Gardens Bliss

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!

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.

butternut squash soup

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

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


  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

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

Photos property of Valerie Boese.

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.

It's Not Too Late to Grow Veggies This Summer

Valerie BoeseGood news, you haven't missed your opportunity to plant garden vegetables and herbs this summer. There is still time to get outdoors and sow some seeds to enjoy your own home grown fresh vegetables and herbs. While herbs grow rather quickly, vegetables need a little more time to reach harvest. Most seed packets will note the number of days needed to harvest.

Geographic locations receiving their first frost around 3rd week in September can plant vegetable seeds with a time to harvest of 65 days or less. If you live in a location where your first frost is later than 3rd week in September, you will have more growing days available.


On the flip side if you live an area where your first frost is earlier than 3rd week in September, you will need to consider planting vegetables with a shorter time to harvest. For example, Black Beauty zucchini with 44 days to harvest. To determine your first frost date, go to "The Farmers Almanac."

long cucumber

There are a wide variety of vegetables that can still be planted to be enjoyed this summer. Good vegetable choices to plant now would be cherry-type tomatoes, which usually have a shorter time to harvest time than larger types of tomatoes.

Other decent choices would be zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and kale with time to harvest less than 65 days. These same vegetables often can be planted twice in the growing season to be enjoyed for a longer duration in the summer. Buying plants vs. seeds would be an important consideration, as plants will definitely shorten your time to harvest and allow you to enjoy your vegetables sooner.


lacinato kale

Green beans a tasty vegetable that everyone enjoy, is easy to grow and can be harvested in 45-50 days.

green beans

Some vegetables, like cool crop vegetables, can tolerate a light frost and continue to be productive, which makes them ideal, to plant mid-summer for fall harvest. Cool crops like leaf lettuce, peas, cabbage, broccoli, and spinach grow best when planted in early spring, preferring cooler temperatures to grow.

It does not mean these vegetables won't grow now. They may grow a little slower when the weather is hotter, depending on your particular climate. Planting cool crops mid-summer is well worth the effort to extend the growing season of your garden.


Planting cool crops mid-summer can be a bit of a challenge, particularly in getting the seeds to germinate. Cool crops prefer the cooler and moister soil conditions of springtime. To achieve better germination results, lightly water the soil after planting the seeds and then keep watering them every other day until they come up, unless it rains.

Continue to water them every three days until well established, giving the newly emerged plants time to grow a good root base. It will take approximately two weeks for this to happen. Then you can let mother nature take over, unless your conditions are extremely dry, then keep watering once a week.

purple cabbage

You can plant herbs now to enhance your meals this summer. Favorites like basil, parsley, and cilantro can easily be grown from seeds or plants. Cilantro will often grow up, seed out and be done growing for the season. To enjoy cilantro throughout the summer, plant every four to five weeks for continued harvest.

Another way to enjoy herbs is plant them in a large pot for your patio. Enjoy herbs from your patio and move the pot indoors in the fall for winter enjoyment. Keep them in a sunny window and you may be able to enjoy them all winter.

Basil, parsley, rosemary, and thyme all do pretty well indoors. Be sure to keep them well-watered, herbs take more water than regular house plants. Water recommendation for herbs would be two to three times a week, letting soil dry before watering again.


Go ahead, get out there and enjoy some fresh air and grow some vegetables and herbs this summer. There is nothing more gratifying than going out to your garden and grabbing an armful of fresh veggies and herbs for your dinner table, the taste and quality are unparalleled.

black zucchini

A perfect quote from Thomas Jefferson, he was quite a gardener in his day. "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness."

Photos property of Valerie Boese.

Easy, Tasty Appetizers

Valerie Boese

Four Quick Delicious Appetizers for the Holidays

Nacho 1

Spending time with friends and family during the holidays is the best way to enjoy the season. However, entertaining can be a bit stressful when it comes to preparing food for the occasion. No one wants to spend a ton of time in food preparation. Here are four quick and easy appetizers to prepare that won’t require a lot time or break the budget, yet they taste amazing.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Buffalo Chicken Nachos are a super easy recipe to make for a gathering or just about any time you want something good to eat. They taste out-of-this-world, made with chicken, topped with zesty buffalo wing sauce and lots of fresh ingredients — so yummy.

Nacho 2
Start with simple ingredients!


• 3 cups Tortilla Dipping Chips or other tortilla chips
• 1 grilled chicken breast, fully cooked and diced into small pieces, or 1 cup rotisserie chicken, diced
• hot or mild taco sauce (use your favorite)
• 1/2 cup diced fresh tomato
• 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 1 tablespoon buffalo sauce, plus more to drizzle over nachos
• dash of cumin
• 1/4 fresh lime
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• 2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Mix together sour cream, 1 tablespoon buffalo wing sauce, and cumin, set aside.

3. Layer tortilla chips in medium-sized baking dish, top chips with 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, and drizzle 3-4 tablespoons taco sauce over the cheese and chips.

4. Next, top the cheese-chip mixture with chicken and squeeze fresh lime juice over the mixture, top with remaining cheddar cheese. Place in preheated oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. (You will have two layers of cheese cooked into this recipe.)

Nacho 22

5. Remove chips from oven and drizzle sour cream mixture over them. Top with buffalo wing sauce, followed by diced tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, and fresh cilantro. Serve while warm.

Nacho 3
Hot out of oven ready to eat!

Easy-to-Make Sesame Garlic Humus

humus 3 (2)
Sesame Garlic Humus

Sesame Garlic Humus is another quick and easy appetizer to make, and it is actually healthy for you, too. It is made with peanut butter and sesame oil instead of the traditional Tahini. I like to use peanut butter and sesame oil because they are more readily available and easier to use.

humus 1 (2)
Blend ingredients in food processor until smooth.

HUmus 3 a
Tasty Sesame Garlic Humus, goes great with crackers


• 1 16-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained (ave liquid for later possible use)
• 4 teaspoons sesame oil
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup hot sauce (use your favorite)
• 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
• 1 clove crushed garlic
• 2-4 tablespoons water, or liquid from can of garbanzo beans, if needed
• 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
• 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (or little less for your tastes)


1. Drain garbanzo beans and set aside the liquid for later use.

2. Add drained garbanzo beans, sesame oil, salt, hot sauce, peanut butter, lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes to food processor and process 3-4 minutes, until creamy. If mixture appears a bit dry, add couple tablespoons of the liquid drained from the canned garbanzo beans, or a couple tablespoons of water. (The moisture content in the garbanzo beans may vary a little per brand.) Blend in food processor for an additional 2-3 minutes until smoothed to desired consistency.

3. Humus can be served right away, however, letting it set for an hour or longer will allow the seasonings to flavor the humus to a better flavor.

Famous Artichoke Dip with Chilies

Artichoke 3_resize
Restaurant quality, tastes absolutely amazing!

Amazing Artichoke Dip is an awesome-tasting dip; it is so delicious and very easy to make. It's just a matter of adding the ingredients to a baking dish and placing the dish in the oven until all is melted and gooey! This wonderful dip has a special ingredient, green chilies, which add just the right amount of zest to blend perfectly with the cheeses in this recipe. Green chilies add a wonderful, unique flavor to this traditional dip. Once you taste this dip with green chilies, you will never want to go back to an artichoke dip without them!

Artichoke 5_resize
Famous Artichoke Dip with Chilies

Artichoke 2_resize
Use fresh kale, Parmesan cheese and canned artichokes


• 1 14-oz. can of whole artichokes, chopped into one-inch pieces
• 1 8-oz. pack of cream cheese
• 2 cups fresh kale, cooked, or one package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
• 1 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 2 Anaheim chilies or large green pepper


1. Place chilies or green pepper in oven preheated to 400 degrees F. Cook along enough to blister pepper skin, turning it a couple of times. Remove charred pepper from oven and place in a covered bowl. Let sit a few minutes. Then peel skin from pepper and dice into small pieces. Don't worry if you don't get all the skin off the pepper; it will still be good.

