How to Enjoy an Easy, Affordable and Romantic Valentine’s Dinner at Home

Greetings everyone! This past week I wrote a post for the QUAD CITIES MOM’S BLOG, to help anybody who are planning to prepare a romantic home made Valentine’s dinner, in an easy and affordable way.

If you trust my cooking experience, and don’t mind the idea… keep reading!!!!

“It seems like yesterday we celebrated Christmas, and yet it is already time to get ready for Valentine’s Day.  Here is an idea to surprise your significant other in an easy, affordable and very romantic way: a private “Italian Style” home-cooked dinner, where the cooking part is the gift to each other! In my years as a private cooking class teacher and private dinner chef I’ve been invited many times by couples that wished to learn how to cook some basic Italian dishes, but I believe that your night will be more romantic if you cook together and enjoy your Valentine’s dinner without any intrusion. More special, and much more affordable!  So here is the step by step guide to arranging an easy (but perfect), affordable and romantic Italian Style Valentine’s dinner at your house:

  1. Ask in advance for grandparents, best friends or godparents to babysit your children for a few hours. Of course, it would be amazing having the whole evening alone, but most of the time it’s impossible, so plan to spend about three hours alone together.  The first two will be dedicated to cooking and eating, the third one… your choice!
  2. Shop at the Dollar Tree for a few cute and cheap Valentine’s things to decorate the table. It could be heart-shaped charger plates, centerpiece or candle holders, or matching aprons. It’s important to set the right atmosphere for romance.
  3. Have an easy menu in mind.  Read the recipes multiple times and have the groceries ready by the night before and … your easy and affordable Italian Style private Valentine’s dinner is set!

But let’s take a step back and find the right menu that could be easy, fast and romantic for you. I think around here, most of us like bacon, so here are my choices for authentic Italian dishes for you for on this special occasion:

WHILE YOU ARE COOKING: A middle-age aperitif could be perfect to warm the atmosphere before starting the cooking phase. It’s not too alcoholic to blur your judgment, so you should be good following cooking directions even while sipping it! This cocktail is quite simple to prepare but collecting all the ingredients may be complicated since they are hard to find locally. If you don’t feel like making things too complicated, just skip this and pass directly to the main menu (I will talk about the “wine pairing” later).

heart shaped puff pastry filled with bacon, rosemary and parmesanAS A  STARTERPUFF PASTRY AND BACON HEARTS.

Time of preparation: 10 minutes to prepare + 20 minutes baking.

Level of difficulty: easy.

Ingredient price: around $8 (and you’ll have plenty of leftovers).


Valentine's dinner Italian carbonara spaghetti with bacon, Parmesan and eggsAS YOUR MAIN COURSE: ITALIAN SPAGHETTI A LA CARBONARA

Time of preparation: 20 minutes total.

Level of difficulty: easy

Ingredient cost: about $6


Time of preparation: 20 minutes. Resting time: 30 minutes in the freezer.

Level of difficulty: easy.

Ingredients cost: about $8 (if you already have Rum at home).

Now that I’ve listed the recipes I’d pick, I would like to disclose some tricks and tips to manage your time while cooking these dishes as a couple-in a fun way-but mostly, with the certainty of an excellent dinner!

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION of the COOKING: for your easy and affordable romantic, Italian Style, home-cooked Valentine’s dinner to turn out exactly how you desire, follow these tips:

1) First half an hour, let one of the puff pastry sheets thaw out on the counter and in the meantime prepare the dessert. (If your coffee is super hot, don’t worry, the rum will balance it and get it to room temperature).

2) When the dessert is made, put it in the freezer and begin arranging the starter. (It will not take more than 10-15 minutes).

3) Once the puff pastry hearts are in the oven, start the pot of water for the spaghetti on the stove. It should reach the boil once you are done eating your appetizer, and while the noodles are cooking (it usually takes about 13 minutes for the thick spaghetti) you will have time to prepare the pasta sauce. If you want to make sure you are cooking the spaghetti in the authentic Italian way, read this quick tutorial.

4) Enjoy the dessert at any time you please.

5) Please avoid the temptation to cook all at once, and then eating all at once, because a) it is very “not Italian”- eating all different kinds of food at the same time b) each recipe I suggested (besides the dessert) tastes delicious only if eaten still warm.

