Home     About Me     Recipes     Blogs I Read     Contact

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Golden Artichoke Chicken Bake

Yesterday Jordan turned 2 months old!  People always tell you how "time flies" and "they grow up so fast" when you have kids, and I can definitely see what they mean now.  Already, he looks so different than he did when he was first born, and he's gotten a lot bigger!  12 pounds, 4 ounces; he's in the 50th percentile for his age in weight.  In the last month, Tony and I have noticed how he focuses a lot more, and tends to follow you with his eyes pretty well.  Also, as of last week he is finally beginning to smile!  I notice he smiles a lot first thing in the morning when we wake up and talk to him, and when I play patti-cake with him.  I can't wait to see what new milestones this next month will bring!

I mentioned in my last post how I've been trying to manage making simple dinners since I'm home alone with Jordan now.  Well, today's recipe is one of those simple dishes.  This Golden Chicken Artichoke Bake is EXTREMELY easy.  It only uses a few ingredients and has practically no prep work.  It's the perfect thing to make when you just don't feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  

Tony loves to eat any form of lean-meat, like chicken, so I'm always keeping my eye open for new chicken recipes.  We really enjoyed this one; the green salsa and cumin gives it a Latin flavor with just a hint of spiciness.  I didn't include the olives (Tony HATES olives), but feel free to stick to the original recipe if you'd like.  I think the olives would provide a good, complimentary flavor to the dish.  

Golden Chicken Artichoke Bake
Yield: 4 servings

1 can golden mushroom soup (I used Campbell's "savory portobello mushroom soup for easy cooking")
3/4 cup fire-roasted green salsa
1/4 tsp. cumin
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup sliced black olives, drained (optional)

Arrange chicken in 9x9 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  While chicken is cooking, combine soup, salsa, and cumin in a mixing bowl, set aside.  Remove chicken from oven; place artichokes around chicken.  Pour soup mixture over chicken and sprinkle with olives, return to oven and cook for 25 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.  

Beef Stew and Salad with a Homemade Vinaigrette

Aaaah so much has happened since I stopped blogging regularly, the biggest event being the birth of our first child!  Tony and I became parents on April 30th, to an adorable baby boy, whom we named Jordan Anthony.  I still can't believe I had a baby.  Looking at him is just so surreal, like I can't believe he is all mine!  And he's 8 weeks, ALREADY.  Time is flying by.  I'm loving every minute of it...even after his occasional meltdowns (like last night, ugh), I'm trying to savor every moment because I know he won't be a cute little baby for long!  Perhaps in the near future I will spill a little more details about our experience, but for now, I'll just leave you with this adorable picture I managed to snap yesterday during my "patticake" time with Jordan. 

Yesterday we visited the annual Pirate Invasion and Mermaid Festival at the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in Long Beach.  I feel like every year it keeps getting bigger and bigger. At the festival, there were plenty of things to see and do; food, live music, arts and crafts for the kids, contests, and vendors selling goods or services.  The vendors were lined up along the pier and also on the sand on the beach.  Usually I have no interest in most of these booths, but this year Farm Fresh To You, a type of CSA, captured my interest

A CSA (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture) is a type of program in which subscribers receive regular deliveries of fresh produce that is grown locally and sustainably. I've always wanted to join one, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try.  All of the produce delivered through Farm Fresh To You is certified organic, not only through USDA standards but also CCOF.  Your boxes can be set up to be delivered weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, and can be fully customizable using the easy web-based account manager.  This is great because each week before my scheduled delivery, I can log onto my account to see what fruits and veggies are being included in my upcoming box, and swap anything out that I don't like or think we would use.  This is a huge perk, being that most CSAs I've heard of in the past don't offer this, so every box would be a complete surprise...I mean, what if I don't know what to do with 2 pounds of chayote?  No problem with Farm Fresh To You!  

The fact that Farm Fresh To You delivers right to your door is also a huge plus, because having a newborn baby makes even a small trip to the grocery store quite a chore.  I can't wait to receive my first box next month; hopefully I'll have a chance to share more about this with you soon.  (If you're interested in trying it out for yourself, you can use the code: KIMI2147 to receive $10 off your first box!)

Overall I was really impressed with this year's Pirate Invasion event.  There were SO many people dressed up in really elaborate costumes! I thnk there were almost as any people dressed up as there were people in regular street clothes.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone who has a thing for pirates...or mermaids, or even fairies (they extended it to include fairies too this year, hence Tinkerbell, who made it into the photo below). 

