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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Blueberry Sweet Potato Waffles

Apparently, I'm on a sweet potato craze.  Actually, I had some blueberries in my fridge on the edge of being thrown away, so when I saw this recipe in the cookbook, I thought it would be a good way to prevent them from going to waste.  I hate throwing away produce.  The flavor of these waffles was surprisingly good even if the shape didn't turn out as perfectly as the cookbook photo.  I added a couple turkey sausage links for protein, and I was completely full and satisfied.  My batch of spiralized sweet potatoes made 4 small waffles.  I saved 2 for tomorrow morning.

Blueberry Sweet Potato Waffles
from Inspiralized Cookbook
Makes 2 large waffles or 4 small waffles

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and spiralized into noodles
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (plus extra for serving, if desired)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Place the sweet potato noodles in a large bowl and toss with the cinnamon.   Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Once heated, add the sweet potato noodles and cook, covered, for 5-7 minutes until the potatoes have completely softened.

Meanwhile, preheat a waffle iron.  In the large bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla.  Stir in the blueberries and cooked sweet potato noodles.

Coat the waffle iron with cooking spray and carefully pour in half the noodle mixture, making sure to fill all the cavities.  Cook the waffle until done, transfer to a plate, and repeat for the last half of the mixture.   Drizzle a little maple syrup over each waffle and serve.

1 large waffle + 1/2 Tablespoon Syrup= 150 calories, 4g protein, 13g sugar, 3g fat

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Muffins

I saw this recipe in a cookbook and decided to put my new Spiralizer to work.  I wanted a sweet yet somewhat healthy treat in the house to help prevent me from eating the cookies and ice cream that Jeremy likes to keep around.  I didn't expect the muffins to taste much like muffins since there was no flour in the recipe, but they did!  An extremely moist muffin.  The sweet potato, coconut, honey, and chocolate chips all provided more than enough sweetness.  I made a double batch because I got 2 cups of potato from my sweet potato.

Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Muffins
from Inspiralized Cookbook
Makes 6 muffins

1 small sweet potato, peeled and spiralized into spaghetti strands
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons coconut flakes
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 -1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375º  Lightly coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Throw the sweet potato strands into a food processor and pulse a few times until it resembles rice.

In a medium bowl, combine the sweet potato, cinnamon, baking soda, coconut flakes, and a pinch of salt.  Mix in the egg, egg white, honey, and vanilla.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins, filling 3/4 full.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.   Let cool 5 minutes on a rack.

Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Veggie and Rice Stuffed Peppers

I saw this recipe from Thug Kitchen and wanted to give it a try as part of my attempt to eat healthier.  Veggies stuffed in a veggie--why not? The original recipe can be found at Thug Kitchen if you want the funny foul-mouthed version.  It called for grilling, but it's too cold and snowy to grill, so I baked mine in the oven instead and then sprinkled on some optional feta and crumbled cooked bacon and broiled it for a couple minutes longer.   I liked the salty addition of the bacon and feta and I'm glad I did that.  Overall, the flavor was good.  I was completely full.  Jeremy wished there had been more meat (of course).   I have a lot of leftover bean and rice filling because I only used 2 large peppers, so I might put that in a tortilla or lettuce wrap for lunch the next couple days.

Veggie and Rice Stuffed Peppers
Recipe adapted from Thug Kitchen
Makes 8 half peppers or 4 whole peppers

4 large bell peppers
1 cup brown Basmati or other long-grain brown rice
1 large tomato
1 large carrot
1 zucchini
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
4 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Bean mixture:
1 can (15oz) any white creamy bean (I used Great Northern Beans)
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

crumbled cooked bacon (optional)
crumbled feta cheese (optional)

In a food processor, puree the tomato into pulpy juice (makes about 1 cup) and set aside in a small bowl.  Chop the carrot, zucchini, and onion into dime-sized pieces.  Set aside 2 tablespoons of the chopped onion for the bean mixture.  

In a big pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the rest of the chopped onion (except the 2 tablespoons) and cook about 5 minutes.  Add the carrot, zucchini, oregano, thyme, and paprika and cook for 1 minute.   Add the rice, pureed tomato, water, and a pinch of salt, and bring it to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 30-40 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is done.

Meanwhile, into the dirty food processor, throw the beans, 2 tablespoons onion, olive oil, vinegar, and oregano.  Process until mostly smooth.

