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 2020:
* Make at least 20 recipes for the Instant Pot
* Use the Spiralizer more often

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

Jeremy and I had fun making this pizza after the trick-or-treaters were done taking away all the candy.  We were a little worried about how the crust would turn out because I haven't personally worked with yeast before.  It turned out really well, we thought.  Perfectly baked throughout.  I skipped the mushrooms, but otherwise stayed very true to the recipe.  Jeremy said he would have preferred a tomato sauce on the pizza, but overall, I really liked this lower-calorie version of deep dish pizza. 

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
(from Cooking Light Magazine)

220 calories/slice  Yield: 12 slices   or
330 calories/slice  Yield: 8 slices

2 teaspoons sugar
1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2&3/4 cups flour, divided
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
cooking spray
2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
2 cooked Italian turkey sausage links, chopped
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes, drained
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon basil
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in olive oil.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 &1/2 cups flour, cornmeal, and salt in a bowl. Stir flour mixture into yeast mixture until dough forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll dough into an 11 x 15–inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; press dough up sides of dish.

Spread 1&1/2 cups cheese evenly over dough. Arrange chopped sausage evenly over cheese.

Chop tomatoes; place in a sieve. Stir in oregano and basil; drain tomato mixture 10 minutes.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add mushrooms to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in bell peppers; cook for 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Arrange vegetables over sausage; spoon tomato mixture evenly over vegetables and sausage. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until crust browns and cheese bubbles. Cool 5 minutes before cutting.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dilly Club Sandwich for One

Dilly Club Sandwich for One

Anne's Version: 232 calories total (for BOTH halves! and that includes BACON!)

I love to order club sandwiches at restaurants because they're good and my brain tricks me into thinking they're "healthier" than the fried food on the menu.  But they're not as low-calorie as you might think.  The average restaurant club sandwich has over 550 calories.  Perkin's Club Sandwich has 890 calories, not counting French fries (gasp)!!  I was craving a good sandwich that was more than the ordinary, so I made myself this fast recipe for lunch.  It was just as good as any restaurant club sandwich, but much healthier--and ready to eat a lot faster!  Simple, yet a little special...  :)

My ingredients:
1 tablespoon Light Miracle Whip (20 calories)
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 slices Healthy Life Whole Wheat Bread, toasted (70 calories)
3 slices Oscar Mayer deli ham (22.5 calories)
3 slices Oscar Mayer deli turkey (22.5 calories)
1 slice Sargento Reduced-fat Colby-Jack cheese (50 calories)
1-2 Boston lettuce leaves (~10 calories)
1 slice fresh tomato (~5 calories)
1 slice Oscar Mayer Cooked Thick-Cut Bacon (23 calories)
1/4 cup broccoli sprouts (~5 calories)
4 slices peeled cucumber (~4 calories)

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, dill, pepper, and lemon juice.  Spread on one side of both slices of toast.  Layer one slice of toast with meats, cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, sprouts, and cucumber.  Top with remaining toast and secure with toothpicks.  Cut crosswise and enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mom's Mini-Pizzas

So after making the stew, I had exactly one leftover Italian Turkey Sausage Link.  I suppose I could have just thrown it into the pot, but the stew really had enough meat.   And I suppose I could have just eaten it with bread and ketchup like a regular bratwurst, but I decided to get creative and make something fun.   So I made mini pizzas for lunch today using the extra link.  My mom used to make these for us kids a lot; I just made it lower calorie.

Anne's Mini Pizzas (based on Mom's Mini Pizzas)
345 calories total for 2 mini-pizzas  (not bad!)

I toasted one split Healthy Life Light English Muffin (90 calories) in the toaster and put it on a baking sheet.  I evenly divided 1/4 cup Ragu Light Tomato and Basil Sauce to spread on the English muffins (25 calories).  I sliced the one cooked turkey sausage link (160 calories) and arranged the slices over the sauce. Finally, I evenly divided 1/4 cup Reduced-Fat Mozzarella cheese (70 calories) over the muffins.  I baked them for about 5-6 minutes at 350º to get the sauce warm and cheese melted and that's it.   Super easy and delicious, and a wise way to use leftovers.  I paired it with grapes and a spinach salad for a pretty healthy lunch.

