Category Archives: Pasta

Spaghetti and Meatballs (Baseballs); Recipe

Spaghetti and Baseballs!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Baseballs!

Simply one of the most satisfying meals I’ve ever made. The over-sized meatballs with the addition of ground lamb make this even heartier. I received some great feedback from some tough critics.

Ingredients for the meatballs (Baseballs)

1 pound ground sirloin

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground lamb

2 large eggs

4 sprigs basil chopped

3 tbsp chopped parsley

1 large onion finely chopped

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

5-6 thick slices firm white bread crust removed

1 cup whole milk

4-5 cloves minced garlic

3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese

6 cups Eric’s “Awesome Sauce”

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

1 pound spaghetti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Let ground meats come to room temperature. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onion, garlic, basil, parsley and black pepper. Saute for about ten minutes or until onions become translucent. Don’t let the pan get too hot. Remove from heat and let cool for about 20 minutes.

Break bread into small chunks and place in a bowl and add milk. Use your hands to squeeze out the excess milk. Combine meats, eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread, cooled onion mixture and salt. Mix with your hands and form into baseball sized meatballs. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Brown meatballs turning once. Remove browned meatballs and place into Dutch oven containing sauce. You may need to do this in two batches. There may be more meatballs than can fit in your dutch oven. If this happens, simply use a large baking dish and cover with sauce. Cover Dutch oven or place foil over baking dish and cook in oven for 45-60 minutes. When the meatballs are almost done place chunks of fresh mozzarella on each meatball and return to oven uncovered until cheese is melted.

Prepare spaghetti as directed adding plenty of kosher salt to cooking water. The water should be as salty as sea water.

Cover spaghetti with sauce and one meatball on your plate. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and more Parmesan cheese.


Meatball Sandwiches

For meatball sandwiches prepare smaller meatballs and cook the same way. Just buy some Italian bread and cut into sandwich length. Top with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Ingredients for Eric’s “Awesome Sauce”

25 ounces chopped tomatoes

25 ounces tomato sauce

1 white onion

4-5 cloves minced garlic

3 tbsp chopped parsley

3 tbsp chopped basil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tbsp olive oil

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onion, garlic, parsley, basil and black pepper. Saute until onions become translucent adjusting heat so they don’t brown. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Adjust heat to allow a mild simmer. Cook with the lid almost covering for approximately 2 hours stirring every 15 minutes. don’t let this burn!


Orzo with Shrimp and Feta; Recipe

I absolutely love this recipe. Fresh oregano is a must in this Mediterranean masterpiece of simplicity. Serve cold as a summer side or main attraction. Omit shrimp for a spectacular vegetarian meal.

Orzo with Shrimp and Feta

Orzo with Shrimp and Feta



1 Pound shelled shrimp

1 Pound Orzo Pasta

1/2 Pound feta cheese

Juice of 1-2 lemons

Extra virgin olive oil

3 Green onions slivered

3-4 Cloves finely chopped garlic

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

2-3 Tbsp fresh finely chopped oregano

Handful of kosher salt for pasta water

Heat a skillet over medium heat; drizzle with olive oil and saute shrimp and garlic until cooked. About 5-6 minutes turning once. Remove immediately to a cool dish scrapping all oil and garlic out. Cool in refrigerator until ready to add to orzo.

In a large stock pot boil 4 quarts of water. Cook orzo per packaging instructions, should be between 9-11 minutes.

Tip: Heavily salt the water for cooking the orzo; this should be all the salt this dish needs!

Drain orzo into a colander; rinse for 30 seconds with cold water. Let drain for a few minutes.

In a large bowl drizzle enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add orzo, drizzle a little more olive oil and add all ingredients except feta. Mix well. Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for an hour before adding feta cheese.

This recipe can easily be manipulated to make many variations. I look forward to trying this with fresh mint and parsley.

Braised Lamb Shanks and Porcini Mushrooms in Cabernet; Recipe

Braised Lamb Shank

Braised Lamb Shank

Braised Lamb Shank and Porcini Mushrooms in Cabernet

Lamb is one of those meats you either love or hate. Unless of course your me. I love lamb and at times I hate it. Since lamb is such a full flavored meat and a bit gamey the cooking method must compliment it’s full flavor. Otherwise you end up missing out on some pretty spectacular food. This recipe is a good reason why one should not give up on food just because you haven’t figured out the right way to prepare it.


