Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes

Gluten-Free red Velvet Cup Cake

To celebrate the very last day of the great Indie Giveaway, I had to have a red velvet cupcake. Also, if you didn’t win my novel, don’t despair. The Priest is $0.99 for the remaining of this week. If you aren’t interested in my gluten-free cupcakes, at least give Mauricio a try!


For the cupcakes:

2 cups of Gluten-Free Old Fashioned Cake & Cookie mix

10 tablespoon of Organic coconut oil

3 eggs

1/4 cup of cocoa powder

2 tablespoon of red coloring

For the frosting:

8 oz of mascarpone cheese

4 tablespoon of sugar

lemon zest

In a bowl, starting from the dry ingredients, incorporate the eggs and the coconut oil until a firm dough is obtained. Fill the previously oiled cupcake molds with the dough and bake them at 325F for 28 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting by folding the sugar and the lemon zest to the mascarpone. Let the cupcakes cool and then frost them. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes

Castagnole di Carnevale, Mardi Gras a la Italiana

Castagnole ready to eat

Today, I was reminded it’s Martedi’ Grasso, Mardi Gras, on facebook. All my Italian friends posted pictures of the parties they had just attended and I felt left alone. So, I baked some deep fried goods.



1/3 cup of sugar

1 and 1/2 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

3 tablespoon of butter

2 eggs

the zest from 1 lemon

vegetable oil (I used canola oil) for frying

powdered sugar to dust the castagnole once cooked

How to prepare the castagnole:

Soften the butter and then mix all the ingredients together . Work the dough until a firm ball forms. Roll the dough on a working surface and then shape several thin logs. Chiacchiere dough

Cut the logs in small pieces and roll each piece between your fingers to make small balls.Gnocchi di chiacchiere

Chiacchiere crude

Meanwhile, pour the vegetable oil in a pan and let it reach frying temperature. Then, deep fry the castagnole for a few minutes until they are golden brown.Friggendo le chiacchiereChiacchiere cotte

If you have a dog, he’ll probably wait patiently behind you, hoping for some castagnole to fall on the floor.

Nero waiting for the castagnole to fall on the floor

Let the castagnole dry on a baking tray if you have one, otherwise get creative.Castagnole cotte al punto giusto

Dust the warm castagnole with powdered sugar and enjoy. Have a fantastic Mardi Gras!Castagnole ready to eat

Castagnole di Carnevale, Mardi Gras a la Italiana

Lentil and Pearled Barley Soup

Zuppa di Lenticchie e Orzo perlato

Soups are among my favorite dishes. They are for the most part easy to prepare and rewarding both in taste and calories counting. Since my household has recently acquired a pescatarian, I’ve been trying old and new recipes to feed the repentant carnivore. Lentil and pearled barley soup was on the menu yesterday night.

What I had in the pantry:

1 cup and 1 quarter cup of lentils

half a cup of pearled barley

1 can of organic tomato sauce (Kirkland brand)


French baguette

extra virgin olive oil (half of tablespoon per plate)

How I prepared the soup:

I filled a pot with water and added the tomato sauce, lentils, and barley. I let it cook at slow heat for two hours until the soup was creamy and only then added the salt. Meanwhile, I cut the baguette in pieces and toasted them. When the soup was ready, I arranged a few pieces of bread in each plate, sprinkled them with the evoo and some red pepper, and finally covered with the soup. Delicious. *

Pane Tostato per Zuppa

*After finished eating, I went upstairs to edit some writing and forgot about the half baguette on the table. Nero happened…

Stay tuned for more details.

Lentil and Pearled Barley Soup

Shrimps and Vegetables Cous Cous

Shrimps and Vegetables Cous Cous

Last week, we went out for dinner. Craving African food, we decided for a Moroccan restaurant that had good reviews. It was a disaster. The cous cous they served was appalling. The night after, I made some of my own to erase the memory of that disgrace from my taste buds.

What I had in my pantry:

2 cups of Whole Grain  Cous Cous

2 cups of Shrimps

Costco Vegetable Stir Fry (can’t remember the amount, but I tend to be generous with the vegetables in my cooking, 2 or 3 pounds at least)

Extra virgin olive oil (don’t ask don’t tell policy on the quantity)

1 tablespoon of Butter


Red Pepper (only if you like it hot)

Sriracha (because I like it hotter)

How I prepared the cous cous: 

I cooked the vegetables with some extra virgin olive oil (be your own conscience on the number of tablespoons…) and a pinch of salt, lowered the heat and covered the pan. Italians like their vegetables well cooked, but again you’ll decide the crispiness of your broccoli. I put the vegetables aside and started cooking the shrimps . After browning a clove of garlic in enough evoo (as previously stated), I removed it from the pan and added and salted the shrimps. Once done, I put them aside as well but kept the broth they left behind, which I enriched with a tablespoon of butter and some red pepper. I adjusted the quantity of liquids required by the cous cous by pouring two cups of water in the pan and incorporated the cous cous. Turned off the heat, stirred the cous cous and covered for a few minutes. Finally, I cut the shrimps in small pieces, and mixed all the cooked ingredients together. Once on the table, my husband and I decorated our plates with some Sriracha. My idea of comfort food when I’m in a hurry. Can’t believe a restaurant could screw up something so easy to make.

Shrimps and Vegetables Cous Cous

Ciambelline di Natale, Italian Wine Cookies

Ciambelline Al Vino 2013

Usually, I bake the Ciambelline di Natale at the same time I make the Tozzetti, because, as the Italian name aptly implies, they are meant to be eaten for Christmas. This time, I made the ciambelline for the Befana’s day. Still a holiday in Italy. As everything I do, I slightly altered the original recipe from Civitavecchia my mother in law gave me.


half cup of red wine

quarter cup of anise seeds

half cup of sugar

half cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of flour

1 cup of self-rising flour

a pinch of cinnamon (if you like it)

How to make the Ciambelline:

Soak the anise seeds in the red wine for at least half an hour. Then, mix together all the ingredients and work the dough until you obtain a smooth ball.

Meanwhile, reheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a cookie sheet with extra virgin olive oil. Prepare a bowl with enough white sugar to cover the bottom of it. Take small chunks of the dough and make the donut shaped cookies.

Carefully coat them with the sugar and then position them on the cookie sheet.

Once you’ve finished the dough, bake the Ciambelline for 20/25 minutes, they must look only slightly golden-brown along the edges. Enjoy them freshly baked from the oven, or preserve them in a cookie jar. Till the next year.

Ciambelline di Natale, Italian Wine Cookies

Winter Soup

Winter Soup

Today, it was sunny but extremely cold, and I was in the mood for a hearty soup. I took a look at what I had in the house and came up with this easy recipe. My daughter asked me to write it down, because, given my highly-scientific approach to cooking, I don’t seem to be able to replicate anything otherwise.

What I had in my pantry

1lb of chicken breasts

1 sweet potato

100 gr pearled barley

100gr precooked farro (spelt)

100 gr green split peas

100 gr fresh spinach

How I prepared the soup:

I filled my pressure cooker pot (which I don’t think  I’ve ever used as such—too scared it’s going to  explode. I’ve heard stories…) with water, cranked the stove to high and dunked the chicken inside. Waited until it boiled, then lowered to the lowest setting and added the sweet potato cut in big chunks, the split peas, and the pearled barley. I let it cook for almost two hours, added the precooked farro ten minutes to the end, turned off the heat and added the spinach. I served it as is for my daughter and myself, but cooked 50 gr of mini-farfalle pasta to incorporate in my son’s bowl, which was also finished with some extra-virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese.

Winter Soup

Tozzetti Tricolori

Tozzetti Tricolore

Every year, my husband and I bake tozzetti for Christmas. It wouldn’t be Christmas without the aroma of chocolate and cinnamon wafting from the oven. We normally follow the recipe my mother in law gave us when we left. It is a traditional recipe from Civitavecchia; one of those Italian recipes passed down for generations and that were originally  meant for very large families. This year, I used the basic recipe and substituted some of the ingredients to create a tricolor effect resembling the color of the Italian flag, also known as Tricolore.

