Celebrations, Traditions and Good Eats!

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making ravioliRecently I got together with my side of the family to make ravioli for our Annual Ravioli Night with The Cousins dinner. We incorporated this tradition a few years ago when a dear close cousin of mine past away. Her mother, (my aunt) and my mother, were not only sister in laws they were best friends. They would always cook together and be together during the holidays so all of us cousins wanted to do the same thing along with our own families. We use their cherished ravioli recipe that has been handed down to all of us.
making ravioli Making ravioli for a crowd is probably not the smartest thing to do, you really have to be organized. We make and form the actual ravioli on trays which gives them a consistent look, size and seals them perfectly. I do this a couple of weeks ahead of time and then all get put into the freezer. I make all the dough and the fillings the night before we gather together so everything is ready to go, I use my trusty food processor method for the dough which always works perfectly and never fails me.

When morning comes around, all I have to do is take the dough out of the fridge and get to room temperature. Ten batches of dough yields 400 ravioli, I’m going to cut that down a bit for next year, we finally figured out the right amount to make so there will still be enough leftover for everyone to take a container home.

making ravioli We set aside the whole day to make them, only stopping for lunch in between and a few coffee breaks, this year we made 200 meat and 200 cheese.
homemade ravioli Once we get our mojo working properly the ravioli start coming together quickly. We all have our jobs, I usually do the rolling of all the dough with my pasta machine then after they’re formed I’ll get them into the freezer and then when frozen solid I’ll put them into freezer bags.

homemade ravioli I did a blog post a while back on making ravioli for a crowd, here’s the link there’s some good tips on how to get it done efficiently.

cooking ravioliOne thing I didn’t want to do is have pots of water boiling on my stove with 30 people in my house, so the night before the actual party all that messy work is finished.  I also make sure that days before my sauce is all pre-made and ready to go.

I boil each and every one of the ravioli the night before the party and place them single layer on commercial quality full size foil sheet pans that I get from a restaurant supply store, they work great plus it’s a throw away with no clean up!
cooking ravioli After they cool down I cover the pans with heavy duty foil and keep them cold overnight. When it’s party time all I have to do is pop the whole pan in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes, they get perfectly warmed and the pans are great for serving but more importantly there’s nothing major for me to do on party day with a house full of people.

aftermath of boiling 300 ravioli No one sees the disaster on my stove from the night before with all the boiling going on, that’s a good thing! Believe it or not it gets all clean and shiny in time for the party!

ravioli partyRavioli Night with The Cousins is now an annual event in my house, we do it a couple of weeks before Christmas and we all look forward to it every year!
homemade ravioli Can you see why I love those big pans? I can get 60 to 70 ravioli single layer on one full sheet pan, they’re great for a big party.

homemade ravioliWe keep our menu simple, it’s basically the same every year, meat and cheese ravioli, a couple of different salads, good bread, my brothers famous sausage and peppers and chicken that he makes on a charcoal grill. There’s plenty of wine and tons of desserts.
meat raviolicheese raviolitoasting with homemade limoncelloAnother tradition that is now added to our annual Ravioli Night with The Cousins is my daughters homemade limoncello, it’s the best and truly one of the highlights of the night, she makes it every year with much love and care and we all look forward to sipping it. We toast to those who aren’t with us any longer and to all our families here and now. The younger cousins kept doing multiple toasts throughout the night, it was so much fun!  That’s my daughter, upper right hand corner picture, bottom center holding a glass. Thanks V!

It may seem like a lot of work to pull this all off but I can honestly say that it’s worth every bit, and besides we’re creating memories and traditions for a lifetime!
Christmas dinner

And last but not least I’ll leave you with a photo of our Christmas dinner as it might be something you would want to create for New Years Eve. Crab stuffed shrimp, I’ve made it before but this time I made a lemon aioli for dipping the shrimp, it added a ton of flavor and was a nice compliment. Corzetti pasta with pesto was on the side along with a salad, but the one thing I’m super excited about more than anything else is that I finally figured out how to make a proper lobster tail and how to get the meat out of the shell in one piece! I watched a You Tube about it and it all came out without a glitch, literally!

So if you’re staying home on New Years Eve and want to make a special elegant meal I would highly recommend this lobster tail and my crab stuffed shrimp along with a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate and bring in 2014!   Salute!

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  1. hello!
    I’m hosting around 50 Italians for Christmas Eve this year! I ran into your ravioli for a crowd and I think I want to tackle this. Do you have recipes for the ravioli? The dough, sauce, and filling?

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Marie, all I can say is that this post had me in tears. It touches me how very close you all are and what amazing traditions you have! Though, I am not Italian, my mother and grandmother taught me at a young age how to make biscuits, to can our garden produce, pickle beets, and show their love to others through cooking. It truly is a labor of love. Now, with my grandmother gone and my young mother having cancer, I am at a loss. I weep. Thank you for truly a boost to my spirits….that I can carry on those traditions and make new ones for my own family and loved ones—that joy can be passed on and uplift others. I needed this. I would love to have your raviolis recipe if they are not a secret! Thank you again!

  3. Hi Marie: My first post here… just wanted to say thank you for sharing your family’s holiday traditions and the great tips about how to prepare the ravioli ahead of time. I inherited a ravioli rolling pin, but have never had the courage the make my own pasta yet. Your pictures are wonderful and have inspired me to give it a shot. Would you PLEASE be willing to share you recipes for the dough and the fillings? THANK YOU so much!!

  4. WOW…can you adopt me…I’ll help cook…amazing!

  5. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ravioli tradition. Your posts have inspired my to finally give it a try. Moderately successful, but not giving up! I would appreciate you sharing your dough and filling recipes. I have tried a few and not completely satisfied. Thank you in advance. Looking forward to mastering my ravioli making skills.

  6. Wow, I wish I had eaten at your house! This looks amazing! I would love to try this next year. Turkey and stuffing get old– especially after you’ve had it for Thanksgiving.

  7. Thanks for popping by and saying hi! I love this post about your Italian Christmas food traditions. I do lasagna instead of the ravies, but my best friend does the ravies with the kids, the cousins and does the freezer baggies too. I have to tell her about your boil ahead method. This year we also added the Limoncello. I did two batches and ran out! It was such a big hit. What to do with all the leftover lemons? Maybe some lemon curd for tea parties. Your seafood dinner looks wonderful too! Hmmm idea’s for next year.

  8. Nancy De Astis says

    I love all your ideas. I also pass the word around to my friends. This ravioli party is something I would love to do. Any tips on cleaning the stove racks would be appreciated. Have a blessed New Year! I look forward to your emails always.

    Buone feste, NancyD

  9. Hi Marie, I have a large Italian family and look for any reason to be together. I LOVE this idea, a cousins night!!!! Do you think you could send me your recipe for the ravioli dough and filling? I would really appreciate it. I sent this link to all my nieces and nephews and sister, they are all in. Thank you for helping us keep our Italian roots. May you and your family have a healthy and happy New Year!!!!!

  10. I love this tradition! Isn’t it something how much fun doing these things is when you are surrounded by people you love? So many laughs, so many memories, plus the thread of tradition carried across the generations lends an extra special something to the whole event. It is a celebration of those who have come before us, and a sign of our respect for them. They lived their lives for one reason – so that we could enjoy the lives we do now. All they wanted was for us to live well. They would be so pleased to see your Ravioli Night.

    I love the shot of your stove! That made me laugh. I hope you have had marvelous holidays, filled with laughter and good cheer. Best wishes for a terrific New Year!

    Un bacione, ABC

  11. I just wished I was a ‘cousin’ for real! Love this post and love the raviolis! Lemoncello is amazing!!

  12. What a great family tradition! How lucky to have all those cousins to cook with…and a daughter who makes limoncello! Happy New Year Marie!

  13. What a wonderful tradition. It sounds like you have a great time. Love the tip about preparing the ravioli ahead of time.

  14. All I can say is WOW! Amazing you, amazing family, amazing food.

  15. I agree with the above… beautiful post…. BUT where’s the recipes?

  16. Marie – stunning as usual! You are amazing. I love the idea of boiling the ravioli the day before. Happy New Year to you!

  17. I looked for your ravioli dough recipe all over your blog but don’t see it. I noticed that there are a few people who are interested in it as well but there’s never a reply–So I am assuming you don’t give it out? I emailed you awhile back but never got a response.
    I totally understand because I know there are family recipes to keep secret but I do find it frustrating to see your beautiful posts on your ravioli making with your family but that part is missing . Can u recommend another one that I could use?
    Anyway, your blog is wonderful and appreciate all your recipes and tips!!!! I always look forward to a new post in my inbox!
    Thank you!

