Buon Natale!

Merry Christmas to all. What a wonderful start to our day already. We have opened the gifts, the stockings and ate a wonderful breakfast. We drank Italian roast Starbucks coffee and orange juice. We are having lots of fun with a toddler running around. Christmas is for families and memories and traditions.

Every year I would make cinnamon rolls that came from a can. This year we made homemade cinnamon rolls. Wow!! What a difference. These were so tasty. I found the recipe at Small Home, Big Start’s blog. I just want to make one comment about the recipe. She doesn’t state a temp for the oven so I just used 350 degrees and it was the perfect temp. They were done in about 20 min. . Next we made mini-frittatas from a recipe by Giada De Laurentis found on Foodnetwork. I substituted prosciutto for the ham and it had wonderful flavor. We also had lime green jello and whipped cream, my son’s  request. All in all it was a tasty breakfast and filling.

Lunch was simple with sandwiches and a relish tray. But we are all so full, I am not sure when dinner will be. Lauren, my daughter, and I made the sauce, meatballs and braciole together. This was her first lesson in cooking the Italian food we have made for years. She was always too busy to come and learn. Funny because both boys have had their turns at making it all with me. Of course my husband is there to help as well. It’s just simply become a family event to cook around here. Every one seems to get in on the fun.

Here is the sauce, meatballs and braciole recipes we made today.


1 large can of diced tomatoes

2 large cans of whole plum tomatoes, hand crush or put in the blender and puree

1 small can of tomato paste

1 chunk of a medium onion

1 small chunk of green pepper

1 tbsp of kosher salt

1-2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper

2 or so teaspoons of dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil

1/2 bunch chopped fresh parsley

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp of sugar

Add all to a large pot and simmer for 1 hour unless adding in meat, otherwise simmer at least two-three hours. Stir often to prevent burning or sticking. I browned a pound of pork short ribs and added those.


2 lbs. ground beef, can be chuck or sirloin

1 lb. ground pork

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 onion, diced fine

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (1/2 – 3/4 cup per pound of meat)

5 eggs (usually 1-2 per pound of meat)

2 tsp dried oregano, basil and parsley (can use fresh but increase to 1 tbsp each)

4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

2 tsp salt

2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Roll into egg sized balls and brown in bacon grease (or olive oil) or bake at 350 for 25 min. or until browned. Add to sauce and simmer for at least 1-2 hours.

Braciole (Seasoned rolled steak)

There are many variations of this dish but our family has used this particular combination for quite some time. I added in fontina cheese today to see how things taste.

For each person to have their own roll, buy enough thin sliced top round for as many as you are feeding. I bought six pieces, so these amounts are for six.

8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1-2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 grated Fontina cheese

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Pound meat first with pointy side of a meat tenderizer between two sheets of plastic wrap, then use the flat side. Lay some filling on the center, and roll up from one end to the other, narrow end, not the long side. Secure with cotton kitchen string or toothpicks if you only have them.

Brown all rolls in bacon grease and add to sauce. Simmer for 3 hours. You could also bake these in a small amount of sauce for about 45 min. in a 325 degree oven but they taste much better simmered in sauce.

As you can see, we spend a considerable amount of time cooking and preparing the meal but it is fun and the end result is delicious. We will be making pasta as well. I am using a basic recipe for egg pasta that can be found just about anywhere online or in an Italian cookbook.  For each cup of unbleached flour, use 2 large eggs. Put flour on a wooden board or counter that is clean. Make a well or volcano like indent in the center of the flour. Bread the eggs into the well and stir with a fork to incorporate the flour. When you have mixed in all the flour, begin knead by hand for about 5 minutes. Form into a ball and cover the dough with plastic wrap let it rest for 30 minutes. Get your pasta machine ready and pour a glass of wine. You might need two for this process! Ok, not needed but enjoyed.

Make the pasta with your machine according to the machine’s instructions. I use a broom stick or two across the backs of two chairs to hang the pasta to dry. I am hoping my pasta drying tree will be ready to use soon.That will take up less space than the method with the broomsticks but my grandparents did use the broomsticks and their house is smaller than mine. As a child, when we would go to dinner there, we would sneak the fallen dried pasta from the chairs and would eat it. Yum.

We had a very tasty meal and carrying on the family traditions of long ago, I bought Torrone nougat candy for the family. We were kind of stuffed from dinner so we are saving the candy for tomorrow.  I would love to post pictures in this entry but the problem is that we were so busy cooking and doing dishes and chasing my 16 month old grandson all day that we could not set up proper pictures. Even I have standards for good food pictures.  Trust me, it was all delicious and good, did I mention that before?

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

4 thoughts on “Buon Natale!

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