A classic, delicious, homemade Beef and Vegetable Stew

Reposting for 2017 -

Even though I think of a hearty beef and vegetable stew as a 'winter' food, for some reason I really, really wanted to make this yesterday.  It worked out perfectly though as it's about 100 degrees out this week and I was able to put this in the slow cooker and forget about it while it cooked away on the countertop and didn't heat up my kitchen.  I also used my solar oven to bake a loaf of bread so our dinner last night was not only delicious and filling but it cooked without my help or using the stove or oven!

I did not have fresh carrots on hand - only about 1/4 cup leftover of the carrots I had dehydrated last month so that is why my photos don't show large, brightly colored carrot disks in them.  I also used my dehydrated sliced mushrooms and added them at the beginning of the cook time and we don't use corn very often in our home so I left that out.  Substitute as you need to or want to.

Beef and Vegetable Stew

3 c cubed, peeled potatoes
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, cubed
2 lb. steak or other beef, cubed or cut to about 1" pieces
2 T oil
3 T flour
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 c boiling water
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
1 T prepared horseradish
1 T prepared mustard
1 T sugar
1 c peas
1 c corn
1 c fresh sliced mushrooms

Place the potatoes, carrots and onions in a slow cooker.  In a large skillet, brown the beef in oil.  Lay on the vegetables in the slow cooker.  Sprinkle with flour.  In a bowl, dissolve the bouillon cubes in the water and stir in the vinegar, ketchup, horseradish, mustard and sugar.  Pour over meat in the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high about 5 hours.  Add the peas and corn and mushrooms.  Cook an additional 45 minutes.  Makes about 5-6 servings.

Related products available at Amazon;

Crock-Pot Casserole Crock Slow Cooker, 3.5-Quart, Perfect Plum
Zatarain's Prepared Horseradish 5.25 Oz
Crock-Pot  3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel
Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker


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Oh Henry Oatmeal Bars (and a sugar free option too!)

O' Henry Bars.  These hold a special place in my little ol' childhood heart.  We didn't eat many sweets in our home but at church events or at school functions where there was punch and cookies after, I would search the cookie table for two treats;  pumpkin bars and O'Henry Bars!  It was like a mini Christmas.   I could never make these myself as a young little cook as we only had 1 'recipe box' of hand written index cards and 1 cookbook; a Fanny Farmer cookbook given to my Mother at a bridal shower in 1968.  It had neither recipe of course.

As an adult I'm thrilled for the availability of millions of recipes at our fingertips through cookbooks, magazines, websites, smart phone apps and more.  But even with all these fabulous recipes at my fingertips, my family's favorite, number one, all time 'bar' is O' Henry Bars.

This week I made them but I made 2 batches.  One regular, the way Grandma made them and a second, half batch in which I used natural sugar substitutes.  I used Ideal Brown Sugar and Just Like Sugar as it is what I had on hand.  We also have natural peanut butter on hand that is only 3 grams sugar and the chocolate chips I used were Hershey's Sugar Free.  They turned out wonderful!  Links will be available at the bottom of the post.

O' Henry Bars

2/3 c butter, soft but not melted
1 c brown sugar or Brown Sweetener:  by Just Like Sugar
4 c oatmeal
1/2 c corn syrup or sugar substitute w/ just enough water to make it thick
2 t vanilla
pinch salt
1 c chocolate chips or sugar free chocolate chips
2/3 c peanut butter

Mix the soft butter with the brown sugar with a spoon.  When incorporated, add the oatmeal, corn syrup, vanilla and salt.  Press into a lightly sprayed or greased baking pan of your choice.  9X13 is a great size.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (less for a really dark pan).  Cool.  Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter.  Spread on bars.  Chill or let set until the chocolate sets up.  I like to store in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate nice and firm as we currently live in the deep (hot and humid) South! 

You might be interested in some of the products I used to make the bars in the photo above;

***NOTE:  Ideal stopped making their brown sugar version (which is sad because it was the BEST brown sugar version on the market.  Try this one instead:  Brown Sweetener:  by Just Like Sugar

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A classic homemade bread, roll and hamburger bun recipe! Hamburger Buns

Homemade buns are much more filling than the 'mostly air' store bought versions.  Men that normally eat 2 or 3 burgers on a store bought bun can usually only eat 1 or 2 on a 'real' bun as they are more substantial, but I also love that they don't include all the preservatives and chemicals a packaged version does.

