Homemade Italian: Meatball Mania

Growing up in an Italian family, meatballs were a constant staple at the dinner table. Everyone had their own recipe — some more dense, some sweeter, and some an entire meal in themselves!

When I started really getting into cooking, in high school, I would visit my aunt, my dad’s oldest half-sister, who was the hands down best cook in the bunch. I wanted to learn all of the traditional recipes – meatballs, red sauce, fried doughs (with a name so Italian I have no idea how to spell it), and morning pastries.

Over the years, I’ve adjusted the meatball recipe to become my own – added a few things, subtracted a few things, and adjusted amounts. Now I’ve decided to share it here with you!

I like to double the below recipe and freeze in bags of 9 or 10 – enough for 2-3 people to mix with pasta for dinner, plus leftovers. Please note the amounts are rough estimates — I usually do this by sight or feel, and you can tweak as necessary.

Meatball Recipe

Italian Style Meatballs
1 lb ground meatloaf mix (1/3 pork, 1/3 veal, 1/3 beef)
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian-Style Breadcrumbs
Plain Breadcrumbs (up to 1 cup)
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients except plain breadcrumbs by hand in a bowl. Add plain breadcrumbs until able to roll mixture into balls without large pieces sticking to hands.

Bake on 350 for 10-30 minutes, based on size of meatball, until both sizes are browned and the entire ball is cooked through.

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Stonington Vineyards – Surprise Party on a Budget

Wine and cheese plates are sort of my family’s “thing.” In a time when other families packed tuna sandwiches and PBJ’s, my parents were packing entire charcuterie boards in the picnic cooler, with multiple types of cheese, crackers, grapes and meats.

That’s why this year, when my mom turned 60 (sorry mom!), we decided to throw her a surprise bash at Stonington Vineyards, a local winery that receives nothing but rave reviews.

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Picture from Stonington Vineyards site

It was a perfect day – 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, the quintessential Rhode Island Indian Summer. Mom had no idea, either…. she thought that just our immediate family was going out to eat somewhere outdoors, and wasn’t expecting a party of 10 waiting for her around the corner!

The winery was so accommodating. We had initially booked a tasting, thinking the event would take place outside — all of the wineries I have been to (on Long Island) did outdoor tastings, so I didn’t think about it when I booked the reservation! When we found out the event would be indoors, we decided to skip at the last minute in favor of sitting with our huge wine and “nosh” spread on the porch. Cancelling so last minute wasn’t a problem at all, and we went ahead and got a big sampling of their full range of wines.

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It was a rose kind of day, but by far the favorite was the Seaport White, a reasonably priced white blend that even the non-wine-drinkers enjoyed.

I didn’t get the chance to snap a photo, but here’s what I included in my spread… a massive, high quality charcuterie spread for 11 people that cost me less than $100!

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