Who does not love bake pasta dishes? Rigatoni, Ziti, Mostaccioli…they’re all good. This one is meatless…with a rich marinara sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes. The rigatoni is tossed with the sauce, and a ricotta/mozzarella/parmesan mix. Then topped with more mozzarella and parmesan. If you bake it right away, it only takes about 20 minutes to cook. But, you can put it together and bake it later…with a longer cook time of course.

This recipe is really cut down using a 9×9 baking dish. Still enough for 4 people.


For the marinara:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole, peeled, San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the rigatoni:

  • 7 ounces of rigatoni
  • 3/4 cups whole ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme eaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, 1/2 of it diced
  • 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and saute about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Add the San Marzano tomatoes and crushed with you hands or mash with a potato masher. Add the fresh basil and bay leaf. Add the salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and reseason if necessary. Stir in the sugar and the butter. Optional: using an immersion blender, blend the marinara to your desired consistency.
  • Combine the ricotta, the salt and pepper, thyme, parsley, lemon zest, half the mozzarella, half the parmesan, and the egg. Mix well in a bowl.
  • Cook the rigatoni in salted water for about 9-10 minutes. Drain and don’t rinse. Return to the pan.
  • Place the ricotta mix in the pasta and fold in completely. Add 2 cups of the marinara and reserve the rest for another recipe. Freeze it if you like.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Stir every together until well combined then place in a oil-sprayed 9×9 baking dish. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 18 minutes. Remove the foil and turn to broil for about 2-3 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Tent lightly with the foil and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with chopped parsley and more parmesan.


I wouldn’t dare call this an “alfredo” or a “carbonara”. It has some elements of both, but I won’t call it either.

It is a very easy quick pasta dish that will pair well with a chopped salad and some garlic bread.

Here’s how I made it.


  • 6 ounces of bucatini pasta (you can use spaghetti or fettucine0
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter ( I like to use Irish butter in the recipe)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 thick slices of bacon, cooked
  • 3 tbsp chopped chives or green onions


  • Cook the bucatini in salted water until al dente, about 9 minutes. Do not drain
  • Place a medium skillet over medium low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the sliced garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer, stirring, for about 5-6 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened.
  • Dice the cooked bacon. Add 2/3 of it to the skillet. Add the parmesan cheese and stir in until melted. Add 2/3 of the chopped chives and turn off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Do not drain the pasta. Using tongs, place the cooked pasta in the skillet and toss until completely coated.
  • Plate with chopped chives and more bacon.


A Pan Roasted Bone in Skin on Chicken Breast with a white wine shallot and garlic reduction pan sauce…one of our favorites. It’s easy…it’s relatively light…and comes together quickly. I served it tonight with Orzo Rice Pilaf (recipe below).

Where I live, it’s getting harder and harder to fine bone in skin on breasts. Bug your grocer about it if they don’t have them, they just might respond…ours did. You can muddle through with bone in skin on thighs (lol), but boneless breasts are just too dry. Ideally, I would use an “airline breast” (bone in skin on with the wing attached. Again, cant find them. I have had to just carve up a whole chicken for them.


  • 2 bone in skin on chicken breasts or airline breasts
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Avocado, canola, or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon

For the pilaf:

  • 1/2 cup jasmine rice
  • 1/2 cup Orzo pasta
  • 2 tbsp chopped shallots
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • Kosher salt and black pepper


  • Make sure the chicken breasts are dry (use a paper towel). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place an oven proof skillet over medium high high and add 2 tbsp of oil. When the oil is shimmering, place the breasts skin side down in the skillet. Use a saucepan or press to weigh down the breast and let them cook for 4-5 minutes until the skin is deep golden brown. Turn the breasts over and place the skillet in the oven. Let the breasts roast for about 18-25 minutes until the internal temperature is 160 degrees (time depend on the size of your breasts).
  • Remove the skillet from the oven and place the breasts on a plate loosely covered with foil. Set aside.
  • Place the skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp of butter. Add the shallots and the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, stirring. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and let it simmer while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the stock and simmer another 3 minutes to reduce a little.
  • Add 2-3 tbsp of cold butter and whisk into the sauce. Add 2 tbsp of chopped parsley. Turn off the heat and continue to whisk for about 1 minute. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • To serve, place some pilaf on a plate and lean one of the breasts on it. Spoon over the pan sauce and garnish with parsley.

