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Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Valerie Boese HeadshotChunky Roasted Butternut Squash Soup is a hearty soup chocked full of potatoes, butternut squash with the flavors of onions, sweet red peppers and parsley all in one tasty pottage. This is a thick creamy soup that has incredible color and flavor.

It's the perfect time of the year to make, rather you have an abundance of these vegetables in your garden now, or you are craving a good soup to warm your soul on a chilly evening, this dish fits the bill.

Photo by Pexels/nataliya

One of the nifty things about this recipe it can be made quickly with a preparation and cooking time of about 45 minutes, the secret is to have the squash cooked in advance. With the squash cooked ahead of time you merely peel a couple of potatoes, saute your veggies, throw it all together and simmer for 10 minutes, and it is ready to be devoured.

butternut squash soup
Photo by Valerie Boese

Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cup raw potatoes chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup raw celery chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup raw onions chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup raw red sweet pepper chopped fine
  • 2 Tablespoons corn or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped fine, plus additional for garnish
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups cooked butternut squash or other winter squash variety
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Hot Sauce for garnish-optional

butternut squash soup
Photo by Valerie Boese


  1. Add potatoes and chicken broth to large saucepan. Cover, bring to boil and simmer potatoes in chicken broth until fork tender about 10-12 minutes. Do not drain.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, add oil to frying pan and heat up on medium heat, adding the onions and celery to the pot, saute for 5 minutes. Next, add red pepper saute for 3 additional minutes, and then add the parsley and saute an extra 2 minutes.
  3. Prepare squash ahead of time, by cutting the squash in half and removing seeds. Add a little water to each squash cavity, and bake at 375 degrees until fork tender, about 50 minutes. Remove squash from oven and scoop the squash out of the charred skin. Add 3 cups of this squash to food processor with one cup of milk and pulse until smooth.

butternut squash soup
Photo by Valerie Boese

Putting it all Together:

  1. Add the cooked onion, celery, red pepper, parsley, pulsed squash, butter, salt, pepper and remainder of milk, to cooked potatoes with chicken broth, cover and bring to a light simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. Garnish with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese and serve. For those of you that like your soup to have a little punch and a few drops of hot sauce.


Don't throw the squash seeds away, they make a scrumptious snack.

  1. Just remove the seeds from the squash before cooking the squash.
  2. Clean them by running under running water over a strainer. Soak them in one cup of water with 1/2 teaspoon salt for 1 hour.
  3. Remove from salted water and lay seeds on a cookie sheet, spray seeds with canola oil, lightly season with salt and garlic powder and bake in a 225-degree oven for an hour or until seeds are crunchy.
  4. butternut squash soup
    Photo by Valerie Boese

Find more squash recipes in our Food and Cooking bookstore

Photos property of Valerie Boese.

Easy Classic Shepherd’s Pie

Valerie Boese HeadshotClassic shepherd’s pie is the dish to of the hour. What can beat cheesy mashed potatoes, veggies, and beef all in one bite?  Shepherd's pie is an excellent dish for any busy weeknight dinner. You are going to love this meal, with so much delicious flavor of beef and healthy vegetables, all packed into one dish for easy cleanup. You will appreciate this dish for the way you can stretch your budget, too; one pound of hamburger and mixed veggies will go a long way, easily satisfying six hungry appetites. This meal is a snap to prepare — just brown beef, top with vegetables, gravy, and mashed potatoes and bake.

Easy Classic Shepherd's Pie

Try this shortcut for quicker preparation; use store-bought gravy or canned mushroom soup. You can make variations of classic shepherd’s pie by adding mushrooms or choosing a different variety of mixed vegetables. There are so many options: cook with the veggies you like or with what you have on hand. You can switch out the beef for ground chicken or turkey, use cream of chicken soup for the gravy, top with crunchy fried onions — the combinations are endless, it all tastes good. Most importantly, finish your busy day by taking time to enjoy a good meal with your family. 

 Shepherd's Pie a tasty meal.

Easy Classic Shepherd’s Pie


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 Tablespoons diced onion
  • 2 cups beef broth room temperature
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups mashed potatoes Hint: mash the potatoes with buttermilk for nice, buttery flavor.
  • 16-ounces mixed vegetables (corn, green beans, carrots, and peas)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Parsley to garnish


1. Brown hamburger in a pan with diced onion, salt, and pepper, cooking until meat it is fully cooked. Remove hamburger from pan, leaving one tablespoon of fat in frying pan*. Add hamburger to 9-by-12 baking dish and top with the mixed vegetables.

