Best D*** Tomatillo Salsa

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Mexican, sauce, Tacos, Vegan, Vegetarian
Best Damn Tomatillo Salsa
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins

This quick and easy tomatillo salsa is full of flavor and easy to make for all your salsa needs 

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
  • 1 lb Tomatillos
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • cilantro
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Remove husk from tomatillos, rinse and slice them in half. Slice an onion in half and remove the husk. Store the other half of the onion. Remove stem from jalapeno and slice in half.

  2. In a large pan, drizzle olive oil and turn the stove on medium heat. Once the oil begins to sizzle, add tomatillos open face side down, jalapenos, and onions, cook for about 5 minutes on one side until tomatillos and onions begin to caramelize. After 5 minutes, turn the tomatillos to the opposite side and add the garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes and then remove from heat. 

  3. Using a blender, add tomatillos, onions, jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro. Pulse until well combined. Add water and lime juice and pulse for 2-3 seconds. 

  4. Pour salsa into a jar and salt and pepper to taste.

Cuban Inspired Vegan Tacos

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in All, Mexican, Tacos, Vegan, Vegetarian



There’s nothing that wins more hearts than Tacos.Tacos are easily versatile and are packed with flavor from many components. These tacos offer savory deep flavors from the black beans paired with sweet plantains and topped with a spicy tomatillo salsa that delivers just the right amount of heat.

Growing up, my mother made sure taco Tuesday was always in full swing. My parents always made fresh salsa, pico, beans, and rice to go with our tacos. We would sit at the table devouring tacos with every topping and then we would always save the left over salsa to go with the tortilla chips for our family game night.

Game night was almost always on a Friday night. We always played Dominoes, Phase Ten and the game I hate most of all… MONOPOLY.

I sucked, still suck at that god-awful, dehumanizing, scheming ass of a game.

Who makes a game about building and destroying neighborhoods? Then turn around and exploit innocent bypassers for money.

Terrible, terrible game but I digress.

Make these tacos and don’t play monopoly for a flavor fun night!

Let me know what your favorite games are for family game night!

Cuban Inspired Vegan Tacos
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins

Sweet, spicy, savory and every thing nice. These Cuban inspired tacos are here to switch up your taco Tuesday nights.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: cuban, Mexican
Servings: 4 people
  • 3 plantains
  • 2 russet potatoes, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 8 Corn tortillas
  • Tomatillo or green salsa
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
Black Beans
  • 2 15oz cans of black beans
  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup yellow onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  1. Peel and slice plantains about 1/4 inch thick and set aside

  2. Drain 1 can of black beans. In a medium pot on medium heat, add black beans, water or broth, diced red bell pepper, onion, cilantro, cumin, paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper. bring a pot to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat.

  3. In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot. Add diced potatoes and cook for10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. Remove potatoes from oil and set aside.

  4. In a medium non-stick pan on medium high heat, add olive oil. Add plantains to the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and plantain no longer sticks to the pan.If you try to flip the plantain and its still stuck to pan it is not ready, 

  5. Add red bell peppers to the same pan once you have cooked your plantains. Cook peppers for 3-5 minutes until tender.

  6. Grill or warm tortillas. Build tacos starting with beans, potatoes, then red peppers, plantains and top with tomatillo salsa. 

Healthy Comfort, Quick and Easy Lentils

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in All, Healthy, Soup, Vegan, Vegetable, Vegetarian
Vegan Lentil potato soup


Does anyone else have an insane obsession with soup? I eat canned soup (I’m not ashamed.) store bought deli soup, Panera bread soups, the ultra amazing Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden ( I’ll be sharing my homemade version shortly so stay tuned!) chilis, chowders, pho, ramen etc. I love anything with a broth base.

I love the way flavors develop the longer soup sits and I especially love how you can practically throw anything in it and call it a day. Soups are great for a quick and easy meal prep or when you need to make a few dollars stretch throughout the week.

As a kid, my favorite was my papa’s oxtail stew and my mothers chicken and dumplings.

