It’s that time of the year: when we patiently wait for the Arizona temps to drop, pumpkin spice is now in every coffee cup, and the Friday night lights kick on along with our favorite teams competing on Sundays. Whether you’re at the stadium tailgating or entertaining at home, nothing brings people together like a little party with a lot of beef. Check out some of our favorite Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. recipes for tailgating season.
Celebrity chef Hugh Acheson shares one of his favorite snacks, perfect for an at home tailgate, with this “as seen on GoodMorningAmerica.com” recipe that pairs chicken-fried Strip Steak with a hot sauce gravy.
National Fajita Day is August 18th this year, but in reality, any day is a good day for fajitas! They are easy, convenient, and oh so delicious. We didn’t even talk about their versatility! To help you celebrate this important day (or any other day), we’ve put together a collection of beef fajita recipes sure to satisfy any craving. This recipe collection has everything from quick and easy to traditional to boundary-pushing! Check it out, save the link for later, and enjoy!
Do a little bit of prep and tomorrow’s dinner is basically ready to go. Marinate Flank Steak overnight in lime juice and garlic, then chop up a zesty pico de gallo while the beef is on the grill. Be sure to slice steak against the grain for max tenderness.
Got a hankering for just classic beef fajitas? This recipe is every bit as easy as ordering from a restaurant. Marinate and grill beef Flank or Skirt steak, serve with peppers and onions. Easy as that.
While beef fajitas are already packed with loads of nutrients, if you want to up your veggie intake just a little more, this is the recipe for you! All the flavors of Flank Steak fajitas served on a crunchy bed of greens make for a colorful and peppery salad.
Enjoy this write up from Certified Angus Beef (CAB) of Arizona rancher Ross Humphreys who was recently given the Commitment to Excellence award from CAB. Special thank you to Morgan Boecker and CAB for allowing us to reshare their work here.
Ross Humphreys walks like a cowboy and talks like one, too. His adept gaits tells of many days in and out of the saddle on his ranch just south of Patagonia, Ariz.
He wears many hats, but his black felt wide brim fits most naturally, shading him from the sun at San Rafael Cattle Company. Off the ranch, you can find him in Tucson managing stocks and his publishing company.
Grit in every venture makes him a successful businessman, and his unrattled spirit makes the best of challenges. However, it’s his relentless drive for raising high-quality beef that earned him the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) 2021 Commercial Commitment to Excellence Award.
A different background
Humphreys grew up an army brat, frequently moving throughout his childhood. He earned a degree in chemistry and worked as a metallurgical engineer for a bit before going back to school for a Master of Business Administration. That sent him on a new route.
He’s held a lot of job titles in his 72 years, from strategic business advisor to book publisher and CEO of multiple companies, just to name a few.
In 1999 at 50-years-old, never having owned cattle or managed a ranch, he bought San Rafael Cattle Company. Admittedly, he took an unusual path to the cattle business.
“I stood on one of the hills with my older daughter and said, ‘Anybody could run a cow on this place because you can see her wherever she is,’” he says. “So that’s how we got started.”
Consistent little changes
With no agricultural background, Humphreys went straight to the University of Arizona and bought a Ranching 101 textbook.
Always curious, his questions led to new acquaintances, and Mark Gardiner, of Gardiner Angus Ranch in Kansas, became his teacher and connector.
“I’ve hardly ever spent any physical time with Gardiners,” Humphreys admits, “But if I called them up, they’d spend two hours on the phone with me answering questions.”
Humphreys leaned on good information and sound science. No ranch decision is made without running some math and looking at a spreadsheet.
By genetic testing his herd, he saw steady progress by buying a little better bull than the year before. He focuses his selection to ensure balanced cows that can raise replacement females and a calf crop that produces the best beef.
Humphreys confirms his plan works with results at the feedyard. Loads of his fed cattle have improved from 20% Prime in 2013 to 95% CAB or higher, including nearly 85% Prime today.
“My goal is to try to produce the best carcass I can,” he says. “So, I keep trying to nudge up my cow herd so that the calves will be even better the next time.”
Preserving today for tomorrow
Conservation is as much part of the San Rafael story as the cattle. Named after the San Rafael Valley, the ranch is nestled in Arizona’s high desert country bordering Mexico. It’s the north end of a rich ecological site that looks like the Great Plains and is home to various plants and animals, many on the endangered species list.
