Vegan Halloween Spooktacular

So many vegan apparel brands released Halloween collections this year that what started out as a Friday Five idea turned into a big ‘ol roundup. Here I’ve pulled together some favorites from those collections, on-theme cookbooks, and other spooky things. Did I miss something cool you spotted this year? Tell me in the comments!

Podcast: Keep On Cookin’

Dustin Harder, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Keeping on my podcast kick lately, another dear friend recently launched a show and I was so flattered to be a guest! Dustin is the chef behind The Vegan Roadie, and so many amazing cookbooks including Epic Vegan – but even better he is such a sweetheart and so fun to talk to.

Dustin is an avid cookbook collector and this pod is his way of digging deeper into some of his favorites, finding out the behind-the-scenes stories from the authors. In our episode we talk about pro-wrestling, getting fired from TV shows, and baking for Trixie Mattel.

Vegan Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Elaborate Jell-Os. “Salads” made with Cool Whip. Dessert recipes that call for a whole package of cream cheese. This is the song of my people. You either grew up eating Strawberry Pretzel Salad at family get-togethers, or you clicked this out of morbid curiosity and aren’t sure if you’re about to be dazzled or horrified. Either way, you’re here, and I’m glad to have you.

This, of course, is just a veganization of a recipe that has been around for ages. But, I am offering a few tips and suggestions if for no other reason than to make myself feel better about posting this. Let’s get started.

Jell-O

Gelatin is made from animal collagen, which is why vegans (and most vegetarians) don’t eat it. Although most people think of gelatin and Jell-O as being one and the same, it actually shows up in lots of foods, like marshmallows and gummy candies. But, just like their are vegan marshmallows and gummies these days, there is also vegan Jell-O. You can order it online from sites like Vegan Essentials, iHerb, and Vitacost. (Shout out to Vegan Essentials, though, for being vegan-owned.)

If you aren’t a fan, or don’t want to wait to mail order it to make this recipe, Tony and I both agreed that this dessert would be perfectly delicious topped instead with sliced fruit. Strawberries, if they’re in season, but really anything you like.

Cream Cheese

These are so many delicious vegan cream cheeses on the market right now. My personal favorite is Kite Hill’s chive cream cheese, which you absolutely do not want to use in this recipe. In fact, leave all of the fancy, new-fangled cream cheese behind and reach instead for good ‘ol Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese. Why? Because most of the fancy ones are super tangy (and hard to find without savory mix-ins) and in this case, you want something on the blander side to mimic Philadelphia Cream Cheese. (I know that sounds shady, but where is the lie?)

Tub of Whipped Stuff

The OG Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe calls for a tub of Cool Whip, and we’re lucky to live in a time when most well-stocked grocery stores carry a vegan alternative from So Delicious in the freezer section. If you can’t find it, though, you can definitely make coconut whipped cream yourself, it’s just going to take a bit of work and a couple cans of full fat coconut milk. Plus, you’ll want to add a stabilizer so it doesn’t go weepy on you in the fridge.

Vegan Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Please refer to the tips in my post about where to source ingredients & substitutions.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dessert for a group, picnic food, vegan, vegan jello

Equipment

  • hand mixer

Ingredients

Bottom Layer

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 3/4 cups vegan margarine, melted
  • 3 Tbs sugar

Middle Layer

  • 1 tub Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 container So Delicious CocoWhip, thawed or 8oz homemade coconut whipped cream

Top Layer

  • 2 packages strawberry vegan gel see post for source, or skip this step & top with freshly sliced fruit
  • 20 oz sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Stir together crushed pretzels, melted margarine and 3 tablespoons sugar; mix well and press mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool completely.
  • Use a hand mixer to beat together the cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in the whipped coconut topping.
  • Spread evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. Cover, and store in the freezer while you prefer the last layer.
  • If you are not using a gel layer, simply top your dessert with sliced fruit, and chill at least 4 hours before serving.
  • Prepare the gel as directed on the package. While the water is boiling, get the sliced fruit ready. Vegan gel sets up quickly.
  • Once you've mixed the gel and boiling water, add the fruit. If you're using frozen, there's no need to thaw it first.
  • Allow the gel and fruit to set only until it's about the texture of egg whites – still loose, but a bit firm. With frozen fruit, this step only took me about 3 minutes.
  • Use a large spoon or ladle to scoop the gel mixture evenly on top of the chilled whipped cream layer.
  • Cover, and refrigerate at least 4 hours before slicing and serving.

Notes

Experiment with different flavor combinations using different gel flavors and fruits.

