Vegan Meat Feast Pizza with Jackfruit ‘Chicken’

Ah, pizza… one of the great loves of my life! My parents separated when I was nine years old, and for the rest of my childhood (and beyond) I took full advantage of the situation. On Friday nights my mum would give me my dinner (or ‘tea’, as we call our evening meal here in Stoke), then my dad would take me to his house. Of course, I would invariably tell him I’d had no tea (dinner) and he would put a pizza in the oven. Dad always kept his freezer stocked with at least three or four frozen pizzas from Aldi. My appetite for pizza was legendary.

Now, on to the recipe… ok, I’ll be honest: the jackfruit ‘chicken’ in this recipe doesn’t taste like chicken. It is, however, coated in chicken seasoning and brings added texture and depth of flavour to the pizza.

This pizza is super simple to make, but having the right ingredients will take it to the next level. I definitely recommend making your own pizza base if you can. I like to make a big batch and save some in the freezer. For this pizza, I used a batch of pizza dough I’d saved from making this recipe a couple of weeks ago. With regards to the toppings, I’ve included the brands I used as they worked so well together. The Vivera mince, in particular, is perfect for this recipe as the mince is crumbly and not too mushy or moist, resembling the type of mince you’d get on an actual meat feast pizza.

Here’s a series of photos showing the pizza as each topping is added:

The base: I thought it would be fun to shape my pizza like Stewie Griffin’s head
The sauce is super quick and easy to make
I used Quorn smoky ham-style slices and cut them into triangles, like pizza slices
The jackfruit ‘chicken’ is my favourite topping on this pizza
Vivera mince has the perfect texture for this pizza
And finally, an optional layer of grated vegan cheese

This pizza was a hit with the whole family, including my 15-year-old son who, unlike me, is NOT a pizza person. My husband, who is usually sceptical about jackfruit, thought it made a great addition to this dish. Unfortunately, my six-year-old did not agree because “jackfruit is blergh!”

The finished pizza!

Vegan Meat Feast Pizza with Jackfruit ‘Chicken’ (makes two pizzas*)

Ingredients:

  • Two pizza bases, or pizza dough rolled out
  • 400g tin jackfruit, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp chicken seasoning
  • 250ml passata
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Olive oil spray
  • 4 Quorn smoky ham-style slices, cut into pieces
  • About 150g Vivera veggie mince
  • 100g vegan cheese (optional – I used Vitalite Dairy-Free cheese)

*To make one pizza, simply halve all the ingredients

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 200 DEGREES CELSIUS

Method:

  1. Use your fingers to pull apart the jackfruit. Remove and seeds or firm parts that don’t ‘shred’. You can either discard them or chuck them in your next curry, stew, etc. Place the jackfruit in a bowl, add the chicken seasoning and mix well. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Grate the garlic clove into the passata and mix well. You can season with a little salt and black pepper if you like; I didn’t and the pizza tasted great nonetheless.
  3. Spray a baking tray or pizza tray with olive oil and place a pizza base on the tray. Spread on half the passata. Top with half the Quorn slices. Add half the jackfruit and sprinkle on half the Vivera mince. Bake in the oven for ten minutes (if not using cheese, bake for 15-18 minutes and skip step 4).
  4. Remove from the oven, sprinkle on half the cheese and spray olive oil spray over the pizza crusts. Return to the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to make the second pizza.

Spaghetti in an Artichoke & Butter Bean Sauce

Today is my sister’s birthday! I’ve always been close to my sister. She is 18 years older than me, and I idolised her growing up. Now, we are best friends and along with her adult daughter she is one of my favourite people to enjoy a meal with. If you’re reading this, big sis, have a wonderful birthday! And now, onto the recipe…

Sometimes the best meals happen when using up random leftovers. This gorgeous spaghetti dish was born when I had half a tin of butter beans, half a tin of artichokes and not a lot else in the fridge! It’s super quick and easy, all you need is a blender. This dish is perfect served with roasted broccoli, and you can roast the garlic for the sauce at the same time! Ideally, you want your broccoli to retain some crunch to add texture to the final dish.

This dish is perfect served with roasted broccoli

Pasta is one of my favourite foods, especially spaghetti, and I love coming up with new sauces. I hope you like pasta too, as I have lots of pasta dishes planned for this blog! Beans are a great base for a vegan sauce, as when blended they have a smooth, creamy texture without the need to add dairy products or alternatives. The artichokes in this sauce add a delicious tang, which is nicely balanced with lemon juice and roasted garlic. I love garlic, especially roasted as the harsh raw flavour is replaced by a sort of sweet, sort of smoky taste. In fact, if you can get hold of some smoked garlic I bet it would be divine in this sauce!

Spaghetti in an Artichoke & Butter Bean Sauce | Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • About 300-400g tenderstem broccoli
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil spray
  • 300g spaghetti

For the sauce:

  • 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 400g tin artichoke hearts, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup (about 80ml) olive oil
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt

PREHEAT OVEN TO 200 DEGREES CELCIUS

Method:

  1. Place the broccoli and garlic (keep the skin on the garlic for now) in a large roasting tin. Spray liberally with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the spaghetti. Cook according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the water from cooking.
  3. Add all the sauce ingredients to the blender, plus the roasted garlic and about 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water. Blend until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
  4. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce. If it’s looking a bit too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water. This is best served immediately; if left to sit, it will keep absorbing liquid and you will need to stir in some pasta water before serving. Serve with the roasted broccoli.

My Small Vegan Business: Dystopia Nail Polish

18 months ago I was in a bad place. I had everything I’d ever wanted: a family, a career in teaching and a roof over my head. Yet I wasn’t happy. That’s what led down to the rabbit hole of indie nail polish. Coming home from work and doing my nails was a way to relax, a reward for getting through the day. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy teaching; in fact, it was my dream job and I was, and am, deeply passionate about education. But the combination of a demanding job and caring for my autistic teenage son (my lovely Connor, see my ‘About Me’ page) was becoming too much. The world of indie nail polish was a welcome distraction. I became fascinated by these amazing people who created their own brand of nail polish and shared it with the world. As a lifelong creative, I soon started to have ideas of my own and decided to try my hand at making my own nail polish. Imagine my surprise when I was actually able to bring my ideas to life! And that’s how Dystopia Nail Polish was born.

My best seller: charity polish Baby Berry, in aid of Pregnancy Sickness Support UK. Image by @mollymoosnails on IG.

I officially opened Dystopia just over a year ago, on 3rd February 2019. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve enjoyed every minute. It is by no means a big business, but it has gone from strength to strength and I have built up a loyal customer base who I interact with through my Facebook group, The Divas of Dystopia. I release new products at the end of every month. Collections I’ve released include a multitude of themes from gothic fiction to female singer-songwriters. I also release a new charity polish every three months, where I donate £2 from the sale of each bottle to a specific charity.

My second charity polish in aid of Ambitious About Autism, image by @nailastrophic on IG.

I like to release as wide a range as possible, and include many polishes with special effects such as thermal, which change colour according to temperature, and magnetic, which gives a special streak of colour when you hold a magnet over it while drying!

Magnetic polishes are popular for their gorgeous special effect. Image by @jemzxo on IG.

I even release limited edition polishes to celebrate special occasions, such as my one year anniversary polish Funk-Fetti (pictured below)!

My one-year anniversary special edition polish, Funk-Fetti. Image by @cehobson on IG.

It was a no-brainer for me that the business would be 100% vegan, having been vegan for four years when I started Dystopia. This hasn’t been as much of a challenge as you might think, in fact many indie nail polish brands are exclusively vegan. Most suppliers state which, if not all, of their products are vegan, so I can easily source vegan pigments, bases etc to make my polish. And of course, my polish is only tested on humans!