The one strange thing about yesterday was the weather.  It was surprisingly gloomy considering we're about to head into July.  In fact, it even rained a little bit before we ended up going to the festival.  Thankfully, it ceased by the time we went.  Although the weather wasn't the greatest for this outdoor event, it was perfect for what I had planned for dinner last night:  homemade beef stew, with a green salad served with a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Ever since having Jordan, it's been really difficult for me to continue cooking the way I used to pre-baby.  It's been quite the learning experience to figure out how to still manage to make it work in the kitchen while also caring for Jordan.  Some recipes I've had to put aside for days when Tony is home to watch our son, because they'd be impossible for me to do right now by myself.  However, I've slowly managed to collect some recipes that are do-able, even with a 2 month old.  One of them is this recipe for beef stew.  

When I found this recipe, I knew I could make it work, because although it takes a lot of time, most of it is simply cooking time.  It doesn't require much effort from me after the initial prep work is completed, so it was the perfect recipe to attempt.  Needless to say, this recipe was a success!  It's a great keeper recipe for classic beef stew, and it was so easy!  It paired perfectly with the green salad and vinaigrette I had prepared, and we enjoyed eating it after our adventurous day at the pier.  The best part is that the recipe yields 6 servings, so I have plenty of leftovers!

Beef Stew 
Print this recipe
Yield: 6 servings
Original recipe by Marlene Sorosky Gray.

1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch chunks 
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
3 cups beef cooking stock
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bag (16 oz.) baby carrots
2 cups frozen petite whole onions
2 cups (10 oz.) frozen peas
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a plastic bag, mix flour, salt, pepper to taste.  Add meat; seal bag and shake to coat.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in wide deep saucepan over medium-high heat.  Sauté half the meat until browned.  Remove to bowl.  Add more oil and brown remaining meat.  Stir in tomato sauce, beef stock, and Worcestershire sauce.  Return meat to pan.  Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 75 minutes.  Stir in potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Simmer 45 minutes or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Stir in peas and vinegar.  Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.  Serve in soup bowls.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Print this recipe
Yield:  about 1 cup
Original recipe by Emeril Lagasse, via Food Network

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk, or into a screw-top container and shake, to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving is Almost Here!

Can you believe it? It's less than one week away!  Tony and I have a busy week coming up, which involves seeing a relative from out of state, attending a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with some cousins I haven't seen in years, and traveling down to San Diego to spend time with family and spend Thanksgiving Day.

Since I probably won't be hosting anything this year, therefore not making any Thanksgiving dishes of my own (which makes me a little sad!), I figured I'd just highlight a few of my absolute favorites, in case you're still unsure about what to put on your menu.  

First up, the number one most favored, most important Thanksgiving side dish of all time:  my mom's Bacon Rice Stuffing!

Sorry for the poor picture quality!  This was from WAY back when, before I had a fancy camera on my phone or knew anything about good lighting.

If you haven't tried this one yet, YOU MUST.  This is my mom's no fail recipe that I often make and take with me when we attend other Thanksgiving get-togethers.  Everyone always loves it...and who wouldn't when it has the perfect trio of celery, onions, and BACON?  The flavors in this dish mix so perfectly with the turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes.  I kid you not, pretty much every time I take this somewhere, at least one person asks me for the recipe. So, if you make this, you will not be disappointed!

The second dish that is high on my list is:  Cranberry Blackberry Sauce

Photo credit:  Annie's Eats

The fact that I think so highly about this recipe says a lot, because growing up, I was never much of a cranberry sauce fan.  It didn't matter if it was sauce or jellied (which we always served because my sis was crazy about it), I could take it or leave it.  I happened to come across this recipe while scouring my favorite blog, Annie's Eats, for a cranberry sauce recipe since we were hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner that year.  I think it probably appealed to me because of the fact that it used another type of berry instead of just cranberries, so I figured it might change my mind about cranberry sauce.  Well, obviously, it did, and it's now a must make dish for Thanksgiving!  The blackberries really lend a nice sweetness to the sauce, and balance out the tartness of the cranberries.  This, in my opinion,  is the perfect cranberry sauce.  (Oddly, the original link to the recipe via Annie's Eats is no longer working [see here], so I've linked above to another site with the same exact recipe).

The third must-have dish for Thanksgiving is green bean casserole, but not just any green bean casserole.  This homemade version from Annie's Eats is to die for!

