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

Friday, February 24, 2012

Eggplant and Zucchini Brown Rice Gratin (2012 - Week 8)

2012 Week 8 Mystery Ingredient: Eggplant

I wanted to make a meatless dish and this seemed like a good idea.  It looked good in the magazine picture, but this recipe was a bit of a flop.  It wasn't bad, but it could have used a lot more flavor.  Okay, it was bad.  I threw out the leftovers.  I think the brown rice made it taste blah.   At least it was healthy.  I did like the crunch of the walnuts.

Eggplant and Zucchini Brown Rice Gratin
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
Serves: 6,   320 calories

1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
1 pound zucchini, cut into 1" cubes
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

In a large bowl, combine eggplant, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss to combine.  Place mixture on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400º for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 375º.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, and add garlic and onion. Cook until tender.  Add the onion mixture to the eggplant mixture.  Add the cooked rice, remaining salt, pepper, eggs, half-and-half, and 3/4 cup cheese.  Stir well to combine and spoon into a 9x13" glass baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Cover with foil and bake at 375º for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 cup cheese, Panko bread crumbs, walnuts, and parsley.  Remove foil from rice mixture and top evenly with breadcrumb mixture.  Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes until vegetables are tender and topping is browned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Surf and Turf with Broccolini over Parmesan Polenta (2012 - Week 7)

 Happy Valentine's Day!

2012 Week 7 Mystery Ingredient: Polenta

So I know that Polenta is really more of a recipe than an ingredient, but I've never had it, so I'm counting it.  Plus, I've never prepared lobster or broccolini before either, so I'm doing THREE new ingredients in one meal.   I didn't care for the polenta.  I prefer mashed potatoes.   I was happy with the Lobster, though.  I watched an online video on how to prepare a lobster tail since I was clueless, and I was pleased that I managed to make it work.  It looked elegant and special for a gourmet Valentine's Day meal with my husband.

Parmesan Polenta
Recipe from The Best New Recipes Cookbook
Serves: 3-4  

3 cups water
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cups cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper 

Boil water in heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, add salt and pour the cornmeal into the water in a very slow stream, all the while stirring in a circular motion with a wooden spoon.  Reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and cover.  Cook for about 30 minutes until polenta becomes soft and smooth, stirring vigorously for 10 seconds every 5 minutes, making sure to scrape clean the bottom and corners of pot.  Stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese and season with salt and black pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Sauteed Broccolini
from Ina Garten on Food Network Channel

1 bunch broccolini
kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the broccolini in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes.  Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water. 
Melt the butter in a large saute pan.  Add the lemon zest and garlic.  Drain the broccolini and add it to the saute pan and heat for 2 minutes.  Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and toss before serving. 

Surf and Turf  
(Baked Lobster Tail and Pan-Seared Filets Mignons)

Filets Mignons:

Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lower-middle position in the oven and heat to 450ºF.    On the stovetop, place a heavy-bottomed skillet and heat to high.  Meanwhile, rub each side of the steaks with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste.  Place the steaks in the hot skillet and let cook, without moving or touching the steaks, until well-browned and a nice crust has formed, about 3 minutes on each side.  Transfer the steaks to the baking sheet and roast until desired doneness: 4-6 minutes for rare, 6-8 minutes for medium-rare, and 8-10 minutes for medium.  (If desired, make a pan sauce for steaks in the empty skillet.)   When steaks are finished cooking, set aside and let rest for 5 minutes, loosely tented with foil. 

Baked Lobster Tails:
 Defrost lobster tails overnight.  Using a scissors, cut down the center of the shell until just before the tailfan (Don't cut meat or the underside of lobster.)  Carefully open the top of the shell, and using your fingers, loosen the cartilage on inside of shell to free the lobster meat.  Pull out the lobster meat through the slit on top, put shell back in place, and let meat rest on the empty shell (this presentation is called a piggyback lobster tail).
Place prepared lobsters on baking sheet, drizzle with lemon juice, melted butter, and parsley, and bake at 375º for about 15 minutes. Serve with a lemon wedge and extra melted butter if desired.

