Babymoon in Florence

Babymoon in Florence

Babymoons are an ever growing travel trend: one last getaway for parents-to-be before the little one arrives. While most couples take this trip together to get in some alone time, Mr. Italicano and I decided to take ours separately with friends. Since we work together we have the advantage of spending a lot of time together (sometimes even too much time together. 🙂  Friends are important and pursuing our personal passions and interests are as well. So, Mr. Italicano headed to Sicily for a sailing weekend, while I headed to Florence with 2 of my girlfriends. It was bliss.

Since Mr. Italicano isn’t toting Baby Italicana around, he of course could go off on a carefree adventuresome weekend virtually anywhere. My weekend, however, took some planning.

CHOOSING THE BEST BABYMOON DESTINATION

At first, I had wanted to go to the Italian seaside in Liguria. I imagined walking and chatting on the beach with my girlfriends, exploring coastal towns and overeating large amounts of focaccia and pasta with pesto genovese. Then, of course, I remembered that it was October! It would probably be windy and chilly for walks on the beach and many of the coastal towns in Liguria are extremely hilly. At 31 weeks pregnant, I could hardly go up a flight of stairs without becoming winded–umm, no thanks. Also, besides eating delicious Ligurian food (which was a major plus), what could a prego like me do? No  aperitivos drinking fancy cocktails or spas while relaxing in a hot tub or sauna (us moms-to-be need to keep our body temperatures regulated).

At this point, choosing the perfect destination came down to two main criteria: the season and activities for expecting moms. For an autumn babymoon, I highly recommend a large dynamic city. In October it’s typically still nice temps to walk and explore, and there are numerous non-alcoholic activities that a large city offers: art museums, restaurants, coffee shops, live music, food & art classes, shopping and of course prenatal massages, just to name a few.

BABYMOON IN FLORENCE, ITALY

My city of choice: Florence! High speed trains in Italy are amazing. From Reggio Emilia, the nearby train station, it took just 2 hours for my friends Monica, Silvia and I to get to our destination for the weekend. And, of course, when you’re chatting and hanging out with your girlfriends time flies at lightening speed. We spent two days exploring the streets of Florence, indulging in delicious food, visiting historic museums,  shopping, and chatting every moment we got.  In a flash, our weekend was over but what memories we created together that I will remember forever.  It was a weekend of fun, discovery, a lot of laughter and relax. All much needed before the challenges of becoming a new parent. Here were some of my favorite spots while we were in Florence. A big thanks to Georgette Jupe Pradier who has a very informative blog called A Girl in Florence . As a 10-year American-Florence local, she gave us many top referrals! 

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

La Ménagére

Great for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner and drinks

Via de’ Ginori, 8/R, 50123 Firenze FI

Telephone: 055 075 0600

Open Monday-Sunday 7:30am-2am

Hands down my new favorite spot in Florence. Sorry Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia. I surely appreciate you, but when you have a coffee shop/restaurant/jazz lounge/flower shop/kitchen store all in one cool setting, a pregnant food blogger like myself is in sweet sweet heaven.

Big kudos to the chef and his team for the exceptional food.

We had an incredible lunch trying out:ravioli filled with Romana salad and served with San Marzano confit and poppy seeds; homemade spaghetti with cuttlefish ink, clams, anchovy colatura and pea powder; roasted gnocchi, cacio, pepper, green apple and fried couscous.  I’m finding it quite torturous to write about these delicious pasta dishes…I need to go back for more. Like now.

BRAC

Great for lunch, best to reserve ahead

Via dei Vagellai, 18/R, 50122 Firenze FI

Telephone 055 094 4877

Open Monday-Saturday 12pm-4pm, 7pm-12am and Sunday 6pm-12am

Just a few blocks away from the Uffizi, you’ll find this vegetarian restaurant hidden on a vacant side street and may even pass it if you’re not looking carefully. From the outside it looks like a bookshop, but when you step inside you find yourself in a little coffee shop that opens to a creative garden space and finally a glass window room lined with book shelves.

This is the second time I’ve been here and absolutely love their innovative vegetarian cuisine and the cozy atmosphere–the perfect spot to spend Sunday lunch with my girls. 🙂

THE WAY OF TEA 3

Great for a morning or afternoon tea break

Via di Santo Spirito, 11, 50125 Firenze FI

Telephone: 055 280749

Open Monday 3:30pm-8pm and Tuesday-Sunday 11am-8pm

The amount of tea to choose from is impressive. Since I don’t know much about teas, I chose one based on the mood I was going for: relax. It was just the right mix of fruits and spice, with strong hints of cardamon.

