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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Slow Cooker Fajitas

I hosted a little party at my house, and this fajita recipe is easy and delicious.  It's great because I don't have to slave over a stove and worry about the exact time dinner will be served.  It cooks itself and guests can just take the portion they want and build their own fajitas with the extra ingredients (sour cream, salsa, shredded cheddar, cilantro, etc).  There is definitely a little "kick" to the meat.  This isn't a new recipe, but it's been a couple years since I've made it, so I'm re-posting it for your enjoyment.

Slow Cooker Fajitas
Makes ~8 servings
335 calories/serving

1 green pepper, cut unto 1/2" strips
1 sweet red pepper, cut into 1/2" strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1/2" strips
1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2" strips
2 pounds boneless beef sirloin, cut into strips
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
8 flour tortillas (8"), warmed
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Place peppers and onion in a 5-qt slow cooker.  Top with beef.  Combine water, vinegar, lime juice, and seasonings; pour over meat.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until tender.   Using a slotted spoon or tongs, place about 3/4 cup meat mixture on each tortilla.  Top with a tablespoon of additional ingredients as desired.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Soup #4: Easy Breezy Cheesy Clam Chowder

For my Bridal Shower, I was showered with soup recipes.  This is the fourth soup recipe I'm posting, gifted by my friend Nancy.   I've always thought I didn't like Clam Chowder, but I haven't had it in a long time, since my childhood.   So I decided to test my grown-up taste buds and see if anything changed.  Surprisingly, it wasn't bad.  I liked it.  Jeremy did too.

Easy Breezy Cheesy Clam Chowder

Serves: 2-4,  Time: 20 min

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup finely chopped green onion
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup diced red pepper
2 oz cream cheese
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of potato condensed soup
2 cans (6.5 oz) clams
milk or cream to desired consistency
salt and pepper, to taste
Optional:  Add any veggies that you enjoy (broccoli, mushrooms, etc)

Melt butter in saucepan.  Add onion, carrots, and pepper.  Cook on low heat for about 5-10 minutes.  Add cream cheese and stir until melted.  Add soup and mix well.  Add clams and stir.  Gradually add milk or cream, mixing continually to desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops with Mango-Black Pepper Glaze, Mango-Kiwi-Black Bean Salsa, and Herbed Quinoa

I decided to take a break from the soup recipes, and made myself this 3-recipe dinner.  The glazed pork chops were especially tasty.

Grilled Pork Chops with Mango-Black Pepper Glaze, 
Mango-Kiwi-Black Bean Salsa, 
and Herbed Quinoa

Grilled Pork Chops with a Mango-Black Pepper Glaze
(Makes a LOT of glaze... way too much.  But it was DELISH! Loved this glaze!)

1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 large mango, peeled and pureed
4 pork chops, about 5 ounces each
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Place vinegar, sugar, and peppercorns in saucepan and reduce until thickened.  Whisk in mango puree and cook 1 minute.  Strain into bowl and set aside.   Brush pork chops with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill about 5 minutes on each side.  Remove and brush liberally with the glaze.


Anne's Mango-Kiwi-Black Bean Salsa

1 mango, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced
1 tablespoon serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.  Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. 


Herbed Quinoa
1&1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice, and quinoa.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest.  Pour over the cooked quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Soup #3: Chicken Tortilla Soup - The Easiest

For my Bridal Shower, I was showered with soup recipes.  This is the third soup recipe I'm posting, gifted by my Aunt Kitty.  It was a very easy recipe, and very tasty.  Jeremy and I both enjoyed it.  We added a pinch of cheese to our bowls which made a gooey mess, so we don't recommend that.  Jeremy wanted his soup "hotter" so he added Tabasco sauce to his bowl.  I liked it just the way it was.

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves: ~4
Time: ~30 minutes

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
10 oz package frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 teaspoon chili seasoning mix
1&1/2 cups cooked chicken breasts, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Baked corn tortilla chips, broken up

Heat oil in large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, pepper, and garlic, stirring frequently until soft and lightly brown, about 5 minutes.  Next, add the broth, tomatoes, corn, and chili seasoning mix, and bring to a boil.  Add the chicken and cilantro, reducing heat to simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Serve soup with tortilla chips and enjoy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Soup #2: Bier Käsesuppe

For my Bridal Shower, I was showered with soup recipes.  This is the second soup recipe I'm posting, gifted by my cousin Michelle who had just returned from Germany.   She even gave me authentic German beer to use in the soup.  I was a little worried about this recipe since I don't really like beer, but the soup was really good.   Jeremy and I both enjoyed it.   I especially liked dipping my breadsticks in the cheesy goodness.

