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, February 25, 2013

Anne's Steak Burrito

I happened to try Taco Bell's Cantina Burrito awhile back and thought it would be fun to somewhat replicate it at home.   It was just okay.  I needed some sort of sauce on the inside.  But my version was at least healthy.

I salt and peppered the steak and marinated it in lime juice, olive oil, cumin, and cilantro.  Cooked it in a skillet on the stovetop.   I placed the steak on a spinach tortilla along with diced tomatoes, diced avocado, diced shallot, diced jalapeno pepper, cilantro, corn and black beans.  I rolled it up, sprinkled a little cheese on top, and baked it in the oven for 20 minutes or so.   I topped it with more of the tomato-avocado salsa.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Spinach Lasagna

  I decided to make a meatless lasagna for the first Lenten Friday, and I found this recipe for Spinach Lasagna in the The New Best Recipe cookbook by Cook's Illustrated.    I tried to be as true to the recipe as possible to get the best results that the book promised.   It was somewhat time-consuming to get through all the instructions, but definitely worth the effort.  This was one of the best recipes I've made so far, in my opinion.   The only changes I made was that I used regular fresh spinach instead of curly leaf spinach, simply because I couldn't find the latter in the store.  And I used a block of Wisconsin-made fontina cheese instead of Italian fontina.    It was rich and creamy and a suburb dish that I would definitely make again.  Also, not to brag, but my photo looks WAY more appetizing than the photo by Cook's Illustrated, don't you think?!  See their photo

Spinach Lasagna  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from The New Best Recipe cookbook
Serves 6 to 8

2 bags (10 oz each) curly spinach, stemmed
1 tablespoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup minced shallots (~4 large shallots)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3&1/2 cups whole milk
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Lasagna Layers:
8 ounces whole-milk cottage cheese
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (1 box)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 oz block)
2 cups shredded Italian fontina cheese (8 oz block)

Blanch & Shock the Spinach:
Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large stockpot over high heat.  Add the salt and spinach, stirring until the spinach is just wilted, only 5 seconds.  Using a mesh strainer, transfer the spinach to a large bowl filled with ice water and let stand until completely cool, about a minute.  Drain spinach and transfer to a clean kitchen towel.  Wrap the towel tightly around the spinach and wring until dry.  Chop the spinach and set aside.

For the Béchamel:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming; add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 90 seconds; do not brown.  Gradually whisk in the milk.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the bay leaves, nutmeg, salt, and pepper; reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.  Whisk in the Parmesan cheese and discard the bay leaves.  Transfer sauce to a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface; set aside.

For the Layers:
Blend the cottage cheese, egg, and salt in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Place no-boil noodles in a 13x9 broiler-safe baking dish and cover with hot tap water;  let soak 5 minutes.  Remove noodles from water and place in a single layer on paper towels.  Drain and wipe dish dry.

Coat baking dish with butter.  Spread 1/2 cup of the béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish.  Position 3 noodles on top of the sauce.  Stir the spinach into the remaining béchamel in the bowl.  Spread 1 cup of the spinach-béchamel mixture evenly over the noodles, sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan, and top with 3 more noodles.  Spread 1 cup spinach mixture over noodles, sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of the shredded fontina, and top with 3 more noodles.  Spread 1 cup spinach mixture over the noodles, followed by the cottage cheese mixture.  Finish with the remaining 3 noodles, remaining 1 cup spinach mixture, and remaining 1 cup fontina.

Preheat the oven to 425º with the oven rack adjusted to the middle position.   Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.  Remove the foil, adjust rack to upper position, and broil lasagna for 4-6 minutes until cheese is spotty brown.  Cool 10 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

For "Fat Tuesday," I decided to make some Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Plus, Valentine's Day is coming up, and Jeremy loves cookies.   Easy and delicious. No complaints.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Dairyland Seed 100 Years and Still Cooking
Makes 4 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (3.5oz) package instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
2&1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 (12oz) package chocolate chips

Combine butter, sugars, vanilla, and pudding mix.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Beat in eggs.  Combine flour and baking soda and gradually add to the butter mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by heaping teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375º for about 8 minutes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Homemade Pizza and Game Day Goodies

Sausage and Pepper Pizza  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from The New Best Recipe Cookbook

1 recipe Pizza Dough (see below)
1 recipe Tomato Sauce (see below)
3/4 pound bulk Italian Sausage, broken into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel

Quick Tomato Sauce: (makes enough for 2 large pizzas)
1 (28-oz) can basil & oregano diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
salt and pepper

Place tomatoes in food processor and pulse until mostly smooth. Heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat until garlic is sizzling.  Stir in tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, ~15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pizza Dough:  (makes enough for 3 medium or 2 large pizzas)
1/2 cup warm water (~110º)
1 envelope instant yeast
1&1/4 cups water, room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus extra (can use regular flour)
1&1/2 teaspoons salt

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it stand until dissolved and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.     Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer (alternatively, you could use a food processor or knead by hand).  Slowly add liquid ingredients and mix at a slow speed until a cohesive mass forms.  Replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Knead at low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a ball, place it in a deep bowl coated with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in a non-drafty room for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make tomato sauce (see recipe above).  Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.  Prepare toppings.  Put the sausage and water in a large skillet.  Cook over medium-high heat until the water evaporates and the sausage cooks through and browns, about 10 minutes.  Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add oil and saute the peppers and onions until softened slightly, about 4 minutes.  Set aside.

After the dough has doubled, deflate it by pressing down on it with your fist.  Divide the dough and form each into a ball.  (Any remaining dough not used can be put in an airtight container and you may freeze for several weeks.)   Let dough relax for 10 minutes.  Flatten the dough into a disc, and starting at the center and working outward, press the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick.  Holding the center in place, stretch the dough outward, repeating until the diameter is 12-14inches.  Use your palms to flatten the edges.  Carefully lift the dough and transfer to a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal.  Brush with a little olive oil and add sauce, sausage, and vegetables.  Slide the dough from the peel onto the heated pizza stone in the oven and bake until the crust edge starts to brown, 6 to 12 minutes.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake until the cheese melts, just 2 or 3 minutes.  Remove pizza from the oven, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.


from Dairyland Seed 100 Years and Still Cooking

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons parsley flakes
3 tablespoons onion, minced
4 teaspoons dill weed
3 teaspoons Lawrey's seasoned salt

Mix together. Chill.

Chocolate Football Strawberries

Melt Wilson Milk Chocolate Candy Melts in a glass bowl in the microwave (or use a double boiler on the stove).  Dip strawberries in the melted chocolate.  Let cool and set.  Melt white chocolate and scoop into a frosting bag.  Pipe lines onto chocolate to resemble a football.