What creative or yummy recipe would YOU make with one Turkey Sausage Link?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Loaded Bratwurst Stew

With below-freezing temperatures predicted for tonight, I thought a good stew would be the perfect fare to keep me warm.  I liked this recipe I found in a magazine because it wasn't high in calories and I could throw everything into a slow cooker and let it stew all day.  I only made a couple alterations.  I used reduced-sodium chicken broth, added carrots, and substituted Italian Turkey Sausage for the Bratwurst.  It was filling and delicious.  I transferred the leftovers to individual containers to freeze and enjoy on days when I don't feel like cooking.

Loaded Bratwurst Stew
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Recipes)

Makes 6 servings;   315 calories/serving

1 pound cooked Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage Links, cut into 1/2" slices
4 cups packaged shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
1&1/2 cups coarsely chopped red potatoes
1 cup chopped carrots
1 medium red sweet pepper, chopped (~3/4 cup)
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
2 cans (14 oz each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon celery seeds

In a 5-6-quart slow cooker, combine bratwurst, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, sweet pepper, and onion.  In a large bowl, whisk together the broth, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and celery seeds.  Pour over mixture in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low-heat for 6-7 hours or high heat for 3 hours.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Muppet Mania!

To celebrate successfully completing my 2010 New Year's Resolution to make 100 new recipes, I decided to host a small dinner party with my family.  I decided to make Swedish Meatballs as my 100th recipe, and I thought I'd make a "Swedish Chef" cake to go with it.  And then, plagued with too much free time and an overactive imagination, I started pondering an entire Muppet-themed menu.   I'm proud to say that this is a completely original concept (as far as I know).  I might have gone a little overboard, but once I started, I didn't want to leave out any Muppets!

Anne's Muppet Mania Menu 
(Recipes follow at end of post)

~ Beverages ~
Fozzy Bear’s Fuzzy Navel (alcoholic)
Scooter’s Backstage Blend (non-alcoholic)

~ Appetizers ~
Miss Piggy’s Hot Date with Bacon
Pigs in Space Blankets
Gonzo’s GorGONZOla Bruschetta with Caramelized Onions
Camilla’s Deviled Eggs

~ Soup & Salad ~
Statler & Waldorf’s Heckling Waldorf Salad
Beaker’s Revenge: Minted Honeydew Soup

~ Main Course ~
The Swedish Chef’s Swedish Meatballs
served over
Sam the Eagle’s Nest of Egg Noodles
with gravy and lingonberry jam

~ Sides ~
Kermit’s Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green Beans
Animal’s Crazy Braised Red Cabbage

~ Dessert ~
Rowlf the Dog’s Halloween Bark
100th Recipe Celebration & Birthday Cake 

Muppet Mania Dinner Party:

 Here was the table setting for my little dinner party:

Fozzy Bear's Fuzzy Navel
Recipe: Orange Juice and Peach Schnapps, mixed 50:50 (or whatever you wanted)

Scooter's Backstage Blend  (Non-alcoholic punch)  - Made by Jeremy

Recipe: Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, Frozen Fruit Punch Concentrate, Water, Ginger Ale, Ice


Pigs in Space Blankets, Gonzo's GorGONZOla Bruchetta with Caramelized Onions, Camilla's Deviled Eggs, Miss Piggy's Hot Date with Bacon

Pigs in Space Blankets - Made by Anne and Jeremy
Very simple recipe that I borrowed from Hungry Girl's Depudged Pigs in a Blanket.

 Cut each of 8 hot dogs into 4 equal piecesRoll out 8 refrigerated crescent roll dough triangles to make each a larger triangle and cut each into thirds.  Starting with the base of each new triangle, roll around a hot dog until the point of the triangle wraps around.  Place the blanketed pigs on a large baking sheet and cook at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes until dough is golden and crispy.  (Makes 32 pigs; ~34 calories each, using fat-free hot dogs and reduced-fat crescent roll dough).

Gonzo's GorGONZOla Bruchetta with Caramelized Onions - Made by Anne
This was my favorite appetizer.  The flavor was wonderfully sweet and although I usually dislike blue cheese, I really liked it with this recipe.  The fig jam was a nice addition too.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped/sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash white pepper
loaf of French bread baguette, diagonally cut into 1/4"-1/2" thick slices (about 18)
1/3 cup fig jam
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese 

Heat olive oil in large skilletCook onions, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are a deep golden brown color.  (You can make this in advance and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.)

