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

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Spinach-Artichoke Pasta with Italian Sausage- Instant Pot

I think this was the best Instant Pot recipe I've made so far.  Definitely not on the lighter side as far as calories, but it does have some vegetables in it, so I'll give myself a pass.  Comfort food is needed sometimes.  There was a good sausage-to-pasta ratio and I enjoyed the creamy spinach-artichoke mixture.  The tomatoes cooked all the way down and got lost so I'd add more in the future.   This was an easy recipe with very little prep and a very short cook time.  Best of all, it only used a cutting board and knife, measuring cup, and the Instant Pot making for easy cleanup!  This is another successful recipe from Pressure Luck Cooking.  I'm looking forward to the leftovers.

Instant Pot Italian Sausage Pasta
Makes 6-8 servings

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb raw Italian Sausage (sweet or hot), sliced into 1/2" pieces
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried parsley
10 oz cherry or grape tomatoes
1 lb (1 box) medium pasta shells
5-6 oz baby spinach
1/3 cup heavy cream or half & half
5 oz cream cheese
1 - 1&1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly ripped by hand.

Set Instant Pot to "Saute" on high and add butter.  When it melts, add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sausage and cook and stir for 2 minutes. (The sausage will not be fully cooked yet).  Add in the broth, wine, Italian seasoning, parsley, and tomatoes.  Stir well.  Stop Saute mode.

Add the pasta shells to the pot, but DO NOT STIR.  Press down with a spoon to submerge a bit, and there will be some above the liquid which is okay.  Add the spinach, and DO NOT STIR.  The spinach will come up to the top, but it will cook down to almost nothing.

Secure the lid and Pressure Cook on high for 5-6 minutes (depending on how you like your pasta).  Quick release the pressure when done.

Stir in the cream, cream cheese, Parmesan, and artichokes for a couple minutes until the cheese is melted.  Let rest a couple minutes to thicken and enjoy! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Instant Pot Pot Roast

I tried this Pot Roast recipe from Pressure Luck Cooking and followed the ingredients and directions exactly (except for leaving out the mushrooms).  I was so excited to dig in that I forgot to take a photo the first night.  So this is a photo of leftovers we had the following night.  It was really, really flavorful and the meat was fall-apart tender.  I'd say the overall process was a little more fussy than a slow cooker, but it only took 60 minutes to cook (plus extra for preheating and pressure release).  The flavor was worth it.   Note:  I used a 3-lb roast which fit nicely in my 6-qt Instant Pot.  A bigger roast may have been tricky.

I don't want to steal the recipe since I made no changes except the mushrooms, so here is a link to the website:  https://pressureluckcooking.com/recipe/instant-pot-roast/

Baked Ranch Pork Chops

I was in the mood for pork chops so I found a recipe online and adapted it a bit.  Super easy and relatively quick.  The ranch flavor was pretty subtle, but the seasoning was tasty.  I only made 3 pork chops, and I had leftover seasoning.   In the future, I'd add baby potatoes using the same seasoning mix and bake at the same time.

Baked Ranch Pork Chops

Pork Chops, 3/4-1" thick  (I used boneless)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 packet (1 oz) Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Rub oil over pork chops.  In small bowl, stir together the Ranch mix and all the seasonings.   Rub mix all over the pork chops (there may be extra depending on the number and size of chops).   Bake at 400º for 20-30 minutes until chops are cooked and reach internal temperature of 145º.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Gluten-free Blueberry Pie with Almond-Oat Crust

Here is another dessert I brought to Christmas.  Blueberries were on sale at the store, so I wanted to make a blueberry dessert and also have a gluten-free option.  The blueberry filling was great, but the crust had way too much honey and made the crust a little too wet for my liking and also overpowered the flavor.  If I made this again, I'd cut back on the honey, probably to 1/4 cup or less.  Once again, I forgot to photograph the pie before we dug in.

Gluten-free Blueberry Pie with Almond-Oat Crust

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
zest of 1/2 lemon

1&1/4 cup ground almonds or almond flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup honey  (I would recommend cutting back to 1/4 cup or less)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted softened butter

In a medium bowl, toss together the blueberries, sugar, corn starch, and zest.  Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the ground almonds, oats, honey, baking powder, and salt.  Add butter and use your fingers to combine until coarse crumbs form.  Reserve 1/2 cup of crumbs for topping.  Press the remaining crumbs into a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan. 

Pour blueberries over the crust.  Sprinkle the reserved crumb topping over the top.  Bake at 350º for 20 minutes, then tent with foil to avoid over-browning, and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.   Cool completely before serving.

Peach Cobbler Pie

Recipe for the peach pie I made for Christmas.  I used a store-bought frozen pie crust to save time.  I forgot to take a photo before everyone started digging in.  It was delicious, in my opinion.

Peach Cobbler Pie

Pie crust
5 cups fresh or thawed frozen peaches
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons cornstarch

Crumble Topping:
12 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1&1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, stir together peaches, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and cornstarch.   Place store-bought or homemade pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate and pour peach mixture over crust.