“Ninety-five percent of this ranch is perennial native grasses,” Humphreys says. “We are the last shortgrass prairie in Arizona.”
Collaboration with conservation groups ensures the ranching operation, endangered wildlife and habitat are protected from housing or industrial development. The easements with Arizona State Parks and the Nature Conservancy led to work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The most important habitats on the ranch are water sources, including the Santa Cruz River, several springs and stock tanks. The endangered Sonoran Tiger Salamander is only found in stock tanks in the San Rafael Valley. Humphreys developed water sources with support from NRCS grants, creating a mutual benefit for the cattle and wildlife.
Environmental investment is key to Humphreys’ long-term goal of sustaining the land.
Even with intensive management, the land still needs water and the current Southwestern drought continues to challenge his resources. As a result, Humphreys sold roughly 65% of his cow herd this year.
Unsure if he will ever get back to pre-drought herd numbers, he remains committed to this final career as a rancher.
“I want to come home to a beautiful place,” he says. “I started doing this when I was 50, but I like the work. I like the cows.”
Ever the student, he meets each new challenge with a thirst for knowledge, determined to sustain, and focused on raising the best, one step at a time.
This summer were thrilled to have Kailee Zimmerman as our summer intern. A past Arizona Beef Ambassador and Arizona FFA State Officer, Kailee shares about her FFA experience, and how important FFA is for the agriculture community.
We each probably have a few key childhood memories that stick out. Maybe these memories consist of visiting a favorite place, spending time with family, or experiencing new things. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of playing in my dad’s agriculture classroom during evening FFA chapter meetings and going to the county fair to watch his students show their animals. I can remember how kind the students were to me and I remember how much fun it was to sit in the bleachers and watch the “big kids” show. Family gatherings were also always filled with my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents sharing story upon story of their time as FFA members and all of the fun memories they had. From a very young age, I began a countdown to the day when I could be an FFA member and have a blue corduroy jacket of my own.
The National FFA Organization is the largest youth leadership organization in the country with over 735,000 members across all 50 states and over 10,000 FFA members here in Arizona. More than anything, I wanted to be one of these students!
When the time came for me to enter high school and finally have the opportunity to be an FFA member, I was faced with one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make. I was going to a school that I loved, but it did not have an FFA chapter. I had to decide if I would stay at my school and miss out on FFA or move schools to one with an agriculture program. After lots of consideration and talking to many people, another option was presented! With the help of our principal, my school was able to get an FFA chapter chartered in 2016 when I was a sophomore. This decision and the forethought of my principal truly changed the course of my life.
Because I attended a small charter high school that focused on classical education, my experience in ag class did not look like I had always imagined it would. We did not have a big facility with a large greenhouse, I was the only student in my chapter that had grown up around livestock, and many of my friends had never even heard about the FFA until they joined ag class. Looking back, I am very grateful that my experience was different than I expected it to be because it allowed me to have a unique perspective on the importance of agricultural education.
Most people entered the class having no idea where their food came from and some even had some negative views about agriculture as a whole. However, these were the students that soaked up the lessons and gained the most out of their experience as an FFA member and an agricultural education student. I learned that there is no “one-size-fits-all” description of who should be involved in agriculture and who should be telling our story. We need everyone – no matter their background – to spread the truth about agriculture and to be better consumers. I believe that agricultural education and the FFA play a major role in doing that. My time as a member of the Trivium FFA chapter taught me that everyone has a place in advocating and working in agriculture, we just simply have to help them find it.
As a fifth generation Arizonan, I love life in the desert and am captivated with the culture of the Southwest. The cactus dotted landscape, beautiful sunsets and mountains create a landscape that is like none other. It feels that the last bit of the “Old West” is preserved here.
Not only do I love the landscape and tradition of the Southwest, but I also love the food! Much of the food is shaped by hispanic culture and my family grew up eating a lot of that food. One of my favorite meals is beef enchiladas. They are a staple at my house, but they also remind me of one of my favorite traditions. We have enchiladas and celebrate “Feliz Navidad” every Christmas Eve with all of my extended family.
