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, March 25, 2014

Slow Cooker Smoked Pork

This was another successful Freezer Meal, although I wish I had separated the meat into two or three bags because even with a half-recipe it made a LOT of pork, and now we'll be having leftovers the whole week.  At least it tastes good. :)

Slow Cooker Smoked Pork
Servings: 8-10  (or a lot more)

5 pound boneless butt pork roast
1/4 cup paprika
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/8 cup ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 cup liquid smoke
barbecue sauce for serving

Cut the pork butt into 2-3" chunks.  Combine the dry ingredients.  Divide among gallon freezer bags and sprinkle the meat with the rub, shaking the bag to coat evenly.  Add liquid smoke.    Freeze.

To serve, thaw.  Cook in slow cooker on low for 10-12 hours.   Shred meat.   Serve with barbecue sauce.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Hash

I decided to make a veggie side dish as part of my Freezer Meal madness.   It was pretty good.  It was nice to have the prep taken care of and just throw the bag in the microwave to re-heat.

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Hash

8 oz bacon
1 cup diced cauliflower
4 cups diced Brussels sprouts
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar

In a skillet, brown the bacon.  Set aside and chop.  In the same skillet, add olive oil, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, and saute 4-5 minutes.  Add in the dried thyme, chopped bacon, and balsamic vinegar.   Divide among quart freezer bags.   To serve, thaw and reheat in microwave until heated through.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

A meatless option from the Freezer Meal madness.   It was a little more time-consuming during my prep, but it was worth the effort.  It was pretty good, although I think it needed more squash sauce.  It re-heated nicely for leftovers and that's always a positive.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Serves 6  (2 rolls each)
1 roll=227 calories

3&1/4 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
12 cooked Lasagna noddles
10z package frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
15 oz fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add squash chunks and cook until soft.  Remove squash from pot, reserving about 1 cup of water, and transfer to a blender.  Blend until smooth, adding the reserved liquid a little at a time to thin out.

In a large skillet, heat oil, and saute the shallots and garlic over medium low heat for about 5 minutes.  Add pureed squash and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and set mixture aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; set aside.

In the bottom of a baking dish, ladle about 1/2 cup squash mixture. 

Lay out lasagna noodles and spread about 1/3 cup spinach mixture over each noodle.  Roll up tightly and place seam side down in baking dish.  Pour butternut squash sauce over lasagna rolls and sprinkle with Italian cheese blend.  Top with parsley.  Cover with foil and bake at 350º for 40 minutes until cheese is melted.  Remove foil for last 10-15 minutes of baking.

To freeze:  Assemble, but do not bake.   Thaw in fridge.   Bake at 350º for 50-60 minutes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ham, Broccoli, and Potato Meal

This is from the Freezer Meal collection.   It was the least successful and I won't be making it again--at least not with frozen hash browns and broccoli in the crockpot.  It sort of turned to mush.  The original recipe called for fresh potatoes, but I read reviews that said they turned brown/black, so I substituted frozen hash browns instead.  Maybe not the best choice.  Also, I forgot to add shredded cheese at the end.  That may have helped.  It did taste better than the picture looks, so that's something.  Still, it wasn't our favorite.   I decided to try out a slow cooker liner to help with cleanup.

Ham, Broccoli, and Potato Meal

6 potatoes, sliced 1/4" thick  (I used frozen hash browns instead)
1 can (~10-11 oz) Cream of Potato soup (or any cream of something soup)
1&1/3 cup water
1&1/4 lbs ham, cubed
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Throw everything except the cheese in each gallon bag.  Seal and lay flat to freeze.

To cook, defrost and place contents in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.   In the last hour of cooking, add the shredded cheese if desired.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Anne's Lucky Chard Pancakes

Here's my St. Patrick's Day breakfast--green pancakes.  They taste better than they look, I promise-- just like regular pancakes, but with extra nutrition!   I used chard and kale because that's what I had on hand, but you could substitute spinach.

