Montepulciano, Italy {Italian Honeymoon: under the Tuscan sun}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Five – Montepulciano, Tuscany

We took a train from Vernazza to La Spezia and then another train from La Spezia to Chiusi (Tuscany). Once we arrived in Chiusi we needed took a bus to  Montepulciano. Hopping on the bus was the easy part. There was a bus stop right outside the train station. However, once we got on the bus, we had no idea how far we needed to go. After a long and winding ride, we finally decided it was probably time to get off the bus. We ended up getting off a few stops early and had to walk uphill to our B&B. The walk really wasn’t that bad, carrying out backpacks is what seemed to make it most difficult–that and watching out for dodging traffic.

Montlepulicano, Italy

We stayed at Locanda San Francesco in a king size suite with a panoramic view on Valdichiana for 225 euros per night. It’s a small and quaint place with only 4 rooms available. It is run by a sweet lady named Cinzia. She was so wonderful. She would make reservations, book taxi’s, and help you with any questions.

There is also a restaurant and bar on the lower level. So, naturally, upon arrival we were invited in for a glass of complementary wine and cheese. It was such a warm welcome. It was so perfect!

Montepulciano, Tuscany
Montepulciano, Tuscany – View from Locanda San Francesco

It was WELL worth every penny!

Locanda San Francesco

This is a picture from our suite. As you can see, my cute hubby peaking his head out from the ‘loft’ area at the top of the stairs.

Our upstairs loft at Locanda San Francesco. (Montepulciano, Italy)
Our upstairs loft at Locanda San Francesco. (Montepulciano, Italy)

This was the restaurant / bar area at Locanda San Francesco

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The “window seat” in our room.

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After we got all settled in we decided to head out and check out the town. It worked out really nice because Locanda San Francesco was centrally located within the city walls and was a short walk to everything!

Montepulciano, Tuscany

The views were amazing! We had a blast.

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There were so many shops! We ended up shopping the whole day. Everything was so cheap, too! Not because it was cheaply made, but because it was all made in Montepulciano. We made many purchases. I ended up buying a few scarves, perfect for fall! And of course, we bought new leather shoes!! I got two pairs of boots and Chad got a pair of everyday shoes.

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Chad and I each bought a new hat. These weren’t the ones we bought, but we had SO MUCH FUN trying them on. 🙂

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After our long day of shopping we headed back to Locanda San Francesco for a wine flight and a cheese platter. The best discovery we made, peccorino cheese dipped in honey. They served that everywhere in Montepulciano. Oh my goodness, it was delicious! Who would have thought?

Our Wine Flight at Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.
Our Wine Flight at Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.

We loved the wine so much we ended up buying and entire case and having it shipped back to The States!!

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This was one of my favorite wines!

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After cocktail hour we headed to a restaurant {Osteria del Conte} that had wine and gluten free options!

We had to make reservations earlier in the day to assure our seats. 🙂

Chad

We were so happy we could scream!!

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On our second day, we had breakfast with another awesome view. Breakfast was compliments of our B&B.

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After breakfast we headed to a winery for a tour and wine tasting.

{Cinzia made the reservations for our wine tasting / tour AND called to reserve a taxi for us.}

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We had a delicious lunch with an amazing view at Ristorante II Poliziano.

You can’t see from this picture, but shortly after this picture was taken they moved us up on the balcony…it was gorgeous!

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{Peccorino cheese with honey and salmon!}

Montepulciano, Italy

{Veal Kabobs with salad.}

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Drinking in style on the streets of Montepulciano with our wedding Koozies!

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I had to get my picture in front of this building that was featured in Twilight: New Moon.

Montepulciano, Italy

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Montepulciano, Italy

We had so much fun and enjoyed our stay SO much we decided to stay an extra night because one night wasn’t enough!! I’m so glad that we did.

We were sad to say our goodbyes!

Montepulciano was BY FAR my favorite place!!

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Adios Montepulciano.

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Locanda San Francesca was a Trip Advisor winner.

This was one of the places we found via Trip Advisor and not through a Rick Steves Travel book.

We highly recommend Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.
We highly recommend Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.

Next Stop: Rome, Italy.

Easy Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’re going to love this simple recipe!

It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and most people don’t even know that it is gluten free!! shh… 😉

Delicious #GlutenFree Pumpkin Cake Recipe

I use Namaste Gluten Free Spice Cake Mix (which is the best gluten free brand i’ve found, when it comes to baking).

The mix makes two 8×8 cakes. So I always make sure to divide the recipe in half.
Namaste Gluten Free Spice Cake Mix

Ingredients for the cake:

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups cake mix

1/3 cup oil

7 ounces canned pumpkin

1 packet of jell-o pumpkin spice pudding mix

Easy Pumpkin Cake Recipe

First, you’ll want to preheat your oven  to 350˚F. Lightly spray or grease your 8×8 pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 eggs, 2 1/2  cups Namaste Spice Cake Mix, 1/3 cup oil, 7 oz canned pumpkin, and 1 packet of pumpkin spice pudding mix.

