You Will Be Visited by Three Mashed Potato Ghosts… and Seitan Bacon Gravy

Mashed Potato Ghosts with Seitan Bacon GravyI love time travel stories. The thought of being able to see the world throughout history, throughout our own lives, or throughout the lives of those we love is a very appealing idea. Imagine how we might behave differently if we had the vantage point of true perspective on our side. They say you don’t know what someone else is going through until you’ve walked in their shoes, but time travel would equal things out, giving a real three dimensional perspective on the effects of our actions over time.

When I trace my love of time travel stories, they go back in time from the recent film, About Time, to Doctor Who, to the book, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and of course, Back to the Future. But I think it all started with A Christmas Carol. Like many of us, as a child I’d watch the story play out at Christmastime. But my love for Christmas couldn’t be held to just a few weeks in December. Along with my favorite Christmas album, in the summer I’d run my VHS tapes ragged with replays. A good story is a good story, you know?

Seitan Bacon Gravy & Mashed Potato GhostsWith Doctor Who, they say that the first Doctor you were introduced to is the Doctor who will always be your most revered. (Over the years, multiple actors have played the title role.) I wonder if it’s the same for any story in which different actors will be playing the same part.

I was introduced to A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott as Scrooge. To me, he is the quintessential Scrooge. (I also have a deep well of affection for him because he looks kind of like my Grandpa did, but my grandpa wore considerably more rainbow suspenders than Ebenezer.)

Mashed Potato Ghosts with Seitan Bacon GravyEvery year, it’s David and my Christmas tradition that we watch multiple versions of A Christmas Carol. This year we watched the Albert Finney version for the first time (after a glowing recommendation from Katrina at Suburban Snow White). We also hit up The Muppet Christmas Carol, which sticks so beautifully to the original story, despite involving a barnyard of puppets as the cast. Plus, the songs are just terrific. And how can you not love Cratchit when he’s played by Kermit the Frog? Impossible. We viewed Mickey’s Christmas Carol, the Black Adder Christmas Carol, and even SNL did a new Christmas Carol sketch, bringing up our total. (I still haven’t seen the version with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge, and that’s on my list for next year.)

There’s something very appealing about the idea that we can all change our lives at any time. We have the power to look in ourselves, see where we’ve gone astray, and to do better. Even Scrooge, who was an old man steeped in bad habits, could alter the course of his life for the better.

Today’s Mashed Potato Ghosts with Seitan Bacon Gravy were made as a send-up to old Scrooge. When Marley showed up at Scrooge’s bedside, Scrooge didn’t believe his own eyes.

More of Gravy Than of GraveMarley asked, “Why do you doubt your senses?”

“Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A light disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”

(Scrooge needn’t have worried. There’s no underdone potato here and certainly no beef.)

The potato ghosts were inspired by the adorable mashed potato ghosts at Wing-It Vegan. (River also recently made Chili con Queso with my Creamy Cauliflower Queso, which looks fantastic.)

These potatoes are on the firm-side to keep their shape.  I used a pastry bag to pipe cooled mashed potatoes onto the platter and then smoothed them with a knife. (They are easier to form when cool and can then be warmed in the microwave.) I added capers for eyes and mouths made by forming a hole in the potatoes with a toothpick.

Mashed Potatoes & Seitan Bacon GravyThe rosemary and sage-scented seitan bacon gravy uses one of my favorite vegan bacons, Upton’s. I adapted the recipe for Creamy Sage & Pepper Gravy from Vegan Diner by adjusting spices, adding some onions, garlic, browned seitan bacon, and smoked salt.

Mashed Potatoes with Seitan Bacon GravyDotted with chewy seitan, it is not only marvelous on mashed potatoes (ghost-shaped or otherwise), it would also be the perfect gravy for a biscuit & gravy breakfast. For another idea, this morning I had it over a tofu scramble in a breakfast burrito, and it was three or four levels of delicious.