This recipe is a very basic, classic, white dough recipe.  Use it for 2 loaves of bread, one bread braid, 2 or 3 french loaves or of course, buns!

Classic White Dough

12 oz. warm water
1 1/2 t salt
2 T butter
4 c unbleached bread flour (or use all purpose if that is what you already have)
2 T dry milk powder
2 T sugar
1 3/4 t yeast, dry

Either place this in a bread machine (in the order your machine requires) and run on the dough setting or place into a large KitchenAid style mixer with a bread dough hook and knead/mix for up to 10 minutes.  I used the electric mixer and placed the water, salt, sugar and yeast in first;  let it set and proof for about 2 minutes and then added the butter, dry milk and flour.    Let your dough set for about 10 minutes after kneading to rest.  Remove the dough from the machine or the mixer bowl.  Divide it in half.  Then each half into half.  Then each of those halves into half.  This is how you will get fairly equal sized balls.  If making rolls to go with a meal divide them until you have golf ball sized balls.  If using for hamburger buns, stop dividing the dough when they are double that size so they will be large enough for the hamburger patties.  Roll and flatten a tiny bit in your floured hands and place on greased or parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake at 375F for approximately 15 minutes but this can be up to 22 minutes depending on the size buns you make, the thickness of your baking sheet and your oven.  When they are golden brown remove them, brush the tops with butter for a softer bun and let cool to warm to serve as rolls or cool completely and serve as hamburger buns.

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Napoleon Torte (or Lithuanian Torte) - a flaky, delicious 20 layer dessert cake


Labor intensive...  but so worth it.  

We don't eat sweets and rarely eat items with flour in them so this is a dessert I don't make often.  It's also a day of baking to make all the layers of the flaky pastry (at least 10 of them) and the dough has to chill overnight so this is not a spur of the moment dessert.  It's a 2 day event but again... so worth it.

Napoleon Torte (or Lithuanian Torte)

1 c butter
4 c good quality white flour*
1 c sour cream
2 T cold water

2 c whipping cream
1 c sugar
3 egg yolks
6 oz. butter
1 t vanilla
Apricot jam (about 1/4 cup)

To make the dough, combine the flour, butter, sour cream and water on a butcher block board and chop with a meat cleaver, turning often until it becomes a dough consistency.  Chop, don't knead, as the dough will not be flaky if you knead it.  I chose to use my food processor, as chopping/mixing the dough can take up to an hour or more to finish.  I place the butter, flour and sour cream in the food processor with the S-blade and pulsed it to combine.  Slowly adding 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time through the top feeder tube and stopping the water as soon as the dough comes together to form a ball.

Divide the dough into 8-12 equal parts.  Wrap each in plastic wrap or waxed paper and chill overnight.  The next morning, roll each out to a circle the size of a standard pizza pan. I rolled on parchment paper so I could transfer easily to a baking sheet to bake.  Prick the dough all over before baking each rolled layer for approximately 10 minutes at 400.  Have a lot of counter space ready as you bake each one individually as you need to let them cool completely and they are delicate.  I chose to make 10 layers pastry.

To make mine all uniform, I used the bottom of a 9" springform pan round and laid it on top of the hot pastry directly out of the oven.  I quickly scored and cut around it with a sharp knife while it was hot. I saved the cuttings in a bowl to crush later for the final top layer instead of making an extra disk to bake and crumble.  If you can roll perfect circles in uniform shape, you won't need to do this.

Make the filling:  Beat the whipping cream and sugar together and cool in the refrigerator.  Mix the eggs yolks and butter together and add vanilla.  Fold into the cream to keep it light and fluffy.  Note:  I didn't have 2 cups of whipped cream so I used 1 cup cream and 1 cup half and half.  Obviously this doesn't whip up stiff so I ended up making my own filling version using a frosting-type mixture similar to what I make for Red Velvet Cake.  It's butter, sugar, vanilla and then mixing it with a cooked and cooled flour/water mixture.  I added this to the eggs and cream to stiffen it up and it was wonderful and light and delicious.  You can really use any vanilla filling you like best but the one listed is simple and perfect if you have the whipped cream on hand.

