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, November 20, 2015

Spiced Cod with Couscous

This was an easy and tasty fish dish.  I didn't have fresh mint on hand, so we omitted that ingredient.  Jeremy didn't like the raisins, but I did.

Spiced Cod with Couscous
Recipe from Martha Stewart Living: One Pot
Serves 4

4 skinless 6-oz cod fillets
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut into thin strips
1&1/4 cups water
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
lemon wedges, for serving

Mix together the coriander, paprika, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Gently rub the spice mixture on the fish.  Set aside.

In a 9x13" baking dish, mix together the carrots, water, couscous, almonds, raisins, mind, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Place the fish on top of the couscous mixture.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake at 450º for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked.

Fluff couscous with a fork and serve fish and couscous with mint sprigs and a lemon wedge.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Crockpot Moroccan Chicken

This smelled amazing as it was cooking in the slow cooker.  I didn't have a cinnamon stick, so I added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the pot.  It spiced the carrots, but not really the chicken.  Still, the chicken tasted good.  I liked the recipe.  I served it with some couscous.

Crockpot Moroccan Chicken
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living-One Pot
Serves 4

8 bone-in chicken thighs (I had 4 large ones instead)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, cut into 1&1/2-inch lengths
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cinnamon stick (I used a teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (I had parsley on hand so I used that)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large slow cooker with a browning option, brown the chicken in oil.  (I browned them in a skillet on the stovetop instead)

To the slow cooker, add the carrots, garlic, cinnamon, and cumin.  Place browned chicken on top.  Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.  Add raisins 15 minutes before done.

Transfer the chicken and carrots to a serving dish, top with cilantro and almonds, and spoon pot liquid over the chicken (oops, I forgot to do this).

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thyme-Dusted Pork Medallions with Pear-Rutabaga Mash

I decided to spin from my Wheel of Meals as recipe inspiration, and it landed on New to You.   I don't remember ever cooking with Rutabaga, so I picked that as my "new" ingredient.  The pork was good, but the rutabaga mash was strange--not bad, but the pears and orange juice made it sweet.  It almost reminded me of squash.

Thyme-Dusted Pork Medallions with Pear-Rutabaga Mash
Recipe from One Pan, Two Plates
Serves 2

10 oz pork tenderloin, cut into 1" thick rounds
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces
1 shallot, chopped
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and cut into 1" cubes
3 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon orange zest

Season the pork medallions on both sides with salt and pepper and sprinkle the thyme over one side, pressing to help it stick.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  When it begins to shimmer, add the pork to the pan, thyme-side down, and brown them, about 2 minutes.  Flip and brown on the other side, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate (they are not fully cooked yet).

Add the diced rutabaga, shallot, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add the orange juice and bring it to a simmer.  Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the pear and 2 teaspoons butter, and cook, covered, another 2 minutes.  Arrange the pork medallions on top, re-cover, and cook until the pork is rosy, about 2 minutes longer.

Divide the pork medallions between two warmed plates.  Pour off all but 1/4 cup liquid from the skillet and season the rutabaga with salt and pepper as needed.  Add the orange zest and smash the rutabaga-pear mixture with a potato masher until it resembles lumpy mashed potatoes.  Scoop the mash onto the plates alongside the pork and dot with a little butter.  Serve hot.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Strip Steaks with Parsley Sauce and Crispy Potatoes

A simple and quick steak and potatoes recipe. Can't go wrong with a strip steak--tender and juicy and oh so flavorful.  I had a lot of parsley that I recently harvested, so this seemed like a good way to use some of it.  The sauce goes well with both the steak and the potatoes, although I liked them perfectly fine without it.

New York Strip Steaks with Parsley Sauce 
and Crispy Red Potatoes
From The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Serves 2

12 oz red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch wedges
3 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
2 (8-oz) boneless NY strip steaks, 3/4" thick, trimmed

Parsley Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

To make the parsley sauce, process all the ingredients in a food processor until well combined, about 20 seconds.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Cover and microwave until potatoes begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.  Drain well.

Meanwhile, pat steaks dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Lay steaks in skillet and cook until well browned on first side, 3 -5 minutes.  Flip steaks, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until meat registers 125º for medium-rare, 2-4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the fat left in the skillet and heat until shimmering.  Add the drained potatoes and cook until tender and golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Serve steaks with the parsley sauce and potatoes.

Herb Sandwich Bread

We were out of bread.  I was bored and had lots of time.  I had herbs from my garden.  It was the perfect storm to make my own yummy loaf of bread.  I used the basic Sandwich Bread recipe from the cookbook and just added some chopped rosemary, thyme, and parsley to the dough.  Good stuff, especially with a little herb butter.

