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 30, 2013

Special Venison

Jeremy's sister gave us some venison tenderloins from the deer she shot.  I found this recipe from Penzey's Spices and went with it.   I accidentally seared the meat a little long on one side (not really burnt though), but it still tasted good.  I wish I had made the sauce that goes with it but I didn't have beef stock or currants so I skipped it. 

Special Venison
Serves 4

1 lb venison (or beef tenderloin)
1 teaspoon cracked rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup dried currants
3/4 cup water
3/4 teaspoon beef soup base
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
2 tablespoons grape or raspberry jelly

Wash the tenderloins and pat dry.  Mix the rosemary, coriander, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil to make a paste.  Rub the tenderloin with the paste; cover and chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450º.   Heat a large oven-proof skillet over high heat until hot; add the remaining oil and tilt to coat the bottom.  Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper and sear in the hot skillet, about 3 minutes on both sides.   Transfer to the oven and cook until a meat thermometer reads 125-130º, about 20-30 minutes. 

In the hot skillet, add the wine to deglaze the pan.  Stir in the currants and beef soup base mixed with 3/4 cup water.  Boil over medium-high heat.  In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, water, and rosemary.  Add to the skillet and simmer until mixture is thickened.  Whisk in the jelly and adjust seasonings.  Slice the tenderloin and serve with sauce drizzled over the meat.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Steak au Poivre and Brussels Sprouts

For Jeremy's birthday, I decided to make steak.  I had asked him what he wanted me to make for his birthday, but he kept saying "anything" so I found this recipe for pan-seared steak with black pepper and red wine.   It was delicious.  Easy to make and easy to cut the recipe down to 2 portions.  I also served onion rings and Brussels sprouts.  No complaints.   And with this 50th new recipe, I've officially completed my 2013 New Year's Resolution Challenge.  Yay!

Steak au Poivre   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from How to Cook Everything
Serves 4

4 tenderloin filets, 4 -6 oz each
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot
3/4 cup good red wine
2 sprigs fresh tarragon or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

Sprinkle the steaks liberally with pepper.   Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet over medium heat.  When the foam subsides, increase temperature to medium-high and put in the steaks.  Cook steaks for 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer to an ovenproof platter and put platter in the oven at 200º. 

Over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet, along with the shallots.  Stir about 1 minute.  Add the wine and tarragon; raise heat to high, and let most of the liquid bubble away.  Pour any juices that have accumulated on the steak platter back into the sauce.  Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.

Braised and Glazed Brussels Sprouts
from How to Cook Everything
Serves 4

3 tablespoons butter
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper

Combine butter, sprouts, and stock in a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover, and simmer until sprouts are just tender, about 5-10 minutes.  Uncover and raise heat to boil off all the liquid.  Let them sizzle until golden and crisp.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


While I wrapped presents, Jeremy made the cookies.  When he saw the result, he got mad and said I should throw out the the cookbook (Joy of Cooking) because the recipe failed.  He said it was a bad cookbook (even though it's been around for over 75 years). Instead of nice round puffy snickerdoodles, we got very flat and crunchy cookies.    Hypothesized reasons for the imperfect cookies may have been: the recipe used too much butter, not enough flour, the butter was too soft, the baking soda was expired, the dough balls were made too big, the cookie sheets were warped, and the oven isn't perfectly level (he seriously got out his level to confirm).  With all that said, they STILL TASTE GOOD.  So who cares? :)  In the future, I'll try a different recipe though.

Snickerdoodles   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Recipe from Joy of Cooking
Makes 36 cookies (3" size)

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1&1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
for rolling:
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar; add eggs and beat until well combined.  Stir in the flour mixture.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Shape the dough into 1&1/4" balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar.  Arrange a couple inches apart on greased cookie sheets.  Bake 12-14 minutes at 350º, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are golden brown at the edges.  Let stand a couple minutes, then remove to a rack to cool.

The first batch that made Jeremy go into cookie rage:

Smoky Sausage and Bean Chili

We're having a weekly soup fundraiser contest at work.  Each week, somebody brings in a soup; at the end of the contest, the person who gets the most employees to buy a bowl of their soup wins, with the sales going to charity.  I realized I would need a crockpot-friendly recipe since it was going to be at work all day, so I decided to go with chili because it's winter and cold and chili is the perfect hearty dish to warm you up.    I found a non-traditional chili recipe in a Slow Cooker cookbook I own, and I went with that.  I was short on time so I made up my own instructions, added bacon, did some stuff on the stovetop, used canned beans instead of dry, and transferred everything to the crockpot to heat. I doubled the recipe which barely fit in my crockpot.  I liked it a lot, but I added a tad too much chili powder for my taste.  Otherwise, it would have been perfect.  I served it with mini corn muffins.

Smoky Sausage and Bean Chili
adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution
Serves 6-8

5 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon
2 onions, minced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chili powder
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2-3 cups chicken broth
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 pound kielbasa sausage, sliced 1/2" thick
8 oz andouille sausasge, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon; set aside on a paper towel, then chop into small pieces.  

