A Romantic Slow Cooker Recipe (Yes, Really!) – Orange & Sugar Snap Beef

Crock Pot Sugar Snap & Orange Beef

I have the perfect dish for you to whip up for your sweetie for Valentine’s Day – my recipe for Slow-Cooker Orange and Sugar Snap Pea Beef! It’s a little sweet, a little spicy and very healthy for your honey. Ladies, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and, by the way my husband gobbled this healthy dinner, I’d say this Asian-inspired dinner was a winner. And, men, if you’re looking for a way to impress that someone special, I just want you to know that women think it’s super sexy when guys self-initiate cooking and cleaning up in the kitchen – this crockpot recipe is insanely easy to make and has virtually no clean-up.

February isn’t just about “hearts” in a romantic way; speaking cardiovascularly, it’s also National Heart Month!  I like to use the month of February to “check-in” with my health and show love to my heart with healthy changes in diet and exercise – and renew any of my New Year’s resolutions that have started to slip away! Little changes in the foods you consume, like increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables on your plate and reducing salty, sugary snacks, can add up to big benefits in terms of your overall health. Eating lean protein is important, too! A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from Penn State University found that people who participated in the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) study, consuming about 3 to 5 ounces of lean beef daily as part of a heart-healthy diet, experienced a 10 percent decline in LDL “bad” cholesterol.

Asian Orange Beef in Slow Cooker

My recipe for Slow-Cooker Orange and Sugar Snap Pea Beef is the perfect way to put your lean protein plan into motion – plus you get some fruits and veggies to boot! Who knows, you may even reduce your bad cholesterol if you follow the protocols of the BOLD study – I’m happy to share lots of healthy beef recipes with you including Sirloin Cobb Kebabs and Spice Crusted Tenderloin Steaks.  Just search the word “beef” in my recipe collection to find more!

SLow Cooker Ingredients

Slow-Cooker Orange and Sugar Snap Pea Beef Recipe 

  • 2 lb. beef chuck shoulder steak – trimmed and sliced into 2” strips
  • 1/2 cup Litehouse Food’s Tangy Orange Dressing & Marinade *
  • 2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha Chile Pepper Sauce (found on Asian food aisle)
  • 1 Tbsp. Litehouse Food’s Instantly Fresh Ginger
  • 1 Tbsp, Litehouse Food’s Instantly Fresh Garlic
  • 1 large onion cut very coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 6-oz can mandarin oranges that have been drained (or may use fresh)
  • 1 (8-oz) package sugar snap peas
  1. Add beef, dressing, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, Sriracha and onion to 3-qt or larger slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours until beef is tender.
  2. Turn to high. Remove ½ cup of liquid and stir in cornstarch until dissolved. Stir this mixture back into slow cooker. Add sugar snap peas and oranges; cover and cook on high 10 minutes until peas are crisp-tender.
  3. Serve over brown rice with sauce from slow cooker.

*If you can’t find the dressing in your market, you can order it online at LitehouseFoods.com or substitute ½ cup fresh orange juice

 

Pomegranate-Balsamic Pot Roast with Baby Bella Mushrooms Recipe {+ Next Day Meal}

Last week I attended a cooking class called “Indulge the Heart,” and indulge I did – but in a healthy way.  The Heart Hospital of Texas in conjunction with the Texas Beef Council showed us all how to make a delicious date-night meal from a healthy lean cut of beef.  Chef Richard Chamberlain of Chamberlain’s Steak & Chop House in Dallas, Texas and cardiologist Dr. Paul Coffeen enlightened the group on the health benefits of beef and shared healthy tips for cooking it up.  I’ve never been shy about my love of lean beef and the role it plays in my training and recovery diet, it’s also no surprise that I get around in beef-circles and I already knew these two beef experts – I’d say they were preaching to the choir!

heart health beef chamberlain coffeen fisher

Our menu included an Italian Post Roast with Sweet Peppers, Olives & Capers from the Healthy Beef Cookbook – it was superb!   Not at all like the stringy meat and mushy carrot pot roasts that I remember from my childhood (not that MY mom ever cooked one like that). It’s hard to believe I’ve never actually cooked a pot roast myself, but the chef and doctor sure sold me on the idea and inspired me to come up with my own recipe. Plus, when I saw that Angus Chuck Roast was on special for $2.97 a pound at Sam’s Club, I couldn’t resist. For us fitness types, it’s reassuring to know that pot roast today is a much leaner hunk of meat than it was back in the day. A three-ounce serving has just 5.7 grams total fat (1.8 grams saturated fat) and falls in the middle of the 29 lean cuts of beef.

