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 2014:
Spin 50 times from The Wheel of Meals
Complete a month of Freezer Meals - done!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Sauce

Ever since I tried a planked salmon at a restaurant last summer (the BEST salmon I've ever had), I've been wanting to try it at home.  They were out of planks at the store, but Jeremy found an untreated cedar board in the basement and cut and sanded a piece to use.   I soaked it in water plus a little apple cider vinegar for about 90 minutes (weighed it down with a large pot).  We put the smooth side down on the grill first (over medium heat), waited for it to smoke a little, then flipped it over and turned off the heat on that side of the grill so that the salmon would cook over indirect heat.  The salmon went skin-side down on the smooth side.  I thought it tasted really, really good.  Jeremy said he didn't notice the cedar board adding extra flavor, but I enjoyed it regardless.   The bottom of our board got a little charred so we probably should have soaked it even longer.

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Cucumber Dill Sauce
from Better Homes and Gardens Grill It! Cookbook
Serves 4

4 salmon fillets, 1" thick
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh snipped dill
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, mayo, dill, and horseradish.  Cover and chill until serving time up to 4 hours.

In a small bowl, make rub by combining brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  Pat salmon fillets dry.  Place fish skin side down in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle rub evenly over fish and rub in using your fingers.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours.  (Or substitute your own rub or herb blend)

For a gas grill, preheat grill, then reduce to medium.  Adjust heat for indirect cooking.  Place a pre-soaked cedar plank on the grill rack over the burner that is turned off.  Place salmon, skin side down, on plank.  Cover and grill for ~20 minutes or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork (time will depend on thickness of fillets.  Ours took 30 minutes).    Slide a spatula between fish and skin to release fish from plank.  Serve with the Cucumber-Dill sauce.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kale-Stuffed Chicken Roll-ups

I had half a jar of pasta sauce to use up and some kale in the fridge (instead of spinach), so I made my own little version of Kale-Chicken Parmesan, roll-up style.  It was delicious.

Anne's Kale-Stuffed Chicken Roll-ups
Serves 6

6 thin-sliced chicken breasts (pounded to 1/4" thickness if needed)
~2 cups chopped kale leaves (spinach will work too)
~1/4-1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 jar Ragu Veggie-Smart pasta sauce
~1/4-1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

In one shallow container, beat an egg with a fork with some salt and pepper.   In another shallow container, combine the Panko and Parmesan.   In a square 8x8" baking pan, pour half the pasta sauce.

Divide kale and Mozzarella cheese on top of the chicken breasts.  Roll each chicken breast up tightly (no need for toothpick).   Dip chicken in the beaten egg, then the Panko mixture.  Place seam side down over the sauce in the baking pan.   Bake, covered, at 425º for 25 minutes.

Uncover pan and pour remaining pasta sauce over chicken.  Top with remaining Mozzarella cheese.  Continue to bake, uncovered, another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dijon-Crusted Tilapia

I had some tilapia in the freezer to use, so I went back and found this recipe I made back in 2010.  It's a good one so I'm re-posting it on this blog.  This time around, I used Panko bread crumbs for a crunchier coating.  I also made some herbed red potatoes (which I loved) and steamed broccoli to round out the meal.

Dijon-Crusted Tilapia
Makes 4 servings
(214 calories/serving)

3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayo
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon horseradish
4 Tilapia fillets (4-5oz)
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I used Panko this time)
2 teaspoons butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, 1 tablespoon Parmesan, lemon juice, mustard, and horseradish.  Place fillets on a baking sheet coated with baking spray.  Spread the mustard mixture evenly over fish.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, and butter.  Sprinkle over fish.   Bake at 425º for 13 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

My photo from 2010:

Herbed Red Potatoes
Makes 4-6 servings

1 pound small red potatoes, halved or quartered (depends on size)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Whisk together the oil, garlic, and herbs in a large bowl.  Add the potatoes and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Transfer the potatoes to a baking dish.  Roast at 425º, covered, for 45 minutes, then uncover to cook another 15 minutes until potatoes are tender and golden.   Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese if desired.

Fresh Cherry Galette

I saw cherries on sale at the grocery store, so I decided to buy a bag.  As I ate a few and spit out the seeds, I got annoyed with the seeds, so I decided to pit them all.  I tried a couple different methods, but using the end of a round pastry tip seemed to work the best for me.  Once I had them all pitted, I started looking through my cookbooks for a nice fresh cherry recipe.  This one called out to me.  It was delicious.  I couldn't find the larger turbinado sugar at the store, so I just used a sprinkle of regular sugar on the outer edge.

Fresh Cherry Galette
from Cooking Light Pick Fresh Cookbook
Serves 6; 227 calories/slice

1/2 (14-oz) package refrigerated pie dough
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
3&1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1&1/2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and unroll pie dough onto parchment, rolling into a ~12" circle. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, stirring with a whisk.  Sprinkle cornstarch mixture over dough, leaving a 2-inch border.

Combine cherries, 2 tablespoons sugar, and the lemon rind and juice; toss well to coat.  Arrange cherry mixture over dough, leaving a 2-inch border.  Fold dough border over cherries, pressing gently to seal (it won't completely cover cherries).  Brush edges of dough with buttermilk and sprinkle turbinado sugar over cherries and edges of dough.  Bake at 400º for 25 minutes or until dough is browned and juices are bubbly.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.  Slice into 6 wedges.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuna Noodle Casserole for 2

The Wheel of Meals landed on No Shopping

Yikes, it finally happened--we landed on the dreaded 'No Shopping' space.   It was almost time for dinner and the fridge had barely anything to contribute and nothing was thawed from the freezer.  I looked around in my cupboards and found a can of tuna, some chicken broth, and a half-empty bag of egg noodles.  In the fridge, I had a half-empty bag of shredded cheese and milk.  Yes, this can work.   The casserole was really pretty good although we really couldn't taste the cheese.  We left out the peas because we didn't have any in the freezer.  I just made a broccoli side dish instead.  I liked the crunchy Panko topping.  No complaints.

Tuna Noodle Casserole for 2 
from iowagirleats.com
Serves 2

3 oz egg noodles
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
salt and pepper
1&1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup frozen peas
5-6oz can tuna packed in water, drained
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Panko breadcrumbs
1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 tablespoon butter, melted

Cook noodles in boiling salted water until slightly undercooked.  Drain and return to pot. Set aside.

In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and saute until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add in flour and stir, cooking another minute.  Slowly whisk in chicken broth, breaking up any clumps of butter and flour.  Next, pour in the milk and bring mixture to a boil.  Add peas.  Reduce heat to medium and let mixture bubble until thickened, about 5-6 minutes, whisking every minute or so.

Add drained tuna to the sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off the heat and stir in the shredded cheese until completely melted.  Pour the sauce into the pot with the noodles and stir to combine.   Spray two individual ramekins with cooking spray and divide the mixture evenly between the two.

In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and melted butter.  Sprinkle over the casseroles.   Bake in a preheated 375º oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Shrimp Po'-Boys

The Wheel of Meals landed on Seafood

I saw this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine, and used it because we had some frozen shrimp in the freezer that we needed to use up.  Plus, it looked like a fun summer sandwich.   I liked it better than Jeremy but that's because he's not a coleslaw fan.

Shrimp Po'Boys
from Cooking Light July 2012
Serves 4; 400 calories/serving

for Rémoulade Slaw:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 garlic clove, minced
2&1/2 cups packaged cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw

for Sandwich:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 large egg white
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 pieces French Bread baguette, split and toasted
3 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices tomato

To prepare rémoulade slaw, combine first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add coleslaw; toss to coat.  Cover and chill.

To prepare Po'boys, combine cornstarch and next 4 ingredients (through egg white) in a medium bowl; whisk until blended.  Add shrimp and toss well.  Marinate in fridge for 30 minutes, stirring once.

Hollow out the bread halves, leaving a 1/4" thick shell.  Place torn bread into food processor and process until fine crumbs form.  Set aside 1/2 cup breadcrumbs; reserve remaining breadcrumbs for another use.   Combine the 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag.  Shake to combine.

Remove shrimp from bowl; discard marinade.  Add shrimp to the breadcrumb mixture.  Seal and shake to coat.   Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.

Arrange 1/2 cup slaw on each bottom half of bread.  Top with shrimp and tomato slices.  Cover with top half.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bacon, Kale, and Cheese Rösti

I was paging through a cooking magazine, and saw this recipe and thought I'd give it a try because I knew I had a half-opened bag of frozen hash browns in the freezer we wanted to use up somehow.   The original recipe called for zucchini (which would have been wonderful), but I had kale in my fridge, so that's what I used instead.   Jeremy didn't want to try this recipe (he said "I just want my cereal"), so I had breakfast leftovers for days.  I thought it was good.  He missed out.

