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Easy BBQ Side Dish: Hashbrown Casserole #BornOnTheFarm

Hashbrown Casserole

I make it a goal to use the grill as often as possible in summer. We have a nice sized one with a rotisserie and a side burner, so there’s a lot we can do out there. Plus it’s natural gas, so we never again have to run out half-way through a roast to pick up more propane! (Been there, done that. Not fun.) I also make it a goal to either entertain here or get invited out to as many BBQ celebrations as possible. Our warm weather lasts for such a short time, I want to make the most of it and enjoy cooking and eating outdoors with family and friends. Agree?

For those occasions when you are invited out and are wondering what to bring along, I present this super simple Hashbrown Casserole. Potato, cheese, sour cream – how can you go wrong? And it goes so well as a side with BBQ meats – pork chops, ribs, steak are all great matches. I prepared this one in our oven, although in retrospect I could have done this on the grill in a foil pan, with the lid down. Hmm. Will try that another time and let you know how it goes! You really can cook almost anything on your BBQ. Remember our pizza experiment?

Hashbrown Casserole Ingredients

Hashbrown Casserole

1 pkg frozen hashbrowns
500ml Gay Lea Original Sour Cream
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups shredded cheese (I use a Tex-Mex blend)
1/4 tsp garlic salt
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Press into the casserole and bake for 40-50 minutes, until nicely browned.

Make this a day ahead of the party and store it in the fridge over night. If you’ve used a glass, ceramic or stoneware dish, heat it up in your host’s microwave when it’s time to serve. If you’ve done it in a foil pan, cover with foil and see if they have room on their grill to re-heat.

I served this up with some grilled Ontario pork chops and fresh, local asparagus. So good!

Gay Lea’s Sour Cream makes it into a lot of our summer meals – and year round for that matter.  We use it as a topping on soups, nachos, tacos, and more. And of course it’s vital to my guacamole and forms the basis of many quick dips tossed together when company drops by. I offer some more ideas in this post from April.  We opt for the Original version, as Hubs prefers that flavour, but Gay Lea makes a range of sour cream varieties, including a lactose free version. Which one is your favourite?

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Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.


David’s Condiments – Heart Healthy, Great Tasting, Local {Review & Giveaway} {TGCBB}

The Great Canadian Blog Bash

I was recently invited to a special BBQ event, where I was introduced to a local company and talented chef (though he calls himself a chef-in-training). David’s Condiments is based in Toronto, and is entering its third year of operations. This company’s story is one of small business blossoming and success, beginning with production and distribution operating right out of David’s own kitchen. Today you can find his rubs, marinades and pastes right across the country in a variety of specialty and gourmet outlets as well as in nationally known restaurants.

David’s Condiments grew out of a personal tragedy and very real health concerns. David lost his father to complications after cardiac surgery, and then watched his father-in-law survive the same surgery just weeks later. When his father-in-law was placed on a strict low sodium diet, the whole family suddenly became much more aware of salt content in foods and became careful label readers. Having identified a lack of low sodium gourmet seasonings on the market, David worked to develop his own, for his family’s use. Following raves from family and friends, David’s Condiments was born and the line greatly expanded.

The recipes for these seasonings are all low sodium, with no added salt and no artificial preservatives. The flavour comes from the various herbs and spices used, and you would never know there’s no salt in your meal!

At the event we were treated to an array of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, all made with David’s own seasoning mixes. A dash of seasoning, a splash of olive oil, and on to the grill. Easy and delicious.

Our menu for the day

I had a hard time determining which course was my favourite. I loved the grilled prosciutto-wrapped asparagus done with the Special Steak Rub. It’s a really versatile mix, reminiscent of Montreal Steak Spice, without the salt and preservatives. We usually grill our asparagus with oil, salt and pepper, but I’ve told Hubs to try this run out next time. The striploin, my favourite cut, was awesome. The rub gave a great taste but didn’t mask the flavour of the beef. David recommends letting your steaks sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before grilling. Don’t marinate, but add a splash of olive oil while resting. Then sear the steak before adding seasoning to seal in the natural juices. It was divine!

