Vegetarian Ponyshoe | @naturallyella

During my senior year of high school, I bailed out early. I think at the time I remember feeling completely over high school (big surprise) and one day while at the college guidance counselor, I pulled out an informational sheet on something called the ‘Illinois Government Internship Program’ aka, IGIP (a now defunct internship program thanks to the state government cutting funding in 2010). This was a program that was offered to seniors in high school that could take a semester away, live in the bustling state capital of Springfield (sarcasm), and internship at one of the various government agencies.

And so, I packed my bags at the end of the December and away I went to begin what I thought was going to be a career in politics (this is only slightly funny as there’s still a thought in the back of my head about someday running for public office- maybe when I’m 40).

Homemade Fries | @naturallyella

At any rate, it was a rather interesting experience. I didn’t really fit in with the group of kids selected, I ended up working for the Sangamom County Democrats (I was gunning for an internship in the economic department of the governors office, but alas, they decided they didn’t need interns), and overall quite a bit of my time was spent cold calling/filing/eating. However, it was a somewhat exciting time as this rising state senator named Obama was about to run for US senate and we held a few fundraising events for him, so I got to meet him on various occasions.

Of course, this post would be pretty boring if I dove into politics (and by boring, most likely insight a comment war), so we’re going to chat about one of the overall highlights to come out of the internship program: my love of the horseshoe.

Vegetarian Ponyshoe | @naturallyella

Now, if you’ve never been to Springfield, Il, you probably have no idea what a horseshoe is in terms of food. Well, it’s simple really: it starts with a slab of thick bread, then it’s topped with some form of meat (usually a burger), then piled high with fries and smothered with a special type of cheese sauce. You can order them with grilled onions, chili, and a myriad of other toppings- but were going to keep it simple for today.

This recipe is one of M and I’s favorites and at one point in time, it was on the blog (but got lost in a transition somewhere around 2009.) For the vegetarian purpose, I leave the thick slice of bread off (if it’s not soaking up actual burger juice, it’s really just extra filling), I use my favorite veggie burger, and I make a homemade cheese sauce (I have had my fair share of horseshoes with smothered with canned cheese sauce, yuck!) And why is my version called a ponyshoe? The horseshoe is two slices of bread + two servings of meat while the ponyshoe is a more respectable, one slab of bread and one serving of meat (I don’t think I could fathom eating two of these veggie burgers in one sitting).

Vegetarian Ponyshoe | @naturallyella

Vegetarian Ponyshoe

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings



  1. Prepare fries and veggies burgers as directions instruct. I’ll often make a batch of the veggies burgers (these ones) ahead of time and freeze them for use whenever I like.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, combine cheddar cheese and cornstarch in a small pot. Heat over medium low and stir until cheddar begins to melt. Add 6 tablespoons milk (or beer), Worcestershire, mustard and garlic powder, stir until mixture comes together. Add more milk (or beer), 1-2 tablespoon at a time, stirring frequently, to reach a pourable cheese sauce, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Assemble the ponyshoe by topping the burger with a heap of fries drizzle of cheese sauce, grilled onions (if desired), and serve with a side of ketchup.