Cheeseburger Pizza


Upton’s Naturals recently had Kelly Peloza Photo (i.e., me) create some recipes and photos using their seitan, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites on Seitan Beats Your Meat (see, it’s meant to be!). Upton’s is an important vegan fixture in Chicago: they’ve been making seitan and prepared foods for several years, opened a restaurant in 2013, and have a line of jackfruit coming out very soon. I worked at the Breakroom when I first moved to Chicago, and have been lucky to collaborate with them many times since then. It’s also pretty cool when those collaborations involve cheeseburger pizza.

Love it or hate it (I’m firmly planted in the “love it” camp), cheeseburger pizza uses ketchup and mustard in place of traditional pizza sauce, and is topped with all of the components of a cheeseburger: ground seitan, tomato, onion, pickles, lettuce, and cheddar cheese. For the pizza dough, I’m a fan of the Vegan with a Vengeance recipe, but feel free to use your favorite, or grab pre-made dough from the grocery store. Feedback on this recipe was “you should make this again soon.” So I did.

You can also find this recipe, and many others, on Upton’s website.

Vegan Cheeseburger Pizza

Makes 1 pizza


1 batch prepared pizza dough
2/3-3/4 cup ketchup
Yellow mustard
8 ounces shredded vegan cheddar cheese
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
8 ounces (1 package) Upton’s Naturals Ground Seitan
1 medium tomato, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/3 cup pickle slices
Shredded romaine lettuce


Preheat oven to 475°F. Roll out the pizza dough and place on a pizza stone or on a baking sheet. Evenly spread the ketchup over the dough, like sauce. Drizzle yellow mustard over the dough, as desired. Sprinkle a very thin layer of cheese on the dough. Reserve the remaining cheese.

Scatter the onion and pepper slices on the dough. Crumble the ground seitan evenly over the veggies. Place a layer of tomato slices over the seitan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the pizza. Grind some black pepper over the cheese. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden. Let cool off for 5 minutes before proceeding.

Scatter diced onion, pickle slices, and lettuce on top of the pizza. Add more ketchup and mustard, if desired. Let cool before slicing.

Summer Cocktail Roundup


Hey there!

Things have been a little crazy over here. Last month, I attended the third and final Vida Vegan Con Bloggers Conference in Austin, TX and have been playing catchup the past few weeks (I documented the VVC happenings mostly on Instagram). It was an amazing time and I learned so much to apply to my food blog, and day-to-day life as an entrepreneur. Speaking of, the main thing keeping me busy these days is keeping my photography business, Kelly Peloza Photo, up and running. I also have some fun things in the works on that front, so stay tuned!

Instead of radio silence, I thought I’d dig up some summer cocktail recipes from the official Seitan Beat Your Meat Cocktail Recipe Archives (the fancy way of saying I clicked on the “Drinks” category in the drop-down recipe menu) in preparation for the first day of summer (and also Father’s Day), which is this Sunday, June 21st! It’s been pretty dreary, muggy, and rainy in Chicago for the past week, so I certainly don’t mind looking at photos of brightly-colored drinks today either.

It just so happens that these are all vodka recipes and most of them are inspired by TV shows (that’s just how it goes with me), but a couple of them are gin or include gin variations. And as always, mixing up your own variation or turning these recipes into mocktails is encouraged.

Ginger Lime Hibiscus Cocktail

girly-drinkThis vodka-based pink drink is made with Hibiscus Rose Infused Vodka, ginger ale, lime simple syrup, lime juice, and a touch of Grand Marnier. I originally made it to accompany  (have you been following the ridiculousness of the new season? I can’t look away).

Find the recipe here.

Cucumber Mojito

cucumber-mojitoThis Cucumber Mojito recipe is also made with an infused vodka. It’s full of fresh mint leaves and cucumber slices, lime, cucumber-infused vodka, and topped off with club soda. It’s an excellent, not-too-sweet, summer afternoon drink.

Get your Cucumber Mojito on here.

