featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Contemporary romantic comedy author RoseAnn DeFranco returns today to share some recipes with us. Learn more about her and her books at her website and blog.

‘Tis the Season in Audubon Springs…The Making of Mama’s Italian Sauce

Thank you for welcoming me back to Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers! 

Previously I introduced you to my Brothers of Audubon Springs series set at the Jersey shore where the men run as hot as the temperatures in late July at the shore. My heroes in the series, Rafe, Tony, and Vince have a dominating Italian Mama. Some people dominate in a boardroom, others captivate from the stage; Marcella Iuliano runs her family with a firm hand from the kitchen.

It should come as no surprise the women strong enough to claim the hearts of these men also need to win the approval of their mother. She is a force of nature, and it is best to have her on your side.  What better test, or initiation, into the family than the making of Mama’s own Italian sauce?  I imagine each of my heroines attempting mama’s recipe, with varying degrees of success, under her watchful eye, over the years to come.  I’m sure it will only take ten to forty years to get the recipe deemed acceptable. Good thing Emma, Annie and Kit are in it for the long haul!

This recipe has been pulled from my own mother’s cookbook…she is my real life version of Mama Iuliano, and I love her dearly.  Once I let go of the pressure of being her equal in the kitchen, my life became much easier.  She is a tough act to follow.  I do however make a MEAN version of her sauce every year for the holidays.  It has become my own personal tradition. While standing in my kitchen, I feel close to my mom, my grandmother, and all the women in our extended families.  As our families have spread out across the years and miles, and our traditions have changed, one thing remains a constant and will always bind us together…we love to EAT! 

Enjoy my Mama’s Sauce recipe – complete with my own notes…that of the novice chef!

4 Lg. Cans Tomato Puree
4 Lg. Cans Crushed Tomatoes
3-18oz. cans Tomato Paste
2 handfuls of fresh basil chopped (I’ve been known to use 6 Tbsps. dried basil without detection)
1 Tbsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/3 C. sugar
½ Tbsp. baking soda
3 medium onions chopped (DO NOT use the food processor as a short cut!)
10 cloves garlic, chopped (food processor approved)

Sauté onion & garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add tomato paste with a little water and continue to cook. After a few minutes add puree tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. I LOVE watching the sauce bubble when adding the baking soda. I think this is the secret ingredient that pulls the acidity out of the recipe. Add a few cans of water to the desired sauce thickness. Simmer on stove while preparing meat. I always love this bit of direction…it is understood that if you are making mom’s sauce, you better add the meat!

Note from Mom: This is a large recipe which I make and freeze. It requires 2 large pots (8 & 16 quarts). Recipe may be cut in half or quartered.  All of her recipes include notes of what may and may not be done regarding cutting and doubling.

4 lbs. ground round
1 lb. ground pork
5 eggs
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ½ C. Grated Romano
2 ½ C. Flavored breadcrumbs (Mom likes Progresso)
2 lg. Onions chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste (This always throws me. I do not taste raw meat, so just add some salt and pepper)

This is where the instructions she provided to me end. The message here is clear…any daughter of hers better know how to make a meatball. I’ll fill in the gaps…

Mix all ingredients. Add a little water.  Shape and fry in olive oil then place in simmering sauce.  That is what mom wants you to do, but I skip the fryer and put the meatballs right into the sauce and let them cook that way. This cuts down on grease in the sauce, again reducing acidity. To this day I’ve never been questioned on my meatballs! They ROCK!

Mom also adds other meats depending on the holiday. Spare ribs are a fan favorite, and of course the Italian Specialty – Brasciole – YUM! That is a recipe for another day. The newly minted Iuliano women are NOT ready for Brasciole. 

Return to Audubon Springs
When Emma Grant returns to her family's Audubon Springs beach house to fulfill the stipulations of her father's will, she has every intention of forcing her former lover out of the house for good. She's never fit into her wealthy family and would prefer avoiding her past, but with her brother threatening to reveal her young daughter, she has no choice.

Rafe Iuliano has other plans. The wealthy Grants tried to bribe him out of Emma's life years ago, but he's determined to prove once and for all that a master carpenter is worthy of Emma and the house.

Their ridiculous and steamy battle for the house reignites the love and passion that bloomed between them years ago. But when Rafe discovers she's kept their daughter a secret for two years, can he overcome anger and pride to claim his family and the love of his life, or will the deception drive a final wedge between them?


RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Hello! Thank you for having me back on Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. I love imagining Emma, Annie and Kit in the kitchen with Mama!

Ashantay said...

I loved reading Return from Audubon Springs! And your sauce recipe? Yum! Thanks for sharing -

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Thank you, Ashantay. Death Under the Mistletoe is on my holiday reads list! Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you try the recipe.

Angela Adams said...

With all the snow outside my window, it's nice to look at a book cover with a beach house. Best wishes with your release!

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Thank you. The next book in the series is due out December 28th. Hopefully people will want to escape to the beach this winter! :)

Susan Macatee said...

Mmm! I was planning on linguini tonight and think I'll make up a fresh batch of meatballs to go with.

Sounds like a great story! Who wouldn't want to escape to the beach on a snowy day? Best of luck with it!

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Thank you, Susan! Enjoy!

Roni Denholtz said...

This sounds delicious! I'm not Italian but I do like to make my own sauce. :)

Chrisie said...

This looks awesome! Especially on this snowy day. Congrats on your book RoseAnn!

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Hi Roni & Chrisie, Thanks for stopping by and enjoy!

Rose Ann said...

I love how you have incorporated your mom's cooking and baking into your books and blog posts! Your sauce and meatballs sound very similar to my nonna's. One difference--my g-mom soaked bread in milk and then added it to the meat instead of using breadcrumbs! I miss her dearly and I love preparing her sauce and meatballs as a way of feeling her presence--especially during the holidays!

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Rose Ann - Thank you for stopping by. I'm going to have to ask my mom about soaking the bread in milk. I feel like I heard something about that years ago. My mother's recipes have evolved over time as modern conveniences became available. Enjoy the snowy day!

Linda McLaughlin said...

The meatballs and sauce look yummy, and remind me of childhood suppers with my best friend who was Italian. Her mom was kind enough to share the recipe with my mom.

Enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to reading Second Hand Romance after reading Return to Audubon Springs.. Just made the sauce yesterday and the recipe still works. I have to admit however that I don't have as many mouths to feed as I used to but still find it difficult to make half the recipe. However, the sauce freezes well. (Made the manicotti yesterday, too, for the crew I will feed on December when I return from N)J. Wonder if Mama Iuliano would approve. I think a taste test is in order in Mama's kitchen.

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Hi Linda - Glad to have brought back fond memories. Enjoy!

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Hmmm...I wonder who this mysterious Anonymous might be...I'm pretty sure Mama Iuliano will approve! Save some for me! :)

Emma Kaye said...

Mmm. This sounds delicious! I have to admit how glad I am that my mother-in-law didn't require a cooking test before I entered the family. I'd have been booted on the spot. But I would love to read the scene you'd write with Mama and the girls cooking up dinner.

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Hi Emma -

I'm thinking it could be a fun piece of writing to put up on my website. We'll see. Thanks for stopping by!

Jenna Blue said...

I've been in the mood for Sunday Sauce…now I must fix it! Yum! And I know just what you mean about feeling close to the women in your family when you are cooking their recipes…

Maria K. Alexander said...

Hi RoseAnn. Thanks for sharing your Mom's recipe. Also raised in an Italian household, I found instructions like salt & pepper to taste funny. Actually, all the recipes my mom gave me were just lists of ingredients without amounts. My recipes have things like "sprinkle with enough basil to cover the top". I made sauce-or what I call gravy-tonight for dinner!

I loved RtAS and am looking forward to reading Secondhand Romance!

RoseAnn DeFranco said...

Hi Jenna...thanks for stopping by. Doesn't food bring everyone together?

Maria...Don't even start the whole gravy debate! Glad you like RtoAS. The countdown to Secondhand Romance begins! :)