Transfer the bacon drippings remaining in the pan to a large pot and use to saute the onions and bell pepper until they begin to soften.  Add chili powder, garlic, cumin, and oregano, and stir for a minute.  Transfer to a slow cooker.

Stir everything else into the slow cooker, including the crumbled bacon.  Take some of the white beans and mash them, adding the mash back into the slow cooker.  Stir well.  Cover and cook until heated through.  Remove bay leaves.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I've been wanting to make Paella for a long time (it was a dish on my chef-y bucket list), and I had some shrimp in the freezer that I wanted to use, so I figured it was a good time to try.  I saw this recipe in a Cooking for Two cookbook and followed it except I omitted the chicken thighs because I thought shrimp and chorizo would be plenty filling and it was one less thing I'd have to buy.   I actually doubled the recipe so that I'd use up the package of chorizo and now we'll have leftovers for tomorrow.  I liked it but it wasn't as "wow" as I'd hoped.  Still, it was good enough that I'd make it again.  It's a nice filling one-pot dinner.

from Cooking for Two 2009
Serves 2

salt and pepper
8 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
4 oz chorizo, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4" pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, and cut into 1/2" wide strips
1 shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
pinch Saffron threads
3/4 cup Arborio or Valencia rice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1&1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Pat shrimp dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until needed.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Brown the chicken well on both sides, about 5 minutes, flipping it halfway through cooking.  Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the chorizo, bell pepper, shallot, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until the chorizo and pepper are well browned, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the rice and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits.  Return the chicken to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the thighs register 170ºF and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Scatter the shrimp over the rice and continue to cook, covered, until the rice is tender and shrimp are cooked, about 5 minutes.  If soccarat (the crusty brown layer of rice on the bottom of the pan) is desired, leave the skillet uncovered over medium-high heat for another 5 minutes.

Off the heat, sprinkle the peas and parsley over the rice, cover, and let warm through, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Elvis" Ice Cream

I had extra whipping cream in my fridge, so I decided to make ice cream.  I found this recipe for Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream in a cookbook and added mini chocolate chips that we had in our pantry, too.    Delish!  I think Elvis would approve.

Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream
Recipe from The Ice Cream Bible
Serves 8

2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups milk
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups whipping (35%) cream
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips (optional)

In a bowl, whisk eggs with sugar until thickened and pale yellow.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring milk to a simmer.  Gradually whisk into the egg mixture.  Return entire mixture to the sauce pan and cook over low hear, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Be careful not to let it boil.   Strain into a large bowl.  Let cool to room temperature.

Whisk in the bananas, whipping cream, and peanut butter.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or until completely cold.

Stir cream mixture.  Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer instructions.  If using chocolate chips, add in the last 5 minutes of freezing.   Put in airtight container and freeze.


Just the other week, I watched Ratatouille with my 1-year-old nephew (ok, he was taking a nap, and I was doing the watching..shhh, don't judge).  Chefs on Chopped and various cooking shows seem to make this dish a lot, so I figured it must be something good.  And if a cartoon mouse can make it, then so can I, right?   I needed a side dish to go with our meat, and eggplant told me it wanted redemption over the last failed eggplant recipe (see failure), so this seemed like a perfect choice.  It was good.  I added a little too much oil because I forgot that I had halved the recipe, but whatever.  Accidents happen.  It still tasted good.

Ratatouille   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from James Beard's American Cookery
Serves 6-8

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 green peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 large eggplant, diced
4 small zucchini, cut into 1/4" slices
8-10 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil in a deep saucepan or kettle until onions are transparent.  Add the peppers, eggplant, and zucchini and blend well.  Reduced heat; cover and cook 7-8 minutes until the eggplant begins to soften.  Add the tomatoes and seasonings and continue simmering, covered, for another 10 minutes.  Remove cover and let the mixture cook down, stirring often.  Add more seasoning to taste.  Serve hot.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pumpkin Pies

This year for our big extended family Thanksgiving, I signed up to make pumpkin pie.  Since I needed two pies, I decided to try two different recipes (my mother-in-law graciously lent me a second pie dish).  They were both good, but my preference, taste-wise, was the first recipe from The New Best Recipe cookbook.  It was a lot more time consuming to make my own crust and it had a lot more ingredients, but I liked the richer, sweeter, creamier filling.  My first crust accidentally shrunk as I baked it (prompting me to ask for pie weights for Christmas).  Also, after we cut into it, I realized I should have kept it in the oven for 5-10 more minutes because the center of the pie wasn't set as well as it could have been, but it still tasted delicious. The second Pumpkin Pie recipe was just off the McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice jar that Jeremy found in the cupboard.  It tasted just fine--you can't screw up a simple recipe.