I also have a range of stamping polishes which can be used to create awesome designs like this. Image by @withnailsandi on IG.

Indie nail polish is a huge deal over in the US, but over the last few years it has also become big business right here in the UK. In fact, this September will see the UK’s first ever PolishCon, at which I’m proud to say I’ll be holding a stall! If you want to stay updated and see brand new products every single month, please follow Dystopia on Facebook or Instagram!

Oreo & Peanut Butter Cheesecake (no bake, vegan)

Cheesecake is my ultimate favourite dessert, and one of the things I really expected to miss when I went vegan. Over the last five years, however, I’ve learned that vegan cheesecake can be just as good, if not better, than its dairy counterpart. This cheesecake recipe is adapted from one of my old recipes. I’ve changed things up a bit and replaced the strawberry jam with everyone’s favourite sandwich cookie, Oreos. The Oreo and peanut butter flavour combo is inspired by Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy PB & Cookies flavour.

Is there anything better than a scrumptious cheesecake?

This cheesecake is super simple to make; all you need is a food processor. This is a no-bake cheesecake which you can set in the freezer in order to speed up the process, meaning that you could be eating this cheesecake just two hours after putting it together! Who wouldn’t want that? And the taste… the crunchy base contrasts perfectly with the rich, creamy filling, which is laced with chunks of Oreo cookie!

The creamy filling is laced with chunks of Oreo cookie

The cheesecake can be stored in the freezer and defrosted for 30 minutes or so before eating. However, it’s not necessary to do this unless you want to, although I would recommend keeping it in the fridge if its going to be around for more than a day or two. As for serving size, this is a large cheesecake. The one you see in the pictures was made in a 23cm spring-form pan, though you could make it in a smaller size pan for a taller cheesecake. I’ve opted to put the number of servings at 8+, because who am I to dictate how big a cheesecake serving you like?!

Peanut Butter & Oreo Cheesecake (serves 8+)

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 2 packs Oreos
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter

For the filling:

  • 2 x 350g packs silken tofu
  • 200g vegan cream cheese (I used Violife)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp agave or maple syrup
  • 1 pack Oreos

Method:

  1. Grease a loose-bottomed or spring-form cake tin.
  2. To make the base: Add the two packs of Oreos to the food processor. Process until crumbled. Melt the coconut oil and peanut butter together in the microwave. Stir well. Add to the food processor and process until fully combined. Spread out on the bottom of the cake tin and press down evenly.
  3. To make the filling: Add the silken tofu and cream cheese to the food processor (there is no need to clean it) and process until completely mixed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the processor if necessary. Add the coconut oil, peanut butter and agave or maple syrup and process until fully combined. Taste and add a little more syrup if you want it sweeter.
  4. Add the filling to the cake tin. Break up six Oreos into pieces and add to the tin. Carefully fold them into the filling, making sure not to disturb the base. Spread the filling evenly around the tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Decorate the top with the remaining Oreos, pressing them gently into the filling.
  5. Place in the freezer to set for at least two hours. Defrost for at least 30 minutes before eating.

Applewood Vegan Cheese Review + Classic Mac & Cheese Recipe (Stove-top or baked)

Applewood’s vegan cheese has been so popular, it’s been flying off the shelves!

Hello and welcome to my first vegan product review! I’m starting us off with Applewood’s vegan “smoky cheese alternative”. This product has been so sought after it’s been flying off the shelves in Asda, with many turning to the Vegan Kind Supermarket to get their smoky cheesy fix! The cheese costs £2.30 for a 200g block, just 30p more than Applewood’s dairy equivalent. In addition to being vegan, the product is labelled gluten and soya free; fantastic for those with allergies! I’m going say right from the start that I love this cheese. In fact, it’s my favourite vegan cheese to date. However, it has divided opinion among vegans! I asked users of the Facebook group Vegan UK how they felt about this product. At the time of writing, 52% of those who answered said they love it, while 10% said they hate it! A further 8% said they found it “ok”, while the remaining 30% hadn’t tried it yet. Clearly, the majority are loving this cheese alternative. Read on to see what some of the people I polled said…

