You Say Cronut, I Say Cronought…We All Say Heavenly!

July 11th, 2013 by Kelly Serjeantson

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So, I have a kid at home this summer who conveniently broke his arm the day before school ended. What was to be his “See ya Mom!” summer of roaming the streets with friends, hitting the pools and parks in our ‘hood while perfecting his slap shot all summer, is now a “Mom – I’m bored!” refrain I have listened to wayyyy too many times – and we are only 10 days into summer vacation.

This is a boy who doesn’t play video games and isn’t interested in reading much (yet). He plays outside – ALL THE TIME. He climbs, he unicycles, he leaps, he plays hockey 11 hours a day;  he is an explorer, a daredevil. My crazy one who, well, has had reason to have 4 broken bones in his short lifetime…

So what’s a mom to do with a kid who is cooped up, and can’t do the things that give him the greatest joy? Well, she takes him on bike rides, to museums and to the library. THEN, she hears about this new craze – the CRONUT. This boy has the sweet tooth in the family – he loves tasty treats, Suzy Q, Merry Dairy and Isobel’s are his favourite haunts….So when the Cronut craze finally hit Ottawa, we hopped on our bikes to see what all the fuss was about.

We lined up at Boko Bakery on Elgin Street at 11am…They were giving out free samples at noon. By 11:45, more than 50 people were waiting behind us – all eager to sample this delectable treat.

So – was it worth it? Well, in a the words of my ten year old, OH YA!

Crispy on the outside, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, tender delicate croissant pastry on the inside. The lemon cream filling was just tart enough. The chocolate version was equally delicious. This isn’t something I would recommend eating everyday – it’s  a wee bit heavy on the sugar and fat content – but it makes for a fantastic treat!!

All in all, not a bad way to spend some time with my hobbled adventurous boy – now, where can we go next??


Come one, come all!

December 10th, 2012 by Kelly Serjeantson

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Almost every year for the last 15, we have travelled West down Highway 401 at Christmas. Each child has spent their first Christmas morning at their grandparents, and we have done the tour of families to ensure each one gets a piece of the kids at Christmas. It’s been a lovely ride, but our days of packing the car, lugging gifts and treats back and forth and chugging through sleet, snow and rain are about done.

This year, our youngest is participating in North America’s largest minor hockey tournament here in Ottawa – the Bell Capital Cup. Starting the 28th until New Year’s Day, we will be going from game to game, from arena to arena to witness some of the best of minor hockey. But, we will be missing our families – and hope that some of them are able to join us after Christmas.

To make sure our kids (and we grown ups too) don’t miss out on the special closeness that being with family on Christmas brings, we have extended an invitation to EVERYONE WE KNOW to stop by our home on the 25th. Yes, really. Starting from after my first coffee of the day until the food and beer run out, we hope to say hello and welcome our friends & neighbours, who really are like our family anyway.

I am baking up a storm to make sure we can feed everyone just in case!

My favourite holiday treat is my mom’s special Chocolate Macaroons. At least, I think of them as my mom’s, they could be from Betty Crocker for all I know. She made them every year, only at Christmas and I LOVE them. Simple, sweet and so chocolatey!

Here’s how to make your own – although you are certainly welcome to pop by my place and have a taste….

2 Squares Unsweetened Chocolate

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 Cups Shredded Coconut


Melt chocolate over low heat. Stir in milk.

Remove from heat and mix well.

Add coconut until well combined.

Drop by spoonful onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 min at 350F.





One potato, two potato…

September 11th, 2012 by Kelly Serjeantson

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It was a chilly 5 degrees this morning in Ottawa and my first thought (after at least 2 cups of coffee) was that dinner would be something warm to compensate for the fact that my furnace does NOT come on until at least sometime after Halloween.

So off to the butcher I went and came home with some fantastically lean and freshly trimmed stew beef, potatoes and some carrots pulled from some farmer’s field this morning. Stew was on the menu!

I love stew, I really do. It’s an easy, one pot meal that my whole family will devour, especially on a day like today. Browning the beef? No problem. Chopping onions? A snap. Peeling potatoes and carrots? Another story altogether. I hate to whine, but I strongly dislike peeling potatoes, possibly because it was sometimes my job growing up to do them for large family dinners…Oh, the mountain of potatoes I’ve peeled!