Tom Collins

The rest of the cocktails on this list are also inspired by a TV show. These are pulled from my 2013 Mad Men Vegan MoFo project. This drink is your standard Tom Collins with a Sally Draper twist.

Read all about it, and get the recipe here.

Rocket Fuel


“You need three ingredients for a cocktail. Vodka and Mountain Dew is an emergency.” According to Peggy Olson’s quote, Rocket Fuel is not actually a cocktail, but I included it on this list anyway.

This not-cocktail is really just vodka and Mountain Dew, but if you want some proper instructions, check it out here.

Vodka Gimlet


The final cocktail here is Betty Draper’s Vodka Gimlet. It’s full of lime, vodka, and metaphorical disappointment (the actual drink is delicious).

Betty is firmly in the vodka camp, but gin is also a possibility with this gimlet recipe.


Summer Grilling: Antipasto Kabobs, Pizza, and Olive Oil Cake with Meringue Topping


Sponsored Post – Italian Summer Grilling

I recently started collaborating with online culinary magazine Honest Cooking on projects that are a good fit with what I do and make me happy. One of their new sites, Alimentari, just launched a campaign with Colavita Olive Oil and was looking for bloggers and photographers to make a summer grilling meal. I was all over that because 1) I love cooking Italian food, 2) I love cooking vegan meals in a traditionally non-vegan cuisine, and 3) I don’t own a grill or have a backyard, so I could bring this project somewhere else and turn it into an afternoon of cooking and gathering.

The aforementioned cooking and gathering fell on Mother’s Day, so I sent the ingredients to my family and we spent the day working in the kitchen, and eventually eating everything. I even got to show off my new party trick, making aquafaba meringue.


The first dish I made was antipasto kabobs with chick seitan, two kinds of tomatoes, tofu “cheese”, zucchini, summer squash, and red peppers, marinated and grilled. These were an excellent main dish over rice, and can be made with any veggies you want.

Grilled Antipasto Seitan Kabobs

Makes 8 kabobs


1/2 cup Colavita Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Colavita White Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon basil
Freshly ground black pepper

Seitan and veggies:
8 ounces seitan*
1 small zucchini
1 small summer squash
1/2 package tofu, pressed
1/2 red bell pepper
8 Colavita Sun-dried Tomatoes (in oil)
8 cherry tomatoes


Cooked Scotti Black Rice or other grain, for serving

*I used Upton’s Chick Seitan, but the texture of their Traditional Seitan would be more sturdy for kabobs.


Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a shallow, rectangular dish. There are going to be 7 pieces on each of the 8 skewers, so break the seitan into 8 pieces, chop the zucchini and summer squash into 8 pieces, slice the tofu into 8 cubes, and cut the red pepper into 8 pieces. The cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes can be used whole. Assemble your kabobs by spearing one of each item on each skewer.

Place the kabobs in the marinade dish and let marinate for at least 2 hours. I reused the leftover marinade with the rest of the tofu and throw in the salad below, so don’t dump your marinade just yet.

Fire up and oil up your grill on medium-high heat, and grill each side for a few minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked and have grill marks. Cook time will vary, depending on your grill. Serve over rice.


I’m all about reusing ingredients and sauces in other dishes to create a comprehensive meal, so this salad includes tofu marinated in the kabob marinade. The tofu and a garlic sun-dried tomato raspberry vinaigrette make an otherwise simple salad into a salad you actually want to eat.


Makes 4 servings


1/2 block tofu, pressed and cubed
5 ounces mixed greens
1 can chickpeas (save the liquid to make the cake recipe below!)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup cucumber slices

1/2 cup Colavita Raspberry Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Colavita Roasted Garlic Olive Oil
1/4 cup Colavita Sun-dried Tomatoes (in oil), chopped
Freshly ground black pepper


Marinate the tofu in the leftover kabob marinade, or in your marinade of choice. Grill or pan fry the tofu until it’s crispy on all sides. Toss the tofu with the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the whole salad, tossing to coat, or set on the side and let people add dressing as they want.


