Pizza Burger

Back in the day, when my friends and I would spend inordinate amounts of time hanging out at Olympic Star restaurant discussing life, love, and the pursuit of happiness (or something like that), I ate pizza burgers. Lots of pizza burgers.

Now, at Olympic Star, a pizza burger was nothing more than an overcooked hamburger slathered in their one-size-fits-all marinara (you know, the same meat sauce that went with the spaghetti and the lasagna and anything else that was served with a red meat sauce), with a slice of some sort of white cheese on a cheap burger bun.

I can’t even say it tasted all that good (it really was some un-magnificent meat), but it tasted unique, and it was messy, and it was cheap. To a teenage palate, that works.

I’m a bit more picky these days. I prefer to eat food that tastes good, and I prefer to eat food that didn’t moo before it ended up on my plate. I’m still a big fan of a big, messy burger that tastes kind of like pizza, though.

Enter: another recipe from The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet. If you like burgers, this really is a fun cookbook. I have now made 5 or 6 burgers out of this book (and one of the bun recipes, too), and they’ve all been stellar. This time, I tried out the Pizza Burger recipe.

The premise here is that the burger is flavored to taste like pepperoni pizza. I did not have any anise seed, which might have been a critical pepperoni-flavor-component; I’m not sure. I don’t know what anise seed tastes like. I also knew from previous experience that the recipes in this book tend to pack a punch on the spicy side, so I decided to dial the spicy components way back.

The result was a veggie burger with a mild kick and enough pizza flavor to warrant the name Pizza Burger (though maybe not specifically Pepperoni Pizza Burger).

Here’s how it went:

So Delicious mint chocolate coconut milk

So Delicious mint chocolate coconut milk

Hello there, tasty holiday beverage! (Hey, we all need inspiration sometimes).

Cooking up some pizza veggie burgers

Cooking up some pizza veggie burgers

Welcome back, Favorite Cow Towel!

Pizza burgers, ready to go into the oven

Pizza burgers, ready to go into the oven

I love my little plastic burger press. These burgers are ready to bake!

Pizza burger on whole wheat kaiser roll

Pizza burger on whole wheat kaiser roll

It’s a burger, baby.

The recipe (as I made it):

Pizza (Veggie) Burger

by Shelly

Prep Time: 15

Cook Time: 30

Keywords: bake sandwich burger vegetarian vegan

Adapted from The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet

Ingredients (4 large or 6 small burgers)

  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup TVP
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus scant 1/4 cup (divided)
  • 7 oz (half can) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy sour cream (such as, Tofutti)


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the pepper, paprika, salt, red pepper flakes, sugar, basil, garlic powder, TVP, water, liquid smoke, and 2 tbsp olive oil.

Cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Then, let cool for a few minutes.

Add the tomatoes, flour, remaining olive oil, and sour cream.

Mix together for several minutes until mixture thickens and is well incorporated.

Form into 4-6 burger patties.

Place patties on a baking sheet (lined with parchment, if desired).

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, flipping half way through.

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Fire Roasted Red Pepper Veggie Burger & Pesto

Pesto Veggie Burger

Another winner from the cookbook, The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet.

My love affair with this cookbook has been enhanced by the acquisition of a cute little burger press. The link is to one similar to mine, though mine was just a random grocery-store-aisle impulse buy.

What I love about the burgers from this book is that they’re so flavorful. They remind me of fancy restaurant veggie burgers – the homemade kind, not the patties-from-the-freezer kind. They’ve all got a great mix of ingredients, and so far, I’ve loved every one.

This was a combination of the Sundried Tomato Pesto burger, and the Fire Roasted Red Pepper burger. Both sounded good to me, so I used the latter as my base recipe, and added sundried tomatoes and pesto!

The result:

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Veggie Burger & Pesto

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Veggie Burger & Pesto

These freeze well, so make a double batch and enjoy for quick lunches or dinners!

Rustica Bun

Rustica Buns

So, you’ve got a great veggie burger – but what are you going to eat it on? A Rustica Bun, of course!

My bread machine doesn’t get as much love as it should. To remedy that, I decided to make some buns to go with my Pesto Veggie Burgers. This recipe also comes from the Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet cookbook.

Rustica Bun

Rustica Bun

They were delicious! Crumbly, dense, and flavorful – they made a perfect compliment to the pesto veggie burger. These buns definitely reminded me of a “rustic” recipe; I felt sort of like I was eating at Cracker Barrel.

