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

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 New Ingredient Challenge

A summary of my 2012 New Ingredient Resolution Progress--my personal challenge to make recipes using ingredients I hadn't cooked with before.   I didn't complete all 52 weeks, but I got to 35, and that's 35 in the right direction.  There's still a lot of ingredients I want to be brave and try... like squid/octopus, caviar, goose, collard greens, lentils, etc. 

New Ingredients used in 2012:

Week 1: Persimmons  - Persimmon Bread and Persimmon Pudding
Week 2: Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) - Hummus and Garbanzo Bean and Zucchini Salad
Week 3: Sea Scallops - Seared Scallops on Farfalle with Tomato-Cream Sauce
Week 4: Swiss Chard -  Rainbow Chard and Gruyère Quiche
Week 5: Liquid Smoke - Anne's BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Week 6: Cherimoya - Cherimoya Chiffon Pie
Week 7: Lobster, Polenta - Surf & Turf with Broccolini over Parmesan Polenta
Week 8: Eggplant - Eggplant and Zucchini Brown Rice Gratin
Week 9: Fresh Coconut - Tahitian Coconut Bread and Coconut-Crusted Tilapia with Mango Salsa
Week 10: Jicama - Pulled Pork Sandwich with Jicama Slaw
Week 11: Parsnips - Irish Parsnip-Apple Soup
Week 12: Bulgar - Tabbouleh
Week 13: Tangerines - Tangerine Beef with Snap Peas
Week 14: Edamame - Roasted Edamame Salad
Week 15: Prosciutto - Apple, Gouda, and Prosciutto Panini and Asparagus-Prosciutto Fettuccine Alfredo
Week 16: Pummelo, Tangelo - Seared Ahi Tuna on a Pummelo and Tangelo Salad
Week 17: Kale - Kale Chips  and Better Kale Chips
Week 18: Agave Nectar - Mango-Chipotle-Agave Chicken and Mexican Churro Balls with Agave Caramel Sauce and Agave Mint Limeade
Week 19: Spam - Pizza Spam Bake
Week 20: Ugli Fruit, Watercress - Ugli Duckling and Rosemary Potatoes
Week 21: Fennel - Shaved Fennel Salad
Week 22: Pluots - Grilled Pluot Salad and Dino Egg Crumble
Week 23: Chai Tea - Chai Tea Cookies
Week 24: Braunschweiger - Braunschweiger Melt
Week 25: Swordfish - Grilled Swordfish
Week 26: Pine nuts - Zeus Burgers
Week 27: Okra - Cajun Gumbo
Week 28: Purple Potatoes - Herbed Purple Potatoes and Roasted Garlic Mashed Purple Potatoes
Week 29: Mascarpone Cheese - Raspberry Tart
Week 30: Beauty Heart Radish - Radish, Cucumber, and Spinach Salad
Week 31: Bison - Grilled Bison Tenderloin with Herb Butter
Week 33: Pomegranate -  Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Week 34: Crab - Pan-Fried Crab Cakes with Lemon-Herb Sauce
Week 35: Tofu - Tofu Fried Rice and Tofu, Sobe, and Veggie Stir-Fry

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Anne's 2013 Cooking Resolutions

My first resolution is to make at least 50 recipes (5 recipes each) from ten chosen cookbooks.

I have a lot of cookbooks, more than I really have a right to own.  This new interest in cooking led me to imagine that I was going to become some prodigious master home chef (hah!), but many of my poor neglected cookbooks have been collecting dust deep in the archives of my kitchen library.   I've only made one or two recipes from my Julia Child cookbook, and James Beard's American Cookery has never even been opened.  It's a crime!  So I'm determined to use my cookbooks for their recipes rather than their decorative value.

