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 for 2015: Continue to spin from the Wheel of Meals for recipe inspiration

Friday, September 11, 2015

Lemon-Steamed Sole with Pea Puree over Pesto Risotto

A photo in my recipe book for lemon-steamed sole caught my eye awhile back, but I couldn't find sole in the local grocery stores at the time.  I could have substituted haddock or flounder, but I wanted to stay true to the recipe.  So when I was wandering the fresh meat/fish department yesterday and noticed the fresh-caught sole, I decided to give this recipe I try.  I don't own a Dutch Oven (it's totally going on my Christmas wish list this year!), but my regular ol' large pot fitted with a steamer basket seemed to work just fine.   I was a little leery of steaming fish.  Even Jeremy walked in and commented, "You're cooking the fish in a POT?!"  But it worked.  It was super fast and easy and steaming kept the fish really moist and the lemon imparted wonderful flavor.  The pea puree was fine, but I'd probably skip it next time because it was just unnecessary and added extra work.   The basil pesto risotto was really delicious.

Lemon-Steamed Sole with Pea Puree
from America's Test Kitchen Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Serves 2

1-2 lemons, cut into eight 1/4" slices
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
4 (3-ounce) boneless, skinless sole or flounder fillets, 1/8"-1/4" thick
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Fit a dutch oven with a steamer basket and add water to pot until it just touches bottom of basket.  Line the basket with 4 lemon slices, cover, and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, to make the pea puree, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.  Add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds.  Stir in the broth and wine and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the peas and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth.  Return sauce to the pan, stir in the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Pat sole dry and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange skinned side up with tail pointing away. Starting with the wider end, tightly roll fillets.  Place the bundles on top of the lemon slices in the steamer basket and top with the remaining lemon slices.  Reduce heat to a simmer, then cover and steam until fish flakes easily, about 4-6 minutes.  (If you had slightly larger 6 oz fillets, steam for 6-10 minutes.)  Gently transfer fish to a plate, remove top lemon, sauce with pea puree, and sprinkle with basil.

Basil Pesto Risotto 
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Serves 2 (very large portions--we had leftovers)

2&1/2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup frozen peas (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup basil pesto

Bring water and broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove and keep warm.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until grains are translucent around the edges, about 1 minute.  Add wine and cook, stirring often, until fully absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Stir in 2 cups of the warm water-broth mixture.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.  Once that is absorbed, stir in another 1/2 cup of the water-broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it's absorbed again.  Stir in the peas.  Repeat steps with the remaining water-broth until it's all incorporated and absorbed.  Off the heat, stir in the pesto and Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Easy Basil Pesto:  (makes ~1/2 cup)
In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup pine nuts, 3 garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Process until smooth.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tomato-Basil Soup

I've been searching for ways to use my fresh basil.   Here's another good recipe, especially if you want dinner in a hurry.  It was fast and easy and it tasted pretty good too.   My grilled cheese sandwich had a mix of gruyère and sharp white cheddar. Yum.

Tomato-Basil Soup
Recipe from Cooking Light: One Dish Meals
Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
28-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
4 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute 3 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add basil and tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Stir in cream cheese.  

Place mixture in a blender and blend until smooth.  Return mixture to the pan and add milk; season with salt and pepper.  Return to medium-high heat and cook for 2 minutes until heated through.  Serve.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Roast Basil Chicken and Basil Potatoes

I have a ton of basil in my garden, so this recipe really caught my eye.  It was my first time "spatchcocking" a chicken, and I found it easier than expected.  I used a mix of Sweet basil and Thai basil in the recipe.  The whole meal was super delicious.  The chicken stayed juicy and the basil butter added great flavor to both the chicken and the potatoes.

Roast Basil Chicken and Basil Potatoes
From Food Network Magazine -Sept 2015 Issue

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 clove garlic, grated
zest of 1 lemon
1 whole chicken
salt and freshly ground pepper
1&1/2 pounds baby potatoes (I used small red potatoes)

Puree the basil, butter, garlic, lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth.  Set aside.

