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 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.

“What an interesting experiment.”

Welcome back to Betty’s dinner party. You better be enjoying yourself! For the main course, we’re having rosemary seitan “leg of lamb” with mint jelly, and German egg noodles (Spätzle) like Grandma Hofstadt used to make. There is French Burgundy wine and Heineken to drink. And the napkins match the dress Betty will wear for 36+ hours!


Around the World Menu

Mixed Drinks

Gazpacho (Spain)
Rumaki (Japan)

Leg of Lamb with Mint Jelly (Dutchess County)
Spätzle (Germany)

Burgundy (France)
Heineken (Holland)


Leg of Lamb with Mint Jelly

Serves 5-6


2 cups gluten flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
⅓ cup olive oil
¾ cup red wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, grated

Mint jelly


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F, about 10 times warmer than your disposition.
  2. Combine gluten flour, cornmeal, dried rosemary, salt, and black pepper in a mixing bowl or stand mixer equipped with a dough hook. Fantasize about taking that dough hook to Don’s jugular.
  3. Combine olive oil, red wine, soy sauce, lemon juice, and garlic in a separate bowl. Take a break and finish that bottle of wine.
  4. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. Knead until it’s as flexible as Don’s morals.
  5. Coat the dough with olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake at least 1 hour, or until firm. Unwrap for the last 15 minutes of baking.
  6. Brush with mint jelly and bake for 10-12 more minutes.
  7. Slice and serve with more mint jelly.
Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

While Mad Men doesn’t specify what kind of egg noodles Betty serves, Spätzle fits the bill as a German noodle dish. You could probably use the Vegg or a different egg replacer in the dough, but soy flour was what I had on hand. I served the noodles with caramelized onions, pan-frying the noodles with the onions for a few minutes before plating.


Serves 5


4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup soy flour
3 tablespoons oil
1 1/2-2 cups water, as needed


  1. Pour flour in a mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Ruminate on your invisibility and powerlessness, much like the salt.
  2. Combine soy flour and oil in a separate bowl and stir until combined. The mixture will be as thick and sludgy as your personality.
  3. Add soy flour and oil mixture, as well as 1 1/2 cups water, to the flour. Mix until a bread-like dough forms, adding more water if necessary.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Take small pieces of dough and roll into noodles, kind of the size and shape of wax beans.
  5. Boil 12-14 noodles at a time and remove when they rise to the top of the water. Transfer cooked noodles to a bowl of cold water.
  6. Repeat until all the dough is used. Store noodles in an (unlike Don’s excuses) airtight container with water until ready to use.


The evening turns sour when Betty unknowingly participates in Don’s market research. Heineken is a Sterling Cooper client and Don insists the target demographic for the beer is a Bryn Mawr alumna turned passive-aggressive housewife with a penchant for exoticism (or something like that). This embarrasses Betty when she walks right into the joke by purchasing the beer. Of course, the problem is not the Heineken incident, but Don’s adulterous adultery. Poor Betty.

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

Death is My Client

*Warning: spoilers!

While Paul Kinsey was not necessarily a major character during his three season stay on Mad Men, it was evident that he marched to the beat of his own drum, especially compared to the other Sterling Cooper employees. For that reason, his transformation in season five was not all that shocking. ‘Death is My Client’ is Paul’s unpublished one-act play that his coworkers find while snooping on election night 1960 (and drunkenly act out with Joan and Sal leading). It seems this pipe-smoking, mohair enthusiast carries himself a bit surreptitiously. He may have the right idea though; candidness about one’s endeavors outside of Sterling Cooper makes for one jealous, whiny Pete Campbell.


Photo credit: AMC

Paul wears many hats throughout the series: Sterling Cooper copywriter, civil rights activist, not-so-secret playwright, Orson Welles lookalike, and most recently, reluctant Hare Krishna. When he meets up with Harry Crane in season five, he explains his transformation and woefully speaks of his unrequited love interest, Lakshmi. Revealing some continuity from his season one writing endeavors, Paul explains that he actually wants to be a screenwriter and he gives his Star Trek speculative script to Harry. Sadly it’s an unfortunate script, but Harry doesn’t have the heart to tell Paul (who is either at rock bottom or finding himself, or both). So like any good friend, married man, and under-appreciated employee of SCDP, he boinks polyamorous Lakshmi in his office over lunch and lies to Paul to spare his feelings. Harry, what’s wrong with you? But wait! Harry gives Paul money to go to Los Angeles and pursue his dreams, so all is karmically balanced.


Photo credit: AMC

In honor of Paul’s short stint as a Hare Krishna, it seemed appropriate to make an Indian meal while he’s off in LA writing Star Trek specs and making ends meet. While not much to look at, curry is delicious. My go to Indian recipes are from Kittee on I made her Aloo Gobi and Chickpea Flour Pancakes with tomatoes and onions. I also had an eggplant, so I made an eggplant tomato curry with tofu paneer (recipe here). I used this recipe for tofu paneer in place of the cheese.


Hopefully Paul makes it and comes back to visit in season seven, perhaps transformed again, channeling Orson Welles beyond his facial hair. What do you think he’s up to? Optimism tends to be futile in Mad Men so this may be the end of Paul Kinsey’s story within the show.

“Our hams are worth fighting for.”

*Warning: this post summarizes a plot line of a ‘Mad Men’ episode and speaks about character development. It does not contain major spoilers, but read on at your own risk.


In Mad Men‘s season four premiere, ‘Public Relations’, Peggy and Pete orchestrate an unconventional and unofficial publicity stunt that involves actresses fighting over a Sugarberry ham in the grocery store. As planned, the stunt is written up in the paper and leads to a spike in Thanksgiving sales for the ham company. Peggy proudly composes a tagline: “Our hams are worth fighting for.”

