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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

A perfect little bite for Easter.  Delicious.   Plus, the recipe was super easy.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

1&1/2 cups coconut macaroon cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon zest from lemon
1 tablespoon juice from lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of an 8" square baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, juice, and vanilla with mixer until well blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing after each just until blended.  Pour over crust.  Bake at 350º for 20 to 25 minutes until center is almost set.  Cool completely.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken

Just a simple and quick weekday dinner.   I was browsing my cookbooks for a recipe and this one caught my eye because I already had all the ingredients on hand.  Perfect.  It was tasty.  No complaints.  I used regular chicken breasts instead of cutlets and increased the cooking time accordingly.

Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Cooking Light: The New Way to Cook Light
227 calories/serving

4 (4-oz) chicken cutlets
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a shallow dish, whisk together the buttermilk and mustard.  In another shallow dish, combine all the dry ingredients.   Add chicken to buttermilk mixture, turning to coat.  Dredge chicken in panko mixture and place on a large baking sheet fitted with a wire rack.  Coat chicken with cooking spray.  Bake at 425º for 13 minutes or until chicken is done (internal temperature reaches 165ºF).  For a larger chicken breast, bake 25-30 minutes.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Roast Rack of Lamb with Whiskey Sauce, Asparagus, and Potatoes

It's time for another St. Patrick's Day meal.  I thought about making the traditional corned beef and cabbage, but decided on an elegant rack of lamb instead.  It was much pricier than I had imagined, but it's fun to splurge on new and exciting ingredients once in awhile.  Luckily, I cooked it to perfection and it was delicious.  The sauce was unnecessary because the lamb was tasty enough on its own.  The asparagus recipe was fine and the sauce was good.

Roast Rack of Lamb with Whiskey Sauce  - (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Cooking for Two (America's Test Kitchen Cookbook)

1 rack of lamb (~8 ribs), frenched and well trimmed of fat.
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon oil

Whiskey Sauce:
1 shallot, minced (~3 tablespoons)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon flour
5 tablespoons Scotch whiskey (or another type)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and preheat to 425º.

Pat lamb dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Carefully lay the lamb in the skillet, meat side down, and cook until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, and, using tongs, hold the rack upright to brown the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes longer.  Transfer the lamb to the hot baking sheet in the oven and roast for 12-15 minutes until the center reaches 125º on an instant-read thermometer (for medium-rare).  Transfer lamb to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the fat remaining in the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering.  Add the shallot and rosemary and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant.  Stir in the flour until incorporated.

Off the heat, slowly stir in 1/4 cup whiskey, scraping up any browned bits, and let sit until bubbling subsides, about 1 minutes.  Carefully return skillet to medium heat and simmer until whiskey has almost completely evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the broth and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and reduced to 1/3 cup, 3 to 5 minutes.

Off the heat, discard the rosemary sprig and whisk in the remaining tablespoon whiskey, parsley, butter, lemon juice, and any accumulated lamb juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cut the lamb racks into individual chops by slicing between the ribs, and serve with the sauce.


Boiled Asparagus with Béarnaise Sauce - (2013 Cookbook Challenge)

from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Asparagus, peeled;  ~10 spears per person)
1/2 tablespoon salt per quart of water

Béarnaise  Sauce:
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
pinch salt
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

Directions: (in my own words because Julia Child's explanation is lengthy)
Rapidly boil a few quarts of salted water.  Add peeled asparagus and bring back to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes.  When asparagus is tender and has a little bend to it, drain water and remove asparagus to a paper towel to dry.

While asparagus is cooking, make sauce.  Boil the wine, shallots, and seasonings over medium heat until the liquid has reduced to a couple tablespoons.  Let cool a little.  Combine in a blender or food processor with egg yolks until thick.  Heat butter in saucepan until hot and foaming.   Give the processor a quick pulse to re-blend egg mixture and then very gradually, add the melted butter in a slow steady stream while mixing until sauce thickens.  If desired, add more parsley or tarragon.  Serve immediately.


O'Anne's Parsley Potatoes


~12 new or purple potatoes
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Bring an inch or two of salted water to a rapid boil.  Add potatoes and bring back to boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes.  Drain water.  Add butter, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix to coat potatoes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shrimp Salad

I decided to make a fast meatless Friday lunch with whatever I happened to have in the freezer/fridge.   I found this recipe in a Cooking Light cookbook and made enough just for myself and omitted the ingredients I didn't have on hand (bacon, avocado, tomato).  It was delicious, but I bet it would have been even better with the extra ingredients.  I liked the dressing for the lettuce. 

Shrimp Cobb Salad  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Cooking Light: The New Way to Cook Light cookbook
Serves 4;  332 calories/serving

4 bacon slices
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
freshly ground black pepper
1&1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1&1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 (10-oz) package romaine lettuce
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 carrots)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 ripe peeled avocado, cut into 8 wedges

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan; cut into bite-sized pieces.  Wipe pan clean with paper towels.  Sprinkle shrimp with paprika and ground black pepper.  Coat pan with cooking spray and add shrimp.  Cook 2 minutes per side or until done.  Sprinkle with a little salt to taste.

Whisk together the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, oil, and mustard in a large bowl.  Add lettuce and toss to coat.  Arrange lettuce on each of 4 plates.  Top with about 6 shrimp, 1/2 cup tomatoes, 1/4 cup carrot, 1/4 cup corn, 2 avocado wedges, and bacon pieces.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Oreo Peanut Butter Bars

We had an Oreo Cookie Party to celebrate the 101st birthday of Oreo and everyone signed up to bring various Oreo desserts.  I wanted something different from Dirt Cake and also something that didn't have to be refrigerated, so I found this recipe online.     I made a double batch and my coworkers had gobbled it up with 24 hours, so it must have been good. 

Oreo-Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Bars (aka 'Monster Cookies')
Recipe by Picky Palate

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups Oreos, broken into small chunks


Place butter and sugars into a large bowl, cream until well combined. Add peanut butter, mixing to combine. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well.  Add flour, baking soda and salt, mixing until dough forms. Add chips and Oreo cookies, stirring until just combined. Transfer dough to an 8x8" baking dish coated with cooking spray, pressing dough evenly into pan.  Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and let cool for 45 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve with milk and enjoy!

Pork Roast

This recipe wasn't necessarily bad, but it wasn't as good as I was hoping for.  It was supposedly a "light" recipe.  The apple juice really saturated the potatoes, making them sweeter than we liked.   I would have been better off with chicken stock.   Also, the recipe lacked seasoning.  I added salt and pepper to our leftovers which helped it out.

I can't find the recipe I used online, but it was like this:

Chop up some potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions.  Throw them in the slow cooker.  Pour 1/2 cup apple juice concentrate over everything along with salt, pepper, and cinnamon.

Rub salt, pepper, and ground cinnamon all over the pork butt.  In a large skillet with a little olive oil, get a quick sear on all sides.  Place it on top of the veggies in the slow cooker.  Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours.