“Cooking the Italian Way“

Cooking with My Mom

10 months before the unexpected passing of my Mom, I started doing a few cooking videos with her.

Here is a short video montage of one of my visits, with her cooking our traditional Italian Sunday meal.  (see Manicotti and Meatball recipes below)

I sure miss her! God rest your soul, Mom.

Meet My Mom “Filomena” Donadio

If any of you have heard me speak you know how much I love ITALIAN FOOD. Whenever I tell the story of how my mom goes overboard for the holidays (or when we have special guests over), people come up to me after the speech and ask either to get my mother’s recipes or her address. I can take a hint, so I have added this page to my site. Before I give you the recipes, let me tell you a little about my mother.

My mom, Filomena Donadio, was born the daughter of Italian immigrants. Both of her parents came to America from Italy and Sicily. She grew up in a small town in Northeast Ohio (where she lived until her passing in 2017). When she got married, her parents gave her the lot next door as a wedding gift to build their first (and only) family home. I was very fortunate to grow up living with my grandparents next door. Not a very common occurrence today!

My mom was an inspiration to me. At 74 years old (when my Dad passed away) she obtained her driver’s license. Talk about setting goals and overcoming roadblocks; my mom is a great role model. Remember – “You’re never are too old to set ambitious goals.”

Here are a few of my favorite dishes that my Mother used to make:

Filomena’s Italian Recipes

*Mama Donadio’s Homemade Italian Wedding Soup

My Grandma handed down the Italian Wedding Soup to her daughter, my mom. Since my grandmother didn’t read or write, my Mom and I had to actually watch her and measure everything she did. Here is my favorite recipe of all. It’s not hard, but it is a little time-consuming. That is why they call it wedding soup. It was usually made for special occasions, like weddings, because it took some time to prepare.

*Italian Wedding Soup

Start with 3 quarts of water in a large kettle. Add a whole chicken (or 4 pieces). Boil for 1 1/2 hours and skim fat. Next, lower heat and add salt (to taste), 1/3 cup chopped parsley, 1 cup cooked diced celery, 1 cup cooked diced carrots, spinach (10 ounces – fresh, canned, or frozen), and the small meatballs (see recipe below). Let cook for another 2 hours. Finally, add the diced cracker meal (see recipe below) a few minutes before you eat it.

Cracker Meal Crouton

Take 4 eggs and beat with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese and chopped parsley. Beat again. Now add 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and gradually add cracker meal until it thickens. Roll mixture into logs, fry until golden brown. Dice into croutons and add to the soup as described above.


Take 1 pound of hamburger, add 1 beaten egg, and 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of breadcrumbs. Then add to taste: chopped parsley, chopped garlic (or garlic powder), pepper, salt, and grated Romano cheese. Mix well by hand. Be careful not to make the mixture too dry.

For Wedding Soup – Roll into small meatballs for the “Wedding Soup recipe above and bake on a cookie sheet at 350° until brown. Then add to the soup as described above.

For Pasta (as seen in above video)Roll into golf ball size meatballs for Pasta recipes. You can bake them as described above or fry them in canola oil like my Mom used to do.  Fry, turning until all sides are browned. Then cook in the sauce to add flavor to the sauce.

*Mama Donadio’s Homemade Manicotti (as seen in above video)

8 Eggs (2 for the filling)

3 lbs. Ricotta Cheese

1 cup flour


1 cup milk or water (or half of each)

Grated Romano Cheese

1 Tsp. Salt

Your favorite tomato sauce

To make the manicotti pancake (crepe) beat 6 eggs. Add 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp. of salt. Mix well. Gradually add 1 cup of milk or water. Mix well. The batter will be thin. Drop small ladle full of batter on hot, non-stick, frying pan or griddle. Spread batter lightly to make a thin 5-inch, thin, pancake. Turn once. Cook until light brown. Note: extra unused crepes can be frozen. Just place wax paper between each one.

Ricotta filling mixture: Beat 2 eggs. Add Ricotta cheese, chopped parsley, grated Romano cheese, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix. Fill each manicotti crepe with a tablespoon of Ricotta filling and roll. Place overlapping edge down in a lasagna pan that has a thin layer of sauce. Fill the pan with manicotti and cover with more sauce. You can place a second layer on top or make two pans.

Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes.

Mama Donadio’s Ricotta Cake

  • Package of Yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 lbs. of Ricotta Cheese
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • ¾ cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

Pre-Heat Oven to 350 Degrees

Mix the yellow cake as directed on box and place in a 9×13 greased and floured pan.

Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Beat with mixer until well mixed. Spread this mixture over the cake mix. (The ricotta mixture may settle to the bottom, that’s ok). Bake for 50-55 minutes (depending on your oven) at 350 degrees. Check with a toothpick, if not done cook 5 minutes longer. After cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Donadio Family Photo Gallery

Italian Proverbs

“Non pensare di essere sulla strada giusta solamente perché il sentiero è ben battuto.”
“Do not think that you are on the right track just because the path is well-beaten.”

“Dimmi chi sono, no chi era”
Tell me who I am, not who I was.

“E’ meglio vivere un giorno da leone che cent’ anni da pecora”
It is better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.

“Chi dorme sempre non chiapa pesce”
He who always sleeps doesn’t catch any fish.

“Una mano lava l’altra”
One hand washes the other

”L’abito no fa il monaco”
The habit doesn’t make the monk

“Il lupo perde il pelo, ma non il vizio”
The wolf changes his skin, but not his vice