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!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Root Vegetables


This recipe is definitely a keeper.  Delicious crispy flavorful skin on the chicken and the vegetables even tasted great too.  I especially enjoyed the Brussels sprouts for some reason.  The fresh thyme added nice fragrance to the dish.

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Root Vegetables
from America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2013
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 bone-in split chicken breasts
6 ounces Brussles sprouts
6 ounces red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 475ºF.  Toss Brussels sprouts, potatoes, carrots, shallots, garlic, oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper together in a medium bowl.  Place veggies in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, arranging sprouts in the middle and leaving a couple inches from the sides of the pan.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.    Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.  Place chicken, skin side up, on top of the Brussels sprouts.  Brush chicken with the herb butter and roast until chicken registers 160º, about 30-35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking.   If necessary, remove chicken and keep tented and return vegetables to oven for another 5-10 minutes. (It wasn't needed for me)


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chinese Five Spice Pork Chops


The Wheel of Meals landed on Meals Under $10

It's fairly easy to make a meal under $10 when it's just two people.  I'm sure I could have come up with something for under $5 if I wanted, but I was in the mood for pork chops.  I rounded to the nearest nickle from my grocery bill:

$4.35 Center-Cut Rib Pork Chops  (2 chops)
$3.50 Bok Choy  (1 head) - This was more costly than I had expected
$2.00 Microwavable Rice  (1 package)  I was feeling lazy
all other ingredients were in my pantry/fridge
$9.85 total

Ok, the aromas coming from my kitchen while this baked were incredible.   I wasn't sure how the Chinese five-spice blend would work with the pork, but it was good.  I served it with white rice and sauteed garlic bok choy for an Asian feel.

Chinese Five Spice Pork Chops
from somewhere on the internet

Ingredients:
2 large pork chops (3/4-1" thick)
1/2 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:
Arrange pork chops in a glass baking dish.  Sprinkle the five spice powder over the chops then drizzle the soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic over the top.  Rub mixture into the meat.   Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Uncover and bake in a preheated 325º oven for 30-40 minutes until the meat is cooked through.

For the bok choy, I sauteed the chopped white bok choy stem pieces in a small pat of butter in a skillet over medium heat along with a couple minced gloves of garlic.  When softened after 5-10 minutes, I added the coarsely chopped green leaves and let the leaves wilt, just a minute or two.  Add salt and pepper and serve.

Oven-Baked Bone-In Chicken Breasts


Oops.  I accidentally bought bone-in split chicken breasts instead of the skinless, boneless variety I had intended.  I found this recipe online, and it was fast and easy to prepare the chicken.   The flavor was great overall, but it seemed a little salty to me so maybe I'd cut back on the celery salt next time.  I liked the crispy skin and the chicken was juicy underneath.  A good healthy alternative to fried chicken.

Oven-Baked Bone-In Chicken Breasts

Ingredients:
2 or 3 bone-in skin-on split chicken breasts
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425ºF.   Trim the chicken of fat if necessary.

Combine all the spices and rub them over the chicken breasts.  Place chicken on a baking pan lined with foil and fitted with a baking rack (coat the rack with cooking spray).   Bake for 45-55 minutes (depends on the size of the breasts) until a thermometer reaches an internal temp of 165º.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pulled Pork and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas


We had a lot of leftover pulled pork and didn't feel like having pulled pork sandwiches AGAIN (even though they were good), so we decided to mix it up a little and make these yummy quesadillas.   The caramelized onions were a delicious addition to the pork.  I tried my wedges a couple ways: with a BBQ sauce drizzle (yum!) and with a homemade guacamole (double yum!).  Jeremy ate his plain and liked them that way too.

Pulled Pork and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas
Makes 4 quesadillas

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
pinch of brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
8 medium tortillas
2 cups cooked pulled pork
2 cups shredded pepperjack (or any type) cheese
BBQ sauce for dipping (optional)
guacamole for dipping (optional)

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Once melted, add the olive oil and onions, stirring occasionally, until they are deep golden brown and caramelized, about 20-30 minutes.  Add a pinch of brown sugar and season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Lay 4 tortillas flat and divide cheese evenly.  Add pulled pork and caramelized onions and place second tortillas on top.

If using a quesadilla maker (like I did), preheat and cook each one for 3-5 minutes.

For stovetop, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon butter and let melt.  Add a single quesadilla and cook for 2-4 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.  Flip and cook for another 2-4 minutes on the other side.   Serve with a drizzle of BBQ sauce if desired.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Crockpot Sausage, Lentil, and Swiss Chard Sauce


This was really good on its first day, but everything started to get a tad mushy and wilted in subsequent days for the leftovers.  I added twice as many veggies as the recipe called for and thought it was a good amount.

Rustic Sausage, Lentil, and Swiss Chard Sauce
from Slow Cooker Revolution
Makes enough to sauce 1 pound of pasta

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Italian Sausage, removed from casing
2 onions, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1 celery rib, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup lentils
2 bay leaves
1 pound Swiss Chard, stemmed and leaves chopped
salt and pepper


Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Brown sausage well, breaking up large pieces, about 5 minutes; transfer sausage to the slow cooker, reserving the fat in the skillet.  

Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and oregano to the leftover fat in the skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes until vegetables are softened.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

Stir broth, lentils, and bay leaves into the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 8-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high until lentils are tender.

