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

Friday, November 22, 2019

Orange Chicken

This recipe was easy, relatively quick, and delicious!  The orange flavor really came through without being overpowering.  I steamed some broccoli to accompany it.

Orange Chicken
Makes 2-3 servings

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breast), cut into ~1" pieces
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooked rice or quinoa (follow package directions)
Toppings: sliced green onions, sesame seeds, orange zest

Orange Sauce:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
zest of 1 orange (save a little for topping)
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is browned and nearly cooked through.

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange sauce ingredients and pour sauce into skillet, coating the chicken.  Let it come to a boil and cook for a couple minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. 

Serve chicken and sauce over cooked rice and garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, and orange zest if desired.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Chicken Pesto Pot Pie

I made this back in 2009. I think it might be time to try it again and take a better photo.  I was single at the time I made it, so I cut the recipe in half and put one ramekin in the oven and refrigerated the other two for leftovers.  I'm thinking you could also freeze the mixture to use in the future.  It was very yummy and extremely fast and easy to make.  The basil pesto gave it some great flavor. 

Chicken Pesto Pot Pie
Makes 6 servings

1 jar (12 oz) reduced-fat turkey gravy
1/3 cup basil pesto
3 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
1 package (16 oz)  frozen peas and carrots, or carrots, onions, potatoes, celery
1 package (11 oz) refrigerated breadsticks
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Dried basil (optional)


Preheat oven to 375º.  In a large saucepan, combine turkey gravy and pesto.  Stir in the turkey and vegetables.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Divide turkey mixture evenly among six 8-oz casserole dishes or ramekins. 

Unroll and separate breadsticks.  Arrange one breadstick on top of each casserole, curling into a spiral to fit.  If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan and basil.  Bake for 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown on top.  (Save the remaining breadsticks for something else)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma

I was in the mood for something International, so I combined a couple different recipes I found online to make this Shawarma recipe.  The marinade has a lot of spices, but it was a fast and easy recipe.  It was very tasty, but not exactly like the Shawarmas I remember eating when we visited the Middle East.  Still, we both enjoyed it.  We'll have leftovers tomorrow, and I think I'll make an actual Greek salad with feta cheese to use in the pita.  That should be really good with the chicken.

Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma
Serves 6


Chicken Marinade:
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized cubes/strips

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp minced garlic
pinch salt

Pita wraps/pockets
Greek salad or Toppings of your choice: lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced onions, feta cheese
parsley for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the spices, yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic.  Add the chicken to the marinade and stir.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Transfer chicken and marinade into the Instant Pot (no need to add extra liquid).  Close the lid and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.  Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release.  Stir chicken and sauce and transfer chicken to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon.

While the chicken cooks, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl (I just mixed it directly in the small yogurt container).

Assemble the Shawarmas.   Warm the pitas if necessary.  Spread hummus on the pita.  Top with lettuce, chicken, sauce, Greek salad, and garnish with parsley.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

I saw this recipe posted on a Facebook Instant Pot Group, and it looked good, so I gave it a try.  It was tasty, but I didn't get as much chili flavor as I expected.  It was more like "chili-inspired" mac and cheese--or fancy Hamburger Helper.  Also, I'm not sure if the Instant Pot really saved much time.  I guess it was nice to use just one pot and dump it all in and go do something else for a few minutes.  Instead of a can of tomatoes, I used garden tomatoes.  I'm thinking I should have stirred some more in at the end along with the cheese.

Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
Makes 8 servings

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
1 lb dried macaroni pasta
1-2 cups grated or shredded cheddar cheese
fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)

Add ground beef to instant pot and use Saute mode for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned.  Add onion, celery, pepper, and garlic, and saute for a couple more minutes.  Then add spices and stir.  Turn off Saute mode.  Add broth, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, and pasta. Stir to make sure pasta is covered in liquid.

Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes (it will need ~10 minutes to preheat).  When finished, quick release pressure before removing lid.

Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with parsley if desired.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Creamy Lemon Thyme Chicken

I wanted to use some of my fresh garden thyme before it's time to dry it, so I made this recipe.  It's simple and uses ingredients already on hand.  It was delicious.  The creamy sauce was like a lemon-flavored gravy, but it added a lot of flavor and I liked it.  I don't think I really tasted the thyme though.  I served the chicken with roasted Parmesan asparagus and couscous.

Creamy Lemon Thyme Chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon flour
1&1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Rub the chicken evenly with garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Let sit to marinate for 15-20 minutes.   Heat oil in a large skillet and add the chicken. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through (thicker breasts will require more time).  Remove chicken and place on a plate, covered with foil.