I have tried fancy-shmancy peelers, cheapo ones and even an apple-peeler contraption that required securing it to my countertop. With potatoes, I found that I was forever going back to spots that were missed and finally resorted to using a good old paring knife. It does the job fairly efficiently but after peeling potatoes, my wrist would be killing me.  No big deal, I’d mutter. What’s a little pain for the look of adoration I would receive when I set the steaming bowl of goodness on the table? Sigh, the things a mother puts herself through….

Yet even after a summer of virtually NO potato peeling, my wrist was not up to it today. Maybe it was the weather, maybe I’m just getting old….whatever. Then I spied a little miracle on top of my fridge.


I found this at the Real Canadian Superstore for $3. I picked it up for my brother as a joke after he used one at my mom’s this summer. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and finds traditional peelers sometimes difficult to use. Promising to go back and get a replacement to send to my brother, I ripped open the package and slipped the soft flexible handle on to my middle finger.

No gripping required!

WELL. This little beauty was worth it’s weight in GOLD! I peeled a bunch of potatoes and carrots in half the time it normally takes me. Seriously. No cramping, no sore wrist, just nicely peeled potatoes. Ah bliss!

I have to stress that I believe in the knife over gadgets. I use a knife more than any other tool in my kitchen. I picked this up as a joke for my little brother – but the joke was on me! It’s useful, doesn’t take up much space and comes with a handy scrubber with the same handle for your finger.

So there you have it people – a cheap inexpensive little doodad that made my day a little  sweeter. You’re welcome.

Oh yes, and if you want the recipe for the stew,click here. Trust me – it’s yummy!!! Variation here is that I added the potatoes to the stew rather than make mashed….

Salvation in the Pantry

June 11th, 2012 by Kelly Serjeantson

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We had a wonderful weekend – lots of swimming, playtime and SUN. A little too much sun as it turns out. Sunscreen application is required here in our house, but re-application after horsing around in the pool for a bit sometimes slips our collective minds.

So two out of three had pinkish shoulders this morning – not as bad as I feared, but definitely not something that I’d like to make into a habit. I am chalking this up to not quite being in summer-mode, what with school still in session and all. You must forgive yourself a little sometimes…

As a mom, I have experienced all sorts of health-related issues with my three – upset tummies, headaches, grumbly bums. I keep a supply of drops, pills, creams and BandAids on hand for pretty much anytthing. Well, anything except a sunburn it turns out. I had nothing in my cupboard for relief from the stinging tightness on their backs. I applied cool cloths and some moisturizing cream last night, but the kids were complaining after school and apparently were so sore, they couldn’t possibly carry their backpacks home! Insert exaggerated eye-roll here.

According to my good friend, if I don’t have an aloe vera plant (which I don’t because I KILL everything) I am supposed to apply vinegar. Yes, vinegar. Now, you more experienced moms may be shaking your heads at me, thinking, well of course you apply vinegar to a sunburn. I, on the other hand, could only envision my son emitting loud screams of pain as I rubbed it on his poor, raw, pink skin.

Alas, I was wrong. A quick search and voila – it’s true. Some believe vinegar has antiseptic properties, some think it takes away heat from the skin, others think this is an old wive’s tale.

The verdict?

One slightly relieved boy (whose smell is now making me crave french fries), and one relieved mom, who now has a secret weapon in her arsenal against yet another childhood woe.

So, now I’m thinking about other products I have in my pantry that could help me out in a pinch – not to mention keep chemical concoctions away from my kids….Suggestions, anyone??


Saving the World – One Chick Pea at a Time

March 27th, 2012 by Kelly Serjeantson

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So yesterday was Meatless Monday – a little experiment for our family. We don’t consume a lot of meat and have experimented with vegetarianism too. To be truthful, after an extremely busy hockey-soccer-birthday party-hockey-soccer weekend, I was too pooped to shop and wanted to use up some stuff in my fridge.

As such, dinner became a curried chickpea over rice concoction. I have made this many times so I know my kids will eat it. They ate it so quick yesterday, I didn’t even have time to snap a picture :)  I have chosen to stop buying canned goods recently due to concerns about BPA and the environment and cost, so a quick boil and simmer of dried beans was in order. Being inexperienced with this – I actually didn’t think about the quantity I would need for dinner – I poured a bunch in the pot and had about 2 cups left over.

Now, I have to pause here, and confess that I have little  ok, big potato chip addiction. Not just the once-a-month, need some salt kind. The where-did-I-put-the-chips-it’s-quiet time-and-I-want-my-snack kind of craving that hits me usually as soon as the kids go to bed! I really don’t need to eat chips (who does really?) but I enjoy the crunch and the saltiness ALOT. I recalled seeing a tweet from one of the local bloggers I follow (see her juggle over here ) about roasted chickpeas and thought – PERFECT! Score one for me for using up the extras instead of tossing them, AND I get a healthy snack to boot. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of checking her site for the recipe and found another at a fave site of mine.