Bacon, Kale, and Cheese Rösti
Serves 4

1 egg
1 egg white
1 medium zucchini, shredded (or 1 cup chopped kale leaves)
1 shallot, chopped
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese

In a large bowl, beat the egg and egg white.  Stir in vegetables, bacon, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Stir in the frozen hash browns.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Spread potato mixture evenly in skillet.  Cook for 8-10 minutes without stirring or until bottom is browned.  Using the edge of a spatula, cut mixture into quarters.  Carefully flip each quarter.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Cook about 5-6 minutes longer or until browned on bottom.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Raspberry-Blackberry Ice Cream

I promised my coworker that I'd make more ice cream (and share it), and she told me to make something fruity, so this is what I picked out.   It was delicious. :)

Raspberry-Blackberry Ice Cream
Recipe from The Ice Cream Bible

2 cups raspberries
2 cups blackberries
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a food processor or blender, puree the berries until smooth.  Press through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds.  Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk eggs with sugar until thickened and pale yellow. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer.  Gradually whisk into the egg mixture.  Return entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Be careful not to let it boil.  Strain into a clean large bowl.  Let cool to room temperature.

Stir in whipping cream, vanilla, and pureed fruit.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or until completely cooled. 

Stir cream mixture.  Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

Shredded Chicken Tacos with Grilled Corn Salsa and Avocados

The Wheel of Meals landed on International

I saw a yummy-looking recipe for tacos on the cover of one of my Cooking Light Magazines, so I decided to roll with it and adapt it.  I already had the corn salsa left over from the Flank Steak recipe, so it was a good opportunity to use leftovers in a creative way.  Instead of buying a rotisserie chicken, I cooked and shredded regular chicken breasts and added a little seasoning.  I liked the end result.   And, by the way, it made great leftovers on a romaine lettuce leaf for a light lettuce wrap.

Shredded Chicken Tacos with Grilled Corn Salsa and Avocados
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
Makes 8 tacos; 210 calories per taco

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast (or see recipe below)
8 corn tortillas (6")
1 peeled avocado, cut into wedges

Corn Relish: (amounts are approximate)
1-2 cups chopped tomato
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
1 chopped jalapeno pepper
1 chopped green onion 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper

2 ears shucked corn

Heat tortillas according to package directions.  Add chicken to each tortilla and top with corn mixture and avocado slices.  Squirt a little lime juice if desired.

For Corn Relish:
Preheat boiler.   Place corn on a rimmed baking sheet and broil 18 minutes or until slightly charred on on all sides, rotating every 6 minutes.  Let cool.  Cut kernels from corn and place in a medium bowl.  Add all the other ingredients for the corn salsa and mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

For Shredded Chicken: 
In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chicken top-side down in the hot skillet and let the chicken cook for 5 minutes until golden brown on top. Flip the chicken, add the water or chicken broth, cover the skillet and let the chicken simmer gently over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (it will register 160 degrees on a thermometer). Don't overcook or it might be dry.  Remove the chicken from the skillet. Let it cool slightly before shredding. The cooked chicken will keep well-covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Grilled Flank Steak with Corn Salsa

The Wheel of Meals landed on Grill It

Close call...  We knew our gas in the grill was running low, but we decided to chance it with this recipe since it only needed 6 minutes per side.  The gas ran out while the steaks were cooking with 1 minute left on the cook time.   We let them sit and let the transient heat finish the job.  Luckily, they were pretty much done to medium-rare.   I combined a couple different recipes to come up with this creation, and I enjoyed both the steak and the salsa.

Anne's Grilled Flank Steak and Corn Salsa

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground Cayenne pepper
1-lb flank steak, trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Corn Relish: (amounts are approximate)
2 ears shucked corn
1-2 cups chopped tomato
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
1 chopped jalapeno pepper
1 chopped green onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper


Combine first 6 spices in a small bowl.  Rub all over the steak.   Place steak in a gallon-sized ziplock bag and add the oil, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.  Marinate in fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat boiler.   Place corn on a rimmed baking sheet and broil 18 minutes or until slightly charred on on all sides, rotating every 6 minutes.  Let cool.  Cut kernels from corn and place in a medium bowl.  Add all the other ingredients for the corn salsa and mix well.

Place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray.  Grill 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Let stand 5 minutes and cut diagonally across the grain into thin slices.  Serve with corn salsa.