Scrooge & MarleyI hope that this season finds you in good spirits, and that if you celebrate Christmas, all of the guests at your home will be welcome ones. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Mashed Potato Ghosts with Seitan Bacon Gravy

Serving Size: 2-4 (Makes 2 cups of gravy)

Mashed Potato Ghosts with Seitan Bacon Gravy


  • 2 large Russet potatoes (about 20 ounces), peeled and cut into even medium-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vegan butter
  • Salt, to taste
  • Capers (optional)
  • For the gravy
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 10 strips Upton's seitan bacon, diced
  • 2 cups plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons vegan butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste


  1. Fill a soup pot with water and bring to a low boil. Carefully add the potatoes and cook for 12-15 minutes, until soft enough to easily puncture with a fork. Drain the pot and add the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Using an immersion blender or potato masher, mash the potatoes until soft and creamy. Slowly add non-dairy milk until you've reached your desired level of creaminess. (Keep in mind that if you are going to form the potatoes into ghosts, they keep their form better when not too soupy.) Add vegan butter and salt and continue mashing until fully blended.
  2. Let the potatoes cool and then scoop them into a pastry bag, adding more to the bag as needed. Squeeze the mashed potatoes into dollops and then smooth them with a knife. Use a toothpick for form mouths and capers for eyes.
  3. For the gravy
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour and nutritional yeast flakes and set aside.
  5. Bring a large skillet to a medium heat. Add extra virgin olive oil to the skillet and sauté garlic and onions for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add seitan bacon and sauté for a few minutes more, until the seitan has browned.
  6. Add the non-dairy milk to the all-purpose flour and nutritional yeast mixture until totally combined and smooth with no lumps. Turn the heat on the skillet to low and slowly add the mixture to the pan, stirring constantly until the gravy thickens. (This should happen almost immediately.)
  7. Add the vegan butter, dried rubbed sage, dried rosemary, smoked salt, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Fully combine the spices with the gravy. Remove from heat and serve over mashed potato ghosts.


Gravy adapted from Creamy Sage & Pepper Gravy in Vegan Diner


Disclaimer:  Amazon affiliate link


  1. says

    Merry Christmas, dear lady! Thank you for always writing posts that make me laugh, smile, and feel fuzzy inside.

    (I remember there was a Sweet Valley High version of this story, too… had totally forgotten until your post!)

    • says

      Thanks, Hannah! I hope you had a merry Christmas too! I’m going to have to keep my eyes open for the Sweet Valley High version. That sounds hilarious. I didn’t read those books growing up, but I knew people who did.

  2. says

    Hmmm…they look suspiciously like daleks in disguise to me. 😉
    Thanks for sharing the recipes!
    We used to watch A Christmas Carol as kids up until one year I remember watching a version that had neon green rats…? Maybe it was a colorized version of an old B&W or maybe it was a 60’s trippin’ version, I dunno, but it scared the Christmas stockings off me! I never watched it after that. Except the Muppets one. :)
    Cheers and happy safe harmonious holidays to you and your family!

    • says

      Relaaaaaaax, they’re not Daleks. Just sit down and exterminate… I mean… eat one of them. 😉

      Wow, I don’t know the neon green rat version of A Christmas Carol! That sounds crazy! I’m glad you’re still able to enjoy the Muppet version, where the rats are earth toned! :)

      I hope you are having a lovely holiday season!

  3. Jacqui Pappas says

    My introduction to Scrooge was Albert Finney. He’s still my favorite. Don’t forget Scrooge McDuck played by Donald Duck! LOL
    This recipe is on my “to make” list.

    • says

      Scrooge McDuck is a favorite Ebenezer for sure! In that version Donald Duck plays his nephew, Fred. Mickey’s Christmas Carol got a lot of repeat viewing when I was a kid. :)

      If you make these mashed potato ghosts, I hope you enjoy them!