Photo credit:  Annie's Eats

Growing up. I was always a huge fan of green bean casserole.  Honestly, I could care less if it was made with a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup and packaged French fried onions.  I would devour every bite.  But of course, I got older and wiser and started caring more about what I was eating, so I searched for the best homemade version of this dish.  Well, I didn't have to search far, because Annie's Eats saved the day again.  This green bean casserole is everything I could ever dream of.  With homemade crispy onions, fresh sautéed mushrooms, and a from-scratch creamy mushroom base, it is absolutely amazing.  If you don't mind the extra effort, I highly recommend this recipe (although if you take a shortcut and use the packaged French fried onions, that's okay, I won't tell)! 

With these three dishes at your side, I truly believe it would be an amazing Thanksgiving meal.  Who knows, if I'm still sad about not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, I might just end up making these for Christmas.  

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Curry Chicken Pot Pie

One thing I try to focus on as I do my weekly grocery shopping is fresh foods.  I don't like the idea of eating lots of highly-processed foods, nor do I like cooking with it.  Canned soups don't exist in our house, along with packaged cookies, instant mac & cheese, boxed mixes, powdered dressing mix, etc.  Instead, I try to buy a lot of fresh produce and good quality meats from the meat counter, and make things with real butter, olive oil, flour...you know, the good old-fashioned way.

However, as much as I would like to, I don't make everything from scratch, so when I do buy something pre-made or processed, I usually try to find the healthiest kind.  For example, Tony absolutely loves ranch dressing on his salad, which is definitely not good for you, so for times when I don't feel like making it myself, I like to get the Greek yogurt ranch dressing from the refrigerated section.

Now that I've been so busy studying, I find myself with less time to prepare dinner the way I would like to.  I've been keeping meals simple and fresh, but every now and then, I'll cave in to something that is quick and just plain good.  And so, I am introducing to you this recipe for Chicken Curry Pot Pie.

I found this recipe one afternoon when I was searching for something relatively quick and easy, and that had 5-star reviews.  I decided to search for some Trader Joe's recipes, and this one came up.  Anyone who knows me well knows that chicken pot pie is my absolute favorite food.  If I could pick my last meal, a good chicken pot pie would be it.  So, when I saw that this was a prize-winning recipe, I was sold.  The best thing about it is it uses only Trader Joe's products, which is where I happen to shop at pretty often (besides Whole Foods and Vons).

Whoops, I didn't cover the edges. 

When this pie came out of the oven, Tony and I were both so eager to dig in.  The buttery pie crust and the yellow curry sauce had created such a wonderful aroma in the house.  The crust was golden brown and flaky, the way it should be, and when we finally started eating, I think there was a good 5 minutes of complete silence!  The flavors were just so incredible.  Tony even made the statement that this was one of his top 10 favorite things I've ever made.  If that's not proof of a great recipe, I don't know what is!

So yes, this does have some pre-made ingredients, such as the TJ's frozen pie crust, and the bottled TJ's yellow curry sauce.  But...if it's this good, I think I'm willing to make the exception every once in a while.   Even though the recipe calls for specific Trader Joe's brand items, feel free to adapt it to your own taste.  I'm sure a homemade pie crust, or a different variety of vegetables, would taste just as great.  Maybe one of these days when I have a little more free time, I'll try making my own version of this...from scratch!

Curry Chicken Pot Pie
Print this recipe
Yield:  6-8 servings
Recipe slightly adapted from Trader Joe's, originally from Trader Joe's 2011 HiiP Recipe Showdown winner, Linda Wang

1 package TJ's Gourmet Pie Crust, prepared through step 2 for double crust pie
2 cups TJ's Organic (frozen) Foursome Vegetables
1 cup TJ's (frozen) Pearl Onions
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 bottle TJ's Thai Yellow Curry Sauce
1 1/2 cups TJ's Just Chicken

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Microwave Organic Foursome and pearl onions for 1 minute on high, or until defrosted.  Mix flour with curry sauce.  Add vegetables, chicken and curry sauce mixture to bottom pie crust in pan - spread evenly.  Top with pie crust.  Seal and trim off excess pie crust, and flute edge if desired.  Cut vent holes.  Bake for 40 minutes, covering edges of crust with foil halfway through baking.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Citrus Marinated Chicken Thighs

It's been a long time since I've actually typed out a post and shared a recipe.  I haven't taken my boards yet, but all this studying is exhausting my brain, so I think taking a break to type out a post will be somewhat therapeutic.  I already feel like I have nothing but medical terms, medication dosage ranges, and "nursing interventions" constantly in my head.  

