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Dawn Minty: Enter the National Beef Cook-off

Brenda Brookshire, of the Georgia CattleWomen's Association and the Georgia State Beef Council, hopes the National Beef Cook-off recipe contest will entice Georgians to cook with beef.

Just don't cook that beef for too long, she warns.

"The most common mistake people make is that they tend to overcook their meat," Brookshire said.

While ground beef needs to reach 160 degrees to cook off any bacteria that may have developed when the meat was ground, steaks don't need to cook to a particular temperature.

Brookshire likes her steaks cooked medium, so they're pink inside and juicy and flavorful but not runny. Her husband prefers his to be "almost still moving," she said. A quick flip in a saute pan is all his steaks get.

Her favorite side dishes for steak are a baked potato with butter and a tossed salad.

She favors the flatiron cut and said it's the second in tenderness to the filet.

She thinks beef has gotten an unhealthy rap over the last few years. She reminds readers that beef is high in zinc, iron and protein.

This year's contest keeps health in mind. The grand prize of $25,000 will go to the most delicious, convenient and healthy recipe. There are four categories.

Recipes must be submitted online at by April 15. Besides the cash prize, a trip to the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Washington, D.C.

The theme is "making the Most of My Plate," which encourages delicious, healthy recipes from a variety of food groups. Entrants are asked to develop original and tasty beef-focused recipes that include broadly appealing ingredients from the fruit and vegetable, grain products and dairy products groups. The MyPlate initiative is led by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and is designed to help consumers make better food choices. Keep in mind that MyPlate encourages half the dinner plate to be filled with vegetables and fruits, a quarter of the plate should be protein and the remaining quarter should be a grain.

"The recipe contest is all about creating fresh, simple to prepare recipes with a healthy focus," said Brookshire. "We are encouraging Georgia home cooks to choose ingredients from a variety of food groups, including lean beef, to create their mouthwatering recipes."

Her advice for cooks is to create "something different that will appeal to a wide range people."

Want to learn more from Brookshire? She'll will be at the Home & Garden Show Saturday and Sunday (March 2-3) at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center. She'll have brochures with recipes, so be sure to stop by and say hello.

Visit to find out more about the four contest categories and to get a few recipes from last year's contest for inspiration.