Our favorite enchilada recipe is from The Pioneer Woman. I’ll share some tips that we learned from making these enchiladas, but make sure to check out the full recipe at the bottom of this post!
One of the most important parts of the enchiladas is the red sauce.
The base of the sauce is a canned red enchilada sauce, and flour, canola oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chicken broth, and cilantro is also added to it. All of these ingredients are mixed together and heated till they come to a boil. When the ingredients are boiling, turn down the heat and let the sauce simmer for 30-45 minutes.
Now it’s time for the star of the show! The yummy, beef filling!
Cook the Ground Beef in a skillet until it is about halfway done. When it is halfway done, add in a chopped onion, green chiles, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix this all together and cook until the Ground Beef is browned all of the way through. Ground Beef should be cooked to a safe and savory 160ºF.
Next, it’s time to cook the tortillas. These enchiladas are wrapped in corn tortillas, but I love flour tortillas and usually use those. Choose whichever you prefer!
Time to assemble the enchiladas! Put some spoonfuls of red sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish and spread evenly on the bottom. Using tongs, dip both sides of the tortilla into the red sauce. Put the beef filling and grated cheese in the tortilla, wrap and place in your casserole dish.
Repeat until your dish is full.
Top with extra red sauce, plenty of cheese and some cilantro.
Cook at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
While I love this recipe, it’s the tradition and memories behind it that mean even more to me. Food has a way of bringing people together and it is even better when beef is the star of the show!
Beef is the king of protein because it’s chock-full of zinc, iron, protein, and B vitamins plus 6 other essential nutrients, making it the ultimate “meat substitute.” Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. put their creative juices to work along with celebrity chefs and came up with some recipes to make beef the substitute of popular “other” dishes. Think Beef in a Blanket, Beef Parmesan, and Cowlamari. Explore these recipes and more below and then try them at home!
While Tim Petersen is a first-generation rancher, ranching wasn’t his first career path. He was raised in Arizona, spending most of his life outdoors hunting, fishing, and camping with his father, who did work as a carpenter on several ranches, and taught his son a love for the outdoors. This love for the land and the outdoors gave Tim a genuine appreciation for those who managed and cared for the landscapes, leading him to his eventual career as a rancher and owner of Arizona Grass Raised Beef Co.
Tim’s career path varied and has included stints in mule training and real estate appraisal, which eventually led him to real estate development. When the great recession hit in 2008, he was at the top of the real estate game with custom home features in high-end magazines across the state of Arizona. However, 2008 would disrupt that success, as it did for many across the country. While this was a crushing blow to many, Tim used it as an opportunity to pivot, learn and grow, deciding he would do something different, which would pull from his diverse background and heritage. His father worked on ranches in northern Arizona, and his grandfather owned three butcher shops in Chicago, meaning the ranching and meat business made sense for Tim.
The ranching and meat businesses are not easy ones to break into, and Tim knew that. He came into the game with the financial knowledge on managing a successful ranch from his appraisal days. To fill in knowledge gaps, Tim took time to work on a friend’s ranch and even worked at the local Bashas’ meat department, where he learned the basics of cleaning the saw blades and other essential equipment care to the more complex requirements. These jobs may seem menial and unimpressive to some, but Tim had a greater goal in mind, and he took it all as a learning experience. The ranch he was working on at the time was leased, and he eventually took over that lease, where he was able to kick off his ranch and beef business. From there, it’s a tale of hard work and ingenuity.
What started out as a small business that relied on a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected harvesting facility over 100 miles away has resulted in a more integrated company built piece by piece, from hard work and creative thinking. When Tim started selling his beef directly to consumers, he would haul cattle to the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab. Not long into this business, he located a harvesting facility in Chino Valley, which was ready to sell and, with his business partner, Tim purchased it. This was the best business decision as it allowed him to control the quality of the end beef product and the flow of that product. This harvesting plant is also UDSA inspected, meaning all the beef produced there can be sold anywhere in the USA.