Ground beef added to baking dish.

2. Heat the frying pan on medium heat. Add flour to one cup of beef broth, blending with a fork or wire whip until smooth. Pour this mixture into frying pan and cook a few minutes, then add remainder of beef broth and cook about five minutes more until it thickens. Pour over vegetables and hamburger.

Spread mash potatoes over cooked hamburger and veggies.

3. Spread mashed potatoes over hamburger and vegetable mixture, and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake in 375 degrees preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove from oven, top with cheese, and place back in oven to bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven, let set 10 minutes before serving, garnish with parsley, and serve.

*If there was no fat left over after browning the hamburger, add a tablespoon of butter or cooking oil to the pan and heat up on medium heat.

For more recipes see my website Slice of Taste and follow me on Twitter, Homestead Hustle, and Pinterest.

For Chicken Keeping Ideas follow me on TarBox Hollow Poultry.

Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Valerie Boese Headshot

Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Cheesy broccoli soup is a comforting soup that is so delicious; it is a combination of cheese and veggies that cook up quickly for a tasty meal. It is the broccoli cheese soup you will want to make again and again. It has it all, with thick creamy cheese infused with chunks of broccoli and carrots. It makes the perfect family meal addition; serve this tasty soup for dinner, and it will make any chilly evening feel cozy. My family loves this soup — it is a crowd pleaser, great for a brunch or a quick meal. My secret is that it tastes as if I went to a lot of work to make it, but oh how untrue — I can whip up this wonderful soup in 45 minutes or less.

Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup


  • 2 cups raw broccoli cut up into one-inch pieces or frozen
  • 1 stalk celery chopped fine
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar — Sharp cheese will add the best flavor.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup carrots cut into small 1/2-inch cubes ( or use frozen diced carrots)
  • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • Dash of salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add chicken broth, carrots, and celery to pan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes.
  2. Add broccoli and cook 3 minutes until fork tender. Reduce heat to low.
  3. Mix flour into cold milk using a fork or wire whisk, blending until smooth with no clumps.
  4. Pour flour and milk combination into broccoli veggie mixture, heat up slowly until it thickens, being careful not to boil milk, as it will scald. (It would taste fine, but the texture would not be as smooth or as pretty looking.)
  5. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes or until soup thickens, then stir in cheese and 1 tablespoon parsley, save the rest for garnish. Cook an additional 3 minutes on low heat. Top with parsley, crackers, and serve.

Every bite is delicioius!

Hint: You can substitute the broccoli with cauliflower and make cheesy cauliflower soup, both are equally delightful. 

Follow Valerie on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, Homestead Hustle, and on her websites Slice of Taste & TarBox Hollow Poultry.




Broiled Lemon Herb Salmon

Valerie Boese HeadshotFish is one of those foods that should be eaten often because of the health benefits it offers. If you’re like me, you know you should eat more fish, but it never appears to be too appealing unless it's covered in thick crunchy breading. Fish is packed with high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that supports a healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish per week, especially oily fish like salmon, because it is an excellent source of omega fatty-3 acids, which are known to support heart and brain health. Consuming salmon is known to reduce inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease, and improve blood pressure levels. It is a firm and meaty fish that holds together well when grilled.

Never Fail Broiled Lemon Herb Salmon

However, not everyone has a grill, or maybe it is just too cold to stand out and grill. For your next salmon meal try this recipe; it turns out perfect every time. It is super easy and tasty: simply marinate the fish, and broil it for 10 minutes for a quick easy meal. This flavorful marinade, a combination of fresh lemon juice, crushed garlic, soy sauce, and herbs, adds superb flavors to the salmon. 

Best Way Ever to Eat Salmon


  • 1-pound salmon cut into 4 portions                                                                                        
  • Lemon juice (one lemon squeezed, about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Dash of salt and pepper to season
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed



Mix together lemon juice, soy sauce, salt and pepper, parsley, and dill. Pour over salmon and marinate for one hour or longer, then rotate the salmon in the marinade after 30 minutes. 

Wonderful Marinade for Salmon


Preheat oven broiler on high setting or your default broiler setting. Place salmon on a wire rack with a cookie sheet under it, (use wire rack similar to what is used to cool cookies). Place salmon in oven about 8 inches from broiler and broil 10 minutes or until done with an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with your favorite vegetables.

