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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Basil Pesto

I'm always looking for ways to use the basil in my garden.  This was a good recipe.  I served it with some grilled chicken wings because Jeremy needs his meat for dinner, but it was filling enough to be a main course on its own.  Many someday I'll make my own homemade gnocchi, but for tonight, this was fast and easy.

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Basil Pesto
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb package of potato gnocchi
1 bunch asparagus, top half chopped into 1" pieces
1/3 cup Basil Pesto
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Basil Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor.  Pulse until chopped, then slowly add the oil with the motor running until smooth.  Add the cheese and pulse until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Cook the gnocchi for a few minutes in boiling water (as directed on packaging) until they float to the surface.  Drain.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the asparagus and gnocchi and cook about 3 minutes.  Turn the gnocchi and cook another 3 minutes until golden and crisp.  Off the heat, stir in about 1/3 cup basil pesto.  Serve with a little freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.

Caprese Panini with Balsamic Syrup

I had some tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella left over from the previous dinner recipe, so this made a delicious lunch sandwich.  You can't see the balsamic syrup in the photo, but it added really nice flavor to the sandwich.

Caprese Panini with Bacon and Balsamic Syrup

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 slices bread
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 large basil leaves
2 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese (just enough to cover bread)
2 slices bacon
2 thin tomato slices
pinch salt
pinch pepper
cooking spray

Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 1-2 tablespoons (~5-7 minutes).

Brush outer sides of bread slices with olive oil.  Brush the balsamic syrup on the inside of the bread slices.  Top the inside slice with basil leaves, cheese, bacon, and tomato.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add sandwich to pan and place a heavy skillet on top and gently press to flatten.  Cook 3 minutes each side or until cheese melts and bread is toasted.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Caprese Chicken and Italian Baked Zucchini

Classic combo of basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella added to a chicken breast with a balsamic vinegar reduction.  Delicious.  I really liked the balsamic reduction sauce.  It made the photo uglier, but the flavor really blended well with the tomatoes and chicken and added extra moisture.  Instead of grape or cherry tomatoes, I just used slices of a regular tomato because that's what I had on hand. For the zucchini, I just sprinkled oil and various herbs and Parmesan cheese over the spears and baked until crisp-tender.

Caprese Chicken for 2

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tomato slices (or a handful of halved grape tomatoes)
2 tablespoons shredded basil, plus extra for garnish
2-4 slices fresh mozzarella (depends on size)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, and cook until golden and cooked through, about 6-7 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.

Add balsamic vinegar to the skillet to deglaze, then add garlic and stir 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes and season with salt.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in basil.

Return chicken to the skillet between the tomatoes.  Top each chicken with enough mozzarella to cover the breast and cover with a lid for a couple minutes to melt the cheese.

To plate, spoon tomatoes over the chicken and top with some fresh basil.

Baked Zucchini for 2

Cut a zucchini lengthwise into 4 spears.  Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over the spears, and sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, garlic powder, and grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350º for 12-15 minutes until desired level of tenderness.  Serve warm.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Lemon-Thyme Baked Salmon

This recipe was fabulous.  I have a lot of lemon thyme growing in my herb garden, so I looked around for a good recipe that would utilize it and found this one online by Baker by Nature.  I adjusted the quantities a bit and kind of eyeballed amounts. Whatever I did, it worked.   It was fast, easy, and delicious.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Lemon-Thyme Baked Salmon
Recipe slightly adapted from Baker by Nature webpage
Serves 2

2 (~6 oz) salmon fillets
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (I probably used more)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
lemon wedges, for serving

Whisk together the lemon zest, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, honey, and lemon juice.  Spoon sauce over the salmon fillets, generously coating the fish.   Place fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil.  Bake at 400º for 13-15 minutes until salmon is done.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hoisin Chicken Udon Noodles

I had some dry udon noodles in my cupboard and a lot of green onions in my garden, so I decided to make this Asian-inspired dish.  I chose not to add sriracha because I didn't have any on hand and it might have gotten too spicy for me.  Overall, it was a tasty meal.