ONE LAST IMPORTANT DETAIL: The wine pairing. I would like to suggest to you a couple of wines that you can find at ALDI that are absolutely affordable, terrific in taste and authentic Italian. The first one is “Prosecco di Valdobbiadene“- it will be perfect as “aperitif” while you wait for your appetizer to be done, and again while enjoying your dessert. It’s dry with a little sparkle. I think it’s impossible not to fall for it. The second one is the “Alberone“- it’s a red wine, not too full-bodied, but yet very aromatic and absolutely delicious if enjoyed with the spaghetti!

I believe I’ve shared with you all my best suggestions for an easy and affordable romantic, Italian Style home-cooked Valentine’s dinner, but please, if you need more information or have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

Happy Valentine’s Day!”

I really hope you enjoyed this post, and I would love to know if your’ll decide to prepare this menu on Valentine’s Day or any other day!!!

Much Love,




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my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Venetian style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta)

Baccala' alla Veneta

Baccalà alla Veneta (Venetian style Cod fish) is salted cod: codfish that has been dried and preserved in salt.  In the past it was considered the food of the poor, because cheap and not fresh.  The truth, though, is that nowadays is quite an expensive kind of sea food and well cooked baccalà is a delight: firm, slightly chewy, and not at all fishy in flavor.  Baccala' alla Veneta

I made Baccala’ this past Christmas Eve because it’s a traditional Christmas Eve’s dish in the Northern Italy, but I found the courage to post it only today, not because it’s hard to prepare, but just because it was a  little tricky to me explaining in English the method!

As I told already, Venetian Style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta) is actually stock fish or dried cod. What the rest of Italy calls stoccafisso the “Vicentini” call baccalà, simmered in milk until it becomes libidinously creamy. However, my recipe is unique* because as a child I’ve lived at the border between two Italian “counties” (province): Vicenza and Treviso, so my mother’s styled Baccala’ it’s a mix of the traditional recipes of these two areas.

Before starting with ingredients and method, be aware that Baccalà requires soaking ahead of time,  since it is heavily salted for preservation. Many Italian delicatessens sell pre-soaked baccalà on Fridays, but I recall my mom preferring to buy it and soak it herself, because cheaper, and because she could select the piece she wanted and tailor the soaking to fit it.

Here in Mid West I could easily find a “salted codfish” stored in 1 lb. sized wooden box. To prepare it, I rinsed the salt off and soaked it in cold water for 12 or more hours, depending upon its thickness (remember to keep it refrigerated during soaking,) changing the water 2 to 3 times. Once it has soaked, this kind of cod fish is ready to be cooked.

DIRECTION for a very big pan of baccala’

2 lbs. sea salted cod – 1 kg. baccala’

1 clove garlic – 1 spicchio d’aglio

1 lb. white onion  – 500 gr. cipolle bianche

1 pinch nut meg  – 1 pizzico noce moscata

about 1/4 gal. whole milk – 1 litro di latte intero

1 tbs. Italian parsley to taste – prezzemolo quanto basta

14 oz. Extra Virgin olive oil – 1/2 lt. olio extravergine di oliva

flour for breading – farina per la panatura

1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese – 100 gr. Parmigiano gratuggiato

7 anchovies – 7 acciughe


First of all make sure to have all the ingredients ready to go: peel and finely chop the onions, peel the garlic, wash and finely chop the parsley, grate the parmesan and pat dry the anchovies. Bread the cod fillets, previously pat dried.

In a very large nonstick pan heat about  8 oz. (250 ml.) Extravergin olive oil and garlic and then cook the cod filets on all sides until brow, at high heat. It will take about five minutes.

Once browned, throw the garlic away, move the cod filets in a plate, add a little of Extravegin olive oil to the same pan and cook the mix of onions, parsley and anchovies for about 5 minutes at lower heat, stirring every now and then to avoid burning.

After about 5 minutes, add the browned cod filets to the onion and keep cooking until the onion becomes translucent and the cod starts breaking in smaller pieces. Add the parmesan and the nutmeg and keep stirring occasionally until the onion is completely cooked. It will take about 8-10 minutes.

Warm up half of the milk (a couple of minutes in the microwave), move the mix in a oven pan, cover the mix with the milk and bake at 360 F (180 C) for about one hour. If after 30 minutes the cod seems too dry, add the rest of milk (previously warmed up). When done, your cod fish will have a yummy crunchy crust on top.

Let the cod cool off a few minutes and serve still warm, possibly sided with polenta.

