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 2017:
* Use the Spiralizer at least once per week for healthy veggie-rich meals
* Continue to spin from the Wheel of Meals for recipe inspiration

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Butterfinger Freezer Dessert

This is just a yummy cool summertime dessert that everyone seems to love.  It's easy and it's no-bake.  Win-win.  I brought it to my family's Father's Day get-together.

Butterfinger Freezer Dessert

2 cups crushed graham crackers
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 packages (3.4oz each) instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
1 quart butter pecan ice cream, softened
1 carton (8 oz) whipped topping, thawed
1 Butterfinger candy bar, chopped

In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Pat 3/4 of the mixture into a 13x9" baking pan.  Save the other 1/4 for the topping.  Refrigerate pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes until pudding thickens.  Stir in the softened ice cream until blended.  Spread over the chilled crust.  Spoon the whipped topping over the pudding layer and spread evenly.

Combine the candy bar and 1/4 cup cracker mixture and sprinkle evenly over the whipped topping.  Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Toffee Bits Triangles

I had some leftover chocolate chips and toffee bits, so I found this recipe online to use them up with other standard pantry ingredients I already had on hand.  I made a half-batch since that's what I had for ingredients, and they turned out pretty good. Maybe more than good.  I ate way too many.

Toffee Bits Triangles
from Hershey's online recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
8 oz pkg (1&1/3 cups) Heath Bits 'o Brickle Toffee Bits
12 oz pkg (2 cups) chocolate chips

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl on medium speed. Add vanilla and egg yolk and beat until well mixed.  Stir in flour and 1 cup of the toffee bits.

Press mixture into a 15x10" jelly roll pan (I recommend lining it with parchment paper for easier cleanup).  Bake at 350º for 16-20 minutes or until light brown.  

Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over top while still hot.  Wait 5 minutes to allow chips to melt, then spread chocolate evenly.  Sprinkle remaining toffee bits over top.  Cool completely.  Cut into squares, then triangles.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Butterscotch Pudding Pretzel Cookies

I decided to try a different cookie recipe and thought these sounded interesting.  I liked the combination of the salty pretzel with the sweet cookie with butterscotch and toffee bits.  I made half the batch with chocolate chips added in and half without.  I preferred the addition of the chocolate chips.

Butterscotch Pudding Pretzel Cookies
Makes 4 dozen cookies

2&1/2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 box (4-serving size) butterscotch instant pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups mini pretzel twists, coarsely crushed
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350º

In a large bowl, beat softened butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy.  Beat in dry pudding mix, then beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.   In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, soda, and salt, then beat into the cookie batter on low speed.  Stir in the crushed pretzels, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and toffee bits.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350º for 9-11 minutes until lightly brown.  Cool 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Chicken Adobo and Zucchini Fritters with Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Jeremy wanted tacos to celebrate the Mexican holiday, but we have tacos often, so I decided to go another route.  The Chicken Adobo was tasty, just on the edge of being too spicy for me and left my lips tingling a bit from the chipotles. The rice was a nice counter-balance to that.  I realized I forgot to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces but the recipe still worked with them as whole thighs. The zucchini fritters were good.  I liked them more than Jeremy did.  They could have used a little more seasoning overall, but the Cilantro-Lime Sauce did it a big favor.

Chicken Adobo
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen: The Best Mexican Recipes
Serves 4

3 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I left this out)
salt and pepper
1&1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
1 onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, run in food processor until smooth
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley
Rice (cook according to package instructions)

Combine chipotles, garlic, oregano, espresso powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl.   Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then coat completely with chipotle mixture.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Sear chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in molasses and tomatoes, and return chicken to the skillet along with any accumulated juices.    Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is fully cooked and sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve chicken over rice and spoon sauce over everything.  Sprinkle with cilantro.


Zucchini Fritters with Cilantro-Lime Sauce
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen: The Best Mexican Recipes
Serves 4 (3 fritters per serving)

1&1/2 lbs zucchini, shredded with large holes of a cheese grater
salt and pepper
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1&1/2 cups)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
2 scallions, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup flour
2-4 tablespooons vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)

1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon salt and let drain in a fine-mesh strainer for 10 minutes.  Wrap zucchini in a clean dish towel and wring out excess liquid.  Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the shredded cheese, eggs, jalapeños, scallions, oregano, coriander, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cilantro.  Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to incorporate.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Drop 1/4 cup portions of batter into skillet and use the back of a flipper to press into ~3-inch-wide fritters.  You should be able to fit 6 fritters in one pan.  Cook until well browned and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes per side.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm with the cilantro-lime sauce.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dulce de Leche Banana Cream Pie

I decided to try a new recipe for Easter.  It was good, but there was a little too much caramel which was too runny in the bottom layer, making a mess in the pie plate.  I was surprised that it never set because I had refrigerated the pie for a full 24 hours.  It still tasted good though, and it was really easy to prepare.  I much prefer my other Banana Cream Pie recipe which is more of a Banana Pudding Cream Pie and I'd stick with that next time.  Still, here is the recipe for all the caramel lovers.  The only changes I made to the original recipe were using a pre-made graham cracker crust and store-bought whipped cream to save time, and those changes are reflected in the directions.

Dulce de Leche Banana Cream Pie
Adapted from Food Network Channel website

1 graham cracker crust
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 (8 oz) tub of Cool Whip
1 cup store-bought dulce de leche (Caramel Sweetened Condensed Milk)
3 medium bananas, sliced
1/2 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts (for garnish)

Using a hand-held mixer, whip the cream and butter at medium speed until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and cinnamon, and whip at low speed until just combined.  Fold in the whipped cream.