Blend well.

Pour cake mix into lightly greased pan and place in oven for 25-35 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center come out clean.

The perfect time to make the cream cheese frosting is while the cake is baking.

Ingredients for the frosting:

1 8oz package of reduced fat cream cheese – softened

4 Tbsp butter – softened

1 cup powered sugar

1 Tbsp (gluten free) vanilla

In a mixing bowl, combine 4 Tbsp softened butter, 8 oz softened cream cheese,  1 Tbsp vanilla, and 1 cup powdered sugar. Blend well.

Once the cream cheese frosting is done leave it out so it is room temperature.

When the cake is done baking, set on wire rack to cool. Once the cake has cooled, frost cake with the cream cheese frosting.

and Enjoy!!

Delicious #GlutenFree Pumpkin Cake Recipe

I like to keep the cake in the refrigerator because I think it tastes better that way. But, do what feels right 🙂

Vegetable Fritattas

Fritattas are so easy to make and they are so delicious.  You can serve a Fritatta for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

AND they make great leftovers!! 🙂

Fritattas with Salsa

Ingredients:

1 medium Onion

1 Red Pepper

1 Green Peppers

2 Jalepenos

6 Mushrooms

3 cups Spinach

4 Eggs

2 Tbsp almond milk (or whichever milk you prefer)

4 cloves garlic, minced

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Spices (I like to season with paprika, salt, pepper, and chili pepper)

1 Tbsp Butter (for the pan)

Salsa (for topping)

Sauté pan or griddle

Note: I LOVE adding eggplant (diced), parsnips (diced), kale (chopped), and other seasonal vegetables that we didn’t have in our fridge at the moment! 🙂

First, you’ll want to cut all of your vegetables. I don’t like to cut them too small because I think it’s easier to eat when they are cut into small strips.

Once you’ve got all of your vegetables cut, add 1 Tbsp butter to griddle (or a sauté pan works fine as well) over medium heat.

butter

Once the butter is melted and the pan warms up, add your onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
vegetables

Cover pan and let the vegetables cook down, stirring occasionally.

Beat 4 eggs, 2 Tbsp milk, and dash of Salt & Pepper into a bowl. Set aside.

Return to your griddle/sauté pan. If the peppers and onions look like they’ve started to cook down, add Spinach and Garlic.
vegetables

The spinach will not take long to cook down. Stir it around a bit and it should look like this:
cooked vegetables

Once the spinach has wilted, add your scrambled egg mixture.
cooked vegetables

Once you’ve added the eggs to your griddle/sauté pan, cover pan and let cook over medium heat.
vegetables with eggs

After the eggs have cooked for about 5 minutes, top with shredded cheddar cheese and cover.
vegetables, eggs, and cheese

Continue to let the eggs cook all the way through, (about 10 minutes) and voila you’ve got yourself a meal!!

Look at that cheesy goodness!!!
Cheesy Vegetable Fritattas

Lastly, Top with Salsa and enjoy 🙂
Fritattas with Salsa

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!!

Eat well. Be well.

Sweet Chili Garlic Tofu

Chad and I decided to make tofu for dinner. It was delicious. But not only that, it’s gluten free & vegetarian!

After watching the documentary ‘Get Vegucated’ this weekend, I have been on a ‘no meat’ kick.

Doesn’t this just make your mouth salivate??

Sweet Chili Garlic Glaze Tofu #Vegetarian #GlutenFree

Here is the list of ingredients:

Tofu:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
14 oz of extra firm tofu
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
salt
pepper

Sweet Chili Glaze:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp Asian chili-garlic sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

First, you’ll want to open the tofu and drain the liquids from the package.
Extra Firm Tofu

Next, place the tofu on a cutting board. You’ll want to cut the tofu into about 12 strips.
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Once you’ve cut the tofu into strips, place them onto a paper towel lined plate. Place another paper towel over the top of the tofu and let it absorb the moisture. (for about 10-15 minutes)
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Set the tofu aside.

Whisk 3/4 cups cornstarch and 1/4 cup cornmeal together in a shallow dish. (I prefer a square dish). Set aside.

For the glaze, whisk together water, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, chili-garlic sauce, and 2 tsp cornstarch. Pour into sauce pan and let simmer over medium heat until it’s reduced and syrupy. Stirring occasionally.

Pour olive oil onto your skillet and let it heat up. While the olive oil heats up, remove the paper towel from the tofu. Lightly season tofu with salt and pepper.

Return to your cornstarch/cornmeal mixture. Thoroughly coat the tofu by rolling it in the cornstarch/cornmeal mixture. After you coat each one, place on skillet and cook until crisp and lightly golden on all sides. (about 10 minutes) I like to use a pair of sauté tongs to help flip the tofu as needed.

Finally, remove the sweet chili glaze from the heat and add the cilantro.

Place tofu on your plate, drizzle the sweet chili glaze over every piece, and ENJOY!!!