jennifer fisher thefitfork beef chuck

So, are you hanging on the edge of your seat wondering what I did with the beef and how I ending up with leftovers that were transformed into an equally delicious meal?  Here’s the skinny – I came up with the recipe Pomegranate-Balsamic Pot Roast with Baby Bella Mushrooms following the master idea from Chef Chamberlain. However, since I can never stick to a recipe and didn’t have any red wine (which his recipe called for), I took my meal in a whole ‘nutha direction. When I was plating the meal, I realized that I should have made a “sopping substance” for the sauce — brown rice, noodles, polenta, riced cauliflower or something!

jennifer fisher thefitfork.com pomegranate balsamic pot roast mushrooms

In any event, the recipe made quite a lot of sauce by design – the meat needs to be completely covered up with liquid to braise properly. While we polished off the beef that night, I still had a stockpot more than half full of sweet-savory, umami-packed sauce. I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing it away so I stuck it in the fridge!  So what happened the next day was genius, if I do say so myself. I added a can of petite-dice tomatoes, a can full of water, a pound of cooked ground beef and a handful of bow-tie noodles to the pot, heated it up until the pasta was cooked – and, viola, a rich (but not fattening), ultra flavorful soup!  No chintzy leftovers here; this salvaged meal made a large amount of hearty soup that fed the entire family with refills!  So what would you name this soup? I need a name, let me know in the comments below!!

jennifer fisher thefitfork.com pot roast soup

This is the surprise soup I made the second day with leftovers!

Pomegranate-Balsamic Pot Roast with Baby Bella Mushrooms Recipe

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 boneless beef chuck shoulder pot roast (approx. 2 lbs)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 8-ounce carton of baby bella mushrooms, sliced (use your favorite variety)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups pomegranate juice (make sure actual juice – not “cocktail”)
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cups beef broth (from can, paste or fresh)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
  • ¼ cup water

In large stock pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat until hot. Place beef in pot and brown evenly on both sides. Remove from pot and season with salt and pepper.

In same pot, add onion and mushrooms and sauté for approximately 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and sauté for 1 additional minute.

Add pomegranate juice to deglaze the pan, stirring until simmering and crusty beef bits have come off the bottom of pot and become incorporated in the sauce.

Add tomatoes, beef broth, balsamic vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves, oregano, thyme and crushed red pepper; stir to incorporate.

Return roast to the pot and bring everything to a boil; reduce heat and cover pot with tight-fitting lid. Continue to simmer for approximately 2 hours or until fork tender.

Add sliced carrots and continue to simmer. Stir arrowroot powder into 1/4 cup water to create a slurry. Pour slurry into pot and stir for a couple minutes until sauce is thickened; take care not to overheat.

Remove bay leaves and serve over rice, noodles, polenta or riced cauliflower.

Serves 6 to 8.

Beef Pumpkin Tostada with Chipotle Crema Recipe {#LivingWell}

LogoMobileI recently got back from a fun experience in Chicago with the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner people. A group of us food bloggers with an affinity for healthy living (and eating meat) were invited to learn more about the role lean beef plays in #LivingWell.  Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that I am not shy when it comes to singing the praises of beef.  I often work with beef in cooking demonstrations and it’s a mainstay on many of the menus I prepare for my husband and three teen boys. Plus, I’m on the Texas Beef Team and fueled by the 29 cuts of this lean protein source. It’s high in protein and a super-efficient source of nutrients like iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins that are important for athletic performance and recovery.

Enjoying the company of fit-minded foodies and a delicious beef dinner.

Enjoying the company of fit-minded foodies and a delicious beef dinner.

I have more to say about this awesome #LivingWell event next week when my team puts the finishing touches on writing out our fabulously creative beef recipe we came up with during an Iron Chef-like competition. But, the whole experience reminded me just how easy it is to make a quick, healthy and creative meal with any leftover beef that may be sitting in the fridge. For dinner tonight, I whipped up these seasonally scrumptious Beef Pumpkin Tostadas with Chipotle Crema.  For the beef, I used the remnants of lean, center-cut brisket from a meal earlier in the week – but other beef leftovers could easily be substituted – try shredded roast, ground beef or thinly sliced top sirloin steak.

Jennifer Fisher - thefitfork.com -Beef Pumpkin Tostadas

Beef Pumpkin Tostadas with Chipotle Crema Recipe

  • 8 whole grain tortillas
  •  1/2 cup pumpkin puree from can (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • 4 oz pepper jack, shredded
  • 3/4 lb. leftover beef of choice
  • 1/3 cup light sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (chipotle flavor, if available)
  • 2 Tbsp. roasted, salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Garnish: spring mix

Create hard tostada shells out of the tortillas by microwaving them in groups of three for one minute at a time, flipping after each minute and repeating until crunchy.

In blender or food processor, blend together pumpkin, black beans and salsa. Spread equal portion of pumpkin mixture on tortilla. Set on rimmed baking sheet.

Sprinkle with approximately ½ ounce of cheese and top with approximately 1.5 ounces of beef.

Broil on high until cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and set aside.

Mix together sour cream with chipotle powder and Tabasco.

Sprinkle with spring mix lettuce and roasted pepitas. Drizzle with chipotle crema.  Serve warm

Makes 8 tostadas, about 4 servings.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - beef pumpkin tostadas

 

More to come on the Chicago trip, but I did take my signature “run the city” one-hour speed tour — here I am at the famous big silver bean!

2013_10 jennifer thefitfork chicago bean

And, other good news for the week — got hooked up with some new Karhu shoes and found my lucky lady bug earrings.

2013_10 karhu jennifer

 

 

Farm to Fork Facts & Beef Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers Recipe

This weekend, I spent another educational day with the Texas Beef Council learning about how my favorite protein source – beef — makes it from “farm to fork.” With beef industry experts on-board our charter bus classroom, a small herd of beef-eating athletes slash curious consumers rolled through the Central Texas countryside on a mission to gain a deeper understanding of the cattle industry . . . . and, ultimately, those steaks on our dinner plates. Over the day, we toured a working ranch, visited a feed lot and then hoofed it around a ginormous meat department at a super-sized HEB.

SAMSUNG

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a big fan of beef. After avoiding it for the first half of my life, I suddenly found myself craving it during my first pregnancy. Of course, my body had finally taken the reigns from my brain, telling it I needed the added protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc and several other vital nutrients in which I was missing the mark. That was 17 years ago and today I’m still craving beef as a way to refuel my body after hard running and strength-training workouts.

But, that’s enough about me. I want to share some new-to-me, interesting things I learned about beef this weekend, facts I think you should know too. The final beef tidbit in my list is a yummy appetizer recipe that the awesome folks with the Texas Beef Council fed with us as a prelude to dinner.

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A Few Farm to Fork Facts: Most I Never Knew – Did You?

  1. The average ranch in Texas is just something like 46 heads of cattle; this really busted my “big business” view of the cattle raising industry. We visited the approximate 2,000 herd Breitschopft Ranch in Gonzalez and this, aside from just a handful of mega-ranches in the state, is as “big business” as it gets – yet it was a surprisingly down-home, salt-of-the-earth, family-oriented operation with an owner who works his butt off 365 days a year to produce a quality product for consumers.
  2. When you buy “Certified Angus Beef” in the grocery store or order it from a restaurant menu you are ordering a “brand” of beef, not specifically a “grade” of beef.  The grades of beef given by USDA inspectors are prime, choice, select and a few lesser-quality grades. According to the Certified Angus Beef website, this brand only puts its name on prime and choice grades – but this makes it no better or worse than equivalent piece of beef with the same grade. Another interesting fact about the admittedly yummy brand; the Angus designation only requires the animal’s hide to be at least 51 percent black. Really.
  3. The yellow-orange tint in the rendered fat from grass-finished beef (meaning the cow never went to a feed lot before slaughter) comes from the fat-soluble beta-carotene in the ingested grass.  I asked this question after being curious about the different-colored drippings in my grill pan after experimenting with a ground grass-fed beef product.
  4. Changes in cattle breeding and fat-trimming methods have resulted in increased availability of leaner beef. I’ve mentioned a million times before that there are 29 cuts of lean beef.  But, I didn’t realize that a whopping two-thirds (67%) of beef sold at retail (including popular cuts like sirloin tenderloin and t-bone) meet governmental guidelines for “lean.” How can you NOT have beef for dinner!
  5. A cow’s stomach (a four-compartment vessel collectively called a rumen) is a very complicated thing. To put it simply, the animal co-exists with billions of microbes in the stomach – bacteria, fungi and protists – that break down grass, hay and other food products into nutrients a cow is actually able to digest. I haven’t done justice to the science behind the rumen, especially considering there are people with advanced college degrees on the topic!
  6. The beef supply in the US is very, very, extremely safe and highly regulated by the thousands of USDA inspectors every step of the way. The chances of being affected by one of the media sensationalized “beef issues” is like “being struck by lightning AND winning the powerball lottery on the same day” according to a PhD beef expert I know to be very knowledgeable on the subject. By the way, Facts About Beef is a great resource for gathering more information on any beef concerns you might encounter.
  7. My last tidbit is about cooking with ground beef. Ground beef is very convenient, cost-efficient and gives you so many ways to be creative! Plus, I forgot to mention ground beef can be super delicious as evidenced by this easy appetizer from the Texas Beef Council.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - beef stuffed bell peppers

Beef & Couscous Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 15 baby sweet bell peppers (approx. 2.5” to 3” long)
  • 2/3 cup spicy 100% vegetable juice
  • ½ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ¼ cup whole wheat couscous
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup reduced fat shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Heat oven to 400F degrees. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes, but not stems. Place peppers, cut sides up, onto two rimmed baking sheets.

Combine ground beef, vegetable juice, spinach, couscous, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in large bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly. Spoon beef mixture evenly into peppers; sprinkle tops evenly with cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 25 – 30 minutes or until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pepper registers 160F degrees and peppers begin to brown.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Beef, Arugula, and Spinach Lasagna Recipe + Win the Healthy Beef Cookbook

Beef can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle; there are 29 lean cuts of beef that are surprisingly low in fat and deliver important nutrients. But, if you’re anything like yours truly, you may not be confident in your skills to bring great-tasting, health-promoting lean beef dishes to your table on a regular basis. Well, worry no more! The Healthy Beef Cookbook (John Wiley & Sons, 2006) shows you how to use lean beef to add excitement, ease, and an epicurean flair to all types of dining situations from quick and easy dinners for the family to special occasion entrées for company.

And, for one of my lucky readers, I have a copy of this compendium of healthy meal ideas to give away.  Giveaway at bottom of blog post. The American Dietetic Association and the Beef Checkoff Program combined their expertise to produce more than 130 delicious recipes, the latest nutrition information, and cooking techniques to create tender, moist, flavorful beef dishes every time.  Nearly 75 percent of the recipes in The Healthy Beef Cookbook have less than 400 calories per serving.

Not only do I have a giveaway copy, it is also personally signed by the one of the authors, Chef Richard Chamberlain (owner of Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House in Dallas, Texas. Last month I was a guest in his home and got to stand grill-side while he demonstrated beef-cooking techniques and then graciously served me perhaps the best beef filet of my life (topped with his fabulous fig compote).

I’ve included one of his healthy recipes from the cookbook; it’s a “makeover” of lasagna, always a great meal for the busy holiday season. My suggestion is to double the recipe for convenience. Make one to keep on hand for a quick supper after a long day of shopping, visiting with Santa, and Christmas-light looking and then stash away the other one in the freezer for unexpected company. Unlike most lasagna recipes which have a gazillion calories and are loaded with fat, this lean beef recipe has just 520 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 47 grams of protein. Compare that with a certain chain restaurant who serves a “Lasagna Classico” with 858 calories and 47 grams of fat!

 

Beef, Arugula, and Spinach Lasagna Recipe

  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (95% lean)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 4 cups prepared pasta or spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby arugula (about 1-3/4 ounces)
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach (about 1-3/4 ounces)
  • 1 container (15 ounces) fat free ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 9 uncooked oven-ready (no boil) lasagna noodles (each about 6-3/4 x 3-1/2 inches)
  • 1-1/2 cups reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add ground beef and garlic; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet with slotted spoon; pour off drippings. Return beef to skillet; season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in pasta sauce. Set aside.

Combine arugula and spinach. Set aside. Combine ricotta cheese, egg whites, basil, oregano, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in small bowl.

Spread 1 cup meat sauce over bottom of 11-3/4 x 7-1/2-inch glass baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, 1/2 ricotta mixture, 1/2 spinach mixture, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1-1/2 cups meat sauce. Repeat layers. Top with remaining 3 noodles and meat sauce.

Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in 375°F oven 45 to 50 minutes or until noodles are tender and sauce is bubbly. Remove foil; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand, loosely covered, 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe as seen in The Healthy Beef Cookbook, published by John Wiley & Sons

Nutrition information per serving: 520 calories; 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 3 g monounsaturated fat); 127 mg cholesterol; 1260 mg sodium; 49 g carbohydrate; 5.1 g fiber; 47 g protein; 8.1 mg niacin; 0.4 mg vitamin B6; 2.3 mcg vitamin B12; 6.0 mg iron; 20.3 mcg selenium; 6.1 mg zinc.

This recipe is an excellent source of fiber, protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc.

