vegansaurus!

05/14/2014

Need a side dish for tonight? I just made Isa’a caramelized beets, and they were delicious! Mine came out pretty close to what the picture on The PPK looks like, maybe a tad more charred. Oops! That is what happens when you ignore instructions like “cut 3/4-inch chunks” and dice them very small instead. Doesn’t matter, still delectable. I just have to do a quick shout-out to my internet friend Angie for guiding me to the recipe in the first place!
May I suggest buying beets with the greens still attached, as opposed to loose beets, to make this recipe? The greens and stems are absolute perfection sautéed! [Ed. note: this sounds like crazy talk] All you need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil. While Isa suggests serving with quinoa, I shudder at the notion. Not only does quinoa taste just awful to me, I’m uncomfortable for days after eating it. This affects about one in 15,000 vegans.* If you don’t do quinoa either, and you’re out there, reading this, know you don’t have to hide it anymore! We’re out there, I’ve found others, you’re not alone. 
*I made that up, it’s a number based on emotion. The emotion of isolation.  

Need a side dish for tonight? I just made Isa’a caramelized beets, and they were delicious! Mine came out pretty close to what the picture on The PPK looks like, maybe a tad more charred. Oops! That is what happens when you ignore instructions like “cut 3/4-inch chunks” and dice them very small instead. Doesn’t matter, still delectable. I just have to do a quick shout-out to my internet friend Angie for guiding me to the recipe in the first place!

May I suggest buying beets with the greens still attached, as opposed to loose beets, to make this recipe? The greens and stems are absolute perfection sautéed! [Ed. note: this sounds like crazy talk] All you need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil. While Isa suggests serving with quinoa, I shudder at the notion. Not only does quinoa taste just awful to me, I’m uncomfortable for days after eating it. This affects about one in 15,000 vegans.* If you don’t do quinoa either, and you’re out there, reading this, know you don’t have to hide it anymore! We’re out there, I’ve found others, you’re not alone. 

*I made that up, it’s a number based on emotion. The emotion of isolation.  

05/02/2014

I have a confession to make: I don’t like nutritional yeast very much. Over the years, I’ve acquired a taste for it in very small amounts, but it is not my favorite thing. That being said, I am totally obsessed with this Macaroni and Cheeze recipe via From the Garden! I make it at least twice a month, if not more! I don’t know what it is in here that makes the nooch so palatable for me, whether the richness of coconut milk or the combination of ketchup and mustard (my fave). I love baking the macaroni and cheeze with blanched broccoli, and recently I baked it in muffin tins (350F for 30 minutes). That was great because they come out crunchy around the edges and remind me of Cheese-Its, which I was quite fond of. I didn’t even try to grab a pic because the savory mac-muffins were not pretty, just incredibly tasty! Oh yeah, Sriracha lovers, you can sub that in place of Louisiana hot sauce. I know that because it’s what I do! 

I have a confession to make: I don’t like nutritional yeast very much. Over the years, I’ve acquired a taste for it in very small amounts, but it is not my favorite thing. That being said, I am totally obsessed with this Macaroni and Cheeze recipe via From the Garden! I make it at least twice a month, if not more! I don’t know what it is in here that makes the nooch so palatable for me, whether the richness of coconut milk or the combination of ketchup and mustard (my fave). I love baking the macaroni and cheeze with blanched broccoli, and recently I baked it in muffin tins (350F for 30 minutes). That was great because they come out crunchy around the edges and remind me of Cheese-Its, which I was quite fond of. I didn’t even try to grab a pic because the savory mac-muffins were not pretty, just incredibly tasty! Oh yeah, Sriracha lovers, you can sub that in place of Louisiana hot sauce. I know that because it’s what I do! 

04/29/2014

How to, yo: VEGAN PIZZA! Tips and tools from start to finish!   »

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I wish I could explain this logically, but it’s not really a logic desire. Here’s the thing: for as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pizza. Something about that cartoon pizza, it just looked so good, and pizza in real life never quite measured up! I know I’m not alone in this.

Something changed once I started making vegan pizzas; they just had that ooey-gooey look to them, the very look I’d been striving for my entire life! Something about how the cheese melts and the vegan pepperonis bake in, it’s a visual and tasty delight! Of course, using vegetables on your pizza is much healthier, and I highly recommend it (I take mine with mushrooms, spinach, roasted garlic and sometimes pineapple). Or you can make your own vegan sausages with this recipe

That’s enough waxing poetic about my favorite 80s/early 90s cartoon, let’s get to the pizza dough part! I don’t like working with dough. THERE I SAID IT. I will always go for convenience when it comes to bread, pastries, pie dough and pizza dough! That is, until I stumbled across this pizza dough recipe by Bobby Flay! It’s really easy and you don’t even need a stand mixer to make it! 

If you do have a stand-mixer, you can follow the recipe as it says, but if you don’t, here’s my method:

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, warm water and olive oil. Let sit for a couple of minutes.

In a large bowl, add 3 1/2 cups of the flour and salt. Mix, make a well in the center and then add yeast mixture. Knead until all the flour is incorporated, adding the last 1/2 cup of flour if too wet. I find I usually don’t need it. Now follow the rest of the directions in terms of letting it rise! (When I make my dough, I add just a pinch of extra salt and about a tablespoon of dried rosemary.)