To make crumble topping, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles coarse crumbs.   Sprinkle over the peach mixture.

Bake pie at 425º for 10 minutes, then at 350º for 30-40 minutes until crust is baked and golden.

Instant Pot Parmesan Ranch Chicken and Potatoes

I'm starting to use my Instant Pot more, and this is a fast and easy recipe that also tasted great.  The chicken was juicy and the seasoning was tasty.  We didn't really detect the ranch flavor though.

Instant Pot Parmesan  Ranch Chicken and Potatoes
Serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 pounds baby red potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 packet Ranch dry seasoning
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Put the chicken and potatoes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil.  Combine all the seasonings (except Parmesan), reserving 2 teaspoons of the Ranch seasoning.  Sprinkle mixture over the chicken and potatoes, tossing to distribute evenly.

Add chicken broth to Instant Pot and and place chicken in the pot.  Top with potatoes.  Lock the lid and seal the vent of the Instant Pot.  Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes.  Quick release the steam. 

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken and potatoes to a platter.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining Ranch seasoning.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Orange Chicken

This recipe was easy, relatively quick, and delicious!  The orange flavor really came through without being overpowering.  I steamed some broccoli to accompany it.

Orange Chicken
Makes 2-3 servings

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breast), cut into ~1" pieces
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooked rice or quinoa (follow package directions)
Toppings: sliced green onions, sesame seeds, orange zest

Orange Sauce:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
zest of 1 orange (save a little for topping)
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is browned and nearly cooked through.

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange sauce ingredients and pour sauce into skillet, coating the chicken.  Let it come to a boil and cook for a couple minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. 

Serve chicken and sauce over cooked rice and garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, and orange zest if desired.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Chicken Pesto Pot Pie

I made this back in 2009. I think it might be time to try it again and take a better photo.  I was single at the time I made it, so I cut the recipe in half and put one ramekin in the oven and refrigerated the other two for leftovers.  I'm thinking you could also freeze the mixture to use in the future.  It was very yummy and extremely fast and easy to make.  The basil pesto gave it some great flavor. 

Chicken Pesto Pot Pie
Makes 6 servings

1 jar (12 oz) reduced-fat turkey gravy
1/3 cup basil pesto
3 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
1 package (16 oz)  frozen peas and carrots, or carrots, onions, potatoes, celery
1 package (11 oz) refrigerated breadsticks
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Dried basil (optional)


Preheat oven to 375º.  In a large saucepan, combine turkey gravy and pesto.  Stir in the turkey and vegetables.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Divide turkey mixture evenly among six 8-oz casserole dishes or ramekins. 

Unroll and separate breadsticks.  Arrange one breadstick on top of each casserole, curling into a spiral to fit.  If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan and basil.  Bake for 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown on top.  (Save the remaining breadsticks for something else)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma

I was in the mood for something International, so I combined a couple different recipes I found online to make this Shawarma recipe.  The marinade has a lot of spices, but it was a fast and easy recipe.  It was very tasty, but not exactly like the Shawarmas I remember eating when we visited the Middle East.  Still, we both enjoyed it.  We'll have leftovers tomorrow, and I think I'll make an actual Greek salad with feta cheese to use in the pita.  That should be really good with the chicken.

Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma
Serves 6


Chicken Marinade:
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized cubes/strips

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp minced garlic
pinch salt

Pita wraps/pockets
Greek salad or Toppings of your choice: lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced onions, feta cheese
parsley for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the spices, yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic.  Add the chicken to the marinade and stir.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Transfer chicken and marinade into the Instant Pot (no need to add extra liquid).  Close the lid and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.  Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release.  Stir chicken and sauce and transfer chicken to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon.

While the chicken cooks, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl (I just mixed it directly in the small yogurt container).

Assemble the Shawarmas.   Warm the pitas if necessary.  Spread hummus on the pita.  Top with lettuce, chicken, sauce, Greek salad, and garnish with parsley.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

I saw this recipe posted on a Facebook Instant Pot Group, and it looked good, so I gave it a try.  It was tasty, but I didn't get as much chili flavor as I expected.  It was more like "chili-inspired" mac and cheese--or fancy Hamburger Helper.  Also, I'm not sure if the Instant Pot really saved much time.  I guess it was nice to use just one pot and dump it all in and go do something else for a few minutes.  Instead of a can of tomatoes, I used garden tomatoes.  I'm thinking I should have stirred some more in at the end along with the cheese.

Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
Makes 8 servings

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
1 lb dried macaroni pasta
1-2 cups grated or shredded cheddar cheese
fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)

Add ground beef to instant pot and use Saute mode for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned.  Add onion, celery, pepper, and garlic, and saute for a couple more minutes.  Then add spices and stir.  Turn off Saute mode.  Add broth, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, and pasta. Stir to make sure pasta is covered in liquid.

Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes (it will need ~10 minutes to preheat).  When finished, quick release pressure before removing lid.

Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with parsley if desired.