In the same skillet, heat butter and add flour. stirring to combine.  Slowly whisk in the milk and stir until there are no lumps.  Simmer until it starts to thicken a bit.  Stir in the lemon zest, thyme, and salt.  Add the chicken back to the skillet, spooning the sauce over the top.  Simmer for a couple minutes.  Serve.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin and Baked Pesto Chicken

My garden doesn't like to pace itself.  Suddenly--BAM!--zucchini extravaganza!  I discovered another large zucchini that we somehow missed and wondered what to do with it.  We've been having zoodles and grilled/baked zucchini spears and zucchini muffins.  I wanted--no, needed--something different.  I noticed I had a few ripe tomatoes in my garden as well, so I found this recipe online for a baked gratin. I was even able to use some of my fresh basil in there. I really liked it.  The cheesy tomatoes were my favorite part (and I'm not typically a tomato lover).   The only downside was that I had a lot of liquid left in the bottom of the dish.  I'm not sure if that was from the zucchini or tomatoes.  But I'd definitely make this again.   I served it along with an easy baked pesto chicken (recipes below).  

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin
4-6 servings

1 extra-large zucchini (or 3-4 small zucchini)
2 large tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
8 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded  (you can substitute Gruyere or mozzarella)
1/4 cup shredded/grated Parmesan cheese

Slice the zucchini in 1/2-inch slices, then cut into halves if diameter is large.   Use 1/2-inch slices for the tomatoes, then quarter.    Put the veggies in a large bowl and toss with olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic, and seasonings. and toss to coat.

Turn the veggies into a greased baking dish.  Bake at 350º for 25 minutes.  Top with the Fontina and sprinkle with Parmesan.  Continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes.


Baked Pesto Chicken

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/2 cup basil pesto, plus extra 1/4 cup for serving (optional)

Basil Pesto:
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
salt to taste

To make pesto, combine nuts, basil, garlic, and Parmesan in food processor and pulse until chopped.  While the processor runs, add oil in a steady thin stream until it comes together.  Add salt to taste.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Rub pesto all over.  Place in a baking dish and bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes or until done (time will depend on how thick the chicken is).  I had thin-cut chicken so mine only took 15-20 minutes to be done (reach 165º).   If desired, add extra pesto to the cooked chicken.

Cedar Plank Salmon and Cucumber Salad

I was in the mood for salmon, so we decided to get out the cedar planks and grill.  It was delicious.  I also currently have an overabundance of cucumbers in my garden, so I tried out a new salad recipe to keep things interesting.  I liked it more than Jeremy did.  It reminded me of sweet and sour pickles.

Cedar Plank Salmon
Serves 2

2 salmon fillets (~6 oz each), skin removed
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

Soak a cedar plank for at least 2 hours.   Season the salmon with salt and pepper and lay the salmon on what was the skin-side down.  Spread the mustard over the top and sides and sprinkle brown sugar over the top.  Grill over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until salmon reaches 135º.

Dill Cucumber Salad

1/2 cup sugar (I reduced this from 1 cup in the original recipe. It was plenty sweet)
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 cucumbers
1 green onion, sliced
1 tablespoon dill weed

In a large bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, water, and salt; stir until sugar dissolves.  Add in the cucumbers, onions, and dill, and stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

I brought a batch of these muffins to work, and my coworkers loved them.  I brought a batch to my nephews, and they each ate 3 muffins, even the picky eater!  I'll take that as high praise.  They're not the healthiest muffins, but they sure are delicious.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
Makes 2 dozen muffins

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugars.   Sift the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and beat well (it will be thick).  Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips until evenly mixed.

Spoon batter into a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners.  Spoon 3/4 full or nearly to the top.   Bake at 350º for about 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer muffins to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

Mmmm, delicious fall-off-the-bone BBQ Ribs done super quick!  The Instant Pot is awesome!  I have a 6-qt pot and it fit with no trouble.  The ribs were super tender and started to break apart taking them out of the pot.  We decided to finish them off on the grill for 5-10 minutes at the end to let the BBQ Sauce caramelize onto the ribs.  You could also use the broiler instead.  The meat came cleanly off the bone, and I really liked the flavor of the rub on the ribs.   Definitely a keeper recipe!

Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs
Recipe found online at iwashyoudry

1 rack (2.5-3lbs) baby back pork ribs
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 cup bbq sauce

Remove the paper-thin lining from the bottom of the ribs running a butter knife under the skin to peel it away.

Combine the sugar, chili powder, and remaining dry ingredients to make the rub.   Rub it in all over the ribs.

Place a rack inside the pressure cooker and pour in the water, vinegar, and liquid smoke.   Wrap the ribs, standing on their side, around the inside of the pot, with the bones facing inward.  (You could double the recipe and wrap a 2nd set of ribs in there too.)