Bier Käsesuppe
Serves: ~4
Time: ~30 minutes

1 tablespoon butter
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons flour
1 bottle beer (12 oz), not too dark (Pilsner, Amber, Ale, Helles)
3.5 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 cup Half & Half
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Melt the butter on medium heat in a large pot.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add flour to the pot and stir in well.  Add the beer and broth.   Let the soup heat up to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and stir in the the Half & Half and the cheese.

Allow the cheese to melt completely, and then add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Puree the soup using an immersion blender (or a regular blender) until it's smooth.  Add a pinch of salt to taste.  Serve with bread.

Our ingredients:

Chopped veggies-- (I thought I was slow at preparation until I impatiently watched Jeremy chop the carrots and onions at snail speed... WOW.   But he did a great job, so I'm not complaining...)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Soup #1: Broccoli and Wild Rice Soup

For my Bridal Shower, I was showered with soup recipes.  Now that that cooler weather finally hit, Jeremy and I decided to start the soup-er dining experience.  Here is the first soup recipe, gifted by my Aunt Mary Ellen.  It was a really fast and easy soup to make, and we give the flavor a thumbs up.  :)

Broccoli and Wild Rice Soup
Serves: ~8
Time: ~30 min

1- 6 oz box chicken-flavored wild rice mix
1- 16 oz package frozen chopped broccoli
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1- 10 oz can cream of chicken soup
1- 8 oz package cream cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon celery salt/seed
salt and pepper to taste

Combine rice, rice seasoning packet, and 6 cups of water in large stockpot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring once.   Stir in broccoli, onion, and celery seed, and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Stir in soup and cream cheese.  Cook and stir on low heat until cheese melts.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Plum Kuchen

Plums were on sale at the grocery store for just 88 cents/pound, so when I saw this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine, I just had to try it.   Overall, it was really quite good.  I loved the plum topping.  But two things went wrong with the cake that were totally my fault.  First, I substituted whole wheat flour which I think was a bad idea in a dessert recipe.  And secondly, I let it bake a little too long and the cake got a bit dry-- still edible and delicious though.  The plums were juicy enough to make up for it.

Plum Kuchen

Plum Kuchen, adapted from Cooking Light magazine
Makes 10 servings
256 calories/serving

1&1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
7 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1&1/2 pounds plums, quartered and pitted (any variety;  I used black plums and cut into 8 slices each)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon allspice

In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring well with a whisk.  Cut in 4 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles course meal.

In a small bowl, combine milk, vanilla, and egg, stirring well with whisk.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Spoon batter into a 9" round metal cake pan coated with cooking spray.  Arrange plums in a circular pattern over batter.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2/3 cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, lemon rind, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and allspice.  Microwave remaining 3 tablespoons butter to melt and add to sugar mixture, stirring well.  Sprinkle plums evenly with sugar mixture.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling.  Cool in pan for one hour on wire rack and cut into wedges to serve.  Works as breakfast or dessert.

Herb-Crusted Pork Loin

Jeremy and I wanted to use some of the herbs and spices we received as a wedding/housewarming gift, so I made this easy recipe which I partially borrowed from Penzey's and partially made up on my own.  It was delicious.  I could have cut down on the spice rub just a little bit, but it was good nonetheless.  I was proud that my pork came out perfectly cooked and still juicy.  We paired it with mashed potatoes and salad greens and vegetables for a nutritious and calorie-friendly dinner.

Herb-Crusted Pork Loin
Makes 4 Servings (4 oz each, ~3 slices per serving)
140 calories/serving

1 extra lean pork center cut loin filet (1 to 1&1/2 lbs)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon basil
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon parsley
1/2 tablespoon crushed rosemary
1 tablespoon Penzey's Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle

Combine the olive oil with all the herbs and spices and rub all over pork loin.  Place filet on a shallow baking pan or rack (I used a rack) and bake at 350 degrees for 23-25 minutes per pound until meat thermometer reads 155-160 degrees. (Mine took about 32 minutes to reach 160 degrees).  Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Linguine Verde

I love pasta, but I didn't want to break the calorie bank.  This recipe was both healthy and delicious, and it  incorporated vegetables which I usually have to force myself to eat.  The basil flavor was pretty strong, but it was good.   I liked that I had all the prep work done in the time it took to cook the pasta.  Very quick lunch.