Cherimoya Chiffon Pie (2012 - Week 6)

2012 Week 6 Mystery Ingredient: Cherimoya

Sorry for the delay in this post.  I had to wait for my cherimoyas to ripen and get soft enough to use.  Mark Twain called the Cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to men."  It is also known as a "custard apple" because the pulp has the consistency of custard or sherbet.  I noticed this fruit in the store and decided to give it a try.   I don't agree with Twain about it being the most delicious fruit.  The pulp was kind of weird.  Not bad--just different.   But once it was in the pie, it was delicious.   I had one little mishap.  Something went wrong with the gelatin, or perhaps I didn't let it set long enough in the fridge, because it wasn't as firm as it should have been.  Oh well.  It was still yummy.

Cherimoya Chiffon Pie

1&1/2 cups pureed cherimoya (~2-3 cherimoyas)
1/4 cup water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
3 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
raspberries, lemon zest, mint leaf (optional garnish)
Graham Cracker Pie Crust:
1&1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix melted butter, sugar, and graham crumbs.  Press into a 9" pie plate and bake at 350º for 6 to 8 minutes.  Let cool before filling.  (Or you can buy a graham or chocolate cookie crumb crust)

Scoop out flesh of cherimoya with a spoon and mash by pressing it through a mesh strainer.  You may need to use your fingers.  Discard seeds (they are inedible).

Dissolve gelatin in water; let sit for 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine the mashed/pureed cherimoya, 1 cup sugar, and orange juice.  Stir the dissolved gelatin into cherimoya mixture and let it sit in fridge until it thickens.

Meanwhile, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then add 6 tablespoons sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.  Fold the whipping cream and cherimoya mixture into the egg whites.

Pour filling into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate until firm (at least 3 hours or next day).  Garnish with raspberries, lemon zest, or mint leaves as desired.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Anne's Baked BBQ Baby Back Ribs (2012 - Week 5)

2012 Week 5 Mystery Ingredient: Liquid Smoke

I was reading a book called Cooking for Geeks and it mentioned Liquid Smoke, so I wanted to give it a try.  Since it serendipitously fell on the week of the Super Bowl, I thought Baby Back Ribs would make an good football game type of food.  We don't own an outdoor grill yet, so I made an oven-baked version and made my own little BBQ sauce recipe using the Liquid Smoke and other ingredients I already had in my pantry.  I don't know if the Liquid Smoke really added anything, but the ribs and my sauce sure were finger-licking good!

Anne's Baked BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Serves: ~6 

2 racks of baby-back pork ribs 

Dry Rub:
8 TBSP light brown sugar
3 TBSP kosher salt
1 TBSP chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

BBQ Sauce:
1/2 large yellow onion, minced
1/2 TBSP minced garlic
1/4 cup water
1 cup ketchup
5 TBSP molasses
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 TBSP cider vinegar
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP whiskey
1 TBSP honey
1&1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 Preheat oven to 300ºF.  In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.  Place each slab of baby back ribs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, shiny side down.  

Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub and pat the rub into the meat.  Let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.  Put another piece of foil over the ribs (meat side up) and bake for 30 minutes to start.

In a medium saucepan, combine all the BBQ sauce ingredients.  Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens a bit.  Pour through a mesh strainer into a bowl to remove the onion and garlic pieces.  Let sauce cool to room temperature.

Remove the ribs from oven and brush about 1/4 cup of  sauce over the tops of each rack.  Put foil back over the top and continue to bake another 30 minutes.   Every 30 minutes, remove ribs and brush sauce over each rack.  Repeat until ribs have been cooking 2&1/2 hours total.  

After the last glaze, turn up the heat to 350º and bake for 15-20 minutes without foil.  Cut the ribs in 1/2 or 1/3's and serve with any leftover sauce if desired.