OMG, this dish is simply heaven! Your house will smell delicious and not “fishy” at all!



– Venetian style Cod Fish usually crumbles on the plate when served and I wasn’t able to get a decent picture to post. That is why I used the one from the cook book my mom’s has taken as inspiration*, as feature image (sorry about that!). The book I am talking about  is called “Cucina e Tradizione nel Veneto“, it’s very old and probably not on the market anymore. It’s a collection of Venetian recipes written by the “ISTITUTI ALBERGHIERI DEL VENETO” and this is the cover’s picture:

– Venetian style Cod Fish is a very rich food (think about the quantity of olive oil needed). That’s why it doesn’t require special side dishes but polenta (or maybe a simple salad).

– Leftovers can be frozen and taste absolutely the same when thaw. I usually freeze it in small portions to have just enough for one meal.

– Some fancy Italian Bars serve Baccala’ as appetizer, scooped in small cups over a polenta serving. It warms the tummies and goes very well with “SPRITZ“.

– As I told you, while you soak the cod the previous day, you’ll have to keep it refrigerated. Well, if the baked cod smells delicious, the dried one smells terribly, so I would suggest to cover it with a plastic foil, and – if cold enough – to store it in the garage or in a second refrigerator away from kitchen and living room (LOL).







on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

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my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Baked brie in puff pastry : a sweet-and-sour appetizer to die for!

brie cheese and apricot preserves in puff pastry

DISCLAIMER: this is NOT an Italian recipe, but when I tried it was so good I couldn’t help but sharing about it! brie in puff pastry

Until few months ago, when I tried this appetizer at a friend’s house, I had no idea of what I was missing! I have to say that after that night, I found tons of recipes on Pinterest involving Brie, Puff pastry and different kinds of preserves, like apricot or cranberry, and considering my love for puff pastry (remember my savory bacon and cheese pie? or my blue cheese and white onion savory pie? or – for the sweet teeth – my apples and cinnamon roses?) I had to try this recipe myself, and obviously, in my way.

If you repel the idea of cheese and preserves, you should know that so I did, but after trying this I had to change my mind! The particular taste of Brie absolutely overcome the preserves’ sweetness, but at the same time, the aftertaste of the preserves makes this appetizer very sophisticated and appealing to guests of any age. Baked in buttery, flaky puff pastry, ooey gooye cheese covered in sweet apricot preserves, it’s melt in your mouth delicious!

Just so you know, in 20 minutes your “baked brie in puff pastry will be ready” but keep in mind that you will have to thaw the puff pastry at  in the refrigerator at least three hours ahead of time and you’ll get a best result if you put the brie in the freezer 20 minutes before arranging it inside the pastry. This is such an insanely easy recipe. Even non-bakers can do it!



16 oz. BRIE cheese

apricot or cranberry preserve

1 puff pasty sheet (thaw)

1 egg and 1 tbs. water for egg wash

optional: honey to drizzle

optional: sliced almonds to decorate

your favorite kind of crackers


Roll out your thaw puff pastry on a parchment paper sheet. Don’t worry if It doesn’t  look perfect, it will look gorgeous once baked. Roll it out as thin as possible and give it a “square shape”. If necessary, cut away the pastry in excess. Wisk the egg and water in a separate cup.

Place the brie (white rind included) in the center of the pastry, cover with preserves (I prefer the apricot one), and fold up the corners of the pastry one at a time, brushing all the dough with the egg wash as you go, using it like glue to hold the pastry together.

If you feel confident, try to fold the top of the pastry as to form a small rose, it will look very cute! Transfer to a baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes uncovered in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 400 F  (220 C.).  Bake at 400 F. for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed.

Remove from the oven and place in a nice cutting board decorated with fresh fruit and crackers. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve.brie in puff pastry

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!brie cheese and apricot preserves in puff pastry

TIPS: – Brie in puff pastry leftovers are not so good. The day after the puff pastry will be soggy and chewy and the cheese solidified. Make this appetizer when you have enough people to finish it up!

– I didn’t try, but I saw recipes on Pinterest where they suggested to drizzle the puff pastry (once baked and out of the oven) with honey, and top with sliced almonds.

– You can opt for placing the preserves inside the cheese previously sectioned in two layers, but I preferred placing the preserves on top of the cheese in case some picky eater would have liked the idea of setting the preserves aside.

