Roasted Potato and Mushroom Salad

Roasted potato and mushroom salad on spinach and arugula with hemp seedOne of my favourite things about trying new dishes in restaurants is attempting to recreate the ones I enjoyed at home (not always with success, unfortunately).

On a recent girls’ lunch in Toronto, celebrating 10 years of an amazing friendship, I had the opportunity to vist Harvest Kitchen, a place where vegetarians bring their meat eating friends (in their own words). Although I am a carnivore through and through, the beautiful veg-based options bowled me over and I tried quite a few!  The ones that stood out for me immediately were the ‘Meatless Meatballs’ and the ‘Mushroom French Fry Salad’. I definitely thought the latter was worth recreating at home.

The resulting salad, my version, was a huge hit with the boy. A mouthwatering mixture of warm crisp potatoes and salty mushrooms on a bed of fresh greens. It has now become a staple of our Meatless Mondays and I thought I’d share it with you all. With a few substitutions you can make it truly vegetarian or gluten free.

3 large yukon gold potatoes
2 Tbsp duck fat (substitute olive oil for vegetarian version)
1/2 lbs of button mushrooms
1 tsp soy sauce (substitute tamari for GF version)
2 cups baby arugula 
2 cups baby spinach
2 Tbsp of mayo (substitute for vegetarian version here
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic (grated)
1 tsp hemp seeds (optional for garnish)
Prep time: 10-15 minutes     Cook time: 35-40 minutes (mostly roasting time)

1. Place roasting pan in the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees Celsius.

2. Peel and roughly cube potatoes into small uneven pieces.

3. Remove the roasting pan from oven and add 1.5 Tbsp of duck fat, spreading it around the pan. Then throw in the potatoes, coat with fat, and return to the oven.

*Roasting time will depend on your oven but may take approximately 40 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the potatoes once or twice during roasting for even crisping.Roasted potatoes 4. Slice mushrooms and place in pan with 1/2 Tbsp of duck fat and the soy sauce on medium heat. Keep cooking until all liquid evaporates and continue to caramelize and brown the mushrooms.Roasted mushrooms in a pan5. Wash the spinach and arugula and place in mixing bowl.Baby spinach and arugula in a bowl6. Place mayo, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and grated garlic in a small bowl and stir to combine. Olive oil and garlic mayo dressingMixed mayo and olive oil dressing7. Once the potatoes are roasted and mushrooms are browned, combine all warm ingredients in a bowl with the greens and cover with dressing. Roasted potato and mushroom salad topped with dressingTossing roasted potato and mushroom salad8.Toss to combine and plate. Sprinkle with hemp seeds for a little extra protein.Roasted potato and mushroom salad with hemp seedsI want to dedicate this post to two special ladies that always keeping me laughing. And yes, my smile does sparkle that much when I’m with these two!Cobblestones and Cappuccinos and friends.I hope you enjoy and give this delicious salad a try. And if you’re in Toronto, pop into Harvest Kitchen for those meatballs!

Sundried Tomato and Shittake Pasta

Italian Food | Pasta Recipe - Sundried tomato and shittake pasta ingredientsWhen the weather gets cold outside I have a tendency to indulge in warm, comfort food. Soups, stews and roasts feature heavily in my menus. There are few things more comforting than sitting under a blanket with a good book, snow swirling outside the windows, and delicious smells drifting from the stove. The steam envelops the room in warmth and my belly grumbles in anticipation of things to come.

However, all my comforting meals usually have a heavy meat component. All that meaty goodness is not so great on my digestion (and my waistline!!!!). So I have decided to keep trying to add more veggie based dishes to my winter repertoire. I’ve come up with this pasta dish because the shittake mushrooms still give me the meaty texture and the cream cheese allows for the comforting creaminess without being too heavy. I hope you give this a try as well.

1 garlic clove chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 shittake mushrooms sliced
3 sundried tomatoes sliced
1/4  cream cheese brick
2 cups pre-washed baby spinach leaves
pappardelle or other ribbon pasta (cook according to package directions)
1/2 cup of pasta water reserved 
Prep time: 10 minutes     Cook time: 10-15 minutes

1. Add olive oil to a saute pan and turn the heat on medium. Put the garlic and sundried tomatoes into the pan and gently fry to flavour the oil and warm the ingredients.