Note:  Sorry, I'm about to ramble about the nursing program in the next few paragraphs:

I never knew exactly how difficult nursing would be and the amount of knowledge it required when I first made the decision to enter the nursing program.  Sure, I've heard the stories of how nursing is "so hard!" and how "it will change your life" but to be honest, I feel like it's impossible to understand without really going through it on your own.  If I could explain it in any way, I would say that yes, those things are true, but they only scratch the surface of how intense these last 2 years really were.  It really did test everyone's limits...it didn't matter if you started out a straight-A student, or a natural test-taker...heck, we were all star-students to have gotten through all the hurdles to get accepted into the program.  But the program pushed us all to our breaking points, broke our confidence, made us question whether we were really cut out for this.  And unfortunately, some people did give in to those doubts, changed their career goal, and decided they made the wrong decision...but right when most of us had taken all we could handle, we started to see the light and gain hope.  Things started making more sense, instructors started acknowledging an improvement in us, and we had those unforgettable special moments with patients during clinicals that reminded us why we are doing this.  

If someone asked me if I would do it all over again, honestly?  I don't know if I could handle another 2 years of that!  The stress I carried was enormous.  I probably shaved off a good year or two of my life because of the stress!  I definitely do not miss those nights staying up until 2 in the morning to finish my care plan after coming home from a 12-hour shift, only to have to be at the hospital at 6AM for another 12-hour shift.  It. was. brutal.  Not to mention those 12-hour shifts that basically consisted of your instructor breathing down your neck during every procedure.  Questioning you about your patient, about the medications, about the medical conditions, and not stopping until you finally don't know the answer, then to get chewed out about it and ordered to write up a short summary on it to present to the clinical group the following day.  Ugh. I could go on.  And on.

But I am SO proud that I finished.  It truly is one of my biggest accomplishments, and I am so happy to be looking forward to a promising career.  They say (and by "they" I mean our instructors and other experienced nurses in the field) that the worst and hardest part of nursing education is your first program to get your RN license.  Once you have that and your clinical skills, the rest is...well, not easy, but a heck of a lot less stressful.  I sure do hope that's true, because I will definitely be furthering my education in the future.

People always ask me, "what area of nursing will you be going into?"   Right now?  My head is in general...something like telemetry, med-surg, or ER, where we see a wide-variety of patients and get valuable experience.  I really feel like that's the area that will really allow me to learn, grow, and become a more "marketable" nurse in the future.  But eventually, most likely after I finish with my nursing education, I'd like to be a pediatric nurse.  I always felt most at home there in my clinical rotation, and I really feel like I could handle the emotional aspect of it as well.  But we'll see.

Now, hopefully since I've shared everything I have to say about my nursing experience, I promise I won't bore you again with anything to do with nursing...that is, until I take and pass my boards!  

So, let's move on to this recipe I'm sharing today.  These chicken thighs?  SENSATIONAL.  Really, they are so incredibly good, and one of the best recipes I've discovered in quite a while.  Of course, it helps that thighs are one of the juiciest, most flavorful part of the chicken, but the citrus marinade really is amazing.  

I found the recipe in my August 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.  The citrus marinade has a combination of citrus zest and juice, along with low-sodium soy sauce, to give it a kind of teriyaki-like flavor.  That's probably the main reason why I love it so much, but it's also incredibly easy to prepare.  I cooked it exactly as the recipe reads, and it came out perfect.  The thighs were perfectly cooked and juicy, and after eating, I was pretty disappointed that I didn't double the recipe for leftovers!  

Hopefully, you all enjoy the recipe as much as we did! 

Citrus Marinated Chicken Thighs
Yield:  4 servings
Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine - Aug 2013 issue

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems only
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2  pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

Set aside 1/4 cup of sliced scallions.  Pulse cilantro, garlic, citrus zests, citrus juices, soy sauce, oil, salt, and remaining scallions in a food processor or blender until a coarse puree forms.  Set aside 1/4 cup marinade; place remaining marinade in a large resealable plastic bag.  Add chicken, seal bag, and turn to coat.  Chill in refrigerator at least 20 minutes.

Preheat broiler.  Remove chicken from marinade and place, skin side down, on a foil-lined broilerproof baking sheet; discard marinade.  Broil chicken until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn; continue to broil until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about 12 to 15 minutes longer.  Serve chicken with reserved marinade and scallions.

Note:  Chicken can be marinated 2 hours ahead.  Keep chilled.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Wow, it sure has been a LONG time since posting on here.  A lot has happened since my last post...I graduated nursing school, have taken quite a few fun trips, and I've still been cooking and baking, as usual.  However, I've still been pretty busy, since I'm now studying hard in preparation of taking my boards, the NCLEX-RN exam.  I recently received my approval from the Board of Registered Nursing to sit for the exam, so now it's a matter of time before I can finally have the initials "RN" after my name, and say that I'm a Registered Nurse!