Fost of my childhood, I was pretty confused about what an oxtail even was. Was it really an ox? Was it really the tail of an ox? I didn’t really care too much to seek out the answer. The only thing that mattered to me was how good it tasted every time I went back to visit my papa.

He always had this raggedy old pot where the handles had fallen off and the bottom was scratched beyond recognition. Was the inside of the pot supposed to be black or silver?

It sat on top of this stove where the where one burner didn’t work and the other got way too hot and would burn your food the minute you sneezed.

But what came out of that raggedy old pot was second to none. Hearty oxtails that fell off the bone into a flavorful broth with tomatoes, okra and potatoes. It doesn’t get any more southern than okra and potatoes, right?

In my adult life, I have tried to replicate both my mother’s and papa’s recipes though I come close, it just doesn’t quite taste the same as theirs.

This soup is full of pantry staples. If you’re a plant based enthusiast like me, then the only thing you may actually need is the lentils. For my bonafide vegans, well  I am sure you have a bag or two of lentils just waiting.

Lentils have actually grown to be one of my favorite legumes and it beats the flavor of quinoa on any day. Lentils are tender, versatile and absorb flavor so well. you can check out my  BBQ lentil loaf recipe here

Lentil and Potato Soup
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins

Make this quick and easy lentil dish with the  fridge staples you already have

Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 cups chopped collard greens
  • 4 yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp onion powwder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  1. In a large pot on medium heat, drizzle olive oil. Add onions and garlic and simmer until translucent.

  2. Pour vegetable stock into the pot and turn the heat on high. Bring stock to a boil and add lentils, carrots, and celery. Reduce to medium heat and cook lentils for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, and  cayenne pepper. Continue to cook on medium heat until the potatoes are tender.

  3. Add your collard greens to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

  4. Reduce to low heat. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Get Ready to Lick Your Fingers, It's that good!
The Game Day Wings You Will Be Eating All Season
Lentil Meatless Loaf

Lentil Meatless Loaf

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in All, Bake, Vegan, Vegetarian


There is nothing that says my childhood more than meatloaf. I understand that for a lot of people, meatloaf is a symbol for mushy, flavorless loaf of anxiety and despair paired with a cry for help to the family dog.

Coated in either ketchup or gravy,  Meatloaf was a Sunday dinner staple that always had to be paired with creamy buttery mashed potatoes.

My mother has meatloaf down to a science. Her meatloaf is never mushy, nor dry. Her bell peppers and onions were never too big. My mother’s meatloaf was always full of flavor and had the just the right amount of sauce.

In fact, her meatloaf was so good, she often made two of them. Neither of them ever accidentally ended up on the floor.

So imagine the phone call between me and my mother when I told her instead of making her world class meatloaf I was instead making a meatless version using lentils.

My mother holds her tongue for no one so the conversation went a little like this,

*I call my mother Ma. Something I think I picked up from re-watching every season of the Golden Girls a million times. Don’t you just love the relationship between Sophia and Dorothy?

Anyways, here is how our conversation went.

Ma: Hello.. What?

Me: What are you doing?

Ma: Nothing. Watching this show.

Me: What did you cook today?

Ma: Some Enchiladas with beans and rice salad. It was good.

Me: Hmm that sounds soo gooood.

Ma: What are you cooking?

Me: a lentil loaf

Ma: a WHAT??


Ma: What the hell is a lentil loaf?

Me: It’s like a meatloaf. Instead of using meat you use mashed lentils.

Ma: Hmm….bet you wouldn’t be making no lentil loaf if you were back in Texas.

So you can see how this conversation carried out. My mother attributes every healthy meal I make to living in California and how it has brainwashed me. Eating meat and watching football is practically a religion in Texas so in her eyes, I have pretty much denounced my faith.

This recipe, however, would make the most Texan carnivore a believer that meatless Mondays are life.