So, here’s the recipe I used.

You need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 dash crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Whisk together spices and oil, then coat the chickpeas thoroughly. Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 375F for about 45 minutes. I shook them around a few times, just to make sure they cooked evenly.
I used less cumin and maybe slightly more than a pinch of salt. THEY ARE YUMMY! Next time, I am trying the Mexican Roasted ones I first heard about for when I have the salt & vinegar craving…

Random Acts of Kindness

January 20th, 2012 by Kelly Serjeantson

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The weather in these parts has been crazy this winter. Exceptionally mild fall, fairly green Christmas and then – a DUMP of snow, freezing rain and YUCK.

Yesterday, after a night of snow, then rain, then freezing temperatures meant that most cars were covered in a thick layer of ice. The sounds of scraping, cursing and more scraping could be heard city-wide.

I was sitting comfortably in my living room, savouring a hot cup of coffee when I finally registered that the scraping of ice was coming directly beneath my window. I looked out and saw that a bundled up angel was scraping the ice from my windshield! A kind neighbour had taken it upon himself to save me some time, and maybe a couple of fingers by clearing the snow, then the ice from my van.

I debated going out side to thank him, then thought that maybe he wanted this to be anonymous. We don’t know each other that well and had had an unfortunate incident involving his poorly parked car and our van earlier this year. While cordial, there remained a little tension between us.

And on Twitter there has been a little chatter about kindness. Read more about it here.

After some consideration, I decided that I would not go outside, but instead return his kindness with some home baking. (He’s a bachelor and all…)

I make a mean banana chocolate chip muffin. Really. They are moist, perfectly sweet bundles of yumminess. So that’s what I did. I left some on his doorstep – continuing the random anonymity. It’s a delight to know that you have made someone’s day that much sweeter.


Kindness is contagious. Pass it on.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins **I don’t know where I got this recipe – I’ve made them since I was 12 and have it memorized. 

1/3 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar (white or brown, whatever I have handy)

1 egg

2-3 bananas (medium to large)

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda AND 1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Melt the butter, add sugar and cream. Beat in the egg, then the bananas.

Add the flour, baking soda and baking powder & salt. Mix well.

Stir in the chocolate chips. Divide evenly into a greased (or paper lined) muffin tin. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until nicely browned.

You’re welcome!

Hintonbrew Stew

January 16th, 2012 by Kelly Serjeantson

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It’s January. It’s cold. It’s aching shoulders from too much shoveling, numb fingers from scraping windows, chapped lips and drippy nose weather. Time to get down to some good old-fashioned comfort food cooking. I did the fancy “apps” and dips over the holidays. I rolled cookies and made squares and decorated shortbread. Now? I just want to hunker down and fill my family with love, warmth and GOOD food.

I love to make this stew on a Sunday afternoon and let it simmer all day. On any given Sunday, one or more of my kids has a hockey practice/playdate/study group, so I can be reasonably guaranteed an hour or two of time in the kitchen. (Thanks in large part to my dear husband – LOVE him)

This recipe is inspired from one in a now-cherished cookbook I bought 10 years ago at my kids’ elementary school. Parents and students submitted recipes which were bound and sold as a fundraising initiative. Proceeds were for one of the playgrounds at our school (we have 2!) and this cookbook was just ONE of the many fundraisers for this cause. Well, finally, BOTH playgrounds have been renovated and improved. Copies of this cookbook can now be seen at garage sales and book fairs.

Well, it’s a little dogeared. I have greasy pages, folded corners and notes about my favourite recipes. My youngest wasn’t even born when I bought this book! His older brother has now graduated and moved on to middle school. This little book is a constant reminder to me about how one dedicated group (and then, a few years later,  another dedicated group) of parents worked to make recess better for 400 kids.

Most of my go-to meals and treats are found in this book. I know them by heart. This stew is a family favourite. The richness of the beer truly makes this dish – don’t leave it out. (Don’t worry – the alcohol evaporates as it cooks!)  Served it over mashed potatoes with a green salad or steamed broccoli on the side and you have dinner.