Toast one side of the baguette slices on an ungreased cookie sheet for a couple minutes under the broiler. Turn over each slice.  Spread 1-2 teaspoons fig jam on each slice. Top with caramelized onions and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese.  Broil 2-3" from heat for 1-2 minutes until hot.  Serve immediately.  (Makes about 18, depending on size of bread and amount of topping; ~80 calories each)

Camilla's Deviled Eggs - Made by Mary Beth
Recipe unknown

Miss Piggy's Hot Date with Bacon - Made by Anne 
I adapted this recipe from a traditional "Devils on Horseback" appetizer. I omitted the cheese and added fruit. I thought it was excellent.

12 large pitted dates
1/4 cup peach & mango chutney (I made this myself from peaches and mangos)
 6 strips Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, cut in half

Spoon the peach and mango chutney into the center of each date and tightly wrap a piece of bacon around each date.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and fit with a wire rack to allow bacon grease to drip down.  Place dates on rack and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until bacon is crispy.  Remove from the oven and place a toothpick through each to serve. (Makes 12, ~55-60 calories/date)

Statler and Waldorf's Heckling Waldorf Salad - Made by Mary Beth
Recipe unknown.   It was made with apples, grapes, celery, walnuts, mayo...

Beaker's Revenge: Minted Honeydew Soup - Made by Anne
This was a chilled soup which was very different from anything I've ever had.  It was pretty good, but I wouldn't be able to eat a lot of it.  A small bowl made a nice palate cleanser before the main course.

4-5 cups honeydew pieces
16 ounces plain non-fat yogurt
4 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree mixture for 30 seconds until blended.  Pour mixture through sieve into a bowl.  Chill soup, covered, in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Serve garnished with lime and/or mint leaves.  Serves 8, ~74 calories/serving

Swedish Chef's Swedish Meatballs with Homemade Gravy - Made by Anne
Here it is...recipe #100 for the year!!   This was an Alton Brown Food Network recipe, and the only change I made was to use white pepper instead of black pepper to make it more Swede-authentic.  I served it with Lingonberry jam for authenticity too.  It was really, really good, especially with the Lingonberry flavor.  Doesn't it just look amazing?!  I was happy with my colorful choice of side dishes too.

4 slices white bread
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
1&1/2 pounds ground chuck
1&1/2 pounds ground pork
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup flour
6 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk; set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, ground pork, egg yolks, salt, white pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions.  Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1-ounce portions, shape meat into round balls, and place on a sheet pan.  Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat.  In batches, add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7-10 minutes.  Remove meatballs and place in an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in 200-degree oven to keep warm.

Once all the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the saute pan.  Whisk until lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes.  Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken.  Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency.  Remove the meatballs from the oven and serve meatballs covered in gravy over noodles and/or with Lingonberry jam.  10-12 servings (~5-6 meatballs/serving)

Kermit's Ain't Easy Bein' Green Beans - Made by Mary Beth
Recipe unknown.  I was busy preparing my own dishes, so I didn't see exactly how she made these, but I know these fresh green beans included garlic and almonds.    There was a garlic incident in my kitchen and the garlic literally flew out of the frying pan in all directions.  We don't know why that happened but it was kind of funny.

Animal's Crazy Braised Red Cabbage with Apples - Made by Anne
I didn't know whether I would like this side dish, but I figured it would add such a nice vibrant color, so I gave it a try.  I combined and modified various recipes to make my own version.  It was time-consuming to make, but I was really pleased with the result, both visually and taste-wise!  I'm glad I used a fresh head of cabbage instead of the pre-shredded stuff for the best flavor, but it turned my hands purplish-blue for awhile. 
Ingredients:~1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple juice
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute 3-4 minutes until tender.  Add shredded cabbage, apples, vinegar, apple juice, wine, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Makes about 8 servings.

Rowlf the Dog's Halloween Bark - Made by Anne
I wanted to include Rowlf, so I thought "Bark" was appropriate.  And since it's October, I thought a Candy Corn version sounded festive.  It was very sweet, but very good.