2. Chop fresh kale into one-inch pieces, add to a sauce pan with 2 cups of water added, bring to a boil, and cook 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Or, if you use frozen spinach, you do not need to cook it; simply defrost it and squeeze all the moisture out.

3. In a separate, large bowl, add chopped artichokes, cream cheese, cooked kale, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, pepper flakes, and pepper. Mix all the ingredients together — mixture does not have to be perfectly blended. (Once the ingredients start melting together in the oven, it will be easier to mix them together.)

4. Add mixed ingredients to medium-sized baking dish, place in oven at 325 degrees, and bake for 20 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and stir ingredients together until nicely blended. Place back in oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Green Onion Shrimp Dip

sh 1

Green onion shrimp is an easy, quick dip to make. Simply mix French onion dip with cream cheese and add shrimp! This dip can be made in less than five minutes; it is ready to serve once you have the three ingredients blended together. Wow, how easy is that? Tastes great on crackers or potato chips.


• 1 4-oz. can of shrimp, drained
• 1 8-oz. container of French onion dip, from dairy case
• 4 oz. cream cheese


1. Mix together French onion dip with cream cheese until smooth. Smashing the mixture with a fork works well.

2. Next, blend in the drained shrimp. Ready to serve with potato chips or crackers!


For more delicious recipes, see my food blog:

Sweet Spicy Zucchini Pickle Relish

Valerie BoeseWhat do you do with your garden surplus? Gardeners know that when you plant a garden – while fresh veggies are delicious – a garden can often produce more than what one can eat on a day-to-day basis. In my case I end up with baskets of veggies all over my kitchen, counters topped with veggies, and my fridge jammed packed with veggies too! Oh my, this is my typical garden dilemma, every summer I end up with more veggies than my family can eat.

So, what can you do you with all of these extra veggies? I usually turn to canning them into some new creation. This year I combined zucchini, cucumbers and peppers to make a delicious Sweet Spicy Relish. The relish turned out really good, not too spicy and just the right amount of sweetness.

Sweet Spicy Zucchini Pickle Relish is a nice addition to potato salad, macaroni salad and tartar sauce. It will add the right amount of zesty flavor to your salad dressing recipes. The recipe yields 28 pints, and, if that is too much, simply half the ingredients to make 14 pints. After all, you do want to make some kind of dent in your veggie surplus, right!

I used my food processor to chop all the vegetables in this recipe, and I used the large blue canner to cook the relish. Your local grocer or hardware store should have all your canning supplies, such as canners, canning salt, jars, lids and rings. Give this recipe a try. Making relish is pretty easy, it only takes a bit of time that will be well worth it this winter, long after your garden is gone.

Sweet Spicy Zucchini Pickle Relish canned and ready for the pantry.

Sweet Spicy Zucchini Pickle Relish canned and ready for the pantry.

Fresh sweet peppers of all colors add beautiful color and flavor to your relish. You can use any combination of sweet green, red, yellow or orange peppers.

Fresh sweet peppers of all colors add beautiful color and flavor to your relish. You can use any combination of sweet green, red, yellow or orange peppers.

Sweet Spicy Zucchini Pickle Relish

Sweet Spicy Zucchini Pickle Relish

Yields 28 pints.

22 cups finely chopped zucchini
22 cups finely chopped cucumbers
8 cups finely chopped onions
16 cups finely chopped sweet peppers (half the peppers were red and orange)
1 cup finely chopped hot peppers (if you would rather not have spicy relish, use an additional cup of sweet peppers)
44 tablespoons canning salt
8 to 10 cups water
Ice cubes
14 cups sugar
14 cups apple cider vinegar
8 tablespoons celery seed
8 tablespoons mustard seed

Finely chop up all vegetables using food processor or manual chopper. Cut zucchini and cucumbers into medium-size chunks before adding to food processor. You want the food processor to chop veggies fine, but not too fine, and cutting larger veggies into chunks will allow the food processor to chop them more evenly.