Pumpkin Pie   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen: The New Best Recipe

Pie Shell:
1&1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
4-5 tablespoons ice water

Pie Filling:
2 cups (16 oz) plain canned pumpkin puree
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk
4 large eggs

Directions for Pie Shell:
Process the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined.  Add the shortening and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds.   Scatter the butter pieces over the flour and cut into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses.  Turn into a medium bowl.   Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture and using a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix.  Press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 1 more tablespoon of ice water if necessary.  Flatten dough into a 4-inch disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or up to 2 days before rolling.

Remove dough from fridge (if in fridge longer than an hour, let sit a few minutes until malleable).  Using a rolling pin, roll dough on a lightly floured work surface or between two sheets of parchment paper, working from the center to the edges in clockwise fashion, until it becomes a 12-inch circle.   Transfer the dough to a 9" pie plate by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling over the pie pan.   Ease the dough into the pan corners and trim the dough edges to about 1/2 inch beyond the rim of the pan.  Fold the overhang under itself and flute the dough using your fingers to make a pattern or a fork to flatten dough against the rim.  Refrigerate until firm, about 40 minutes, then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375º.  Remove the dough-lined pie plate from the freezer and press a doubled piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil inside the pie shell, folding the edges to shield the fluted edge.  Distribute 2 cups ceramic or metal pie weights over the foil.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Carefully remove the pie weights and foil and continue to bake until light golden brown, 5-6 minutes.  This will produce a partially baked crust that is now ready for the filling.   As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and increase oven temperature to 400º. 

Directions for Pumpkin Pie Filling:
While the crust is baking, process the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, spices, and salt in a food processor for 1 minute until combined.  Transfer mixture to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan on the stovetop and bring to a sputtering simmer over medium-high heat.  Cook the pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly, until thick and shiny, about 5 minutes.

Whisk the heavy cream and milk into the pumpkin mixture and bring to a bare simmer.   Process the eggs in the food processor for about 5 seconds until whites and yolks are combined.  With the motor running, slowly pour about half of the hot pumpkin mixture through the feed tube to combine with the eggs.  Stop the machine and add the remaining pumpkin mixture. Process 30 seconds longer.

Immediately pour the warm filling mixture into the hot pie crust.  (Ladle any excess filling into the pie after it has baked 5 minutes and had a chance to settle.)  Bake the pie at 400º on the lowest rack in the oven about 25 minutes, until the filling is puffed, dry-looking, lightly cracked around the edges, and the center wiggles a little when pie is gently shaken.  Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.


McCormick Signature Pumpkin Pie
from McCormick

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 unbaked pie crust, frozen

Mix all ingredients together and pour into pie crust.   Bake in preheated 425º oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 350º and bake another 40 minutes.   Cool completely.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Aka Cherry Flan.  It's basically pancake batter poured over cherries in a baking dish.  I halved the recipe and put it in a smaller baking dish for Jeremy and myself.  It was good.

Clafouti   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Serves 6-8 people

2 cups pitted black sweet cherries
1&1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
another 1/3 cup granulated sugar
powdered sugar, if desired

Place milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and flour in a blender in the order listed.  Cover and blend at high speed for a minute.  Pour a 1/4" layer of batter into a greased pyrex pie plate or fireproof baking dish.  Bake at 350º for a few minutes until the film is set.  Spread the cherries over the batter and sprinkle on the remaining 1/3 cup sugar.  Pour the rest of the batter over the top.  Bake for about an hour.   It's done when it has puffed and browned and a knife comes out clean.  Serve warm.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top if desired.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pad Thai

I felt like switching things up from our normal meat and potatoes meal, so I found this Thai-inspired recipe using shrimp.  I was excited to find an individual packet of tamarind paste at Sendik's for only $2 since it's unlikely I'll use it for anything else.  The cookbook said you could substitute 1/3 cup lime juice and 1/3 cup water and use brown sugar instead of white, but I wanted to keep the recipe as authentic as possible.  It tasted great--just enough heat to make my lips and tongue tingle a bit.

Pad Thai  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen: The New Best Recipe
Serves 4

2 tablespoons tamarind paste
3/4 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
8 ounces dried stick noodles, about 1/4" wide
2 large eggs
12 oz medium(40-50/lb) shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped fine (optional) - I couldn't find
2 tablespoons chopped Thai salted preserved radish (optional) - I couldn't find
6 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups (6 oz) bean sprouts
5 medium scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on sharp diagonal
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (optional)
lime wedges for serving (optional)

Rehydrate the tamarind paste in the boiling water for about 10 minutes, and push through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds or fibers and extract as much pulp as possible.  Stir the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons of the oil into the tamarind liquid; set aside.

Cover the rice sticks with hot tap water in a large bowl; soak until softened and pliable, but not fully tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain noodles and set aside.   Beat eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke.  Add the shrimp and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque and browned around the edges, about 3 minutes.  Transfer shrimp to a plate; set aside.