Herb Sandwich Bread
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen: The New Best Recipe
Makes one 9-inch loaf

3 & 1/2 cups flour (potentially more)
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm milk (~110º, no higher than 120º)
1/3 cup warm water (~110º, no higher than 120º)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 envelope instant dry yeast
~1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
~1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
~1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Adjust an oven rack to the low position and hear the oven to 200º.  Once the oven is preheated, maintain the heat for 10 minutes and then turn off the oven.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the flour and salt.   In a 4-cup measuring cup or bowl, mix together the milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast.  Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid.  Pour in the herbs as well.  When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and not sticky, about 10 minutes, stopping a couple times to scrape dough from the hook if necessary.  (If, after 5 minutes, the dough is still sticky, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 1/4 cup, until no longer sticky.)

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.  Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to lightly coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 40-50 minutes.

On your work surface, gently press the dough into an 8-inch square.  Roll into a tight cylinder, making sure dough sticks to itself as you roll.  Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9x5" loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the dough nearly doubles in size again, 20-30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350º.   Pour 2 cups hot water into a shallow baking pan and place on the bottom rack of the oven.  On the middle rack, place the loaf pan (remove the plastic wrap).  Bake 40-50 minutes until a thermometer inserted in the bread reads 195º.  Remove bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature.  Slice and serve.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Braised Lentils with Polish Kielbasa and Cabbage

I wanted to give this recipe a try because Jeremy loves kielbasa and because I had lentils in my cupboard that needed to get used.  After a small amount of prep work chopping the veggies, it was convenient throwing everything into one skillet to do its work (also nice for the clean up).  I thought the recipe tasted great and was really filling.  Jeremy said he'd prefer less lentils.  My fresh rosemary from our herb garden really popped in this dish. The serving size was way too big-we had a large 3rd serving left over.

Braised Lentils with Polish Kielbasa and Cabbage
from One Pan, Two Plates
Serves 2 (extremely large servings)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
1 garlic glove, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup dried lentils
1&1/4 cups chicken broth
8 oz Polish kielbasa, cut into bite-sized pieces

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.  When it begins to shimmer, add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 1 minute.  Add the cabbage, carrot, celery, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Saute about 3 minutes, until the veggies begin to soften.

Pour in the wine and cook until it has almost cooked off, about a minute.  Add the lentils, chicken broth, and kielbasa, and stir, making sure to immerse the lentils in the liquid.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover, simmering for about 25 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Balsamic-Braised Chicken Thighs

I had some chicken thighs in the freezer and this recipe looked like a good way to use them up.  The cookbook is supposed to be "meals for two" but I have no idea how the author thinks one person can eat 3 thighs.  I was stuffed after two.  Oh well.  Now we have leftovers for another night. I added my own take to the recipe by substituting pre-cooked polenta (because I'm lazy that way) and roasting some asparagus.  The cookbook didn't include a photo, but I think mine looks fairly elegant.  The bacon was really unnecessary but still tasty.  I really liked the chicken and gave it two thumbs up, but Jeremy thought the fig sauce made it too sweet for his taste (but he dislikes any type of fruit and meat together).

Balsamic-Braised Chicken Thighs
over Polenta with Figs and Roasted Asparagus
Recipe adapted from One Pan, Two Plates

5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 slices bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 dried Calimyrna figs, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 slices cooked polenta
roasted asparagus (make while you cook the chicken)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon.  Cook, turning as needed until crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper towel to drain.

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken to the bacon drippings in the skillet and cook until nicely browned on both sides (2-3 minutes per side).  Transfer chicken to a plate (it won't be fully cooked yet).

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet.  Add butter, onion, and garlic, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Season with salt and pepper and cook gently until the onion softens, about 4 minutes.

Add the figs and chicken broth and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.  Return the chicken to the skillet along with any accumulated juices.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a platter.

Turn the heat back up to medium-high, add the vinegar, and cook to reduce the liquid by half.  Use a fork to mash up the onion, figs, and garlic into a jammy sauce.  Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Return the skillet to the heat (don't bother wiping it out).  Saute the polenta rounds on each side until heated throughout.

Put the polenta on a plate and top with the chicken and plenty of fig sauce.  Next, top with roasted asparagus and crumbled bacon.

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

The Wheel of Meals landed on International, so I decided to go the Mexican route.  This seemed like a no-fuss, fool-proof recipe using shredded rotisserie chicken and canned sauce.  I couldn't find crumbled Cojita cheese in the store, so I just bought a pre-shredded Mexican blend instead.  We both thought the enchiladas tasted great, especially paired with a roasted corn and bell pepper blend with fresh avocado slices.

Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas
Recipe adapted from Sheet Pan Suppers
Serves 4

2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 can (4oz) diced green chiles, drained
2 cups enchilada sauce
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 cup (~5 oz) crumbled Cojita cheese (or any shredded cheese works too)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus some for garnish
10 small (6-inch) tortillas (I used corn)

In a small skillet, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute the onions for a couple minutes, until translucent. Add the cumin, Cayenne, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the chiles, 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, black beans, sauteed onions, 1/2 cup cheese, and 1/4 cup cilantro.

Pour 1 cup of the enchilada sauce into a 9x13 pan, covering its bottom.

Lay a tortilla on a work surface and place 1/4 cup chicken filling in the middle.  Roll up tightly, tuck ends under, and place in pan.  All 10 rolled tortillas should be able to fit in the pan side by side in two rows.

Pour the remaining sauces over the top of the enchiladas and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the top.

Cover with foil and bake at 375º for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes.  Garnish with a little chopped cilantro and serve with corn, rice, and/or avocado slices. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Grilled Rosemary Pork Chops and Balsamic Roasted Purple Potatoes

Both of these recipes turned out great!  Easy and delicious. We will definitely make them again!

Grilled Rosemary Pork Chops

4 pork chops
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper the chops.  Combine all the other ingredients in a resealable gallon plastic bag and add the chops, tossing to coat.  Let chops marinate in fridge for at least 4 hours.  Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature before grilling.  Grill over medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes per side for thick-cut chops, or 4-5 minutes per side for thinner cuts.  Internal temp should be 145ºF.


Balsamic Roasted Purple Potatoes

1 pound purple fingerling potatoes (or any color)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

Cut the potatoes lengthwise into quarters (or halves if they are small).  In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400º for 30-40 minutes until cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Garnish with chives.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Lemon-Steamed Sole with Pea Puree over Pesto Risotto

A photo in my recipe book for lemon-steamed sole caught my eye awhile back, but I couldn't find sole in the local grocery stores at the time.  I could have substituted haddock or flounder, but I wanted to stay true to the recipe.  So when I was wandering the fresh meat/fish department yesterday and noticed the fresh-caught sole, I decided to give this recipe I try.  I don't own a Dutch Oven (it's totally going on my Christmas wish list this year!), but my regular ol' large pot fitted with a steamer basket seemed to work just fine.   I was a little leery of steaming fish.  Even Jeremy walked in and commented, "You're cooking the fish in a POT?!"  But it worked.  It was super fast and easy and steaming kept the fish really moist and the lemon imparted wonderful flavor.  The pea puree was fine, but I'd probably skip it next time because it was just unnecessary and added extra work.   The basil pesto risotto was really delicious.

Lemon-Steamed Sole with Pea Puree
from America's Test Kitchen Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Serves 2

1-2 lemons, cut into eight 1/4" slices
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
4 (3-ounce) boneless, skinless sole or flounder fillets, 1/8"-1/4" thick
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Fit a dutch oven with a steamer basket and add water to pot until it just touches bottom of basket.  Line the basket with 4 lemon slices, cover, and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, to make the pea puree, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.  Add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds.  Stir in the broth and wine and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the peas and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth.  Return sauce to the pan, stir in the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Pat sole dry and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange skinned side up with tail pointing away. Starting with the wider end, tightly roll fillets.  Place the bundles on top of the lemon slices in the steamer basket and top with the remaining lemon slices.  Reduce heat to a simmer, then cover and steam until fish flakes easily, about 4-6 minutes.  (If you had slightly larger 6 oz fillets, steam for 6-10 minutes.)  Gently transfer fish to a plate, remove top lemon, sauce with pea puree, and sprinkle with basil.

Basil Pesto Risotto 
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Serves 2 (very large portions--we had leftovers)

2&1/2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup frozen peas (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup basil pesto

Bring water and broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove and keep warm.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until grains are translucent around the edges, about 1 minute.  Add wine and cook, stirring often, until fully absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Stir in 2 cups of the warm water-broth mixture.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.  Once that is absorbed, stir in another 1/2 cup of the water-broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it's absorbed again.  Stir in the peas.  Repeat steps with the remaining water-broth until it's all incorporated and absorbed.  Off the heat, stir in the pesto and Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Easy Basil Pesto:  (makes ~1/2 cup)
In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup pine nuts, 3 garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Process until smooth.