home cooking challenge of 2020

Given my current trajectory, I’m anticipating I’ll be home cooking all throughout 2020, so I thought of an interesting challenge for myself. Each month, I’m going to specifically try one recipe I find on WordPress, so I’ll have cooked up a total of 12 different recipes by the end of December 2020. I’m super excited!

Peanut Butter Cookies home cookin' challenge 2020 (15)
my version of this peanut butter cookie

For any food bloggers (or food enthusiasts like me) who are reading, feel free to post a recipe you think I should try and leave a link down below. I’ll definitely check out some of the food bloggers I’m currently following to see if I get inspired.

The recipes I’m specifically looking for are going to be ones I haven’t necessarily tried before, the ingredients aren’t too expensive and aren’t too complicated to make. I’ll post up photographs of my finished creation. I’m excited to bake some desserts, try some new appetizers and discover some great wholesome dinner recipes.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (3)
My version of the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Reasons for doing this:

  • It’s a challenge, so it’ll be interesting to see if I actually complete this!
  • I’m always up for learning new things, so I’m sure there are so many recipes out there that I’ll love and would want to use over and over again.
  • This will keep me motivated to do more home cooking in case I lose steam next year and get me to document more like I used to.
  • I want to also showcase some cool WordPress food blogs out here and give them some love!

Feel free to join the home cooking challenge of 2020 if you think this is something you’d like to do, too. I’d LOVE to follow and see which recipes you end up choosing each month, as well. I guess I’ll stick this on my homepage, so I don’t forget!

home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 1 | small batch chicken macaroni soup
home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 2 | skillet orange chicken
home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 3 | berry cheesecake crumble bars
home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 4 | peanut butter cookies
home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 5 | spaghetti aglio e olio
home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 6 | rice croquette (vegetarian)

home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 6 | rice croquette (vegetarian)

This recipe is called Rice Croquette (Vegetarian) from the WordPress blog Your Home for Homemade Japanese Food.

Rice Croquette 6-2020 (3)
my version of the rice croquette

Farewell, June! What a very long month for me. I decided to treat myself and the family with a little bit of fried comfort food. I’ve never had rice croquettes, so I thought this recipe fit perfectly for the home cooking challenge!

Rice Croquette 6-2020 (2)

Not only are these so cute, they are very tasty and filling, as well. Chika suggests serving this with tomato sauce and since I didn’t have any readily available, I just used ketchup. It was so delicious!

The texture is fantastic. Crispy, crunchy on the outside and soft cheesy rice on the inside, (as Chika notes as well!) Chika, your formula for this crispy dish is wonderful! I can definitely see myself using this again!

This recipe is 6 out of 12 new recipes I’ll be trying this year.

To learn more about the home cooking challenge of 2020, check out my post about it here.


I recently watched the documentary, 13th, for free on YouTube featured on the Netflix channel.

No matter what I write, it will never do justice to this film. I encourage everyone to watch this; especially those who live in the U.S.

It moved me. There is this raw and brutal reality that unveils itself on how the legal systems work and the roles everyone plays. The unnecessary violence, persecution, and fear that repeat themselves all throughout history is heartbreaking. And it’s not over.

Let’s keep the conversations going.
Let’s keep understanding and progressing.


13th full feature film on Netflix YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krfcq5pF8u8

13th documentary Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_(film)


Time and time again, I find myself thanking the universe for putting gardening in my path. I’ve been investing so much time in both the outdoor and indoor garden and honestly, I feel like I’m getting back so much instead.


The peace, calm and guidance on life are what lingers in the quiet moments of progress. Just a few months ago, the marigolds weren’t even a seedlings yet, and now, they are blooming in the warm sun every single day. The soil underneath used to be dry, cold and malnourished. Now, it’s alive.

Gardening has helped me rebuild my perspectives. The practice of caring taught me to accept and embrace the imperfections and the unpredictable. Taught me that there are always lots to learn despite knowing so much. And that’s where the rebuilding can come from—the knowledge, the practice and the progress.

binge-watching our planet

I’m currently on the Jungle episode and I had no idea there were so many exotic animals. And that we needed jungles so much. As with every documentary-type show, there’s some happy moments, sad moments and then it ends with me thinking there’s more we can do for this world. I just found out that Netflix’s YouTube channel is now showing full episodes of the series, Our Planet, for free.

Nature is self-sufficient, until us humans come in making it about us. There’s a way of life in every little corner of this world and when we don’t think about how our actions affect every other living beings or don’t hold ourselves accountable, we end up destroying a lot of beautiful, amazing things that make our planet so wonderful.

home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 5 | spaghetti aglio e olio

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (3)
My version of the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

This recipe is called Spaghetti Aglio e Olio from the WordPress blog A Foodies Wish.