Linguine Verde

Anne's Linguine Verde adapted from "Cook it Quick" Weight Watchers Cookbook
Makes: 2 servings
319 calories/serving (7 WW points)

1/4 pound (4 oz) whole wheat linguine
1 cup arugula, cleaned and torn
1/2 cup mustard greens, cleaned and torn
1 cup baby spinach, cleaned and torn
1/4 cup firmly packed fresh basil, torn
2 mint leaves, chopped
1 tomato, seeded and cut into strips
1/4 cup zucchini, cut into thin strips
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Romano cheese

Cook the linguine according to package directions.  Meanwhile, combine the arugula, mustard greens, spinach, basil, mint, tomatoes, and zucchini in a large serving bowl.  Sprinkle with the oil, salt, and pepper; toss to combine.  Drain the linguine and add to the greens, then sprinkle with half the grated cheese.  Toss to coat, sprinkle remaining cheese, and serve.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sweet BBQ Pork Chops

This was really, really delicious!  I would definitely make this BBQ sauce again.  Yum.  I added a Penzey's Brady Street Cheese sprinkle to the pork chops before cooking which I think enhanced the overall flavor.  And the whole meal was done within 15-20 minutes which is always a bonus.  I paired the chops with bok choy and rice.

Sweet Barbecued Pork Chops

Sweet Barbecued Pork Chops
4 servings
282 calories

4 boneless pork loin chops (3/4 inch thick and 8 ounces each) 
Penzey's Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/4 cup packed brown sugar 
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion 
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup barbecue sauce 
1/4 cup reduced-fat French salad dressing
1/4 cup honey

Sprinkle salt and pepper and cheese over pork chops.  In a large skillet, brown pork chops in oil or cooking spray on both sides, about 2 minutes on each side.  Combine the remaining ingredients; pour over chops. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for ~12 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160°.

Breakfast Veggie Casserole

Breakfast Veggie Casserole
Another healthy breakfast recipe.  It was good.

Breakfast Veggie Casserole adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe
Makes 2 servings
~170 calories/serving, 3 WW points

2 sprays cooking spray
3 tablespoons red onion, diced
3 tablespoons zucchini, diced
3 tablespoons sweet red pepper, diced
1 tablespoon green pepper, diced
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons low-fat shredded cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat two oven-safe, 8-ounce ramekins (3 1/2-inches in diameter) with cooking spray.
  • Lightly coat a medium sauté pan with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper and zucchini to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften and onion is translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Promptly remove from heat; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, salt and pepper until well combined; stir in cooked vegetables and cheese. Pour equal amounts of egg-vegetable mixture into each ramekin. Bake, uncovered, until a knife inserted into center of a ramekin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove promptly from oven; let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Yields 1 ramekin per serving.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Orange French Toast

18 weeks left in the year, and I'm determined to lose weight.  Combined with a love of food, this can be a tricky game to play.  So I'm currently all about portion control and including fruits and vegetables and making recipes that won't sabotage my diet.   I found this breakfast recipe in a Weight Watchers cookbook.    This entire breakfast, including the turkey sausages, was only 370 calories... not bad for a huge portion!  It definitely filled me up.

Orange French Toast

Orange French Toast from "Simply the Best" Cookbook
Makes 2 servings
250 Calories (4 WW points)

1/2 cup skim milk
1/3 cup fat-free egg substitute
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 slices low-calorie whole wheat bread
1/2 cup nonfat or lowfat vanilla Greek yogurt
1 large naval orange, cut into slices
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

In a shallow bowl, combine milk, egg substitute, orange zest, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Dip the bread slices into the egg mixture, coating both sides and allowing the liquid to be absorbed.

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and allow it to heat.  Add the bread, 2 slices at a time, and cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes;  turn over and cook 2 minutes longer.  Cut the French toast slices diagonally in half.  Place 4 halves on each plate;  top with the yogurt and fruit.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Chicken a la King and I Casserole

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Supermarket"
(A collection of recipes based on Musical titles)
  1.  The Music Manicotti
  2. Gentleman Prefer Blondies
Recipe #3:  The Chicken a la King and I Casserole 
I LOVED this recipe.  It was creamy and cheesy and delicious.  I was going to add peas and maybe carrots or mushrooms for extra vegetable content, but I completely forgot.  And let's face it-- I hate mushrooms.  I ended up following the recipe except I omitted the almonds.  I froze half and baked the other.  I paired the casserole with a strawberry spinach and arugula salad.

