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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kansas City Ribs

This is my favorite style of ribs: a good rub and lots of sweet barbeque sauce.   I bought boneless country-style ribs because they were on sale at the store and just adjusted the time (much less time was needed for the boneless).  I did 90 minutes in a 300º oven, then finished off on the grill for 10-15 minutes with the sauce.  They were a little over-done for my taste.  Next time, I'd just get the regular ribs and follow the directions listed below.  Lesson learned. The taste of the rub and sauce was awesome though.

Kansas City Ribs
from Better Homes and Gardens: Grill It!

4-5 pound pork loin back ribs
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place ribs in shallow roasting pan.  Stir together the rub ingredients and sprinkle evenly over all sides of the pork.  Rub it in with your fingers.  Cover pan with foil and bake at 350º for 2 hours until tender.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in butter for 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in all the other sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until desired consistency.

Grill ribs over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning and brushing with sauce every few minutes.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

S'mores Cookies

I decided to experiment a little and make a fun twist on a chocolate chip cookie.  I found a recipe online and tweaked it a bit to get the results I wanted.  They tasted great.  I made 4 dozen cookies to share with friends, and every last one was gone by the end of the day. :)

S'mores Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1&1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 to 1 cup mini marshmallows

Use a mixer to cream the butter and both sugars until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Surround a marshmallow with dough to make a ball, a little larger than tablespoon-sized.  Place 12 balls of dough on a Silpat-lined (or greased) baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes at 350º.  Remove sheet from oven and press 1 to 3 marshmallows in the top of each cookie while they are still warm and not fully cooked.   Return to oven and bake about 3-4 minutes longer to finish cooking.  Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Basil Pesto

I'm always looking for ways to use the basil in my garden.  This was a good recipe.  I served it with some grilled chicken wings because Jeremy needs his meat for dinner, but it was filling enough to be a main course on its own.  Many someday I'll make my own homemade gnocchi, but for tonight, this was fast and easy.

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Basil Pesto
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb package of potato gnocchi
1 bunch asparagus, top half chopped into 1" pieces
1/3 cup Basil Pesto
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Basil Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor.  Pulse until chopped, then slowly add the oil with the motor running until smooth.  Add the cheese and pulse until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Cook the gnocchi for a few minutes in boiling water (as directed on packaging) until they float to the surface.  Drain.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the asparagus and gnocchi and cook about 3 minutes.  Turn the gnocchi and cook another 3 minutes until golden and crisp.  Off the heat, stir in about 1/3 cup basil pesto.  Serve with a little freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.

Caprese Panini with Balsamic Syrup

I had some tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella left over from the previous dinner recipe, so this made a delicious lunch sandwich.  You can't see the balsamic syrup in the photo, but it added really nice flavor to the sandwich.

Caprese Panini with Bacon and Balsamic Syrup

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 slices bread
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 large basil leaves
2 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese (just enough to cover bread)
2 slices bacon
2 thin tomato slices
pinch salt
pinch pepper
cooking spray

Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 1-2 tablespoons (~5-7 minutes).

Brush outer sides of bread slices with olive oil.  Brush the balsamic syrup on the inside of the bread slices.  Top the inside slice with basil leaves, cheese, bacon, and tomato.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add sandwich to pan and place a heavy skillet on top and gently press to flatten.  Cook 3 minutes each side or until cheese melts and bread is toasted.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Caprese Chicken and Italian Baked Zucchini

Classic combo of basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella added to a chicken breast with a balsamic vinegar reduction.  Delicious.  I really liked the balsamic reduction sauce.  It made the photo uglier, but the flavor really blended well with the tomatoes and chicken and added extra moisture.  Instead of grape or cherry tomatoes, I just used slices of a regular tomato because that's what I had on hand. For the zucchini, I just sprinkled oil and various herbs and Parmesan cheese over the spears and baked until crisp-tender.

Caprese Chicken for 2

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tomato slices (or a handful of halved grape tomatoes)
2 tablespoons shredded basil, plus extra for garnish
2-4 slices fresh mozzarella (depends on size)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, and cook until golden and cooked through, about 6-7 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.

Add balsamic vinegar to the skillet to deglaze, then add garlic and stir 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes and season with salt.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in basil.

Return chicken to the skillet between the tomatoes.  Top each chicken with enough mozzarella to cover the breast and cover with a lid for a couple minutes to melt the cheese.

To plate, spoon tomatoes over the chicken and top with some fresh basil.

Baked Zucchini for 2

Cut a zucchini lengthwise into 4 spears.  Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over the spears, and sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, garlic powder, and grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350º for 12-15 minutes until desired level of tenderness.  Serve warm.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Lemon-Thyme Baked Salmon

This recipe was fabulous.  I have a lot of lemon thyme growing in my herb garden, so I looked around for a good recipe that would utilize it and found this one online by Baker by Nature.  I adjusted the quantities a bit and kind of eyeballed amounts. Whatever I did, it worked.   It was fast, easy, and delicious.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Lemon-Thyme Baked Salmon
Recipe slightly adapted from Baker by Nature webpage
Serves 2

2 (~6 oz) salmon fillets
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (I probably used more)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
lemon wedges, for serving

Whisk together the lemon zest, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, honey, and lemon juice.  Spoon sauce over the salmon fillets, generously coating the fish.   Place fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil.  Bake at 400º for 13-15 minutes until salmon is done.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hoisin Chicken Udon Noodles

I had some dry udon noodles in my cupboard and a lot of green onions in my garden, so I decided to make this Asian-inspired dish.  I chose not to add sriracha because I didn't have any on hand and it might have gotten too spicy for me.  Overall, it was a tasty meal.

Hoisin Chicken Udon Noodles
Serves 4

8oz udon noodles
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (I skipped this)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 small head broccoli, chopped into small florets
3 green onions, chopped
black pepper to taste

Cook udon noodles according to package directions.  Drain well and rinse.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and sesame seed oil in a large skillet.  Add the chicken pieces and cook until chicken starts to brown slightly.  Add the ginger, garlic, and broccoli, and cook for a couple more minutes.  Add the soy sauce, hoisin, sriracha, and chicken broth, and bring to a boil.  Add the noodles and stir until everything is heated through.   Serve with green onions as a garnish.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs

This marinade was awesome.  I really liked the flavor, and I'll definitely use it again.  It would work well with chicken breasts, pork, fish, whatever.   Grilling really helped bring out the caramelization flavor of the honey marinade.  I used thighs because they were on sale at the store.  I like them because they stay juicy and flavorful and the portion size is just right for me.   Winner.

Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs
Serves 4-6

1&1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
lemon wedges (optional)

Whisk together the garlic, oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.  Pour into a large resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken and turn to coat.  Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.

Grill chicken thighs over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side or until an internal temperature of 165º has been reached.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes and top with juice from lemon.