Off the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and swirl to coat.  Add the garlic and shallot and cook over medium heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly, until light golden brown.  Add the beaten eggs to the skillet and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds.  Add the rice noodles, dried shrimp (if using), and salted radish (if using) to the eggs.  Toss with two wooden spoons to combine.  Pour the fish sauce mixture over the noodles, increase the heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are evenly coated. 

Scatter 1/4 cup of the peanuts, the bean sprouts, all but 1/4 cup of the scallions, and the cooked shrimp over the noodles.  Continue to cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining scallions, peanuts, and cilantro (if using).  Serve immediately and garnish with lime wedges if desired.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Poached Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I find it difficult to cook recipes from cookbooks without any pictures.  But James Beard's American Cookery book needed to be opened, so I chose this very approachable recipe.  He wrote that this was his mother's recipe.  It was easy to make, and we especially liked the sauce, which was needed to give it some moisture.

Poached Stuffed Chicken Breasts  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Recipe from James Beard's American Cookery
Serves 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
3 tablespoons chopped shallots or onions
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
chicken broth

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
chicken broth from recipe
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
chopped parsley

Cream the butter and stir in the shallots, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Spread a generous amount of butter mixture on one side of each chicken breast and fold over the other half, securing with a toothpick.  Place in a large skillet and just cover with well-seasoned chicken broth.   Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer about 12 minutes until done, turning chicken halfway through cooking.  Transfer to a hot platter, and let the chicken broth reduce in the pan over high heat for a little while. 

To make the sauce, melt butter in a saucepan and blend in the flour, cooking and stirring 2-3 minutes.  Strain and stir in 1&1/2 cups of the heated chicken broth and continue stirring until the mixture thickens.   Combine the egg yolks and cream.  Spoon a little of the sauce into the egg mixture to temper, and then stir back into the sauce.  Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Heat until thickened but do not let boil.  Spoon over the chicken breasts and sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Arroz con Pollo and Broccoli Casserole

I had chicken breasts I had moved out of the freezer last night, brown rice in the cupboard, and broccoli in the fridge that I wanted to use up.  So I paged through my cookbooks and found these two recipes.   The Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice) recipe was very good--and easy to make!  Best of all, I already had all the ingredients on hand (Instead of a whole chicken, I scaled down the recipe and just used a couple chicken breasts).  I really liked the flavor the saffron imparted on the brown rice.   The Broccoli bake was okay.  I took some liberties with the recipe based on what I had on hand and to scale it down so we didn't have more than one day's worth of leftovers. Overall, it was okay, but I thought it was a little too saucy.  I like cheese and broccoli together, but it needed more broccoli and less of the cheese sauce (I can't believe I'm saying that).

Arroz con Pollo    (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Adapted from How to Cook Everything
Serves 4


2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup rice
pinch saffron threads
1&1/2 cups chicken stock
4 small chicken breasts/tenders (~1 to 1&1/2 lbs total)

Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and become translucent.   Add the rice and stir until coated with oil, a minute or two.  Sprinkle with the saffron and stir.  Nestle the chicken pieces in the rice, and more salt and pepper, and pour in the stock.  Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through.


Broocoli Casserole   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Adapted from Dairyland Seed 100 Years and Still Cooking
Serves 4

1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (or crushed Saltine crackers)

Mix together the egg, cheese, soup, milk, and mustard in a large bowl.  Add the broccoli and stir to coat.  Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish.   Toss the Panko and melter butter together.   Sprinkle over the broccoli.  Bake, uncovered, in a 350º oven for 45 minutes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pear-Date Streusel Bars

I think these bars are super yummy.  I volunteered to bring a dessert to a ladies' lunch after our tennis match, so I broke out this recipe.  Everyone seemed to enjoy them.  I've made these bars before, but I don't think I've ever posted the recipe.  Here it is.

Pear-Date Streusel Bars
from Betty Crocker's New Eat and Lose Weight Cookbook
Makes 36 bars; 85 calories/bar

1 can (16 oz) pear halves in extra-light syrup
1 package (8oz) chopped dates
1 cup flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup reduced-calorie spread (or margarine or butter)
powdered sugar, if desired

Finely chop the pears.  Heat the pears, pear juice from can, and dates to boiling in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened.  Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Reserve 1 cup crumbly mixture for topping.  Press remaining mixture in bottom of a 13x9" pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 350º for 15 minutes.

Carefully spread date mixture over crust.  Sprinkle with remaining crumbly mixture.  Bake for another 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Cut into 2 x 1&1/2" bars.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Molasses-Glazed Pork Chops and Parmesan-Crusted Asparagus

Tonight's meal was quite delicious.  I really liked the glaze on the pork chops.  The recipe called for thin-cut chops, but I had a couple thick ones in the freezer, so that's what I used--I just had to cook them longer.  And it was the best asparagus I ever made.  I suppose if you put Parmesan breading on anything it will taste good. :)

Cider Vinegar-&-Molasses-Glazed Pork Chops  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Eating Well Serves Two

2 thin-cut boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet.  Add pork and cook until browned and no longer pink in the middle, about a couple minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

To the skillet, add shallot, jalapeno, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add molasses, vinegar, mustard, and soy sauce, and bring to simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Return the pork and any accumulated juices to the pan and turn to coat with sauce.  Serve the pork with the sauce.


