i believe

sky beautysunset2peacea moment

I believe in the peace we so need.

The love we so value.

The hearts we so care for.

I believe in the new day.

home cookin’ challenge of 2020 | recipe 1

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 cookin’ 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.

Modifications:

  • 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 cookin’ challenge of 2020, check out my post about it here.

cozy yet lively

sunrise window

it’s subtle
the warm winter morning
settles nicely
cozy
yet lively.
hues of orange, pink and blue

contained excitement
through a window.

I walked into the room to get something, but something caught me instead. It was subtle. Slow. I felt overwhelmingly calm, yet energized. Inspired. My greedy soul wanted to savor it longer and hold it. So I took a photograph. For you to see.

my 5 goals for 2020

I don’t typically write resolutions or goals for the new year, but for some reason, I feel motivated to do so this year. I gave it some thought today and decided to share my 5 goals for this blog for 2020. They aren’t super exciting, but here you go:

  1. Take on the home cookin’ challenge of 2020
  2. Read & write reviews for at least 5 books this year (last year, I had a goal of 20, but only completed 6). You can follow me on goodreads, if you like.
  3. Write 2 DIY posts for this blog (oh my, remember the egg keychain I made haha)
  4. Post at least 1 step-by-step recipe (I think this fresh summer rolls recipe is the only one I’ve ever posted. I am so surprised by this..!)
  5. Create and post about one art piece

I wanted to create ones I truly wanted to accomplish and could realistically see myself doing. These goals are also ones in which I could learn, teach, share and create. Do you think I can do it? I guess we shall see!

happy new year

Happy new year all!

It’s been a bit quiet here for me on the blogging world. I wanted to drop in today to welcome the new year. Hello 2020! You’re here! I’ve had a productive and nice break so far.

Cooking’s been steady still. I’m super excited to try the first recipe challenge for 2020. I’ve gathered a few recipes for the next coming months for some dishes/desserts/apps I’m interested in trying out. For this break so far, I think I perfected this mac and cheese recipe I’ve been using (okay, maybe not perfected, but really close) to my liking! I definitely want to try different cheeses.

Mac and Cheese
Mild Cheddar Cheese and Macaroni

I also made a turkey version of a Shepard’s pie. (Sorry for not taking a photo of the actual piece! I think I was too preoccupied with eating it haha)

Sherpards Pie
Frozen veggies, Ground Turkey, Mashed Idaho Potatoes, Homemade Gravy.

I’ve made a similar dish a few years ago, but it was just with baby ramekins. This time, it was with the grand 9×13 and it came out wonderfully! The process is the same, I guess, but it definitely tasted better this time.

My family and I really enjoyed these hearty meals. Oh and I also made a quick tofu stir-fry. It was super yummy.  It’s sincerely eye-opening to realize how small, tiny actions in timing make a huge difference for dishes to taste super good or just meh.

Tofu Stir Fry
Fried Firm Tofu. Green Onions. Yellow Onions. Soy Sauce and other seasonings.

I am excited for this new year. I welcome it with a grateful heart and an open mind in hopes to have more meaningful, happy moments to add to my life. May we all move forward in good health, happiness, love and prosperity. And it all begins with us.

home cookin’ challenge of 2020

Given my current trajectory, I’m anticipating I’ll be home cookin’ 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!

Stir fried udon noodles
Broccoli, fried tofu, shrimp fish balls, udon noodles and bok choy

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.

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lemon and orange bars

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 cookin’ 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 cookin’ 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!

no takeout for 30 days – notes & tips

My family and I have not eaten takeout for about a month now for any meals. It was purely by accident. This realization came about when I was out grocery shopping for turkey burger ingredients that I’m going to make today (ahhh, so excited to figure out the seasonings and assembling the final product with melted American cheese, a slice of tomato, lettuce and a homemade sauce). In the past, takeout would be more frequent within the month. I’d just drive over to the nearest fast food place, place an order and pay. Wait. Drive home. Avoid crazy drivers (can you hear the annoyance in my voice haha) Eat it–knowing I’m poorer for it and not knowing how the burger was made. If I felt motivated, I’d make my own, but it wasn’t, sadly, my first instinct to do so. It just felt too much of a hassle. And weirdly, now it feels the opposite: it’s a hassle to get takeout.

Cooking has become a bit therapeutic for me. I really enjoy it. My favorite is cutting the veggies and sauteing them in the pan. In the past, I’ve posted a lot of my home cookin’ here. This renewed love for it has overflowed into my daily life and now my family and I can enjoy the delicious creations.

Here are some of my favorites from past posts:

After coming to this realization, I wanted to share a few notes and tips I had in case it’s something you want to try out, too.

