Tag Archives: American food

Easy Sausage Gravy & Cheddar Biscuit Skillet

26 Sep

I am a delinquent blogger and I apologize. I’ve got pictures of other meals sitting on my phone that were good but this dish made me want to get back to blogging so I wouldn’t forget what I’d done to make it.

It’s certainly not diet food, but this version of sausage gravy and biscuits is a hearty classic American breakfast made in a single pan. So easy!

And I think making the biscuits ‘Red Lobster style’ put it over the top.

Easy Sausage Gravy & Cheddar Biscuit Skillet


For the gravy
1 pound loose breakfast sausage
3 cups milk
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
fresh ground pepper (to taste)
salt or seasoning salt (to taste)

For the biscuits
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp buttermilk powder (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a deep oven-save skillet, brown the sausage. (I used some frozen breakfast sausage patties and just broke them up.) When brown, remove the sausage and set it aside but keep the fat in the pan. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and whisk it into the fat. Let the mixture cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly whisk in the milk and let the entire mixture come to a bubble. Add lots of freshly ground pepper and salt (I used seasoning salt for a bit more flavour). Let simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Return the sausage to the gravy and stir to combine.

While the sauce is cooking, combine the Bisquick, shredded cheese and (if you have some) buttermilk powder in a bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and lightly stir in the milk with a fork. Do not overmix.

Drop the biscuit mix on to the sausage gravy in heaping teaspoonfuls. I used a large size cookie scoop. Leave about 1 inch between each biscuit.

Bake at 450 for about 12 minutes or until the biscuits begin to brown on the top.

If you’d like to make the biscuits ‘Red Lobster’ style, melt 2 tbsp butter and brush over the biscuits then quickly shake some garlic salt over top as soon as the dish comes out of the oven.

A few sprinkles of parsley finishes everything off.

Serve immediately.


Making a Run for the Border – Part 2

23 Jun

In part one, I talked a bit about American treats that I get nostalgic about as well as some American-only pantry staples. Today I’m going to talk a bit about US shopping options close to Ottawa and why it’s often worth the price of gas and bridge fair to get there.

Image courtesy of ashphaltplanet.ca.

For those of us who live in eastern Ontario, there are a few options within a short drive:

  • Ogdensburg, NY – A short 1 hour drive down the 416 and over the bridge from Prescott, Ogdensburg is a smallish border town but it has a Lowes’, a Walmart, several options for groceries and pharmacy products and a couple of women’s clothing stores.
  • Watertown, NY – About 2.5 hours from downtown Ottawa and across the Thousand Islands Bridge between Brockville and Gananoque, Watertown has a lot more to offer with a small mall, perennial favourite Target and my personal favourite – Kohl’s. Kohl’s is a department store with great quality and on-trend clothing and home products at excellent prices. If you go, check out  the Texas Roadhouse for lunch. They make a mean steak and will stuff you until you’re about to burst.
  • Massena, NY –  Massena is 2 hours from Ottawa but a quick 20 minute trip from Cornwall. Similar to Watertown, it has a small mall but lacks some of the big box options like Target and Kohl’s. It does have a Home Depot though as well as several grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • Syracuse, NY – Syracuse is the big daddy of shopping options in the area but it’s also the furthest away – a 3 hour jaunt. It is doable as a day trip, but I like to turn it into an overnighter. They have a large mall, and just about any big box store you could want in nearby Clay, NY.

Why Make the Trip?
Invariably when I tell some folks I’m planning to make a trip down, they ask me why I’d waste my gas to go down there when Ottawa has a pretty good shopping selection. Two reasons: variety and price. Even with gas and bridge fare, the new personal daily exemption of $200 means I can get a lot of deals without having to pay any duty. Even when you do get dinged for duty because you’ve crammed your car full of ‘deals’, it’s STILL worth it.

Here’s just a few examples of why it pays to go:

  • Pop – The pop deal in Canadian flyers lately has been two 12 can cases for $10 – that’s .41 cents/can. At Price Chopper last week I picked up two 24 can cases for $12 – that’s .25 cents/can. This week they’ve got four 12 can cases for $9 – that’s even cheaper!
  • Eggs – Much like milk whose price is regulated in Ontario, eggs are a better deal south of the border. I saw a flyer that was advertising a dozen large eggs for .99 cents and turkey bacon at the same price. You’d be hard pressed to make a $2 breakfast for a large family in Canada unless you served oatmeal.
  • Cool Whip – In my local Independent Grocer, Cool Whip is around $4 Canadian. It’s on sale for $1/tub this week.
  • Yogurt – Single serving greek yogurts are prohibitively expensive here running around $1.70/serving but are usually on 10/$10. You’d save $7 just going for yogurt alone.
  • Old Bay seasoning – A hard to find item in Ottawa (only Sobey’s seems to carry it), a 74 g tin is around $4.70. I picked up a 170 g tin for $4.24. That’s more than double the amount for less money.
  • I also got deals on fresh chicken, jambalaya mix, brownie mix, clothes, toothpaste, makeup and even a bike!