Since I don’t normally grill, this was my first time making grilled pizza, and the process was very trial and error (I’m glad I made two!). I kept this pizza simple, but you can add whatever toppings you’d like. The Kitchn has a good post on how to grill pizza, so check that out if this is your first time grilling pizza.

Grilled Pizza

Makes 2 small pizzas


1 batch prepared pizza dough (I used the Vegan with a Vengeance recipe)
3/4 cup marinara
1 pint small heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced into rings
1-2 cups vegan mozzarella cheese, as desired
Fresh herbs, as desired

Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Preheat grill to 550-600°F. Divide your pizza dough into two pieces (one large pizza will be difficult to work with at the grill) and roll out into circles. Oil the pizza dough and the grill very well. Grill each of the rolled out doughs on one side for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a baking sheet, uncooked side down.

Spread the marinara out on each crust (the grilled side) and arrange the toppings as you like. Transfer to the grill, and cook until the bottom is grilled and the veggies and cheese are cooked. If the cheese doesn’t melt all the way (as vegan cheese sometimes behaves) and you’re worried about burning the crust, pop the pizza under your oven’s broiler for a few minutes.


Because I can’t just stop at making dinner, dessert was necessary. This cake is filled with balsamic-glazed strawberries, uses olive oil in place of vegan margarine or vegetable oil, and is topped with Italian meringue dollops and a sprig of fresh basil. You don’t get more Italian than that. I’ve been using every opportunity I have to make aquafaba meringue (and I’m sick of buttercream), and it was perfect on this cake. I didn’t cook the meringue, but you could use a pastry torch to brown the dollops for a golden, crispy exterior.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Balsamic Filling and Meringue Topping

Makes a 2-layer 9-inch round cake


2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/3 cups non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Colavita Balsamic Glace
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Meringue topping:
1/2 cup aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the cake: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and cayenne and mix until combined.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the olive oil, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Mix all ingredients well.

Pour batter into two prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool before proceeding.

For the filling: Combine the sliced strawberries, sugar, Balsamic Glace, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar and cornstarch dissolves, and thickens into a syrup, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Taste and add more Balsamic Glace if you want a stronger flavor.

For the meringue topping: Pour the liquid from the can of chickpeas into the bowl of a stand mixer (or use electric hand mixers…but you don’t want to do this by hand!). Add the cream of tartar. Whip the bean juice with the whisk attachment until it starts to thicken. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping. This process should take 6-8 minutes, but it can take up to 15 or 20 minutes. Here is a video I made detailing the process.

To assemble: Pour the strawberry filling over one cake layer and place the other layer on top. Top with dollops of meringue, then garnish with fresh basil and strawberries, if desired.


And finally, a little behind-the-scenes imagery from the photoshoot!

Disclosure: Colavita and Honest Cooking provided ingredients and compensation for this post, but they definitely didn’t have to twist my arm. I like food. The prompt was very open-ended, so opinions, words, stylistic choices, and recipes are my own.

Party Like a Mad Man

The season premiere (well, technically the premiere of the second half) of the final season of Mad Men is tomorrow night. Perfect timing for a Mad Men-themed post.


The New York City “skyline”

Judy Gelman of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook invited me, along with several other food and lifestyle bloggers, to participate in a Virtual Mad Men Finale Party to celebrate the final season. The guidelines were very open-ended: feature food or drink from Mad Men anytime during the week before April 5th. Two years ago, I worked on a month-long Mad Men-themed project for Vegan MoFo, so I was excited to bring back Mad Men to Seitan Beats Your Meat. A month is not nearly enough time to explore the intricate themes of the show through food and photography, and one post is certainly not enough, so I’d presented myself with a challenge.


While brainstorming ideas for my post and thinking about the most recent seasons of Mad Men, two words came to mind: “drowning” and “illusion.” They perfectly describe Don Draper’s journey throughout the series, the changes each character experiences during the decade, and the business of advertising in relation to the show. I approached my photos with those ideas in mind and decided that my mission for my photos was to visually represent “drowning” and “illusion.” A simple prompt, but difficult to describe in just a few images, while referencing the show, and the time period Mad Men most recently left us in, the end of the 1960s.

