Sunday Supper

I have been avoiding regular pasta like the plague lately, since I am trying to lose weight.  Most days this is relatively easy since I just sub in some spaghetti squash or some zucchini zoodles, but for some reason I have been craving my Ricotta meatballs and some gooey stuffed pasta!  The real deal, no whole wheat, or zoodles!  If you have never made meatballs with ricotta, you may not go back to making them the familiar old way!  I never thought I could love a meatball more! I am a meatball purist, since my early childhood days of literally attacking the frying pan that my Nonna use to make her amazing meatballs in.  I would walk up and kiss her as we entered her Jersey City apartment every Sunday, then sneak my fork around her which at 4’9 was not too hard, God rest her soul, and pull out a meatball as it was frying and burn my mouth eating it, they were that good!  She would yell at me in Italian and my father would translate and say she was cursing at me, which the woman was a saint so that was him joking, it was sweet that she knew like clock work what my MO was, a meatball first, then rip at the Italian bread and dip it in the rich delicious gravy!  Yes in my house it was and always will be gravy, my kids don’t call it anything else, and I can assure you my grandchildren will know Nonna’s gravy! Ahhh….I miss my grandma and those amazing meatballs. Sunday gravy was always a treat.  I just loved it! ( My Nonna and my Daddy are pictured above in my featured picture). I am so blessed to be able to have that tradition at home with my children, it’s usually an Italian feast, but I mix it up with a roast chicken, or German Pork roast for my hubby who’s German.

So ok, back to meatballs, now that I have tried the ricotta meatballs, I am having a hard time making them any other way.  I use to soak my stale bread, this is a big debate foe many people but my Nonna did not use anything but stale bread, and I personally don’t like the bread crumbs in my meatballs or my meatloaf for the fact that it makes for a dry and crumbly meatball (you need to use stale bread to make a good Italian meatball, please don’t make them any other way, dry bread crumbs anillhlate a good meatball I swear).  So I’d let the bread sit out on my counter, if you come to my home that is why you always see bread sitting out on my counter naked and afraid, then I would take the bread about two slices, and soak it in milk for a few minutes while I was getting my gravy going, but using the ricotta, you can avoid this step all together, because of the creaminess in the ricotta,  and even my son who despises ricotta cheese, yes I know, I can’t figure out how my Italian bambino does not like the white stuff, yet loves it in cannolis, but he could not taste the “ricott”, in it, and therefore gave them two thumbs up!  For me I just love ricotta cheese so it wasn’t a hard sell!  If I had more time I would make my own, it’s very easy but I don’t have the luxury of waiting, so I use Galbani brand and it is pretty damn good, better than Polly-0, I know my father is grimacing in heaven hearing me say that, but it’s far superior in my opinion.  Normally for lasagna and baked ziti I will use part skim, but for my balls I use whole milk ricotta!  I loved saying that… you have to know me to understand!  So I guess I went a little ricotta crazy, because my other son who just turned 18 loves all things ricotta, so I made him spinach manicotti, because I can, served with crusty garlic bread and my signature garlic filling, and since the meal was heavy with the stuffed pasta and bread, why not have a little dessert too?  I am thinking something light.  Maybe like a Pavlova with some fresh strawberries soaked in some nice Limoncello.  If you have never had a Pavlova it is essentially a meringue that’s baked in the oven for an hour, and then filled with  whipped cream and fresh fruit, Limoncello for those who have never had, is a lemon spiked vodka that is served throughout Italy.  I love it!  I use it to make a Limoncello granita in the summer that is so refreshing and light on a hot summer night, think spiked lemon Italian Ice!

I think with lightness of the boozy lemony strawberries and a kiss of fresh whipped cream in the dessert will make hubby smile!  And, like the saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and thankfully, I know how to make his heart skip a beat or two!!!   Here’s to Sunday supper and heartbeats!  Ciao!


Susan xoxo

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Sexy Spinach Manicotti with Ricotta Meatballs



Ricotta Meatballs

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A twist on an Italian Classic, that's quick, easy, and oh some satisfying!

