30 Day Homecooking Challenge Week 3, 4 & 5 FOOD THOUGHTS + RecipeLinks + Reflection

30 Day Homecooking Challenge Week 3, 4 & 5 FOOD THOUGHTS + Recipe Links + Reflection


Wow!! Can't believe it's already the last post for the challenge! 

Day 16 (9/30)

I look forward to Tues & Thurs because I get to attend my Global Poverty class. It's a mind-opening class that talks about different forms of poverty alleviations, different ideas and practices of the institutional framework governing poverty, and social and political movements that seek to change structures of poverty. So woo! Yay to Tuesday today! :)

During noon, I made a super EFFORTLESS dish, lentil soup. It literally took about 3-5 minutes of me frying onion, garlic, and lentils, adding some ingredients here and there, adding 6 cups of water, and then covering the lid. I came back 35 minutes later and my pot of lentil gold was perfectly cooked! Woohoo!

See? Cooking doesn't need to be hard or intimidating! :)

Click HERE for my Lentil Soup recipe!

Day 17 (10/1)

I love cooking for other people. Makes me happy when people actually think my cooking tastes good. ^_____^

Today, I made Balsamic Vinaigrette pasta and served it with my Cajun chicken! :)

My only mistake was that I assume all pasta boxes are spaghetti, but the box I picked up today wasn't spaghetti...it was lasagna. *face palm* So, I did my best to slice the lasagna noodles into thinner strips. Despite my mistake, I still think it tasted good! :D 


Day 18 (10/2)

Today was a poopy day. For some reason, I'm feeling unmotivated with school and things are just going blah. I'm just tired of studying all the time. But I know, if I want to become a kickass RD, I have to struggle through harsh science classes and keep pushing onwards! 

Felt like making a no-effort-required dish today so...for today's recipe, I present to you Yo MaMa's MacMac! Pasta is one of the easiest things to make. Cook pasta. Make a sauce. Add bulk (meat, tofu, veggies, etc). & BAM! You're good to go. :)

Click here for Yo MaMa's MacMac! 

Day 19 (10/3)

YESSS IT'S FINALLY FRIDAY!!!!! Fridays are the besttttt because it's the start to the freakin' weekend~! ;) 

Spent a lovely night at Grizzly Peak today! It's high up a hill and the night view there is spectacular. You can see both stars and city lights! Especially on a super hot day (like today), it's a great location to cool off. Only con is that a car is necessary to get up there (unless you like walking for a few hours). 

Cooked up a spicy cauliflower curry today. It was missing a little something so I'm not going to post up this recipe until I fix it up! Until then, you can just look at this picture below. :D

Hope you all are having a wonderful Friday night!

Day 20 (10/4) 

Today was definitely a lazy day. So lazy I can't remember what I did, but I did eat lots of protein according to my Instagram picture. 

Ever since I bought this vegan chocolate protein powder, I've been obsessed with making protein drinks! To the protein powder, all I add to it is banana, nut butter, almond milk, and ice~! It's an awesome protein-packed chocolate milkshake that actually tastes good! :)

Day 21 (10/5)

Today is yet another lazy day. School is so busy busy busy. I like how cooking is my de-stress activity. Although, on somedays, like today, ya gurl ain't got time for nothin' but an easy mix-and-serve recipe aka Tuna Salad.

You can find my Tuna Salad recipe here! :)

Day 22 (10/6)

I promised there would not be another lazy day this week so guess what I made???

VEGGIE AVOCADO COUSCOUS!!! Holy cow this is hella good. 

Why must you try this recipe? Couscous you can! - Maria my pun-generator & twin roomie

Click here for Veggie Avocado Couscous!

Day 23 (10/7)

Need a simple lunch or dinner meal? Well then, Avocado Egg Salad is the dish for you!

Okay so even though this is a very simple meal, TRY IT! I promise it will be very tasty. I love how you can use avocado to replace the mayo that is typically in a traditional egg salad. With this dish, your body will be thanking you for serving it lots of good-for-you vitamins and fats. :)

Because the Avocado Egg Salad is so simple, I'll just post it here. All you need is 6 boiled eggs + 1/2 very ripe large avocado! Like this, it already tastes amazing to me, but you can definitely spice it up to your preference! :) 

Day 24 (10/8)

I must admit. I've been obsessed with couscous lately! It's so easy to cook! Easier than rice. Just as easy as pasta! 

Today I made Mushroom Couscous. You mush try this recipe! (Thank you roomie Camille for this pun!) If you're following me on Instagram, you'll probably notice that I love using puns for each day that I post a dish. :) 

Click here for Mushroom Couscous!

Day 25 (10/9) 

If there's a Genius Recipe of the Week, Kale-sadilla gets the award for Genius Recipe of the Week. Not only does it have a cool name, it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare, cook, and serve, TASTES AMAZING, and is portable. Kale-sadilla, you're the real MVP.

Click here for Kale-sadilla!

Day 26 (10/10) 

This Friday was a chill Friday. My roomie Joti and I decided to kick it with movies and homemade Tortilla Pizza. (Joti you're a genius for this idea! :)) If all you have is tortilla, cheese, and a bunch of random stuff in the fridge, you NEED to make Tortilla Pizza! Super easy and super delicious!

It's also fun for get-togethers too! Just put out a lot of different toppings and sauces and tortillas and tell everyone to assemble their own pizza!

Click here for Tortilla Pizza recipe!!!

Day 27 (10/11)

I went home today to visit my family, mainly grandma. She's the cutest! Tonight, mom and grandma made a delicious homecooked meal filled with lots of veggies grown from our backyard! Mom is a total gardener. I can't even keep up with what she grows in the back! Currently, I think we have tomatoes, beans, green onions, Goji berries, and Chinese plants that I don't know the name of in English, but we use these Chinese plants in our soups. 

Day 28 (10/12)
Took on a spontaneous shift to work today and didn't make it home until late at night. But I couldn't fail you guys and not cook!!! 

So I threw together a very simple crepe recipe, courtesy of Alton Brown, that you can find here. Alton Brown is such a genius. It's always fun and educational to watch any of his shows. :) I think in the future I'd add a little sugar for sweet fillings and a little salt for savory fillings, which Alton Brown totally recommended but I failed to read his instructions correctly...Haha...

Day 29 (10/13)

Wow! So close to the end of the challenge now. It felt like just yesterday when I started this challenge. Time goes by way too fast. I wonder: should I feel relieved? happy? sad? I don't know how to feel honestly. 

Today was one of those days that I remembered how very very valuable SLEEP is. If I get 7 hours of sleep, LIFE IS AMAZING. If not, I become Grumpy Cat. 

Grumpy Cat (Source: http://dailytwocents.com/)

I need to learn how to avoid caffeine and get my priorities straightened out so that I'm able to sleep a good 7 hours each night.

Today, I made Egg White Dried Scallop Fried Rice! It was quite tasty, but it still needs a bit of touching up. (B/c k
ale does not go well with this dish...I've been trying to perfect it this since summer, but it just isn't quite there yet. I will hold off on sharing the recipe until I get it just right so stay tuned for this in the future!

Day 30 (10/14)
TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF THE CHALLENGE!!! WOO! Made it to the end and I feel so happy to have made it! :) For the last dish, I made Cheesy Breaded Kabocha! Since it's fall now, I want to make sure that I'm taking advantage of the best veggie this season AKA squash squash squash. 



Although my challenge has evolved from eating only homecooked meals to eating at least one homecooked meal a day, I feel good about my challenge because it taught me how to be a better cook, savor eating dinner with my roomies, and enjoy cooking for others! Another bonus? I've saved a butt load of money not eating out.

The hardest part about this challenge was when I was out of the house for long periods of time. It gets a little annoying to carry containers upon containers all over campus. Another challenge for me was that since I work food service, I get free food all the time so it was easy to just grab food from the cafe versus carrying around my food from home. (Yay free food!) As predicted when I started this challenge, navigating around the social norm of eating out was a BIG challenge. Not as predicted, I was not able to get around eating out. The reason for this is that I associate eating out with joyous moments, especially for celebrations! That's why, even though it meant altering my challenge, I did my best not to be the party pooper. :)

On a good note, I have cooked for others more than I've ever done so in my twenty years of life! I'm glad my love for cooking has grown even more this past month. My favorite part was working with different veggies, grains, meats, etc and creating new dishes out of them each day. Now, I have many go-to dishes that I can cook up in the future! I also feel more connected with food now that I prepare, cook, and shop for it myself. 

As for packaged foods/items in general, I still feel disconnected because I don't know where it comes from except that it sits neatly on top my supermarket shelves probably shipped over by truck and produced by a factory somewhere. But one thing that made me feel more connected was a documentary film I watched in my Globlal Poverty class called Black Gold, which documented the life of coffee from farmers to middle men to roasters to retailers to consumers. It's a great documentary that brings awareness to the paradox of how the coffee industry can make billions of dollars yet coffee bean growers only receive an infinitesimal amount of this large income. I highly recommend this documentary! It'll make you think twice about how you spend your money. 

In the future, you'll definitely find me experimenting in the kitchen more often than not. So if anyone needs a homecooked meal, my home is open to you! :) 

Thank you for all the support through this challenge! I hope you all had of fun because I sure did! Let me know your thoughts on this challenge! 

Cheesy Breaded Kabocha

Cheesy Breaded Kabocha

1 Kabocha squash
2 tbsp oil
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Place kabocha in a pot. Fill pot with water until it covers the bottom 1/4 of kabocha. Cook for 15 minutes covered. Add more water as needed. Allow kabocha to cool. 
2. Preheat oven to 400F. Slice kabocha in half, leaving the skin on, and spoon out the seeds.
3. Slice kabocha into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Place in a large bowl and mix with 2 tbsp oil.
4. In another bowl, combine cheese, bread crumbs, and spices. 
5. On a lightly oiled baking sheet, place sliced kabocha. Sprinkle cheese-spice mixture on top. Salt and pepper to your liking. 
6. Bake for 10 minutes. Broil for 2 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. 

Enjoy! :) 

Tortilla Pizza

Tortilla Pizza

- Tortilla
- Sauce (Marinara, Garlic 
- Veggies (Tomatoes, Spinach, etc)
- Cheese (I used Monterey Jack.)
- Onion, diced and browned
- Fruit (Pineapple, mango, apple, etc)
- Meat (Cajun chicken, bacon, etc...or none for vegetarians!)

1. Place tortilla on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
2. Top with favorite toppings in the proportion that you like.
3. Bake at 400 F for 11-15 minutes. Broil for 2 minutes. 

Cut and enjoy! :)




1 large tortilla*
Monterey Jack Cheese
Tomato, diced
Kale, de-stemmed

  1. Heat lightly oiled nonstick pan. Place tortilla on top. 
  2. Add as much or as little of  filling your heart desires on one half of the tortilla. Fold over.
  3. When cheese is gooey and you think its looking good, flip it over to toast the other side more.
Cut, serve, enjoy!

*Side note: So, I used two small tortillas instead of one large one and guess what? FLIPPING THE TORTILLA WAS A PAIN IN THE BUTT. Don’t do it. I have warned you...

This is such a versatile recipe. Try it with anything you have in the fridge! Be creative! Cheese and chocolate quesdilla? Sounds hella good to me! Let me know in the comments below what you like to put in your quesadilla! :)

Mushroom Couscous

Mushroom Couscous


2 cup couscous
2 cup water
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup cashews (or soft almonds or both)
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp lemon pepper
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
1 zucchini, skinned and chopped
1 package mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp oyster sauce

  1. Boil water in pot. When boiling, remove from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. 
  2. Add raisins, nuts, spices, salt and pepper into the cooked couscous.
  3. In a skillet, brown onions. When brown, add tomato. After 3 minutes, add zucchini and oyster sauce. When zucchini is soft enough to eat, add it to couscous mixture.
  4. In the same skillet, spray pan with oil and sauté mushroom. Cover for 2 minutes to sweat out mushrooms. (You want to add a little bit of the water into the couscous mixture.) Cook for an additional minute.
  5. Add mushrooms to couscous mixture.
  6. Add more seasoning as needed and adjust to your liking.

Veggie Avocado Couscous

Veggie Avocado Couscous

1.5 cup couscous
1.5 cup water
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped & divided in half
1 zucchini, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 large ripe avocados, cubed
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tbsp basil
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning 
1 tsp salt

1. Boil water in pot. When boiling, remove from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. 
2. In a skillet, brown onion on medium heat. Once brown, add half portion of tomato. After cooking tomatoes for 3-5 minutes, add zucchini. Cook for 3-5 minutes more and a sprinkle of salt.
3. When zucchini is cooked (soft but with a slight bite to it), add the skillet mixture to the couscous pot. Mix well. 
4. Add spices. Mix well.
5. Add avocado and rest of tomato. Mix well.

Serve and enjoy! :)

Tofu Macaroni

Tofu Macaroni

  • 8 oz macaroni pasta
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 8 oz extra firm pesto tofu (or favorite tofu), cubed
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • Lemon Pepper seasoning, to taste
  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and put pack into pot.
  2. Brown garlic in oil in a skillet. Then, add tomato sauce, pesto, spices, and tofu. 
  3. Add skillet mixture to pasta pot. Season with lemon pepper to taste. Mix well. 


Balsamic Vinaigrette Pasta

Balsamic Vinaigrette Pasta

  • 8 oz spaghetti pasta
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette olive oil
  • 3 mozzarella cheese sticks, sliced into small circles
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and put pack into pot.
  2. Brown garlic in oil in a skillet.
  3. Add garlic-oil mixture, cheese, spices and tomato sauce into pasta pot. Cook until cheese is melted and everything is well combined.

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

1 1/2 cup lentils
2 tbsp olive oil 
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 bouillon cubes
6 cups of water
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Saute onions and lentils in olive oil in a large pot. 
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 35 minutes on low heat.

Serve with rice or bread and enjoy! :)

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