2-3 Lamb Shanks

.750 ML Cabernet Sauvignon or full bodied red wine

1 25 Oz can crushed or whole San Marzano tomatoes

1 pound baby carrots

8 Oz porcini mushrooms

6-7 cloves smashed garlic

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 bay leafs

Olive oil for browning meat

Crushed black pepper to taste

Salt to taste.

Preheat oven to 375

Cover porcini mushrooms with warm water.

Tip: Dried porcini mushrooms will have some sediment in them. be careful when adding the liquid. the sediment will be at the bottom. Do not let this get into your dish!

Salt and pepper lamb shanks and brown in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add garlic, bay leafs and rosemary and saute fro 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. Add wine and tomatoes, porcini mushrooms and cracked black pepper. along with the soaking liquid. bring to a boil. cover and bake in a 350-375 degree oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Turn lamb shanks at the halfway point. Remove cover for the last 20 minutes to help reduce the sauce. Serve over egg noodles or pasta.

Orzo with Pan Sauteed Vegetables

Pan Sauteed Vegetables With Orzo

About six years ago my friends had a late night get together after a Tequila tasting. Carol Friesz and Greg Agricola are excellent home cooks. Carol made an excellent cold Orzo Pasta Salad with shrimp and Greg made smoked burgers on the grill. I asked for the recipe but we never took the time to make it happen. Several months ago I bought a package of Orzo; it sat in my pantry for far too long. I finally cooked my Orzo in this incredibly easy recipe.


1 Pound orzo pasta

8-10 Baby Portobello mushrooms

10-12 Asparagus spears

1 Red bell pepper sliced

1 Small Spanish onion sliced

3 Cloves garlic minced

1-2 Ounces fresh basil torn or chopped

Fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Treat Orzo like you would any other pasta when cooking. Have a saute pan ready and preheated when you add the pasta to the water. Immediately after adding the Orzo to the boiling water add olive oil to preheated saute pan. Add all ingredients except basil and saute for 8-10 minutes; this is the exact time it takes the Orzo to cook. Add salt and cracked pepper. Add basil after 4 minutes of cooking. Drain cooked Orzo and add to sauteed vegetables and stir in adding more olive oil as needed. Plate and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Do not overcook the vegetables.

Alternate Recipe: Substitute Fried smoked bacon and grease for olive oil. Add crumpled bacon at the end. Saute vegetables in the bacon grease.

4 Cheese Macaconi & Cheese

Mac & Cheese My Way

This dish is inspired by Pina Lollino & Ristorante Italia. Pina’s Pasta Quatro Fromage ( 4 cheese pasta) was one of my favorite all time dishes. I’ve mixed her recipe with a basic Macaroni and Cheese to get this. This recipe is very rich and satisfying.

1/2 pound elbow large macaroni

4 ounces each of Fontina, Gorgonzola Dolce, Parmigiano Regiano, Mozzarella cheeses

1/2 cup white onion finely diced

3 cups milk

3 tbsps flour

4 tbsp butter

1 egg beaten then tempered

1/ cup panko or regular bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg freshly grated is best.

Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large sauce pan melt 4 tbsps butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour continuously for five mines. Add milk, salt, onion and nutmeg. Simmer for ten minutes over medium low heat. Pull about a cup of   liquid out of the pan for tempering the egg. Beat the egg in a large bowl; quickly whisk in hot liquid a little at a time while whisking.

Cook 1/2 pound of macaroni in salted water until al dente.

Tip: Tempering eggs is done by gradually adding hot liquid while whisking. this allows the egg to thicken with out hardening. If you were to add the egg into the hot liquid; it would cook quickly and solidify.

Add the tempered egg mixture and cheese stirring constantly until cheese is well incorporated. Add in your cooked macaroni and incorporate into sauce. The mixture will seem too loose (too much liquid). Trust the recipe! Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and grates Parmegiano Regiano. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let stand for five minute.


