Christmas Crostata & 40 Weeks Pregnant

Christmas Crostata & 40 Weeks Pregnant

Christmas-Crostata-40-Weeks-PregnantChristmas time is a magical period, and this year is particularly special for Mr. Italicano and I as we wait for Baby Italicana to arrive. Pepper’s official due date is today, December 14th!  

It feels like just yesterday I was rolling out farro ravioli to make our baby announcement

Christmas-Crostata-40-Weeks-PregnantAnd now, the 14th of December has arrived. And, with it delicious holiday baked goods, like this Christmas farro crostata made with organic bitter orange marmalade.

Time has flown by, yet I’ve also been mindful of taking moments each day in the past 9 months to celebrate this new life. It’s the most natural process in the world, yet, it is truly spectacular if I stop to think about it. I mean, I’m growing a little human being inside of me–how miraculous is that?

Christmas-Crostata-40-Weeks-Pregnant*Baby Bump — 32 Weeks*

Every time I feel Pepper hiccup or move I am reminded of this marvel. My hands go to my stomach to feel her, and my heart swells with joy–my little girl, my daughter is saying hello.

I still tear up thinking about the first time I felt her tap me, letting me know she was there all snug inside. I was 5 months pregnant and had just arrived in the U.S. for part vacation part cooking show tour. It was dinner time and I had finished off a big plate of Phad Thai (my go-to dish as soon as I arrive in America as it’s quite impossible to find where I live in Italy). I was curled up in an oversized chair flipping through the TV channels when all of a sudden I felt a poke. A tiny little hand (or foot, or elbow–not really sure) had just tapped me. Hello, she was saying. I am here.

It was one of the most sensational feelings in the world. I was not alone.

And, here I am at 40 weeks pregnant soon to be alone.  

To be honest, I am going to deeply miss carrying Pepper inside me. She has made me become a better person. My main goal the past 9 months has been taking care of her and by default, I’ve learned to responsibly take even better care of myself: monitoring what I eat, what I drink, how much I exercise, how long I work, how I talk and how I feel–all of which has an effect on the wellbeing of Baby Italicana.  I want to give her the best.

Some days I fail: I work too late, become stressed or don’t get in exercise. These “failed” days push me to consciously do better the next day–for Pepper.

Before my pregnancy I wouldn’t hold this commitment to myself. There was a lot of “I shoulds” going on in my mind,  but it was hard to maintain accountability with myself and so growth and improvement was always slow. Yet, knowing that I have a commitment to Baby Italicana makes me more responsible. I mindfully focus on ensuring that the following day’s activities and emotions are more balanced. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t strive for perfection. That is not my goal. I just need to be the best that I can be. For Pepper and for myself. Each day I’m mindful about what I want to achieve. Thank you, little one. Already you are teaching me so many things.

Christmas-Crostata-40-Weeks-Pregnant*Baby Bump — 40 Weeks*

So here we are sweet girl, your due date has arrived. Your Italian and American families are here waiting to meet you, and the house is nice and cozy for your arrival. The tree is up, decorations are hung, the presents are wrapped and the smell of fresh baked Christmas treats fill the air.  

Yet, the best part of this holiday season is you.

Christmas-Crostata-40-Weeks-PregnantWe love you, Pepper. We can’t wait to look into your eyes, snuggle your small body, gaze at you while you sleep, smile at your little sounds, kiss your soft cheeks and spend our first Christmas together–as a family.

Christmas Crostata & 40 Weeks Pregnant
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • Zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 2½ cups whole grain farro flour (or all purpose)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 jar of jam or marmalade, flavor of choice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, add the sugar, butter and lemon zest. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Now add the flour, baking powder and salt; mix until combined.
  3. Remove the dough and place it on a floured work surface. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Flour a work space. Butter and flour a 6 inch pie plate or line it with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to 1/16 of an inch (5mm). Fit the rolled out dough in the pie plate and with kitchen scissors cut off the overhanging dough. Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork many times then evenly distribute the jam or marmalade. Refrigerate.
  5. Roll out the extra dough again and cut into traditional stripes to create a criss-cross crust pattern or use cookie cutters. Keep rolling out the dough and cutting with cookie cutters until all the dough has been utilized.
  6. Take the pie plate out of the refrigerator and arrange the strips or cookie cutter shapes on top. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cut into slices and serve for breakfast or dessert. Buon appetito!


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
  • 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
  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. ❤

Beet Crepes with Ricotta, Blood Oranges and Pistachios

Beet Crepes with Ricotta, Blood Oranges and Pistachios

Farro beet crepes! As you can imagine, these beautiful crepes are naturally colored with beet puree. They are the perfect dish for Mother’s Day brunch.

Farro-Beet-CrepesEver since I learned how easy it is to naturally color my food, I have been experimenting more and more in my kitchen. I love the esthetic look of colored food—Bright! Fun!—I also love packing in more nutritious vegetables to every meal. Plus, it’s easier than you think—way easier.

This post is sponsored by Poggio del Farro. I created the recipe, photos and video—which you can also find on their website along with many other delicious farro recipes. The writing and opinions are my own.

