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, 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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Chocolate Cream Pie

Another Easter dessert I made.  It was really rich but really good.   It took a lot longer than 6-8 minutes for my custard to thicken on the stovetop, but I was patient and it eventually got there.  Sorry my photo isn't the best.  I didn't get a chance to get a nice slice before everyone started digging in. I guess that's a good sign.

Chocolate Cream Pie

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz Ghiradelli unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 oreo chocolate pie crust

Whipped Topping:
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
shaved chocolate (optional)

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan.  Whisk gently until combined.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg yolks.  Add the milk mixture to the saucepan in a slow and steady stream, whisking until the mixture is smooth.  Cook over medium heat, constantly whisking, until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, 6-8 minutes.  Immediately turn the heat down to a simmer and cook 1 minute more, continuously whisking, until thick.

Off the heat, immediately whisk in the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract.  Transfer the filling to a bowl and press saran wrap directly over the surface to prevent a film from forming.  Store in the fridge until cook, 1-2 hours.   Once cool, spoon the filling into the chocolate crust.  Once again, cover with saran wrap and press against surface.  Chill for at least 6 hours or up to one day.

To make the whipped topping, use an electric mixer to whip the cream until the whisk begins to leave tracks in the cream.  Add the sugar and whip until the cream holds medium silky peaks.  Spread the cream over the chocolate filling.  Sprinkle with shaved chocolate to decorate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I found this recipe online and made it for Easter.  I thought it was super delicious.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1&1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple in juice, undrained

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

In a large bowl, mix together the apple sauce, oil, sugar, and eggs.  Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and stir well to combine.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Pour into a lightly greased 10x15-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely.

To make frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Spread on top of the cooled cake and serve.  May be stored covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry

I wanted something easy, light, and meatless, so I settled on this recipe.  We liked it, but the ratio of shrimp to veggies was heavy on the shrimp.  I had already added bell pepper to the original recipe, but I would add even more veggies next time--more broccoli, perhaps some shredded carrots too.  The seasoning and overall flavor was good though.

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry
from Cooking Light: One-Dish Meals Magazine
Makes 4 servings, ~200 cal/serving (without rice)

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon cornstarch
salt and pepper
canola oil
1/4 cup green onions, cut diagonally into 1" pieces
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Pat shrimp dry with paper towels.  In a medium bowl, combine shrimp with cornstarch and a dash of salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and add shrimp mixture; Stir-fry 4 minutes.  Remove shrimp and place in medium bowl.

To the empty skillet, add 1/2 tablespoon oil and add green onions, ginger, and garlic.  Stir-fry 45 seconds and then add mixture to the bowl with the shrimp.

To the empty skillet, add 1 tablespoon oil and the broccoli and bell pepper.  Stir fry 2 minutes and then return the shrimp-onion mixture to the skillet along with the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done and broccoli is crisp-tender.   Serve over rice.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weeknight Beef Chili

Simple and good crockpot recipe to warm your bones on a winter day.  We added a little shredded cheese from the fridge that we wanted to use up and I made some corn bread muffins and a side salad to accompany the chili.  This would also be good with elbow macaroni for chili-mac.

Weeknight Beef Chili
from Slow Cooker Revolution Vol 2
Makes 4 servings

1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, rinsed
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
1&1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced chipotle chili
salt and pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the beef just until no longer pink.  Mix in the chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, and cumin.  Transfer to a medium Slow Cooker.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.   Serve.