– If you didn’t use all the pastry, fill up the pieces you have left with nutella, fold it at the best you can, and bake it while the brie is in the oven too. You’ll have a small tasty dessert !

– Besides my passion for Italian food, which – I would dare to say – is part of my “identity”, I appreciate good food from all  over the word, and sometimes I revisits the foreign recipes with an Italian touch. This post is one example, but if you look for more, check out also:  jalapenos popper deepfennel and pears salad, my Italian style cheese cake, my special version of the classic banana cream pie, corn flakes and raisins cookies, Irish coffee, macarons for beginners .

I really hope you will like my recipe this week, even though it’s not authentic Italian!

Have ever baked brie with puff pastry? Do you use a different recipe?

I would love to hear your thoughts!




on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

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on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!




my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Bloggers Recognition Award nomination and 2019 wrap up.

blogger recognition award

Hello my dear friends!

It’s not very typical of me writing post not directly concerning food, but this year so many good things happened to me that I feel the duty to share it, not much for bragging (or maybe a little bit, LOL), but mostly to thank you all for your support, encouragement and appreciation.

blogger recognition award 1. I started my ITALIAN HOME BAKERY  and set a booth at my local FARMERS MARKET,  and even if it has been only for a few months, I’ve already started collecting quite a few personal gratifications. like being on a TV interview and starting a monthly column in the QUAD CITIES MOM’S BLOG.

2.  My second achievement will probably make laugh many of you (because you already have reached a decent popularity and tons of followers): my ITALIANGOODNESS FB page reached 1K followers  on DECEMBER FIRST which happens to be my BIRTH DAY. Such coincidence sounds to me more than a randomness, I would say a “sign” that I am working in the right direction.

3. LAST but absolutely not LEAST, after years of blogging I was finally nominated on Smorgasbord – by Sally Cronin – for the  Bloggers Recognition AWARD! And here I would love to thank Sally Cronin on WordPress for nominating me, but also for believing in myself and deciding to add me to her list of monthly guests writers.

So, here I am, finally having the chance to list my favorite bloggers, which will be welcome to accept this recognition, simply by following these guidelines, or either just accept this nomination and decide not to participate (no pressure and no hard feelings).


1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created

SO, let’s start…


I moved to Iowa from Italy about eight years ago. I left a spot as associate in an Italian Law firm to follow my husband’s job necessities, and only after such a shocking change, my background came up (my family’s deep cooking tradition), and I realized that taking care of my family is the most satisfying job I could do, especially because it entails cooking healthy and good food, and the feeling of fulfillment is even stronger when I have the chance to share my Italian cooking culture with others. And so, I started my blog about our family’s daily menu, rich of recipes made with simple and few ingredients, most of the time cheap and healthy (because the food is not processed).


– Write for passion and not (only) for money;

– Don’t underestimate the bloggers’ community around you: there are a lot of amazing people out there, ready to help, support and encourage you.

– Be persistent.

– Never stop learning.


I’ve chosen these awesome bloggers for many reason, not only because for they fabulous contents, but  because either they have became friends, comment on my blog, gave me precious advices, host me in their own blog.

STEFAN GOURMET:   Stefan loves food and wine maybe more than anyone I know. His culinary knowledge is incredible (as much as  the number of languages he fluently speaks perfectly).

THE CHEF MIMI BLOG: Mimi is an amazing cook, she shares delicious recipes, easy to follow and never disappointing.

RUST BELT GIRL: Rebecca is a very talented writer, a wonderful blogger friend.

 JOHN RIEBER :John writes about food, travel, tv-shows, pop culture, books and more. His pieces are always a pleasure to read.

ESME SALON: Esme shares tons of recipes, but she also taught me the importance of being part of the Bloggers Community, and I will always be grateful to her for that.

VENETO FOR KIDS: I believe I can nominate in this Award also Italian bloggers, and this blog truly is the best for families that live (or travel) in the Northern East Italy.

BEWITHCHING KITCHEN: Sally is already listed in the top 100 food blogger in the world, so no need to say she is a huge inspiration to me.

SMORGASBORD BLOG MAGAZINE: Sally knows how to entertain readers as nobody else. Also she scouts the best guest bloggers :-).

That’s it! I apologize if I forgot someone, there are so many virtuous bloggers out there!

I wish you all an astonishing 2020, and Thank You so much for being part of my life!