Although the tea was superb the waitress was stiff and unfriendly (I say this comment hesitantly because you may go back and have an excellent waitress). She sat us at a small table with uncomfortable looking chairs when a vacant booth was free. After being on our feet all day sight seeing and exploring a nearby market, of course we wanted a comfy spot to relax. Especially me. When I asked if we could move to the booth, the gal said no….wwwhhhat? She had some courage to decline a simple request by a pregnant woman. I was quite shocked, especially since the entire room at the moment was empty. Luckily, my friend Monica had my back. When the waitress left, Monica coaxed me to sit and rest in the booth. She simply told the waitress as a matter of fact that we were sitting there–her friend is pregnant and she needed to be comfortable. Period. The waitress didn’t say a word, but took our orders. I love my girlfriends. ❤

PLACES TO SEE

ISTITUTO DEGLI INNOCENTI

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, 12, 50121 Firenze FI

Telephone: 055 20371

Open Monday-Saturday: 7am-8pm

The Ospedale degli Innocenti was founded in the first half of the 15th century. There was a wheel where a baby could be dropped off without the parent being seen, which later was built into a window known as the “grated window” because it was large enough for only newborn babies to be passed through. Inside this historic building you’ll find a newly opened and informative museum. This institute is still active today and provides welfare services for children and mothers.

OFFICINA PROFUMO FARMACEUTICA DI SANTA MARIA NOVELLA

Via della Scala, 16, 50123 Firenze FI

Telephone: 055 216276

Open Monday-Sunday: 9am-8pm

This is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. Created in the 13th century by friars, it wasn’t open to the public until the 17th century. It quickly gained notoriety around the world for its medicinal herbs, balms, pomades and later perfumes, natural essences and other products. Touring this little gem was like taking a step back in time. It’s both a free museum as well as a store. And, oh the smells. ❤

THINGS TO DO

WANDER

The city center of Florence is actually quite small. Of course we had google maps to take us to the main piazzas, but I think that the best part of sightseeing Italian cities and towns is to simply get lost in its streets. You discover so many little markets, restaurants and artisan shops this way.

SHOPPING

Mr. Italicano would have killed me had I dragged him into various shops to find the perfect outfit for our upcoming pregnancy photos (coming soon!). Monica and Silvia, on the other hand, were rockstars. We had gone into a store with 3 floors of clothing where I had found a sweater that I thought would be perfect–the only problem was my size was missing. The salesperson checked the stock and there was 1 size small somewhere in the store. Without hesitation Silvia went on a hunt to every floor looking in all of the dressing rooms. Only girlfriends are that patient. ❤

GET A PRENATAL MASSAGE!

Golden Tower Hotel & Spa

Piazza degli Strozzi, 11r, 50123 Firenze FI

Telephone: 055 287860

After a weekend of walking around, this was the cherry on the cake. I treated myself to a prenatal massage at the Golden Tower Hotel & Spa 5 star hotel. I know fancy, huh. Surprisingly, the cost to get a prenatal massage here (90euro) was less than other spas (running around 120euro) in the area. Hands down this was probably one of the best massages I’ve ever had. The masseuse was phenomenal and used organic coconut oil and  natural essences. It was just what I needed to end a phenomenal weekend.

Actually, to end our weekend we celebrated with gelato before boarding the train home. Gelato during a babymoon is essential. ❤

Bye Florence. We’ll see you again soon. . ❤

5 Essential Tools for Making Handmade Pasta Like an Italian

5 Essential Tools for Making Handmade Pasta Like an Italian

HANDMADE PASTA IN ITALY

5-Essential-Tools-for-Making-Handmade-Pasta-Like-an-ItalianThe art of making handmade pasta is an important Italian tradition.  Although recipes for fresh pasta vary from region to region, (the type of flour, eggs, water, olive oil and salt are all variable elements) one commonality is that this antique practice originated in households using the simplest of ingredients and tools. Today, this tradition is waning as Italian women work outside their homes. Luckily there are many nonne, or grandmothers, who are passing down their secrets and restaurants, companies and schools that are offering pasta making courses.

I recently had the opportunity to participate at a traditional pasta making course offered by La Pasta di Bologna with a sfoglina. 

5-Essential-Tools-for-Making-Handmade-Pasta-Like-an-ItalianWho is a sfoglina?  This is the name of a person who makes handmade pasta the traditional way by using a wooden board and rolling pin. It was a fun and educational experience. I also feel quite lucky to have an Italian mother-in-law who had already gifted me many of the tools we used in the class. They truly do make a difference for making perfect fresh pasta at home.

5 ESSENTIAL HAND MADE PASTA MAKING TOOLS

5-Essential-Tools-for-Making-Handmade-Pasta-Like-an-ItalianBelow you’ll find the 5 essential tools to make handmade pasta like a true Italian sfoglina!

1. WOODEN BOARD

Although you can use a large clean work space, if you want to make pasta like a sfoglina, you’ll want to get a wooden board that is roughly 35/40 x 23/27 inches. This will give you ample space to roll out your dough, cut it into shapes and let your pasta dry. Using a wooden board is also practical, as cleanup is quick and easy and you don’t have to worry about damaging your countertop when you cut your pasta.

2. ROLLING PIN

5-Essential-Tools-for-Making-Handmade-Pasta-Like-an-ItalianIn my American kitchen, I always used a rolling pin with two handles, now I can’t live without my Emilian-style rolling pin. In Italy, I use the one that my Italian mother-in-law gave me, but when I travel to the states for cooking classes, I simply head to the hardware store and get a dowel that is about 30/35 inches long with a 1.5/2 inch diameter. I sand it down, give it a good wash and I have the best DYI rolling pin for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one in a culinary store. A handleless rolling pin really makes a difference. I find that it is nearly impossible to use a rolling pin with handles as the dough gets stuck between the pin and the handles and I can’t easily roll up and flip my dough over on the other side.   

3. KITCHEN SCALE

5-Essential-Tools-for-Making-Handmade-Pasta-Like-an-ItalianI sometimes wonder how I ever cooked without a kitchen scale. This is one item that I often pack with me in my suitcase when I travel so I am sure I have it (I’m not joking either. Mr. Italicano jokes with me that someday I’ll start bringing it to bed with me!) What’s so great about a kitchen scale? It’s precise. In flour-based recipes it makes a huge difference because each flour has a different weight depending on the type of flour, the brand and how it was milled.  If you need precise amounts, don’t use measuring cups as it will give you different results each time. Try this little trick for yourself: measure a cup of flour using the spoon and sweep method, then do it again, weighing after each. You’ll most likely end up with two different weights. Now repeat using the scoop and sweep method—you’ll have even a bigger difference in weight as this method packs down more flour and you’ll end up with a whole lot more flour even if it’s still “1 cup”. With a scale, 100g of flour is always 100g of flour. For egg pasta dough, the classic recipe is 100g of flour to one egg that is approximately 60-70g in weight. This is the right ratio of dry to liquid to give you the perfect pasta dough. 

4. DOUGH SCRAPER

5-Essential-Tools-for-Making-Handmade-Pasta-Like-an-ItalianThis is a handy tool to have when making pasta dough (and any dough for that matter) as you can easily work the wet and loose dough at the beginning without getting your hands messy before you knead the dough. It’s also a lifesaver to scrape up any flour/egg gunk from the board before rolling out the dough. You don’t want any bits or tears in your dough.

5. PASTRY CUTTER, KNIFE, AND TRADITIONAL EQUIPMENT

5-Essential-Tools-for-Making-Handmade-Pasta-Like-an-ItalianStraight and fluted pastry cutters are great for tortelli, cappelletti, ravioli and other stuffed pasta.You’ll need a sharp knife for shapes like tagliolini, tagliatelle, pappardelle, and lasagne sheets. Some traditional shapes even require specific tools; for instance, to make garganelli, you’ll its unique stick and comb.

Although I typically make homemade pasta using a stand mixer and pasta attachments {<—affiliate links}, I do appreciate the art of making pasta the traditional way with just a rolling pin and board. And, I absolutely love taking pasta making classes as a social event to meet new people, learn new tricks, and of course eat good handmade food. 🙂

Mini Farro Tarts  

Mini Farro Tarts  

Sorry for dropping off the map! Mr. Italicano, Baby Italicana and I spent over a month in the USA visiting my family ❤ and doing cooking classes and demos around Seattle, Portland and in Virginia for Caruccio’s and Smeg USA. Now we’re back in Italy, and I’ve been aching to write a recipe post, so let me get straight to it and tell you about these amazing mini farro tarts!

Besides being just extremely cute, these mini farro tarts were a huge hit with the participants at my kid’s cooking class at Caruccio’s, a beautiful new culinary event space in Mercer Island. In this cooking class each child made her own tart, filled it with a homemade lemon curd and topped it with fresh berries. Not a crumb remained!

Here is what a I love about these mini farro tarts:

  • Kid Friendly — They are the perfect recipe to make for (or with) your child. Fill them with homemade lemon curd, jam or yogurt and top them with berries for a healthy breakfast, dessert or after school snack.
  • Low in Sugar — Most desserts are pumped with sugars. This tart crust just has 1/3 cup raw turbinado sugar. Obviously, depending on what you fill it will make it more or less sugar-y, so if you are looking for a simple & healthy treat, opt for a good yogurt and fresh fruits, nuts and/or seeds.
  • Farro — I am a huge proponent of farro. It’s an ancient grain grown in Italy which is nutty in flavor, high in protein and fiber and is often suitable for people who have gluten sensitivities (but not those who have celiac disease). Just search farro recipes in the search box for more recipes. One of the brands I collaborate with and absolutely love is Poggio del Farro.