Spatchcock the chicken: Cut along each side of the backbone with kitchen shears and discard the backbone.  Open the chicken like a book and flip over.  Press down on the back to flatten.  Rub half of the basil butter all over the chicken; season with salt and pepper.  Transfer, skin side up, to a pan fitted with a wire rack.  Roast at 425º until skin is browned and a thermometer inserted into a thigh reads 165º, about 45 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium saucepan with water and add salt and peeled potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.  Toss with half the remaining basil butter and season with salt and pepper.

Spread the remaining basil butter over the chicken; carve and serve with the potatoes.

Cream Puffs

I've made these before, but I 'm re-posting because they're just so darn good.  It's a nice once-a-year summer treat. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make little mini cream puffs or giant ones like at the State Fair.  I chose to make smaller ones for my guests.

Cream Puffs
makes 10 - 24 depending on size

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
additional powered sugar for dusting

In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil over medium heat.  Add the flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms.  Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Drop by large spoonfuls (smaller) or 1/4 cupfuls (large) onto  greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.   Combine milk and egg yolk; brush over puffs.  Bake at 400º for 25-35 minutes until golden brown (time depends on how big you make them).  Remove to wire racks.  Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape. Let cool.

In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken.  Add sugar and vanilla; beat until almost stiff.  Split cream puffs so they have a top and bottom; discard soft dough from inside.  Fill the puffs with cream just before serving.  Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Glazed Country Ribs

Awesome sauce.  That's what the cookbook said about the glaze for these ribs.  Yep, it was very good.   I halved the recipe listed here since I didn't need a full 3 pounds of meat for just us two.  I'd definitely make this again (even though Jeremy says it makes the grill "messy").

Glazed Country Ribs
adapted from Taste of Home Grill It!

3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, combine the last 8 ingredients.  Set aside 1/2 cup for basting in the fridge.  Pour the remainder into a large resealable plastic bag.  Add the ribs and turn to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight, turning once.

Drain and discard marinade.  Grill ribs, covered, over indirect medium heat for 5 minutes each side.  Baste with some of the reserved marinade and grill another 5 minutes each side, basting again after turning.  Continue to turn and baste if needed until pork is tender and cooked through.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cheddar Chive Beer Bread with Chive Dipping Oil

I found this recipe from somebody else's online blog, and it looked like a good way to use a large quantity of chives from my little herb garden.  Other than the basil, the chives are my 2nd best growing herb/plant in our experimental box garden.  I just wish I knew why the cilantro and parsley aren't doing well.  Oh well.   I also chose this recipe because there was a random can of beer in our fridge left behind from when Jeremy's brother visited.  Since neither of us drink beer, I figured I might as well use it in a recipe.   The bread turned out great.  The dipping oil was okay, but not necessary.   Maybe I'll make a dressing out of it instead.

Cheddar Chive Beer Bread
from LightlyCrunchy blog

3 cups flour
1&1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 (12 oz) can beer
2 tablespoons melted butter

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.  Add the sugar, chives, cheese, and beer, and stir to combine (batter will be thick).   Pour/pat into a lightly greased loaf pan.  Brush top of loaf with the melted butter.  Bake at 375º for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean.


Chive Oil

1 large bunch chives (1 oz), minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Blend chives and oil in a food processor. Add salt to taste.  Strain through a fine mesh.  Cover and refrigerate (up to 2 weeks max) until ready to use.

Grilled Lemon Basil Pesto Steak

The basil in my little herb box is growing like crazy and I can barely keep up with it. I've been chopping some up here and there in small quantities for various recipes, and giving a lot away, but I still had an abundance. So I knew I had to pick out a recipe that used a lot of basil.  This pesto recipe fit the bill.  Thanks to the food processor, it was super easy to make. I froze the leftover pesto in muffin cups to use in the future.  I've never had basil pesto before, but I liked it the more I ate it.  I think it would also go well with chicken or pasta.  (The veggies pictured are just foil packets of green beans and red bell peppers that we stuck on the grill for 25-30 minutes, and the bread is the Cheddar Chive Beer Bread that I made with the surplus of chives.)

