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 2014:
Spin 50 times from The Wheel of Meals

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Slow Cooker Smoked Pork


This was another successful Freezer Meal, although I wish I had separated the meat into two or three bags because even with a half-recipe it made a LOT of pork, and now we'll be having leftovers the whole week.  At least it tastes good. :)

Slow Cooker Smoked Pork
Servings: 8-10  (or a lot more)

Ingredients:
5 pound boneless butt pork roast
1/4 cup paprika
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/8 cup ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 cup liquid smoke
barbecue sauce for serving

Directions:
Cut the pork butt into 2-3" chunks.  Combine the dry ingredients.  Divide among gallon freezer bags and sprinkle the meat with the rub, shaking the bag to coat evenly.  Add liquid smoke.    Freeze.

To serve, thaw.  Cook in slow cooker on low for 10-12 hours.   Shred meat.   Serve with barbecue sauce.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Hash


I decided to make a veggie side dish as part of my Freezer Meal madness.   It was pretty good.  It was nice to have the prep taken care of and just throw the bag in the microwave to re-heat.

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Hash

Ingredients:
8 oz bacon
1 cup diced cauliflower
4 cups diced Brussels sprouts
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar

Directions:
In a skillet, brown the bacon.  Set aside and chop.  In the same skillet, add olive oil, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, and saute 4-5 minutes.  Add in the dried thyme, chopped bacon, and balsamic vinegar.   Divide among quart freezer bags.   To serve, thaw and reheat in microwave until heated through.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls


A meatless option from the Freezer Meal madness.   It was a little more time-consuming during my prep, but it was worth the effort.  It was pretty good, although I think it needed more squash sauce.  It re-heated nicely for leftovers and that's always a positive.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Serves 6  (2 rolls each)
1 roll=227 calories

Ingredients:
3&1/4 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
12 cooked Lasagna noddles
10z package frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
15 oz fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add squash chunks and cook until soft.  Remove squash from pot, reserving about 1 cup of water, and transfer to a blender.  Blend until smooth, adding the reserved liquid a little at a time to thin out.

In a large skillet, heat oil, and saute the shallots and garlic over medium low heat for about 5 minutes.  Add pureed squash and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and set mixture aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; set aside.

In the bottom of a baking dish, ladle about 1/2 cup squash mixture. 

Lay out lasagna noodles and spread about 1/3 cup spinach mixture over each noodle.  Roll up tightly and place seam side down in baking dish.  Pour butternut squash sauce over lasagna rolls and sprinkle with Italian cheese blend.  Top with parsley.  Cover with foil and bake at 350º for 40 minutes until cheese is melted.  Remove foil for last 10-15 minutes of baking.

To freeze:  Assemble, but do not bake.   Thaw in fridge.   Bake at 350º for 50-60 minutes.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ham, Broccoli, and Potato Meal


This is from the Freezer Meal collection.   It was the least successful and I won't be making it again--at least not with frozen hash browns and broccoli in the crockpot.  It sort of turned to mush.  The original recipe called for fresh potatoes, but I read reviews that said they turned brown/black, so I substituted frozen hash browns instead.  Maybe not the best choice.  Also, I forgot to add shredded cheese at the end.  That may have helped.  It did taste better than the picture looks, so that's something.  Still, it wasn't our favorite.   I decided to try out a slow cooker liner to help with cleanup.

Ham, Broccoli, and Potato Meal

Ingredients:
6 potatoes, sliced 1/4" thick  (I used frozen hash browns instead)
1 can (~10-11 oz) Cream of Potato soup (or any cream of something soup)
1&1/3 cup water
1&1/4 lbs ham, cubed
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
Throw everything except the cheese in each gallon bag.  Seal and lay flat to freeze.

To cook, defrost and place contents in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.   In the last hour of cooking, add the shredded cheese if desired.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Anne's Lucky Chard Pancakes



Here's my St. Patrick's Day breakfast--green pancakes.  They taste better than they look, I promise-- just like regular pancakes, but with extra nutrition!   I used chard and kale because that's what I had on hand, but you could substitute spinach.

Anne's Lucky Chard (and Kale) Pancakes
Made 8 good-sized pancakes

Ingredients:
1 bunch chard (I used rainbow chard)
1-2 fistfuls of kale
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk (I substituted skim milk mixed with 1/2 tablespoon vinegar)
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
Place chard and kale and a sprinkle of water in a skillet over medium heat.  Cover and heat until just wilted.  Let cool, then transfer to a food processor to chop or puree.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a medium bowl, combine the milk, egg, butter, and greens until frothy.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth and combined.  

Grease a preheated skillet over medium-low heat and drop about 1/3 cup batter to make pancakes.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side until bottom is browned and bubbles appear on the surface.  Flip and cook for another minute or two.

Serve with normal pancake toppings and enjoy!

Emerald Eggs and Smoked Salmon Appetizers

For St. Patrick's Day, I brought a couple appetizers to our work party.  They were okay.


Emerald Eggs
Recipe from Food Network Channel

Ingredients:
12 eggs
2 cups watercress leaves
1/2 cup mayo or miracle whip
4 tablespoons scallions
4 tablespoons tarragon
pinch salt and pepper
8 slices ham, cut into thin strips

Directions:
Hard-boil the eggs, then peel and slice in half.   Scoop the yolks into a food processor and puree with the watercress, mayo, scallions, tarragon, salt, and pepper.   Place the ham strips in the the hollowed-out egg whites and fill with the yolk mixture.