Recipe: Baked Rigatoni with Meat Sauce and Fresh Mozzarella Bolognese

Baked Rigatoni with Meat Sauce and Fresh Mozzarella Bolognese

Baked Ziti My Way

I decided a few weeks ago not to buy any more food until both of my freezers are empty. I noticed I had some ground beef and ground pork. I had made traditional Bolognese  sauce for lasagna several times before so I thought, perfect! I did not however feel like making lasagna. I figured; “I’ll just make a Bolognese and have it on some spaghetti”. I didn’t have any wine so the sauce would not quite be a Bolognese but very close in flavor and technique. Well, as I was about to drop my pasta into the boiling water; I realized I didn’t have any spaghetti. Insert expletive rant here! Well, off to The Party Source for some pasta; thankfully they are only two blocks away. As I’m browsing the cheese case, fresh mozzarella catches my eye. Thinking to myself “you know what, I should buy this cheese and turn my Bolognese into a form of Baked Ziti!). I find it truly amazing how my recipes and ideas evolve due to adversity in the kitchen. My opinion on cooking has always been to” just go with it and don’t be to dedicated to recipes”. So you see, everything happens for a reason! I saw my friend and General Manager of The Party Source  (Jon Stiles) while I was there and we talked about the subject of recipes and how we use them. We both agree, recipes are a road map, an idea; play with them and make them your own. By the way, Jon gave me a loaf of Cuban bread that was awesome with the Baked Ziti.

The ingredients in this recipe is what I had in my fridge and pantry, I’m writing this recipe to show how easy cooking with what you have can be. This is not meant to be a traditional Bolognese although it is very close!


1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground beef

3 garden tomatoes

1 16 oz can tomato sauce.

1 small onion chopped fine

1/4 yellow bell pepper chopped fine

1 carrot grated fine

1 tbsp dried basil.

4 cloves garlic

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup whole milk

Shredded Italian Three Cheese Blend

Fresh Mozzarella

Heat a Dutch Oven to medium heat and add olive oil to coat, sweat the vegetables and garlic stirring frequently for 5 minutes, Watch your heat here, not too hot. Add ground meats broken up by hand into small pieces. Mix and brown meat over medium heat until all the liquid is gone leaving just oil on the bottom. Pour in the milk and cook until the milk has cooked off stirring frequently. Add chopped garden tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer over low heat for at least an hour covered. After an hour, cook uncovered until the sauce thickens. Boil your water during the last half hour and preheat the oven to 425.

When the pasta is cooked to al dente, remove to a deep casserole dish. Mix in the hot meat sauce and shredded cheese. Top with fresh mozzarella and more shredded cheese. Put into oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes reducing heat to 400 degrees.

Plate and serve with crusty bread.

Serves at least five people.

Homemade Marinara Sauce; Recipe

Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce


125 ounces tomato sauce or strained tomatoes (Pomi Brand)

125 ounces chopped tomatoes or (Pomi Brand)

6 ounces fresh basil or more to taste

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley: (Some supermarkets call this Italian parsley)

1 tsp dried oregano or tbsp fresh: (Do not over do the oregano. This marinara not pizza sauce!)

3 tbsp Olive Oil (Save the extra virgin for drizzling and dressings; regular olive oil is fine for this)

2 medium onions finely chopped or chopped in food processor

3-5 large cloves of garlic or more too taste

1/2 tsp black pepper or more to taste


Very Large stock pot

Cooking Tools

Cooking Tools

Very long spoon

Soup Ladle

Mason or ball jars: (pint and liter)

Canning Funnel

Bring the heat up on a pot to medium; add oil after the pot is heated. Thicker based pots take a bit longer but hold their heat longer. If the oil smokes the heat is too high. Saute basil, garlic, black pepper, parsley, oregano and onions until onions become translucent (only a few minutes). Pour in tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes. Turn up the heat to medium high stirring continuously from the bottom up for 15 minutes until the sauce evenly heated. This is very important so the sauce doesn’t burn. Turn the heat down and let simmer for at least 4 hours stirring frequently.

This sauce is great for canning or freezing. Remember when you’re filling jars for freezing not to fill them too full; the liquid will expand and break the jars.

I can my sauce. When the sauce is done I turn up the heat so the sauce gets hot. Using sterilized jars and lids; put the canning funnel in jars and fill leaving 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. Wipe off all excess sauce with a paper towel around the mouth of the jars inside and out. Put on the lids and tighten loosely until the jars self seal. You will hear them pop and seal if you are in the room. When they have sealed tighten the lids a little more. This method is unconventional, I stumbled upon it when I was getting ready to can them in water. It appeared that they seal on their own as they cool down. This only works if the sauce is hot. Jars that don’t seal can go into your refrigerator or freezer. I make this sauce every year for Christmas gifts.

Use this sauce for pasta and pizza sauce.


Canned Sauce

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