Gently stir in chard leaves and cook 20-30 more minutes.  Discard bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve over pasta.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chicken and Broccoli Sauced Pasta



The Wheel of Meals landed on Slow Cooker

I made this recipe based on a photo in the cookbook.  It was good, but there are non-crockpot steps to the recipe (like cooking the pasta and the broccoli separately).   I served it in a bowl because of the super delicious broth in the slow cooker which you can't really see in the photo.   I just wanted to slurp that all up.


Chicken and Broccoli Sauce
Recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution
Makes enough to sauce 1 pound of pasta

Ingredients:
1 onion, minced
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, patted dry, and sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme  (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
1&1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
12 ounces broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces (4&1/2 cups)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
cooked pasta of your choice

Directions:
Microwave onion, 1/4 cup tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.

Stir broth, wine, and tapioca into the slow cooker.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces and return to slow cooker.

Microwave broccoli with remaining tablespoon oil in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add to the sauce.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/4 cup tomatoes.   Before serving, season with salt and pepper.   Serve over pasta.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Braised Lentils


The Wheel of Meals landed on New to You

Surprisingly, I've never cooked lentils, but this little legume has been my list to try for awhile.  This dish was tasty, healthy, and very filling.  The lentils soaked up the flavor of the chard stems and braising liquid, and a little squirt of lemon brought the dish together.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Braised Lentils
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen: Best-Ever Cooking For Two
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces Swiss Chard, stems chopped and leaves cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
2  (6-8oz) skinless salmon fillets, 1&1/2" thick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
lemon wedges

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chard stems and onion and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in 1&3/4 cups of broth, lentils, and lemon juice, and bring to simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl, and cover to keep warm.

Wipe skillet clean.  Pat salmon dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Place salmon in skillet and cook until browned on first side, about 5 minutes.  Gently flip fillets and continue to cook 3-5 minutes until fish registers 125º for medium-rare.  Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Wipe skillet clean again and return to medium-high heat.  Add cooked lentil mixture and remaining 1/4 cup broth and bring to a simmer.  Stir in chard leaves and remaining 1 tablespoon butter and cook, stirring constantly, until chard is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.  Serve with salmon and lemon wedges.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers


These were tasty, but I would recommend browning the sausage before stuffing them in the peppers because the meat still seemed a little pink when the peppers were done.  Other than that, they had good flavor and it was a filling meal when paired with a salad.

Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers
Recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
1/4 cup milk
12 oz Italian sausage, removed from its casing
1 small zucchini, chopped into 1/4" pieces
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Directions:
Microwave onion, garlic, oil, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Cut top 1/2 inch off each pepper.  Chop pepper tops finely, discarding stems.  Remove core and seeds from peppers.

Mash bread and milk together in a large bowl using a fork. Mix in the onion mixture, chopped pepper tops, sausage, zucchini, cheeses, cooked rice, 1 teapoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Pack filling evenly into peppers.

Pour 1/3 cup water into slow cooker.  Place stuffed peppers upright in slow cooker.  Cover and cook until peppers are tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.

Using tongs and slotted spoon, transfer peppers to a serving platter.  Sprinkle with basil and additional cheese if desired.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Butternut Squash and Chard Risotto


I had a big bag of Arborio rice sitting in my cupboard, and I've been eyeing this recipe for awhile.  I was going to wait until squash season, but I bought frozen butternut squash instead which worked just fine.  I added my own twist to the original recipe by adding some red chard.  Jeremy and I both enjoyed the taste of this risotto.  It turned out really well, but the portions were huge for two people, at least as a side dish to our salmon.   We ended up having enough leftovers for another meal.

Butternut Squash and Chard Risotto
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Best-Ever Cooking for Two 
Serves 2 (or more)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (~2 cups)
salt and pepper
~6 large leaves of red chard
2&1/2 cups water
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add squash in an even layer and cook without stirring until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 5 minutes longer.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling water, cook chard leaves for 3 minutes.  Drain and transfer leaves to an ice bath.  Remove leaves from icy water and wring dry.  Coarsely chop leaves and set aside.

Pour the broth and water into the pot and let simmer over medium-low heat to keep hot.

In the empty skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.  Stir in the chopped onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the rice to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes.  Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 3-5 minutes.

Add nutmeg, 2 cups of hot broth, chard, and half of squash to the rice.  Simmer, stirring every few minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes.  Repeat with additional hot broth two or three more times until rice is al dente.  Off heat, stir in Parmesan, sage, and remaining tablespoon butter, and gently fold in remaining squash.  Adjust consistency with remaining broth as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas


Here's the last recipe I made with Rachel for freezable meals.  We made some adjustments to the recipe to suit our needs, like using 10" flour tortillas and doubling the quantities.   Maybe next time I'd use the corn tortillas after all because the flour ones got a little soggy as they baked, but other than that, no complaints.  The flavor was great!  When using the larger tortillas, one enchilada was a large enough serving when paired with Mexican rice.

Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas
from America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2010
Serves 2; (3 enchiladas/serving)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1&1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup frozen corn
1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, cumin, and chili powder, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.   Off the heat, stir in the chicken, half of the cheese, corn, 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, chiles, and cilantro.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling down the center of each tortilla and tightly roll.  Lay them, seam side down, into an 8-inch square baking dish.  Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the rolled enchiladas and sprinkle the remaining half of the shredded cheese over the top.

Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is completely melted, about 5-10 minutes longer.