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, April 26, 2013

Light Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberries were on sale at the grocery store, so this was our dessert last night.   I loved it.  It was fast and easy to prepare.  Jeremy said he wanted a cookie instead (eye roll).   But I thought it was delicious and as a bonus, very low-calorie for dessert.

Light Strawberry Shortcakes
Serves 2;  ~120 calories/serving

2 dessert shortcake shells  
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 tablespoon sugar or Splenda
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup juice (I used Healthy Balance Apple-Cranberry)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
4 tablespoons fat-free whipped topping

In a small saucepan, combine sweetener, cornstarch, and juice and whisk well.  Bring to a boil and stir constantly, about a minute or two, until mixture is thickened and bubbly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the extract.  Let cool and combine with strawberries.   Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

To serve, spoon strawberries over dessert shells and top each with 2 tablespoons of whipped topping.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kielbasa Pasta Skillet and Pear Crisp

I decided to make something with Polish Sausage for Jeremy, and came up with this recipe using various vegetables and penne pasta.  I thought it was quite tasty.   For dessert, I made a recipe I found in the Cooking For Two Cookbook for Pear Crisp.  Super yummy!  The pears were juicy and the topping was crispy.  Perfect.

Anne's Kielbasa Pasta Skillet
Serves 2

4 oz Rozoni Garden Delight Penne Rigate
7 oz cooked kielbasa, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into small strips
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add kielbasa; cook until onion is tender, stirring frequently.  Add zucchini, bell pepper, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and cooked pasta and cook until heated through.

Pear Crisp  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
From America's Test Kitchen: Cooking for Two
Serves 2

2 ripe but firm Bartlett or Bosc Pears, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch salt
1/3 cup finely chopped almonds or walnuts
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 425ºF.   Whisk together 1 tablespoon of the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt in a medium bowl.  Gently toss the pear chunks with the sugar mixture and divide evenly between two 12-ounce ramekins.

In a medium bowl, mix together the nuts, flour, brown sugar, remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.  Drizzle the melted butter over the top and combine until the mixture resembles crumbly wet sand.  Sprinkle topping over the pears. Place the crisps on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the topping is a deep golden brown.  Let the crisps cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.  

Pork Chops with Cumberland Sauce

I felt like making pork chops, so I used this recipe from one of my cookbooks.   The chops were good but I wasn't a huge fan of the sauce.   It may be partly due to the fact that I didn't have any red currant jelly on hand so I substituted plum jam.  Not really the same thing, but I thought it was still be a sweet fruity flavor that would work.  I guess not as well as I thought.  I paired the chops with sauteed bok choy and Thai rice.  For dessert, I made a papaya-kiwi smoothie which was a massive gross disaster and I'm not going to bother posting that recipe at all.

Pork Chops with Cumberland Sauce  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Eating Well Serves Two

2 center cut loin pork chops (boneless or bone-in)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon red currant jelly
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season pork with salt and pepper and cook until browned and no longer pink in center, 1-2 minutes per side for thin-cut, 4 minutes per side for boneless, and about 5 minutes per side for bone-in, depending on thickness of the chop.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add shallot to pan and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about one minute.  Add wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 2-3 minutes.  Whisk cornstarch and vinegar together in a small bowl and whisk into the sauce.  Cook, stirring until thickened, about 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat and stir in the jelly, sugar, mustard, and any accumulated juices from the pork chops.  Serve the pork with the sauce.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Marinated Venison Steaks with Smashed Potatoes and Garlicky Green Beans

 I've never cooked venison before.  Jeremy's sister, Val, generously gave us a couple steaks from the deer she bagged last hunting season, and I was excited to give them a try.  We assume it was some sort of loin cut.  This was a good recipe.  The marinade helped keep the meat from getting too dry.     The potatoes and green beans were a nice accompaniment and tasty as well.

Broiled Marinated Venison Steaks

Boneless venison steaks
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Place venison in a large Ziploc bag.  In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Pour half of the marinade into the Ziploc with the venison; seal bag and turn to coat.   Store both the marinating venison and the extra marinade in the refrigerator overnight.  
Discard marinade from the steaks and broil steaks 3-4" from heat for 4-5 minutes.  Turn and baste with reserved marinade; broil 4-5 minutes longer.   Let rest a few minutes before serving.


Smashed Potatoes  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Recipe from Cooking for Two

4 small red potatoes

1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Bring the potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, bay leaf, and 2 quarts water to a simmer in a medium saucepan, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the potato cooking water, then drain the potatoes.  Return the potatoes to the pot, discard bay leaf, and let the steam escape for a couple minuets.
Meanwhile, mix together the softened cream cheese and melted butter in a small bowl until smooth.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and chives.
Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash the potatoes enough to break the skins.  Fold in the cream cheese mixture.  Add more cooking water, a tablespoon at a time as needed, until the potatoes are the desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Garlicky Green Beans (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Recipe from Cooking for Two

6 garlic cloves, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch sugar
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Microwave the garlic, oil, and sugar, uncovered, in a small microwave-safe bowl until the garlic is softened, about 30 seconds.  Heat 2 teaspoons of the mixture in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the green beans and water, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until bright green, about 3 minutes.  Add the remaining garlic mixture and continue to cook, covered, until the green beans are almost tender, another 3 minutes or so.  Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are spotty brown and the garlic is golden, 3 to 4 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Along with the Lemon Cheesecake Bars I made for our extended family's Easter dinner, I also felt like making a fruity pie with a lattice top since I haven't attempted it yet.  I settled on Strawberry-Rhubarb.  It's a little too early for the rhubarb crop this year, so I just used frozen rhubarb.  I could have done better with the latticework on the pie.  The strips kept breaking.  I think I needed a little more water in the dough or perhaps I just needed to keep the dough in the fridge a little longer.    But overall, not bad for my first attempt.  Jeremy thought it could have used more sugar, but I thought it tasted good the way it was.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
slightly adapted from The New Best Recipe Cookbook

Pie Dough Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
10 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
8-10 tablespoons ice cold water

Pie Filling:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 cups chopped red rhubarb
5 cups strawberries, quartered
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup minute tapioca
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar

To make the dough, process the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined.  Add the shortening and butter and pulse the mixture until the texture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add ice water, a little at a time, until the dough can stick together and form a ball in your hands.   Form two balls of dough.  Flatten one dough ball into a 5" disc and the other into a 4" disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until smoking.  Add the rhubarb and 1/4 cup sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb has shed most of its liquid but is still firm, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a large plate and refrigerate until cool.

Remove one piece of dough from fridge and roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12" circle.  Transfer to a 9" pie plate.  Refrigerate until needed.

Adjust an oven rack to its lowest position.  Place a baking sheet on it and heat oven to 500º.

In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup sugar, instant tapioca, and salt.  In a large bowl, toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, vanilla, and orange zest.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top and stir to combine.  Spoon the fruit evenly into the pie crust.

Roll out the second pie dough into a 12" circle.  Place it over the filling.  Trim edges to 1/2" beyond pan lip.  Flute the edges with your fingers or use fork to seal.  Cut 8 slits in dough top.  (Alternatively, make a lattice with the dough).  Brush the top of the crust with the egg whites and sprinkle with some sugar.

Place the pie on the hot baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425º.  Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes.  You may want to put a rim of foil just around the outer edge to prevent over-browning.  Rotate the pie and reduce the oven temperature to 375º.  Continue baking 30-35 more minutes until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble.  Cool the pie on a wire rack until room temperature, 3 to 4 hours before serving.