    • I emailed you Dirose

      • Thank you so much Marie- I really appreciate it!

      • Betty Pigoni Pierson says

        Marie — I too searched your blog for your pasta and ravioli filling recipe. Could you please, please, please share these with a Chicago born Italian girl relocated to Florida?? The most I see around here is New York Italian, and although it’s good, it’s not home. No Italian beef! It’s tough for me to get past TSA on my trips back to Florida because my bags are packed with sausage and sauce! I did see your post about Tonini’s, and I will give them a try next time I’m in town. I’ve been going through withdrawal since D’Anrea’s closed. I’ve been getting my sausage from Alpine market on North Avenue in Elmwood Park. They’re pretty good, but I am on the verge of attempting to make my own. Your pasta and ravioli filling would make my day! Thank you for all that you do share. I wish many blessings on you and your family in the coming year!

  18. What I would give to have a seat at your table, and they are darn lucky to have you!

  19. I married into an Italian family who has the same tradition of ravioli making. My mother-in-law was the typical Italian mother who’s life’s passion was cooking for her family. She and my father-in-law would make hundreds of ravioli in their kitchen which was the size of a large broom closet, on appliances from the 1950’s. They always made meat and cheese and sauce made from canned tomatoes from their summer crop of tomatoes. Living in Los Angeles made it possible to have Christmas dinner outside to accommodate our large family. What wonderful memories you brought back and I know you all enjoy this tradition as much as we did. My mother-in-law, at 94 can no longer cook, so for the past 2 years I’ve taken to making the ravioli. Our family is now spread out so our gatherings are much smaller. We made 150 this year, a combo of meat and cheese. It really isn’t that difficult, however, I have not mastered the art of making the dough. I don’t have a food processor so did it all by hand. After reading you blog….I’m investing in a processor! Thank you and Happy New Year!

    • Bless you Gail, you must make your MIL so happy, it is a wonderful tradition! I highly recommend the food processor method, it’s fast and comes together in a few seconds!

  20. Everything looks fabulous, Marie! I’m like you and try to do all my cooking ahead of time and just re-heat, so I can enjoy my parties. We haven’t stopped celebrating over here –it has been a wonderful end of the year and it confirmed we made the right decision to move. Happy and healthy 2014!

  21. I am in awe. What a great traditions with the cousins, and what a wonderful cook you are.

  22. christine davis says

    It’s an awesome tradition. I spent hours with my mother and brother making cheese ravioli’s for Thanksgiving and then we did another round for Christmas. We made 17 dozen meat rav’s and then another 13 of cheese for Christmas Eve. My brother insists on still using the hand crank dough maker LOL. Mom makes the braciola before hand so when I get there, we set up our assembly line. Spending that time with my mom and brother is very precious to me. Happy holidays!!

  23. Mom, you forgot to mention how you chugged a shot of Lemoncello due to peer pressure! HA!

  24. Everything looks wonderful – no surprise there!
    Best wishes to you, your immediate family and all your cousins!
    P.S. My stove looks like that a lot (only my stove isn’t as nice as yours!)

  25. Another beautiful post and fantastic looking dishes.
    The ravioli look so good. Love the idea of the pans
    from the restaurant store. Have to see if I can find
    them here on LI.
    Love the idea of the crab stuffed shrimp and the lobster
    looks so good.

    Another fabulous post.


  26. Oh boy Marie. I want to be your cousin! I always thought your ravioli in the large pans was a brilliant idea and I may have to start my own ravioli night tradition as a result. The lobster tail and stuffed shrimp looks fabulous too. Darn – just when I thought I didn’t want to add one more thing to my Christmas eve fish feast, you have to go and post this!

  27. Mama Mia that’s a lot of ravioli. the big flat sheets are a great idea.

  28. Cathy at Wives with Knives says

    Everything is beautiful, Marie. My stove looks very similar to yours. I hope you and your family have a very happy new year’s celebration. We are having lobster too. What a great way to start the New Year!

  29. Happy Holidays Marie, What a lovely tradition, the anticipation, the making and the break bread together. Lovely holiday tradition and certainly is what Christmas is all about. Great looking ravioli!

  30. I would even clean your stove if I could receive an invite to your holiday table!
    I will make the crab stuffed shrimp for New Year’s Eve……………..Happy and Healthy! xo

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