Welcome to my Food Blog!

Welcome! My name is Anne, aka ThePharmGirl. In 2010, I successfully made 100 recipes as a New Year's Resolution to expand my culinary repertoire and cooking skills beyond the frozen microwave dinner. This blog is a continuation of my culinary journey and serves as my personal virtual recipe box. Sometimes I like to have fun-- Check out my Muppet Mania Menu, The 12 Days of Christmas, and my Musical-themed recipes.

My current mission(s) for 2020:
* Make at least 20 recipes for the Instant Pot
* Use the Spiralizer more often

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Garlic Roasted Carrots


We plucked some carrots from the garden to give ourselves a break from the green beans and tomatoes we've been having every night.  This was a tasty side dish (you know, for a vegetable).

Garlic Roasted Carrots
Serves 2

~3-4 carrots, split in half lengthwise if large
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, and thyme.  Toss carrots in oil mixture until well coated.  Place on a lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375º for 35-40 minutes until tender.  Serve garnished with parsley if desired.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Tomato Jam

Another day, another bowl full of tomatoes.  I decided to try something a little different and made tomato jam.  I smeared some on crostini for a delicious snack.  I think adding some cheese and basil would be even better.  Or maybe as a topping for avocado toast. Delicious. 

Spiced Tomato Jam

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon peeled and grated or minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add everything to a heavy bottom saucepan and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened to a jam consistency, about 1 to 2 hours. (Mine took 90 minutes)

Let cool and store jam in a glass canning jar.  May keep refrigerated in sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Easy Chicken Fajitas

Our garden has an abundance of bell peppers right now, so I figured this would be a tasty way to use the peppers and also incorporate a tomato salsa with our many tomatoes.  The chicken seasoning was really tasty and the tomato salsa I added as a topping helped prevent the fajitas from being too dry.  It was a super fast and easy recipe which I appreciated.

Easy Chicken Fajitas
Makes 4 servings (2 fajitas/serving)

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, sliced 
3-4 bell peppers (depends on size), sliced 
1 lime
Optional toppings:  diced tomatoes/salsa, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc

In a large bowl, combine seasonings.  Add chicken strips and toss to coat.   

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook chicken in skillet until done, about 5 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.  Heat another tablespoon of oil in the now empty skillet and add peppers and onions.  Cook 3-5 minutes until they start to soften.  Add the chicken back into the skillet, and squeeze the lime over everything. Stir to combine.  

Serve chicken mixture in a tortilla with toppings of your choice.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Fresh Tomato Salsa (Pico de Gallo)


Fresh Tomato Salsa (Pico de Gallo)

3-4 medium-large fresh tomatoes, diced
1/4-1/2 red onion, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
pinch dried oregano
pinch cumin

Put everything in a bowl and stir to combine.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  Store covered in fridge for up to 5 days.

Cheesy Bacon-Tomato Pie


WOW!  This was soooo good!  I was flipping through cookbooks looking for recipes that used tomatoes and decided to try out this one.  So glad I did.  It was like deep dish pizza but better because the ingredients were fresh.   I was able to use green onions and basil from my garden.  Luckily, I had a spare homemade pie dough round in the freezer that I thawed and leftover bacon from earlier in the week so that saved me some time.   Of course, you could just buy a pie crust, but I think the homemade buttery crust made it taste extra delicious.  I didn't have any mayonnaise on hand (because I'm a Miracle Whip person), so I made my own easy mayo recipe to use for the pie.

Cheesy Bacon-Tomato Pie
From Taste of Home Test Kitchen

1 single-crust pie pastry  (see recipe below)
1&3/4 lbs tomatoes, sliced and seeded
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup mayonnaise (see recipe below)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used both cheddar and mozzarella to use up fridge supply)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Roll dough to an 1/8"-thick circle.  Transfer to a pie plate and trim to 1/2 inch beyond rim.

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, shredded cheese, basil, salt, and pepper.

Place half the tomatoes and half the onions in the crust.   Spread the cheese mixture over the top.  Top with remaining tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle the bacon and Parmesan cheese over the tomatoes.  Fold crust edge over filling, pleating as you go.

Bake at 400º for 30-40 minutes until crust is golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with additional basil if desired.


Homemade Mayonnaise (Immersion Blender)
Makes ~1 cup

1 egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a tall slender container.  Use an immersion blender that reaches the egg until the bottom thickens. Slowly pull the blender up to thicken the rest of the mixture.  Season with salt and pepper and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Buttery Pie Crust Recipe 

(Makes 2 Crusts-- you can freeze half the dough for another time if not needed)

2&1/2 cups flour
1&1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
1/2 cup ice water

Stir the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter and shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs.   Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring between each addition.  Only add enough water until the dough begins to form large clumps (usually about 1/2 cup total).

Transfer dough to a floured work surface and fold the dough unto itself several times until flour is fully incorporated into the fats.  Form the dough into a ball and divide into 2 equal pieces.  Using your hands, flatten each piece into a 1-inch thick circular disc.  Wrap each disc in plastic wrap.   Refrigerate at least 2 hours (up to 5 days).  [If saving for the future, freeze disc for up to 3 months and thaw in fridge.]