Parmesan-Crusted Asparagus
from America's Test Kitchen: Cooking for Two 2013

1 pound (1/2" thick) asparagus, trimmed
salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 tablespoon melted butter, cooled
pinch Cayenne pepper
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon honey

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Using a fork, poke holes in each asparagus spear.  Toss with a little salt and let stand for 30 minutes on a paper towel to draw out the moisture.

Meanwhile, combine the Parmesan cheese, Panko crumbs, Cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and melted butter, and place in a shallow dish.

Using a hand-held mixer, whip egg white and honey together on medium-low speed until foamy.  Increase speed to medium-high and continue to whip until soft peaks form.  Transfer to a second shallow dish.

Dredge each asparagus spear in the egg white and then coat with Parmesan mixture.  Place on an  aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 450ºF for about 6-7 minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Burgundy Beef Stew

I wanted to use up the red wine and beef stock in the fridge I still had leftover from the Coq au Vin recipe, but I didn't want a labor-intensive recipe since I work this week and didn't have a long time to slave over the stove.  We've been eating a lot of chicken lately, so I wanted something different.  I found this recipe for Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker magazine.  I didn't have any Burgundy wine, so I just used up the Cabernet Sauvignon.  We couldn't taste the wine at all.  Overall, we thought the dish could have used more seasoning (even though I used more than the recipe even suggested), but we enjoyed it anyway. 

Burgundy Beef Stew
from Better Homes & Gardens: Ultimate Slow Cooker
Serves 6

2 pounds boneless beef chuck pot roast, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 medium carrots, chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 (9 oz) package frozen cut green beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 oz) can reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup Burgundy wine
Egg Noodles, cooked (optional)

Place beef in a 4-quart slow cooker and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir in carrots, onions, green beans, and garlic.   Pour broth and wine over everything in the slow cooker.   Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or on high for 5-6 hours.   Serve with juices in a bowl, or if desired, serve over noodles.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mint and Chip Cheesecake

This is what I made as a birthday treat for me and my coworkers.  I asked a fellow coworker (her birthday was just one day earlier than mine) what her favorite dessert was and she said cheesecake, so I found this recipe.  I liked it, although the mint was subtle and I think it could have used even more mint flavor.  I was a little scared that I had overcooked the cake because the top turned brown, but the inside was perfect.

Mint and Chip Cheesecake
from Better Homes and Gardens - Great Cheesecakes

2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I used ~2/3 package of Oreo cookies in food processor)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup green crème de menthe
3 eggs
24 oz carton sour cream
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon shortening

In medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs and melted butter.  Press mixture onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of 9" springform pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar.  Beat in crème de menthe.  Add eggs all at once and beat on low speed until combined.  Stir in sour cream and mini chocolate chips until combined.  Pour into crust-lined pan.

Place springform pan on a shallow baking pan and bake at preheated 375ºF oven for 50-55 minutes or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.  Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes.  Loosen sides of pan and cool another 30 minutes.  Remove side of pan and cool a little longer.  Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

Before serving, in a small saucepan, combine 1 oz chocolate and shortening.  Cook and stir over low heat until melted.  Drizzle chocolate over cheesecake.  Chill 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.  Serve.

Coq au Vin and Pommes de Terre Sautées

For tonight's dinner, I decided to take on a Julia Child classic--Coq au Vin (aka Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon).  I even stayed true to the recipe by including the evil mushrooms.   I figured Jeremy would enjoy them (and amazingly, I didn't hate them).  Instead of Cognac (which would have cost me $35 for a large bottle which I'd rarely use again), I bought a small bottle of Brandy at the liquor store for $3.  It deglazed the pan just fine.  I didn't do the whole flaming pan experience because my stove has a microwave over the top and I didn't want to set the house on fire.   For the wine, I used a Cabernet Sauvignon because that's what was in my cupboard.  I think Julia Child would approve.  We really liked the chicken; it stayed deliciously moist.  I bought a whole cut up chicken at the store which made enough for dinner plus leftovers the next day.  The buttery sauteéd potatoes were excellent too.

Coq au Vin    (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Serves 4-6

1/2 cup lardons (or very thick-cut bacon), cut into 1/4- by 1&1/2-inch strips
2 or more tablespoons olive oil
3&1/2 to 4&1/2 pounds chicken, cut into parts (or all of one kind of part), thoroughly dried
1/4 cup Cognac or Armagnac (I used brandy)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
20 small white onions, peeled
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups red wine, preferably Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, or Pinot Noir
About 2 cups brown chicken stock or beef stock
1 or 2 garlic cloves, mashed or minced
About 1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, washed, and sliced or quartered

Sauté the bacon/lardons in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a side dish, leaving the drippings in the pan.