This lentil loaf is quick, moist and full of flavor.

give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

Simple Lentil Meatless Loaf
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs 20 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 30 mins

This veggie meatloaf is perfect for the bonafide vegetarian or the curious meatless Monday Enthusiast. Pair it with your favorite green vegetables and herb roasted potatoes.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Ariana Lawrence
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 celery stalk finely diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup masa harina
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • olive oil
  1. Add lentils and stock to a medium pot and soak for 10 minutes. 

  2. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes.

  3. In a small saute pan, drizzle olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, and celery to the pan. saute vegetables until translucent and remove from heat.

  4. Remove lentils from the stove and pour cooked lentils into a medium bowl.

  5. Add Vegetables, thyme, parsley, onion, powder, garlic powder, and masa harina to lentils. Using your hands or a masher, mash lentil mix together leaving some texture.

  6. line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour lentil loaf mix into a pan.

  7. Press your mix into the pan and smooth out the top and corners.

  8. Spread you glaze over your loaf and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

  9. Remove from oven and serve with veggie, potatoes and enjoy!

  1. Mix your barbecue sauce and ketchup together in a small bowl.

The Game Day Wings You Will Be Eating All Season

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in All

Ahh My favorite time of year is fast approaching.  Fall warms my heart for many reasons. First, there is pumpkin spiced everything. Pumpkin spiced lattes (yes I am one of those and I am proud of it) last year we literally bought out all 23 pumpkin spiced coffee creamers at our local neighborhood market and we used every bit of it. Alright, that enough about pumpkin….. kidding! you can never have too much pumpkin. I love pumpkin pies, pumpkin cream cheese rolls, roasted pumpkin seeds.

Alright, that is enough about pumpkin….. kidding! you can never have too much pumpkin. I love pumpkin pies, pumpkin cream cheese rolls, roasted pumpkin seeds. Ahh I love it all.

Okay. Pumpkin rant over.

Fall brings the holidays around, people are in a more giving spirit, my house fills with apple spiced potpourri and best of all, its FOOTBALL season.

Football season takes me back to my childhood. We always had a big Sunday dinner full of all the southern classics or it was BBQ.

Ribs, Burgers, potato salad, mac and cheese, baked beans and of course wings.

This wing recipe will forever a football Sunday staple. You will catch me enjoying these sticky honey chipotle garlic wing all year. Especially, when the Dallas Cowboys take the super bowl. Everyone knows this is our year!

Smoked Honey Garlic Chipotle Wings
Prep Time
4 hr
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
5 hr

Add these sticky smoked honey garlic chipotle wing to your game day table.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: Ariana Lawrence
  • 4 lbs chicken wings
  • 2 cups BBQ sauce I use sweet baby rays BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 whole chipotle peppers
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp chitpotle powder
Brine your wings
  1. In a large bowl, fill it half way with water. add kosher salt. stir water and then add wings. Add more water if necessary so that the wings are fully submerged in water. This will draw the blood from the wing and allow for a juicy tender wing.

  2. Cover and refrigerate wings for 4 hours.

Prepare your grill
  1. Proceed to light grill as you normally would. Charcoal burns for about 30 minutes before proceeding to the next step. 

    I prefer to add a bit of mesquite wood to my smoker.

BBQ Sauce
  1. In a blender, add bbq sauce, honey, garlic, chipotle peppers, chipotle powder, and blend. 

  2. Add bbq sauce into a small pot and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

  3. Remove from heat and set aside.

Smoking the wings
  1. Remove wings from the refrigerator.  Remove wings from brine and discard the brine.

  2. Once your grill is smoking at about 200 degrees, add wings to grill about 1 inch apart. Be sure your flame is low so that you do not burn your wings. 

  3. Close your grill and allow to smoke for 30 minutes. 

  4. Open your grill and brush barbeque sauce on all sides of each wing.  close grill and smoke for another 15 minutes. Repeat this step for the remainder 15 minutes. 