I thought about the Hershey pitch at the end of season 6, when Don has finally reached a breaking point that seems very different than all of his other breakdowns throughout the series. Don is out of control, his marriage is falling apart, and he’s jeopardizing his relationship with Sally. Actually, their stories parallel in a strange way: as Don carefully builds a life on a foundation of lies and drinks away any genuine moment, Sally is quickly losing every illusion she believed in as she grows up and understands the world she lives in. At its core, Mad Men is an study of human nature, relationships, and creating a semblance of meaning.


Don’s drink of choice and one of his many vices, an Old Fashioned, seemed the most appropriate cocktail to feature. I posted this Old Fashioned recipe during Vegan MoFo 2013, but the classics don’t change.

Old Fashioned

Adapted from the AMC Cocktail Guide


2 dashes aromatic bitters
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
½ tsp sugar
1 teaspoon water
1½ oz of rye
Crushed ice

1 cherry
1 orange slice


  1. Combine the bitters, orange slice, cherry, sugar, and water in a lowball glass. Muddle to release the juices and oils of the fruit.
  2. Add the rye and ice. Stir.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.


And with that, #PartyLikeAMadMan. Will you be watching tomorrow night?

Disclaimer: Smart Pop Books provided me with a copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook for research and inspiration (thank you!), but I was not compensated for this post. This was a personal project, and art direction, images, and words are my own.

Mini S’mores Pie


On this episode of Vegan Meringue Adventures: Mini S’mores Pies! After making Lemon Meringue Pie and Vegan Lucky Charms, S’mores Pie was next on my list. These mini pies have a soft graham cracker crust, a chocolate filling somewhere between pudding and ganache, and toasted marshmallow fluff.

The recipe is really a group effort and a combination of tried-and-true recipes. I used the Marshmallow Fluff from Seitan is My Motor and the graham cracker dough from my first book, The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. Using the graham cracker dough rather than crumbs makes this crust crisp and crunchy on the edges, and soft and chewy throughout.


Mini S’mores Pies

Makes 12 mini pies, using a cupcake pan


Crust (adapted from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur):
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine
3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1/4 cup non-dairy milk, 1 tablespoon reserved
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling (adapted from a King Arthur recipe):
2 tablespoons margarine
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk

Vegan Marshmallow Fluff from Seitan is My Motor*

*Note: I made half of the Marshmallow Fluff recipe and it was the perfect amount for these pies. You can make the full recipe, of course, and have leftovers!


For the crust:
In a large food processor, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt. No need to sift. Pulse until combined. Add the margarine and continue pulsing the food processor until the mixture looks like small pebbles.
Add the agave or maple syrup, molasses, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract. Process on medium until the mixture collects into a ball of dough. Add the remaining tablespoon of non-dairy milk, if necessary.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Take golf ball-sized pieces of dough and roll into 3 to 4-inch circles. Press into the cupcake liners, crimping the edges if desired. Repeat with all of the dough. Bake the crust 10-11 minutes. Let cool.

Use leftover dough to make graham crackers to garnish the pies, using a knife or cookie cutters. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes until crisp.

For the filling:
Put the margarine, chocolate, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and mix thoroughly. Place over medium heat and whisk frequently until it thickens like pudding, 6-8 minutes. Pour this mixture over the margarine, chocolate, and vanilla and stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the filling in the pie crusts. Let cool.

Pipe marshmallow fluff atop each pie. Using a culinary torch or your oven’s broiler (for a few minutes, keeping an eye on the pies), toast the marshmallow topping. Or do what I did and risk burning your fingers by holding the pies over a flame on your stovetop. I haven’t used the broiler in this apartment yet and it looked kind of dusty. I didn’t want to start a fire, okay?

Garnish with chocolate, graham crackers, marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, or anything you’d like.


P.S. This is what happens when you do a food shoot near a cat who is apparently very interested in pie. She hid behind curtains and furniture and jumped out to try and swipe a pie when I wasn’t looking. FYI, she didn’t eat the chocolate or anything else harmful.

Vegan Lucky Charms

Reporting back with another vegan meringue development: you can make vegan Lucky Charms out of a can of freakin’ chickpeas and it’s blowing my mind.

When I made Lemon Meringue Pie and a test batch of meringue cookies over the weekend, my first thought was, “oh shit, this tastes like Lucky Charms marshmallows!” I waited about a day before trying it out. Set aside an afternoon for this recipe because we are making hundreds of little hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, pots of gold, rainbows, and red balloons by hand.lucky-charms

Vegan Lucky Charms


Box of sugary Cheerio-type cereal

1/3 cup (half of 15 ounce can) chickpea liquid
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon agar powder
3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Food coloring: red, blue, yellow


Combine the chickpea liquid and cream of tartar in a stand mixer equipped with a balloon whisk attachment and whip until it starts to thicken (here’s a video for reference).
Mix together the sugar and agar powder. Gradually add the sugar/agar mixture and the vanilla, and continue whipping until thick, about 8 minutes.

Line 3-4 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Grab 3 small bowls and spoons and divide up the meringue mixture into the bowls. Using food coloring, make red, blue, and yellow meringue.

Grab 2 more small bowls. Using some of the red and blue meringue, mix some purple meringue. Using blue and yellow, make some green.

You should have red, yellow, blue, purple, and green meringue to make the following marshmallows:
1. Hearts (red)
2. Red balloons (red)
3. Red rainbow stripe (red)
4. Stars (yellow)
5. Pots of gold (yellow)
6. Yellow rainbow stripe (yellow)
7. Blue moons (blue)
8. Blue rainbow stripe (blue)
Mix purple and green out of your colors
9. Horseshoes (purple)
10. Clovers (green)

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Fill 5 small piping bags or ziptop bags (cut off the tip) with each color of meringue. Using Lucky Charms for reference, pipe your tiny marshmallows onto the prepared cookie sheet. How many marshmallows does this make? A lot. Depending on the size of your marshmallows and the spacing between them, you might fill up 2-4 full cookie sheets.

Bake/dehydrate the marshmallows for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the marshmallows in the oven until they return to room temperature.


Mix with cereal, and eat with your non-dairy milk of choice! I ended up grabbing some whole oat-y cereal, so the feedback I got was, “this tastes like childhood, but with fiber!”



These marshmallows are lighter and more airy than original Lucky Charms marshmallows, but they hold up just fine in a bowl of cereal and milk. Feel free to play around with the recipe and report back if you can make the marshmallows any denser. One method I heard was reducing the chickpea liquid by boiling out the water. Perhaps a mixture of that technique plus more agar powder or a different kind of gum would alter the results.

I accidentally made my rainbow colors in the wrong order because Lucky Charms doesn’t understand how rainbows work and uses blue on the outer stripe.


If you want to go into even more detail, you can mix orange and a darker green to add detail to the pots of gold and make clover hats. But let’s get real: we’re making these marshmallows by hand without the help of a cereal factory, so it’s okay if your clovers are all one color.


I would tell you that they’re magically delicious, but I don’t want a cease and desist letter from General Mills.


The aftermath:


Go make some Lucky Charms!

I did not invent the chickpea meringue, or Lucky Charms (duh). Thank you to Goose Wohlt and Révolution végétale for the inspiration!

Pi Day: Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie


It’s Pi Day, and vegan meringue broke the internet. Therefore, I bring you pie and meringue.

I heard about the infamous chickpea-based meringue over the past few weeks on Facebook and blogs (like révolution végétale) and filed away the idea for future experiments. Pi Day seemed like the perfect time to try making vegan Lemon Meringue Pie.

Egg white based meringue wasn’t something I ate regularly before quitting animal products. Actually, I couldn’t even tell you if I ate meringue in my pre-vegan days. Therefore my experience with meringue: a) never happened, or b) was totally forgettable. But you know, I like trying out techniques that were deemed impossible just a few years ago. Using leftover chickpea juice is resourceful, and incredibly creative. And everyone is doing it!