For the pilaf:

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add 2 tbsp of oil. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the rice and the orzo and saute, stirring, for about 3 minutes until the orzo begins to brown slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the stock and the soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer gently for about 15 minute, stirring occasionally with a fork.
  • Add 2 tbsp of chopped parsley and stir with a fork. Cover loosely until ready to use.


The S.F. Chinese Garlic Noodles are great on their own, but I decided to pair them with the Char Siu Pork.

I hope you love garlic! Relatively easy to make. After marinating the pork overnight, it comes together quickly. The basic Char Siu recipe calls for pork shoulder but I chose to use some country pork ribs I had in the freezer. Don’t over cook the pork…or they will be chewy.


For the pork:

  • 1 1/4 pounds pork (shoulder, tenderloin, country style ribs), 1 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, thin sliced

For the Garlic Noodles:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled, minced
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp granted parmesan
  • 2 tbsp sliced green onions
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (opt)
  • 6 ounces of spaghetti or other long noodle


  • Mix together all of the pork marinade ingredients in a bowl.
  • Place the pork in a large zip lock bag then pour the marinade over the pork. Massage the pork to make sure it is all coat. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • For the noodles, mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire, fish sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl.
  • Remove the pork from the marinade and pour the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer on low for 2-3 minutes. Divide it in two small bowls, one for basting, one for serving.
  • Cook the noodles according to package direction. Do not salt the water.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the sauce and simmer on low heat for a minute or so.
  • When the noodles are done, using tongs, transfer the noodles to the skillet with the sauce, sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, and toss completely. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese.
  • Slice the pork against the grain into thin slices. Baste with the sauce.
  • To plate, place some noodles in a pasta dish and fan out a few slices of the pork. Baste again with the sauce. Garnish with sliced green onions. Serve iimmediately.
  • Pass the extra sauce and parmesan at the table.


So, I set out to come up with a new Mac and Cheese recipe. And decided to start with some of my favorite cheeses, two of which I don’t use nearly enough: Fontina and Gruyere. I paired them with White Cheddar And Parmesan and then added a garlic and shallot infused half and half to make the cheese sauce…and I was off and running!


  • 1 medium shallots, peeled, sliced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled, sliced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup shredded Fontina
  • 1/2 cup shredded White Cheddar
  • 14 tsp cayenne
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 2 slices of Black Forest deli ham, thin sliced (roll up and chiffonade)
  • 6 ounces of macaroni (I used cavatappi)
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Canola oil


  • Place 1 cup half and half, the shallots, and the garlic clove in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Cook your pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain, return to the pan, and toss with a little olive oil. Cover and set aside.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then add 1 tbsp flour. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Strain the half and half into this saucepan (discard the vegetables) and bring to a simmer, whisking, until thicken slightly and smooth.
  • Add the Gruyere, Fontina, and white cheddar, lower the heat, and allow the all the cheeses to melt until smooth. Taste and season with Kosher salt and white or black pepper.
  • Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta saucepan and fold in until completely coated evenly. Add the chiffonade ham and fold in. Place the macaroni and cheese in a 9×9 buttered baking dish and smooth the top.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat then add 1/2 cup panko crumbs and paprika. Cook, stirring and tossing until the panko begins to brown. Sprinkle in the parmesan then spoon evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.


Contrary to some people’s beliefs…Bolognese is not a meat sauce made from bologna…or is it bologne! Just kidding…I digress.

So, what’s the different between Bolognese and plain Meat Sauce? Well…meat, basically. Meat Sauce is a tomato based sauce flavored with meat, usually ground beef. Bolognese is a meat based sauce flavored with a little tomato. Here’s how I make mine.

You’ll find dozens of recipes….a lot of them a very tomato forward. This one is meat forward all the way.