Anne's Lucky Chard (and Kale) Pancakes
Made 8 good-sized pancakes

1 bunch chard (I used rainbow chard)
1-2 fistfuls of kale
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk (I substituted skim milk mixed with 1/2 tablespoon vinegar)
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Place chard and kale and a sprinkle of water in a skillet over medium heat.  Cover and heat until just wilted.  Let cool, then transfer to a food processor to chop or puree.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a medium bowl, combine the milk, egg, butter, and greens until frothy.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth and combined.  

Grease a preheated skillet over medium-low heat and drop about 1/3 cup batter to make pancakes.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side until bottom is browned and bubbles appear on the surface.  Flip and cook for another minute or two.

Serve with normal pancake toppings and enjoy!

Emerald Eggs and Smoked Salmon Appetizers

For St. Patrick's Day, I brought a couple appetizers to our work party.  They were okay.

Emerald Eggs
Recipe from Food Network Channel

12 eggs
2 cups watercress leaves
1/2 cup mayo or miracle whip
4 tablespoons scallions
4 tablespoons tarragon
pinch salt and pepper
8 slices ham, cut into thin strips

Hard-boil the eggs, then peel and slice in half.   Scoop the yolks into a food processor and puree with the watercress, mayo, scallions, tarragon, salt, and pepper.   Place the ham strips in the the hollowed-out egg whites and fill with the yolk mixture.


Smoked Salmon Appetizer

6-8 oz of thinly sliced smoked salmon
12 slices rye cocktail bread
1 cucumber
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dill weed
4-5 drops bottled hot pepper sauce
fresh dill sprig

Beat together the cream cheese, milk, lemon juice, dill weed, and hot pepper sauce.

Spread the cream cheese on rye bread (or directly on cucumber), layer with cucumber, smoked salmon, and fresh dill.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dijon Chicken

Another incredibly easy make-ahead freezable "meal" from my March Madness--  although, in this case, it's just the protein.   While the chicken baked in the oven, I steamed some broccoli to accompany it along with leftover rice.  The chicken was nice and moist although I didn't taste much mustard.

Dijon Chicken
Recipe from somewhere on the internet

2 pounds chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves

Freezer Directions:
Combine all ingredients among freezer bags and freeze.   To cook, thaw and drain marinade.

Cook in a skillet for 15 minutes.
Bake at 350º for 35-40 minutes.
Cook in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

I love enchiladas, and the blog promised these would be good, so I gave them a try.  They were quite yummy.  I enjoyed the flavor of the chicken.  One enchilada with Mexican rice was more than enough for a serving.  Next time, I think I'd add some corn in the filling too.  Another successful freezer meal.

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
Recipe from sixsistersstuff.com
Makes 10 enchiladas

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup water or chicken broth
6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
10 flour tortillas  (I used whole wheat)
16 ounces shredded Monterrey jack cheese
16 ounces green enchilada sauce
1 cup heavy cream

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and add breasts to skillet; cook for 5 minutes.  Flip chicken and add water or broth.  Cover and let simmer over medium heat for 7-10  minutes.  Using two forks, shred the cooked chicken.  (The shredded chicken can be frozen for up to 2 months).

Whisk the honey, lime juice, chili powder, and garlic powder; toss with the shredded chicken in a large resealable plastic bag.  Let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Pour about 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of two 8x8 baking pans.   Fill each tortilla with chicken and shredded cheese--reserve about 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle on top.  Put rolled tortillas in the pan as you go.  Mix the remaining enchilada sauce with the cream and any leftover marinade (if there is any).  Pour sauce on top of the enchiladas.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.   Bake or freeze.  If freezing, thaw completely before baking.  Bake at 350º for 30 minutes until brown and crispy on top.

Pineapple Beef Teriyaki

This was the easiest of my freezer meals to prepare.  Just throw it all in a bag and seal.  Done.   And then throw it in a slow cooker for 7 hours and serve the teriyaki over 90-second microwave rice.  Done.   Easy and delicious.  Plus, it's nice that I could divide into smaller bags for a 2-person meal and then use my small crockpot.  I really liked this meal.  Good thing we have more of it in the freezer.  :)

Pineapple Beef Teriyaki
recipe found on a random Pinterest page
Makes 6 servings

2&1/2 pounds beef stew meat
20 ounce can pineapple chunks, undrained
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1-2 green bell peppers, sliced
1&1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Freezing Directions:
Divide ingredients among freezer storage bags.  Label and freeze.  To serve, thaw and cook in slow cooker on low for 7 hours.  Serve over rice.