The pie crust is adapted from Cheers to Vegan Sweets. I think pie crust can be a little bland, but the coconut oil in this recipe makes it flaky and adds a sweet flavor. I didn’t have vodka, so I replaced it with tequila. This pie is pretty non-traditional already, right? The lemon filling is adapted from a couple of recipes floating around the internet: Mister Nice Guy and Bite-Sized Thoughts. This pie had so many variables, so this is no time to mess around with recipe writing when these recipes are solid.

I doubled the meringue recipe because I wanted to try making meringue cookies as well, but that was absolutely not necessary. A tiny amount of liquid whips up into giant fluffy pillows. The recipe below makes half of what I made, and will still give you enough meringue for the pie and a tray or two of cookies.


Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes 1 pie


2 cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons sugar
⅓ cup cold water plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons vodka

Lemon Filling:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon agar powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk
1 cup water
3/4 cup lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest (1-2 lemons)

1 15 ounce can chickpeas
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground sugar*
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
*Grind granulated sugar in a food processor so it’s somewhere between granulated and powdered sugar.


For the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and cut in oil until dough resembles pebbles. Add water/vinegar and vodka and mix until completely incorporated. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and transfer to a greased pie tin. Crimp the edges (this is a good resource for pie crust). Poke holes in the bottom of the pan with a fork. Bake for 25 minutes or until just starting to turn golden. The pie will be baked again after the meringue step. Let cool.

For the lemon filling: Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk constantly for 5 minutes until the filling is the consistency of pudding. Pour into the baked pie crust.

For the meringue: Pour the liquid from the can of chickpeas into the bowl of a stand mixer (or use electric hand mixers…but you don’t want to do this by hand!). Add the cream of tartar. Whip the bean juice with the whisk attachment until it starts to thicken. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping. This process took me 7-8 minutes, but I’ve read that it can take up to 15 or 20 minutes.

You’ll want to keep it going on high speed until the mixture is the consistency of thick whipped cream. If it’s gloopy, your meringue will deflate. A spoonful of meringue at the proper consistency will not drip if you hold it upside down.

I took a start-to-finish video of the meringue-making process: it goes from liquid to foam to clouds!

To assemble: Preheat oven to 200°F. Pipe dollops of meringue on top of the pie. Bake for 2 1/2-3 hours or until the meringue is toasted. The baking time will depend on the amount of meringue on your pie, and how it’s piped on. Thick layers will take longer to bake. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, letting the meringue set.

To make meringue cookies out of leftover meringue, dollop meringue onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 200°F for 2 hours. Turn off the oven and let dry with the oven door cracked for a couple of hours.

I have a few more experiments up my sleeve, and I can’t wait to see what others come up with.

Happy Pi Day!

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Friday! Today I give you a basic chocolate cake with a small twist. I often get a little overzealous when making desserts with unusual flavor combinations, so I had to reel it in a few times with this cake. In the end, the cake and frosting are both pretty basic: a chocolate olive oil cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting, and a little cayenne in the batter for kick. I wanted to also throw in curry! Or rose water! But I think the theme of simplicity with a sprinkle of spice is working in its favor. You best believe I garnished each slice with a grind of smoked sea salt though.

I made a mini cake (6 inches), but the recipe will make a full-sized double-layer cake.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 2 9-inch round cakes


2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
3/4 cup olive oil
2 1/3 cups non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons strawberry jam

1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup vegan margarine
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons strawberry extract*

1/3 cup strawberry jam


Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the cake: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and cayenne and mix until combined.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the olive oil, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, and strawberry jam. Mix all ingredients well.

Pour batter into two prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool before proceeding.

For the frosting: Whip vegan cream cheese, margarine, and shortening with a stand mixer or hand mixer until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing after each addition. Add the strawberry extract and whip for 5-6 more minutes.

To assemble: Spread strawberry jam between the two layer cakes. Spread and pipe on frosting as desired.

*Strawberry extract can be hard to find, and sometimes tastes very artificial. Feel free to replace with strawberry syrup, strawberry jam, or another fruit extract you like.