Cut up zucchini and cucumbers into medium size chunks to prepare for the food processor.

Chopped zucchini was finely chopped by food processor. 

Chopped zucchini was finely chopped by food processor.

Scoop out seeds that may have formed in the large cucumbers before chopping with food processor.

Scoop out seeds that may have formed in the large cucumbers before chopping with food processor.

Chop up cucumbers into medium size chunks before adding to food processor.

Chop up cucumbers into medium-size chunks before adding to food processor.

Add all finely chopped vegetables to large container and mix well; add salt, cold water and ice cubes; let set for 2 hours. Drain and rinse with cold water, using a colander to drain off all water thoroughly.

All of the finely chopped veggies.

All of the finely chopped veggies.

In large pot, combine sugar, apple cider vinegar, celery seed and mustard seed; bring to boil. Add vegetables and bring up to high simmer; cook for 10 minutes.

Pack hot relish in pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace at top of jar. To remove bubbles in each jar before capping with lid, insert butter knife and giving mixture slight stir.

To prepare lids for jars, add lids to cold water in small saucepan, add enough water to cover lids, and heat water up to simmer. As you add lids to water in saucepan, rotate lids up and down. By rotating the lids in this fashion, they will be easier to remove from hot water; otherwise it can be hard to get them apart, especially when they are hot.

Add lids to cold water in small saucepan.

Use this wonderful magnetic gadget to remove lids from hot water.

Use this wonderful magnetic gadget to remove lids from hot water.

Remove lids from hot water, one at a time, place on jar of relish and seal snugly with a ring.

Put capped jars in canner, with enough water in canner to measure 4 inches deep after jars have been added to canner. Bring water in canner to low boil and boil relish for 25 minutes.

Lay dry towel on counter, remove hot jars from canner and set on towel. Let set 24 hours before moving jars and removing rings.

Before placing in pantry, press down on each lid with index finger to make sure jar is sealed. (An improperly sealed jar will make a noise like a hiccup when you press your fingers on top of the lid. If there is no noise or give in the lid as you press down on it, the jar sealed well.)

If any did not seal, store unsealed jars in refrigerator and use as needed. Jars that successfully sealed can be stored in pantry, for 1 year or longer.

Don't be alarmed, normally heating process in canner allows for lids to seal well; for this batch, all 28 pints sealed perfectly.

Ready for the table a wonderful zesty relish!

Ready for the table a wonderful zesty relish!

**Hint add 1/2 cup vinegar to canner to keep water stains from forming on jars as they cook.

For more delicious recipes see my food blog, Slice of Taste.


Easy Whole Grain Focaccia

Valerie BoeseDo you eat whole grains? Eating whole grains can be easy in theory, but actually doing it, can be a challenge with today’s meals. I have been looking and I do not see very much, if any, whole grains in our everyday American diet. I think most people really don’t know what whole grains are, let alone know how to cook them. You probably think of whole grains as whole wheat bread, raisin bran cereal, or oatmeal. While these are whole grains, there are many more types of whole grains.

Let’s define whole grains: Whole grains contain the germ, endosperm and the bran. Types include brown rice, millet, bulgur, quinoa, barley and many more. I think most people believe they need to eat whole grains for fiber, which is partly true, but whole grains offer so much more than fiber. Whole grains are good sources of the protein, vitamins and minerals that our body needs to be healthy. For example, 2 tablespoons of wheat germ has 10 minerals, with six being trace minerals, two times the daily requirement for Omega-3 fatty acid (which raises the good cholesterol in your body and removes the bad cholesterol), and two times the daily requirement of vitamin E, plus 3 grams of protein, wow, all of this in just in two tablespoons.