Hoisin Chicken Udon Noodles
Serves 4

8oz udon noodles
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (I skipped this)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 small head broccoli, chopped into small florets
3 green onions, chopped
black pepper to taste

Cook udon noodles according to package directions.  Drain well and rinse.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and sesame seed oil in a large skillet.  Add the chicken pieces and cook until chicken starts to brown slightly.  Add the ginger, garlic, and broccoli, and cook for a couple more minutes.  Add the soy sauce, hoisin, sriracha, and chicken broth, and bring to a boil.  Add the noodles and stir until everything is heated through.   Serve with green onions as a garnish.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs

This marinade was awesome.  I really liked the flavor, and I'll definitely use it again.  It would work well with chicken breasts, pork, fish, whatever.   Grilling really helped bring out the caramelization flavor of the honey marinade.  I used thighs because they were on sale at the store.  I like them because they stay juicy and flavorful and the portion size is just right for me.   Winner.

Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs
Serves 4-6

1&1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
lemon wedges (optional)

Whisk together the garlic, oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.  Pour into a large resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken and turn to coat.  Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.

Grill chicken thighs over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side or until an internal temperature of 165º has been reached.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes and top with juice from lemon.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Grilled Monterey Chicken

This was an easy and delicious weeknight meal.  I love grilling chicken because the meat stays tender and juicy.  I liked the mustardy grilled flavor of the chicken, and the addition of cheese, bacon, and salsa added extra punch.   I served it with grilled corn on the cob and a side salad of lettuce from my garden.  Light and yummy!

Monterey Chicken
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen: Master of the Grill
Serves 4

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 (6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
4 slices Pepper-Jack cheese

Pico de Gallo:
2 tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.  Reserve 1/4 cup for basting chicken on grill.  Pour the remainder into a gallon sized resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken to the bag and toss to coat.  Seal and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When ready, grill chicken breasts over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Flip, brush with reserved honey-mustard sauce, and grill for another 5 minutes.  Place a slice of cheese on top of each chicken breast, cover, and cook for about 2 more minutes, until cheese is melted and chicken is done.   Serve chicken topped with homemade Pico de Gallo and crumbled bacon.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and Couscous

We were hosting a guest, and I thought this would be a good recipe that I could prepare ahead of time and then throw on the grill when we were ready to eat.   It turned out excellent.  We all enjoyed the flavor of the chicken.  I liked the yogurt dipping sauce as well, although the recipe made WAY too much and I'd recommend cutting it in half.  As a bonus, I was able to use a lot of fresh mint from my herb garden.  The recipe looks long, but it was easy.  I made a salad and Moroccan Couscous recipe to go along with our kabobs because it's super fast to prepare. I liked the cinnamon flavor of the couscous.

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce
Recipe from Weber's Best Summer Grilling Recipes
Serves 4

Marinade Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1&1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

4 (6oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1&1/2" pieces

2 cups whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1&1/2" squares
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1&1/2"squares
1 small red onion, cut into 8 wedges and separated into layers

Whisk the marinade ingredients.  Pour 1/4 cup of marinade into a medium bowl and reserve for the vegetables.  Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal and turn to distribute the marinade.  Refrigerate for 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Whisk the sauce ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Put the veggies in the bowl with the reserved marinade and turn to coat.   Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade.  Thread the chicken, peppers, and onion alternately onto skewers (if using wood, soak for at least 30 minutes first).

Grill the kabobs over direct medium heat until the meat is done, about 8-10 minutes, turning once or twice.  Remove from the grill and let rest for 2-3 minutes.  Serve warm with the sauce.


Moroccan Spiced Couscous
Recipe from Thug Kitchen
Serves 4

1&1/2 cups couscous
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1&1/2 cups boiling water
1&1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 to 3 cups spinach, chopped into thick ribbons
1 cup chopped orange segments

Mix the couscous, salt, and spices in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the boiling water and stir.  Cover and let sit for 8 minutes until all the water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.

