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

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.