Cattle produce about 60% edible beef, and the rest is bones, fat, tendons, etc. Tim doesn’t like to see anything go to waste, as many harvesting plants don’t, so he was keen on figuring out what to do with all the extra byproducts. His business partner is health-conscious and suggested they start producing bone broth. Bone broth is nutrient-dense, providing vitamins, minerals, and collagen. Those who are focused on their physical health find it very beneficial. Tim found a commercial kitchen to execute this idea where they eventually started to also make beef and other animal tallow (fat) which is used by restaurants. Pet treats are made from the lungs and other organs. Beef jerky is made from cuts that might not have the marbling needed for a steak or roast but is a better product in jerky form. Ground beef is a popular product, but as anyone who has raised a steer for harvest knows, there is always a lot of ground beef. So, Tim is currently developing a beef jerky that uses ground beef, ensuring that the product is used and not wasted.
Timing seems to be Tim’s best skill, as they launched an aggressive online business about two years ago, right before the COVID pandemic hit. When consumers were unsure about the reliability of their food supply, Tim and his company could keep harvesting cattle, producing beef, and selling it to people around the country. Tim reports that about 80% of his business is now done online. His product is also distributed by well-known foodservice companies such as Shamrock, Sysco, Peddler’s Son, and Custom Foods.
Tim supports the entire beef community and says, “American ranchers and feeders are raising some of the healthiest beef we’ve ever raised.” He’s found a niche in the grass-finished world of beef, and he has done everything he can to ensure the entire animal is used to the best and highest use. Grass-finished beef is a small portion of the overall beef product in the US, but there is a demand for it, and Tim is happy to fill it. Overall, Tim is a businessman who cares about what he sells to his customers. He is always willing to find a solution to a problem and find a niche to fulfill. Tim often says, “The market never lies,” and he’s proven that time and again with his current business and career path.
This summer we are thrilled to have Kailee Zimmerman as our summer intern. A past Arizona Beef Ambassador and Arizona FFA State Officer, Kailee shares about her roots, and how she continues to share about the beef community.
A recent study by the American Farm Bureau Federation showed that the average American is now at least three generations removed from production agriculture. Rapid population increase and urbanization has left just two percent of United States citizens actively involved in raising, growing, and producing food. We find ourselves in the middle of a reality that we have never faced before – the fact that American farmers & ranchers and consumers are divided by a large gap of knowledge and understanding.
Whew! Now is the time when we can take a deep breath! While these statistics may seem daunting, there is great hope! We also live in a world where many people are more interested than ever about their food and where it comes from. We see foods marketed as “farm to table” and “locally grown” becoming more popular. In order to bridge the knowledge gap between food producers and food consumers, it is so important for agriculturalists to share their story!
I believe that the story of American agriculture (especially, the beef community!) is one of triumph and inspiration. Why wouldn’t we want to share it? I am blessed to come from a family with ranching roots. My Nana grew up on a ranch in Southeastern Arizona in the Aravaipa Canyon. As a little kid, I loved hearing stories about the ranch and the adventures my family would have there. However, as I have gotten older, through these stories and experiences, I have also grown a deep appreciation for the work that goes into raising cattle that will produce nutritious, sustainable protein. I am also grateful for the example of hard work, integrity and perseverance that my Nana and other family members on the ranch set for me.
While I did not grow up on a ranch like my Nana, I am grateful to have experienced a small degree of what it is like to raise cattle and provide food for families by raising and exhibiting show cattle. I have raised market steers since I was 11 years old and have shown them at countless jackpot shows and fairs across Arizona. It is hard for me to list all of the lessons that I learned from raising livestock and showing cattle, but one of the most important things I learned was how important it is to be a good representative of the agricultural community. When we first started showing, my parents taught my brothers and me about the importance of being advocates for agriculture as we interacted with community members and visitors at the fairs we attended. Though it was routine for us to care for our cattle and get them ready to show, this was very foreign to many people who attended the fairs.
Throughout my time exhibiting cattle, I was able to have many conversations with people who were unfamiliar with agriculture and knew very little about where their food came from. I loved getting to talk to them and help give a little more understanding about what farmers and ranchers do to provide us with a safe, healthy and abundant food supply.
These experiences taught me that we each play an important role in advocating for agriculture – even if it feels like our part is small. I hope that the conversations I had left an impact on the people I spoke with. We each just have to be willing to share our story with those around us. As we share our experiences with kindness, people are more likely to listen and respect what we are sharing and, in turn, we are better able to understand their perspectives and experiences.