Where you can make a meat or marinara sauce in less than an hour, bolognese typically takes at least 2 hours. Take your time with it…stir it a lot…taste it….reseason it if necessary.


  • 1 medium onion, rough chop
  • 2 medium celery ribs, rough chop
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, rough chop
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 3 ounces pancetta, diced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 ounces wide pasta like pappardelle or tagliatelle
  • Grated parmesan cheese


  • To the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and pancetta. Process on low until everything is minced. Remove to a mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Crumble in the ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Drain the liquid from the meat, place in a bowl, and return the pan to the heat. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil then add the minced vegetables and pancetta. Saute, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the vegetable are translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the cooked ground beef and the wine (I used chardonnay) to the pan and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Smashing with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the tomato paste and incorporate into the meat and vegetables with the spoon. Add the chicken stock, the milk, and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer again, stirring so everything gets incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Not too much salt as the pancetta is salty. Lower the heat to a bare simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 2 hours. If if becomes to dry before the 2 hurst’s, add little more stock. Stir the sauce often.
  • Taste and reseason if necessary. Cover and keep warm while the pasta cooks.
  • Cook the pasta in salted water al dente, do not drain.
  • Spoon a quantity of the sauce in a medium to large skillet over medium heat. The amount of bolognese should be determined by how much pasta you are making right now. You will have a lot of bolognese left over.
  • When the pasta is done, using a tongs, add the pasta to the bolognese in the skillet. Turn off the heat and toss the pasta in the Bolognese. Plate to pasta bowls, add more bolognese if desired, and serve with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.


Never thought I would succumb to this “fair food” type item…but, I thought I would give it a try. Let’s face it, Arancini (fried cheesy risotto balls) have been around for a long time, and this is similar!

The Cheesecake Factory has a great menu that includes a lot of appetizers, and this is one of them.

I opted to adjust the breading from just regular bread crumbs to a mix of panko crumbs and crushed cheese puffs. It was a good move.

They were surprising lighter than expected…just make sure you are able to deep fry them at the right temperature. They really didn’t absorb a lot of oil.

Of course, one of the keys to great tasting Fried Mac and Cheese is the Mac and Cheese itself. My recipe below includes a Mac and Cheese recipe that works really well. Just allow it to cool completely, as in leftover Mac and Cheese, before making them.


For the Mac and Cheese:

  • 6 ounces of elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

For the cheese balls:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 cup Cheetohs cheese puffs
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Creamy marinara and Ranch dressing for serving
  • Chopped parsley


  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • To a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Add the cheeses and allow to melt completely, stirring. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the cook pasta and fold together completely. Pour into a flat baking dish, place in the refrigerator, and cool at least 2 hours. If cooling overnight, let cool then cover with plastic wrap.
  • Place the cheese puffs and panko crumbs into a food process and pulse until crumbled completely.
  • For the cold mac and cheese into 2 inch balls, pressing together so they don’t fall apart.
  • Set up a 3 bowl breading station. Place flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne in a bowl. Place eggs and 2 tbsp milk in another and beat well. Place breading mixture into the third. Bread the balls by dusting in the flour, shaking off excess. Drip in the egg wash. Then into the bread, rolling and patting until well coated.
  • Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a fryer or saucepan to 350 degrees. When the oil is hot, fry the balls until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels,
  • To serve, plate some cream marinara sauce on a plate, place 3 balls on the marinara. Serve with Ranch on the side and garnish with chopped parsley.


One of the 5 Mother Sauces in French cooking is red sauce, tomato sauce…marinara sauce. The basic difference between a classic tomato sauce and a marinara sauce is simplicity. Classic tomato sauce recipes use onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, beef stock, a few spices and several hours of cooking. A simple marinara, like this one, comes together in less than an hour with only a few ingredients.

This marinara sauce works so well with any pasta or as the sauce in a lasagna or baked ziti.

It uses whole canned San Marzano tomatoes, though fresh ripe tomatoes works as well.

Don’t forget: season in layers…taste…then season again. Finishing with a couple pats of cold unsalted butter makes this sauce silky smooth.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 4 small garlic cloves, thin sliced – about 2 tbsp of garlic
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of fresh basil and leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar (opt.)
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of cold, unsalted butter


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add the diced onions and saute, stirring, abut 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Add the tomatoes paste, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, basil sprig, and sugar.
  • Bring sauce to a simmer, lower the heat to low, and place the cover askew. Simmer for 45 minutes, checking and stirring once in a while.
  • Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Turn off the heat. Add the cold butter and stir until melted.


Despite my wife’s exclamation, “I don’t like hot tuna!” (wasn’t that a rock group in the 70’s?)…I still make Tuna and Noodle Casserole from time to time. She politely eats a little and I have a lot of leftovers.

This version is from scratch, not using my Mom’s recipe that uses cream of mushroom soup. Although my Mom’s was always good, I strived over the years to come up with a scratch recipe. This one works nicely.

I only have 1 (5 ounce) can of solid white albacore tuna in water in the recipe, but adding another can would ramp up the tuna flavor. Please only use albacore, not that oily, dark meat cat food stuff.


  • 3 ounces of white or cremini mushrooms, stems cut, halved, thin sliced
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1 (5 ounce) can of solid white albacore tuna in water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup crush potato chips
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (opt.)
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan


  • Cook the egg noodles in salted water according to package directions.
  • Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat then add the celery and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and cook for another minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer let it start to thicken. Add the cream, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low for about 7 minutes. Add the shredded cheddar and allow to melt.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Drain the tuna well and crumble in the sauce. Place the sauce in a mixing bowl then fold in the cooked egg noodles. Place the mixture in a butter 9×9 baking dish. Sprinkle with the potato chips and grated parmesan. Bake for 35 minutes until starting to get golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  • You can make it ahead of time without cooking, just cover and place in the refrigerator. Then bake for 45 minutes until the internal temperature is 155 degrees and the top is golden brown.


We love Beef Stroganoff. But every once in a while we like to go meatless…and make Mushroom Leek Stroganoff. This will have the same savory, creamy stroganoff taste just without the meat. The cremini mushrooms give this dish a similar meaty texture. I substitute half the onions with leeks, and that elevates it even further.

Keep in mind that it is essential for deep flavor development to take your time with the onions, leeks, and mushrooms. In other words, cook them on low with unsalted butter for at least 15 minutes to get them near caramelized, lightly browned.

You can use your favorite pasta, but large egg noodles really are the go-to choice with stroganoff. Serve with a fresh garlic garlic bread (recipe below).


  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned, quartered, 1/8 inch slice
  • 1 cup white or yellow onion, halved, 1/4 inch slice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved, 1/4 inch slice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup brandy or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp demi-glace
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 6 ounces large egg noodles
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley


  • Clean and dry the mushrooms. Cut them in half them slice 1/4 inch, leaving the stems.
  • Use the white and light green part of the leek. Cut in half and remove any dirt and sand then cut in quarters. Slice 1/8 inch.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, leeks, and onions and season with salt and pepper. Let them cook, stirring, for at least 15 minutes until the mushrooms have lost all their liquid and are beginning to brown slightly. Add the thyme and garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook another 1 minute. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the brandy or sherry and bring to a simmer for a minute or so to cook off the alcohol. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the Demi place and let cook in for 1 minute, stirring.
  • Stir in the Worcestershire and the Dijon. Add the sour cream and heat through, stirring. Taste and reseason with salt and pepper if necessary, especially pepper. Cover the skillet, turn the heat to low, and let cook about 10 minutes while you cook the pasta.
  • Drain the pasta, do not rinse, and return to the pasta saucepan. Toss with a little olive oil.
  • When ready to serve, plate some pasta and spoon over the mushroom sauce. Season with more fresh cracked pepper if desired and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with garlic bread.

Garlic Bread recipe

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Mix together 2 cloves of minced garlic, 4 tbsp unsalted room temperature butter, 1 tbsp chopped parsley and a pinch of Kosher salt.
  • Use your favorite French or sourdough bread. Spread cut sides liberally with the garlic butter. Sprinkle on some grated parmesan and place on a sheet pan. Bake until the bread is toasty and golden at the edges, about 10 minutes.