I remember the first time I made a crepe; I was in high school. My feet on a step stool and my hands reaching  in the far corners of the wooden pantry shelf (where sometimes my older brother hid the best snacks), I ran across an old 1960s box with a crepe pan designed on the front—probably a wedding present. I was intrigued. I pulled it out, dusted it off and opened it up to find a little recipe book on top of the black crepe pan. That night I made cannelloni crepes for my family. I remember they turned out absolutely terribile. I was disappointed. My dad, on the other hand, continued to eat them. “It’s just one meal, Cindy,” I remember him saying. Ahh, my dad’s simple wisdom. He was right. I was just 16. In my lifetime I would have thousands of more meals to make and whole lot of opportunities to get it right.

Farro-Beet-CrepesThe second time I made a crepe was last year, almost 20 years later (wow does that make me feel old). I was recipe testing for Smeg {affiliate link}, an Italian design appliance brand. Since their small appliances have adorable colors, I wanted to create something stylish and colorful as well. My blender spinach crepes were so good that I brought them to my friends house where we created a beautiful outdoor aperitivo (Italian style happy hour).

Farro-Beet-CrepesSince spinach worked so well, I had to try it with beets. I also used farro wheat from Poggio del Farro for these crepes. I have come quite obsessed with Poggio del Farro’s products. Farro has lower gluten content and higher amounts of protein and fiber compared to modern day grains. I use their farro grains to make soups and salads, and their flours to make crepes, pancakes, chocolate chip cookies and homemade pasta, among many other recipes. Farro is pretty much replacing all other flours in my kitchen.

Farro-Beet-CrepesThe beet crepe on its own is not so beet-y tasting, so you can top it with a myriad of fillings from sweet to savory. My favorite for this recipe is fresh crispy arugula, creamy ricotta, juicy blood oranges, crunchy pistachios all drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar (affiliate link) and sweet honey. Pure deliciousness.


Happy Mother’s day to all and especially to my mom, an extraordinary woman whom I admire.

Beet Crepes with Ricotta, Blood Oranges and Pistachios
Prep time
Total time
These beautiful farro beet crepes are the perfect brunch recipe to surprise your mom on Mother's Day.
Serves: 6-8 crepes
  • For the Crepes:
  • 1¼ cup (300ml) milk
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 9 tablespoons(5.3oz,150g) beet puree
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter + more for cooking the crepes
  • 1 cup (130g) Poggio del Farro Organic Farro Flour*
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Toppings:
  • 1 package organic arugula
  • 18oz (500g) ricotta
  • Orange zest from 2 organic blood oranges
  • 2 organic blood oranges, peel removed and chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Aged Balsamic Vinegar (Affiliate Link)
  • Honey
  1. In a blender or a bowl, add all of the ingredients for the crepes then blend or whisk until homogenous. Chill in the refrigerator for ½ hour.
  2. Add a small knob of butter to a crepe pan or frying pan. As the butter and as it melts over medium heat, swirl the pan so that the butter covers the bottom. Pour in ½ cup of the crepe and quickly swirl the pan so that it distributes the liquid evenly. Cook for 1-3 minutes then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat for the rest of the crepes. Keep the crepes warm by putting them in the oven at a low temperature.
  3. Fill each crepe with some ricotta, arugula, blood orange pieces & zest and pistachios. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and honey.
Batter should be chilled in the refrigerator for ½ hour before using.

*If you are not able to find farro flour you can replace with other flour.



Pistachio and Pomegranate Pavlova

Pistachio and Pomegranate Pavlova

When I was about eight, I begged my mom for a pottery wheel and clay. I suppose I saw some cartoon or maybe just loved the way clay felt as it  squished out of my hands or stuck in between my toes when I walked along the nearby river bank on a hot summer day. While my attempts to be a sculptor were a disaster—my lopsided flower vase can attest to this—I found sculpting clay to be magical, fun, inspiring and relaxing. I got this same sensation when I made this pistachio and pomegranate pavlova. The texture of this giant meringue is both squishy and stiff. It begs to be formed into a sunken volcano with a crater for a classic pavlova or it can be shaped into a Christmas wreath for your upcoming holiday parties.

holiday-pavlova-with-pomegranate-and-pistachiosI try to avoid making desserts with white sugar, yet, sometimes I can’t resist the classic recipes that I grew up on and loved like chocolate chip cookies, brownies and apple pie. As a kid I was never a fan of meringues, but after trying one the other day at a restaurant, I was quite surprised that I liked them. When I was doing some research online, pavlova popped up on my screen. I couldn’t resist the temptation. Pavlova is a CONTINUE READING

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now that the kids have returned to school, I suggest you prepare these homemade salted dark chocolate chip cookies as a special snack for them…and, of course, also for you!

salted-dark-chocolate-chip-cookies-3aAlthough I’ve experimented various times with making chocolate chip cookies lighter, there are times when I just crave the classic recipe, well almost classic. I like to use raw cane sugar instead of plain white sugar, I prefer vanilla bean seeds to extract, I like to fill the dough with dark chocolate chips or a shaved dark chocolate bar and I like to CONTINUE READING

Fig, Stracciatella and Honey Bruschetta 

Fig, Stracciatella and Honey Bruschetta 

In this 2 minute recipe, buttery, creamy, silky stracciatella cheese unites with sweet figs and honey to create an irresistible appetizer or dessert. Oh, man, get your taste buds ready for some delicious, simple, real food!

fig-stracciatella-and-honey-bruschetta-3What is stracciatella? Well, if you’ve ever been to Italy or have bought a cone of gelato in an Italian gelato shop you probably know that Stracciatella is a delicious flavor of gelato that contains fior di latte (milk-based gelato) and chocolate chunks. Although delicious, that’s not the stracciatella I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a special artisan CONTINUE READING