Since I love discovering new ways to cook with farro, I thought I would bring my knowledge to the USA! I created farro recipes for all of my adult classes, pop-up dinner and demo’s at Caruccio’s. Throughout the various events, we made homemade farro salad, farro beet soup, farro ravioli, farro matcha pasta, farro beet pasta, farro crostata and farro chocolate chip cookies. Participants were enthusiastic to learn more about farro, the health benefits and and the best recipes to make with this ancient grain. I was really delighted to see how curious everyone was (even kids!) to learn about farro. ❤

Cooking Demo

Adult Cooking Class

Pop Up Restaurant 

Farro also appeared in my Smeg USA cooking demonstrations at Williams-Sonoma and Nordstroms. I showed customers how to make homemade matcha farro pasta with Smeg’s 1950’s style stand mixer and pasta attachments (<—affiliate links) hence the reason I’m dressed up in 1950’s style! 🙂  

The pasta is bright in color, packed with antioxidants and I put in just the right amount of matcha to not leave any bitter taste—making it easy to pair with any sauce.At some of my demos, I also showed how to make matcha tea with Smeg’s Variable Temperature Kettle (<—affiliate link). I really enjoyed using  Sugimoto America ’s delicious organic matcha culinary and ceremonial grade teas. I’m not a big tea drinker, unfortunately I often find it too bitter, but matcha tea is one that I actually like because it’s smooth and I find it less pungent.

I’m surprised with how “italicana” I’ve become over the eight years of living in Italy.  My usual craving for a Starbucks coffee has passed—for me it’s too sugary and sweet. I usually drink American drip coffee (straight up black) or I choose to make a homemade latte with just a little added maple syrup for flavor or I’ll make a quick espresso, macchiato or cappuccino. I love how Smeg’s 1950’s style Espresso Machine (<—affiliate link) is easy to use, so stylish and takes up such little space on my countertops. In this video I show you how simple it is to make a macchiato using it!

Another simple but satisfying recipe I had the pleasure of demoing is a sparkling citrus juice using Smeg’s 1950’s style citrus juicer (<—affiliate link).  

Now that I have Baby Italicana to think about, I’ve been consuming many homemade non-alcoholic drinks. Here’s the easy and delicious recipe:

For a Sparkling Citrus Juice:

1. Squeeze some oranges or grapefruit in a glass

2. add equal parts sparkling water

3. top with a mint leaf

It’s that easy! Great for prego’s like me, for kids or to serve as a nice refreshing drink  for your family and friends. 🙂 I made these citrus juice drinks for my nieces and nephew at Lake Chelan when were there with my entire family celebrating my mom’s 70th birthday. They adored this “fizzy drink” and I love knowing that I, their auntie, was giving them something that is 100% natural. ❤

How is Baby Italicana?

This little globe trotter is doing well! She’s 29 weeks old and we’re already in the 3rd trimester! She has become a little ninja in my belly and is kicking all the time (the most incredible feeling ever). She loves her daddy and responds with kicks and high fives when Mr. Italicano taps three times on my tummy (I think he’ll soon start teaching her morse code. Hah!).  We love celebrating life moments with her. For my and Mr. Italicano’s 4th wedding anniversary we took her to a Seattle Seahawks game…

…and spent a night at Sleep Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth where we got married.

We took her on the outdoor stage where we said our vows, to a beautiful rock overlook where with views of the river and mountains and strolled through the rest of that magical place describing to her all of the special memories of that unforgettable day.   ❤

Mini Farro Tarts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These mini farro tarts are the perfect recipe to make for your family. Fill them with homemade lemon curd, jam or yogurt and top them with berries for a healthy breakfast, dessert or after school snack.
Serves: 15
Ingredients
  • For the tart:
  • 2½ cups (300 g) farro (emmer) flour (Triticum Dicoccum)
  • ½ teaspoon (1 g) baking powder
  • 2 pinches salt
  • ⅔ cup (150 g) cold butter, cut into cubes + more to butter pans
  • Zest from 1 organic lemon
  • ⅓ cup (75 g) turbinado sugar
  • 1 large organic egg + 1 egg yolk
  • For the filling:
  • Greek yogurt, lemon curd, homemade jam (etc)
  • Fresh berries
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, add the flour, baking powder, salt and butter. Mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon zest, turbinado sugar and eggs. Combine until the dough comes together as a ball. Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Butter fifteen 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms. Divide the dough into 15 pieces. Push each piece of dough into the tart pan until the dough evenly covers the bottom and sides. Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork many times. (If you have fewer tart pans, you can take turns baking. In this case, keep the dough in the refrigerator until ready to use. You can also use this recipe to make the crust for an 11-inch (28cm) pan crostata. If so, follow the recipe in that link for tips on how to roll out the dough and fill the crostata.)
  5. Bake the mini farro tarts for 22-24 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  6. Add your filling of choice (Greek yogurt, lemon curd, homemade jam etc) and top with fresh berries. Enjoy!