Hint: For a quick meal, marinate the salmon the day before.

For more cooking and homesteading ideas follow me on:

 Twitter Pinterest Homestead Hustle Slice of Taste


Photos by Valerie Boese.

Apple Quinoa with Mixed Berries for Breakfast

Valerie Boese Headshot



Here is a breakfast that will kick start your day, it is made with the wholesome goodness of quinoa, fresh berries, and English walnuts. Try this super easy, delicious quinoa dish for your next breakfast. The secret to making this delicious dish is cooking the quinoa in apple cider instead of water. Be sure you rinse the quinoa before cooking it because it has a bitter tasting coating that naturally deters insects from eating it. Some quinoa does come pre-washed, just check your package for details.

Kickstart your day with 'super foods' quinoa and mixed berries.

Quinoa is an ancient grain grown by the Inca Indians for hundreds of years. It is packed full of nutrition, high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and is one of the few plant sources to contain all 9 amino acids. It is readily available in local markets, and it is fast reaching the status of  a “Super Food.”

Delicious wholegrain quinoa and berries, fill you up and stay with you breakfast!

For a super easy way to enjoy quinoa, make Apple Quinoa with Mixed Berries for breakfast. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a break from the oatmeal blahs, with this delightful dish.

Prep and cook time is around 20 minutes.


1/2 cup quinoa any color

1/4 cup English walnuts optional

2 T toasted coconut

1/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cup blackberries

1/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks

2 Tablespoons pomegranate seeds

1 cup apple cider or 100% apple juice


  1. Rinse quinoa with water before cooking it. Cook quinoa according to package instructions substituting the water with apple cider or 100% apple juice. 
  2. Top cooked quinoa with blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate seeds, fresh pineapple chunks, toasted shredded coconut*, English walnuts and serve. This recipe makes 1-2 servings.

*To toast coconut place on nonstick cookie sheet in middle of the oven under preheated oven broiler for 30 seconds or until slightly browned. Be sure to keep a close eye on it, it will toast fast!

Follow me on Homestead Hustle Valerie Boese,,, Pinterest, and Twitter

Photos courtesy of Valerie Boese

Beefy Taco Salad

Valerie Boese HeadshotBeefy Taco Salad in Edible Bowl

Beefy Taco Salads

Everyone loves tacos, and Beefy Taco Salads are no exception, delicious down to the last scrumptious crumb. Beefy Taco Salads are perfect for a quick meal on a busy weeknight. They are chocked full of goodness and will satisfy any appetite. Prep the taco meat on the weekend, to have it ready for a quick weeknight meal. You can enjoy these delightful taco salads in a homemade edible bowl with authentic Mexican flavors that the whole family will love; one bite is crunch, meat, and cheese!  

Make at home edible taco bowls.

You can make edible taco bowls at home, just like the ones you get in the Mexican restaurants. These edible bowls are easy to make using a taco shell bowl-maker; you can use white or wheat flour tortillas, merely press the tortilla into a taco salad bowl maker and bake them for ten minutes. If you are wondering where to purchase taco shell bowl makers many places now sell them online and in department stores.

Making Beefy Taco Salad

You can also make this delicious salad on a plate without an edible bowl, be sure to add some taco chips for crunch and flavor. Another variation for this salad is chicken taco salad you can substitute grilled chicken breast for the beef, creating a delicious salad. However you make this mouthwatering salad, your family will surely enjoy it, with the zesty meat, cheese, fresh veggies, and tangy dressing. For more recipes like this one, see Slice of Taste food blog.

Beefy Taco Salad on a plate.

Make a delicious Taco Salad using grilled chicken instead of beef.

Grilled Chicken Taco Salad


Beefy Taco Salad with Edible Bowl

Ingredients for Taco Meat

  • 1 pound lean hamburger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato juice

Tangy Taco Salad Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tsp white vinegar  
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Few dashes hot sauce

Ingredients for Salad

  • 4-6 cups shredded lettuce any kind
  • 1/2 green pepper diced
  • 2 green onions diced
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato diced or more to your liking
  • 1 cup cheddar or Colby jack cheese shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro or parsley for garnish optional
  • 4 flour taco tortilla shells

Making Taco Meat

  1. Add hamburger, cumin, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper, to a large pan.
  2. Cook hamburger on medium heat occasionally stirring until done, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add tomato juice and cook an additional 10 minutes on low heat. If meat is clumpy, mash taco meat with a potato masher or pulse it a few times in food processor to work out the clumps.