  5. Remove wings from heat. 

  6. Serve wings with your favorite dipping sauce, eat, and watch the game! 

Get Ready to Lick Your Fingers, It’s that good!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in All, BBQ, Vegetarian

So as I get deeper into following a mostly plant-based diet,  I am challenged on a daily basis to come up with fun flavorful veggie meals.

This recipe was inspired by a beer can cabbage recipe that I saw on Epicurious that you can see here.

I am not huge on beer with my veggies but it definitely got my creative juices flowing.

It’s hot, it’s finally July, and BBQ is always on my mind.

As a Texas native, bbq is running through my blood. I was also very fortunate in that I grew up as a military brat and was given the opportunity to taste BBQ from many different places. Texas, Japan, and North Carolina have held a special place in my Brisket, Shredded pork-loving heart.

BBQ is a labor of love that should not be taken lightly.

Public Service Announcement: Using a gas grill to make cute little grill marks and coating your food in a sauce is not BBQ! That is called grilling and should not be used interchangeably…California.

It’s disrespectful.

Anyways, Rant Over.

My brother who is 19 and staying with us before he goes off to music school is constantly cracking jokes about my obsessive use of quinoa.

Let him tell it and he swears my very existence is made up of quinoa, water, and Kale. That is the California in me.

I love quinoa. I will put quinoa in soups, salads, pasta, burgers, tacos you name it. If I could BBQ quinoa, I would. Perhaps I’ll get creative one day.

I’m Kidding, Maybe. 

Though I did manage to sneak quinoa in this recipe with the bun. 


The access to the high quality of produce I have in Northern California is one I will never take for granted.

I live for the summer farmers markets that pop up everywhere as soon as June rolls around. You can find a farmers market or produce stand in practically any direction.

A local favorite is Larry’s Produce in Fairfield, CA. Every year I join the chaotic crowds to see what culinary treasures I can find

Picking apricots at Larry’s Produce at the break of the season.


This year peaches and apricots have been on my radar. I have so many plans for them.

When I was writing this recipe. I had several peaches were starting to mush. The peaches were not fruit salad quality but they were perfect for a sauce. This peach BBQ sauce has no limits.  

The BBQ sauce is tangy, spicy, sweet, and everything nice. 

The smokiness and char from the cabbage gives the sauce that added depth of rich flavor that just makes your mouth water and crave more. 

I ate this for two days straight and when I ran out of buns… I put the cabbage on my… yup you guessed it QUINOA!.

I can not tell you how good it was. Even the two carnivores in my house devoured 2 in one sitting. 

Did I mention how cheap cabbage is compared to a pork roast?

No need to say more! 

Dig in and let me know how it goes!




The Best Peach BBQ Chopped Veggie Sandwich
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 10 mins
The most delicious chopped veggie BBQ Sandwich that your taste buds will thank you for. Get ready to lick your fingers because its that good!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Ariana Lawrence
  • 1 red cabbage
  • 2 1/2 cups BBQ sauce I recommend a spicy BBQ sauce if you are not afraid of a little heat
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 peaches diced
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp honey Sub: maple syrup or date syrup for a vegan option
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • Burger Buns
  • Charcoal Grill
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  1. Take the necessary steps to get your charcoal grill going. (I recommend maintaining the heat around 225 degrees)
  2. Remove the core from your cabbage.
  3. Place the cabbage on the grill with the core side down. Using 1/2 cup of the BBQ sauce, coat your cabbage and close the grill.
  4. Cook cabbage for 30 minutes. Remove cabbage from grill. split the cabbage in half and place back on the grill on the uncharred sides.
  5. Begin making your sauce using a large non-stick pot on medium heat.
  6. Drizzle a little olive oil and add onion, peaches, and jalapenos. Cook 3-4 minutes or until onions become translucent.
  7. Begin adding the BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, honey, paprika, black pepper, and salt to the pot.
  8. Cover pot, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  9. Remove cabbage from the grill.
  10. Chop cabbage into thin strips and add cabbage to the sauce. simmer for about 10 minutes.
  11. Serve cabbage on buns with your favorite toppings and dig in!