Heat the drippings in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, before careful not to crowd the pan. (You may need to work in batches). Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all sides.  Carefully pour the Cognac or Armagnac into the pan, let it become bubbling hot, and then, if desired–and if you’re brave–ignite the sauce with a match. Let it flame for a minute, tilting the pan by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the pan and place the onions around the chicken.  Cover and simmer gently, turning the chicken once, for about 10 minutes.

Uncover the pan, sprinkle the flour over everything, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning once or twice, for 3 to 4 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock or bouillon to almost cover the chicken. Add the lardons/bacon, garlic, and tomato paste to the pan, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness (there should be no trace of pink and the juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife) and remove those pieces that are ready. Continue to cook the rest of the chicken a few minutes longer. If the onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them in the sauce, then return the chicken to the pan, add the mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly to concentrate; if it is too thick, thin it with spoonfuls of stock or bouillon. Taste the sauce carefully, and correct the seasoning accordingly. Serve immediately or let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, skim any fat that has congealed on the surface of the stew and place the pan of coq au vin over medium-low heat.


Pommes de Terre Sautées   (Sauteed Potatoes)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1 pound (2-3 cups) potatoes, halved or cut into small cubes, ~1" (I used a fingerling potatoes)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 tablespoon minced curly leaf parsley

Add butter and oil to skillet over medium-high heat.  When the foam subsides, put potatoes into skillet and cook for 2 minutes, shaking skillet back and forth to roll potatoes.  Sear on all sides for another 4-5 minutes until potatoes are pale golden color all over.  Sprinkle with salt and roll again.  Lower heat, cover skillet, and cook for 15 minutes, shaking occasionally to prevent sticking and insure an even cook.   Off the heat, roll in butter and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Barbecued Ribs

I saw these barbecued ribs on sale at the grocery store, and fell prey to the store's marketing scheme and made an impulse purchase.  Hey, it's a yummy Football Sunday sort of dinner.  We enjoyed it.  I supposed I could have grilled them, but this indoor version was good too.

 Indoors Barbecued Ribs   (2013 Cookbook Chalenge)
from Joy of Cooking
Serves 6


2 sides pork spareribs or 2 racks baby back ribs

Southern Barbecue Dry Rub:   (you won't use all of it)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground mace (I used nutmeg)
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons ground black pepper

Barbecue Sauce:
3/4 cup castup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 lemon slices

Pat dry the ribs.  Rub with the Southern Barbecue Dry Rub.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate a couple hours.   Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º.  Cover the ribs with foil and roast, rib side up, for 45 minutes.  Uncover, turn meat side up, and roast for another 45-60 minutes at 300º.   Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often for 5 minutes.  (The sauce will keep in fridge for a couple weeks).  During the last 15-30 minutes of roasting, baste the ribs with the sauce, repeating every 10-15 minutes.  Remove ribs from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.  Repeat basting.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca

I wanted to use the prosciutto I still had leftover in the fridge from a previous recipe, so I found this recipe for Chicken Saltimbocca in my cookbook collection.  Apparently, saltimbocca means "jump in the mouth."  I don't think it jumped, but it was pretty good. :)

Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Cooking Light: The New Way to Cook Light
Serves 4;  202 calories/serving

4 (4-oz) chicken cutlets (or 8 smaller tenders)
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 fresh sage leaves
2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 8 strips
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup fat-free chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt.  Place sage leaves on each cutlet.  Wrap prosciutto slices around each cutlet, securing sage leaves in place.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add chicken.  Cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove chicken from pan.  Whisk together broth, juice, and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth.  Add cornstarch mixture and remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook a minute until slightly thickened.  Spoon sauce over chicken to serve.

Beet and Beet Green Gratin

Here's another recipe using veggies I picked up at the Farmer's Market.  I got it in my head that I wanted to make a beet recipe, and I saw this one in the online version of New York Times and thought the picture looked pretty, so I gave it a try.  My creation didn't look like theirs (see link), but it still tasted pretty good.  I used both red and golden beets.

Beet and Beet Green Gratin
Serves 6
167 calories/serving

2 bunches (6-8) beets (~2 lbs), preferably one red and one golden, with greens
salt to taste
3 eggs
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped chives
2 ounced Gruyere cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Slice off the beet greens about an inch from the beet, scrub beets cleans, wrap each beet loosely in foil, transfer to a baking sheet, and roast in the oven at 400º for about 50-60 minutes until easily pierced with fork.  Remove and let beets cool enough to handle.  Hold one beet with a paper towel and use the edge of the paper to rub the skin away. Repeat with remaining beets.  Slice thin.