Mix together the oil and vinegar and add to the couscous.  Fold in the spinach and orange pieces.  Season to taste and serve,

Monday, July 4, 2016

Grilled Salmon with Chipotle Butter and Roasted Cauliflower Boats

I was in the mood for salmon, so I found this recipe in one of my grilling cookbooks.  We decided to put it on a cedar plank instead of directly on the grill which gave it more wood-smoked flavor. Plus, it made grill cleanup easier.  I loved this recipe, although I think I could have added another chipotle to the butter to really enhance that flavor.  As as side dish, I discovered this super light cauliflower-endive leaf appetizer.  I added a chopped tomato to the recipe to add even more veggies/color to the filling.  It was fun to try something different for a veggie.  I liked it. :)

Grilled Salmon with Chipotle Butter
Recipe from Weber's Best Summer Grilling Recipes
Serves 4

4 salmon fillets (with skin), 6-8oz each
vegetable oil
salt and pepper
lime wedges (for serving)
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
2-3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine the butter ingredients.  Set aside.

Generously brush the salmon with oil and season evenly with salt and pepper.  Grill on the grates or on a soaked cedar plank over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily.  Smear some chipotle butter over each fillet and serve warm with lime wedges if desired.


Cauliflower "Caviar" with Frizzled Prosciutto
Adapted from Cooking Light: Pick Fresh
~30 calories/leaf (if small I assume)
Made 6 (medium?) leaves

2 cups chopped cauliflower florets
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 oz prosciutto, chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons diced tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6-12 Belgian endive leaves (depends on size)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

Arrange cauliflower on a baking sheet. Drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to combine.  Bake at 400º for 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is lightly browned.

Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil and add prosciutto.  Saute for 10 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Drain on paper towels.

Combine cauliflower, prosciutto, and vinegar together in a medium bowl.  Mash with a fork if you need to further reduced cauliflower size.  Stir in the tomatoes and parsley.  Spoon 2 tablespoons into each leaf and top with chives.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Grilled Lamb Chop with Lemon-Mint Salsa Verde, Baked Eggplant Fries, and Pesto Caprese Zucchini Salad

It's a Mediterranean meal tonight.  I had a lot of basil and mint to harvest from my herb garden, and I thought these recipes would help me use some of it.   The lamb recipe called for loin or rib chops, but the store only had shoulder, so I used that instead.  Less pricey, and still delicious.  The pesto caprese salad was okay.  I don't own a spiralizer, so I just used a box grater to make the zucchini "noodles."  My favorite item on the plate was the eggplant fries.  The recipe said you can dip them in marinara sauce, but I liked them enough just on their own.  I had been scared to eat/use eggplant after a disastrous eggplant casserole recipe I made several years ago and had to throw out after one bite (yes, every once in awhile a recipe I attempt is just plain bad).  But I tried eggplant fries at a restaurant and loved them so much I wanted to give them a try at home.  Glad I did!

Grilled Lamb Chop with Lemon-Mint Salsa Verde
from Weber's Best Summer Grilling Recipes
Serves 4

8 lamb loin or rib chops, 1&1/4" thick (I used shoulder)
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon roughly chopped shallot
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine all the salsa ingredients except the oil and pulse to a rough chop.  With the motor running, add the oil to form a chunky salsa.  Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to avoid discoloration.  (The salsa can be made up to 4 hours in advance stored in the fridge.  Bring to room temp and stir before serving)

Lightly brush the lamb chops with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before grilling.

Grill over medium-high to high heat for 8-10 minutes total, turning once.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve warm with salsa spooned on top.


Crispy Baked Eggplant Fries
Serves 3-4

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4" thick strips
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In one bowl, combine flour with a little salt and pepper.  In a second bowl, add the eggs,  In the third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and seasonings.    Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour mixture, then into the egg, and finally into the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or nonstick foil).  Bake at 425º until golden brown, about 10 minutes.   Enjoy alone or with your favorite dipping sauce (ketchup, marinara sauce, yogurt, etc).


Pesto Caprese Zucchini Salad
Serves 2

1 medium zucchini, spiralized or run through large holes of box grater
2 thick slices tomato
2 slices mozzarella cheese (2 oz each)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
salt and pepper
2 basil leaves
2 teaspoons pine nuts
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1&1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove
salt and pepper, to taste

Place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until creamy.  

In a medium bowl, add the zucchini noodles and toss with the pesto.

Plate the pesto zucchini and top with the tomato and mozzarella.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with basil leaf.