It grates really well and has the look and feel of dairy cheese

Jasmine Russell of Little Piece of Vegan said, “My favourite for homemade pizza, it melts all gooey and delicious!” As you can see from my photo below, it does melt beautifully and makes a perfect creamy cheese sauce. Although Ciara Dunseith said she doesn’t “like the texture right out the pack”, she does enjoy it melted or grated and even said, “It’s the only vegan cheese I like!” Mike Austin loves it too, and said, “I’ll melt it on or in stuff but also just eat an entire block to myself… don’t even bother cutting it just gnaw on the block!” Mike, I’m with you there! So for those who don’t love it, why? Sammy Brace said, “It tasted nice but the rubber texture wasn’t pleasant.” Ben Potts agrees: “I find that the taste is very good, but the texture is off. It’s very rubbery.”

It melts beautifully and makes the perfect creamy cheese sauce

For my part, although I enjoy the cheese straight out the pack, where it really comes alive is when melted into a cheese sauce. The smoky flavour adds a delicious twist to classic dishes like mac and cheese. It’s now my go-to choice of cheese for mac and cheese; in fact, I fed the recipe below to my non-vegan family members and they loved it! I’ve included two options in the recipe: a stove-top version for a quick, simple meal and a baked version for when you want something a bit special! The cheese sauce is made in the classic way, but with the butter, cheese and milk substituted for vegan versions. It’s super easy, comforting and is a hit with kids and adults alike!

If making the stovetop version, a sprinkling of paprika is a perfect finishing touch

So, what’s my final verdict on this cheese? I would give it a solid 5 gold stars! Having been vegan for five years, after being a lifelong cheese lover, this is the closest to dairy cheese I’ve tasted. Hopefully, Applewood will release more cheese alternative products… Debbie Sutherland says, “If the same brand did a mature cheddar I’d be thrilled!” Debbie, so would I!

This makes it a fantastic product for new and seasoned vegans alike, as well as those just interested in cutting their intake of animal products. It’s vitally important that products like this are available in supermarkets, making it easier than ever to go vegan. This may be the new Marmite of vegan cheese but I, for one, am a fully fledged convert!

Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with this product or its manufacturers. I was not asked to review this product, and I did purchase it myself. Any views I express in this post are my own.

Finishing off the baked version with a breadcrumb topping adds another dimension of flavour

“It melts all gooey and delicious!”

Jasmine Russell via Vegan UK on Facebook

Applewood vegan cheese… My verdict:

Classic Vegan Mac & Cheese (Stove-top or Baked, serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 350g macaroni
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter or margerine
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml non-dairy milk + more if needed
  • 200g block Applewood vegan smoky cheese alternative, grated
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (baked version only)
  • 1 tsp paprika (baked version only)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (baked version only)

BAKED VERSION ONLY: PREHEAT OVEN TO 200 DEGREES CELSIUS

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, season generously with salt and add the macaroni. Cook according to the package instructions and be sure to stir every so often so it doesn’t stick.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: melt the vegan butter or margarine in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Once melted, add the flour and mix until there are no lumps. Add a little non-dairy milk and again stir until there are no lumps. Keep adding the milk a little at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. If you add the milk a little at a time and make sure to stir until there are no lumps before adding more, you should end up with a thin white sauce.
  3. Stir in the cheese and continue to cook, stirring often, until completely melted. You should now have a thick, creamy sauce that drips easily off a spoon. If the sauce is too thin, stir in a little more milk.
  4. STOVE-TOP VERSION: Stir the sauce into the macaroni and serve sprinkled with a little paprika.
  5. BAKED VERSION: Stir the sauce into the macaroni and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Mix the panko, paprika and turmeric and sprinkle over the macaroni cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the breadcrumb topping is golden brown. Serve with a side of roast vegetables or whatever your heart desires!