To assemble, I chose to use a large 10" round springform pan but that is just me because I'm not making this to serve right away for an event and will be freezing it.  Most people just assemble it to serve.  Start with one pastry, spread a thin layer of filling and top with another pastry.  Warm the apricot jam to melt smooth.  Every third or fourth layer of pastry you can brush it with a thin layer of apricot glaze.  Continue until all the pastry layers and fillings are used up.  Top with a last layer of filling/frosting and cover in the crumbs from a crushed pastry or if you have scraps from cutting circles.  Chill.  This can serve about 26-30 people if  you need it to as it's very tall and rich and a small piece goes a long way!

*Some people may use Wondra flour.  I used White Lily.

I chose to make my dough in a food processor instead of a traditional way

You decide how many layers you want it to be but make it at least 8 or 10 and up to about 15
I decided to build it in a spring form pan as I am storing ours in the freezer and not using it all right away
Mine is 10 layers pastry and 10 layers filling with a top layer of crushed pastry for a total of 22 layers

This can serve from 16-30 people depending on how you cut it. It's rich and pieces should be small!

You might be interested in these related products from Amazon: 

Leak proof Springform Pan
Nordic Ware Leak Proof Springform Pan, 10 Cup, Assorted Colors
Beyond Gourmet Unbleached Parchment Paper

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What restaurants are open on Easter?

I've never known or been a part of a family that went out to eat at a restaurant for Easter (or any holiday for that matter) but I know there are those that do and this post is for them, as well as those who aren't cooking this year, aren't visiting anyone who is or just wants a break and wants someone else to cook that day.

What restaurants are open on Easter Sunday?   Here is a quick list of many I found but keep in mind many hotels and Mom and Pop restaurants also offer Easter (and other holiday) buffets or meals.  You can also find some great options for someone else to cook your meal and either have it delivered or go pick it up ready to go and serve in your home from your local grocery store.

Sources: Southern Living, Time

Bob Evans
Buffalo Wild Wings
Burger King
Golden Corral
Olive Garden
Outback Steakhouse
Red Lobster
McCormick &Schmick’s
HomeTown Buffet
Old Country Buffet
Cracker Barrel
The Cheesecake Factory
Papa John’s Pizza.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
The Capital Grille
Buca di Beppo

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13 Recipe Ideas for Easter!

Just a tiny smidgen of the recipes on An American Housewife throughout the past 12 years... chosen at random as recipe ideas but you can search for many more ideas using the search box to the right or by labels!  I especially love the idea for using up leftover Peeps... a beautiful pastel rice krispy bar!

Use up those leftover Peeps - Peep Krispy Bars!

Use up those leftover candy bars! Candy Bar Cheesecake
Pastel Easter Tye-dyed Bars
Cheesecake Bars (start with a yellow cake mix)
Lemon Bars
Sugar Free Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Hashbrown Potatoes with Ham
Almond Bon Bon Cookies for Easter
Cut Out Cookies for Easter
Pretty Meringue Cups with Raspberries for Easter!
Broken Glass Dessert with Ladyfingers
Candy Bar Cheesecake Bars

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Sugar Free Angel Food Cake and Microwave Lemon Curd

Angel Food Cake

2 1/2 c natural sweeteners or sugar
1 1/2 c  flour (I used wheat berries I ground myself but you can use all purpose from the store)
1/4 t sea salt
2 1/2 c egg whites
1 t cream of tartar
1 t LorAnn Princess Cake Flavoring or 1/2 t lemon flavoring along with
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

You can use a regular angel food cake pan or if you want a sheet pan, use a 9X13.  You do not do anything to prep an angel food pan but if you use other pans, you need to line bottom and sides of a 13- x 9-inch pan with aluminum foil and do not grease pan or foil.

In a bowl, mix the sweeteners (I used a mixture of Truvia and Swerve along with 10 drops sucrarose liquid) with the flour and salt.  Whisk or sift together to blend.  In another bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold in sugar mixture, 1/3 cup at a time. Carefully fold in flavorings. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the lower part of the oven, approximately 30 to 35 minutes or until the center is done. If you used an angel food pan, invert the cake on a glass soda or empty wine bottle til cool.  With a sheet pan, invert cake onto a  wire cookie cooling rack.  Let cool until completely cool before removing the cake from the pan. 

Ice if you wish - my family never really liked frosting or icing on angel food.  We loved it plain, served with ice cream for birthdays or topped with cherry pie filling or lemon curd for regular desserts.

