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
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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!


Farro Pancakes with Whipped Cream, Strawberries and Maple Syrup

Farro Pancakes with Whipped Cream, Strawberries and Maple Syrup

Cheers for homemade pancakes!

Farro-PancakesAnd, cheers to video recipes that show you how to make these fluffy little gems in just 47 seconds. Life just got good. 🙂 Ok, well, this video is in Italian so you may have to put your student cap on for a minute but don’t fear, the English instructions and measurements are below!

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. 

The great thing about pancakes is that you can make them in a variety of ways: craving a savory version, just try these zucchini pancakes with basil pesto or this version with arugula, gorgonzola, pear and walnuts. Not only are these great for brunch, but they also are a fun appetizer to be eaten in their original size or you can make them mini for to serve during a  buffet. Not to be missed from the pancake line up is a simple and classic whole wheat pancake recipe as well as this special strawberry and blueberry pancake cake. Yes, I did. I made a cake with pancakes. It’s seriously so good. 🙂 The latest addition to my pancake craze are these delicious farro pancakes.  Farro-PancakesI’ve been creating numerous farro recipes lately (just search “farro” on my blog). Once discovering the many nutritional benefits of this Italian ancient grain and how easy it is to replace refined white flours, I was sold. It also has a delicious nutty taste that I adore. Check for being healthy, check for being easy and check for being delicious. I really like Poggio del Farro’s organic farro flour for this recipe. They are just now breaking into the U.S. market. Watch out for them on store shelves.  

Farro-PancakesSpeaking of pancakes, I recently held a pancake cooking class for kids in Parma, Italy at the Gola Gola Food Festival. Most of them had never eaten a pancake before. I loved how curious and excited they were to learn how to cook. It’s so satisfying to see kids at such a young age get interested in making their own food. I hope that this interest for healthy homemade cooking increases for kids as well as their parents.  I hope that through this blog and cooking classes that I can make a difference towards forming good eating habits. ❤️ Here’s to hope for a healthier generation in the future and in the present!




Farro Pancakes with Whipped Cream, Strawberries and Maple Syrup
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These farro pancakes with homemade whipped cream, strawberries and natural maple syrup are a great alternative to refined white flour pancakes. You'll love their slightly nutty taste!
Serves: 8 pancakes
  • ¾ cup (175ml) milk (cow or soy)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1 cup (125g) Poggio del Farro Organic Farro (emmer) Flour
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) sugar (white or raw cane sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 1 organic egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
  • Butter or coconut oil for greasing the pan, as needed
  • Homemade whipped cream
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Pure maple syrup
  1. Stir the milk and apple cider vinegar together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together: organic emmer flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate medium bowl whisk together: egg, melted butter and milk/apple cider mixture.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  5. Brush a large nonstick skillet with butter or coconut oil and heat over medium heat.
  6. Add ¼ cup of the pancake mixture to the pan and cook until bubbles form on the top and the bottom is golden; about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the bottom, about 1-2 more minutes.  Repeat. (Depending on your size pan you can also cook more than one at a time.)
  7. Serve with homemade whipped cream, strawberries and pure maple syrup.



Upcoming Cooking Shows: The Easy Way To Prepare Ancient Grains

Upcoming Cooking Shows: The Easy Way To Prepare Ancient Grains

Mr. Italicano and I have just arrived in the USA! Over the next two weeks we’ll be in Chicago and New York City, doing a variety of “Ancient Grain Farro Cooking Shows” with Smeg USA at Williams-Sonoma, Eataly, Bloomingdales and the IHA trade show. For complete details you can check out my event calendar. I would love to see you there! I look forward to teaching you how to make nutritious meals with this superfood grain. I’ll show you how easy and quick my recipes are to prepare, with Smeg USA’s practical and beautiful 1950’s style appliances.

Every since moving to Italy, I have adapted a Mediterranean lifestyle.  I cook simple recipes made with natural and fresh ingredients that explode with flavors. During my last cooking shows, many complaints by the audience was that they are passionate about cooking but don’t have the time to get in the kitchen. I disagree. With the right recipes and kitchen tools, making homemade meals takes less time than going to a restaurant, let alone the meal will cost a fraction of the price! I talk more about this topic in an earlier post.

The art of eating well and feeling good is simplicity. When I got this basic principal down, I didn’t mind getting in the kitchen to cook because it wasn’t a strenuous task, but a way to have fun, relax, slow down and be mindful about what I was putting into my and Mr. Italicano’s bodies. Simplicity also means having a few tricks up my sleeves for our modern lives. Just like I wouldn’t go to the nearest river stream to wash my clothes (thank goodness for washing machine’s!), I also don’t waste my time mashing, kneading, rolling out, chopping and cooking every day. In fact, to keep my life simple, these are recipes that you can make once and enjoy them the following days. I also use use a blender, stand mixer, and a variety of attachments that do a lot of the work for me in rapid time. I heart technology that supports my mission to eat healthy and homemade.

I’ll be posting these recipes soon to my blog, but in the meantime here is a sneak peak on what I will be preparing at these fun culinary demonstrations in Chicago and NYC!

1. Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt and Pistachios 

2. Homemade Matcha Pasta with Spinach, Zucchini and Lemons 

3. Beet Crepes with Ricotta, Arugula, Blood Oranges and Aged Balsamic Vinegar 

4. Spring Farro Salad with a Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette 

In the meantime, you can follow along on YouTube! We’ll be posting frequent episodes of our day preparing and cooking at these events (and hopefully discovering some good restaurants as well!) I would really appreciate your feedback and support. Please leave us a comment on youtube! Thanks so much!

Ciao ciao!


This post is in collaboration with Smeg USA, but all of my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi

So what does International Women’s Day and homemade saffron gnocchi have in common? Well, if you have ever visited Italy on this day, this dish may remind you of the mimosa spring that is given to women to celebrate March 8th,, La Festa delle Donne. All throughout Italy, you’ll find this lovely yellow blossom handed to women as a symbol of love, appreciation and when given woman to woman, as a sign of solidarity.

This lovely Italian tradition inspired me to create a dish that resembles the mimosa. Cooking a homemade meal is my favorite way to show a gesture of my love, so dear readers, this mimosa dish is for you.This is my gesture of solidarity and admiration towards women. We are stronger today than ever before, we love to share and give, we love to create, we love to cultivate and we especially love to grow. We’re like these fluffy gnocchi: simple in nature, good and each piece, is one of a kind. 

Homemade saffron gnocchi is a simple and genuine dish to make for your special group of friends. 100% handmade. In every bite your friends get a taste of your love. Here’s to equality for women, not just once a year, but every day.

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi
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Homemade saffron gnocchi is a simple and genuine dish to make for your special group of friends to celebrate International Women’s Day. 100% handmade. In every bite your friends get a taste of your love. Here’s to equality for women, not just once a year, but every day.
Serves: 4-6
  • For the gnocchi:
  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) potatoes suitable for gnocchi
  • 1½ to 2½ cups (150-300g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • For the saffron sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter
  • 8oz (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons of hot water
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Wash the potatoes with their skins on. Drop them into a large pot, fill with cold water, then bring them to boil over medium-high heat until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain. While hot, peel them then pass them through a potato masher, letting them fall onto a large floured workspace.
  2. In a small cup, add the hot water and saffron threads. Allow them to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add half of the flour, a few pinches of salt and work the flour and potatoes together. Make a well and add the egg and continue kneading the mixture, adding little by little more flour until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough into a large loaf, then cut into slices like you would a loaf of bread. Roll out each slice into a small looking bread stick, making sure to use a small amount of flour so it doesn’t stick to the work surface. Slice into small pieces. For regular gnocchi, you can cook right away or roll off the tins of a fork to create marks or for festive gnocchi that look like the mimosa flower, a symbol of  La Festa della Donne or Women’s Day, roll each piece into a ball.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  5. In the meantime, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the heavy cream. Add the infused saffron water (you can also filter the water if you don’t want saffron threads to show), salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. Salt the water with 1-2 tablespoons of coarse salt and add the gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top;1-2 minutes. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and add the gnocchi to the skillet. Add a spoonful or two of cooking water. Mix until the sauce is the right consistency and remove from heat. Serve warm with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Buon appetito!

Learn How to Make Homemade Pasta :: West Coast Food Tour!

Learn How to Make Homemade Pasta :: West Coast Food Tour!

I am so excited to be on another food tour with Smeg, USA!

three-colored-pasta-veritcalProbably by now you’ve been aware of my obsession with their 1950’s style small appliances. I just love the cool design; it’s the only appliance that I want to leave out on my countertops. My favorite appliance is their stand mixer and pasta attachments. I love the look on peoples’ faces when I’m able to show them how to make fresh, homemade pasta in 20 minutes. Eating, healthy good food has never been so easy!

three-color-pasta-stand-mixer-web-italicanakitchenCome stop by at these free demonstrations, say hi and I’ll share with you all of my pasta making tips and tricks. I’m excited to see you there!

Here is the lineup to the upcoming events:

Vancouver, Canada

Hudson’s Bay Company

Address: 674 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1Z6, Canada

     Thursday, January 12th 12-2pm and 4-6pm

    Friday, January 13th  12-2pm and 4-6pm

     Sunday, January 15th 12-2pm and 4-6pm

San Francisco, USA

Thursday, January 19th — Williams-Sonoma — 12-2pm

340 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

Friday, January 20th  Bloomingdale’s — 12-2pm

Address: Westfield San Francisco Centre, 845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

Saturday, January 21st — Williams-Sonoma — 12-2pm

340 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

Sunday, January 22nd — Bloomingdale’s — 12-2pm

Address: Westfield San Francisco Centre, 845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

NYC-Web-CindyThis post is in collaboration with Smeg USA. All of the thoughts are my own.


Holiday Quinoa Salad

Holiday Quinoa Salad

I’ve never found fresh cranberries in Italy, only dried. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem; after all, I only ever eat fresh cranberries at holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yet, it’s now approaching 2 years since my last cranberry fix; two years since I’ve been home to the US during the holidays.

What do I love about homemade cranberry sauce? Well, for starters, its bright vibrant red color that brightens the table, then there’s that sudden shock of surprise when a cranberry pops in my mouth releasing its tart juices that slowly are taken over by sweetness and later rounded off by a hint of CONTINUE READING