Roasted almonds Croccante: share with your friends the Christmas Italian tradition

single servings croccante

almonds croccanteGreetings everyone!

Christmas is almost here and my kitchen is so busy and messy with me preparing all small edible gifts for family and friends (and having all the baking done to make my home bakery’s customers happy)!  As you probably already know in this season I like baking plenty of Italian Cantucci Biscotti and Baci di Dama, but those require quite a bit of time in the oven. The treat I am writing about today is traditional during Christmas period in the South of Italy (Calabria), it’s very fast to prepare and with just three ingredients: oven baked almonds, honey (good quality one) and granulated sugar.  The result is a super crunchy caramel bar, sweet but not too much, and absolutely addictive: once you start eating it you can’t help but keep eating until you’ve eaten whole thing!

I have to tell you that I brought these “Croccante” mini bars to my local Freight House Farmers Market in the past weeks and they sold very very good! One of the reason, besides the fact that it’s delicious, it’s probably  because this treat is EGGS FREE, LACTOSE FREE and GLUTEN FREE. single servings croccante

This recipe requires 10 minutes max, plus the time to bake the almonds if they are not already baked. With these quantities you will obtain about 12 pieces about 3oz. (or 100) big.

Be aware that to prepare the Croccante you will need a food thermometer.


1.10 lb. (500 gr.) oven baked peeled almond

7 oz. (200 gr.) granulated sugar

5 oz. (150 gr.) best quality honey (I used organic clover honey)


If your almonds are not already baked, bake it at 360 F. for about 10 minutes and let it cooling off.

Cover your working surface with parchment.

In a big non-stick pan bring honey and sugar to boil and keep stirring until the mix reaches 338 F. (170 C.). Keeping the temperature controlled will avoid the caramel to burn and taste bitter.

At this point, take away the caramel from the heat, add the almonds, mix quickly the ingredients and  pour the mix on the parchment paper (or on a marble surface). With a wet rolling pin flat the mix as thin as possible. Let it cool off and cut in bars as big as you wish.

The cutting phase will be easier if you’ll use a sharp knife, slightly wet with water.


TIPS: – When still hot the mixture can be shaped in different shapes, like a star, or a Christmas Tree, or whatever you may like.

– Be very careful while you are handling the hot mixture because it will be very hot and the chances to get burned are very high (especially if you are not an expert). The first time I prepared Croccante I burned all my left fingertips plus my lips because I was so an anxious to eat the Croccante that I put the hot ladle in my mouth! Vey bad idea! But it was soo good!!!

– Cutting the Croccante is not necessary unless you wish to make single servings.single servings croccante

– Best way to store the Croccante is inside a tin, in a cool and dry room. It will last for days.

– As cute edible Christmas gift, you can cut the Croccante, wrap it in parchment and tie it with kitchen wire.

I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, I promise, you will fall in love with this easy treat!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! 





on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!




my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   


Butternut squash and porcini mushrooms noodles. Different. Fast. Easy. Delicious.

Porcini mushrooms and butternut squash noodles

Hello everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving week, or just a wonderful week for those that live out of the United States! Butternut squash and porcini pasta

Today I would like to share with you the recipe of a super easy and fast pasta recipe, that my family enjoys very much and that is typical in fall and winter in the Alps area where porcini mushrooms are very popular and appreciated. Here in Mid-west porcini are impossible to be found fresh, but the dried ones, if soaked in warm water for a little time, can substitute the fresh ones quite fine.

Porcini mushrooms and pumpkin are two ingredients that get along very well together, and that I like to use also to prepare my favorite soup and favorite risotto.   So if you’d like to try a vegetarian noodles recipe that can be prepared in 30 minutes and tastes delicious, follow the directions below!

4 servings ingredients

1 pack or 60 gr. dried porcini mushrooms

1/2 medium sized butternut squash peeled and chopped in small cubes

1/2 medium sized white onion

4 tsp. rosmary (better if fresh)

1 cloves garlic

about 2+3 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. sage

pepper to taste

sea salt to taste

1 package or 1 lb. noodles or tagliatelle


First, soak the dried porcini in a cup of warm water for at least 15 minutes, or follow the packaging directions if different. Take away the butternut squash skin and seeds and chop in very thin cubes. Cut the onion very thin. Peel the garlic and take away its “stem”.

