My Granny is such an important part of my childhood and helped create the women I am today! We lost her earlier this year, however, I like to say that heaven gained a spunky angel! Her and my Papa were so in love, they have the sweetest love story. We lost my Papa about twenty years ago, so it makes my heart happy knowing that they are together again.


A little bit about my Granny. She was born to a large family in Blytheville, Arkansa. Her mother (the strong Joanna Novella– who Novella Jo is named after) raised all of her babies after her husband passed away at a very young age. She worked many jobs…put herself through school all while growing and picking cotton, make clothes for her family, raised chickens (killing the chickens for dinner too), farmed all of their produce and parented her 7 children! To say that my Granny came from a strong women is an understatement!


My Granny was working as a waitress in a small restaurant near her home town when this handsome “yankee” came in for a bite while passing through town with the Air Force. They describe their connection as love at first sight… and before you knew it- my southern Granny married her handsome Italian Air Force man and they moved home to New York!

Since my Granny was from the south, Italian food was not in her wheel house and she had to learn everything from scratch. Biscuits and gravy, she could make with her eyes closed, ham and bean soup… so easy, but meatballs? She had to learn. Well, I can tell you that as her granddaughter, I know that not only did she learn… she EXCELLED!

Before you knew it she was cooking for a family of 9 (she had 7 children). With that many little mouth to feed, pasta of course is a very inexpensive and my Granny made up many variations of classic Italian dishes and then her take on very basic ingredients made to perfection.

Granny’s Meatballs and Sunday Sauce is a classic that all of her children and grandchildren like to pass on! From a young child, I remember having Sunday Sauce every weekend at Granny and Papa’s house! I remember smelling the amazing aroma when it was cooking on the stove and playing with my cousins in their orange groves in the back yard. You see my grandparents lived in Southern California (moved there before my they had their youngest two babies, my Aunt Lisa and my Mama) and lived on a couple acres filled with rows and rows of Oranges as well as some fresh plums, lemons, limes and tangerines! So delicious!

Granny’s Meatballs and Sunday Sauce

Keep in mind my Granny NEVER measured, like all good cooks, you just eyeball it and smell it until it looks about right. This is my take on her recipe and how I feel like you can measure these ingredients. We also make enough food for an ARMY! So This will feed around 10-12 people. Reduce it based on what you need, however, it does freeze well!


-4 lbs. Ground Beef (if you want some more spice, you can add hot italian sausage to this mixture and do a 25/75 sausage/beef)
-1.5 Cup- Italian Style Breadcrumb
-4 Eggs *Rule of thumb, 1 egg per lb of meat
-1 cup Parmesan Cheese
-6 cloves Fresh Garlic Cloves
-Garlic Powder to smell, if you can’t smell the garlic, add more. (It is a lot of meat and the garlic will season it)
-Dried Parsley (I have also used Dried Basil when I am out of Parsley and it subs out well)
-Salt and Pepper

-4 larger cans of Tomato Sauce (unseasoned)
-Tomato Paste
*My Granny always added crushed and diced tomatoes. If you like the chunky sauce, add these! I have found that as I have gotten older (and my kiddos) prefer a smooth sauce.
-2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic
-Olive Oil (a couple tablespoons to brown the garlic in the pot)
-A pinch of Sugar
-A pinch of Red Pepper
-A sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese (you can also add a rind to your sauce and then remove before eating. Adds great flavor!)

We love to add Italian Sausage and Spare Ribs to the sauce. It makes the flavor of the sauce AMAZING and if you are feeding a crowd, it adds more meat! Our favorite pasta to serve this with is the Bite Size Rigatoni OR the long long Fusilli pasta… this pasta is AMAZING! 



This is traditional way of cooking, but watch your sauce… it can burn! Bring to a boil and then cook low and slow!


This is my favorite choice, I like to put it up and not worry about it all day and then it is cooked and ready to enjoy later in the day! I use the All Clad Browning Crock Pot, so I can brown my garlic in the crock pot and then switch it to slow. If you don’t have this option you will need to start your sauce on the stove and then pour it into the crock pot and turn on to low for 6-8 hours.

I hope that this recipe fills your home with wonderful smells and fills the tummies of your loved ones! Enjoy and share with others!