Roll out dough starting from center and roll outward in all directions until it's about 12-inches in diameter.  Follow baking instructions per pie recipe.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Grilled Steak with Balsamic-Basil Tomatoes

I decided to treat ourselves to grilled steaks last night.  And since we have a bounty of tomatoes, I made a grilled tomato salsa for it.  The warm balsamic tomatoes were super delicious.  They are very versatile and would work with chicken or fish as well.   We had leftover salsa so I saved it in the fridge for breakfast and put it over an egg and everything bagel. Yummers.

Grilled Steak with Balsamic-Basil Tomato Salsa

Steaks (whatever kind you want)
3 tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.   Grill about 3-4 minutes per side. 

Grill steaks about 4-5 minutes per side until done (Internal temp of 140º for medium steaks).  Time will depend on thickness.

Chop the grilled tomatoes and place in a medium bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, basil, parsley, and garlic; toss to combine.   Serve over the grilled steaks or anything you want.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes and Herbed Salmon in Foil


Our garden currently has a lot of ripe tomatoes, so I decided to make an easy baked side dish to go with our salmon.  I liked this recipe because I was also able to use my fresh herbs.  I was never a fan of tomatoes as a kid, but I'm slowly learning to enjoy them.  I like them better cooked than raw.  The Parmesan breadcrumbs gave it a tasty little crunch on top.  The salmon was also very good.

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes

2-3 large ripe tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil or melted butter

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, garlic, herbs, and oil.

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Top with breadcrumb mixture.  Bake at 400º F for 10 minutes until crumbs are lightly browned.


Herbed Salmon in Foil

2 Salmon filets
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped (I used parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme)
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Place salmon in the center of a large sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, combine the melted butter, garlic, and herbs.   Season the salmon with salt and pepper and pour the herb mixture evenly all over the salmon.  Sprinkle lemon juice over the top.

Wrap the salmon in the foil and bake at 400º for about 12-15 minutes until salmon is cooked to an internal temperature of 145º (time depends on size of salmon).  Unwrap salmon and then broil for a couple minutes until the top is slightly browned. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Presto Pesto Chicken

I needed to use some of my bountiful basil, so I made some pesto.  This recipe was an easy and tasty way to use some of the pesto.  And since I still had shredded mozzarella in my fridge from a previous recipe, I put that on top for fun.  It was so easy, I almost feel silly posting this as a recipe.

Presto Pesto Chicken 

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Basil Pesto  (see recipe below)
salt and pepper
Tomato slices
Fresh or shredded mozzarella cheese

Smother each chicken breast in pesto on all sides (about 1-2 tablespoons pesto per breast).  Season with salt and pepper.   Grill for 5-6 minutes on each side (or bake in oven for 25-30 minutes) until done.

When cooked through, spread more pesto on top of each chicken breast.  Top with a tomato slice and mozzarella cheese.  Grill or broil a few minutes until cheese is melty.

Pesto Recipe
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup shredded/grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts, basil, garlic, and cheese until finely chopped.  With the processor running, add the oil in a thin stream until the pesto comes together and is well combined.  Season with salt to taste.   Store in an air-tight jar.  Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze in lightly greased ice cube trays for 3 months.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Anne's Easy Meatball Zucchini Boats

Since my garden is producing a lot of zucchini right now, I was looking for a new recipe.  I saw something similar to this online, and I simplified it by using frozen meatballs that I already had in my freezer and then I added some fresh herbs from my garden.  It was super easy and quite tasty and we both agreed that we would make this again.

Anne's Easy Meatball Zucchini Boats
Serves 2

1 zucchini, halved lengthwise
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup pasta sauce
6-8 meatballs (depends on size)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
chopped basil to garnish

Scoop out the seeds from each zucchini half (throw out or save and add them to the sauce).  Place on a baking sheet.   Brush a little olive oil on each zucchini and season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350º for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat sauce and meatballs in a small pot on stove over medium heat.  I also tossed some fresh chopped oregano, basil and minced garlic into the sauce for extra flavor.

When zucchini is crisp-tender, remove from oven.  Place meatballs into zucchini boats and pour sauce over the top.  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top.  Broil for 2 minutes to melt the cheese.  Serve garnished with fresh basil if desired.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Ravishing Radish Salad with Fresh Herbs

Our garden had a surge of radishes that were ready to be harvested, so I made this fresh salad using ingredients mostly all from my garden.  It will be awhile until the cucumbers are ready for harvesting, so I picked up one from the store, but the lettuce, basil, dill, and chives came from my garden.  It's a simple recipe, but it was a really good salad and I'll definitely add this to the "make again" folder.  When it came to writing up the ingredient list, I estimated the herbs because I just snipped a bunch without worrying about exact measurements.

Anne's Radish Salad with Herbs and Dressing
Serves 3-4 as side dish

5 large radishes, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
handful of lettuce leaves, torn to pieces
~6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
~1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 
~1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.

In a large bowl, toss together all the veggies and herbs.  Pour enough dressing over salad just to lightly coat when tossed (or more if you like it that way).