Lemon Basil Pesto Steak

4 cloves garlic
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1&1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
steaks (I used petite sirloin steaks, ~1" thick)
salt and pepper

Chop garlic in a food processor until minced.  Add the basil and pine nuts and pulse to combine.  While it runs, slowly add the olive oil.  Add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes and pulse until blended.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Salt and pepper the steaks.  Grill for about 4 minutes per side over medium to medium-high heat  (longer if you have thicker steaks).   Baste with pesto occasionally or just add after done.

Any leftover basil pesto goes into muffin cups to freeze and store for use later (keeps 3-4 months frozen, up to 1 week in the fridge):

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cedar-Planked Honey-Balsamic Salmon

To celebrate the 4th of July, we decided to grill.  Jeremy reminded me that I had cedar planks from a Christmas present, so I went searching for a yummy recipe to use the planks.  I ended up combining a few different recipes and doing my own thing.  Here's what I came up with (to the best of my approximation).  (The pasta side dish was just Suddenly Salad Mix to which I added broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, chopped basil, and chopped chives.)

Cedar Planked Honey-Balsamic Salmon 

1 untreated cedar plank
2 (6-8oz) salmon fillets, with skin
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1&1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Soak plank in cold water (or apple cider vinegar) for at least one hour, up to 12 hours.

Score flesh side of each salmon with several 2-inch-long diagonal cuts abut halfway deep.  Rub olive oil into salmon. 

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, and cumin.  Rub all over fleshy side of salmon and into the slits.

In a small bowl, microwave the honey for 20 seconds to thin out.  Whisk in the balsamic vinegar.   Brush the top of each salmon fillet with the honey-balsamic mixture, reserving some for later.  Allow to marinate for 10-20 minutes.

Place salmon, skin side down, on soaked plank.  Place plank on the rack of a preheated grill set to medium or medium-low, preferably over indirect heat.  Close and cook for 15-20 minutes, basting with marinade occasionally, until fish is done.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Grilled Pork Chops with Herb Pesto and Green Beans Hobo Pack

It's been awhile since I posted a recipe I made.  I'm super excited about my first-time herb garden in the back yard.  The chives, thyme, and basil are doing especially well right now, so I wanted to use them and I also wanted to grill since it was such a nice day.   The pork chops were delicious.  We had to grill them a little longer than the recipe stated since our chops were larger.  The grilled green beans were good too.

Pork Chops with Herb Pesto
Adapted from Taste of Home Grill It

4 bone-in pork loin chops (3/4" thick and 7oz each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon each minced fresh rosemary, basil, thyme, parsley, chives
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, combine the water, herbs, oil, and garlic.  Rub over both sides of chops.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

Grill chops, covered, over medium heat 4-5 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 145º.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Green Beans Hobo Pack
From Better Homes and Gardens Grill It

1 pound fresh green beans
1 small shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Make 2 large squares of aluminum foil and place on top of each other.  Place the beans, shallot, and garlic in the center.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.   Bring up 2 opposite edges of foil and seal with a double fold.  Fold remaining edges to completely enclose veggies.

Grill packet over medium heat for 25-30 minutes, turning packet occasionally.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chicken Vesuvio for Two

I had potatoes to use up, plus chicken breasts and frozen peas in the freezer, so this recipe just made sense.  It was easy and delicious.  I thought the sauce was very flavorful.

Chicken Vesuvio
From The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Serves 2

2 (6-8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
5 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces red potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.  Working with one breast at a time, dredge chicken into a shallow dish of flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken lightly, 3-4 minutes per side;  transfer breasts to a plate and wipe skillet clean.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, oregano, rosemary, and a pinch of salt; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon.

Nestle browned chicken into potatoes, add any accumulated juices, and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking, until it registers 160º.   Transfer chicken to a serving platter and loosely tent with foil.

Increase heat to medium and continue to simmer potatoes and sauce, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 5 more minutes.  Off heat, stir in the peas, butter, and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over the chicken.