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

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.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

It's the Ultimate Pi Day:  3/14/15.  Only happens once a century.   I made a Pulled Pork Shepherd's Pie for dinner which took a lot of steps, so I figured a nice easy no-cook dessert pie would be a good idea.   This was really quite delicious.  It was also very rich, so only a small slice was needed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

1 Oreo Crust
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (8oz) package Cool Whip, thawed
shaved chocolate or fudge topping (optional)

Beat together the peanut butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Add in the whipped topping and beat until smooth.  Pour the filling into the crust.  Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Whiskey BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Oh Yum.  Slow cooked pork with a BBQ sauce.   Can't go wrong.   Despite the long ingredient list, it really doesn't take much preparation.  The Crockpot does most of the work.  I thought about adding some caramelized onions on top, but we were hungry and I didn't have enough time for that step.  Maybe next time. I only used a small portion of the Pulled Pork and the BBQ Sauce for our sandwiches, but I have a recipe in mind for the remainder on Saturday for Pi Day.   Stay tuned for that recipe.

Whiskey BBQ Pulled Pork 
from TheKitchenWhisperer

4 lb pork butt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup BBQ Spice Rub
2&1/2 cups Whiskey BBQ Sauce

BBQ Spice Rub  (makes ~3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground mustard
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Whiskey BBQ Sauce   (makes way more than what you need)
5 cups original BBQ Sauce (not honey)
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


To makes the BBQ Spice Rub, mix by hand or pulse the ingredients a few times in a food processor.  Store excess in a glass jar in a cool, dry place.

Pat dry the pork.  Generously rub the spice rub all over the meat.  Place, fat side up, in the crock pot.  Add just enough water so that it comes up 1 inch high.  Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.   When done, remove from pot and place in a large serving bowl.  Using two forks, shred the meat to the desired chunk size.

Near the end of the pork's cooking time, add all the BBQ Sauce ingredients in a medium sauce pan.  Whisk well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened.   Store extra sauce in a glass container in the fridge for another use.

Mix enough BBQ Sauce into the pork until just wet and infused with the flavor you desire.  Enjoy on a bun or whatever you want.    Also freezes well.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Spicy Chorizo and Black Bean Chili

Whew, this was at the very threshhold of my heat tolerance.  The cornbread muffins I made helped cool off my tingling lips between bites.  I combined a couple recipes from the internet plus made my own substitutions based on items I had in my pantry.  This included the can of diced tomatoes with hot green chilies.  I'm blaming the heat level on this item.  I'm not sure how it even got in my pantry.  It was either Jeremy or from my bridal shower (amazingly, it had not yet reached its expiration date!).  I think next time, I'd use just regular tomatoes instead of the hot green chilies and it would be perfect because the chipotles add some heat too.

Anne's Spicy Chorizo and Black Bean Chili
Serves ~6-8

4-5 Mexican chorizo sausage links, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can (14.5oz) whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (from a 7oz can)
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies (hot)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1&3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 can lemon-lime carbonated beverage (7-Up soda)
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cans black beans
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup lime juice
salt and pepper

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chorizo and saute until golden brown.  Reduce heat to medium and add the celery, onions, and bell pepper.  Cook until veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend together the whole tomatoes and chipotles.

Once veggies in pot are softened, add the garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, and coriander.  Cook and stir about 1 minute.

Stir in the tomato mixture, diced tomatoes, broth, 7-Up, wine, beans, and chocolate.  Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low.  Simmer uncovered for 1 hour.   Stir in lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cilantro, sour cream, cheese, or whatever favorite chili toppings appeal.  Corn bread is always a yummy side dish.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Dirty Rice

This was a very filling meal for two and it was simple to make.  Plus, it was made in one skillet which is always nice for cleanup.   The serving size for this recipe was large.  I wasn't able to finish my entire pork chop and we had some leftover rice as well.  I really enjoyed the flavor of the dirty rice with the chorizo.  I'd probably skip the scallions at the end next time; they weren't really necessary.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Dirty Rice
from The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Serves 2

2 (~12oz) bone-in pork rib or center-cut chops, 1&1/2" thick
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ounces chorizo, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 celery rib, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
1/2 cup dry white rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (or 1/8 teaspoon dried)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1&3/4 cup chicken broth
2 scallions, sliced thin

Cut two slits, about 2 inches apart, through outer layer of fat on each chop.  Pat chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Cook chops until well browned on one side, 4 to 6 minutes.  Transfer chops to a plate, browned side up.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet.  Add chorizo and cook over medium heat until browned, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook until veggies are softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the rice, garlic, thyme, and cayenne pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits.

Nestle the chops into the rice, browned side up, along with any accumulated juices, and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meat registers 145º, about 8-10 minutes.  Transfer chops to a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Continue to cook the rice, covered, stirring occasionally, until liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes.  Off heat, gently fold in scallions and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve chops with rice.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Smothered Pork Chops

The picture in the cookbook looked good, so I decided to make it.  It was time-consuming, but the chops turned out super tender.

Smothered Pork Chops
from America's Test Kitchen: Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Serves 2

1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (8-10oz) bone-in blade-cut pork chops, ~1" thick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon beef broth
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

Combine onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl.   Cut two slits, about 2 inches apart, through outer layer of fat on each chop.  Pat chops dry and rub evenly with spice mixture.

Heat oil in an 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown chops well on each side, about 3 to 5 minutes per side; transfer to plate.  Add butter fat left in skillet and melt over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.  Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in 1/2 cup broth and bay leaf.

Nestle the browned chops back into the skillet along with any accumulated juices, cover, and bake at 300º for 90 minutes.

When done, remove chops from skillet and tent with foil to keep warm. Strain braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup.  Discard bay leaf and save onions.  Let braising liquid sit for 5 minutes and use a spoon to remove fat from surface.  Return 1/3 cup defatted pan juices to skillet and bring to a simmer.  Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon broth and cornstarch together in a small bowl and then whisk into the skillet.  Simmer until sauce is thickened.  Stir in the onions and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve sauce and onions over the chops.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Asparagus, Broccoli, and Orzo Salad

I combined a couple different recipes to make this veggie-packed pasta salad with asparagus spears, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and tri-color orzo.  I thought the balance of lemon to olive oil was not quite right for the dressing somehow, but I still liked the dish overall.

Anne's Asparagus, Broccoli, and Orzo Salad

1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-2" pieces
1 small head broccoli, cut into 1" florets
salt and pepper
1 heaping cup dry orzo (I used tri-color)
1/4 cup lemon juice + 1 tablespoon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the asparagus and broccoli and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until veggies are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and water.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the veggies to the ice bath and let cool 2 minutes.  Remove from ice water and let dry.

Return the pot of water to a boil and add orzo.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then drain again, leaving just a little wet.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 cup lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.  Whisking constantly, drizzle in the olive oil.  Add the remaining tablespoon lemon juice.   Drizzle over the orzo.  Stir in the asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, and chopped basil.