For the last two months, the recipes I’ve used were on the sweeter side. For this month, I really wanted to try out a more savory dish. When I saw this one, I was surprised to see how few ingredients there were and how simple it was. And that intrigued me.

It did not disappoint. It was delicious! Do not underestimate the power of simplicity. Muneeba’s description of the garlic infusion part was right on and I made sure not to take out the garlic slices too early or late. One of my family members absolutely loved the garlic pieces for its packed flavor.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (1)
This version has added tomatoes and basil.

I also really like how adaptable this recipe can be. The photograph above shows added tomatoes and basil. I’ve seen some other recipes adding bacon, as well. But the classic one is very tasty on its own.

This recipe is 5 out of 12 new recipes I’ll be trying this year.

To learn more about the home cooking challenge of 2020, check out my post about it here.

home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 4 | peanut butter cookies

This recipe is called Classic Peanut Butter Cookies from the WordPress blog allybakes.

Peanut Butter Cookies home cookin' challenge 2020 (15)
my version of the peanut butter cookie

It’s the last day of April, why not end this month on a sweet note? I haven’t made cookies in a really long time and when I saw this recipe, I thought it’d be a great one to bake and devour! And, as Allysa mentions, these peanut butter cookies are easy to make, which I agree.

Peanut Butter Cookies home cookin' challenge 2020 (30)

These cookies are buttery, nutty and very addicting. I quite enjoyed it with a cup of warm Earl Grey tea. It’s hard to eat just one! Since I had all the ingredients on hand, I didn’t need to make any modifications. Making these cookies has inspired me to make more cookies in the future!

This recipe is 4 out of 12 new recipes I’ll be trying this year.

To learn more about the home cooking challenge of 2020, check out my post about it here.

home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 3 | berry cheesecake crumble bars

This recipe is called the Berry Cheesecake Crumble Bars from the WordPress blog The Cooking Spoon

Strawberry cheesecake crumble bars (2)
Strawberry cheesecake crumble bars

This is such a fun dessert to make and to eat! We don’t eat cheesecake very often, so this was a nice treat for my family and me. Everyone enjoyed the taste profiles from the sweet creamy cheese filling, salty granola crust/crumble topping and the strawberry mixture.


  • Instead of cashews, I used peanuts for the crumble topping and crust

I look forward to making this again with different frozen fruits; maybe blueberries, perhaps?

This recipe is 3 out of 12 new recipes I’ll be trying this year.

To learn more about the home cooking challenge of 2020, check out my post about it here.

home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 2 | skillet orange chicken

This recipe is called the Skillet Orange Chicken from the WordPress blog Joann’s Food For Thought

Skillet Orange Chicken
my version of the orange chicken with rice

This was my first time making orange chicken ever, so I was super excited to try it out. And, I’ve never eaten or cooked with orange marmalade before. What I love about trying out these new recipes is that I always learn something new.

In the post, Joann mentioned how she doesn’t quite like frying foods as it meant the hassle of cleaning and oil splattering, which I can totally relate (I recently made Korean fried chicken for the first time)! However, I think I’d still try this recipe with breaded chicken (or fried chicken) just to see how it differed in texture and taste.

Skillet Orange Chicken 2
my version of the skillet orange chicken


  • I used regular orange juice I had on hand and I don’t think it was unsweetened.
  • For vinegar, I used seasoned rice vinegar, which I think makes it taste different from Joann’s version, but I can’t be sure until I try this recipe again.
  • Did not have any green onions, so had to leave that ingredient out.

Overall, this is a recipe I’d love to use again. As I said earlier, I’d like to test out a different texture for the chicken, but also stick with regular vinegar as I think the seasoned rice vinegar made it sweeter than intended. This dish paired well with rice and the family liked the sauce!

This recipe is 2 out of 12 new recipes I’ll be trying this year.

To learn more about the home cooking challenge of 2020, check out my post about it here.

home cooking challenge of 2020 | recipe 1 | small batch chicken macaroni soup

This recipe is called the Small Batch Chicken Macaroni Soup from the WordPress blog SweetNSpicyLiving

Soup’s on the menu! This is the first recipe for the home cooking challenge of 2020. This was super fun to make. It was simple, convenient (since I had all the ingredients except the chicken soup powder) and flavorful. It was also very fast to make! This was the first soup I ever made with milk. And I hope to make a few more in the future. According to Marilou’s post, this kind of soup is known as sopas in the Philippines.