Make 5 recipes from each of the following ten books:

1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking - Julia Child
  1. Asperges with Béarnaise Sauce
  2. Soufflé au Fromage 
  3. Coq au Vin 
  4. Pommes de Terre Sautées 
  5. Clafouti 
2. American Cookery - James Beard
  1. Chocolate Cream Pie
  2. Sauteed Pork Loin Chops with Whiskey Sauce
  3. Stuffed Baked Potatoes
  4. Poached Stuffed Chicken Breasts
  5. Ratatouille 
3. The Joy of Cooking - Irma Rombauer
  1. Homemade Applesauce
  2. Panfried Spice-Crusted Fish Fillets
  3. Becker Brussels Sprouts  
  4. Barbecued Ribs  
  5. Snickerdoodles
4. How to Cook Everything - Mark Bittman
  1. BLT Frittata 
  2. Saffron Orzo, Risotto-Style
  3. Broiled Tomatoes with Herbs 
  4. Arroz con Pollo 
  5. Steak au Poivre 
5. The New Best Recipe - America's Test Kitchen
  1. Sausage and Bell Pepper Pizza (with homemade dough and sauce) 
  2. Spinach Lasagna 
  3. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie 
  4. Pad Thai
  5. Pumpkin Pie 
6. The New Way to Cook Light - Cooking Light
  1. Shrimp Salad
  2. Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken 
  3. Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Prosciutto Crisps 
  4. Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos
  5. Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca 
7. Cooking for Two 2009 - America's Test Kitchen
  1. Chicken Tikka Masala 
  2. Chicken En Papillote 
  3. Roast Rack of Lamb with Whiskey Sauce 
  4. Smashed Potatoes
  5. Garlicky Green Beans
8. Eating Well Serves Two - Romanoff
  1. Sweet Potato Oven Fries
  2. Pork Chops with Cumberland Sauce  
  3. Thyme & Sesame-Crusted Halibut 
  4. Quinoa, Mango, and Black Bean Salad 
  5. Cider Vinegar-and-Molasses-Glazed Pork Chops
9. 100 Years and Still Cooking - Dairyland Seed 100th Anniversary
  1. Snicker Cookies
  2. Baked Walleye  
  3. Vegetable Dip 
  4. Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
  5. Broccoli Casserole 
10. Anne's choice - various cookbooks/magazines in my kitchen library
  1. Pear Crisp  (from Cooking For Two
  2. Feta-Stuffed Lamb Burgers (from Weight Watchers Cook It Quick
  3. Chicken & Squash Enchiladas (from Weight Watchers Cook It Quick)
  4. Perfect Pepper Ribeye Steaks (from Taste of Home Grill It)
  5. Grilled Cheesy Potato Pouches (from Taste of Home Grilling Collection)

My second goal is to reduce waste by planning meals for the entire week, finishing leftovers, and utilizing ingredient excess in future meals.
This needs to improve.  I get all excited and buy ingredients to make a new recipe, but only need 1/4 or 1/2 of the purchased item.  Instead of letting it sit in my fridge until it's green (not the good type of green), I need to have a plan in place to use it for another recipe before it goes bad.   Additionally, I need to actually eat the leftovers created by these recipes.  I bought a dry erase board today to aid in my grocery shopping and meal planning.  I am fairly certain my husband will laugh at me.

Wish me luck!   Maybe you'll be inspired to dust off some old cookbooks this year, too.   Post a comment and tell me YOUR 2013 cooking resolutions!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Auntie Pam's Chili Con Carne (Soup #6)

In preparation of what everyone is calling the "snowpocalypse," I decided to make another soup recipe from my Bridal Shower collection.  Jeremy and I felt like we wanted something meaty to warm us up through the foot of snow that is forecasted, so we settled on a chili recipe.  This one was given to me by my Maid-of-Honor, Rachel, and her mom, Pam.

We took a few liberties with the recipe, adding macaroni and more chili powder and hot pepper sauce.  I also sprinkled some Cayenne pepper in there.  I probably could have used even more.  We made corn muffins to accompany it.  I'm posting the adjusted version of Pam's recipe to reflect what I actually made.  It was delicious.