Monday, March 10, 2014

March Freezer Meal Madness!

Here it is-- my March Freezer Meal Madness!  

Meals I made (I'll link to each recipe as we try each meal):
1. Slow-Cooker Chipotle Beef Chili  (2 bags, ~4 servings each)
2. Grilled Pepper, Onion, and Sausage Calzones  (4 bags of two calzones each)
3. Baked Ziti  (2 trays, ~4 servings each)
4. Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna Rolls  (1 tray, ~6 servings)
5. Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas (2 trays, ~3 servings each)
6. Pineapple Beef Teriyaki (2 bags, 3-4 servings each)
7. Slow-Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken (1 bag, ~4 servings)
8. Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken  (1 bag, ~4 servings)
9. Dijon Chicken  (1 bag, 2 servings)
10. Slow Cooker Smoked Pork  (1 bag, ~8-10 servings)
11. Ham, Broccoli, and Potato Meal  (1 bag, ~4 servings)
12. Bacon & Brussels Sprouts Hash  (2 bags, 2 servings each)

I had been eying up the make-ahead freezer meal movement for awhile, and I finally jumped on the bandwagon--if only for a day.  When I told Jeremy my plan to dedicate a full day to making stuff to freeze, I mentioned I might try preparing "4 or 5 recipes."  He said something like, "Whoa, maybe you should start with 1 or 2."    After much research and internet browsing, I settled on 12 different recipes.  Haha.  Somehow I went from "four or five recipes" to twelve.   I might have restraint issues...

My ingredient list (and resulting shopping list) was massive.  I felt a little ridiculous at the grocery store.  I felt even more ridiculous when I got home and spread it out on the counter:

I tried to make things efficient, so I made a nice mise en place of veggies first:

Next, I got the meat and poultry ready, using a different cutting board for each, and cooking it when the recipe called for it.  

Then the assembly started.  I made good use of my vacuum sealer:

 At the end, I had a lot of bags/trays of food.

 And we barely got it all to fit in the freezer (oops):
And here's the tornado zone.   Yuck.  I was so NOT in the mood to wash these dishes.

Baked Ziti Freezer Meal

This ziti was REALLY good.  This was Recipe #3 we tried from my March Freezer Meal Madness (entire day that I spent preparing make-ahead freezable meals).   The only problem was that it wasn't completely thawed when I baked it, so it took twice as long to heat.  But once we finally got it cooked, the flavors were awesome.  I added a grated zucchini to the sauce for extra veggie content as if that made up for all the cheesy goodness.

Baked Ziti
Recipe from Sixsistersstuff.com
Makes 2 pans of ziti (4-6 servings in each pan)

1 pound dry ziti or penne pasta
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef (season with pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and minced garlic)
2 (26 oz) jars pasta sauce
1 zucchini, grated on the large holes of a cheese grater
8 slices provolone cheese
1&1/2 cups sour cream
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente; drain.

In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat.  Add spaghetti sauce and zucchini, and simmer 15 minutes.

Layer as follows in each of two 8x8" pans:
1/4 of the ziti
1/4 of the sauce
4 slices of Provolone cheese
1/2 of the sour cream
remaining ziti
1/4 mozzarella cheese
remaining sauce
Top with grated Parmesan and remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes in a preheated 350º oven until cheese are melted.  Remove cover and bake 10 more minutes.

If freezing, follow assembly, but cover and store in freezer before baking. Thaw completely in fridge overnight otherwise you may need at least twice the baking time.   Check internal temp with a thermometer to ensure the center is fully heated.