16 Halloween-colored chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped
1&1/2 cups broken small pretzels
1&1/2 pounds white chocolate (I found white chocolate wafers at Hobby Lobby and they melted great!)
2 cups candy corn
1/3 cup Reeses Pieces
orange and brown sprinkles

Spread the cookies and pretzels evenly onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Carefully melt the white chocolate in the microwave until a few small chunks still remain, then stir until all melts (Hint: Do not use white chocolate chips because they don't melt and set well.  Use good baking chocolate such as the chocolate wafers).  Drizzle the chocolate with a spoon over the cookies and pretzels in the pan, spreading the top flat to coat evenly.  Top with candy corn, Reeses Pieces, and sprinkles.  Let cool until firm.  Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Swedish Chef Cake - Made and Decorated by Anne
I free-handed the chef and I'm pretty proud of the result.
 Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer.  Add vanilla.  Gradually add confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.  When all sugar has been added, icing will appear dry.  Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Keep icing covered with damp cloth in fridge until ready to use.  (May be kept in airtight container in fridge for up to 2 weeks.  Yield: 3 cups

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome to my Food Blog!

Welcome to my new blog!   I created this new and improved blog specifically for posting future recipes because it is a far more user-friendly site and it will be much easier for me to share the recipes and interact with friends who also enjoy cooking.   I'm looking forward to the comments!  

Here is a question I am asked a lot:  "What is your favorite recipe you've made so far?" 

It's so tough to answer because I've made some really tasty food, and they're all different, and it really depends on my mood for the day.  Even my ratings are completely on a whim. Sometimes when I'm really hungry my ratings tend to be higher than they actually deserve.  In any case, I'm going to try to list some of my top picks from the 2009 and 2010 recipe challenges, in no particular order.  I tried to give a good cross-section of different dishes so that it wouldn't be all desserts because I tend to have a sweet tooth.

Anne's TOP 10 Challenge Recipes of 2010

#10: Spinach-Stuffed Lamb Chops with Rosemary Glaze  
(Recipe #47, 2010)
The glaze was delicious, although I wish I had ground up the rosemary first.

#9: Chocolate Mint Souffle (Recipe #41, 2010)
This turned out better than I thought it would.

#8:  Slow-Cooked Sweet & Sour Pork (Recipe #16, 2010)
This was really so much better than the picture looks.  I usually despise leftovers, but I looked forward to this.
#7: Eggs Florentine with Lite Hollandaise (Recipe #4, 2010)
I was just pleased with myself for poaching an egg for the first time, not that it's overly complicated.  It tasted good, and I thought the presentation was nice too.

#6:  Spicy Ginger-Marinated Chicken (Recipe #69, 2010)
The marinade on this chicken was absolutely delicious, and the Twice-Baked Sweet Potato I made with it was wonderful too.

#5: Grilled Manchego with Spinach & Spicy Plum Chutney 
(Recipe #25, 2010)
 Okay, I know it's JUST a grilled cheese sandwich.  But it was a really good GOURMET grilled cheese sandwich!


#4: Pulled Pork with Root Beer Sauce (Recipe #32, 2010)
Another great sandwich, perfect for watching the Superbowl.

#3: Marinated Orange Roughy (Recipe #39, 2010)
I love citrus-flavored things.
#2: Pumpkin Waffles (Recipe #98, 2010)
Have I mentioned how much I love breakfast food?

#1: Slow Cooker Fajitas (Recipe #21, 2010)
I took the whole slow cooker to work to share with my coworkers, and we loved these.  It made the whole place smell incredible!

Anne's TOP 5 Challenge Recipes of 2009

#5: Stromboli (Recipe #1, 2009)
 This was my first recipe of 2009, so I guess I'm nostalgic about it.  The seasoning on the bread was simply awesome. 

#4:  Banana Cream Cheesecake (Recipe #41, 2009)
 I just love cheesecake, and this recipe went over really well at my family's Christmas gathering.

#3:  Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese Casserole (Recipe #33, 2009)
 I created this recipe myself, and it seemed to be a big hit at a family gathering.  Great twist on a comfort food.

#2: Baked Apple Cinnamon French Toast (Recipe #40, 2009)
 I'm still drooling thinking about it.  I really love breakfast/brunch.

#1: Raspberry Cream Muffins (Recipe #23, 2009)
 These muffins were yummy yummy yummy!