1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all of the meat. Add garlic, salt and pepper, bread crumbs and ½ cup of cheese (the remainder will be used on the finished product). Knead with both hands until all ingredients are blended together. Add the herbs and egg and knead. Add the milk and knead until smooth. (Gia's son Luca loves getting his hands into the meat – she makes sure they're clean first!)
  3. After the ingredients are blended together, start balling the meatballs – they should weigh about 1 ½ to 2 ounces each.
  4. Spray a cookie sheet with deep sides with butter spray. Place meatballs about an inch apart on cookie sheet.
  5. After the sheet is full, add one cup of tap water.
  6. Bake meatballs in oven for 7 to 8 minutes, until medium well. Then move onto the next stage with the marinara sauce.


For the marinara sauce:

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped

4 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 16-ounce can plum tomatoes

4 basil leaves, gently torn apart


  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and lightly saute until fragrant, about one minute (do not burn the garlic).
  3. Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Using a hand blender, puree the sauce until smooth.
  5. Gently drop meatballs into the sauce, one by one, so they do not splatter.
  6. Cook for another 30 minutes.
  7. Just prior to removing from stove, add basil pieces.


About the Chef

Born and raised in Little Italy, Gia Daniella decamped to Los Angeles for a few years after college, but returned to open Café Gia (410 South High Street, Baltimore, 410-685-6727) in her home neighborhood with her mother, a native Sicilian who moved to Baltimore as a girl. At home they cook the traditional Italian food they grew up with.

For more information about Café Gia, visit www.cafegias.com

About the Club

To join the Maryland Family Kids' Cooking Club, follow a few simple steps:

 1. Make each of the four recipes. As you make each, ask your kids to answer the following questions and record them in a journal or notebook: 

What did you enjoy most about making the recipe?

What did you think of the taste?

What surprised you most while cooking?

What did you learn about cooking while making this recipe

2. If you want take a photo ofyour kids with the finished product.

3, Visit this site each week in June (every Monday) to get the newest recipe. There are four in total.

4. Let us know when you've completed all four recipes. Email editor Kris Henry at khenry@baltsun.com with “Kids Cooking Club” in the subject line. Once you've completed all four, we'll mail your child a congratulatory certificate.