Despite the deals, there are some items that are either priced the same in Canada, or are even more expensive in the US. Before you leave, check the flyers (they’re all available online), know your prices for your usual items and know the rules about what you can and cannot bring back.

Happy shopping!

Making a Run for the Border

21 Jun

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the US on vacation and day trips, and then later working over the summer. Because of how much time I spent there in my formative years, I get a bit nostalgic for foods that you can only get on that side of the border.

Because of that (and because of the great deals that can be had – I’ll talk about that in another post) I try to make the short trek to Northern New York at least a couple of times a year.

On this trip, I spotted something in particular that brought the memories flooding back – an orange sherbet push-up pop. Even though I had indulged in the bacon sundae earlier in the day, for .75 cents I had to have one.

I vividly remember riding my bike to the camp store at the State Park with my mom and having her fish one of these out of the freezer as a treat. It tasted just as good as it did then and to this day, remains one of the few orange flavoured things I actually enjoy.

However, my usual American grocery list goes well beyond ice cream in a tube. Here’s a list of things that just aren’t available north of the 49th parallel that I invariably wind up throwing into my basket:

  • Jiffy cornbread mix – Cornbread is a great side with chili, tortilla soup and anything with a BBQ sauce. Jiffy’s mix is DIRT cheap and makes throwing together a batch so easy. I’ve been meaning to try adding half a box of yellow cake mix to it based on a tip from The Sister’s Dish on Pinterest. There are a lot of great recipes as well that call for a box of the mix so it’s handy to have around.
  • Cherry Pepsi – The one thing American grocery stores have us beat on, is sheer variety and they have it in spades when it comes to pop – there’s vanilla, lemon, lime, raspberry, black cherry with vanilla and that’s just cola. (Cherry Pepsi happens to be my favourite – tastes great with a shot of rye!) There are also several flavours of Sprite, Mountain Dew and let’s not forget Faygo
  • Rotel – For the uninitiated, Rotel is a handy mix of diced canned tomatoes and chilis. Many Mexican and southwestern recipes out of the US call for a can or two. I like to throw some boneless skinless chicken thighs into a pot to simmer with a can of Rotel and a packet of taco seasoning for a quick chicken taco filling.
  • Natural casing hot dogs – While in Michigan, I fell in love with natural casing hot dogs from Koegel’s. The natural casing gives a nice snap and keeps the great flavour inside. Once you’ve had one, Shopsy’s will taste like No-Name brand. In Michigan, Kogel’s dogs are the foundation for most of the Coney dogs served in the Flint and Detroit areas. There, Coney dog shops are like Tim Horton’s here – EVERYWHERE. Alas, meat regulations prevent me from having Koegel’s ship me a crate of hot dogs, so I picked up some Nathan’s Orignal famous beef franks. They don’t quite have the depth of flavour of the Kogel’s (which are beef and pork) but they do have that lovely snappy texture and are a pretty good substitute for a DIY Coney dog. If you’re in Michigan, Koegel’s are available in many local supermarkets.

DIY Coney Dog Recipe

1 package of natural casing hot dogs
1 package soft hot dog buns – I prefer the ‘toast’ style that are cut along the top
1 can Hormel chili with no beans (another US only product) – It’s not quite what you’ll get in Michigan, but it does in a pinch. If you want try to make your own, try this recipe.
1 vidalia onion, finely chopped
grated cheddar or marble cheese
ballpark yellow mustard – optional

Heat the hot dogs in a frying pan with a small amount of oil. A couple sprays of Pam will do. While they’re cooking, throw the can of chili in the microwave and heat until warm, dice your onion and grate your cheese. Pop the buns into the microwave to steam for 30-40 seconds before placing the hot dogs in. The dogs should be golden and heated through. Top generously with sauce, a thin line of mustard (optional), cheese and then onions. Don’t even attempt to pick it up unless you want to hose yourself down after dinner. This is a fork and knife type meal.


Apologies for my terrible food photography.

Taste Test: Burger King Bacon Sundae

19 Jun

Oh yes, you read that right – bacon sundae. Half of you are now making disgusted faces and half of you are salivating.

This treat is currently only available in the USA as Burger King doesn’t seem to think us Canadians can handle meat in a dessert.

Unlike most fast food food, the reality of the sundae matched the look of the one advertised and even actually exceeded it – the sundae was much larger than pictured!

For comparison’s sake – ad on the left, real on the right. Was surprised to get a full strip of bacon!

How did it taste??? A-mazing.

The sundae is vanilla soft serve with chocolate sauce on the bottom, topped with chocolate and caramel drizzle and a generous amount of real crunchy bacon chunks. A full strip of bacon is tucked on the side.

The salty/sweet combination works surprisingly well and the crunchyness of the bacon provides a nice counterpoint to the creamy sundae.

Would I eat it again? Heck yes.