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, November 26, 2013


Aka Cherry Flan.  It's basically pancake batter poured over cherries in a baking dish.  I halved the recipe and put it in a smaller baking dish for Jeremy and myself.  It was good.

Clafouti   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Serves 6-8 people

2 cups pitted black sweet cherries
1&1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
another 1/3 cup granulated sugar
powdered sugar, if desired

Place milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and flour in a blender in the order listed.  Cover and blend at high speed for a minute.  Pour a 1/4" layer of batter into a greased pyrex pie plate or fireproof baking dish.  Bake at 350º for a few minutes until the film is set.  Spread the cherries over the batter and sprinkle on the remaining 1/3 cup sugar.  Pour the rest of the batter over the top.  Bake for about an hour.   It's done when it has puffed and browned and a knife comes out clean.  Serve warm.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top if desired.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pad Thai

I felt like switching things up from our normal meat and potatoes meal, so I found this Thai-inspired recipe using shrimp.  I was excited to find an individual packet of tamarind paste at Sendik's for only $2 since it's unlikely I'll use it for anything else.  The cookbook said you could substitute 1/3 cup lime juice and 1/3 cup water and use brown sugar instead of white, but I wanted to keep the recipe as authentic as possible.  It tasted great--just enough heat to make my lips and tongue tingle a bit.

Pad Thai  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen: The New Best Recipe
Serves 4

2 tablespoons tamarind paste
3/4 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
8 ounces dried stick noodles, about 1/4" wide
2 large eggs
12 oz medium(40-50/lb) shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped fine (optional) - I couldn't find
2 tablespoons chopped Thai salted preserved radish (optional) - I couldn't find
6 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups (6 oz) bean sprouts
5 medium scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on sharp diagonal
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (optional)
lime wedges for serving (optional)

Rehydrate the tamarind paste in the boiling water for about 10 minutes, and push through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds or fibers and extract as much pulp as possible.  Stir the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons of the oil into the tamarind liquid; set aside.

Cover the rice sticks with hot tap water in a large bowl; soak until softened and pliable, but not fully tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain noodles and set aside.   Beat eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke.  Add the shrimp and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque and browned around the edges, about 3 minutes.  Transfer shrimp to a plate; set aside.

Off the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and swirl to coat.  Add the garlic and shallot and cook over medium heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly, until light golden brown.  Add the beaten eggs to the skillet and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds.  Add the rice noodles, dried shrimp (if using), and salted radish (if using) to the eggs.  Toss with two wooden spoons to combine.  Pour the fish sauce mixture over the noodles, increase the heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are evenly coated. 

Scatter 1/4 cup of the peanuts, the bean sprouts, all but 1/4 cup of the scallions, and the cooked shrimp over the noodles.  Continue to cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining scallions, peanuts, and cilantro (if using).  Serve immediately and garnish with lime wedges if desired.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Poached Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I find it difficult to cook recipes from cookbooks without any pictures.  But James Beard's American Cookery book needed to be opened, so I chose this very approachable recipe.  He wrote that this was his mother's recipe.  It was easy to make, and we especially liked the sauce, which was needed to give it some moisture.

Poached Stuffed Chicken Breasts  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Recipe from James Beard's American Cookery
Serves 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
3 tablespoons chopped shallots or onions
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
chicken broth

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
chicken broth from recipe
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
chopped parsley

Cream the butter and stir in the shallots, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Spread a generous amount of butter mixture on one side of each chicken breast and fold over the other half, securing with a toothpick.  Place in a large skillet and just cover with well-seasoned chicken broth.   Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer about 12 minutes until done, turning chicken halfway through cooking.  Transfer to a hot platter, and let the chicken broth reduce in the pan over high heat for a little while. 

