and can be as simple as salt and pepper or as complex and spicy as you want to get – chili powder, herbs, brown sugar and even ground coffee beans are all ingredients I see used in rubs.  Really, the only must-do for a rub is to apply it generously – rub in the mixture thickly on the top, bottom and every side (including the ends) and your reward will be a crusty, caramelized exterior that adds flavor and helps to hold in juices. A variant of dry rubs is to massage olive oil, spices and even fresh aromatic herbs into the beef – that’s what we’re doing with the recipe below.

Use Proper Roasting Equipment - BeefLovingTexans.com3) Use the proper roasting gear. Actually, very little gear is required for roasting beef in the oven. When it comes to cookware, choose a metal pan with an approximate 2 to 3-inch rim. Metal conducts heat better than other materials and yields a more evenly browned roast. You won’t need a lid, as oven roasting is a dry heat cooking method.  Also, use a roasting rack to elevate the meat above the pan so that the heat can circulate underneath. If you don’t have a roasting rack or fancy silicon roasting laurel, simply substitute heavy-duty aluminum foil that has been scrunched up and twisted into a figure-8 shape.  A reliable meat thermometer is also needed to ensure you cook your roast to perfect doneness – those inexpensive instant-read thermometers found at most grocery stores will do the job fine.

4) Learn how to tell when your roast is done. If you’re not following a recipe, get familiar with the suggested cooking times and oven temperatures for your selected cut of beef.  We have a useful chart on Beef Roast Table Times to use as a reference. Abiding by this chart will ensure you rule the roast every time; however, remember that temperatures vary from oven to oven making cooking times approximate. You’ll know when your roast is “done” for your taste preferences when the thermometer is stuck into the center, thickest part of the roast (but not near a bone) and reads 10 degrees LESS than the time indicated for medium-rare, medium, or well-done. When you take a roast out of the oven early like this, the temperature will continue to rise and cook the roast for a few more minutes on the countertop. For example, a medium-rare roast is finished at 145 F degrees, but should be removed at 135 F degrees. See the chart below for more details.

How to Tell When Beef Is Done Chart - BeefLovingTexans.com

5) Give it a rest. As tempting as it is to cut into a roast or steak right as it comes off the heat, you must let it rest on the countertop for at least 10 minutes as just mentioned. This allows the juices time to redistribute between the relaxing muscle fibers and ultimately create a more tender and enjoyable eating experience. If you’re not sure if the roast has rested long enough, it should be ready to carve when the temperature drops to 120 F degrees or below.

If you have other questions about roasting or any other cooking method for beef, the Texas Beef Council has all the tips and techniques you need to keep the beef experience a “cut above.” Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy this beautiful and mouthwatering holiday roast recipe for Garlic and Rosemary Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Root Vegetables from our friend Jennifer at TheFitFork.com.

Garlic & Rosemary Rubbed Beef Tenderloin & Roasted Root Vegetables - BeefLovingTexans.com

Garlic and Rosemary Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Root Vegetables
 
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Perfect for a holiday meal, this beef tenderloin is roasted in the oven to mouth-watering, succulent perfection and served on a bed of roasted root vegetables.
Ingredients
  • For tenderloin:
  • 1 2lb. beef tenderloin roast
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • For roasted root vegetables:
  • 1 2lb. beef tenderloin roast
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Massage beef with olive oil and then rub rosemary springs enthusiastically onto entire surface to release aromatic oils. Next, rub garlic paste over tenderloin and then rub in salt and pepper to entire surface. Place rosemary spring on top of roast.
  2. Place roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Do not add water or cover.
  3. Cut vegetables into 1 to 2-inch chunks and place on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Chop up remaining rosemary and toss with vegetables along with salt, pepper, and parsley. Spread out vegetables into a single layer. Roast vegetables for approximately 45 minutes in 425F degree oven, stirring and rearranging halfway through cooking.
  4. Roast tenderloin in 425°F oven for approximately 40 – 45 minutes for medium rare (pull out at 135F degrees and will rise to 145F degrees) or 45 to 55 minutes for medium doneness (pull out at 145F degrees and will rise to 160F degrees). Tent with foil. Let stand 10 – 20 minutes until temperature has dropped to 120 F degrees or below.
  5. Slice roast across the grain and serve with roasted vegetables.