I topped this one with homemade sugar free lemon curd!  The first night I served squares of cake with lemon curd on top and the second day I split the rest of the cake and put the lemon filling in the center.

 When you make the angel food cake without 'sugar' but with natural sweeteners,
it has a slightly different texture - but similar to what you are used to.
However: a homemade angel food does taste and look different than a store bought mix.
You won't have that odd 'tang' of the store bought mix, and it's more wholesome than the airy store bought mix.
Personally I grew up with the store bought kind and love it - but it's mostly 'air' so
I find the homemade versions are much, much more filling!


Lemon Curd - quick and easy in the microwave!

3/4 c natural sweeteners or sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/2 c water
2 beaten egg yolks
1 t shredded lemon peel (I left this out - I was out and haven't bought any.  Just use a little more lemon juice or a dash of lemon extract)
3 T lemon juice
1 T butter

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the sweeteners and cornstarch.  Stir in water.  Stir in egg yolks, lemon peel and juice.  Whisk.  Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and whisk.  Microwave about 2-3 minutes more, stiring or whisking after each minute.  Add the butter - one more whisk.  Let cool until you use.

 Once you do the final whisk and add the butter, you get the beautiful finished curd
that you see in the photo at the top  of this recipe.  Here is the final whisk from the microwave
before the butter.  It all comes together beautifully.

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - American Housewife at Amazon

You can find the natural sweeteners (Truvia and Swerve used for this recipe) as well as angel food pans, 9X13 pans, wheat berries to grind your own wheat, microwave bowls, KitchenAid stand mixers and more.  Thank You!

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Reposting: Using Spent Grain from Craft Beer Making In Dog Biscuit Snacks

Reposted from 2014:

My husband enjoys making craft beers but we both feel guilty throwing out the spent grain after it cooks so we find creative ways to use it.  While composting it works and you can use 1/2 c to 1 c increments in homemade breads - I have started to use it primarily just for dog biscuits.  Our dogs know them as 'snacks' and you have to s-p-e-l-l out the word because yes, they know it and yes, they will immediately run to the laundry room door and wait for their human to go get them their 'snack'.

If your dogs like peanut butter, this has a faint peanut butter smell and taste as they do use about a cup of peanut butter.  My dogs love garlic and I like to give them garlic foods as a natural flea and tick deterrent so a garlic, pizza sauce flavored biscuit is a hit in our house.  I wouldn't use things like cheese in them though, as I assume they would go rancid... although I'm quietly asking myself if a cheese powder would work ok... hmmm.  I may have to play around with that idea!  But for now I use items I can incorporate that can be baked a long time, to a hard, crisp biscuit without going bad, molding or going rancid.  This one works great!

Why are they round?  Because it was easy.  I wish (!!!) I had a set like this;  Dog Bone Cookie Cutter Set but alas - with the 100+ cookie cutters I have, I do not have a dog bone cutter and shaping the dough into little bone shapes lasted for 4 bones before I got sick of it and started to roll out the dough and cut with a round cutter.  Fast. Easy. Perfect.  Shape them however YOU want.  Your dog doesn't really care.

Dog Biscuits

4 c 'spent grain' from homemade beer brewing
2-3 c flour
1 c peanut butter or 1 c pizza sauce
2 T fresh minced garlic (optional with the pizza flavor)
2 eggs

Mash everything together (I use my hands) and add more flour a little at a time until it comes together to form a nice ball of dough.  Roll out and cut into shapes or use a scoop and shape into flats with your hands, roll out and cut into squares with a knife... etc.  Completely up to you how you want to shape them.  NOTE:  About 1/2 inch is about as thick as you want to make them as thicker biscuits take longer to bake.

Bake about 30 minutes at 350 and turn your oven down to 225.  Let the biscuits bake a couple hours until completely dried and crisp - the centers need to be crisp and dry like a Milk Bone biscuits or the snacks will go bad if stored at room temperature.  I baked mine about 4 hours, turned off the oven and went to bed, leaving them in the hot oven all night. 

Spent grain

Form a dough ball

Roll out or shape as you and your dogs like best

Bake and bake and bake until completely dry and crisp all the way through
You might also be interested in related products available to order through Amazon;

 Blonde Beer Kit
 Everyday IPA Kit
 Grapefruit Honey Ale Kit

Dog Bone Cookie Cutter Set

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