To make the sauce, melt butter in a saucepan and blend in the flour, cooking and stirring 2-3 minutes.  Strain and stir in 1&1/2 cups of the heated chicken broth and continue stirring until the mixture thickens.   Combine the egg yolks and cream.  Spoon a little of the sauce into the egg mixture to temper, and then stir back into the sauce.  Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Heat until thickened but do not let boil.  Spoon over the chicken breasts and sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Arroz con Pollo and Broccoli Casserole

I had chicken breasts I had moved out of the freezer last night, brown rice in the cupboard, and broccoli in the fridge that I wanted to use up.  So I paged through my cookbooks and found these two recipes.   The Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice) recipe was very good--and easy to make!  Best of all, I already had all the ingredients on hand (Instead of a whole chicken, I scaled down the recipe and just used a couple chicken breasts).  I really liked the flavor the saffron imparted on the brown rice.   The Broccoli bake was okay.  I took some liberties with the recipe based on what I had on hand and to scale it down so we didn't have more than one day's worth of leftovers. Overall, it was okay, but I thought it was a little too saucy.  I like cheese and broccoli together, but it needed more broccoli and less of the cheese sauce (I can't believe I'm saying that).

Arroz con Pollo    (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Adapted from How to Cook Everything
Serves 4


2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup rice
pinch saffron threads
1&1/2 cups chicken stock
4 small chicken breasts/tenders (~1 to 1&1/2 lbs total)

Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and become translucent.   Add the rice and stir until coated with oil, a minute or two.  Sprinkle with the saffron and stir.  Nestle the chicken pieces in the rice, and more salt and pepper, and pour in the stock.  Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through.


Broocoli Casserole   (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
Adapted from Dairyland Seed 100 Years and Still Cooking
Serves 4

1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (or crushed Saltine crackers)

Mix together the egg, cheese, soup, milk, and mustard in a large bowl.  Add the broccoli and stir to coat.  Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish.   Toss the Panko and melter butter together.   Sprinkle over the broccoli.  Bake, uncovered, in a 350º oven for 45 minutes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pear-Date Streusel Bars

I think these bars are super yummy.  I volunteered to bring a dessert to a ladies' lunch after our tennis match, so I broke out this recipe.  Everyone seemed to enjoy them.  I've made these bars before, but I don't think I've ever posted the recipe.  Here it is.

Pear-Date Streusel Bars
from Betty Crocker's New Eat and Lose Weight Cookbook
Makes 36 bars; 85 calories/bar

1 can (16 oz) pear halves in extra-light syrup
1 package (8oz) chopped dates
1 cup flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup reduced-calorie spread (or margarine or butter)
powdered sugar, if desired

Finely chop the pears.  Heat the pears, pear juice from can, and dates to boiling in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened.  Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Reserve 1 cup crumbly mixture for topping.  Press remaining mixture in bottom of a 13x9" pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 350º for 15 minutes.

Carefully spread date mixture over crust.  Sprinkle with remaining crumbly mixture.  Bake for another 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Cut into 2 x 1&1/2" bars.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Molasses-Glazed Pork Chops and Parmesan-Crusted Asparagus

Tonight's meal was quite delicious.  I really liked the glaze on the pork chops.  The recipe called for thin-cut chops, but I had a couple thick ones in the freezer, so that's what I used--I just had to cook them longer.  And it was the best asparagus I ever made.  I suppose if you put Parmesan breading on anything it will taste good. :)

Cider Vinegar-&-Molasses-Glazed Pork Chops  (2013 Cookbook Challenge)
from Eating Well Serves Two

2 thin-cut boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet.  Add pork and cook until browned and no longer pink in the middle, about a couple minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

To the skillet, add shallot, jalapeno, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add molasses, vinegar, mustard, and soy sauce, and bring to simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Return the pork and any accumulated juices to the pan and turn to coat with sauce.  Serve the pork with the sauce.


Parmesan-Crusted Asparagus
from America's Test Kitchen: Cooking for Two 2013

1 pound (1/2" thick) asparagus, trimmed
salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 tablespoon melted butter, cooled
pinch Cayenne pepper
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon honey

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Using a fork, poke holes in each asparagus spear.  Toss with a little salt and let stand for 30 minutes on a paper towel to draw out the moisture.

Meanwhile, combine the Parmesan cheese, Panko crumbs, Cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and melted butter, and place in a shallow dish.

Using a hand-held mixer, whip egg white and honey together on medium-low speed until foamy.  Increase speed to medium-high and continue to whip until soft peaks form.  Transfer to a second shallow dish.

Dredge each asparagus spear in the egg white and then coat with Parmesan mixture.  Place on an  aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 450ºF for about 6-7 minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown.