Soprano's baked ziti - gluten free alla famiglia!

Baked ziti... brings out my inner Carmella. I have an urge to poof up my hair, glue on some fake nails, put on every piece of jewelry I own and yell "Dinna's ready!!". 

When I first watched the Sopranos I kept wondering why they were always pulling a baked ziti out of the oven... until my Sopranofile buddies Bennett & Angela bought me the official Sopranos cookbook. Madonna... the mystery of mafia dinners were suddenly unveiled. 

Baked ziti is not something I ever came across in my adventures across Italy - but in Jersey I believe this is a staple. It's so easy... and makes the best leftovers on the planet. Not that there is ever much left over. What I particularly like about this dish, is that gluten-free pasta works just as well as "regular"... we have fed hoards of unsuspecting teenagers the gluten-free version of this dish.

Here's how it's done: Boil a large pot of water. While you wait, remove the meat from the casings of a few hot Italian sausages and fry the chunks of meat. Boil rice penne shaped pasta until ALMOST al dente (not as soft as you'd normally serve). Drain and put back in the saucepan. Stir in a jar of healthy tomato sauce and the sausage meat. 

Pour half of the pasta mixture into a large glass baking dish. Scoop teaspoonfuls of fresh ricotta cheese and scatter evenly across the dish. Spread the remaining pasta over top and sprinkle with a generous amount of grated mozzarella and parmigiano cheese. Essentially, it's a super easy version of a lasagna. Bake in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove and let sit for a few minutes.  Cut into squares as you would a lasagna. Mamma mia... you gonna be so happy. Buon appetito!


gluten free guidance - a copebook for beginners

I just posted Living Well With Celiac Disease: Abundance Beyond Wheat & Gluten on my Etsy site. Click HERE to go to the claudinescalling page where you can order it directly from me. As always, it is also available on Amazon. Simply click on "the book" link at the side to of this post. Reviews for the book can be found on my "contact" & "guidance" pages.


buckwheat - a great gluten free breakfast food

This past year my go-to breakfast grain has been Bob's Red Mill brown rice, but for years it was buckwheat. I have to share that when I was photographing this grain below, Bill was like "not very appetizing!"... true. 

This is not a sexy looking grain... but it's tasty, versatile, healthy, easy to make and another one of those grains that you can cook up once and use throughout the week.
Rinse one cup of toasted buckwheat groats in a strainer. Put in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to the lowest possible simmer setting keep covered for about 10 minutes. Fluff with fork. Tah-dah... grains are so easy.

For the next few days I'll be eating buckwheat for breakfast with raisins, walnuts and a little milk (soy & rice milk also go well with this). The toasted buckwheat has a nutty flavour, and I don't find it needs anything more, but you could add some maple syrup or cinnamon. If you are looking for some breakfast variety - I'd give this a try. It's an inexpensive, satisfying and healthy start to the day! Love to hear how others are using this grain in savoury dishes.


POLENTA: Gluten-free, easy, versatile and comforting!

I spent a year living in Cineto Romano, a small village with 300 full-time residents in the mountains 52km north east of Rome. As is the custom with many small Italian villages, there was an annual festival associated with regional food. Imagine my gluten-free delight when I learned that the festival in my new hometown was polenta... and that this festival took place each winter in the piazza right outside my balcony.

Basic recipe: In a large heavy pot, add one part cornmeal to 4 parts boiling salted water (or broth) in a slow steady stream... stirring constantly with a long handled wooden spoon for about 20 minutes. Optional: add butter and grated parmigiano cheese at the end as it thickens and starts to pull from the edges of the pot. 
 I've made this the traditional way umpteen times, but concede that I frequently opt for the 'instant' version where the corn has been pre-cooked to some extent. It seriously takes ONE minute.

Serving suggestions: Endless... but start with the "grits" style right from the pot - pouring it into a shallow bowl (it will quickly start to "set") top with good quality tomato sauce and perhaps a grilled sausage or two. The ultimate comfort food on a cold winter night.

Pour what you aren't eating immediately into a dish and spread flat. Refrigerate and cut up to grill or broil the next day as an awesome side for anything. I've used it in this manner for mini pizza style dishes or polenta lasagna (using the polenta layers to replace the pasta). The gluten-free variations are endless. It's also a great way to cook something up ONCE and make loads of meals out of it throughout the week. I would love to hear your favorite ways to use this amazing gluten-free staple!


gluten-free new year's resolution

When I started the blog this summer I gave myself license to eat more gluten-free packaged foods... to be honest, I rarely ate gluten-free bread anymore, as I'd found other options that were healthier and also easier on my wallet. 

I'm not quitting sugar, fat and carbs like most people at this time of year... but will aim to cut back on all of the xanthan gum, cellulose, corn starch etc that is often used to make gluten-free baked goods replicate "normal" baked goods.  

Nothing super virtuous - just putting more emphasis back on whole grains like quinoa, millet and buckwheat in my diet. I look forward to combining these with other nutritious ingredients to make new breakfast, lunch and side options for dinner...more fodder for future posts!