I recently came upon this recipe and thought it worked perfectly since I had macaroni pasta, rotisserie chicken leftovers and carrots to use up.

small batch chicken soup home cookin challenge 1
This is how the soup came out after some modifications from the original recipe.


  • I used leftover cooked rotisserie chicken rather than raw chicken.
  • As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have any chicken soup powder, so I compensated it by adding in some salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. I think adding the leftover rotisserie chicken pieces might have added some flavor, as well.
  • I have a ton of potatoes to use, so I decided to add in two small ones to this.
  • I also added in more macaroni pasta than it called for. My family prefers a more hearty soup, so this recipe worked well to our preference.

Overall, I’m glad I tried this! The family loved the soup broth. Soup is not something I usually think to make, but this helped me diversify at the dinner table and create something new with ingredients I already had at home.

This recipe is 1 out of 12 new recipes I’ll be trying this year.

To learn more about the home cooking challenge of 2020, check out my post about it here.

8 things I love about secondhand stores

  1. They are so unique. Every store has their own vibe and the people who work there will decorate it differently from another store. That’s something you won’t get at a regular department store. I once went to a secondhand shop and it felt so warm and welcoming. There was a nice corner with an elaborate donated rug with two couches to try on shoes. It just felt like the people who worked there valued the place.
  2. The items at secondhand shops are so eclectic. You can find things from any era and I love finding new treasures. One of my favorite buys was this Baggu bag (which I wrote a post about it here) and it was so affordable yet durable. I still use it to this day. It’s the only Baggu bag I’ve ever owned, so I can’t say much about the brand itself, but this particular one is great.
  3. I have these moments in which all I want to do is browse. I don’t necessarily want to buy anything, but I love browsing—this is particularly why I love bookstores so much. This is the same idea. It satiates my browsing moods and I don’t feel pressured to buy anything if I don’t want to.
  4. In the same respect with browsing, I think secondhand shops are super inspiring. If I’m in a creative rut or just feeling a little down, I like to visit a secondhand shop to see what is new. They change up their stock often, so it’s nice to see variety. I love coming across someone else’s art.
  5. Although this is an obvious reason, but still good nonetheless is that they are super affordable. If you’re looking to decorate your home, find a new additional piece for your wardrobe or just want a new planter or ceramics, this is a great place to find them with good prices.
  6. Really, this should be number 1 on the list, but these shops are saving items that would have just gone to the landfill. I love finding multiple uses for the things I own and if I no longer find value in them, someone else might. These shops give these items one more chance to live a good life in a home that will put them to good use.
  7. They usually support non-profit organizations and share their wealth with the community. It is a win-win situation. You are voting with your dollars all the time; why not explore some shops that have more purpose than just trying to sell you the next big trendy item.

Product review: Baggu Chestnut Duck Bag | sustainability

Baggu Duck Bag Chestnut Review

A little story….I feel so lucky to have found this bag. I was exploring my favorite Salvation Army store and came across this gem right before I was going to check out. I felt that it was very durable and cheap: $2. I needed a bag big enough to carry my small laptop and also just something I can carry for lunch and other miscellaneous gear for work. The thing I was so pleasantly surprised to find out was that this bag is made from 100% recycled cotton! For someone like me trying to be sustainable, it was like receiving two gifts for one occasion.

Baggu Duck Bag Chestnut Review

Positives: unisex wear, very durable, not super trendy, in neutral color, very practical (used for grocery shopping, travel, hiking, everyday use), dual handles with shoulder strap option, inner pocket, made from 100% recycled cotton

Negatives: buttons are a little loose (probably due to all the heaviness from groceries or travel), wish there was a zipper or a more secure closure

Sustainability factors (based on info on their website):
-Their products are made in America or ethically made in China.
-They have an option to recycle their product via return (if you find it no longer useful to you) and in exchange they will give you a discount for your new purchase.
-Their products are made with double stitched seams and can hold up to 50 lbs (pounds) for longer use and durability. Check out other information on their website.

Baggu Duck Bag Chestnut Review

Final thoughts: I like the variety of bags they have. I browsed their reusable tote bags, but I’m going to try to hand make my own. I am pretty satisfied with this product. I have been using it for several months (possibly even for a year now) and haven’t seen any tremendous wear (other than the aforementioned loose button).

I encourage everyone to always do research and check out reviews for each product you want to buy. The more you know before buying, the more likely it is useful for you and less waste for the world.

I was not compensated in any way to write this post. I purchased this product by myself at a thrift store. All opinions are my truest thoughts.

*Product reviews will almost always be exclusively of those that are sustainable and positive health-focused.

Check out more of reviews on this page!