Drain the mushrooms, but keep some of the water used to soak them. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve or even coffee filter to avoid sand. If some mushrooms looks too big in size, feel free to cut them in two with a kitchen scissors. Heat a big pot of salted water where you will cook the noodles (or the other kind of pasta you picked) as soon as the water will start boiling, rigorously the Italian way ;-).

In a skillet heat 2 tbs. of olive oil, then add garlic, rosemary and the chopped onion and cook them until the onion becomes translucent (be careful not to burn). At this point, add the porcini, a pinch of sea salt and 1 tsp. nutmeg. Let the mushrooms cook for about ten minutes at medium heat, being careful not to burn them, stirring once in a while. You’ll know they are cooked once they become tender.

In the meanwhile, in a pan, add 3 tbs. olive oil and when the oil gets hot, add the chopped butternut squash, 2 tsp. rosemary, 1 tbs. sage, and a pinch of sea salt and cook until  becomes brownish and tender. It would take about  ten to fifteen minutes at medium heat, stirring occasionally, and always be careful not to burn.

Now that mushrooms and squash are cooked, move the mushrooms into the squash skillet.  Probably the noodles will be cooked, so dry those very well in a colander, then toss it into the mushrooms and squash dressing, mix it very well and serve still warm. YUM! So delicious!


TIPS: – usually noodles are very fast to get cooked, so if you feel a little nervous with this recipe, I would suggest to prepare first the two “dressings”, and then the noodles.

I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and If so, please don’t forget to like it, share it or leave a comment! And if you’ll decide to subscribe, you will be informed weekly and for free about any new recipes I will post!



If you’d like to experiment more “mushrooms recipes” you may want to have a look to:

1) Velvety dried porcini soup;

2) Butternut squash and porcini in disguise soup;

3) Butternut squash and porcini risotto.



on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!




my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   



A Thanksgiving Meal with an Italian Flair

Hello my dear friends!An Italian pie for Thanksgiving

I’ve been so busy with my new adventure (selling Home made Italian desserts at the local Farmers Market) that I’ve skipped a couple of weeks of recipes posting… MY APOLOGIES! But  if by the way  you would like to learn more about my booth at the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport, take a look to this brief interview on WHBF-TV . I was so nervous, but I had the chance to talk about my beloved Italy, and our amazing food tradition! With the Winter Holidays approaching I’ve enriched my menu with more  “wintery and Christmassy” desserts, you should definitely check those out!

Now that you know why I’ve been “absent” (and maybe why It may happen again LOL), I would like to share with you and another article I wrote for the Quadcities Mom’s blog last we (the previous one was a “fall themed one“). All recipes are mine, and it’s   about adding an Italian touch to the Traditional Thanksgiving menu!!!! I hope you’ll enjoy the reading and maybe find some fun recipe to experiment!

“Even though “giving thanks” should be a moment of reflection that everyone should try to do at least once a year, this celebration is not observed in many other countries and is probably mostly seen as an American holiday. (Forgot about the origin of Thanksgiving? Click here to refresh your memory).

Italians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but in approximately eight years that we’ve lived in Iowa, we’ve often been invited to Thanksgiving celebrations at dear friends’ houses, and to be honest, I’ve loved the atmosphere and preparation!  I have noticed though, that most of the hosts and guests at some point have admitted that turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pies weren’t exactly their favorite foods.    I am a huge supporter of traditions and celebrations, but why keep self-inflicting a Thanksgiving meal that nobody likes?

To find a solution, when we have celebrated Thanksgiving at home here in the Quad Cities, I’ve tried to follow the custom of turkey and mashed potatoes for the sake of my children, but I have also enriched this menu with an Italian touch. I was thinking that you may be interested in doing the same by adding a few easy Italian dishes to the traditional menu.

It’s well known that those turkeys take hours to roast.  So, as an easy start (since we probably won’t be eating until late afternoon) why don’t we treat ourselves with some “Italian appetizers“? Here are some of my favorites:

AN ITALIAN COCKTAILSpritz the most popular Italian appetazier cocktail

SPRITZ:  This is one of the most popular cocktails in Italy.  Only three liquid ingredients to warm up the atmosphere and possibly make your mother-in-law sound more pleasant . A Spritz is a perfectly seasonable orange cocktail.  It is enjoyable and fairly light, even for those who are not much into booze. It will make the beginning of your Thanksgiving meal very fancy!