"The Chicken A La King and I Casserole"
From Taste of Home Test Kitchen - Healthy Makeover Recipe
Yield: 8 servings (1 cup each)
306 calories

  • 8 ounces uncooked wide egg noodles
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 2/3 cup fat-free evaporated milk
  • 6 ounces cubed reduced-fat process cheese (Velveeta)
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

  • Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the soup and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Reduce heat; stir in cheese until melted. Add the chicken, celery, green pepper and pimientos.
  • Drain noodles; add to chicken mixture and mix well. Transfer to two shallow 2-qt. baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 400° for 20 minutes.
  • Toss bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over the top. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and golden.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kielbasa Pasta Salad and Creamy Carrot Soup

Newly married.  We were spoiled with dinners at restaurants every night in Hawaii, but now that we're back from the honeymoon, it's back to the real world.   Time to start cookin' again.    This is the first meal we cooked together as a newly married couple.  Since I'm now an official Vechinski, I decided to include a small Polish element so we cooked up some Polish Sausage and added some pasta and fresh veggies in my own little Kielbasa recipe.  Simple and delicious.  Jeremy had mentioned to me that there was an overflow of carrots in his garden, and I just happened to recently watch an episode of some cooking show where somebody made a carrot soup.  Perfect solution.  As a bonus, I got to use my new immersion blender!  So I looked at a few recipes and combined them to make my own version of a creamy carrot soup.   It was different, but good.  It had a little spicy kick to it.  It must not have been too bad because Jeremy ate two full bowls of it.  

Anne's Kielbasa Pasta Salad

1 package (16 oz) tri-color spiral pasta
1 package (16 oz) cooked Polish Kielbasa, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon basil
dash salt
dash pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta in large pot according to package directions and drain.  In the empty pot, saute peppers in oil until crisp-tender.  Add kielbasa to the pot until meat is cooked through.  Add tomatoes, cooked pasta, basil, salt, and pepper, stirring well.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on each serving if desired.  Serves 6-8.


Anne's Creamy Carrot Soup


2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 pound (~2&1/2 cups) sliced carrots
1/2 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 carton (26 oz) chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chives
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In Dutch oven or stock pot, saute onion in butter and olive oil for a few minutes until onions are tender.  Add potato, carrots, and garlic. Add broth, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, chives, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes until carrots are tender.  Transfer to a blender or food processor or use an immersion blender in the pot to process until mixture is smooth.  Return to pot and add whipping cream and additional salt, pepper, or other spices to desired taste.  Stir and cook over low heat until heated through.   Serve with a few chives on soup if desired.   Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gentlemen Prefer Blondies

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Supermarket"

For Easter, I decided to make a dessert since I gave up desserts for Lent and I was craving something sweet and bad for me.  I also needed something relatively fast and easy since I had limited cooking time.  I thought Applebee's Blondie Brownies would fit well with my musical theme, and searched the internet for a close comparison.  It's been a very long time since I had the Applebee's version, but I think this recipe was close enough.  I love white chocolate, so it's a winner in my book.  The maple glaze was delicious, although the recipe made WAY, WAY more sauce than what was needed.

Recipe #2:  "Gentlemen Prefer Blondies"

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondies"
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon maple extract 

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add nuts.  Set aside.
Melt butter.  Add brown sugar, stirring until well mixed.  Add egg and vanilla and stir.  Gradually combine with flour mixture, and stir in white chocolate chips.
Pour into two 9" square baking pans and bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes.

To make sauce, combine syrup and butter and cook over low heat until butter is melted.  Stir in brown sugar until dissolved and remove from heat.  Beat in cream cheese and maple extract until smooth.  Heat again in microwave if necessary.  Serve over blondies with a scoop of ice cream if desired.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Music Manicotti

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Supermarket"

Here it is.... the first installation of my new recipe series.   This cheese-and-spinach-stuffed manicotti was quite good, especially for a reduced-calorie dinner. I'm not a huge fan of cottage cheese, but I didn't notice it in this recipe.  It was extremely easy to make, and it was worth waiting the hour for it to bake.  Yum.

