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

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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Grilled Chicken with Honey-Mustard Glaze

Apparently, the secret to juicy grilled boneless chicken is milk powder.  I decided to test it out (although it was weird to buy a whole big box of milk powder in order to use just 2 teaspoons of it).  I gotta say, whatever I did, it worked.  The chicken breasts didn't dry out at all and the glaze stuck nicely and got a nice browning without burning.  This was my first time trying the brining technique as well.  Perhaps that's what kept the chicken so juicy.  I really liked the flavor of the glaze.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Grilled Brined Chicken with a Honey-Mustard Glaze
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen: Master of the Grill
Serves 4

1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 (6-to 8-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
vegetable oil spray
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

To make the brine, dissolve the salt and sugar in 1&1/2 quarts (6 cups) water in a large bowl.  Submerge chicken in the brine; cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.  Whisk the vinegar and cornstarch in a small saucepan until dissolved.  Whisk in the remaining ingredients.  Bring mixture to a boil over high heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute.  Transfer glaze to a bowl.

When ready, remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Combine the milk powder and black pepper in a small bowl and sprinkle over both sides of the chicken.  Spray with cooking spray until milk powder is moistened.

Place chicken on preheated grill over medium-high heat until browned on first side, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip chicken and brush with 2 tablespoons glaze, and cook for 2 minutes.  Repeat flipping and glazing two more times, cooking for 2 minutes each time.  Flip one more time, glaze, and cook until chicken registers 160º, about 1-3 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats

I made these as a light and fresh potluck item for after our league tennis match and the ladies seemed to really like them. I was asked for the recipe several times.  I think these boats would taste best warm from the oven, but I served them cold from the fridge for convenience and they tasted just fine that way too.   I cut the boats into segments to serve as little zucchini bites.

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats
recipe from the internet

4 medium zucchini
1 cup red bell pepper, minced
1/2 cup tomatoes, minced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1/4 cup garlic, minced
3-4 tablespoons oregano, dried
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup parsley, fineley chopped

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle with a spoon.  (You can either scoop the whole length to make one big boat, or make small circles to serves as individual bites.) Discard flesh or save for another use.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the bell pepper, tomatoes, olives, garlic, oregano, and black pepper.  Distribute mixture evenly in each zucchini boat.  Place on rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350º for 15 minutes.  Top with feta cheese and broil on high for 3 more minutes.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

May serve hot or cold.  Refrigerate covered for up to 2-3 days.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Molasses Spice Cookies with Rum Glaze

I decided to make these cookies for an event because I already had all the ingredients in my cupboard.  I liked the cookies with and without the rum glaze.  I tried one of each, of course, for quality assurance purposes. ;)

Molasses Spice Cookies with Rum Glaze
from The New Best Recipes Cookbook
Makes ~24 cookies

2&1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1&1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1&1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1&1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons rum

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the yolk and vanilla, and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Add the molasses and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl if needed.

Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl.  Wet hands with a little water and scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough.  Roll it between moistened palms to form a ball; drop ball into sugar and repeat to form 4-6 balls.  Toss the balls in the sugar to coat and set on a parchment-paper-lined (or Silpat-lined or sprayed) baking sheet.  Repeat for the remaining dough.

Bake, one tray at a time, at 375º on middle rack for about 11 minutes, until cookies are browned and still puffy, the edges have begun to set, but the middles are still soft.  Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and rum.  Use the whisk to drizzle the glaze over the top of the cookies.  Allow 10-15 minutes for the glaze to dry.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Baked Yellow Squash Chips

I had a couple leftover summer squash to use and thought this would be a fun way to eat my vegetables. Plus I had leftover Cotija cheese that I needed to use which replaces Parmesan well.  I liked these little bites.  Of course, everything tastes better with Parmesan bread crumbs, right?  Zucchini would work well for this recipe too.

Baked Yellow Squash Chips

2 yellow squash or zucchini, sliced into 1/4"-1/2" rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup Panko or regular breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used Cotija cheese this time)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450º.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack on top.  Lightly coat rack with cooking spray.

In one bowl, combine squash and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and seasonings.   Dip the slices of squash into the breadcrumb mixture and coat on both sides, pressing to make it stick.  Place the squash in a single layer on the wire rack.

If desired, lightly spray the squash with cooking spray to ensure a crunchier texture.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the chips are a golden brown.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Grilled Tandoori Chicken and Zucchini

It was another gorgeous evening to fire up the grill.  I decided to grill chicken because I thought it would be a good accompaniment for the leftover mango salsa in our fridge.  And because I wanted something green on the plate, we grilled up some zucchini spears too.  Most of the tandoori marinade fell off while grilling, but the flavor still remained.  The photo really doesn't do justice to the tender flavorful chicken that resulted.  I liked the grilled zucchini as well.

Tandoori Chicken Breasts
from Weber's Best Summer Grilling Recipes magazine

1 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Blend together all the marinade ingredients and put in a large resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken and seal the bag, turning to distribute the marinade all over the chicken.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning occasionally.

When ready to grill, remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade.  Grill over direct medium heat until the chicken is done and no longer pink in the middle, about 8-10 minutes, turning once.

Grilled Zucchini   
Cut a zucchini lengthwise into quarters to make long spears.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and a little lemon zest.  Grill for a minute or two on each side until crisp-tender.  Sprinkle with a little more lemon zest if desired.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Coconut Rice and Tropical Salsa

Ever since I tasted coconut rice at Emeril's Delmonico restaurant in New Orleans, I've been wanting to give it a shot at home.  I found this recipe online, and went for it.  The grilled marinated fish was good, the salsa was excellent, and the rice was just okay.  It didn't have enough creamy sweet coconut flavor that I remember from my dining experience.  I think next time I'd add the entire can of coconut milk and cut back on the regular water.  Although the ingredient list looks long, the recipe was quick and easy.  We also grilled some fresh asparagus since it's in season right now.

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Coconut Rice and Tropical Salsa
Recipe from Emeril Lagasse (Food Network)
4 servings

1/2 cup sliced yellow onions
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch cayenne
4 mahi-mahi fillets, skin on (6-8oz each)

Coconut Rice:
1 cup coconut milk
1&1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup long grain white rice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Tropical Salsa:
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/4 cup minced shallot
1/4 cup minced red bell peppers
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons minced jalapeno
pinch salt

In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.  Add the fish and spoon the marinade over the top. Cover and refrigerate for up to one hour.

Meanwhile, to make the coconut rice, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Add the rice, stir well, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer undisturbed until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy, about 20-24 minutes.  Let sit off the heat for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in the cilantro.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

To make the salsa, mix together all the ingredients.  Let sit for 30 minutes to let the flavors blend.

Preheat a grill and lightly oil the rack.  Place the fish on the grill and cook, skin side up, until marked, 1-2 minutes.  Flip the fish and cook skin side down until the fish is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes depending on thickness.   Place fish over rice and top with the salsa.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Spicy Grilled Chicken with Baja Black Beans and Rice

Happy Cinco de Mayo! It's been awhile since I've posted a recipe.  We decided to be festive today and make a Mexican-inspired dinner.  Despite the name, I didn't think the chicken was overly spicy; it was just the right amount of heat.  I liked the veggie-filled rice too.  Overall, a really flavorful and filling dish and easy to prepare and relatively quick to cook.

Spicy Grilled Chicken with Baja Black Beans and Rice
Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens:Ultimate Mexican magazine
Makes 4-6 servings

1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
pinch salt and pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (~1&1/2 lbs total)
2 cups broth
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup canned black beans
1 can (14.5oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can (4oz) diced green chile peppers
1 cup long grain rice, uncooked
1 cup chopped zucchini (1 small)
1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
crumbled Cotija cheese (optional)
avocado slices (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients.  Sprinkle over all sides of the chicken breasts and rub in.  Set aside.

In a 4-quart Dutch Oven or pot, combine broth, corn, beans, tomatoes, chiles, and rice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes.  Stir in the zucchini and cook for 3-5 more minutes.  Stir in cilantro.

Meanwhile, grill the chicken breasts on a lightly greased grill rack over medium heat for 12-15 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center (160º).   Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Slice the chicken and serve with the rice mixture.  If desired, top with Cotija cheese and avocado.