My husband and I, before heading over to my pinning ceremony!

Now that I'm nearing the end of my journey to become an RN, I'm hoping I'll be able to get back into blogging on a more regular basis.  After all, I've been enjoying so many good dishes that I am dying to share!  One thing I'm planning on doing in preparation of more blogging is switching this blog over from it's current Blogspot host to Wordpress.  One main reason is because I use my iPad for almost everything, but unfortunately, the Blogspot app is incredibly frustrating and makes it difficult to do the things I want to do on here.  Also, I also take a lot of my food photos with my iPhone or iPad now, and it's so much less of a hassle to import directly to the blog, instead of having to transfer to the computer first and then import from there.  I'm hoping to make the transfer in the next few weeks, but since I own the domain "beachsidebaker.com," the website should stay the same and shouldn't cause any problems for any readers.  Hopefully, after this transition, I should be able to update this website and share recipes much more frequently!

Until then, you can always follow me on Instagram:  @thebeachsidebaker
I'm constantly posting photos of all my foodie moments.  Here's just a peek of some things you might see on there:

The amazing waffle sandwich from Bruxie!
Citrus-marinated chicken thighs

Plum and cherry bruschetta

Honey bourbon ice cream with peaches and browned butter crumble

Butter-basted salmon with hazelnut relish

Slow-roasted salmon with cherry tomatoes (can you tell we really like salmon?)

Hope to be blogging again soon!  :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In memory

Clearly, I've been away from this blog for a while.  Without question, this semester of the nursing program (Advanced Med-Surg) has been the hardest semester of school in my life...in fact, I think it's one of the hardest things period that I've ever done in my life.  I'm constantly up to my ears in paperwork, books, care plans, etc. so I apologize that my blog has been inactive lately.

However, I wanted to pay a visit here just to highlight a previous recipe from a couple years ago:  Scandinavian Almond Bars.

The reason why I wanted to re-share these cookies is because they were Grandma's favorite.  My grandma passed away yesterday morning.  I was in class, in the middle of taking an exam, when it happened.  8:45 am.

I didn't know until I finished my exam, and went to turn my phone back on and saw several missed calls and texts from my mom and sister.  I immediately knew why they were calling, but didn't really want to believe it until I heard their words.

My grandma had been in the hospital since last Thursday, when she recently fell and fractured her femur right above her knee.  They did not perform surgery because of her age (91) and the risk involved, so they provided local anesthesia to reset the bone and stabilized it with a brace to heal.  While she was there, her oxygen levels dropped, so they transferred her to ICU to monitor her O2 more carefully and give her oxygen supplementation with a breathing mask.  Her oxygen did rise back to normal levels, but the doctor reported that her lungs and kidneys were failing.  There was nothing more to be done at the hospital so on Sunday, they transferred her to the local rehab facility, for "comfort care."  As a nursing student, I knew what comfort care meant...

My sister and mom went to visit her that evening after her transfer and noticed her labored breathing and decreased level of consciousness.  I started thinking about plans to drive up to visit her at the rehab center this week, but unfortunately, she passed the next morning.  The nurses at the rehab center said she died peacefully in her sleep, without any suffering

It's almost unreal to think about her actually being gone, because she has been in and out of the hospital so many times in the last 5 years it almost seemed routine.  A visit to the hospital, followed by a month or so in the rehab center, and then back home...except this time she won't be home.

I have so many good memories of my grandma.  I feel as though my sister and I have had a closer relationship with our grandma than most people do.  We lived at our grandma's house for a period of time, during our childhood, and she ended up living with us in the more recent years.  She spent so much time with my sister and I growing up, taking us to and from school almost every day while my mom was at work.  Every day when we got out of school she was there sitting in the car or sitting in front of the school on the bench, with a comic book, toy, or candy for us.  She always took us to Home Video every Friday, the local video rental store, where we could pick out a video game or movie of our choosing.  Whenever we went to the mall, it was always my mom, sister, myself, and my grandma.  Sometimes after school, she'd take my sister and I to the local pizza buffet, and gave us a few quarters to play in the arcade.  All of our friends got to know my grandma because she was always there, and they always called her "Grandma" too.  I could go on and on about my grandma, but basically she spoiled us...in the best way, the way any grandparent should.
I'll be headed north next weekend to help my mom prepare for and to attend my grandma's memorial service.  While there, I am definitely making these almond bars.  I'll always think of my grandma whenever I make them because they were her favorite.

Click here for the recipe

I'll miss you, Grandma.