Whole grains

I figure we are not meant to be overweight; this isn’t rocket science, we plainly are not eating enough of the right types foods to give our body proper nutrition, so we are always hungry, eating more of the wrong types of foods that make us eat more of the wrong types of foods, a vicious circle that can lead to obesity, diabetes, etc. We really need to think about adding whole grains back in to our diet, eating foods that will provide nutrition that will satisfy our hunger.

I made the change; I decided to start adding a variety of whole grains into my everyday cooking. I started with ground flax, wheat germ, millet, barley and bulgur. I found I could add wheat germ to pancake batter, meatloaf, hamburgers and homemade breads. I have been adding millet, barley and bulgur to my broth-based soups. I found flax is easy to add to fruit smoothies and cooked oatmeal. There are many more whole grains that I am excited to try. Cooking with new grains is an adventure; they offer new flavors and textures, making meals for my family tastier and healthier. Buying whole grains today is easy; they are now readily available in most grocery stores, in the healthy food aisle.

Check out one of my latest whole grain recipe, Easy Whole Grain Focaccia. It was easy to make using my bread machine. I took my white flour recipe and substituted ground flax, wheat germ and white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour is a grain that has been milled using white wheat, which tastes similar to bleached white flour, except, it is way more nutritious.

Whole Grain Focaccia transforms an old Italian favorite in to a healthy whole grain bread. The bread is topped with olive oil, sautéed red onions and rosemary. The smell of this bread baking in your kitchen is so amazing; the aroma of fresh-baked bread combined with the savory smell of rosemary is oh so wonderful. Try this bread with your next meal as is or top it with garlic butter, and toast it under the oven broiler. Yum!

Use savory ingredients, rosemary and red onion. Complete recipe follows.

Rosemary and Red Onion

Add yeast to warm water to let it work first.

Let yeast work in warm water

To make, add the ingredients to your bread machine and use the dough or pizza cycle; some bread machines note pizza for their dough cycle. When the dough cycle finishes, divide dough into two pieces. The dough may be a little sticky, lightly flour each half and press each on to a cookie sheet layered with a sheet of parchment paper or oiled well. Shape each piece of dough into an oval pressing it down and spreading it out on the pan, to about 1/2-inch thick. Then top each shaped oval piece with half of the red onion, rosemary and oil mixture.

Press dough out

Let rise in a warm place. I will turn on my overhead stove light and let it rise there for about 1 hour. You can tell it is done rising, when you put a small dent in dough with your finger, about 1/4 inch deep and the dough does not bounce back. Add to preheated oven at 375 F and bake for 1 to -15 minutes until golden brown.

Ready for oven!

Ready for oven!

Ready to eat ... Yum!

Ready to eat...Yum!

Tastes wonderful warm with butter.

Whole Grain Focaccia Bread

Whole Grain Focaccia
3/4 cup water heated to 105 to 110 F
1  1/2 teaspoons of yeast
1  1/2 cup white bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat white flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup wheat germ
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter chopped in several pieces
1 large egg
3 tablespoons olive or corn oil (olive oil is best)
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed

Add yeast to warm water and let set for 6 minutes.

Once the yeast mixture is done working, add to it flours, flax, wheat germ, sugar, salt, butter, yeast water mixture and egg to bread machine cannister. Set bread machine to dough or pizza cycle and let it run.

While dough is being made. Add olive oil to medium frying pan and add rosemary and red onion slices, heat on medium heat until onion is tender.

Once the cycle is finished, remove dough from bread machine canister and on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into half. (Use two cookie sheets, cover each cookie sheet with parchment paper or cooking oil.) Lay one piece of dough on each cookie sheet. Pat each piece of dough in to an oval shape about 1/2-inch thick, top with cooked rosemary and red onion mixture. Let rise for about 1 hour.

Hint: The dough will be done rising when you slightly dent the dough about 1/4 inch with your finger and the dough does not pop back.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for about 18 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

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