Serves 6-8

1 pound ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
28oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
6oz can tomato paste
1 can condensed tomato soup
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 can pinto beans
Elbow macaroni

In a large sauce pot, brown meat with onion and garlic.  Add remaining ingredients except the pinto beans and macaroni; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1&1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.  Add macaroni and pinto beans to pot and cook until heated.    Garnish with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese if desired.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tofu, Sobe, and Veggie Stir-Fry

 Week 35 Featured Ingredient: Soba Noodles

I still had some tofu left, so I decided to try another recipe.  This one was really delicious.  Marinating the tofu gave it great flavor.  The sobe noodles, which are a Japanese buckwheat noodle, were really tasty.  I liked them a lot.  I used a lot of vegetables in my recipe to keep it healthy. 

Anne's Tofu, Sobe, and Vegetable Stir Fry
Serves 4

1 package (14 oz) firm or extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup sake (rice wine)
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
8 oz soba noodles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small strips
2 cups snap peas
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
2 cups chopped bok choy

Cut tofu into 1/2" cubes.  Combine sake, soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a shallow dish just large enough to hold tofu in a single layer.  Add tofu.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, turning once.

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse.  Place in a large bowl.

Put sesame seeds on a plate.  Remove tofu from marinade and toss cubes in the sesame seeds until coated.  Pour the remaining tofu marinade onto the noodles.   Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.  Cook tofu until golden, about 3-4 minutes, turning once; add to noodles.

Heat remaining sesame oil in the skillet and add the garlic, ginger, and vegetables.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are crisp-tender, about 5-8 minutes.  Add to the noodles and toss to combine.   Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing


Gingerbread Cookies
From The Best New Recipes Cookbook
Makes ~20-35 people or 30-55 round cookies

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1&1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk

With an electric mixer, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  Stop the mixer and add the butter pieces; mix at a medium-low speed until the mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 90 seconds.  Reduced the speed to low and, with the mixer running, gradually add the molasses and milk;  mix until the dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds.  Increase the speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.

Scrape the dough onto a work surface; divide in fourths.  Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment paper.  Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment, stack the dough on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove 1 dough sheet from the freezer; place on the work surface.  Peel of the top parchment sheet and gently put it back in place.  Flip the dough over; peel off and discard the second parchment sheet.  Cut the dough into gingerbread people or round cookies, transferring the cutouts to a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Set the scraps aside.  Bake the cookies in a preheated 325º oven ~10 minutes until centers are set.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet a couple minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.   Gather the scraps and repeat the rolling, cutting, and baking.

Royal Icing
Recipe from Wilton Cake Decorating
Yield: 3 cups

3 level tablespoons Meringue Powder  (I got it from Hobby Lobby)
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (~1 pound)
6 tablespoons water (use less for stiffer icing)

Beat all ingredients at low speed for 7-10 minutes until icing forms peaks.

Tofu Fried Rice (2012- Week 34)

Week 34 Featured Ingredient: Tofu

Tofu--the ingredient that strikes fear in a Midwestern meat-and-potato sensibility.   It's been on my culinary to-do list all year and now that it's December, I figured I might as well bite the bullet and finally try it.  And guess what?  It wasn't bad at all!  And dare I say it--I actually liked this recipe!   It's not going to make me give up meat, but hey, at least I know I don't have to tear out the tofu pages of my cookbooks or wrinkle my nose in mock disgust.  I might even try it again.  Will wonders never cease.

Tofu Fried Rice
from The New Way to Cook Light Cookbook
378 calories/serving (1&1/2 cups)
Serves 4

2 cups rice, cooked
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 package (14 oz) reduced-fat firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup green onion slices
1 cup frozen peas and diced carrots, thawed
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat.  Add tofu; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Remove from pan to a plate or bowl.  Add eggs to pan; Cook 1 minutes or until done, breaking the egg into small pieces.  Remove from pan and add to tofu.

Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add the onions, peas and carrots, garlic, and ginger; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently.   Add cooked rice to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Mix together the sake, soy sauce, hoisin, and sesame oil.  Add the tofu, egg, and soy sauce mixture to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Serve and garnish with sliced green onions if desired.