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
 
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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.

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

Farro-Pancakes

Farro-Pancakes

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
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.

 

 

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.

Farro-Beet-Crepes

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
 
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These beautiful farro beet crepes are the perfect brunch recipe to surprise your mom on Mother's Day.
Serves: 6-8 crepes
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.
Notes
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.

 

 

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

Easy Baked Brie 

Easy Baked Brie 





How I Miss Thanksgiving!

Living abroad in Italy is exciting and exhilarating. I met Mr. Italicano here. I have made extraordinary friends here. I started my business while living here. I love the challenges and adventure that each new day brings while living in il bel paese.  I am grateful and I am thankful each day, yet…I miss Thanksgiving!

I miss the smells from the kitchen mingling with the sweet candles burning. I miss the chaotic sounds that fill the house: the clinking and clanking in the kitchen, kids laughter in the play room and lively shouts coming from the living room after a touchdown.

Easy Baked Brie Recipe One of my favorite Thanksgiving Day foods of all time is this CONTINUE READING

{Video Recipe} Erbazzone 

{Video Recipe} Erbazzone 

ErbazzoneIf you’ve ever traveled around Italy, you’ve probably discovered that every region, even each town, has special traditional dishes :: piatti. Erbazzone, a delicious spinach pie, is one of these unique dishes that originated from Reggio Emilia, a quaint town in the region of Emilia-Romagna. The easiest way to show you how to make this Italian delicacy is with a short video. Enjoy! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still remember the first time I ate erbazzone. It was over six years ago and my second morning of living in Italy, my new home :: casa. I remember walking into the town’s center for a cappuccino and a brioche (or croissant, as Italians most commonly call them.) They were out of my favorite kind: whole wheat with honey, so, I instead opted for the inviting little square slice in the display cabinet. I had no idea what it was. I just pointed and the person behind the counter said a weird name: erbazzone.

Erbazzone-1

Erbazzone-2It was love at first bite. Thin layers of crust surrounded cooked greens (Swiss chard and spinach, I came to find out). I had lived in Rome in university for three months and traveled quite a bit throughout Italy, but it was moments like these that always put me in awe. Italian gastronomy is so vast :: vasto. There is so much variety and diversity, it’s an endless flavor discovery.

Erbazzone

I devoured the square and asked for another. I was eating my vegetables after all, wasn’t I? Well, come to find out this little seemingly vegetarian slice of goodness is most often loaded with lard, and often times pancetta, an Italian style of bacon. My dad would love it…for those on the other hand who want a healthier option, you can easily substitute with extra virgin olive oil and still get all the great taste :: sapore. Problem solved.

Erbazzone
 
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If you want to try an easy, but authentic, Italian breakfast or appetizer, make this erbazzone recipe!
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) salt
  • 3 tablespoons (35g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (210g) lukewarm water
  • For the filling:
  • 1 lb 10 ounces (800g) Swiss chard
  • 1 lb 2 ounces (500g) spinach
  • 1 bunch spring onions with stems (100g), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3.6 oz (100g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan)
  • 1 handful of Italian flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir. Add the extra virgin olive oil and water and begin mixing with your hands. Add more water, a spoonful at a time, if needed until the mixture becomes homogenous and comes together in a ball. If you press the dough with your finger it should leave an imprint that soon disappears; if it sticks to your finger, add a bit more flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for ½ hour.
  2. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil and generously salt the water. Add the Swiss chard stems, cook for a few minute then add the leaves and cook for another minute or two until soft. Scoop the Swiss chard out and drain well. Cook the spinach until wilted. Drain thoroughly and press out the extra water with a wooden spoon against the holes of the strainer.
  3. In a large skillet, add the extra virgin olive oil and cook the garlic for one minute over medium heat. Add the spring onions and cook until soft. Add the spinach and chard and cook until the water from the vegetables has evaporated. Remove from heat and transfer the vegetables into a bowl.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C) (static mode). Line a 20 inch (52cm or larger) rectangular pan with parchment paper. Divide the dough in two and roll the sheets out thinly so they are the size of the pan. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and carefully lay it in the pan.
  5. When the vegetables have cooled, add the Parmigiano Reggiano, parsley, salt and pepper; mix well. Put the filling on top of the dough and spread it out evening, leaving a little bit of an edge. Put the second layer of dough on top and crimp the edges. Prick the top layer all over with a fork, making sure to go all the way down; otherwise, the dough will puff up when baked. Brush with extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes; let cool then cut into squares. Eat warm or cold for breakfast, lunch or as a snack or an appetizer.
  7. Adattato da Tempo di Cottura