His line also include a Caesar Salad paste. It is certified gluten-free, with no dairy, no eggs. It also comes in a vegan version, with no anchovies. Just combine 1 part paste with 2 parts olive oil to make a dressing. Or spread it over pieces of baguette with a little oil, then heat in the oven or grill to make a yummy garlic bread. The Caesar salad we enjoyed at the event was yummy, but, because I’m me, I would add some parmesan to it if I served it at home. I’m a big parm fan! But, I love that these are so heart healthy and safe for different dietary concerns as well.
Overall, I was very impressed with this line of condiments. Taste was great, and the heart healthy aspects definitely appeal to me. Plus, I like to support local and small business wherever I can. Currently I have two beer can chickens roasting on my grill, seasoned liberally with the David’s Condiments Chicken Rub. The smell is fantastic!
One final note – as part of David’s commitment to heart health, a portion of all proceeds from the sale of his products goes towards the creation of an education program for heart patients as they return home from the hospital. A great cause to support!

A Giveaway

Sharing the great taste! One lucky Raising My Boys reader will take home a prize pack of three rubs from David’s Condiments, as pictured here. This includes the classic Special Steak Rub, plus the slightly spicy Peri Peri, and the delicious Chicken Rub.  Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below, and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EDT, July 11. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ranchify Your Summer {Recipe}

Although I don’t consider myself a true foodie, I will say that I love to cook, bake, and eat. I have a lot of fun in my kitchen and tend to be the kind of cook who throws things together that seem likely combos and hope for the best, rather than following recipes. I think I learned that from my grandmother, who only used recipes for baking, and even then only sometimes. So, I figured I was up for the challenge when I was contacted by the folks at Hidden Valley with an invitation to participate in their Ranchify Your Recipe challenge.
This challenge leads up to Hidden Valley Ranch’s participation in the Calgary Stampede, along with celebrity chef Ned Bell from Vancouver’s Four Seasons Restaurant. This is the third year of their collaboration, and Ned has created a collection of yummy recipes to share at the Stampede.  The winner of this challenge will have their own recipe printed and distributed to thousands of visitors at the 2013 Calgary Stampede! How cool would that be? (They will also receive a professional blender, and 3 runners-up will receive $150 giftcards.) Of course, the judging will be done by Chef Ned Bell himself.
The guidelines for this challenge – use fresh ingredients, and include one of the offerings in the Hidden Valley Ranch line. I received three different flavours to try, plus a gift card to purchase other ingredients.  After sampling the flavours, and while enjoying a really hot and humid summery week, I decided to go with a fresh and delicious summer salad, that also involved the BBQ. I am all about the BBQ at this time of year especially. 
Without further ado, here is my entry …
What do you think? I found that the Hidden Valley Spicy Ranch was a perfect fit for the grilled corn and black beans. The recipe has a nice Tex-Mex flavour to it. Let me know if you try it out, and wish me luck!


Cooking for Father’s Day #CBias #Shop

What can you get for the man who has everything? And, by “everything,” I of course mean me and our two gorgeous kids 🙂 But in all seriousness, he and I both tend to just pick things up as we need them, and we’ve gotten to a point in our lives when we’ve accumulated a lot of the usual bigger ticket things we might need for our house or our hobbies. I certainly can’t buy movies or music for him. He’s got that well covered, and I have no idea what’s already in his extensive library. He’s quite particular about his electronics so that category only works when he gives me a list.
On their way to a Blue Jays game

Maybe the gift of a day off is what he needs. (In respect of the occasion, I’ll lay off the jokes about how that may or may not be different than any other day ….) On Father’s Day I promise not to pull out the honey-do list. I won’t bug him about mowing the lawn or doing the laundry (both his regular duties), and I’ll let him decide how he wants to spend his day.  Maybe there’ll be some Lego building with his boys, or some cuddly family movie time.

Something else I can do is relieve him of any cooking responsibilities for the day. After all, I never have to cook on Mother’s Day. We generally both do our equal share of the cooking around here. Then whoever didn’t cook that meal is responsible for clean-up. It works out well. We each have particular meals that are “ours,” and the other one won’t attempt. If the BBQ is involved, Hubs is normally in control, although I’m pretty good with the grill too. Lately I’ve taken to grilling chicken wings, and that’s become one of my special meals.

Proud of his black belt son

I suspect his meal of choice on Father’s Day would probably be a nice thick striploin, but then he’d have to grill it himself. He has steak down to a science, and I could never get his done the way he likes it. It would be a disappointment I’m sure, so that’s out. I decided to take inspiration from what might catch my eye at our local FreshCo, as part of a Collective Bias shop.

When I was going through their flyer I saw that Maple Leaf Prime whole chickens were on a major sale.  He does like the way I do roast chicken, so I’m thinking I’ll take over the grill next Sunday and prepare a manly (and easy!) Beer Can Chicken for him to enjoy.