Stirring garlic and sundried tomatoes for Italian Pasta dish

2. After about 2-3 add the sliced shiitake mushrooms. Keep frying them until they soften and release juices.

Stirring in shiitake mushrooms into my easy pasta recipe

3. Add the cream cheese to the pan and stir to form a creamy sauce. Use the reserved pasta water to thin out if the sauce becomes to thick,

Cream cheese added into pan into my italian pasta dishStirring in the cream cheese into my pasta sauce

4. Place half the spinach into the pan and stir into the sauce to wilt down.

Stirring in the spinach into my easy Italian pasta recipe

5. Add the second half of the spinach, then the cooked warm pasta and combine into the sauce.

Pappardelle added to the pan into my sundried tomato, shiitake mushroom and cream cheese pasta recipeCombing ingredients and pasta - pappardelle, shiitake mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and cream cheese6. The dish is ready to plate when the ingredients are all combined and warmed through. Don’t forget to garnish with some parmigiano after plating.

Italian Food - Recipe for shiitake mushroom, sundried tomato and spinach pappardelle pastaThis pasta dish tastes very luxurious because of all that creaminess and the flavours are strong and burst in your mouth. With this one, a little goes a long way…your taste buds and your waist line will thank you!


Wonton Magic

‘Tis the season for parties, potlucks, and drop-ins. It’s the time to get your pretty on, indulge at the table, and not slave over a hot stove. If you are a regular visitor to my blog (and I hope you are, but if this is your first time…welcome!) you know that when it comes to cooking, I have a preference for all things fast and fabulous. In that vein, I’ve developed a couple go-to party bites with simple ingredients. They can be made ahead of time, even frozen, and finished off in minutes. And of course all of them have one thing in common, wonton wrappers!


Cheese and pesto wonton wrapper party appetizerThe key to these delicious appetizers is that I treat the wonton wrappers like freshly made pasta sheets. They’re delicious as single serve bites but also make a perfect dinner! As with any recipe, adjust ingredients to suit your taste.

1/2 cup sheep milk cream cheese or regular cream cheese, softened
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
25 square wonton wrappers
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 3-4 minutes 

1. Place softened cheese into a bowl and added the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well.

2. Line up a few wonton wrappers and drop about a teaspoonful of cheese mix into the centre.

3. Wet your finger in the water and run it along the edges of the wonton.

4. Fold the wonton in half away from you to form a rectangle, pressing down on the edges to seal well.

5. Bring two corners at the top of the wrapper together and pinch to seal. You make have to dab some water on the wrapper again to stick the corners together.

6. Set aside and repeat with the rest of the wrappers.

7. When ready to cook, boil salted water as if cooking pasta. Once the water comes to a boil throw the wontons in and stir once to prevent them sticking to the bottom.

8. Cook the wontons in the water on high heat for 3-4 minutes for an al dente bite to the wrapper.

9. Drain the wontons and dab with a good dollop of pesto. You can find my pesto recipe here.

10. Plate individually on tasting spoons, pierce with a sturdy toothpick, or plate three together on small plates for a light appetizer.


Wonton wrapper taco party appetizerThese seasonal looking appetizers are delicious any time of year. You can control the heat with the ingredients but a little spice works well with these bites.

1 large rotisserie prepared chicken breast
1 tsp sriracha chili sauce, or any hot sauce you like
1 tsp liquid honey
1/3 cream cheese brick, softened
1/2 avocado
1/2 tsp lemon juice
diced red jalapeno or red pepper
25 square wonton wrappers
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes    Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Shred the cooked chicken breast into smaller pieces and place in a bowl.

3. Drizzle honey and sriracha sauce over the chicken and mix thoroughly. Feel free to add more sauce for more heat.

4. Beat and mix the cream cheese, avocado and lemon juice together until the cheese looks like green cream.

5. Line up the wonton wrappers and divide the chicken on them equally, about a large tablespoonful. Place the chicken down the middle diagonally.

6. Dollop the avocado cream on top and sprinkle with the jalapeno or the red pepper, depending of how much heat you want.

7. Bring the opposite corners of the wrapper together at the top. You may have to pierce them through with a toothpick to hold in position. The toothpick will be removed once you take the wontons out of the oven.

8. Place the wontons on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or oiled with cooking spray.

9. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 12- 15 minutes. Or until the wonton wrappers turn golden brown.