Podcast: Masters of the Obvious

I read a tweet somewhere that joked about all the podcasts mediocre white men were going to launch during quarantine, but luckily there are plenty of cool new pods like Masters of the Obvious to counter them. Cynthia Rose and Kirsten Bosio are hilarious, nerdy, and really fun to listen to. And, as I found out on their premiere episode, they’re also fun to talk to!

You can listen to my episode below, and be sure to subscribe so you can hear their chats with other people who are far, far cooler than me.

Vegan Buffalo Jackfruit Dip Recipe

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating when I called my house “Dip City” in my previous post, here comes another hot dip recipe for all those parties you better not be having right now. Apparently Buffalo Chicken Dip is a big deal in the Midwest. I have an ear of corn tattooed on my finger, so I thought I was pretty Midwestern, but I was not aware of this phenomenon until recently. So I challenged myself to not only create a vegan version, but to skip most of the store-bought ingredients like vegan cream cheese and ranch dressing. It also happens to be nut-free, which makes it pretty inexpensive.

Oh, and I also thought I’d use this as an opportunity to try out a new recipe plug-in for my site since the old one is no longer being updated. This is just the free version, but if you all like it I’m going to pop for the pro version and maybe even get a custom template made so when you print it out you get some fun Bake and Destroy design bonuses. So let me know in the comments if you like this recipe format as opposed to the one I used for the Spinach and Jackfruit Dip.

Vegan Buffalo Jackfruit Dip

This gluten-free, nut-free dip owes its "buffalo chicken dip" texture to jackfruit. Sunflower seeds and beans give it a creamy texture without dairy or nuts. For a cheesier flavor, add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free, nut-free, vegan
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • high speed blender

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 medium potato cooked
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds soaked and drained
  • 1/2 cup canned white beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic

Jackfruit

  • 1 package Upton’s Naturals Original Jackfruit
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce more to taste

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cover sunflower seeds in boiling water and soak for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Place cubed potato in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over high heat until boiling, then boil for about 5 minutes – until potato is easily pierced with a fork.
    Drain, and place in a high-speed blender with the other sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth.
  • Transfer mixture to a baking dish. A small casserole dish or ramekin works well.
  • Place jackfruit and buffalo sauce in a food processor or clean blender and pulse. You want to keep the texture, just break up the jackfruit and incorporate the buffalo sauce throughout. Use ¼ – ½ cup of buffalo sauce, depending on your taste preference – the more you add, the spicier it will be.
    Fold jackfruit into the sauce mixture you placed in the baking dish earlier.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the layer is firm and starts to brown.
    Serve while warm with crudités, crackers or tortilla chips.

Notes

Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Sauce is “accidentally vegan,” but feel free to use your favorite. Swap in an equal amount of cashews for sunflower seeds if you prefer. Non-dairy milk can also be swapped with your preferred sort, but make sure it’s unsweetened and unflavored. 

Vegan Spinach and Jackfruit Dip

Mid-July probably seems like a weird time to make a hot dip, but as some of you might know, I head up marketing for Upton’s Naturals and one of my jobs is working with our PR team on items to pitch to the media. Right now they’re working on their holiday and Super Bowl pitches so it’s been Dip City at my house lately.

Since this recipe was going to be gluten-free without any effort on my part, I decided to add the challenge of making it nut-free as well. Not only does that make it more allergy-friendly, but it also makes it less expensive, and there’s information out there suggesting that sunflower seeds are less taxing on the environment than cashews and other tree nuts too.

If you’re tempted to use canned jackfruit instead of the recommended Upton’s Naturals, obviously I’m biased because I work there but also, I’ve found the texture of ours to be better since it’s not water logged and because it’s par-cooked before it gets packaged. And, if you’re opting for sunflower seeds out of concern for the environment, you might want to consider the toll shipping heavy cans of water from Thailand takes on the planet, vs shipping lightweight, recyclable boxes which is what we do. Plus, you’re supporting a cool, vegan-owned brand that doesn’t answer to any board of directors, share holders, investors, and doesn’t secretly belong to Nestle or something. (If you can’t find Original Jackfruit in your local store, you can buy it online from Thrive Market, Vegan Essentials, and other e-tailers.)

This recipe is for good old fashioned Midwestern mild dip, but if you’re a spicy boi add a couple dashes of hot sauce before baking.