Spread the dulce de leche over the crust and top with the sliced bananas, forming 2 layers of bananas if necessary.  Spread the whipped topping mixture over the top.  Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.
To serve, top the pie with a border of chopped peanuts.  Warm some dulce de leche in the microwave until melted and drizzle over the pie.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Roasted Kohlrabi Chips

I made these as a healthy Superbowl snack because I had some leftover kohlrabi bulbs I needed to use up.  They were okay for a vegetable.  I think they would be perfectly fine as a side dish to a meal, but it wasn't a craveable snack item to me (like potato chips).  The burnt crispy ones actually tasted the best.  Jeremy agreed.

Roasted Kohlrabi

4 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the kohlrabi into 1/4" thick slices and then cut in half.  

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the kohlrabi slices in the olive oil mixture until well coated.  Spread kohlrabi on a baking sheet.

Bake at 450º for 15-20 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the Kohlrabi.  Return to oven and bake another 5 minutes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Shrimp & Kohlrabi Tortilla Soup

I'm pretty sure I haven't cooked with kohlrabi before.  In this recipe, the kohlrabi strips take the place of traditional tortilla strips as the crunchy aspect.   I liked the soup, especially the shrimp and avocados.  Next time, I'd cut back on the broth by a cup or two because it slightly watered down the soup.  Still tasty though--and really fast to make for a quick lunch.  The prep takes longer than the actual cooking.

Shrimp & Kohlrabi Tortilla Soup
from Inspiralize Everything
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (15oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 avocado, sliced
juice of 2 small limes
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and spiralized into thin, short strips (or use a cheese grater)
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook for about 3 minutes until softened.  Add in the garlic and jalapeno and cook another 30 seconds.  Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cumin, and paprika.

Add the broth, tomatoes, and beans to the pot.  Increase heat to high and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and add the shrimp, avocado, and lime juice.  Simmer for 5 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Stir in the cilantro and kohlrabi noodles, season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 1 minute.  Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Nutrition:  384 calories, 15g fiber, 36g protein

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Blueberry Phyllo Turnovers

I was craving something sweet and I knew I had blueberries and phyllo sheets taking up space in the freezer.  I decided to google search the combo, and found a few recipes online for strudels and turnovers.  This is my version.  Try to stop yourself from eating more than one.  Wow, they're good-- especially still warm from the oven with a little whipped cream.  Yum.

Blueberry Phyllo Turnovers
Makes 8-10 Turnovers

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1/2 box (1 roll) Phyllo Dough, defrosted
4 tablespoons butter, melted  (or cooking spray if you wanna be healthy)
sugar for sprinkling (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the blueberries, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Cook until blueberries are bubbling, then reduce to low and simmer a couple minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Place a single phyllo sheet on a clean counter and brush the phyllo with melted butter (or spray with cooking spray for a healthier version). Place another phyllo sheet directly on top of the first and brush that with butter too.  Repeat until there are 4 stacked sheets (the top one doesn't need butter).  Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the stacked sheets in half lengthwise so you have two long rectangles.   Each long rectangle will make 1 turnover.  (Note: Keep phyllo sheets you are not working with under plastic and a damp towel so they don't rip and crumble as you work with them.) 

Place 2 tablespoons of the blueberry mixture on the far end of one of the rectangles, keeping a 1-inch border of phyllo around it.  Fold the dough at a 45º angle to create a triangle over the blueberries.  Repeat again, and continue to fold into triangles, enclosing the blueberries in the dough.  Place seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat mat.   Repeat steps for the remaining dough until you run out of sheets or blueberries.

If desired, brush the tops of the turnovers with melted butter or cooking spray and sprinkle with sugar.   Bake at 375º for about 15 minutes until golden brown.   Let cool on a wire rack for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Venison Chili

We had some ground venison in our freezer to use, so I thawed it out to make this chili recipe I found online.  I liked it.  I couldn't detect any gaminess from the venison.  I would have assumed it was ground beef.   The chili had just enough heat for my taste and it was hearty and perfect for a cold winter evening.  I served it with a cornbread muffin.  Yum.

Venison Chili
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground venison
1 (~15oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or any red chili bean)
1 (~15oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (~15oz) can tomato puree
shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, or whatever you like

Heat oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  Cook until veggies are soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add venison and cook, breaking up clumps with a spoon, until the venison is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the beans, tomatoes, and tomato puree.  Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.   Remove lid and continue to simmer another 30 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with whatever toppings you like with your chili.

Cucumber, Avocado, and Strawberry Salad

I've been a spiralizing maniac lately.  The cookbook named this as a salsa to use as a dip for chips, but I decided to add feta and walnuts and make a nice lunchtime salad out of it and ditch the chips.  I added a greek yogurt on the side for some protein, and it was a completely delicious and satisfying lunch.   I liked the combo of crunchiness from the cucumber noodles and walnuts along with the creaminess of the avocado and feta.  The strawberries added a lovely sweet note.

Cucumber, Avocado, and Strawberry Salad
adapted from Inspiralized
Makes 2 salads

1 large seedless cucumber
1&1/2 cups hulled and chopped strawberries
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon honey
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Spiralize the cucumber and trim into small strands.  Pat with paper towels to absorb excess moisture.

In a large bowl, combine the cucumber noodles, strawberries, avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, and onion.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and honey, and season with a little salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.   Divide salad between two plates and top with feta and walnuts.   Serve.