Credit: Mangieri-Maurath


  • 1 pound of meatloaf mix (beef, pork, veal)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese drained
  • 2 slices of stale white or wheat bread crushed and softened in the ricotta
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsely or 1 tbsp. dry
  •  1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  (You can certainly fry these meatballs, I grew up on fried meatballs, but I have been making mine in the oven for years now.  For one it’s healthier you use less oil, and it is more reliable, no balls sticking to the pan! Yuck!!
  2. Combine meatloaf mix in a bowl.  Add ricotta cheese, crushed stale bread and  beaten egg.  Mix thoroughly.  Stir in flat leaf parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Form meat mixture into 1″ balls.
  3. Coat a large sheet pan with some EVOO, and roll the meatballs in oil to coat on the pan, this ensures even browning.  Bake for about 25 min. or until cooked through and browned.
  4. I always have gravy on hand.  I make big batches and freeze them for use on busy nights or when I am too tired to cook.  Use any pasta sauce you prefer, and simmer the gravy while the meatballs cook.  This is the time to get your large stock pot full of water to cook the manicotti.
  5. When  meatballs are done cooking remove and let simmer in gravy about 25 minutes to absorb the sauce.  Serve over your favorite pasta, with some crusty garlic bread and a nice salad!  Devour!



Sexy Spinach Manicotti

  • Servings: 5-7
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An Italian favorite with creamy ricotta cheesy mozzarella and spinach!

Credit: Mangieri-Maurath


  • 1 large container of part skim ricotta
  • 1/4 marscapone cheese softened (trust me on this)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 3/4 cup of shredded part skim mozzarella
  • 1 cup of chopped spinach fresh or frozen I use fresh
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of one lemon
  • Kosher salt and  cracked black pepper
  • 1 box of Barilla Manicotti



  1. In a large bowl combine ricotta, softened marscapone, cheeses, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine well to incorporate.  Add spinach. Mix well.  Set aside
  2. Cook manicotti according to package directions in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  3. Coat a large sheet pan with extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Drain manicotti, and place on sheet pan to cool enough to handle.
  5. Now the best way to fill the manicotti shells are to pipe in the filling with a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.  If you don’t want to be that fancy, you can fill a Ziploc bag with the filling snip the end and voila. I find a pastry bag better for me.  But to each his own.
  6. Coat a large baking dish with gravy, to sit the shells on top of.  Fill and place manicotti shells in the baking dish close together but not crushing each other.  Coat with more sauce and top with shredded mozzarella and a sprinkle of freshly grated Peccarino Romano cheese. Cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 min.  Remove foil and cook about 10 more minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Remove from oven, let rest about 20 minutes, then serve with ricotta meatballs, crusty garlic bread and a nice salad if desired. Mangia!


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My cracked Pavlova…it was delicious I promise!




Perfect Pavlova with Limoncello Soaked Strawberries

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A light Italian Dessert that's tasty and refreshing!

  • Limenocello is an Italian lemon flavored vodka, you can omit the alcohol and serve the berries with a macerate of sugar or just whole sliced strawberries.
  • Credit: Mangieri-Maurath


  • 1 1/4  cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • half of a vanilla bean seeded
  • 2  tsp. vanilla extract divided 1 tsp. for the Pavlova and 1 for the whipped cream
  • 4 egg whites, room-temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • pint of strawberries hulled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp. of sugar sprinkled over the strawberries
  • 3 tbsp. of Limoncello
  • 3 tbsp. of powdered sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar



  1. Make meringue: Heat oven to 300°. In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch, vanilla bean, and vanilla extract; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat remaining 1 1/4 cups of sugar and egg whites on low-speed until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Add cornstarch, and cream of tartar to egg whites; continue beating until very stiff and glossy peaks form, about 5 more minutes.
    Place a 9″ round cake pan in the center of a 13″ x 18″ sheet of parchment paper and use a pencil to trace a circle around the outside of the pan. Flip the sheet of parchment paper and transfer it to a baking sheet so that the marked side is face down. Transfer meringue to the center of parchment paper.
    Using a rubber spatula, shape it into a 9″ disk  spreading to make the meringue conform to the circular outline; smooth top and sides with rubber spatula. Transfer meringue to the oven; bake for 1 hour.  Turn off oven and let meringue sit until cooled, 3-4 hours.   This step helps the meringue from cracking as it cools.  I skipped this step and mine cracked!  Yes I know better but I got impatient! Live and learn!Gently peel parchment paper from the meringue and, using 2 metal spatulas, transfer meringue to a cake stand.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat heavy cream, 1 tsp. of the vanilla, and the powdered sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
  3. Top the cooled Pavlova with the strawberry mixture.  Drain slightly so it is not too runny.   Top with whipped cream. Cut the Pavlova into slices and serve immediately.





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