Grilled Pepper, Onion, and Sausage Calzones

This is the second recipe we tried from my March Freezer Meal Madness day of make-ahead meals.  I wasn't sure how the calzones would fare in the freezer once I saw the vacuum sealer suck the life out of the dough, but they actually turned out surprisingly delicious.  If freezing, just make sure the calzones are completely thawed before cooking.

Grilled Pepper, Onion, and Sausage Calzones
Recipe from Cooking Light
Yield: 4 calzones, depending on size

1 portion homemade pizza dough (I totally cheated and used refrigerated dough)
1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2" thick strips
1 red bell pepper, quartered
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered
1 pound Italian turkey sausage links
2 cups pizza sauce, divided
1&1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare grill to medium-high heat.  Coat onion slices and bell pepper pieces with cooking spray.  Place veggies and sausages on a grill rack coated with cooking spray.  Grill veggies 4 minutes per side or until browned.  Grill sausage links 8 minutes or until done, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.  Remove from grill and let cool slightly.  Cut pepper pieces into 1/2" strips.  Cut sausages diagonally into thin slices.

Preheat oven to 500º.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal portions.  Roll out each portion into a 9x5" rectangle.  Spread 1/4 cup pizza sauce over each portion, leaving a 1/4" border.  Arrange sausages over half of each portion and top with onion and peppers.  Sprinkle each calzone with 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella.  Fold other half of dough over filling; press edges together with a fork to seal.

Place calzones on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.   Bake at 500º for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes.  Serve with remaining pizza sauce.

If freezing, skip the baking at the end and seal in a plastic bag.  Thaw completely before baking.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Beef Chili

The Wheel of Meals landed on Comfort Food

What is more comforting on a cold snowy day than chili?!   This recipe is a definite keeper.  I really liked the flavor and the gentle kick from the chipotle peppers and there was a good meat-to-bean ratio.   I made half the batch in the slow cooker and froze the other half for another time.  This was the first recipe we tried from my March Freezer Meal Madness.

Chipotle Beef Chili
Recipe from Eating Light Magazine
Makes 10 servings;  325 calories/serving

3 cans (15 oz) various beans (I used red, black, and pinto)
1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (only use 2 chiles plus sauce)
1 can (28 oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1" chunks
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
shredded cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)

In colander, drain beans and rinse well.

Remove 2 chipotle chiles from can and finely chop.  Place in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce.  Add tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, and garlic; mix well.

In another bowl, combine beef chunks, cumin, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

In a crockpot, spread 1/2 of the tomato mixture.  Add the beef, then the beans, then the remaining tomato mixture.  Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or 8-10 hours on low.

Stir additional adobo sauce into chili if desired.  Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or chopped cilantro.

Chipotle & Orange-Glazed Salmon

Here's a good recipe for the upcoming meatless Fridays.  I already had a can of chipotle peppers from another planned meal, so I figured it would be wise to make another recipe utilizing the peppers.  This was a nice healthy meal that tasted great.  The chipotle flavor was very subtle.  Next time, maybe I'd use 2 peppers instead of 1 for extra kick.  Also, I didn't taste much orange other than the zest in the quinoa.  Despite its lightness, this meal still filled me up.

Chipotle & Orange-Glazed Salmon on a Quinoa Pilaf
Recipe from Eating Light Magazine
Serves 4;  365 calories/serving

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 orange
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons adobo sauce from can
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bunch radishes, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup thawed corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
4 skinless salmon fillets (~5 oz each)

Arrange oven rack 4-6 inches from heat and preheat boiler.    In a medium saucepan, prepare quinoa as label directs.  Transfer to bowl.

Meanwhile, grate 1 teaspoon peel and squeeze 1/2 cup juice.  Using a handheld blender, combine the chipotle chili, adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, and orange juice; puree until smooth.

To the bowl with the quinoa, add radishes, corn, cilantro, green onions, orange peel, and 1/8 teaspoon salt; stir to combine.

Arrange salmon on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Sprinkle with a little salt, then brush generously on all sides with the glaze.  Broil 5-7 minutes until opaque throughout. Serve salmon on quinoa pilaf.