 

In this post, there are affiliate links and links to the companies I work with. These collaborations allow me to work full time on this blog. I am very selective in my choices of collaborations and products that might be of value to those who follow me. Thank you for your support. ❤

We’re Having a…

We’re Having a…

We're Having a....

Baby girl!  ❤

We are so excited. Little Baby Italicana is joining our family, our team.  

Details below on how we found out, Baby Italicana’s name ❤, flying pregnant and a calendar of our USA cooking tour around Seattle and Portland! We hope to see you in person at one or more of these upcoming events! ❤

How We Found Out:

We're Having a...

During my 13 week ultrasound, the doctor told us that he was 95% sure that it was a girl. So why didn’t I reveal this news weeks ago? Well, after talking to countless Italian friends with kids, I heard so many stories where the doctor said it was a girl, then they found out at their 20 week ultrasound that it was a boy or vice versa! So even with this news, I tried to keep an objective 50/50 mindset of having a boy or a girl to not get too attached to one or the other, only to be disappointed.

But, it was hard.

I kept on using girl pronouns with our baby when talking about her.

And… I secretly wanted a girl…so did Mr. Italicano. Of course, don’t get me wrong. A baby boy would have been an absolute blessing and we would have welcomed him with open arms and loving hearts. ❤  All that matters in the end is that our baby is healthy and happy. But… to be 100% transparent, we did have a preference—we hoped for a little girl.

Which is strange, really.

All my life, I had the image of someday having boys.. 3 or 4 of them. In my mind I could foresee a full house of rambunctious, fun-loving boys–no girls.

Boys:

We're Having a...I LOVED growing up with two older brothers. They protected me and they made me tough. I idolized them. In fact, I wanted to be one of them. When I was little, I hated dresses and loved their hand-me-down clothes. I tried to join Boy Scouts like they did, but the Scout Master told me no. Which in my opinion was so unfair. Girl Scouts at the time did (and maybe still do?) very “girly” activities. I wanted to learn how to use a compass and knife, to build things and to survive in the wild. #totalinjustice)

And… boys usually aren’t drama. I hate drama.

Yes, in reality I should be dreaming of a boy.

Yet, I wanted a girl.

I want to teach her how to be tough, how to be independent and the importance of perseverance. I want to teach her not to gossip, not to start drama and to be compassionate towards others.

Mr. Italicano is excited to play legos with her and teach her how to build things. (He majored in industrial engineering.) He too doesn’t want our girl to follow gender stereotypes. We want our little girl to know no limits.

Baby’s Name

December 24, 2015

It’s a beautiful sunny and cold afternoon in the Italian alps. Mr. Italicano and I are staying a week in the mountains to celebrate Christmas, to spend as much time as we can snowboarding and to get some alone time together before Mr. Italicano leaves for 3 months to India in February for work, while I head to the states.  Today we decide to go for a hike. As we walk towards Lake Nambino our conversations drift to various topics, and when we reach the crystal clear mountain lake, the subject arises of starting a family.  

We daydream of what it will be like to be parents and have a little one to  play with and teach, to kiss and cuddle. We hypothesis baby names. We both start naming off girl names, uncommon names related to nature, to cities and to food, until there is one name that make both of us stop in our tracks and smile:

Pepper

We know in that instant that is our future baby girl’s name.  ❤  It’s unique and meaningful. It reminds me of my dad Lee who always covers his entire plate of food with black pepper and usually keeps a little pepper packet in his front pocket as a reserve. It’s also related to food, both as pepper as a seasoning and pepper as the vegetables.  The name is strong and a little spicy. 🙂

So, when I say we had a preference for a girl, I wasn’t lying. It was 2 years ago that we had thought about this little sweet pea. And, although we didn’t start trying to conceive her until 2017, she was always in our minds and hearts.

We can’t wait to meet you, Pepper Gail Lorenzini. ❤  We can’t wait to hold you and snuggle you, tickle your tiny toes and kiss your little nose.  

Here is a video that we made that very day for our future baby!

Why Gail as a middle name? It’s both my mom’s and my middle name. I wanted to carry on this little family tradition. Pepper will be the 3rd generation to have that middle name. And, who knows how long it will continue. 🙂

Baby Italicana in Tuscany:

We're Having a...

What do you think of my overalls? I bought them because they are quite the Italian fashion, and they were perfect for the upcoming event at our wonderful client’s Poggio del Farro in Tuscany. For those who follow me, you probably know that I have been collaborating with them. I love their farro products and their quest for only the best quality for their customers. For those of you who don’t know about farro, an Italian ancient grain, here is an article that gives some more details on this super food.  You’ll find tons of delicious recipes with farro here on my site as well as on Poggio del Farro’s recipe page. 

While there, we got to participate in their 2nd Annual Threshing/Harvest festival. We watched an agricultural demonstration while admiring vintage machinery and tools. For the large open air lunch (with over 400 people!), I prepared a fresh farro salad with a lemon dijon vinaigrette and Milena (Poggio del Farro) prepared a delicious tomato, feta and olive salad. The majority of   the traditional Tuscan food was prepared by 15 women who started the day prior preparing many dishes like the traditional Tuscan ribollita (vegetable soup), pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread soup), farro e fagioli (farro and beans), bruschette con pomodoro e basilico (bruschette with tomatoes and basil) and delicious ficattole (fried bread).

Baby Italicana Heads to the USA:

We're Having a...

Little Baby Italicana made her second trip to the USA!

Note to pregnant mama’s, overalls are also PERFECT for long international flights! It was like flying in my PJ’s.

Well…almost.

When you fly, there is always the risk of deep vein thrombosis, a condition where you develop blood clots in your legs from prolonged sitting. That is why it’s advisable to always get up and move around on flights.  Pregnant women are especially vulnerable and so wearing sexy compression hose helps to increase circulation, reduce the risk of swelling and clotting. Not the comfiest things in the world, but definitely necessary.

For extra leg comfort, Mr. Italicano and I also upgraded to Premium Economy. The tickets cost around 25-30% more but we thought it would be well worth it this time. Also because we’ll be in the states for 40 days for work and vacation and a second piece of large luggage is included for free with Premium Economy–that we filled with presents and of course Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. 4kg (9 lbs) to be precise! One piece of luggage (like every trip!) arrived a few days late, but now we’re quite use to it.

Back to our seats. We got a sweet surprise of being put in the exit aisle row! ✈️ Premium economy + emergency exit = I can do yoga in the aisle! ❤

We're Having a...The only problem that the aisle was so big that other passengers thought it was a walkway and would actually stand in front of us as we tried to watch a movie on our monitor!

Now on to some information on the USA Tour and Recipes we’ll be doing around Seattle and Portland!

USA Cooking Tour Calendar

We're Having a...We have some great events coming up starting with interactive adult and kid/teen classes, demos and a pop up restaurant at the grand opening of Caruccio’s, a new and beautiful culinary event space in Mercer Island by Lisa Caruccio!  All of the dishes are based on farro, an Italian ancient grain, and sponsored by Poggio del FarroYou can check out the menus, availability and buy your tickets online by clicking on one of the dates below:

Caruccio’s
2441 76th Avenue SE
Suite 100
Mercer Island, WA 98040
(206) 232-2320
Info@caruccios.com

Adult’s Cooking Class: Thursday, August 24th, 6pm-8pm (PDT)

Spinach Pasta with Kale Pesto, Leeks and Toasted Almonds

Crostata with Strawberry Jam, Fior di Latte Gelato and Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Balsamico Bonini

Kid’s Cooking Class (8-12 yrs old): Friday, August 25th, 11am-1pm (PDT) 

Farro Ravioli with Ricotta and Mushrooms in a Butter and Sage Sauce

Mini Farro Tarts with Yogurt & Fruit

Adult’s Cooking Class: Friday, August 25th, 6pm-8pm (PDT)

Spinach Pasta with Kale Pesto, Leeks and Toasted Almonds

Crostata with Strawberry Jam, Fior di Latte Gelato and Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Balsamico Bonini

Pop-Up Restaurant: Saturday, August 26th, 6pm-9pm (PDT)

{Starter} Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt, Pistachios and Orange Zest

{Main} Green Matcha Pasta with Pesto, Leeks and Wild-Caught Prawns

{Dessert} Strawberry Crostata with Fior Di Latte Gelato and Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Balsamico Bonini

Cooking Demo: Sunday, August 27th, 3pm-5pm (PDT)

Farro Salad with a Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

Pink Beet Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola and Toasted Walnuts

Farro Chocolate Chip Cookies

After these fun cooking events, I will be doing complimentary cooking demos with Smeg USA , an amazing Italian appliance brand, at Nordstroms and Williams-Sonoma around Seattle and Portland. I’ll be showing how to make homemade pasta with Smeg’s stand mixer and pasta attachments, how to make summer citrus juicers with Smeg’s citrus juicer, how to make a rejuvenating matcha tea full of antioxidants (that will be supplied by matcha tea producers Sugimoto USA) with Smeg’s controlled temperature kettle, and how to make espresso drinks with Smeg’s espresso machine.  {affiliate links}

Around Portland:

Williams-Sonoma Washington Square

Tuesday, August 29th 12-2pm (PDT)

9367 SW Washington Square Road

Tigard, OR 97223

Williams-Sonoma 23rd Ave

Wednesday, August 30th 12-2pm (PDT)

338 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210, USA

Around Seattle:

Nordstrom Downtown:

Thursday, August 31st 12-2pm (PDT)

500 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101

Williams-Sonoma Alderwood Mall:

Friday, September 1st 12-2pm (PDT)

3000 184th St SW #942, Lynnwood, WA 98037

Williams-Sonoma University Village:

Saturday, September 2nd 12-2pm (PDT)

2530 NE University Village, Seattle, WA 98105

Williams-Sonoma Bellevue Square:

Sunday, September 3rd 12-2pm (PDT)

216 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

Nordstrom Bellevue:

Sunday, September 3rd 4-6pm (PDT)

100 Bellevue Way SE, Bellevue, WA 98004

Head to the calendar to see all of my upcoming cooking events! 

We hope to see you in person at one of these cooking events!  ❤   I look forward to teaching you how to make nutritious and easy recipes for you and your whole family. Big hugs to you all and I hope you are enjoying your summer! ❤

See you soon!

Cindy, Michele & Pepper

 

 

Beet Hummus Recipe + 17 Week Pregnancy Update

Beet Hummus Recipe + 17 Week Pregnancy Update

Beet HummusHey friends! Thank you so much for your comments, emails and messages to my and Mr. Italicano’s baby announcement last week! We are over the moon about becoming parents and starting this new beautiful, challenging and rewarding adventure. First let’s talk about this amazing beet hummus recipe that has been rocking my world lately, and for those of you who aren’t interested in all the intimate pregnancy details you can then skip to the written recipe below {I definitely don’t want to bore you!} For all of you who want the in’s and out’s about my growing belly and Baby Italicano/a’s first sailing adventure last weekend, you’ll find that in the second part of the post.

Video Recipe

This video was made in collaboration with Smeg. I created the recipe, photos and video—which you can also find on their website along with many other delicious homemade recipes. The writing and opinions are my own.

3 Things I Love About Beet Hummus

1. I can easily add a delicious beet flavor and pink color to my original hummus recipe.

2. I’m able to benefit from all the health benefits of beets like cancer fighting antioxidants, anti-aging properties and boosting my stamina (which is great because I find with the summer heat and being pregnant even climbing stairs make me tired!)

3. I can whip up a vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, dairy-free appetizer in a matter of minutes to serve at dinner parties and please a large group of friends who have different eating restrictions. Plus, appetizer boards are one of the prettiest things ever! Just be sure if you have gluten free friends, divide the hummus into two bowls and keep one for the veggies and on another board put the bread/crackers to avoid someone dipping their cracker inside and contaminating the spread. Little chalkboard signs are also a good idea as a little reminder.

Ready to try this delicious beet hummus? Scroll down to the recipe.

Now onto baby news…. 

17 Week Pregnancy Update

17 Weeks Pregnant

How Big is Baby Italicano/a?

Baby Italicano/a is the size of a pomegranate!

It seems so surreal to have a baby this size in my belly. I still can’t feel this little pomegranate, but I had a doctor’s visit and my obstetrician said I would start to feel baby’s first movements in about three weeks. I can’t wait! Although, if he/she is anything like me when I was little, my tummy is going to get some wild kicks. When I was a kid none of my friends wanted to sleep in the same bed as me, I was an active sleeper and usually kicked them before the night was through. Luckily for Mr. Italicano, I’ve become a calmer sleeper and he doesn’t get any rude awakenings (unless constantly stealing the covers and hogging the entire bed count? Oh, how he supports me. )

How Big is Mamma?

So, I was really quite lazy the first 4 months about taking photos. I only took one about a month after I found out I was pregnant. Here it is:

Now that I’m seeing differences weekly, I want to document my expanding belly! Here’s me at 16 weeks.

And, yesterday, at the start of 17 weeks.

This is the last week of 4 months and next week I’m be officially starting five months! Nine months is a long time, but man is it flying by!!

Baby Italicano/a’s First Sailing Adventure

Every since Mr. Italicano got his sailing license two years ago, we’ve been taking every chance we can get to explore the Mediterranean Sea. We’ve been to Greek Islands and various coastal ports, towns and islands in Italy. This past weekend we went sailing around Elba Island where we recently unplugged for a truly relaxing weekend.

So, you would think that I would be ecstatic about this weekend sailing getaway! I mean, if there is some kind of outdoor activity and new location involved, I am in heaven. I consider myself an adventure-seeking soul and love exploring new places and countries. In 2008, I even took a 10 month around-the-world trip, backpacking to over 13 countries while sharing my journey and experiences on a travel blog. From riding elephants in the jungles in Asia to hiking the Himalayas in India, I pushed myself to live life at full momentum and without fear.

Yet, as I stood on the dock looking at the passerella, or gangplank, that separated myself from the boat and solid land, a million fears popped in my head as I watched a friend cross the wobbly wooden board in front of me. What if I lose my balance and fall in the water? Or worse, what if I slip and fall on the slippery boat floor when we start to sail and…*gulp*… I lose my baby? 

Fear.

Lot’s of it.

Rushed through every cell in my body.

I’ve already taken on the responsibilities of becoming a mom in the past 4 months as I’ve made many sacrifices for my sweet pea on what I eat and drink. I’m extremely, and at times excessively, strict. Yet, this is the first time I’ve ever felt the panic-mode that I’m sure most parents experience when they realize how many dangers there are in the world and all they want to do is keep their child safe.

As I watched others climb aboard, I took a deep breath and let logic take over. Nothing in this world is ever “safe”, the worst can always happen. On the contrary, the “best” can happen too, like enjoying a relaxing weekend with friends, cuddling with Mr. Italicano under the stars, feeling the wind on my face, letting Baby Italicano/a be kissed by the sun and cooled by the salty sea.

I don’t want to miss out on life’s beautiful moments because I’m afraid something bad will happen, yet, I can’t be reckless either. There is a little human growing in my body that I need to take care of and protect. So I gave my self some rules.

How to Sail Safely in Your Second Trimester

1. Let people help. Instead of being the independent-do-it-all that I normally am. Before I walked across that wobbly wooden plank, I passed my heavy bags to my friend Sara, and then took her hand as she helped me across. I felt like a little old lady, but that’s fine. 🙂

2. Minimize movements around the boat. I would find myself a comfy spot and stay there, especially when the boat was in movement. If I absolutely had to move around I made sure that I always had a tight grip on something in case the boat jerked unexpectedly.

3. Act like a pregnant lady. Use your get-out-of-work pregnancy card. At first, I felt guilty not being the proactive helper on the boat when there was something to do. It’s not that I didn’t do anything, but I limited activities when the boat was anchored or when we were in port, like cooking or washing dishes. As for helping with setting sail and mooring I simply let others do it so I wouldn’t risk rushing up and down the boat and potentially falling.

In the end, pushing the fear aside and taking extra precautions allowed mamma and Baby Italicano/a to have a good time.    Oh, and my favorite part? The hammock on the sail boat! What a genius idea. 

Where is Baby Italicano/a off to next? Today we’ll leave again for Tuscany, but this time for the hillsides where we’ll meet our client Poggio del Farro to have him taste some products I’m developing for his company that will appear soon on supermarket shelves (umm, how exciting!!) and to see the farro harvest firsthand. I’ll be posting videos and photos on Facebook and Instagram or you can check back next Thursday here for the highlights on the blog.

Hope you all are enjoying your summer. Hugs from Mrs. Italicana, Mr. Italicano and Baby Italicano/a!

Beet Hummus Recipe + 17 Week Pregnancy Update
 
Prep time
Total time
 
This beet hummus is the perfect vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, dairy-free appetizer that you can whip up in a matter of minutes to serve at dinner parties and please a large group of friends who have different eating restrictions. Put a spin on the classic hummus dish by adding color, flavor and healthy beet nutrients.
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • For the hummus:
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small cooked beet (100g)
  • 1½ cups (260g) cooked chickpeas
  • For the toppings:
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Poppy seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Thyme
  • Bread and/or Crackers
  • Raw vegetables
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients for the hummus in the blender in the order given. Blend until smooth, adding more water or lemon juice if needed to arrive at your desired consistency.
  2. Scrape the hummus into a bowl, use a spoon to make a swirl on top and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and thyme. Serve with toasted bread, crackers and/or raw vegetables. Enjoy!
Notes
If you have gluten free friends, divide the hummus into two bowls and keep one for the veggies and on another board put the bread/crackers to avoid someone dipping their cracker inside and contaminating the spread. Little chalkboard signs are a good idea as a little reminder.