Best part? I tell my husband it takes a while to make, so he keeps the kids out of my hair. Really? It’s a snap and I usually put my feet up and enjoy the rest of the beer…

Hintonbrew Stew

  • 2 lbs stew beef
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup Hintonbrew Stout (or Guinness if you can’t find Hintonbrew yet)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 fresh sprig of thyme (1 tsp dried)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes, halved

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil and saute onions & garlic until soft. Add meat and brown all over. Sprinkle flour over meat and onions and stir. Add stock and blend thoroughly. Add Hintonbrew and bring to a simmer. Next add herbs and salt & pepper (I usually add lots of pepper and less salt). Stir until combined and let simmer** for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add prunes in the final 30 minutes of cooking. They add some sweetness to the dish and balance out the distinctiveness of the Hintonbrew.

** I normally cook semi-covered so stew thickens, but doesn’t reduce too much.

See? This only takes about 25 minutes to put together, and then you can rest your little self down for a bit and enjoy an nice refreshing Hintonbrew. Make the potatoes and salad when you add the prunes, and you’re done!

Special thanks to Rachel McPhedran, whose original stew I have adapted to fit my family’s taste buds. ”Tapadh leibh

Dinner is Served – Or How I the Survived Arena Shuffle

November 7th, 2011 by Kelly Serjeantson

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Well, it happened. Three kids in hockey, and we spent our first weekend truly shuffling from one arena to the next, stinky gear and all.

I knew this would happen. People are often surprised when I tell them all 3 darlings are playing hockey this year. “Wow, you must be crazy!” is a familiar comment. Well, ya, I am, but not because I have 3 kids in hockey. What I have is 3 kids in SPORTS! Pick any sport and you will find yourself running from practice, to a game, to another practice all the while thinking about the myriad of other, more interesting things you could be doing.

To that, I say,”Whatever.”
I have 3 children. They are involved. They are getting regular exercise. They are learning what it means to work as a team. They are figuring out how to challenge themselves, to do their best and sometimes, (more for one than the others) to accept defeat. These are important life lessons that hopefully will contribute to their overall development into caring, sharing adults.

But enough about that. The most important thing on my mind as we began this weekend of ‘arena shuffle’ was WHAT THE HECK ARE WE GOING TO EAT WHEN WE GET HOME?

Ottawa arenas are sorely lacking in healthy, tasty foods with which to properly nourish young bodies (and this old one too). Fries, Slushies and Salt & Vinegar chips can only take you so far. So, I pack snacks. Fruit, muffins and the occasional power bar. These are fine for on the go, but we needed to eat a proper dinner at some point. Arriving home at 6pm on a Saturday with tired, hungry kids (not to mention us poor parents) is not the time to think about WFD.
So, I took a little time Saturday morning (prior to game 1 of 3!) and whipped up this yummy, fortifying dish of goodness. During a break, where I ran home to take our poor neglected pooch for a quick spin around the block, I popped it into the oven, set the timer and headed back out to watch my oldest attempt to score his 3rd goal of the season.

It’s easy, it pleases everyone, and, best of all, it was hot and ready when we arrived home. While various children showered and put away their gear for the night, I threw a salad together. We sat down and reviewed the day’s events – 2 winning games & “Hardest Worker” award for one boy, a hard-fought but losing battle for the oldest, a fun practice for the girl and cold feet and bad coffee for Mom & Dad. Not a bad day really. Best of all, we shared some laughs, cheered each other on, and did it all as a family. In fact, I can’t think of how I would rather spend a weekend – can you?

Here’s the recipe. It was eaten too quickly to grab a picture, but I have to think that it did contribute to my daughter’s FIRST GOAL EVER IN A GAME the next day, so here’s a picture of the puck ;)

Saturday Night Special

***Special Thanks to my good friend, Karen, for the recipe!!

You’ll need:

1 lb ground beef

1 onion, diced

1 green or red pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

4 – 5 mushrooms, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Worcestershire  sauce

1 big handful of spaghetti noodles, broken.

1 can condensed tomato soup (**I use 2 cans low sodium soup for creamier dish)

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Grated cheddar cheese, about 2 cups.


Cook the spaghetti, careful not to overcook it.

In a Dutch oven, brown the meat and drain the fat.

Add the veggies, a splash or two of the Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper to taste.

When onions are soft, add the kidney beans and tomato soup. Mix well, then add the cooked spaghetti.

Put all of this in a 9 x 13 casserole dish, sprinkle cheese on top. Cover loosely with foil and you are READY TO GO!


Pop in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes and ENJOY!


