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

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

Kale Chips

The first time I made Kale Chips, they didn't turn out so great-- I had added way too much seasoned salt.  This time, though, I followed a different recipe and they were delicious.  It's amazing how a little bake on a leafy green can transform it.


Kale Chips

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 bunch lacinato (dinosaur) kale
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Rinse and dry the kale leaves thoroughly, making sure the kale is completely dry.  Remove the stems and and cut leaves into small pieces (not too small--they shrink as they bake).  Spread kale pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and lime juice.   Drizzle over the kale.  Bake at 350º for 10 minutes or until crispy, being careful not to burn.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.