Recipe #1:  The Music Manicotti

"The Music Manicotti"
Adapted from "Easy Meatless Manicotti" from Cooking Light Magazine
Yield: 7 servings (2 manicotti/serving)
328 calories/2 manicotti 

2 cups (8 oz) shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (16 oz) carton fat-free cottage cheese
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8 oz) package manicotti (14 shells)
1 (26 oz) jar fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
cooking spray
1 cup water

In a medium bowl, combine 1&1/2 cups mozzarella, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, spinach, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Spoon about 3 tablespoons cheese mixture into each uncooked manicotti.  Pour half of the tomato-basil pasta sauce into a 13x9" baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer over sauce and top with the remaining sauce.  Pour 1 cup water into dish.  Sprinkle some chopped basil and the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella evenly over sauce.  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375º for 1 hour or until shells are tender.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Caramelized Onion & Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage Pizza with Brie

Okay, so this isn't one of my "musical" themed recipes that will be coming up soon, but I was craving pizza and this recipe looked really interesting, so I decided to make it.  I never would have thought to put apples on my pizza.  And instead of a sauce, it had caramelized onions as the base.  I used fresh thyme which really brought excellent flavor to it.  I didn't slice the apple as thin as the recipe wanted, but I personally like chunks of apples.  I didn't think I'd like the Brie cheese, but I did.  The pizza was good.... different, but good.   I think it was actually meant to be an appetizer, but whatever.  I love appetizers as meals. 

Caramelized Onion & Apple
Chicken Sausage Pizza with Brie
Makes: 2 servings
280 calories/serving (3 slices per serving)

 3 small links of Sweet Apple fully cooked Chicken Sausage, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 apple, sliced thin (or diced)
1 tandoori-style naan
6-7 thin slices Brie cheese

 In a large skillet coated with olive oil, cover and sweat onions over medium-high heat.  Stir periodically so that the onions don't stick and burn on the bottom of the pan.  After 15-20 minutes, remove cover and add the fresh thyme and white wine.  Continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes until the onions are well caramelized and have cooked down by about 1/2 in volume.

Top the naan with the caramelized onions, then the apples and chicken sausage.  Finish with slices of brie cheese.  Bake on a cookie sheet at 375º for about 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly hot.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Slice the naan using a pizza wheel into 6 slices.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Supermarket


From the crazy mind of Anne ...
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Supermarket"

*** A collection of recipes based on Musical titles ***

#1: "The Music Manicotti"
#2: "Gentlemen Prefer Blondies"
#3: "The Chicken a la King and I" 

And coming soon....
"My Fair Ladyfingers"
"Annie Get Your Gumbo"
"The Cheese Whizard of Oz"
"The Gingerbread Man of La Mancha"
"Spring Roll Awakening"
"Anything Goes with _____"
"South Pacific"
...and more!!


"Food Glorious Food"
selection from the musical Oliver!

Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we're in the mood --
Cold jelly and custard!
Pease pudding and saveloys!
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it, boys --

Food, glorious food!
We're anxious to try it.
Three banquets a day --
Our favourite diet!

Just picture a great big steak --
Fried, roasted or stewed.
Oh, food,
Wonderful food,
Marvellous food,
Glorious food.

Chicken Asian Noodle Salad with a Ginger Dressing

4 Healthy Salads:
1. Tenderloin Salad with Rosemary-Balsamic Dressing
2. Orange-Cranberry Chicken Salad with Poppyseed-Yogurt Dressing
3. Pan-Seared Salmon and Asparagus Salad with Peach-Basil Dressing
4.Chicken Asian Noodle Salad with a Ginger Dressing

This is the 4th salad we made at the cooking class.  I didn't care for the ginger dressing.  I think we added way too much ginger root for my taste and I'm just not a fan of soy sauce in general.  I took this salad "to go" and that's the less attractive photo you see here.  I forgot to take a picture after plating it at home.

Chicken Asian Noodle Salad with a Ginger Dressing

Anne's Salad Ingredients:
Chicken breast, cooked
Asian noodles
Spring lettuce mix
tomatoes, sliced
red peppers, sliced thinly
carrots, shaved into small sticks
crispy noodle ?  i have no idea what we used on top

Asian Ginger Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl or food processor, combine all dressing ingredients and mix well.

The Asian Ginger Dressing is pictured in the middle....

Pan-Seared Salmon and Asparagus Salad with a Peach-Basil Dressing

4 Healthy Salads:
1. Tenderloin Salad with Rosemary-Balsamic Dressing
2. Orange-Cranberry Chicken Salad with Poppyseed-Yogurt Dressing
3. Pan-Seared Salmon and Asparagus Salad with Peach-Basil Dressing
4.Chicken Asian Noodle Salad with a Ginger Dressing

This was the 3rd healthy salad recipe we made at the cooking class.  The Peach-Basil Dressing was really interesting and something different than I've ever had before... and it turned out to be absolutely delicious!  And I got to use the hand-held emulsifier which was fun.  Now that I got one of those nifty gadgets for Christmas, I can make this at home.  :)

Pan-Seared Salmon and Asparagus Salad 
with a Peach-Basil Dressing

Anne's Salad Ingredients:
Salmon filets
fresh spinach leaves
asparagus spears
tomatoes, sliced
cucumber, sliced

Peach-Basil Dressing:
2 peaches, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons fresh Basil leaves
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper

In a large skillet, saute the asparagus spears in oil until crisp-tender.   Sear the salmon filets in oil in the skillet until it reaches desired doneness.

To make the dressing, process all ingredients in a blender until smooth, or use a hand-held emulsifier.

The Peach-Basil Dressing is on the far right below.    Really yummy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Orange-Cranberry Chicken Salad with Yogurt-Poppyseed Dressing

4 Healthy Salads:
1. Tenderloin Salad with Rosemary-Balsamic Dressing
2. Orange-Cranberry Chicken Salad with Poppyseed-Yogurt Dressing
3. Pan-Seared Salmon and Asparagus Salad with Peach-Basil Dressing
4.Chicken Asian Noodle Salad with a Ginger Dressing

Here is the 2nd salad I made at the chef's class I recently attended with some friends.   As before, be wary of the dressing recipe because we took random liberty with the measurements.   This was my favorite salad of the four we made, probably due to my sweet tooth.  I just loved the dressing.

Orange-Cranberry Chicken Salad 
with Yogurt-Poppyseed Dressing

Chicken breast, cooked
Fresh spinach leaves
Mandarin/clementine orange sections
Dried cranberries
Cucumber, sliced
Pecan halves

Yogurt-Poppyseed Dressing:
With a wire whisk, mix all ingredients: 
1 cup yogurt
1/8 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tenderloin Salad with a Rosemary-Balsamic Dressing

4 Healthy Salads:
1. Tenderloin Salad with Rosemary-Balsamic Dressing
2. Orange-Cranberry Chicken Salad with Poppyseed-Yogurt Dressing
3. Pan-Seared Salmon and Asparagus Salad with Peach-Basil Dressing
4.Chicken Asian Noodle Salad with a Ginger Dressing
I was lucky enough to be invited to a cooking class with some friends, and the chef showed us how to make 4 different healthy salads and dressings.  I had an absolute blast at the class!  I had mixed thoughts about whether or not to post the recipes because I wasn't sure if it was shareable information. But it was all very simple and anyone could google search similar versions of the dressing recipes.  We really didn't follow the instructions very well anyway because we didn't have any measuring spoons or cups at this class.  We approximated everything and did everything to taste.  I have no idea how accurate the measurements really are.  So I decided it should be okay to post.   But be wary of the recipes.

Here is my first creation.   When I tasted the dressing by itself, I wasn't impressed at all.... but I was happily surprised when I tasted it on the actual salad.  It was magically transformed into a very delicious dressing!!  I really enjoyed this salad.  Yum!

Tenderloin Salad w/ Rosemary-Balsamic Dressing

Tenderloin, cooked on stovetop to desired doneness
Spinach/Spring Mix
Blue Cheese, crumbled
Red Potato, cooked, seasoned, and cut into small pieces
Avocado, sliced
Red Onion, julienne cut

Rosemary-Balsamic Dressing:
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped or crushed
1 sprig fresh garlic
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the rosemary, garlic, and vinegar.  Add the oil in a slow stream, mixing well with a wire whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

The 4 salad dressings we made-- The Rosemary-Balsamic Dressing is on the far right.

Mis en place

Anne chows down... a delicious, healthy, and filling lunch!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jeremy's Green & Gold Superbowl Recipes

***Guest Blog!***  

For this year's Superbowl Party, I took the easy road and merely made Sloppy Joes and put out some fruit, veggies, cookies, and chips and salsa.  But Jeremy actually made some Green and Gold recipes for our little party, so I'm posting on his behalf.