If you haven’t cooked a Beer Can Chicken before, it really is worth a try. You simply season a whole chicken (innards removed) to your taste, open a can of beer, pour half out (into a glass to drink would make sense), make a couple of extra holes in the top of the can, and then slide it inside the body cavity. Place the chicken into a metal pan to catch the drippings, move it to a preheated grill, and cook on indirect medium heat (covered) until done. About 25 minutes per pound. The beer keeps the chicken really moist and flavourful.

I did a test run tonight while Hubs was out. While I was at Fresh Co I picked up some fresh corn (another of his faves). We usually cook the corn in boiling water, but I wanted to grill it this time. To grill corn, you first soak the cobs in cold water for about an hour. Leave the husks on, but remove the silk sticking out the top. The soaking will prevent the husks from catching fire.  I added my corn to the grill for the last 20-25 minutes of the cooking time.

Looks good, right?

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, as the old saying goes. I hope Hubs will like this idea for his special meal next weekend. I imagine there’ll be a present as well. I’m sure our boys will want to pick up a special something for him. 

You can find out more about my FreshCo shop and see pictures of my experience over at my Google+ page.
Food, Recipe

BBQ Pizza? Why Not!

You know how you can get up in the morning some days and have a burst of energy and insight and plan and start a meal for supper, before you head out the door to work? Me neither. But sometimes Hubs is capable of this miracle. Yesterday morning he decided that we would have homemade pizza for supper, since the Teen would be with us, and we haven’t had it in a while.  I heard him mixing the dough, and thought, “Yes, that sounds like a yummy idea.”
All was well, and I felt like we were ahead of the game.
Until, about half-way to work, the coffee finally kicked in, and I asked him, “How are you planning on cooking the pizza tonight?” “Huh? Oh, crap.”
You see, we have been without an oven for about a month now.* We’ve been coping pretty well, but there are certain meals we can’t make. Like pizza. Yeah.
Then it hit me – what about the BBQ. People do pizza on the grill, right? We have cooked pretty much everything else out there, so why not. Hubs was dubious, but I felt confidence in the wisdom of my friends and followers. So I took it to Twitter and Facebook. Oh the responses I got!
Apparently this is the easiest thing in the world, and delicious to boot. So we dove in. (Thank you all for your input!! You know who you are …)
We prepped the dough as usual, but pressed it out a little thinner than we would for the oven. I told Hubs that folks said to go light on the toppings, and he did hold back a little,at least on the sauce, but we still had lots of cheese and pepperoni. Everything was readied in advance.
Slice the pepperoni pretty thinly
Oil the pan to help ease the dough off onto the grill.
Some corn meal helps as well.


Oil the grill as well.
Make sure the flames die down
before adding the pizza dough.
Preheat and use high heat.
Check the bottom after 2-3 minutes to
make sure it’s browning, not burning.
Ensure it doesn’t burn in one area by rotating the
dough about half-way through cooking. (Thanks Darryl!)
Slip the dough off the pan
and place directly on the grill


When the crust looks nice and brown on the bottom, it’s time for the flip. But first be sure to oil the top of the crust so it doesn’t stick when you flip it to the grill. We removed the crust back onto our pan to do the oil and add toppings, then replaced on the grill. To avoid the intense heat. Just be sure to close the lid of the BBQ to keep the heat in while you’re topping.


Check out the great grill marks and lovely golden brown  colour. And we only lost a little bit. (Ignore the martini glass. Yeah.)

Add a light coating of sauce, then your toppings, including cheese. This all goes on the grilled side. Then transfer back to the grill.

Reduce heat slightly and cover to melt the cheese.

Check for doneness after a couple of minutes. Lift the crust gently to check for browning vs. burning underneath. We had a bit too much cheese on ours, so we put it under the broiler for 2 minutes at the end to get things all melty and crispy on top. We’ll go lighter on the toppings next time.

This was definitely not our usual homemade pizza, or “Daddy Pizza” as it is known around here. But boy was it ever tasty! The thinner crust, the grilled taste, the olive oil – it was scrumptious. I asked the Teen what he thought and he gave it the thumbs up. He commented that the crust was thin, but still soft inside with a nice crispness on the outside. He said he preferred our usual thick crust pizza from the oven, but he’d happily eat this one too. For me, I think I prefer this one, as I like the crust a lot better. Hubs and Little Boo both enjoyed it too and we have added this to our list of fun family meals!
I think I might try this out with some sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. What do you think would taste great on a grilled pizza? Have you tried this before?
*We have a gas stove, so we can’t mess around to try and fix the oven ourselves. It seems the lighting element in the oven is cracked. Top burners and broiler still function fine. Our part is finally ordered, and we’re expecting the repair guy next week. Wish us luck!