The Healthy Beef Cookbook Giveaway

130 Lean Beef Recipes – Title Page Signed by Chef Richard Chamberlain

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best Beef Cut? Try Asian Flair Flat Iron Steak Recipe

Move over tenderloin, my new favorite cut of beef is the ‘Flat Iron,’ also known as the ‘Top Blade.’ Thanks to the Texas Beef Council for making the suggestion! Cut from the shoulder of a cow, this juicy, well-marbled steak is rectangular in shape and uniformly thick, making it an ideal hunk of beef to toss on the grill. Sometimes, you’ll get one that looks as if it has almost been sliced and separated down the center. This is because a tough piece of connective tissue that runs through the middle is removed by the butcher before it is packaged up. A pesky but a small flaw I can certainly overlook, especially considering the flatiron is one of the tenderest cuts of beef around (second to only tenderloin), meets governmental standards for “lean protein” and is relatively economical compared to some of the premium grilling steaks found at the meat counter.

Every week the family has been enjoying this steak in some easy-to-prepare form or fashion. While you can serve with brown rice and veggies, we enjoyed the sliced steak served with “pajeon,” a delicious scallion pancake that my neighbor brought over.  The recipe on this traditional Korean side dish is coming soon! Paleo Diet friends, just toss sliced some of this meat sliced finely on a bed of greens and you’ll be more than satisfied.

 Asian Flair Flat Iron Steak Recipe

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1.5lb (approximate) flat iron steak
  • Garnish: toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions.

Whisk the ingredients in a bowl. Place steak and marinade in a zip-top bag and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours. Grill flatiron steak on high heat for 4 minutes on each side for medium rare steaks. Medium-rare will read 125 F degrees on the meat thermometer and feature a pink center. If you like your steak a bit more done, aim for medium at 130 F degrees. Allow steaks to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds and green onion slivers on top to garnish.

Flat Iron Nutritional Information

 

It’s What’s for Dinner! Beef Crostini with Balsamic Drizzle

I love beef and health beef recipes.

I’m giving beef a great big hug this week – in fact, I’m loving it so much we’re eating it nearly every night for dinner this week. As far as food risks go, I’d pick a nicely cooked steak over raw fish sushi or unpasteurized milk any day, thank you very much.

Gee, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before (and my friends at Txbeef.org back me up), but a 3-ounce serving of lean beef offers so many nutritional benefits, it’s packed with protein, high in iron, and loaded with all sorts of vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids – take a look-see at these Fast Beef Facts for more information. So how can you go wrong?

Admit it, you can’t! So, check out this awesome appetizer recipe that was on the menu at a “Girls Gone Grilling” cooking class I attended a couple years ago at the Texas Beef Council. I’ve personally made it and gobbled up these tasty tidbits as fast as a chicken on a June bug – err, a bovine on a blade of grass . . . . anyway, you’ll love it – so try it as an appetizer for your next get-together or serve several as a light and delightful dinner!

 

Beef Crostini with Balsamic Drizzle and Parmesan Crisps

  • 2 boneless beef top loin (strip) steaks (about 1-1/4 pounds)

    Healthy crostini appetizer also easy beef recipe.

    Beef Crostini with Balsamic Drizzle

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 12 slices thin white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse grind black pepper
  • salt
  • 4 ounces garlic-herb cheese spread, slightly softened
  • prepared balsamic syrup
  • 24 small arugula leaves

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine Parmesan cheese and flour in small bowl; toss to mix well. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle Parmesan mixture evenly into 8-inch circle on baking sheet. Bake in center of 350°F oven 6 to 8 minutes or until melted and light brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Break into 24 irregular-shaped pieces. Set aside.

Cut each bread slice diagonally in half. Place in single layer on baking sheet. Bake in 350°F oven about 6 minutes or until lightly toasted but not brown. Set aside.

Press pepper evenly onto beef steaks. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet; cook top loin steaks 12 to 15 minutes (tenderloin steaks 10 to 13 minutes) for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally.  Carve steaks into thin slices; season with salt.

Meanwhile, spread 1 teaspoon cheese onto each bread piece; top with 2 to 3 steak slices. Drizzle balsamic syrup over beef; top with Parmesan crisp and arugula leaf.

Makes 24 individual appetizers.

Note: Balsamic syrup is available in the dressing aisle next to the vinegars in large supermarkets and specialty stores. Or, it can be prepared by combining 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons molasses in medium saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook about 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup. Balsamic syrup may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Nutrition information per serving, using top loin steaks: 74 calories; 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat; 1 g monounsaturated fat); 17 mg cholesterol; 101 mg sodium; 4 g carbohydrate; 0.2 g fiber; 7 g protein; 1.7 mg niacin; 0.1 mg vitamin B6; 0.3 mcg vitamin B12; 0.6 mg iron; 7.3 mcg selenium; 1.1 mg zinc.