They were easy to make, too. I just added all of the ingredients to my bread machine and ran it through the dough cycle. Then I removed the dough, split it into portions, and formed rolls. Bake and eat! I may or may not have devoured one of these straight out of the oven.

Veggie Burger and Cheezy Bacon Romanesco

Cheezy Bacon Romanesco

Today, I bring to you another example of just how messed up the US processed food industry is:

BacOs are vegan.

Yeah, BacOs, like, bacon bits – there’s no bacon in them.

(Note: vegan does not equal healthy. They’re made with genetically modified soy and a bunch of chemical crap… but they sure do remind me of my youth, and that tends to lead to some good tasting eats).

I picked up another alien (aka romanesco) cauliflower at the farmers market and was trying to figure out what to do with it. The onset of chilly fall weather has me clamoring for comfort food, so I decided to turn my Christmas Tree Veggie into cheezy bacon cauliflower.

I boiled the romanesco cauliflower for 5 minutes or so, then drained it and combined it with some Daiya cheddar, soymilk, and BacOs.

It was a glorious way to eat my veggies!

Veggie Burger and Cheezy Bacon Romanesco

Veggie Burger and Cheezy Bacon Romanesco

Paired with a poor-man’s veggie burger (I was out of buns!)

So good.

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Skillet Sloppy Jims

It’s 7:21pm. Do you know where your dinner is?

Today, I did not know where my dinner was. I did not know what my dinner was. All I knew was that I was hungry to the max, and I didn’t feel like slaving for a meal.

Enter: the cast iron skillet.

This particular piece of cookware is amazing. It’s naturally nonstick. When things do stick, it’s actually good, because you can deglaze the pan and everything tastes even better! Somehow, everything I’ve ever made in my cast iron has turned out awesome – including tonight’s throw-together mess of deliciousness.

I call it: Tempeh Sloppy Jims.

(Sorry, Joe. There’s no red sauce going on here, so I can’t really call it Sloppy Joes, but this sandwich assembled exactly like a Sloppy Joe, and ate just like one… just tasted different! So I gotta give the nod to Jim).

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Take 1 cast iron skillet.

Add a diced white onion. Sautee in oil (I used peanut oil) over medium heat while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Dice up a red bell pepper. Crumble a stick of tempeh. Throw them into the skillet. Keep on sauteing.

Pour in a little water or veggie stock. (I used a vegan chicken-flavored stock). Deglaze the pan. Keep on sauteing.

Don’t burn the batch of kale chips you’re making on the side like I did.

Throw a couple big handfuls of baby spinach into the skillet. Toss in some fresh basil, for fun. Awww heck, let’s mince a couple garlic cloves in there, too.

Salt and pepper…. stir until the spinach is wilted…. voila.

Tempeh Sloppy Jim mix

Tempeh Sloppy Jim mix

Tempeh Sloppy Jims! Well, I suppose this could be eaten a lot of ways. I was tempted to just eat it with a fork, but it reminded me so much of Sloppy Joes that I had to put it on a bun (with some melted Daiya mozzarella, of course [vegan… best vegan cheese on the planet!]). Served it with a baked potato and a giant bowl of greens, and some un-photogenic burnt kale chips on the side (not pictured).

Speaking of baked potatoes… why do I let myself buy big 5# bags of potatoes? Usually I just buy 1 or 2 potatoes, because I end up letting them sit until they’re growing eyes, but somehow while standing in the grocery store, I sometimes convince myself that the extra $1.50 is so worth it to get so many more potatoes! And then they go bad. This might have been the only potato I’ll out of the entire bag. Grrr! Why!!! I don’t even like to eat regular potatoes that often… I prefer sweet potatoes… I think I meant to make my favorite asparagus potato soup… except that I ate all of my asparagus. Hmm. Dilemma.

Maybe next time it’s 7:21pm and I’m lost without my dinner, I should study my potato options.

Veggie Bacon Cheeseburger and Cherries

The No-Bacon-No-Cheese Burger

I’m Batman Back!

Where have I been? I was off accepting a job half way across the country, then swimming in the chaos that comes along with such a decision! (Anyone wanna buy or rent my house?) I have missed my kitchen, but now that things have settled down a bit, I’m hoping for a few more quiet weeks to spend – just me and my kitchen – before the move and related insanity kicks in.

My return to said kitchen featured a new cookbook that I have been literally dying to dig into: The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet by Joni Marie Newman.

