Dal Makhani


This post will be short, as I am feeling more ‘hands-on’ with my free time, and less like typing on a computer.  Maybe it’s the weather.  Can you blame me?

I knew if I didn’t post this recipe soon, that it would get lost in my draft folder….. it’s not pretty in there.

Dal Makhani has always been one of my favorite Indian dishes.  Loaded with lentils & kidney beans this slightly creamy, and the perfect amount of spice, Dal Makhani was always my ‘go to’ after giving up Paneer years back.

With the little one around, I have been growing fonder of the crock pot.  Filling an array of ingredients into this magical slow cooker, forgetting about it for the day, and then when you arrive back, your home smells as if you been slaving away in the kitchen for hours…. maybe it really is magic!

Dal Makhani


  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1/2 cup kidney beans
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 2 tsp serrano chillies, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 2" cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 Tbsp earth balance vegan butter
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • cilantro to garnish


  1. There is no need to soak the beans overnight when using a slow cooker. If you are in a bit of a hurry and feel you can't allow the full 6 hours, then by all means, soak away!
  2. Place both the lentils, and kidney beans in crock pot and cover with 4 cups water.
  3. Prep the onion, chili, ginger and garlic and add to beans.
  4. The cumin, fenugreek, coriander, and turmeric can then be stirred in with a spoon.
  5. Assemble cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie off. Add to beans.
  6. Set slow cooker at 6 hours.
  7. Once beans have cooked through, gently stir in butter, tomato paste, and coconut milk.
  8. Salt to taste, and add more water if desired.
  9. To achieve a fuller flavor, allow the Dal to stew for at least another 1-2 hours (the longer the better!)
  10. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.


Any sort of basmati rice would be the perfect accompaniment to this dish.  I made a turmeric seasoned rice, with a hint of saffron and some green peas.  The cucumber salad was a nice crunch to the meal.

Enjoy and let me know how it turns out!

Escabeche (pickled jalepenos)

photo (13)I am hoping that this next recipe will make its way into your hearts and homes as a pantry staple.  It has reserved shelf space in ours.  It has been so nice to save our veggies throughout the winter by canning.  Wisconsin winters tend to be long, and there really is nothing quite like a summer tomato sauce in the brisk cold of February.  But for now we are not going to dive into pressure canning.  We are going to take a slight short cut and talk pickling!

This recipe is something Erik and I have made the last two summers, and it never fails to bring out the spice fanatic in our guests!  A slight warning: This is for those that can handle the spice.  And I mean really handle!  Lets talk Escabeche.

Escabeche simply means “pickled jalapenos.”   Once the peppers are ripe for the pickling, we like to take it one step further and add other fresh garden veggies that we can harvest around the same time such as yellow onions, cauliflower & carrots.  I’ve seen this prepared with julienned potatoes and even jicama before, but I haven’t ventured there….yet.

Escabeche (pickled jalepenos)


  • 1 lb jalapeño peppers
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 medium white or yellow onions, thickly sliced
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • Florets from half a small cauliflower
  • 1 head garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 sprigs of fresh marjoram or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 Tbsp sugar


  1. Wash the chilies, leaving the stems intact. Cut a cross in the tip end of each chile, and slice some in half. I like the looks of the open chili.
  2. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the chiles, onions, carrots, cauliflower if using, and garlic. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
  3. Add the vinegar, salt, herbs, and sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10.
  4. Pack into sterilized jars with the chiles and vegetables. I also like to make sure I have a sprig or bay leaf in every jar for decoration purpose. Top with the vinegar and seal.
  5. I like to let the jars sit on my pantry shelf for at least a month or two... I know what you're thinking. Ugh- the wait! But the best things are worth waiting for! Once you open the jar, it can keep for up to two months in the refrigerator.
  6. *On a side note, you may want to hot water bath the jars to give them a proper seal. I have never done this with some pickle recipes, but don't listen to me! Be safe, and do what feels right!



Escabeche, served as a side

Escabeche can be served along side any dish, best with Latin-influenced food.  Last night I made an amazing Autumnal Pozole.  I like to describe pozole as the Latin version of Pho. It is usually made with hominy, which was a sacred plant for the Aztecs.  The texture of maize, or hominy, is soft and chewy, and so wonderful in soups and stews.

afterlight (1)

Autumn Red Pozole

This pozole had butternut squash, black beans, tomatoes, and onion.  The real getter is how all the fresh veggies come into play.  Again, much like Pho, you can assemble it any way you’d like.  We ladled the stew over a warm piece of savory cornbread, then chose to top it off with fresh cabbage, cilantro, radish, lime juice, homemade tortillas strips, and a dollop of jalepeno relish Erik made.  It turned out amazing.

Lentil Wheat berry Cakes


I have to say, anything in the form of a patty, cake, croquette, or once was a ball- then got squished, I am a fan of.  Maybe its the versatility.  Maybe its the fun of forming the shape.

These cakes were incredibly easy to make, but did require a lot of pots and pans.  I started with three pans.  One to cook the lentils, one for the wheat berries, and one for the couscous, which was going to be my ‘binder’ for the cakes.  Needless to say, I made a HUGE amount!  We now have a freezer full of these yummies, which Im told, will be great for those first weeks of our babies arrival.

The texture was great, credit to the wheat berry, and lentil combination.  All in all there are two types of wheat berries, the hard, and soft.  The hard wheat berries tend to keep there nice chewy texture, great for whole grain salads.  The soft I tend to favorite more for stuffed squash, and a wheat berry breakfast oatmeal.  I bet some cooked soft wheat berries would be insanely good in a spin off of an oatmeal cookie (note to self!)  There are red and white varieties, as well as spring and winter.  I’ve heard that the red wheat berries can be a tad more bitter, due to the extra proteins, but I can barely tell the difference.  I think depending on what you choose to use them for, the color can play an important role.

Other ingredients in these cakes included porcini mushrooms, onion, shredded carrot, lemon zest and juice, dijon, and some herbs and spices.  I served them above with some sauteed arugula, basil, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives.  We then had them as a quick lunch the next day with some ketchup.  Both we great.  I am thinking a nice tart cranberry sauce would be lovely served along side.  And I have a freezer full to experiment!

Heres a close up:

image (1)

Oh Cali, you’ve done it again.


I am always the first to note that I am a New Yorker. Through and through. A bagel loving, pizza folding, IheartNY New Yorker. But somewhere along my timeline, I must have gotten sidetracked and gave away a big piece of my heart to California. This seems to be a trend among many east coasters. Its as if we had a time lapse. A battle of my inner conscious. Girls just don’t go around giving their hearts away to just anyone, let alone anyplace. Why would I have done such a thing?
On our recent vacation out west, I was reminded.

After the wedding of my dear friends Rachel and Josh, we headed up to Ventura, where we would take a ferry over to the Channel Islands. There we would Kayak around Santa Cruz island to explore the sea caves! The water was perfect. Erik proved to be the risk taker of the group, and the day was surrounded with sea lions, starfish, anemone, sea urchins, dolphins, and sun burn. All we needed was an aloe plant.

San Luis Obispo. Central Coast of California. For me this seems to be a perfect fit. Maybe it was the charming street signs, maybe it was the fog rolling in as it covered the mountains peaks. If I had to live out that way again, this would be where. We decided to have lunch at Big Sky Cafe. Not completely vegetarian, but wow. This might be where I could say I had my favorite meal of the trip. Erik had the vegetarian Pozole. A South American stew, spiced and seasoned perfectly, with Hominy. It was topped with a slice of cornbread and a slab of tofu. I had a veganized black bean Huevos Rancheros, and breakfast potatoes.


Side note: I find myself severely addicted to Hominy these days! Use this in a stew soon Meg!

After a filling breakfast we traveled around the corner to Kreuzberg, Ca coffee shop.
Berlin is a special place for Erik and I. What do Plato and Ayn Rand have in common? They are both entrees on the menu, along with a surplus of other great authors.


Haruki Murakami (a personal favorite of mine) was a vegan sesame tofu dish.

Erik had some doubts about Dostoevsky being a turkey pesto sandwich, but as we headed inside, we couldn’t miss a life size copy of the most prominent graffiti art in Kreuzberg Berlin. This place was filled with comfy furniture, and books…. tons and tons of books. Any of the books in store were fro sale. No more than $4. Unfortunately we had no room left in our bellies, so I ordered a latte. To my surprise, I had not only the option of soy, but almond, hazelnut, oat, rice, and coconut. This place was great.


Take note of the upside down light fixtures!

We bought sunscreen, and aloe then headed up the coast another 3 hours swirling round hwy 1. With our thrown together last minute packs, we set out for a 10 mile trek to Sykes hot springs. Knowing that we were going to stay the night at a place that had no amenities, we tried to pack lightly. Avocados, oranges, grapefruits, eggplant tapenade, and ezekiel sprouted tortillas, aseptic containers of miniture soy milk and packets of Chocolate vega protein mix, and coconut waters, held us up quit well. We hiked, camped, soaked in the springs, the set out for our 10 mile return. Just another beautiful day of hiking around the redwood covered mountains of Big Sur.
We made it out alive, still sunburned and our bodies sore, but lucky us, Big Sur Bakery was located just around the corner!

Big Sur Bakery prizes themselves on working with the local farmers, and the simple elegance of the vegetables themselves. We split a bread board, which included their 11-year in the perfecting 9- grain bread, and their italian bread. Both delish. I could’ve eaten a whole loaf. We made sure to finish all the black sea salt that was piled on the wooden board as well. We also split a vegetable dish that was composed of cauliflower, pine nuts, green beans, and cranberries. It was divine! The flavors were so fresh. We finished it off with two espresso shots, and hit the long road back to so Cal.

We made a stop in Los Angeles on our way back to visit some friends and family. Our dear friend Roi, is a chef at Sun Cafe in Studio City. Sun Cafe serves mostly raw vegan food. Roi insisted we try the gluten free macaroni and ‘cheese’ and Erik wanted to get his raw fix, and ordered the Pad Thai, with kelp noodles.


Both were great, but we were quite envious of Roi’s raw Shamrock shake, which consisted of banana, mint, spinach, and raw cacao. On the drive down I was whining about craving an ice cream sundae, which doesn’t happen often.

photo (2)

Roi insisted we skip the shakes and head around the corner to kindkreme. Kindkreme is and all raw, all vegan ice cream shop. They have 3 locations, offering cones, cups, shakes, floats, and pints to go! My craving was met! I got a cone with a scoop of mint chip, and a scoop of the superfood which had raw cacao, goji berries, hazelnuts, chia seeds, and a whole mess of other raw goodness.

photo (3)

The owner was so nice, she offered to let us sample every flavor!

The rest of the trip was filled with M Cafes’ sushi and macro bowls topped with the best seitan in the world (I have said this many a times before- go there and just get a side of seitan with their macro-ketchup!), beer breakfasts at Ranchos accompanied by chilaquiles, and the fabulous tofu cutlet sandwiches from Mama Turners B & B. Though many more food ground was left to be covered, our last stop before the drive to the airport was the old time fav, Influx Tofu #1’s.

The whole vacation was well spent, absorbing everything the beauties of California had once offered me, and had proven to stay true. I understood why my heart had sunk as I boarded the plane back to Wisconsin. I missed it already. The drive back up from the airport felt like forever. I knew work beckoned in less than 6 hours. But as I arrived home, my heart had been so distracted, that I had forgotten with what was really important… these two:


Kala & Cooper

And then I was glad to be home.

My favorite Photo Queen


It’s been a long time since my last post. But I’ve been a busy little worker bee these past couple months. I know, horrible excuse. In trade for all the waiting and work that has filled my time this past month, Nature’s Express San Diego is well on it’s way! And I promise to post plenty more about that later…. But opening day should be October 21st!

I have had the pleasure of a friend stay with me a bit, who just happens to be a professionally stunning photographer. She’s more of a moment capturer, but her food pics are formidable!
I am clearly, not the best at food photography, but it sure was nice havin a pro around!
She got to eat well, so it was a fair trade off. Isn’t she good though?!?!


Your can view her other beautiful work here.

This was summer veggies sauteed in a butter balsamic sauce. What’s even better is that the squash was from my friends farm up north! Grown with love, and packed with nutrients! I served this lovely array of veggies over polenta. Dee-lish!

Well my time is limited, but I promise to blog again soon.
Duty calls 🙂
Here’s a cute pic of my little hero!

This entry was posted in Entrees.

Cajun Style Dinner


Creole vs. Cajun cooking.
Most natives will jump at the chance to tell you the vast differences in style. In fact, most Cajun’s get offended when you don’t know the difference.
Both styles tend to be heavy in flavor, and rich at soul. Which goes along with the city’s motto, “Laissez les bon temps rouler” or “Let the good times roll”. But getting technical, what is the difference?

When the Spaniards governed New Orleans they became known to Europe as Creoles. Today Creole style cooking has the influence of French, Spanish, and African cuisine. Cajuns are descendants of the French Acadians as they learned to live in the south Louisiana swamps. It is said the Creoles tend to use more tomatoes, butter and cream. Cajuns tend to use more spices and animal (pork) fat.
After flipping thru a few recipes, I decided to make a Cajun influenced meal….. Minus the pork fat of course!

For the protein of the meal, I used tempeh, marinaded and baked it, then patted it in Cajun spices and lightly grilled the triangles. Garlicky greens are an essential for me with any southern style food. For the rice, I used white basmati, seasoned with Lemon zest, black pepper, and fresh parsley. As a bonus, and to help with the spice factor of the Cajun tempeh, I made a naturally sweetened corn relish.

Here’s the corn relish recipe. Had I have used red bell peppers, instead of gold, the color would have been a bit more vibrant. I jut can’t help but love the taste of sweet golden peppers!

For the relish:

3 cups corn, fresh, or frozen, then thawed
2 Tablespoons tomato juice
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup diced red bell pepper, or gold:)
1 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of cayenne, or more

Combine 2 cups of the corn, with the tomato juice in food processor. You may want to add a tiny bit of water to help smooth it out.

in a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil, and add the onion and bell pepper. When tender turn flame down to medium heat. Stir in the pureed corn mixture. Allow to simmer for a minute, then add the whole corn kernals, along with spices.
Garnish with some sliced green onion.
Serve warm!

I did find this cool blog about where vegans can eat in NOLA. Just in case anyone was planning a trip:)
And below is a picture of Sweet Mama Janisse, owner and chef at Bless My Soul, a veggie-friendly creole style restaurant in Eureka, Ca. She specializes in delicious sauces, all mostly vegan friendly. And her vegan hush puppies are delectable.


Holiday Cranberry Sauce


What is a more grown-up way to get that sweet, tart, cranberry fix that goes along with your holiday meal?
Now I’m not trying to knock down anyone’s favorite canned cranberry mold, but how about a homemade orange ginger cranberry sauce, with crunchy, toasted pecans! Made with using fresh, yes fresh cranberries! This recipe is so much fun, and you and everyone that surrounds it will be amazed!
And you can feel like a healthy grown-up too!

This recipe is delicious served warm. You can pre make this in advance, if you feel overwhelmed with all the cooking on Thanksgiving. Just make sure you stir in the pecans minutes before serving so they hold a slight crunch. If you want to lower the glycemic level, agave nectar works as a great substitute for the sugar.
This recipe also allowed me to use my microplane, for grating that hard ginger. A microplane is a super sharp zester, you not only use for your citrus, but coconut, whole cloves and nutmeg as well! What better season than fall to go out and get one! They are heavy duty durable, and last a long time! Zesting has never been easier!


If you can find a juicing orange, you will have less of a hard time trying to get the fresh juice out of the orange. And as a bonus, they usually don’t have any seeds!   Fresh cranberries should be at any grocery store this time of year. If you can’t find em’ get your butt to the farmers markets! I know you can definitely find them there!  Did I forget to mention all the Vitamin C this recipe has to offer?!

1/2 cup organic cane sugar, granulated

1 orange

1 tea. grated fresh ginger

4 cups of cranberries, fresh

1/2 cup pecans, toasted

***To toast your pecans, preheat your stove to 350 degrees. Spread you pecans evenly onto a cookie sheet. Place in oven and allow 4-5 minutes to toast. Be careful not to let them burn! Allow to cool, and chop till small (chocolate chip size) pieces.

Pick over your fresh cranberries and make sure non are discolored or shriveled.  I’ve heard that rip cranberries ‘bounce’ but I am not urging you to make a mess in the kitchen! If they are slightly firm and have a reddish hue, your good to go!
Grate the orange peel and ginger and place in a medium saucepan along with the sugar. Add the juice from the orange. Over medium heat, cook until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and reduce temperature to low, and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes until you hear them pop! Cool sauce till warm, and add those chopped Pecans!


Save some of the orange zest and pecans to garnish!
I don’t have a picture of my finished project this year yet, but I wanted to share this before the holiday! Have a safe and fun weekend everyone!

Lentil Seed Loaf

Yum. Yum. Yum.

Its been far too long since I’ve made any kind of loaf. But this one came out so delicious, it made up for lots of lost loaf time! To top, I made a thick nutritional yeasty gravy, with a classic side of garlicky mashed potatoes. This is definitely a filler up meal, so go easy on those potatoes, and make sure you eat all your loaf first! Lentils, as most of us know are high in iron & proteins. Lentils also contain dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and minerals. Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods. Thats right, so eat up!

Lentil Seed Loaf:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 cups lentils, red look the prettiest
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup bulghur
  • 1/3 cup each, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, & pine nuts
  • 2 cups yellow onion, minced
  • 2/3 cup celery, minced
  • 2/3 cup carrots, minced
  • 2 Tab. oil
  • 2 tea. each of sage & thyme
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tea. sea salt
  • 1/2 tea. blk. pepper
  • 1 Tab. parsley
  • 1 Tab. tamari
  • 2 cups oats, quick cooking

*** Preheat oven to 325 degrees. First, bring the 4 cups water, bay leaf, and 1.5 cups of lentils, to a boil. Allow to simmer till tender, about 30 min. Drain and save 1 cup of vegetable broth.
Next bring the 1/2 cup water to a boil. Stir in the bulghur, and remove from heat.
On a sheet pan, toast seeds for about 10 min. Allow to cool. In a large skillet, saute veggies until tender. Stir in parsley & tamari. Add in the toasted seeds & nuts, lentils, bulghur, oats, vegetable broth and stir well. Add more salt, etc. to taste. Place in an oiled 4×7 bread pan, and bake uncovered for 50 min. Cover with foil, and bake for another 20 min. Slice and serve!
….And don’t forget your favorite gravy.