Adapted from http://foodlibrarian.blogspot.com/2009/02/valentines-5-layer-finger-jello.html

4 packages (3 ounce each) Jello (2 lemon, 2 lime)
6 packets Knox unflavored gelatin
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Mix 1 package flavored Jello with 1 package of unflavored gelatin. Add 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Cool to room temp and pour into 9 x 13 glass pan. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes (and make sure your refrigerator is level!)

Add 2 cups boiling water to 2 packets of unflavored gelatin.  Mix in the can of sweetened condensed milk. Cool to room temperature and pour 1 cup of milk mixture over first layer of Jello. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.   Repeat above steps for remaining Jello and milk layers.  Then refrigerate 2 hours and cut into squares.

Sugar free Jello was used... I doubt anyone can taste the difference.  Make sure the liquid Jello has cooled (about 10 minutes) before you pour it on top of an existing layer... but you can't wait too long or it starts to set up at room temperature.

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/taco-dip-i/Detail.aspx

1 (8 ounce) package light cream cheese, softened
1 (8 ounce) container nonfat sour cream
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1/2 (4 ounces) bag shredded lettuce
1 cup shredded cheese
1 large chopped tomato
1 green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 small can (2.25 ounce) black olives, drained (optional)
1/4 cup taco sauce (optional)

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning. Spread this mixture in an 8 x 8 glass baking dish. If desired, spread mixture with a layer of taco sauce. Top the mixture with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, bell pepper and black olives.

Left off the peppers and olives due to the preferences of guests.  If it was me eating the whole batch of dip I definitely would have thrown them on there... maybe some onion too.  Taco sauce (Ortega hot) was only placed on half of the dish.


1 graham cracker pie crust
2 packages (3.4 oz each) lemon instant Jello pudding mix
2 3/4 cup milk
1 container (8 ounce) whipped topping, thawed
Green food coloring

Beat pudding mix and milk with whisk for 2 minutes.  Pour into pie crust and level.  Place in refrigerator 3 hours or until set.  Add green food coloring to whipped topping and stir lightly.  Spoon topping onto pie.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla

Some people asked what I was making for the big Packers-Bears playoff game today.   I figured I should do something cheeeeesy to support the Pack.   But I also needed my lunch to be somewhat healthy and not break the calorie bank.    I received a Quesadilla maker for Christmas and I've been wanting to try out, and this was the perfect opportunity...

Anne's Game Day Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla

2 whole wheat 10" tortillas
1 grilled chicken breast, cooked and cut in pieces
~1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
~1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
~1/2 cup red onion, chopped
~1/2 cup tomato, chopped
~1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
~1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
lime juice
ground cumin
ground black pepper
chili powder

Mix all the veggies and bacon in a bowl.  Toss with herbs and lime juice.
Spread half the shredded cheese on a tortilla.  Top with chicken and veggie mixture.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the veggies and top with the other tortilla.  Press down to flatten and place on preheated quesadilla maker.  Cook for ~4 minutes until cheese is melted and tortilla is browned.  Cut into 6 wedges to serve.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Now that my internet is fixed, I'm back to post some recipes!  Here are two muffin recipes that I made for an extended family brunch last weekend.  The Blueberry Muffins were exceptional according my mom, and I agreed.  They were REALLY good.  I've made the White Chocolate-Raspberry Muffins in the past, but I'll post the recipe again anyway.  Those are really good too if you like white chocolate and raspberries (and who doesn't??).   If family members are reading this and you're wondering about the mini glazed lemon-poppyseed muffins that seemed to vanish the quickest.... Ummm, those were from a box mix, so thank Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines.  But here are the homemade muffins...   


The Best Blueberry Muffins

1&1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1&1/2 cups fresh blueberries
   Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add in vegetable oil, egg, milk, and sour cream and stir until moistened.  Fold in blueberries.  Fill muffin cups and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.   To make crumb topping, mix all ingredients with a fork until crumbly.  Bake muffins for ~15 minutes at 400º or until done.


White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2&1/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half cream
1 cup chopped white chips
2 tablespoons brown sugar

In a small bowl, toss raspberries with 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.  In a large bowl, cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and extracts.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with cream, until just moistened.  Stir in chips and raspberries.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.  Combine brown sugar and remaining sugar; sprinkle over batter.  Bake at 375º for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.  Serve warm.