Chop the bell peppers in half (or just chop off the top to stuff deeper) and scrape out the seeds.  Add a couple heaping spoonfuls of the bean mixture into the bottom of each pepper and spread around.  Add spoonfuls of the cooked rice until it is packed in and mounded on top.   Grill at medium-low for 10-15 minutes.  Or-- put the peppers in a glass baking dish and bake at 375º for 30-40 minutes.  If desired, sprinkle some feta cheese and/or bacon on top of the peppers after they have cooked and return to the oven.  Broil for a couple minutes to soften the feta.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sausage, Chicken, and White-Bean Gratin

I wanted a warm and filling dish for a cold winter evening, and this cassoulet-inspired recipe fit the bill.  I liked it, and we had enough leftovers for several meals which were still good the next couple days.

Sausage, Chicken, and White-Bean Gratin
Recipe from One Pot
Serves 10

1&1/2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper
4 ounces bacon (about 4 slices)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (~1 lb), cut into cubes
1&1/2 lbs sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14.5 oz each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon sage, and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer to paper towels.

Add chicken to pot and cook until browned, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.   Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.   Transfer to plate.  

Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat.  Add garlic and onion to the pot and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes, scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the chicken, sausage, beans, tomatoes, broth, and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon sage.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top.

Cover pot and bake at 375º until bubbling, about 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake until golden brown, another 10 minutes.  Crumble bacon on top and serve.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Salmon en Croûte with Roasted Purple Cauliflower

I saw this Salmon recipe in the free Walgreens WebMD Diabetes magazine and decided to give it a try.  I thought it was excellent.  The salmon was juicy and had a nice lemon flavor, the spinach was good, the basil-cream cheese mixture added delicious creaminess, and the phyllo contributed an interesting crunch factor.  I baked some purple cauliflower along with it for vibrant color and a healthy side dish.  Note: My salmon from the meat department was only 1 pound and it just barely fit wrapped in the phyllo, but I also had a lot more spinach mixture because I didn't pare down the rest of the recipe.

Salmon en Croûte
Recipe from Walgreens WebMD Diabetes Magazine
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed
juice and zest of 1 lemon
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons basil pesto
6 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted
1 large skinless fillet wild salmon (~1&1/2 lbs)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add spinach and cook until heated through.  Remove from heat and add in lemon juice.  Set aside to cook.  Set oven to 400º.

Mix together the cream cheese, pesto, and lemon zest.  Set aside.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil.  Place a sheet of phyllo on the sheet and brush with olive oil.  Place another sheet of phyllo on top of the first and brush with oil.  Continue layering with the remaining phyllo sheets.

Spread the cream cheese mixture on the phyllo, leaving a one-inch border.  Place the salmon across the width of the phyllo, about 1/3 from the bottom.  Spread the cooled spinach mixture on top of the salmon.

Wrap the salmon in phyllo, folding the bottom edge up and top edge down.  Fold edges to seal.  Brush with remaining olive oil.  (At this point you could chill the salmon for 3-4 hours until ready to bake it).

Bake at 400º for 25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.

For the cauliflower:  I just tossed it in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, and put in on the same pan as the salmon.  It was a nice crisp-tender at the same time and temperature.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I decided to make something a little non-traditional for my Thanksgiving potluck item.  I thought they tasted great, kind of similar to a bite of pumpkin cake roll.  I especially loved the cream cheese filling.  And I like that they are a nice small bite which is needed after the big Thanksgiving meal.  Gobble, gobble 'em up!

Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Makes 36 pies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1&1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
1&3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1&1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350º and line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and pumpkin and beat until smooth.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir until combined.   Drop by tablespoon onto the baking sheets  (18 per pan) or using a piping bag for a rounder, smoother cookie.

Bake at 350º for 11-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire racks.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add the vanilla and maple syrup, and then gradually beat in the powdered sugar.

To assemble, spread or pipe the cream cheese filling on the flat side of one cookie.  Top with another cookie.  Store in fridge to prevent filling from getting too soft and melting.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fresh Herb Focaccia

I feel like Oprah: "I love bread." haha.  I just happened to have all the fresh herbs from my herb garden (rosemary, thyme, parsley, and chives), so I went for it.   The top of the bread got a little more brown than I would have preferred (I forgot to check on it in the oven), but the inside was still soft and the bread tastes awesome.  I just ate it as it and thought it was delicious, but tomorrow I think I'll cut a slice in half and make a sandwich.  I'd definitely bake this again!

Fresh Herb Focaccia
Makes two 8" focaccia

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, divided
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzle
2&3/4 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
coarse salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the yeast and 1/4 cup warm water; mix in the honey.  Let stand for 10 minutes to proof until the yeast has bloomed and is frothy.

Add the remaining water, olive oil, flour, salt, and herbs.  Mix on low speed until dough comes together.  Increase speed to medium-high and knead for about 5-8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.  Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.

Wipe a large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm, draft-free place.  Let rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down and return to lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in two.