What can I say? I love to eat with my hands. I’m a burger fanatic. I love me a good sandwich.

This cookbook has so many amazing sounding flavor combinations that I can’t wait to try more!

But for now, I’ll settle for one: the Bacon Cheeseburger. The recipe can be found over on the author’s blog,

Now, these are veggie burgers, and more specifically, they’re all vegan – so there’s no actual bacon or cheese to be found. And I didn’t have any fakin’ bacon or tempeh to use, so I had to skip the bacon part. And I was out of barbeque sauce, so I used General Tso’s sauce instead. And I was out of hamburger buns, so I used some whole wheat oat bread.

Even with all of my substitutions, MAN, did this make a tasty burger! Sweet and smokey. It honestly didn’t need any condiments to dress it up. Heck, it was so flavorful it could have stood alone without a bun! But I like a messy burger, so I got to dressing.

Whole wheat oat bread, topped with a smear of roasted garlic hummus, followed by a few pickles, and the star of the show – the (veggie) bacon cheeseburger, and a swirl of ketchup.

I grilled this burger on my Griddler Jr grill at about 1/4 heat for as long as it took me to assemble the supporting cast:

Big Ol' Salad

A Big Ol' Salad

My salads have a tendency to get outta hand. Salads are just the easiest, tastiest way to get a boatload of veggies down the hatch! This salad had a mixed greens base, followed by a shredded carrot, sundried tomato, about 1/4 of a cucumber, half an avocado, and a red wine olive oil vinaigrette.

I have a super crush on avocados. Just in case you haven’t made nicey-nice with avocados yourself, I love them even more since learning this little trick to preparing them. Once halved, slice the avocado while it’s still in its skin. Then scoop all the neat little pieces out with a spoon!

Slicing an avocado

Slicing an avocado

The scooping is the best part. Super fun! Except when you scoop too quickly and drop a giant blob of avo on the floor. But whatever.

Veggie Bacon Cheeseburger and Cherries

Veggie Bacon Cheeseburger and Cherries

Whaddya say? Fits pretty well with the new USDA “My Plate” recommendations, eh? Just ignore that pesky little dairy bit off to the side. It’s optional anyway. Speaking of the new Plate, I agree with most that it’s an improvement over the old pyramid, but still screams a little too loudly of placating various lobbying food industries. Here’s my favorite take on the Plate so far, over at Peas and Thank You. Good links to further reading there too. Marion Nestle’s deconstruction of My Plate is worth a read.

Good stuff!

Simple Lunch

I get really excited when I make a wrap and it actually wraps up nicely. Sometimes I stuff it too full. Sometimes I’m a clutz and just can’t get the thing to roll up without all of the guts falling out. Sometimes I do great, right up to the cut-it-in-half part, and then destroy the whole thing while trying to cut it.

Today, the stars aligned, and I made a pretty wrap!

arugula wrapI really could make a category here called “Adventures in Wrapping,” but it would be nearly empty because most of my wraps are nowhere near photo-worthy.

My first foray into the world of making wraps was based on the discovery that cucumbers make a pretty decent sandwich base. You see, I occasionally have a hankerin’ for a Jimmy John’s sandwich. When I went vegetarian, I had to change my normal sandwich order over to the #6 – the creatively named “Vegetarian” (sans mayo and tomato, please – I still can’t stand the texture of tomatoes). It basically amounts to a cucumber sandwich with a wonderful avocado spread.

I started using cucumbers in my wraps, and was really digging them. Then, I worked out my own version of a vegan avocado ranch spread, inspired by a dressing recipe in the You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan! cookbook.

Ever since, I’ve been using those two as the basis of many delicious veggie wraps.

arugula wrap 2Today’s concoction features, of course, cucumbers and avocado spread, along with a chopped up veggie burger, about 3/4 of a carrot (shredded), a handful of baby spinach, a handful of arugula, and a drizzle of garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil. (That’s my giraffe friend Milly pictured in the background).

I have tried a lot of wraps in my day, and finding ones without offensive ingredient lists can be difficult. Lately, I’ve been using Smart & Delicious Tomato Basil Soft Wraps from La Tortilla Factory. The ingredient list isn’t perfect, but it’s not terribly bad, and they’ve got 12g of fiber per wrap at only 100 calories. They’re nice, big 9″ wraps and are (as the name says) very soft and easy to stuff with goodies (even for a wrap-challenged soul like me).

I swear, wraps taste better when they look pretty.