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, 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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cheesy Potato Soup

I combined a few different Potato Soup recipes from my bridal shower collection to make this St. Patrick's Day soup.  I just picked ingredients I already had on hand (carrots, onion, celery) and omitted things I didn't have (bouillon cubes) and sort of did my own thing.  It turned out pretty good.  I think it would have been better with cubed ham or bacon or some meat in there.

Cheesy Potato Soup

2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup diced celery (~2 ribs)
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 large onion, diced
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1&1/2 cups milk, warmed in microwave
salt and pepper
1 cup chicken broth
saved potato water
8oz cubed cheddar cheese


Parboil the carrots, celery, and potatoes in a large pot of water for 5 minutes.  Strain, and save water.

In the empty pot, saute the onions in oil over medium heat until onions are tender. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add the flour and slowly whisk in the milk to make the rue.

Add the strained vegetables back to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth and enough of the saved potato water to reach desired consistency.  Simmer on low heat for 60 to 90  minutes until potatoes are soft.  Add cubed cheese and stir until melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Whiskey Pulled Pork Shepherd's Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

Oh, yes.  For Pi Day, I wanted to make a savory pie.  As I was browsing the internet, I came across this recipe from TheKitchenWhisperer and thought it sounded like a delicious twist on Shepherd's Pie.  It has BBQ Pork instead of lamb.  Plus a cheddar biscuit crust.  Sounded like a winner to me.  Since I made the Whiskey BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches a couple days ago, I had the pork and sauce already made.  So I only had to make the homemade mashed potatoes and the crust, making the recipe much less daunting.  I thought it tasted fabulous.  Loved the crust, loved the BBQ pork.  Lots of work, but worth it.  The photos don't do it justice.  Tasted way better than it looks.

Whiskey Pulled Pork Shepherd's Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust
from TheKitchenWhisperer

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup cream
2 tablespoons chives
2&1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, divided
3 cups Pulled Pork  (see below)
1 cup Whiskey BBQ Sauce  (see below)
2 cups Mashed Potatoes  (see below)

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chives.  Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter (or a fork) until you have pea-sized chunks.  Pour in the cream and combine using a wooden spoon.  Pour the crumbly mixture onto a lightly floured surface.  Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese into the dough and gather the dough together until it can stick to itself without falling apart.  Try not to overwork it.  It should be tacky but not wet.

Pat the dough into a 9" pie plate coated with cooking spray. It should be an even 1/4-1/2" thick on the bottom and up the sides of the dish all the way to top of the pie dish.

Add the pulled pork.   Drizzle 1/2 cup BBQ Sauce on top of pork.  Sprinkle 2 cups shredded cheese over that.  Using a spatula, gently spread 2 cups of mashed potatoes on top.  Bake at 350º for 35-40 minutes until the crust is slightly golden brown.   For crispy peaks on the potatoes, broil for a minute or two.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.   If desired, drizzle a little more warmed BBQ Sauce over top.


Pulled Pork  
4 lb Pork Butt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup BBQ Spice Rub  (see recipe here)

Pat dry the pork.  Rub generously with Spice Rub.  Place, fat side up, in slow cooker. Add water so that it comes up an inch high.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Remove and shred using 2 forks.

Whiskey BBQ Sauce
5 cups original BBQ Sauce
1 cup whiskey
1 cup water
3 teaspoons liquid smoke
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk ingredients together in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

Mashed Potatoes
5 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
6-7 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Place potatoes in a deep pot and completely cover with water.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil and cook for 30-35 minutes until a fork can pierce without resistance.  Drain, return to the pot, and mash.  Add in the butter, milk, and cream and continue to mash until creamy.  Add salt and pepper and mix.