The Best Beef and Vegetable Stew

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!

This recipe is SO TASTY.  I apologized to my family a bit when I served it... I said, "I know stew is an old Grandma style recipe but...."  and I need not have bothered.  It was met not only with great enthusiasm, but the dish was scraped clean!

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.

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Easy and Delicious No Work Crockpot Homemade Applesauce!

Homemade Applesauce

4 lbs apples (about 10 medium of any variety reds you have on hand)
About 1/3 - 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 pint canning jars with lids and bands
optional:  sweetener and/or cinnamon 

You can peel the apples if you wish but the peels add color and nutrients to the applesauce and they get very soft during cooking so they are easily mashed in.  I just wash mine and then use an apple corer/slicer to core and cut them into wedges with one push.  Using this I have about 4 pounds of apples cored, sliced and into a crock pot in about 2-3 hours.  I just put them in and forget about them - and a couple hours later, open it, stir, and see if they are soft.  Your brand and size slowcooker is going to make a difference in how long they cook as well as the variety of apple you are using, how hard/crisp they are and how old they are.

Combine the apples with just enough water to coat the bottom of your crockpot or slowcooker so they don't stick.  Cover and heat on high for about 2-ish hours depending on your brand, size and style slow cooker.  Do not let them burn, but turn it off when the apples are soft.  You can also cook them on the stove if you wish.  On the stove, add enough water so the bottom of the pan is covered and the apples won't stick or burn.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately educe heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 20 minutes, until apples are tender. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.

Get your canning supplies ready.  The jars should be clean and hot; kept in simmering water until you need them.  The rings and lids clean and hot. Have a pot on the stove with water ready to process them in boiling water.

Working in batches depending on the size of your food processor, process them on pulse with the S-blade until just smooth.  Don't over process.
Place apple mixture in a saucepan. Add lemon juice. Bring to a simmer slash boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  You can add a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg if you wish too!

Ladle the applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by sliding a butter knife or skinny spatula around the jar and jiggling it a little to settle the sauce. Wipe the rim with a clean, damp rag or paper towel. Center lid on jar. Screw on the band just to hold the lid in place, not too tight.

Water bath process the jars in a boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove jars and let set on the counter to cool slowly. The lids should all be sealed down tight and not 'give' when pressed in the center with your finger or thumb.  That's it!  You're done.

*You can use citric acid or something like Fruit Fresh to help preserve the lighter color but I didn't on this batch.  You could mix about 1/2 teaspoon citric acid with the water before adding to the apples to cook.

Use a mixture of apples of different varieties for the best flavor.  Don't use green apples or Granny Smith though.

If you own one of these, you can have them sliced and cored in minutes.  You can peel them if you wish! I don't.

Throw them in a crock pot or saucepan on the stove with a little water.  That's it!

When they are tender and break apart easily, it's time to mash them or process them.  As chunky or smooth as you like.

I use a processor and pulse it a few times.  You can mash by hand though.

I added some sweetener and cinnamon to this batch - my husbands favorite.

You can make it very smooth, semi smooth, or leave it chunky.  Whatever you like.

Refrigerate it... or can it.  This batch makes 3 pints with just a little left over (the white dish in the photo above was the leftover after canning).

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Quick and Easy Pink Lemonade Cookies

When I bought a pink lemonade cookie mix in the past as a quick 'whip it up' dessert for one of the many snacks I had on hand to serve at a family reunion; everyone loved them.  They were so tangy yet sweet and they were a hit. 

Last weekend we were again hosting a family reunion at the house and my daughter specifically asked me to pick up another box mix like last time.  Unfortunately, I didn't didn't find any at my local store(s) and apparently they stopped making them.  At least in my area. 

While at the store, I called my daughter to deliver the news I could not find them. Apparently they didn't make them any longer.  She was disappointed, but only briefly. 

"Will you make some up then? 

And I did.  With a lot of cooking and baking to be done, I decided to make this as quick and easy as I could.  Standing in the baking aisle, I brainstormed.  I could make a vanilla cookie with a tangy pink lemonade icing.  I could use...  Kool-aid!

In the end this is what I did;

Pink Lemonade Cookie

1 package sugar cookie mix
1 tub creamy white frosting
1 package dry pink lemonade Kool-aid mix
1 stick butter
1 egg
Mix the cookies as directed on the package with the stick of butter and 1 egg.  Mix approximately 1 teaspoon dry lemonade mix in the tub of vanilla frosting.  I was taste-testing to get the right amount.  I need to add that the lemonade flavor gets much, much stronger over night so keep that in mind when determining how much flavor you want to use and when you want to serve them.  They were tangy yet mild when first mixed and by the 2nd day the lemon tang was much more pronounced. Frost each cookie.

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Hashbrown Bake

Hashbrown Bake

Depending on much you need to make, adjust your amounts accordingly.

Dehydrated hashbrown Potatoes or fresh or frozen
Freeze dried, dehydrated or fresh green and/or red peppers
Jalapeno's - dehydrated, canned, jarred, fresh diced
Dehydrated chopped onions
Crumbled, cooked bacon, bacon bits or crumbled canned bacon like Yoders Bacon
Cheddar or favorite cheese, grated
Green Onions
Cream. half and half or milk
Salt and pepper

Add as many hashbrowns as you need to a bowl of very hot water.  Let reconstitute at least 15 minutes.  You can skip this step if you are using freshly grated potatoes or frozen hashbrowns.

Drain the hashbrowns.  Beat the eggs and add the rest of the ingredients you wish to the bowl.

I do not measure, but for example, I would use about 6 eggs, 2 cups hash browns with 2 cups water, added about 2 T red and green peppers, 1/4 c onions, 1/4 c jalapenos, along with another cup of milk or cream and some bacon and/or ham.  Top with lots of yummy cheese - and this time around I put slices of bacon on top as well.

Place into a greased, oven safe dish and bake 350 for about 45 minutes to one hour or until golden brown, tender, cooked through and done.  Let set at least 10 minutes before slices so it sets up a bit and it can be sliced into portions OR you can just scoop it out hot.

As long as you start with a nice amount of eggs (the binding agent as well as tasting amazing) and hashbrowns, you can add about 2T to a cup of almost any additional yummies you like to it.  For a larger amount, just double everything.  For a more omlet taste use more eggs and less hashbrowns.  You can play with this recipe.

I used lots of yummy dehydrated jalapenos since we like our food nice and spicy.  Don't use this many jalapenos (or any at all) if you don't like it spicy.

Mixing it up.  I went heavy on the hashbrowns and less on the eggs this time.  A nice hearty bake.

Covered with a cheese of your choice.

Make sure you have enough moisture in it when you bake it so it doesn't get too dry!

Normally I cook bacon and add it to the bowl but this time I just laid slices on top.

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