  4. says

    I love how your husband gets into the fun of your posts with you! Your mashed potato ghosts are too cute, love them!

    As a lover of time traveling books/movies, have you read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon? It’s my all time favorite book series, I’m currently reading it for the third time.

    • says

      Thanks so much! It doesn’t take much arm-twisting to get David to join in the fun. He actually sewed Scrooge’s hat for the picture.

      I’ve never heard of the Outlander series before. I’ll have to look into that one! It’s high praise that you’ve re-read it multiple times.

      • says

        The Outlander series is fantastic! A nurse in Scotland from the 1940s ends up traveling back in time 200 years. There’s a lot more to the story than that, but I don’t want to give too much away.

        I hope you check it out!

  5. says

    Looks delicious and super cute! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Upton’s up here in Toronto (Canada) but I’ll keep an eye out for it =) As for Doctor Who and Christmas traditions, did you watch this years Christmas special!? All the feels.
    Happy ho ho!

    • says

      As far as I know, Upton’s hasn’t made it to Canada yet. However, any vegan bacon, including tempeh bacon, could be used for this recipe.

      I just watched the Doctor Who Christmas special yesterday. I had to wait until we were back from our extended family holiday gatherings. It was a tear-jerker for sure! I wasn’t as attached to Matt Smith as I was David Tennant, but it was still sad to see him go. I thought they did a really good job with the ending. Did you like it?

    • says

      Thanks, Joey! To make the ghost effect, we took pictures of me and David separately. He was in front of the fireplace in our basement, and I was just in front of a white wall. Then with Photoshop, he cut me out of my background, added me to his picture, and changed the transparency on my body. At first we had transparency on my face too, but it looked a little weird with the lines of the bricks coming through my face.

      I totally agree. The most fun food almost always involves a bit of play! :)

  6. Jackie at Vegan Yack Attack says

    I love these! So adorable. Also, my family and I typically watch A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim as Scrooge and definitely A Muppet Christmas Carol. I love both!

    • says

      You know, I haven’t seen the Alastair Sim version since I was a child. I remember catching it late at night on Christmas Eve as a kid and getting so spooked out by it! I definitely need to revisit that one!

  7. says

    Three Mashed Potato Ghosts and Seitan Bacon Gravy? I’m in love! I’m a Doctor Who Fan, too (I miss Amy Pond and her hubby, I didn’t like the new girl character)…and can’t wait to catch up with the new episode on Sherlock! Hope you had a great Christmas and thank you for all of these wonderful and funny posts! I enjoyed reading them! Wishing you guys a fabulous 2014!

    • says

      Oh, that’s interesting! I liked Rory a lot, but I tired of Amy. Her sassy/tough girl thing felt inflated to me, like it was just being put on. Donna was my favorite companion, but I know that she wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea either. I’m enjoying Clara’s sensitivity and sense of self. I’m looking forward to seeing where her story goes with the new Doctor.

      I’m so eager to watch the next episode of Sherlock! We’ve been re-watching all of the old episodes, so that all of the details are fresh in my mind when we get to the new one.

      Thanks for the kind words, Rika! All the best to you in 2014!

  8. says

    Mmmm, I am still craving all the carby holiday dishes like this! Chewy seitan in mashed potatoes sounds perfect. And I know the capers are added for the ghost eyes but I am really liking the idea of adding capers to mashed potatoes. The combo of that with the savory gravy just sounds so comforting to me right now.

    PS I love the holiday family photos!

    • says

      Mashed potatoes are always a welcome addition! I don’t know why I only think of them at the holidays. They really are delicious anytime and so easy to make.

      I’m glad you liked the family photo! We used it as our Christmas card picture this year. It was cracking me up that everyone else dresses up for their holiday photos, and in mine I’m wearing cheesecloth around my head! :)

  9. Anonymous says

    Hi! Lauren from Upton’s Natural’s here. This recipe is so cute and looks so yummy! Do you mind if we post it on our blog with a link back to your blog?


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