Nut-Free Spinach & Jackfruit Dip

This recipe makes a LOT of dip – definitely enough for a party. But you can easily cut it in half if it's just you and a friend.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: jackfruit recipe, vegan hot dip, vegan spinach dip

Equipment

  • high speed blender

Ingredients

  • 1 & ½ cups raw sunflower seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 & ½ cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt more to taste
  • 4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach roughly chopped
  • 2 10.6 oz packages Upton’s Naturals Original Jackfruit

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Place the sunflower seeds in a heatproof bowl and cover them in boiling water. Soak for 15 minutes, then drain.
  • In a small pan, sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. You can use a small amount of olive oil, if desired, or add a splash of water to keep it from sticking.
  • In a high-powered blender, or food processor, blend the sunflower seeds, garlic, onion, non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt until completely smooth. Taste, and add up to an additional ½ tsp of salt if desired.
  • Add the spinach and Jackfruit, and pulse – don’t blend. You want to keep the texture of both ingredients, rather than puree them. Depending on the capacity of your blender, you may need to do this in two batches – or, pulse the spinach and Jackfruit in a food processor and stir it into the pureed ingredients.
  • Transfer to an oven-safe dish (a 9” pie dish works well) and bake for 20 minutes, until the top starts to brown.
  • Serve with tortilla chips, toasted baguette, or vegetable sticks.

Notes

For extra decadence, add ½ cup of chopped Upton’s Naturals Bacon Seitan to the mixture before baking.

Vegan Nachos Rule Pizza

Two years ago I had a great time participating in the Paulie Gee’s Dough Down Throw Down IV Vegan Edition. I made FOUR GALLONS of vegan nacho cheese for my entry, Nachos Rule, and ended the night in the best way possible – tying for the win against my friend.

Outside of the occasional series of Instagram Stories, I never make cooking videos. I just don’t have a good set up for it in my apartment, and I kind of started recipe blogging in a pre-YouTube age so I just kinda never got into it and let the world pass me by. But, everyone is cooking at home these days and Nacho Pizza is a fun project so I figured I’d go for it. You could do this 100% from scratch and really make a day of it, or take some short cuts. I’m going to provide recipe links and shortcut suggestions here, and you can watch me put this whole thing together on my IGTV @bakeanddestroy.

Vegan Pizza Crust

Make your own with The Vegan Roadie’s simple Pizza Crust Recipe, or go store-bought. You can also see if your favorite pizza place will sell you dough, I was surprised to find out my local joint sold two balls of dough for a couple dollars.

Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

You can make my Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce recipe, which calls for soaked cashews, or my nut-free/no-soak Nut-Free Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce recipe.

For a shortcut, use your favorite store-bought vegan queso. I don’t recommend using vegan cheese shreds as a base here – but if you want to skip the base layer of cheese I recommend using a restaurant-style salsa as your base.

Hot Toppings

These are the ingredients that you want to bake in the oven – so hold your fresh greens and extra sauces until the end. I like chopped onion, tomato, and olives.

Protein

You could use cooked black beans here, but my personal preference is Upton’s Naturals Chorizo Seitan because its already seasoned and ready to use out of the package.

Fresh Ingredients & Finishing Touches

After the pizza has been removed from the oven you can add any fresh ingredients that you didn’t want to bake – some nice touches for Nacho Pizza are fresh cilantro or shredded lettuce.

I also finish mine with crushed tortilla chips, and a drizzle of more Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce and Vegan Sour Cream. You can use your favorite store bought like Follow Your Heart or Tofutti, or make your own. I like this Cashew Sour Cream, and this Sunflower Seed Sour Cream.

For one last nacho-y touch, I add chunks of ripe avocado.

Assembly

To assemble, smooth a layer of Nacho Chee-Zee sauce on your unbaked pizza crust. Sprinkle on whatever toppings you intent to bake, and bake! When the pizza comes out of the oven, add your fresh ingredients and final touches. Then eat. Pretty easy, right?

Make mini pizzas and let everyone in the family choose their own toppings!

Free Download – Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans

Natalie Slater cookbook Bake and Destroy

I’ve been saying for years – ever since I regained the rights to my cookbook – that I’m going to do something with it, but I never seemed to get around to it. I had dreams of updating the recipes, which are now nearly eight years old, adding new ones and re-releasing them as zines as a nod to the vegan cooking zines I grew up on.

But, I drug my feet and now here we are in the middle of a global pandemic. People are hunkered down in their homes, and if social media tells me anything, they are all cooking all the time.

So, I decided to make a PDF out of the draft I sent my publisher so many years ago, and post it here so you can download it for free. I don’t own the rights to the photos or illustrations, so as much as I’d love to make a PDF of the edited book available, I can’t. (Unless Page Street Publishing tells me I can – what do you think, guys?) But, even though it’s kinda ugly and definitely has some typos and mistakes in it, I think it still might be fun for people who never got their hands on the book while it was still in print?

If you have any questions about the recipes, drop them in the comments here or find me on social media. If I need to add a FAQ to this post to clarify anything I will.

Stay healthy, everyone!

Updates, Corrections, Etc.

Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce: I’ve updated my cooking instructions since this draft of the book, and also wrote a nut-free version.

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