ITALIAN  STARTERS  White Onion, bacon and blue cheese savory Italian pie

WHITE ONION, BACON AND BLUE CHEESE SAVORY PIE: Such a long name for an extra easy appetizer. Everybody will love it (just remember not to tell the kids that there are onions in there!). This tart takes 10 minutes for preparation and 20 in the oven. You can prepare it a few hours in advance and pop it into the oven whenever your guests start walking around the kitchen to ask how long until dinner will be served! I understand that to prepare this tart you may need a second oven (since the first one will be busy with the big bird), but if you don’t own one, don’t worry, there is another appetizer you may want to try…. Asiago cheese cubes appetizer

ASIAGO CHEESE CUBES: Your guests will just die for this finger food. Small Asiago cheese cubes, crunchy on the outside and melted inside-so delicious! This Italian classic  for your Thanksgiving meal may require a little more work in the kitchen, but believe me, it’s totally worth it.  As a bonus, it will fill those impatient bellies for a decent amount of time!


I’ll skip offering options for the main course but I want to suggest a light soup that you may want to serve while the turkey rests on the kitchen counter: Orange creamy butternut squash soup

ORANGE CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP: Many fancy restaurants, before their important dinner parties serve light soups or “consomme“.  Especially in those years that Thanksgiving Day is deadly cold, I am sure your family would be delighted by a warm, orange, velvety soup to enjoy before the classic Thanksgiving meal. This soup is even better if prepared a little ahead of time and kept refrigerated, so you will have it ready to go on the busy day.

After the legendary turkey with gravy, let’s jump straight to my favorite course and my area of expertise…


Here are a couple of options that you may want to consider to break up the monotony of the classic Thanksgiving pies.ricotta, almonds and amaretti cookies tart

RICOTTA, ALMOND and AMARETTI COOKIE TART: A not too sweet and slightly aromatic tart that could perfectly suit a Thanksgiving buffet.  You may want to consider this pie because it’s absolutely easy to prepare with very little “hands-on” time, and, if prepared a day ahead it tastes even better. chocolate chips and ricotta tart

CHOCOLATE AND RICOTTA TART:  If you are afraid your guests may dislike an almond-based dessert, who doesn’t like chocolate chips? This chocolate and ricotta tart is creamy, velvety and absolutely loved by children. It can be prepared a few days in advance and it’s really super easy to make.

Maybe preparing ALL of these alternative dishes for your Thanksgiving meal in such a busy-and many times stressful-holiday season sounds a little overwhelming. But if you like the idea of spicing up your planned menu even with just one new dish, I am sure it will be beneficial for the mood, the atmosphere and everyone’s appetites!

ricotta, amonds and amaretti tart

I am curious to know if you already have a dish that stands out from the classic ones on Thanksgiving? I am always excited to try new recipes and ideas!”.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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SPRITZ: the most popular Italian cocktail, so Orange that’s perfect for fall!

Italian Spritz Cocktail made with AperolI am very surprised I haven’t shared we you yet the recipe of this absolutely terribly popular Italian cocktail that Italians enjoy not only during the weekends but very likely often during the week after work, as “appetizer” before dinner.

Spritz is a cocktail that found its origin between the end of 1700 and the beginning of 1800 when Austrian soldier (that dominated part of the northern east Italy in those years) diluted Italian wine (to them too strong) with sparkly water. As a matter of fact, the name “spritz” comes from “spritzen” that in German means “sprinkle”.   With the passing of the years, the sparkly water have been substitute with “seltzer” and at the beginning of 1900 (precisely around the ’20) they have started to add a bit of “bitter” to the cocktail (given from other booze like Aperol and Campari) and so has born the actual “SPRITZ”.

If you’ll ever visit Italy (especially in the Northern part), you have to experience a Spritz at some random bar. They are usually served combined with various food appetizer and very pleasant to enjoy in a beautiful historical Italian piazza (square).

About the taste, this cocktail tastes very light, not too bitter, very delicate on the palate if as the “bitter” part you pick the “Aperol”. If instead you prefer a more tasty and sharp flavor, you should opt for a “spritz Campari” which, indeed, would make it taste a bit more strong.

I thought – since Spritz is very ORANGE – that this cocktail could sound very appropriate for a Fall Sunday Brunch, and why not, a perfect original, fascinating and delicious Thanksgiving pre-meal cocktail.