All goes well until the actresses start fighting in real life, one sues the other for assault, and they both end up in jail. Peggy goes to Don, who is distracted and unaware of the stunt, in need of money for bail. Despite the success of the original stunt, Don is not too happy with the outcome. He visits Peggy at home and insults her in front of her boyfriend, but she’s not going to take it. As Peggy gains confidence, she no longer holds Don on a pedestal, and these factors, along with others make for Peggy’s expeditious character development. One of Don’s most notable existential crises lasts throughout season four and Peggy’s role in his life at this time leads to moments in which they see eye to eye. Their relationship throughout the series, strictly platonic, goes in many directions beyond mentor and protégé, and season four witnesses some of the best of these moments.

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

Since Sugarberry is a fictional company, I decided to create “print” advertisements using Peggy’s tagline. On my search for an appropriate typeface to use for the ads (thinking I ought to use one that at least existed in the ’60s!), I came across this article on Mad Men‘s props and typography. It’s an interesting read and points out that many typefaces used in the show were created for use on computers and were thus a few decades out of place. After sifting through 1960s-inspired psychedelic fonts, I decided to keep it simple and settled on variations of Futura.

The vegan ham recipe is a seitan roast from Taymer Mason’s Caribbean Vegan (the recipe can be found here on her blog). My mid-century modifications include the addition of Coca-Cola (2013 Coca-Cola, 1961 bottle) in the glaze, and the pineapple, cherry, and clove garnish before baking in the glaze. I decided to style the photos with the early ’60s in mind.


Other plot lines in ‘Public Relations’ include Don bombing a newspaper interview, pitching an ad to prudish Jantzen swimwear, and some of the main characters’ changing family units. Season four is definitely a turning point for the series, and it’s a wild ride. What are your favorite moments of the season? Or Don and Peggy’s relationship?

Kitchen Sink Pad Thai


This tofu Pad Thai is full of crunchy, vibrant vegetables, smothered in creamy peanut sauce, and bursting with flavor from sesame oil, lime, ginger, and basil. You can replace any of the vegetables in this recipe with what you have, hence the kitchen sink label. Apart from the cabbage, green onions, and ginger, I used the vegetables I found in the fridge. I believe that baby corn is a highly divisive vegetable (please weigh in with your thoughts on baby corn in the comments!), but I couldn’t resist. As you may have realized by now, everything about this dish is completely inauthentic. Maybe it’s no longer Pad Thai with the addition of peanut sauce, and chopsticks aren’t typically used in Thailand, but it’s still delicious.

I’ve had a lot of problems pan frying tofu in the past, resulting in soft, wiggly tofus with no crispy edges to be found. Isa wrote a great post on perfectly browned tofu over on the PPK blog, so check that out for some in-depth tofu know-how. The CliffNotes: use extra firm tofu, a metal spatula, and a hot, cast iron pan. Wait a few minutes before flipping the tofu so it forms a nice crispy skin. Ew, skin. A nice crispy exterior.

I’ve listed the recipe steps in the most efficient order. You’ll be working on each part of the dish simultaneously, but you won’t be watching the veggies get cold as the noodles cook. The tofu and marinade can be made ahead of time, but I made everything in short time with minimal waiting, so it can be done.


Pad Thai Recipe

Makes 4 servings


1 lb block extra firm tofu
5-6 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4-5 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
Sriracha to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Peanut sauce

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/3-1/2 cup coconut (canned) or other non-dairy milk
Sriracha to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh basil (optional)

Veggies and noodles

1/2 lb rice noodles

1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
4-5 green onions, sliced (save some for garnish)
1/2 small red cabbage, sliced or shredded (save some for garnish)
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can baby corn
Fresh basil
Lime juice


Sliced green onions
Shredded cabbage
Basil leaves
Lime slices
Toasted sesame seeds or peanuts (optional)


  1. Press tofu for at least 30 minutes. Start chopping veggies during this time.
  2. Make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Slice the tofu into cubes or triangles, then pour the marinade over the tofu. Let the marinade soak into the tofu for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the peanut sauce by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. If you haven’t already, finish chopping the veggies while the tofu marinades.
  5. Start boiling a pot of water for the noodles. Remove the tofu from the marinade and reserve the marinade.
  6. Prepare to cook the tofu in a wok, or large cast iron or frying pan. Coat the pan in a thin layer of peanut or vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium high. Add the tofu to the pan, careful not to burn yourself with oil splashes. Pan fry the tofu for 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping with a metal spatula, until crispy and golden. Transfer to a plate.
  7. Add the noodles to the boiling pot of water. Cook according to package directions. Stir fry the veggies while the noodles cook. Drain the cooked noodles, and pour the reserved tofu marinade over them. If the marinade doesn’t coat the noodles, add a few splashes of sesame oil, lime juice, or soy sauce.
  8. Pour a bit more oil in the pan, turn up the heat a little, and start stir frying the vegetables, starting with the onions. Once the onions begin to turn golden, add the celery, broccoli, green onions, cabbage, and garlic. De-glaze the pan with lime juice if  necessary. Stir fry until all the vegetables are soft and almost cooked through. Add the baby corn, then stir fry for one more minute. Turn off the heat and stir in fresh basil.


Place a scoop of noodles on the plate and top with a couple scoops of veggies. Place a few pieces of tofu on top. Drizzle some peanut sauce over the veggies and tofu. Garnish with sliced green onions, shredded cabbage, and basil leaves. Squeeze a bit of lime on top and sprinkle with peanuts or sesame seeds, if using.


I paired this dish with a simple cocktail of homemade cucumber vodka and ginger ale. More on the cucumber vodka next week!