Remove stems and wash the beet greens.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, fill another bowl with ice water.  When the pot of water comes to a boil, blanch the greens in the boiling water for about one minute.  Transfer to the ice water, then drain and squeeze out the water.  Chop coarsely.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet and add the garlic.  Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring until fragrant.  Stir in the greens.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 375º.  Beat together the eggs, salt, pepper, milk, chives, and cheese.  Gently stir in the beets and greens.  Scrape into a 2-quart casserole dish.  Bake 35-40 minutes until set and lightly browned on top.  Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.  Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.  Leftovers keep for 4-5 days.

Curried Carrot Soup

I bought some carrots at the Farmer's Market.  The lady there was kind of funny.  She shoved a piece of carrot at me and enthusiastically proclaimed, "Try it!  Isn't it good?! Very sweet.  We have the best carrots!"  I was thinking to myself that it tasted like any other carrot, but I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I just smiled and nodded and bought a bunch.  I decided to make a soup that was in my Conscious Cleanse book even though I'm not really doing the cleanse anymore.  I had heard good things about the soup so I gave it a try.  It was okay...something different.  I liked the curry seasoning with the carrots. 

Curried Carrot Soup

Yield: 4 bowls

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium celery ribs, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a stock pot over medium heat, cook oil and curry powder, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Stir in carrots, celery, and onion; toss to coat and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.  Stir in broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Skim grease from top if necessary.  

In a blender, working in batches of no more than 2 cups, purée soup.  Return to pot and heat through.  Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Add nutmeg if desired.  Serve.   Refrigerate leftover soup in a glass container for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Crockpot Chicken and Zucchini "Pasta" with Asparagus, Peas, and Creamy Basil

I've heard a lot of good things about crockpot chicken, so I decided to try it out.  I found this recipe online which boasted to be the best crockpot chicken ever.   Hmmph.  It was okay, but I thought it needed more seasoning and more moisture.  It was pretty bland. I'm thinking I should have put the breast side down instead of up so that it absorbed more juices from the pot?  Oh well.  

The zucchini "pasta", on the other hand, was surprisingly good.  I was skeptical, and to be truthful, it didn't taste like spaghetti, but it was still tasty.   To make the spaghetti-like strands, I ran four sides of the zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise on the largest holes of a box cheese grater--much easier and faster than using a vegetable peeler--and cheaper than buying a spiralizer.

Zucchini "Pasta" with Asparagus, Peas, and Creamy Basil
Serves 4

2 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 bunch asparagus (16-20 spears), peeled and cut ~1-2 inches below tops
1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon basil paste
1 tablespoon cream cheese
salt and pepper
lemon zest
Parmesan cheese


Cut the ends off the zucchini and push lengthwise along the largest holes of a cheese grater until you get to the seeded section.  Repeat on four sides.  You should produce long, thin ribbons of zucchini.  Repeat with the yellow squash.  You can choose to peel the zucchini and squash first if you want it to appear more like spaghetti, but it's not necessary.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add the asparagus, peas, and garlic. Lightly saute for a few minutes, then add the zucchini and saute a few minutes longer.  Add the basil and cream cheese and stir until coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a little sprinkle of lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.


Crockpot Chicken

1 whole chicken, giblets removed from inside
1 onion
4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pats butter
1/2 cup chicken broth

Chop the onion and place in the bottom of the slow cooker.   Combine the spices and rub the mixture all over chicken.  Place chicken in slow cooker.   Pour the broth into the pot and place a couple pats of butter on the breast.  Cover, and cook for 4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low until the chicken is falling off the bone.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Here's a fast and easy recipe that also tastes good.

Lemon Pepper Chicken
Serves 2

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sprinkle ground black pepper over chicken breasts and season lightly with sea salt.   In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Place a skillet over medium-high heat and fill the pan with the marinade.  Add chicken breasts and cook for 6-7 minutes on each side or until no longer pink, brushing occasionally with excess marinade to keep moist.  Serve and enjoy.

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

As far as healthy meals go, this was a nice filling and satisfying lunch.  I chose to use olive oil instead of sesame oil because I just don't like sesame oil very much, and I left out the mushrooms because I don't like those much either.

Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Yield: 12 wraps with ~1/2 cup filling each

2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1&1/2 lbs ground turkey
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh whole cilantro leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 head romaine or Bibb lettuce

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil and garlic for 2 minutes.  Add ground turkey, stirring to break larger chunks into small pieces, and cook for 6-8 minutes or until turkey is crumbly and no longer pink.  Stir in onions, carrots, mushrooms, celery, ginger, and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook for 5 minutes.  Add cilantro leaves and cook for a few more minutes.  Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon ~1/2 cup of turkey mixture onto a leaf of lettuce.  Roll or fold in half and serve.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Raw Berry Pie

After going to a Baby Shower and being unable to eat the delicious-looking cake and cheesecake due to this 2-week cleanse, I decided to make a dessert I could enjoy.  It was surprisingly good. 