Ingredients (using one egg and everything else in proportion)

1 egg

120g sugar

50g cranberries

50g pistachios

100g butter

200g flour

100g white chocolate drops


Let the butter soft at room temperature and then mix together all the ingredients, working the dough with your hands. Make two logs and carefully flatten them on the cookie tray previously  greased with butter. Bake at 350F for 20/25 minutes (depending on your oven.) Let them cool before cutting the logs or they’ll crumble. Merry Christmas!


Tozzetti Tricolori

Gluten-Free Almond Cake

This cake, deliciously sinful, was almost dairy-free too, then I double-checked the ingredients I used and it turned out there was milk in the almond filling. Quoque Gluten-Free Almond Caketu, Almond Filling…

Still, it was too good to discard the recipe. Next time, I’ll find a dairy-free substitute for the infamous almond filling.






What I had in the pantry:

Half cup Coconut oil (warmed to a liquid state)

3 Eggs

1 Can Almond Filling (unfortunately coming with milk)

2 Cups and 1 quarter cup of Gluten Free Pantry Old Fashioned Cake & Cookie Mix

Half teaspoon salt

1 Quarter cup of water

How I made the almond cake:

I threw all the ingredients in the KitchenAid bowl and let it go at slow speed until the mix looked nice (don’t you love how scientific I am?) Greased a Bundt pan with the coconut oil, poured the cake batter in it, and let it cook for 50 minutes at 350F (as usual, take the data as purely indicative, since my oven isn’t great.) The cake is particularly good as soon as out of the oven. I’m sorry to report that the next day it loses part of its mystique, perfume, and flavor. It must be the sneaky milk ruining it for everybody. Fortunately, the cake was eaten almost entirely five minutes after it landed on the kitchen table. Must report I wasn’t alone.

Gluten-Free Almond Cake

Sweet Pumpkin: A Gluten-Free Dairy-Free, Low Calories Delight

Sweet Pumpkin Dessert

Autumn is here and so are pumpkins in every color and shape.

What I had in the pantry:

4 Cups of diced pumpkin

2 Apples, peeled and diced

A quarter cup of extra virgin coconut oil

1 small piece of vanilla bean

How I made the pumpkin dessert:

I just put all in the ingredients in a pan and let them cook until both pumpkin and apples were soft. Fast, sweet and delicious!

Sweet Pumpkin: A Gluten-Free Dairy-Free, Low Calories Delight

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Peach Crisp

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Peach CrispI see fresh, succulent peaches everywhere and crisps and cobblers come to mind. But I’ve already sinned for this week—I must confess I had half Costco bagel with cream cheese earlier last Monday—and so I had to try my best not to sin again. 

What I had in the Pantry:

For the base

Half cup of Gluten-Free Pantry Old Fashioned Cake & Cookie mix

One quarter cup of Nutiva Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil

A pinch of salt

For the filling

4 Peaches

2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

Half a cup of sugar

For the crust

1 Cup of rolled oats

One quarter cup of Tablespoon of brown sugar

2 Tablespoon of coconut oil

2 Tablespoon of gluten-free cake mix

How I made the peach crisp:

Mixed the gluten-free cake mix with the pinch of salt and coconut oil and layered the cooking pan –previously greased with the smallest amount of coconut oil—with it. Cleaned and cut the peaches, coated with the cornstarch and sugar, and poured on the base. Prepared the crust by working with my fingers the rolled oats, coconut oil, flour, and sugar until they blended completely. Finally, I topped the peaches with the crust mix, leveling it carefully. Baked in the preheat oven at 325F for 40 minutes (time and temperature are a mere suggestion, since my oven doesn’t normally do its job,) let it cool for a few minutes, and then devoured. Mind you, I did have a light dinner to honor the cake. Finished with my husband the morning after for breakfast. Was good even cold. Already missing it dearly.

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Peach Crisp