Though there are challenges facing the agriculture community today, there are also great successes and innovations like we have never seen before. The future is so bright! We each just have to do our part and share our story when we are given the opportunity.
Pretend you’re in a tropical location and put this on the grill. Ribeye Steaks are spiced up with cilantro, cumin and ground red pepper and served with a simple salad of pineapple, red pepper and lime. Link here.
Burgers are always a safe bet for a family cookout, but try this recipe to shake up the same ole’ same ole’. Whip up your own beer-based barbecue sauce, then slather it on a perfectly prepared Ground Beef patty. Serve it all up in a “bun” of delicious Texas Toast. Link here.
Now you know how to use the smoker, here’s an idea for the end product. Smoked and roasted Tri-Tip is unexpected in a street taco. Try this flavorful version with your favorite toppings for a satisfying meal. Link here.
Life with a toddler is hectic, to say the least. Their little brains are working harder than they literally ever will (fun fact: from birth to age three, children’s brains are learning something every second resulting in a million neural connections per second). And do they ever stop moving? Tiffany Selchow, Director of Social Marketing and Consumer Outreach at the Arizona Beef Council, shares in this blog how her family includes beef in their busy lifestyle, made only that much sweeter (and crazy) by their young daughter, to help ensure all nutrient needs are met.
Hayes Katherine, my three-and-a-half-year-old spit fire, is as active as ever and learning more every day. She only holds still for a few seconds at a time and is taking in every word those around her dare to let past their lips. Luckily for us, we live on a working cattle ranch so there are lots of places for her to go to burn off her abundance of energy. During the cooler months, we like to go on long walks down the dirt roads, learning about the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert and sometimes do so in her best Elsa dress. She also enjoys helping her dad check on the cows, splashing in muddy puddles, and dragging the ranch dogs along with her on most of these adventures. The heat doesn’t stop this girl. Even when it is hot, she wants to be outside, riding her bike or one of the patient ranch horses.
Keeping up with her energy and nutrition needs tends to be a challenge, because another difficulty of toddlerhood is finding food you can both agree on. Children at this age are literally supposed to question everything we tell them, and they take that job VERY seriously. This is where beef saves the day for us. It’s probably pretty obvious that in our house, we eat a lot of beef and should come as no surprise that beef was one of Hayes’ first foods.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Women Infants and Children’s Program (WIC) and now, for the first time ever, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, all recommend the introduction of solid foods, like beef, to infants and toddlers, in order to pack every bite with protein, iron, zinc and choline. Babies’ tummies are small, but their nutrition requirements are great. It’s our job as parents to ensure that nutrient-dense foods, like beef, get into that small space and fulfill those requirements.
Beef contains 10 essential nutrients including zinc, iron, and protein in just a few calories. For example, one recommended serving size for adults is 3 ounces of beef. This single serving contains about 160 calories while also including almost half of your daily needs for protein. Break that down into a toddler size portion of beef (1 ounce of beef) and you have something your small human enjoys eating because it’s tasty while also offering you the peace of mind knowing they are getting the nutrients that they need.
Hayes enjoys beef in many ways, but her favorite is in the form of her dad’s delicious and almost world-famous spaghetti sauce served over pasta. While this is a closely held secret family recipe, I’ll give you a small hint: Try ground beef and some Prego sauce and you’ll come pretty close to finding out the secret. We love to do family dinners at the dining room table or out on our ranch house porch and often grill up a Flat Iron Steak while Hayes runs around with the dogs in the ranch yard. The Flat Iron Steak happens to be the second most tender cut of the whole animal so you can basically add whatever seasoning you want, grill it up, let it rest, and then slice against the grain and you are almost always guaranteed a good eating experience. As a smaller kiddo, we used to give Hayes a long slice of beef to let her gnaw away and not worry about choking. Now that she’s a little older, we cut up bit size pieces and put those next to some grapes or other fruit and cheese and she has a plate full of healthy foods she is happy to chow down.
Serving nutritious foods babies and toddlers love to eat, like beef, is simple and easy—puree, mash, chop or shred meat at various stages to meet their changing feeding needs. Check out https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/nutrition/beef-in-the-early-years for more information on feeding beef to your small ones and don’t forget to click on the recipes tab for inspiration and kid-friendly beef meal ideas.