Raw Berry Pie

1 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt
3 cups organic fresh blueberries
1 cup organic fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon honey

In a food processor, combine walnuts, dates, vanilla extract, cinnamon and sea salt until smooth.  Press mixture evenly into a pie dish and refrigerate for an hour until crust is hard.   Meanwhile, in the food processor, combine berries and honey.  Pour into the chilled crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Broiled Lamb Chops with Veggie Stir-Fry

Here's another fast dinner recipe I made to try to please both myself and the hubby.   I don't know why lamb is allowed on the Conscious Cleanse program, but it is, so I went with it. 

Broiled Lamb Chops
Serves 2

2 lamb chops
pinch sea salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic

Sprinkle lamb chops with salt and pepper.  Rub garlic clove over lamb chops.  Place chops in a baking pan and broil 3-4 inches from the heat source for about 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned on each side.   Watch not to overcook.

Veggie Stir-Fry
Ingredients:  whatever veggies you have on hand

Fill a large saute pan with 1 inch of water and set over medium-high heat until water comes to a boil.  Add garlic, ginger, onions and any hard veggies like carrots, celery, green beans, and snow peas first.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and steam for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, etc, and cook, stirring occasionally.  Add leafy greens at the very end, cooking for just 1 or 2 more minutes.  Pour off excess water, season with salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

I really like this homemade salad dressing.  For the salad, I tossed together spinach, kale, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, grilled chicken breast, and a little bit of the dressing.    It made for both a delicious and nutritious lunch.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk it all together.   May refrigerate in a glass container for up to 1 week.

Dijon-Tarragon Baked Haddock and Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

It's a bit of a struggle coming up with healthy meals for myself that will also satisfy my anti-diet  husband.  This is one that worked for us.

Dijon Tarragon Baked Haddock
Serves: 4

4 (4 oz) haddock fillets
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon tarragon
pinch ground black pepper

Arrange haddock fillets on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.   In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and brush over fish.  Bake at 450º for about 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Oven-Roasted Cauliflower
Serves 2-3

2 to 3 cups cauliflower florets
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)- I opted out this time

Place cauliflower in a large resealable plastic bag.   Add the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat.   Arrange cauliflower on a roasting pan and bake at 450º for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to get an even roast.   Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Vegetable Stew

I decided to make this vegetable stew for something hearty without animal protein.  It was just okay, but maybe just a little too much kale for me, and I think I'd use more flavorful chicken broth instead of vegetable broth in the future. I felt like it needed more seasoning.
Vegetable Stew
Yield: 8 bowls

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 ribs celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
2 or 3 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups Brussels sprouts, stems removed and cut in 1/2
2 bunches of kale  and/or collard greens, stems removed and chopped
1 large sprig rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat oil.  Add onion and celery, and stir and cook for 2 minutes.  Add carrots and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic, beans, and bay leaf, and stir for 1 minute.  Add vegetable stock until it covers veggies by an inch.  Bring to a boil.  Add Brussels sprouts and kale, along with more stock if necessary, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove pot from heat, add rosemary, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.  Remove rosemary and bay leaf, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Green Smoothies

I've been following the 2-week Conscious Cleanse program to try to detox my body and hit the reset button on all my unhealthy food cravings (I'm on day 9 so far).  The program focuses heavily on fresh natural fruits and veggies, emphasis on the veggies, with lean meats and beans and legumes, while eliminating  potential allergenic or toxic ingredients such as wheat, corn, sugar, dairy, eggs, caffeine, or anything processed.   Each morning, I've made myself a "green smoothie" which is a combination of fruit and a green leafy vegetable.  They don't look appetizing due to the green color, but they're pretty good and you can't taste the spinach for the most part.  The first day, I added way too much kale, but I put a banana in the blender and it tasted much better.   Here are some of the recipes I've tried so far:

Blueberry-Banana-Kale Smoothie
Yield: 1 quart (32 oz)

1 cup blueberries
1 medium banana
1/2 medium lemon, peeled
4 kale leaves, stems removed
2 cups water

In a high speed blender, blend all until creamy.

Apple Salad Smoothie
Yield: 1 quart

1 large banana
1 large Fuji apple
1&1/2 cups kale, stems removed
2 cups water

Swiss Cinnamon Smoothie
Yield: 1 quart

1 cup blueberries
1 medium banana
2 Swiss Chard leaves, stalks removed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
2 cups water 

Raspberry Creamsicle Smoothie
Yield: 1 quart

1 cup raspberries
1 large banana
2 cups spinach
1 heaping tablespoon chia seeds (soaked in 3 TBSP water for at least 15 minutes)
2 cups water

Peach Smoothie
Yield: 1 quart

1 medium banana
1 medium peach
2 cups spinach

2 cups water

Mango-Pineapple Smoothie
Yield: 1 quart

2 large mangoes (about 2 cups fruit)
1/2 cup pineapple
1&1/2 cups romaine lettuce
2 cups water