Hint: Mashing the hamburger while it is cooking will produce fewer clumps.

Making Tangy Taco Salad Dressing

Mix mayonnaise, salsa, garlic, vinegar, parsley, salt, and hot sauce until smooth and set aside.

Making Taco Salad Bowls with taco salad bowl makers

Brush flour tortilla shells with oil and press into taco salad forms; bake 10 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven. Remove from oven and let cool.

Fresh Ingredients Make the Best Salads

Putting it all Together

Add 1/4 of the lettuce to each edible bowl or spread on four plates, next top each salad with one-fourth of the cooked taco meat, and then top the meat with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, cheese, and avocado dividing evenly between each salad. Lastly, top each salad with ¼ of the salad dressing and serve.

Visit Slice of Taste for more Recipes!

Braided Whole Grain Bread

Valerie Boese HeadshotBraided Whole Grain Bread is so easy and delicious to make. Everyone who tries this beautiful whole grain bread can't believe how great it tastes.

It is such an attractive loaf, it will have your guests thinking you went to a lot of work for them. In fact, the actual hands-on time needed to prepare this bread is less than 30 minutes.

Are you wondering how this tasty bread can be made with such little effort? The secret is, use a bread machine. Using a bread machine cuts down the preparation time significantly.

Once you try this recipe, you will want to make this bread often. You won't be waiting for a special occasion to bake this bread, and your friends and family will be so impressed with your baking skills.

homemade bread

White Whole Wheat Flour

A key ingredient to making this whole grain bread so delicious is the use of white whole wheat flour in place of regular whole wheat. White whole wheat has a sweeter and has a lighter flavor than regular whole wheat.

White whole wheat has similar amounts of fiber and nutrition as regular whole wheat but tastes way better. White whole wheat flour is made from hard white spring wheat and is high in fiber, protein, and 100 percent whole grain. It is relatively common and can be purchased online or at your local markets, it is usually non-GMO and sustainably farmed.

Easy steps to making this delicious bread:

  1. Add the ingredients to the bread pan.
  2. In a separate dish add yeast to warm water and let sit for 6 minutes, and then add to bread pan.
  3. Set bread machine to dough or pizza setting and hit start.
  4. Roll out 6 strands of dough and braid it, which takes about 15 minutes.
  5. Now you just sit back and let the braided dough rise.
  6. Add raised braided dough to oven for delicious tasty bread in 25-30 minutes.


  • 2-1/4 cups white whole wheat bread
  • 1-1/2 cup white bread flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons cooking oil, (olive, corn or vegetable)
  • 2 eggs


  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds


  1. In a glass bowl add 1 cup of water and heat up in a microwave to at 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Add yeast to warm water and stir, let sit for 6 minutes.
  2. Add flour, sugar, salt, to bread machine basket.
  3. Once the yeast has worked in warm water for 6 minutes, pour into the bread basket.
  4. Add eggs and oil to the bread basket.
  5. Set bread machine to dough or pizza setting and hit start.
  6. Once the bread machine runs this cycle, take out the dough. Set one-third of dough aside.
  7. Take the other piece and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each piece out to 13 inches in length and form a braid. Lie on a nonstick baking sheet or use parchment paper on baking sheet.
  8. homemade bread

  9. Take the remaining piece of dough and divide into 3 equal portions and roll each one out to 14 inches in length and form a second braid. Take the second braid and lay over the top of the first braid, tucking the ends in neatly. Set finished braid in warm place, and let rise for 45 minutes.
  10. homemade bread

  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  12. Mix remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water in small dish. Gently, brush egg mixture over raised bread and sprinkle with poppy and sesame seeds.
  13. Place unbaked bread on a lower rack in 375 degrees preheated oven and bake until golden brown for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it the last 10 minutes, some ovens run a little warmer.

Without a bread machine:

  1. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients except for yeast.
  2. Add yeast to a cup of warm water and let sit 6 minutes.
  3. Next add yeast and water mixture, eggs and oil to large bowl with dry ingredients. Mix together with a mixer or your hands for 3 minutes.
  4. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic about 8 minutes.
  5. Placed dough in greased bowl and cover, let rise in warm place for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Tip: One way to tell if the dough is done rising is gently push a dent with your finger into the dough if the indentation does not pop back, then the dough is done raising, otherwise, give it more time.

homemade bread

Photos property of Valerie Boese.

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