One last info, as it often happens, there are different ways to prepare this cocktail.  The Venetian recipe suggests to use 1/3 sparkly water (or seltzer), 1/3 sparkly white wine, 1/3 Bitter. The International Bartender Associations instead, suggests to use 6 cl. Prosecco wine, 4 cl. Aperol and a sprinkle of seltzer.

The following is my own recipe. I admit, most of the time I eyeball the ingredients, but I’ve tried to measure them for you, and I came up with my own recipe, that tastes delicious! Aperol is quite a popular kind of booze and can be easily be found in the most common groceries store. I really hope you will give this a try!


2 oz. Aperol

3 oz. Prosecco wine

4 oz. Sparkly water

ice cubes

2 slices of oranges to decorate


Fill two nice white wine glasses with 1 oz. Aperol, 1.5 oz. Prosecco and 2 oz. sparkly water each.

Add a couple of ice cubes to each one and a thin slice of orange. DONE.

Enjoy right away to not miss the bubbling effect, and with some appetizers as green olives, potatoes chips or any salty crackers and charcuterie.


TIPS: – for the cocktail to be delicious, all the three liquids must be ice cold.

– If you are planning to prepare this cocktail for more than two people, just use a pincher and fill it up with proportional quantities of Aperol, wine and sparkly water. Ice the cocktail only at the last minute, you don’t want it to be too light or too diluted.

– I am not earning a penny by recommending you to by Aperol, even though I am very prod to say this delicious orange booze is Italian “native” since 1919.


I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and If so, please don’t forget to like it, share it or leave a comment! And if you’ll decide to subscribe, you will be informed weekly and for free about any new recipes I will post!





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my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

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5 Favorite comforting but light Italian wintery soups

Fall is such an hard season for me: on one side, I love it, with all the colors, the mild temperatures and Halloween, but at the same time I loathe it, because the end of summer makes me sad, I  would say it kind of depress me, and (it may be good or bad) it makes me crave for food, and inevitably makes me gain weight! However, I have a strategy to “contain” the food cravings (and the number of extra pounds, LOL) which  is warming myself up and satisfying my appetite with delicious but healthy homemade soups. top five most popular italian soups

Here is my favorite top 5 Italian soups list that I prepare every week, alternating one to another weekly to not get bored, and that all my family members appreciate and enjoy with me (well, not all of them, precisely 😉 ):

Italian light vegetable soup 1) VEGETABLE SOUP: this is the easiest to make, few and cheap ingredients are required, if you skip the potatoes (and minimize the olive oil) it’s like zero point on the weight watchers, and can be enjoyed all week long (if refrigerated). It can also be frozen, so you can prepare a big pot of it and storage in one serving containers if necessary.

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Orange buttenut squash soup2) ORANGE CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP: besides the pain of cutting the squash in pieces,  this soup is super easy, absolutely creamy and delicious and if you cook in it small pasta’s kinds (like farro) it looks like macaroni and cheese, without cheese! Not to mention all the benefits of orange food: abundance of antioxidant, vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients, good for your skin, eyes and heart.

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Leeks, potaotes and broccoli velvety soup3) LEEKS, POTATOES and BROCCOLI VELVETY SOUP: This one is really fast to make, the broccoli taste blends perfectly with the potatoes and leeks and somehow you can barely recognize their taste, it’s delicious and my favorite one when I feel like I have to detox after the holiday’s binges.

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butternut squash and porcini mushrooms soup4) BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PORCINI IN DISGUISE SOUP: add a pack of dried porcini mushrooms, some nutmeg, and a mushrooms bouillon to your butternut squash soup, and you will obtain a scrumptious porcini mushrooms soup “in disguise”.

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Dried porcini mushrooms soup5) VELVETY PORCINI SOUP: This one is the one my kids have refused to try (I hate when they decide they don’t like a food without even giving it a try!), maybe because of the its brownish color, but to be honest, it’s so delicious that my husband and I are quite happy to keep it all for ourselves! This last soup it’s not that light, it’s not fast to be made, has not cheap ingredients (make the butternut squash “in disguise soup” instead if you want). But believe me, once you’ve tried it, you will place it in your top soups list!!!!

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Now that I’ve refreshed your memory with my favorite winter soups, I wanted to apologize for not posting new recipes lately (yes, it’s always my new home bakery business’ fault), but I promise I will try my best to share new contents soon, but in the meanwhile I’d like to hear from you:



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I really hope you liked my post this week, and if you did,

please  share it, like it, and support my blog!





on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

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on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!




my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!