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

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.