Salted Key Lime Pie


Today is National Pie Day (not to be confused with Pi Day). I don’t need an excuse to eat pie, so it seemed like a great day to celebrate. This recipe is adapted from the Agua de Jamaica Key Lime Pie recipe in Cheers to Vegan Sweets. The addition of coconut cream adds a subtle creamy flavor to the tangy key lime base, and the sea salt makes it taste like a slice of margarita. The recipe makes a mini pie, so double the ingredients for a standard-sized pie.

Salted Key Lime Pie

Makes 1 6-inch pie


For the crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the filling:
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup lime juice (about 10 key limes)
1/2 tablespoon lime zest
3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegan cream cheese
1 tablespoon coconut cream (or more cream cheese)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Whipped cream, coarse salt, and lime slices for garnish


Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. If the crumbs are dry or won’t hold together when pressed, add a splash of milk to the bowl.
Grease a 6-inch pie or tart pan with margarine or cooking spray, then press the graham cracker mixture evenly over the bottom and up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until firm. Set aside to cool.

Combine all filling ingredients except the cream cheese and coconut cream in a medium saucepan and whisk to dissolve cornstarch. Turn the heat up to medium and stir frequently until very thick, 8 to 9 minutes.
Turn off heat, then stir in the cream cheese and coconut cream until smooth.
Let sit for a minute, then pour into prepared graham cracker crust. Cool completely on cooling rack, then cover and transfer to the refrigerator until firm.

Garnish the pie with lime slices and whipped cream, and sprinkle with coarse salt.


Peppermint White Russian

The weather outside is frightful and the best cure is staying inside with blankets, Netflix, and a warm drink. The season is almost magical until the windchill is -15°F or you have to trudge through ice and snow (thankfully Chicago is snow-free so far!) to get to the grocery store. I’m not a fan of winter or cold weather, but I will not complain about a drink topped with whipped cream and mini marshmallows.

This Peppermint White Russian takes the cake with a black cocoa and vanilla sugar rim, and mountains of whipped cream and marshmallows. Serve it hot or cold, or make a White Russian-hot cocoa hybrid!

This drink contains quite a few components and ingredients you probably don’t happen to have in your kitchen. That’s okay, because the recipe is more of a guideline. The black cocoa and vanilla sugar rim is delicious as is, but you could omit it or make substitutions where you see fit (agave nectar and a splash of vanilla extract could replace the vanilla bean paste!). I’d hate to make you go out in the cold. Or make hot cocoa instead of a White Russian if you don’t drink alcohol. ‘Tis the season!

Peppermint White Russian

Makes 1 serving

For the rim:
Vanilla bean paste
Peppermint schnapps or peppermint extract
Black Cocoa and Vanilla Sugar (recipe below)

1 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce peppermint schnapps*
1 ounce Kahlua
Non-dairy creamer, milk, or a mix of both**

Vegan whipped cream (I used So Delicious Coco Whip!)
Vegan mini marshmallows (I used Chicago Vegan Foods’ Dandies!)

*Can be replaced with more vodka and a splash of peppermint extract. Or just vodka if you’re not feeling the peppermint flavor.
**The milk can be heated if you want a warm drink. Better yet, replace the milk with HOT COCOA.


  1. Thin out a pea-sized amount of vanilla bean paste with peppermint schnapps or peppermint extract. Coat the rim of the glass or mug with the mixture.
  2. Dip the coated rim in the bowl of black cocoa and vanilla sugar.
  3. Make the drink. Pour all three liquors in the glass.
  4. Fill the rest of the glass with the non-dairy creamer or milk. Use less milk for a stronger drink.

Black Cocoa and Vanilla Sugar

1/2 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon black cocoa powder

  1. Mix together the sugar and vanilla bean paste in a small bowl until the sugar is completely coated and the vanilla bean paste dispersed.
  2. Add the black cocoa powder to coat the sugar completely. Adjust the amounts of vanilla bean paste and cocoa if the mixture is too sticky or dry. Set aside.