10. Remove from the oven, take out the toothpicks, let cool slightly, and enjoy!


Chocolate cream cheese pomegranate wonton wrapper party appetizerThese golden beauties are highly addictive, but baking them instead of frying will allow you to indulge without much guilt. Plus using dark chocolate and pomegranate scores high on the antioxidant scale so I guess you could say that this dessert is good for you too!

1/3 brick of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cups of pomegrante seeds
25 square wonton wrappers
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes     Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Stir together cream cheese, chocolate chips, and pomegranate seeds until well incorporated.

3. Line up the wonton wrappers and place a heaping teaspoonful of the cheese mix into the centre of each wrapper.

4. Dip your finger in water and run along the edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle and pinch the edges to seal.

5. Spray both sides of the wonton triangle with cooking spray and place on a cookie sheet.

6.  Put in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the wrappers are golden brown. Remember to turn half way through.

7. Plate the wontons and sprinkle with icing sugar, or drizzle with chocolate sauce, and garnish with any remaining pomegranate seeds.

8. Serve warm and try to stop at just one!

I hope you try these out at your next get together. Happy munching!


Dinner in 1, 2, 3!

I can’t believe how early the daylight starts to fade away this time of year. It’s like the season is throwing a blanket around me and urging me to go home and snuggle into bed. I’m not new to this time change thing but it seems like the impending darkness is something I choose to forget in lieu of getting that extra hour of sleep.

The problem with feeling sleepy so early in the evening is that I don’t feel like spending time in kitchen whipping up cozy meals for two for longer than fifteen minutes. Mind you I’ve always gone the fast and fresh route as far as my meals are concerned any time of year. That is not too say that I don’t greatly admire people who devote their time to long, involved, home cooked meals. My Mom’s cabbage rolls are heaven on earth but the hours she puts in to make them is something I just can’t fathom. I’ve got things to do, people to see, places to be! And truly, there is nothing wrong with fast meals… as long as they are delicious. I’m sharing two of my go to Italian recipes for quick weeknight dinners great at any time of year!


Ingredients for easy to make Italian tomato sauce | Cobblestones and CappuccinosThe key to this sauce is that you will not be cooking but rather warming all the ingredients in order to keep the sauce tasting as fresh as possible. So start cooking your pasta and half way through you can begin the sauce.

1 pint of cherry tomatoes halved
1 clove of garlic peeled
1/4 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of parmigiano reggiano shredded
small bunch of basil torn
salt and pepper to taste
Prep Time: 5 minutes     Cook Time: 10 minutes

1. Place the oil and clove of garlic in a pan and turn the heat on medium-low. Olive oil has a low smoking point so you don’t want to overheat the pan. You are simply warming the oil and infusing it with garlic. If you want a stronger taste to the garlic then feel free to chop it, otherwise just leave the clove whole. This should take only a minute or two.

2. Take out the garlic clove and throw in the cherry tomatoes and torn basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to warm them through. Be sure that the tomatoes don’t over cook and start to fall apart and shrink.

3. Place the cooked pasta, with a small amount of reserved pasta water, in the pan with the tomatoes. Toss with the sauce making sure to coat the strands with the warm olive oil and sprinkle with the parmigiano reggiano.

I like to serve this sauce with spaghetti or linguine. That way the light sauce isn’t overwhelmed by a heavy pasta.



Italian Pesto sauce ingredients | Cobblestones and CappuccinosThis sauce is made in minutes as long as you have all your ingredients on hand. It’s a riff on the basil and pine nut pesto which are harder to locate. I often make this pesto in large quantities and freeze in ziploc bags for later use.

2 cups of baby spinach washed and packed down
1 clove of garlic peeled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon 
1/2 cup walnuts toasted
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese shredded
salt and pepper to taste
Prep Time: 5 minutes     Cook Time: 10 minutes

1. Place spinach, walnuts, garlic, cheese in a food processor. Pulse together until coarsely chopped. Scrape down the sides before proceeding.

2. Add oil and squeeze the lemon into the mixture. Process until smooth. Scrape the sides then season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Drain pasta and coat with the pesto.

I like to use heavier pastas like penne or rotini for this sauce. The pesto sits nicely in all those tiny crevices.

Both versions of sauce with pasta reheat nicely for lunch the next day. Sometimes I’ll add cooked chicken breast or pre-cooked shrimp before reheating. I hope you give these a try and enjoy!