*****

Smoked Salmon Appetizer


Ingredients:
6-8 oz of thinly sliced smoked salmon
12 slices rye cocktail bread
1 cucumber
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dill weed
4-5 drops bottled hot pepper sauce
fresh dill sprig

Directions:
Beat together the cream cheese, milk, lemon juice, dill weed, and hot pepper sauce.

Spread the cream cheese on rye bread (or directly on cucumber), layer with cucumber, smoked salmon, and fresh dill.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Dijon Chicken


Another incredibly easy make-ahead freezable "meal" from my March Madness--  although, in this case, it's just the protein.   While the chicken baked in the oven, I steamed some broccoli to accompany it along with leftover rice.  The chicken was nice and moist although I didn't taste much mustard.

Dijon Chicken
Recipe from somewhere on the internet

Ingredients:
2 pounds chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves

Freezer Directions:
Combine all ingredients among freezer bags and freeze.   To cook, thaw and drain marinade.

Cook in a skillet for 15 minutes.
or
Bake at 350º for 35-40 minutes.
or
Cook in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas


I love enchiladas, and the blog promised these would be good, so I gave them a try.  They were quite yummy.  I enjoyed the flavor of the chicken.  One enchilada with Mexican rice was more than enough for a serving.  Next time, I think I'd add some corn in the filling too.  Another successful freezer meal.

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
Recipe from sixsistersstuff.com
Makes 10 enchiladas

Ingredients:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup water or chicken broth
6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
10 flour tortillas  (I used whole wheat)
16 ounces shredded Monterrey jack cheese
16 ounces green enchilada sauce
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and add breasts to skillet; cook for 5 minutes.  Flip chicken and add water or broth.  Cover and let simmer over medium heat for 7-10  minutes.  Using two forks, shred the cooked chicken.  (The shredded chicken can be frozen for up to 2 months).

Whisk the honey, lime juice, chili powder, and garlic powder; toss with the shredded chicken in a large resealable plastic bag.  Let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Pour about 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of two 8x8 baking pans.   Fill each tortilla with chicken and shredded cheese--reserve about 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle on top.  Put rolled tortillas in the pan as you go.  Mix the remaining enchilada sauce with the cream and any leftover marinade (if there is any).  Pour sauce on top of the enchiladas.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.   Bake or freeze.  If freezing, thaw completely before baking.  Bake at 350º for 30 minutes until brown and crispy on top.


Pineapple Beef Teriyaki


This was the easiest of my freezer meals to prepare.  Just throw it all in a bag and seal.  Done.   And then throw it in a slow cooker for 7 hours and serve the teriyaki over 90-second microwave rice.  Done.   Easy and delicious.  Plus, it's nice that I could divide into smaller bags for a 2-person meal and then use my small crockpot.  I really liked this meal.  Good thing we have more of it in the freezer.  :)

Pineapple Beef Teriyaki
recipe found on a random Pinterest page
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
2&1/2 pounds beef stew meat
20 ounce can pineapple chunks, undrained
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1-2 green bell peppers, sliced
1&1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Freezing Directions:
Divide ingredients among freezer storage bags.  Label and freeze.  To serve, thaw and cook in slow cooker on low for 7 hours.  Serve over rice.


Monday, March 10, 2014

March Freezer Meal Madness!

Here it is-- my March Freezer Meal Madness!  

Meals I made (I'll link to each recipe as we try each meal):
1. Slow-Cooker Chipotle Beef Chili  (2 bags, ~4 servings each)
2. Grilled Pepper, Onion, and Sausage Calzones  (4 bags of two calzones each)
3. Baked Ziti  (2 trays, ~4 servings each)
4. Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna Rolls  (1 tray, ~6 servings)
5. Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas (2 trays, ~3 servings each)
6. Pineapple Beef Teriyaki (2 bags, 3-4 servings each)
7. Slow-Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken (1 bag, ~4 servings)
8. Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken  (1 bag, ~4 servings)
9. Dijon Chicken  (1 bag, 2 servings)
10. Slow Cooker Smoked Pork  (1 bag, ~8-10 servings)
11. Ham, Broccoli, and Potato Meal  (1 bag, ~4 servings)
12. Bacon & Brussels Sprouts Hash  (2 bags, 2 servings each)


I had been eying up the make-ahead freezer meal movement for awhile, and I finally jumped on the bandwagon--if only for a day.  When I told Jeremy my plan to dedicate a full day to making stuff to freeze, I mentioned I might try preparing "4 or 5 recipes."  He said something like, "Whoa, maybe you should start with 1 or 2."    After much research and internet browsing, I settled on 12 different recipes.  Haha.  Somehow I went from "four or five recipes" to twelve.   I might have restraint issues...

My ingredient list (and resulting shopping list) was massive.  I felt a little ridiculous at the grocery store.  I felt even more ridiculous when I got home and spread it out on the counter:

I tried to make things efficient, so I made a nice mise en place of veggies first:

Next, I got the meat and poultry ready, using a different cutting board for each, and cooking it when the recipe called for it.  

Then the assembly started.  I made good use of my vacuum sealer:

 At the end, I had a lot of bags/trays of food.


 And we barely got it all to fit in the freezer (oops):
And here's the tornado zone.   Yuck.  I was so NOT in the mood to wash these dishes.