Take it or Leave it; This Ain’t No Restaurant

September 13th, 2011 by Kelly Serjeantson

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I was possibly influenced by the fleeting full moon, or hadn’t had enough sleep last night, or WHATEVER, but I was not in the mood for the whining and complaining about dinner today. It started on the walk home from school – “What’s for dinner, Mom?” This was my answer:

“Geez, 950 million people NEVER have to ask that question because they HAVE NO FOOD.”

Sign of things to come in my house, I tell ya.

So fast forward to 5pm. I have helped with homework, stood over kids unloading the dishwasher (don’t get me started on the complaints there), done 2 loads of laundry, made my oldest walk the dog and suddenly, it’s time to get some food on the table.

Yesterday, I made some yummy grilled, spice-rubbed chicken breast. I served them over rice for the menfolk in the house while my daughter & I went out to eat.  I had four left over and figured I could do something interesting with them. The day was gloomy here, threatening skies, a little cool – a comfort-food kind of day.

My mom once made a wonderful Chicken Divan, and since I had all the right ingredients, I figured, why not? We aren’t generally casserole people, but with three kids in hockey this winter, I think we might have to convert.  Then came my dilemma:


I have one who won’t touch broccoli, one who gags at creamy things, another who is pretty well only eating when the wind is right and the last who is (ahem) watching his cholesterol. Since I believe that a happy mom makes for a happy house, I thought, What the heck? I’m making this anyway because it’s what I want.

I did turn to my trusty friend, the Internet, for a quick recipe. I had a general idea, but rightly guessed that a little guidance was in order.

So, thank you, Paula Deen for the recipe.  This beautiful Southern woman knows her casseroles. However, I nearly choked when I saw amount of sour cream, mayo and cheese she uses. I quickly thought about my husband (and his cholesterol count) and decided that I needed to shape this up a bit if it was going to suit my family.

So, here’s what I did:

  • Used 1 fresh head of  broccoli instead of frozen. (Nothing wrong with frozen, I just didn’t have it! Sauteed it with onion, garlic & chicken before adding sauce)
  • Halved the amount of chicken, and cut into cubes instead of shredding.
  • Used a quarter of the sour cream (no fat) and mayo (Olive oil based).
  • I only used 1 can of soup (because I didn’t read the list thoroughly!) I didn’t have it on hand, but next time I would used reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup.
  • I did not add any extra salt, figuring that the soup would have plenty. Also, the chicken was nicely spiced, so no extra flavour was required.
  • Oh, and because I drank it all the night before, I left out the wine!
  • Last, I used crushed whole wheat crackers instead of buttered bread crumbs for the topping.
  • Served it over rice (used all my leftovers! Yay me!)

So how did it all turn out?    Well… IT WAS AWESOME! 

The kids, despite their initial resistance, ate, and one asked for more. The broccoli-hater pushed her evil green bits to the side without complaint. My reflux-boy had no problems and the fair-weather eater? Well, a little more prodding was required (i.e. raw broccoli traded for cooked) but he ate too.

Verdict? This won’t be in regular rotation due to the higher calorie/fat count, but it was delicious. I will consider it whenever I have some leftover chicken lying around, and a hankering to torture my children…

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Pie in the Sky – Father and Daughter Bond Over Pastry

May 29th, 2011 by Kelly Serjeantson

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The sun had returned and the rain clouds were gone. Television was turned off and the kids shooed outside. A trip to the market was in order and after a little cajoling and prodding – husband and daughter were off.

I had hopes of some yummy strawberries and maybe some garlic, but what I received upon their return was an unexpected surprise. Apparently, somewhere between here and the market, a plan was hatched to bake a pie.  My daughter has experimented in the kitchen; she’s made muffins and cookies, does a mean grilled cheese and a fine scrambled egg too. Husband? Well, he’s not too shabby either. (Minus the mess he leaves in his wake!) A pie though? Really? He doesn’t even EAT pie. But I soon realized that this was about more than a pie – it was a connection being made, some fun and light in the house, a project they would do together that didn’t involve Lego.

I refrained from helping too much – save for some advice on buying a piecrust and how she should dice the rhubarb and slice the strawberries. This is the recipe they followed, adding a secret ingredient they wouldn’t tell me about.

I could hear giggles and patient instructions coming from the kitchen. Sometimes from her, mostly from him. I did dash out to grab some vanilla ice cream because who DOESN’T have ice cream with their pie??

The end result? Absolutely delicious. Perfectly tart and sweet together (kind of like them), and the store-bought crust? Even my mom would be proud!