Secure the lid and close the vent.  Press the Meat setting and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.  Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then do quick release.

Remove the ribs and set on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Brush with BBQ sauce and broil in the oven for a few minutes.  (Or put them on the grill, meat-side up, for 5-10 minutes)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sweet Potato Waffle Grilled Cheese

I was craving a sandwich for lunch yesterday, so I made this fun waffle sandwich using spiralized sweet potatoes instead of bread.  It held its shape nicely and was pretty tasty too. 

Sweet Potato Waffle Grilled Cheese
Recipe from Inspiralized & Beyond

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and spiralized into spaghetti noodles
salt and pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1 or 2 slices cheese

Preheat a waffle iron.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the noodles, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the noodles are warmed through.

Transfer the noodles to a bowl and add the egg, tossing to coat.

Spray the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray and pack in the noodles.  Cook the waffles until done.  Repeat if second batch is needed.   Put half of a waffle back in iron, top with cheese, and set other half on top.  Close waffle iron as much as possible and cook until cheese is melty.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Honey Garlic Salmon with Brussels Sprouts

This was a super easy, fast, and tasty meal from a recipe I found online at How Sweet Eats.  I loved the sweetness the marinade gave to the sprouts. The salmon was good too.  One-pan cooking is a winner in my book.

Honey Garlic Salmon with Brussels Sprouts
Serves 2

2 salmon fillets, ~6-8 oz each
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
freshly cracked black pepper
~1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
lemon wedge for spritzing (optional)

Preheat oven to 425º.   Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.  Place the salmon fillets on the pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, soy sauce, and honey.  Generously brush sauce over the salmon.  Add some freshly cracked black pepper.

Remove stems from the Brussels sprouts and cut sprouts in half.  Toss sprouts with the remaining sauce and arrange on the pan around the salmon.

Roast for 15 minutes until the salmon easily flakes and the sprouts begin to caramelize.   Serve with a spritz of lemon.

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Chili is a winter comfort food for me.  I used ground turkey instead of beef for a leaner alternative, and sneaked in some extra veggies.  I didn't notice a huge difference in taste from classic chili at all.  It was still delicious.  I cut this recipe in half when I made it because I only had one pound of meat to use, but next time I think I'd make the full recipe and freeze half.   Chili is fun because you can customize it before you eat it-- Jeremy chose to mix his with macaroni.  I chose a pinch of shredded cheese and green onions.

Turkey Chili
Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution
Serves 8-10

2 lbs ground turkey
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 onions, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1/2 zucchini, minced or grated
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
2 (15-oz) can chili beans (red kidney beans)
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1&1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, raw veggies, herbs, spices, and tomato paste and cook a few minutes until veggies are softened.   Stir in the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes per pound.   Stir in the tomato sauce.  Transfer to slow cooker.

Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir.  Cover and cook for 4 to 6 hours on low.

Serve with whatever accompaniments you enjoy. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Flourless pancakes with Nut Butter and Raspberries

Yum.  I've made these "pancakes" once before, and they're so easy.  Although they're not as fluffy as a normal pancake, they still taste good to me.  It's just 3 eggs and a banana.  This time, I added some cinnamon to the mixture.  After it was cooked, I spread a packet of RX Nut Butter,  mashed up a raspberry, and tada!-- a low-carb Peanut Butter and Jelly Breakfast Sandwich!

Flourless Pancakes
Serves 1 to 2.

3 eggs
1 banana
(pinch cinnamon-optional)

Spray a pan with cooking spray and heat over medium.   Blend the eggs and banana in a blender until smooth.  Pour batter into pan and cook like you would a pancake. Flip and cook until done.

Add whatever toppings you want.  I recommend mashed raspberries.  Their natural sweetness comes through without needing sugary syrup and stuff.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs

It's a new year, so like millions of others, I made a resolution to eat healthier and control my portions.  Both Jeremy and I enjoyed this dish.  And it was EASY--bonus! The lemon flavor came through as did the garlic.  The chicken was juicy which is how I like it.  Chicken thighs are ideal because you get just the right amount of meat.  And when we re-heated leftovers the next night, it was still good.  The photo is of the leftovers because I forgot to take a picture the first night. 

Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs
4 servings

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb boneless, skinlesss chicken thighs, trimmed of fat (about 4 thighs)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
lemon wedges and parsley for garnish, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic.  Pour into a large resealable plastic bag and add the chicken.  Toss to coat, seal, and let marinate in the fridge for at least one hour.

Spray an 8x8" baking dish with cooking spray.  Place chicken in dish and pour marinade over the top.  Season with salt and pepper.   Bake at 425º for 20 to 30 minutes until chicken is done, basting once or twice during that time.  Serve chicken with lemon wedges and parsley if desired.