Pasta Brocolli Bake

Easy to make pasta casserole with leftovers guaranteed!

Easy to make pasta casserole with leftovers guaranteed!

I got this dish out of the Food and Wine Magazine. I’ve realized when you see a dish with pancetta, all you have to do is swap bacon for the pancetta. My husband is a deer hunter so we have lots of venison to use up over the year. So, that means modifying A LOT of recipes to include venison.  But don’t think I’m complaining.  I love cooking with venison!  For this recipe you will need:

1 pound of ground venison

1 pound of rigatoni pasta

1 jar of good tomato sauce (I used Newman’s Own Marinara sauce)

1 cup of green olives

1 pound of broccoli

extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion (yellow is fine)

1/2 a package of good bacon (peppered bacon gives this dish a little bit of a kick)

1 package of grated parmesan/asiago cheese

3 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed

2 TBSP butter


Cook the rigatoni according to the box’s directions.  Set aside.  Take your broccoli and toss with the olive oil (2 TBSP) should do it.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Roast the broccoli for fifteen minutes or until crisp and tender.

Meanwhile, cook six strips of bacon in a large skillet.  Once the bacon is done, set it aside on some paper towels.  Add the venison to the skillet, reserving 2 TBSP of the bacon grease.  Venison tends to be very lean so you probably won’t have to drain it off.  When the venison is done, turn the heat off and keep it in the skillet.

Take the onion, finely chopped, and add to a pan with the extra virgin olive oil (just enough to cover the pan) and allow to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Take the green olives, sliced in half, and add to the onion.  Add the garlic and butter.  Mix with a wooden spoon.  Allow to cook for about two minutes.  Turn the heat off and leave in the pan.

Take the pasta and mix it with the jar of tomato sauce.  Add the broccoli, onions, olives, and garlic as well.  Mix to combine.  Add half the package of cheese.  Spread the pasta mixture in a greased casserole dish.  Top with the rest of the cheese and the bacon.  Allow the casserole to cool in the 425 degree oven for fifteen minutes.  You want the cheese just a little bit browned.  Allow to cool for five minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Tips to make prep easier:

If possible chop the onion up first and put in a small bowl.  You may also want to crush or mince the garlic first as well.  I find it’s much easier to do a recipe with multiple steps if I do the chopping and mincing first.  Also, don’t be afraid to modify and tweak a recipe.  This recipe originally called for roasted tomatoes.  Because I didn’t have the time for yet another step I decided to use tomato sauce in place of the roasted tomatoes.




Kick Ass Almond Chocolate Bark

A little coffee gives this bark some zing!

A little coffee gives this bark some zing!

This is a very easy dessert to make. And it’s very good to boot! You will need a double-boiler to melt the chocolate. I used a small one and did this in two batches. You will need these ingredients:

4 oz. premium Ghiradelli baking bar (70% cocoa)

4 TBSP Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter

4 TBSP Pure Maple Syrup

2 TBSP Unsulphured Molasses (I use Brer Rabbit Mild)

1/2 cup Unsweetened almond milk

2 cups of whole almonds

1/2 cup of freshly brewed coffee


Heat your double-boiler.  When the water in the bottom pan is boiling, turn your heat down to just under medium.  Add the baking chocolate, broken into squares.  Since I have a small double-boiler I did this in two batches.  Add the almond milk, peanut butter, molasses, and maple syrup.  Let the chocolate melt and stir with a wooden spoon so ingredient are well combined.  Add the freshly brewed coffee. Stir to combine.

Once everything is melted and mixed together well, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.  Avoid using anything that might melt because of the heat.  Add the almonds.  Mix to combine.

Take a roll of parchment paper and line a cookie sheet.  Spread the mixture onto the parchment paper, using your wooden spoon to even it out.  Put your “bark” in the freezer for three to four hours.  Once it’s solid enough, break the “bark” up with a metal spatula and store in an airtight container or plastic, ziplock bag in the freezer.  Enjoy!

How to Dress up a Salad

"Recycle" your day old salad!

“Recycle” your day old salad!

So you made a big salad and now you’re stuck with a lot leftover.  What to do?  It may seem like you’re going to be stuck with soggy salad but that doesn’t have to happen.  “Recycle” your salad by whipping up a simple, mustard based dressing and adding a few simple ingredients.

To make the dressing:

Combine 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 TBSP spicy brown mustard in a small bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Set aside.  Finely chop or crush three cloves of garlic.  Take three small anchovy filets and remove the fine hairs.  If you’re running short on time get anchovy paste and use to taste.  Heat a small saucepan to medium high.  Add a little bit of olive oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the garlic and anchovy.  Heat until the garlic is a light brown (be careful not to let the garlic burn) and the anchovy is dissolved.  Scoop the garlic/anchovy into your mustard dressing.  Whisk to combine.

To Recycle your leftover salad:

Toss with the dressing in a large bowl with wooden spoons.  Add about 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cut into chunks.  Cut up two hard boiled eggs and add to salad.  Other toppings to add would include:

  • Slivered almonds
  • Cranberries
  • Dried blueberries
  • Feta cheese
  • Marinated artichoke hearts