Lightly oil two 8" baking pans.  Stretch each portion of dough to fit in the pans with even thickness.  Cover with towel and set in a warm place for 60 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450º.   Use fingers to make indentations in the dough.  Bake for ~13-15 minutes until focaccia is golden.  Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Remove from pans and let cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mini Strawberry Pavlovas

I had egg whites to use after using yolks for another recipe so I decided to make this sweet and airy dessert.  I love meringue.  It was all soft and marshmallow-y on the inside (see my photo below where I broke off part of the outer shell to get a view of the inside). Soooo good.   I chose to use store-bought whipped cream because that's what I had on hand.  As far as desserts go, it doesn't break the calorie bank that way.  Win-win.  Also, the shells kept well for several days.

(Makes 1 big 9" pavlova or 8 mini-pavlovas)

4 egg whites (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups fruit (diced, sliced, or whatever)

Preheat oven to 275º and line one or two baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.

In one small bowl, mix together the sugar and cornstarch.  In another small bowl, mix the vanilla and vinegar.   In the large bowl of your electric mixer, pour the egg whites and beat at low speed to start, gradually increasing the speed to medium.  When the whites reach soft peaks and the beaters leave trail marks, start adding the sugar a few tablespoons at a time while also gradually increasing the speed so that you're at max speed by the time all the sugar is added.  Continue whipping until meringue holds stiff peaks.  Add the vanilla/vinegar and beat for another 20 seconds.

Immediately transfer the meringue to the prepared baking sheet, forming one big 9" circle on a single sheet or 8 smaller mounds on two sheets.  Even out the layer or create a dip in the center for the fruit.

Turn the heat down to 250º and bake for ~55-60 minutes for the large pavlova or ~40-45 minutes for the mini pavlovas.  They are done when the outside is dry to the touch, slightly browned, and sound hollow when tapped.    Turn the oven off, but leave the pavlovas in the oven with the door ajar until cooled off.   (Can be stored in plastic bags or airtight containers for several days at this point.)

Make the whipped cream by mixing together the cream, vanilla, and sugar until stiff peaks form.  Spread over the pavlova shells and top with fruit of your choice.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream

It was time to harvest my herbs, and I didn't want to dry my mint.  It's just so much better fresh.  So I decided to make ice cream as a nice treat.  I found this recipe online at TheBestMintChipIceCream.  Six egg yolks seemed like a lot, but egg whites keep well so I saved those for another recipe.   Although it took a lot of time to make, this ice cream was worth it.  The fresh mint flavor really pops and tastes much different than mint extract.  And I liked the chocolate bits--of course!  No seriously, the chocolate bits are good-they are somewhat soft in the ice cream, not overly hard.  Two thumbs up.  

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream
Recipe adapted slightly from Online Source
Makes 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (I used skim milk and it worked just fine)
1 large bunch fresh mint leaves (I used ~2 heaping cups/fistfuls of leaves)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces dark chocolate (I used semisweet baking squares)
2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring cream and milk to a simmer.   Remove from the heat, stir in the mint leaves, cover, and let steep for 2 hours.

In another heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined.  Quickly strain the mint-infused milk/cream into the pot with the eggs.  Really press hard on the mint leaves in the strainer to extract as much flavor as possible.  Discard the leaves.  Whisk the mixture and set over medium heat, whisking frequently, until a coating forms on a spoon and a finger swiped across the back of the spoon leaves a clean line (custard temperature reaches 170ºF).  Add salt to taste.

Pour custard through a fine mesh strainer into an airtight container and chill in an ice bath (4 hours) or in the fridge overnight until temperature drops to 40ºF.

Pour cold mixture into an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's directions.   While it churns, melt chocolate in the microwave and stir to combine with oil.  At the end of the churning, drizzle chocolate into the ice cream to form thin lines of chocolate which will break into small chips.   Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kansas City Ribs

This is my favorite style of ribs: a good rub and lots of sweet barbeque sauce.   I bought boneless country-style ribs because they were on sale at the store and just adjusted the time (much less time was needed for the boneless).  I did 90 minutes in a 300º oven, then finished off on the grill for 10-15 minutes with the sauce.  They were a little over-done for my taste.  Next time, I'd just get the regular ribs and follow the directions listed below.  Lesson learned. The taste of the rub and sauce was awesome though.

Kansas City Ribs
from Better Homes and Gardens: Grill It!

4-5 pound pork loin back ribs
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place ribs in shallow roasting pan.  Stir together the rub ingredients and sprinkle evenly over all sides of the pork.  Rub it in with your fingers.  Cover pan with foil and bake at 350º for 2 hours until tender.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in butter for 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in all the other sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until desired consistency.

Grill ribs over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning and brushing with sauce every few minutes.