The Benefits

  • I feel like my diet is more in my control. I’m not on a specific diet per se, but more in that I am aware of the amount of veggies I’m eating and my serving size. It’s not decided for me as it would be if I were to order out. Was anyone else shocked when you learned how many more calories were in a fast food salad as opposed to french fries? What?!?
  • I’m saving loads of money. Well, not loads, but a lot based on calculating the amount of what it would cost for each meal. I never eat out for each meal, but you know what I mean. For example, if I were to make mac & cheese, the cost of the ingredients alone would be a fraction of a price of a bowl of it at a restaurant. And homemade would be for a family size, not just a cup.
  • The act of making something for myself and others and having it be enjoyed is so gratifying. It’s instant, too. Now I understand my mom’s love for cooking more. She’d always want me to get seconds or to bring some leftovers with me when I left. It’s a form of creation and love.
  • Cooking at home is another way for me to exercise my creativity. I love finding recipe gems I’ve used over and over, but also modify each time. Maybe this needed more onion powder or less soy sauce next time. Maybe next time I’ll use shrimp instead of beef.
  • It seems to put everyone in a good mood. Good food is important for our health in all aspects of our lives, including emotional and mental. And homemade just always tastes better to me. It’s nourishing.

Tips

  • Start with super easy recipes and start small. The first step is to develop confidence in the cooking process itself and feel comfortable with what you have.
  • And you don’t need to be fancy for every meal. You have a loaf of bread, eggs and cheese? That’s a breakfast or lunch. So is just plain cereal. You have some frozen spinach, onions and rice. That could be a meal, too.
  • Frozen food is a good one, too. We’re currently working on eating up frozen pizzas we bought, which we will unlikely buy again since it just doesn’t taste good.
  • I’m not sure if this is true for everyone else, but the more food I made, the more I was inclined to continue. I went from basic easy recipes to more elaborate and time-consuming. A genuine passion develops and the food starts to taste a lot better with all the practice. And my motivation to seek out new recipes.
  • Plan a few days in advance about which dishes you want to make and then go to the grocery store. The more supplies you have ready at home, the likelihood you’ll want to use it (at least this is the case for me and needing to be budget conscious). The more you do this, the more you realize which food items are your staples and which are just special once in a while items.
  • Always have the right basic tools ready. It’s annoying to be in the middle of cooking only to find out you are missing that 1/3 measuring cup or a mixing bowl big enough for the mixture.
  • Experiment with the different spices and seasonings that are available. There are so many amazing flavorings out there that are available to us. I’m still learning this myself. Spices are expensive, so I want to make sure I actually use them. Some basics I always have on hand and replenish are: onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, vanilla, cinnamon, sesame oil, and soy sauce. I feel like I’m forgetting something, but this is the gist.

I hope this was helpful. I hope I continue on this streak. It makes me genuinely proud and happy. And I am so grateful to find peace and joy in cooking.

My cooking/baking goals at the moment (but I’m in no rush):

  • Bread loaf
  • Ice-cream
  • Thai yellow curry from scratch
  • Chili
  • A delicious pie

10 things I learned while studying abroad

cars traffic

  1. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.
  2. You change a lot and maybe only realize it after you’ve left.
  3. When learning a different language, it is best to speak it as much as possible without fear of sounding silly or wrong.
  4. You see the (big) world in an entirely different way and feel you have a place in it more than ever.
  5. You have to face some of your greatest insecurities because you’ll be the most vulnerable being farthest away from what you’re familiar with.
  6. Everyone is human and complex and so are you.
  7. You’re stronger than you think.
  8. Being open-minded, patient, independent and brave are very valuable characteristics to adopt.
  9. Reflection and introspection will come naturally.
  10. Even though it was only a few months, it’ll be so impactful that you’ll think about it years and years after.

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green plant therapy

green plant

It’s odd how watering some plants can give so much comfort to every day life. Especially when it’s a tough day or things seem a bit gray. I read once that farmers are the happiest people on earth because they are surrounded by nature all the time. And maybe because they are actively cultivating and nurturing something they can see grow every day. It’s not data entry, spreadsheets or nameless numbered clients. Farmers can actually pick tomatoes from their garden and make a delicious meal that day. That’s what I want someday. My own garden. Yeah, that sounds nice.

hungry

Stir fried udon noodles
Broccoli, fried tofu, shrimp fish balls, udon noodles and bok choy

I made this when I craved udon noodles, but wasn’t feeling the soup broth kind. I figured, how much more work is it to stir fry? It wasn’t really at all. It was one of the tastiest things I made. I am sometimes taken aback how much effort a dish takes and the return is not even close satiating my taste buds. This, however, was certainly worth the effort.