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When it came time to bake my pizza, I did at 450F, on a baking sheet, for about 10 - 15 minutes, until the bottom was nicely browned. If your oven smokes at high temperatures, you can bake at 400F for a longer period of time—just check the bottom of the crust periodically. If you have a pizza stone or fire brick oven, what are you reading this for? You are probably a pizza wizard and could be giving me tips! 

Now, if you choose to use vegan cheese, Daiya is probably the easiest in terms of melt and go. If you are a FYH soy mozzarella fan, but are exasperated by it’s melting abilities, I’d like to help you! You gotta melt it in a double boiler first (I shred it, or cut it up real small, then melt it). Once it’s melted, spoon it onto your pizza. Yeah, it’s an extra step, but it’s worth it! I like Daiya alright, but I get tired of it. Every time I use melted FYH soy mozz, at least three people on Instagram tell me I’ve been duped, that there’s no way my pizza is vegan. That my friends, I call a success! I have been thinking this homemade tofu chèvre would make a tasty addition for a very sophisticated pizza! 

I have some tips on shaping pizza dough here! Basically, it’s easiest to work with when at room temperature and DON’T TOUCH THE OUTSIDE CRUST! 

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As far as pizza sauce goes, I usually use jarred marinara sauce. The other night I made my own, and it was really easy! I sautéed, in olive oil, half a diced onion, three cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp of each, maybe) and 1 TB of Italian herbs. I added a can of diced tomatoes, and about 1/2 cup of white wine (totally optional, and red is great too), then let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a tsp of sugar if it’s too tart. I like my pizza sauce smooth so I blended it, but you could also just use canned tomato sauce! 

Sick of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol? Here’s my recipe for BBQ “chicken” pizza! 

As always, we love to hear from you! What are your favorite toppings? Do you have a recipe for a great gluten-free dough? Did you love the Ninja Turtles as much as me? Let us know! 

04/23/2014

I just made my first batch of vegan fudge, and I’m really into it! I used this recipe, and added a handful of semi-sweet vegan chips and some pomegranate liqueur. I guess I didn’t expect it to turn out, so I didn’t measure out my changes. I melted the liqueur (A shot? Half a shot? Who knows!) and chips down with all of the other ingredients. It’s super delicious and easy, so go on and give it a whirl. Next time I am going to try it with coconut milk, and maybe half a cup less of powdered sugar* because it was very sweet and just a little bit grainy. But otherwise very good! 
*I know sugar is a hot topic, so here are a couple resources on finding vegan sugar! 

I just made my first batch of vegan fudge, and I’m really into it! I used this recipe, and added a handful of semi-sweet vegan chips and some pomegranate liqueur. I guess I didn’t expect it to turn out, so I didn’t measure out my changes. I melted the liqueur (A shot? Half a shot? Who knows!) and chips down with all of the other ingredients. It’s super delicious and easy, so go on and give it a whirl. Next time I am going to try it with coconut milk, and maybe half a cup less of powdered sugar* because it was very sweet and just a little bit grainy. But otherwise very good! 

*I know sugar is a hot topic, so here are a couple resources on finding vegan sugar! 

04/22/2014

Have you made Vegan Yack Attack’s Roasted Cauliflower Tomato Soup yet? It is FANTASTIC. Even though Jackie and I are friends IRL, and she’s aware my enthusiasm knows no bounds, I think she may have gotten weirded out by how obsessed I became with this recipe. OH WELL! I love it, my mom loves it, my dad and grandma love it. I made it about twice a week for a while, no joke! My mom wistfully mentioned it recently and I haven’t been able to shake my hankering for it. Hey, Jackie, hey! I’m like, officially the president of this soup’s fan club, right? 

Have you made Vegan Yack Attack’s Roasted Cauliflower Tomato Soup yet? It is FANTASTIC. Even though Jackie and I are friends IRL, and she’s aware my enthusiasm knows no bounds, I think she may have gotten weirded out by how obsessed I became with this recipe. OH WELL! I love it, my mom loves it, my dad and grandma love it. I made it about twice a week for a while, no joke! My mom wistfully mentioned it recently and I haven’t been able to shake my hankering for it. Hey, Jackie, hey! I’m like, officially the president of this soup’s fan club, right? 

04/21/2014

More fun with homemade vegan cheese: testing Miyoko Schinner’s cream cheese recipe!   »

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I love being able to make fancy, artisanal vegan cheeses at home! I’ve been meaning to try this cream cheese recipe by Miyoko Schinner for about six months now. I finally did, and honestly, it couldn’t have been easier! I used unsweetened coconut yogurt to ferment it, and I let it sit out for the full 48 hours. That was kind of tough! I thought I was going to be super cool about leaving food out, letting the bacteria do it’s job, but it turns out I am an American through and through! 

imageI made toast with Larrupin mustard, pepper and avocado! Delicious. Has avocado on toast always been a thing, or am I just noticing it now? I like to say the British have beans on toast and American vegans have avocado and toast. It really is a great combination! 

I super enjoyed not only making this recipe, but eating it too! I am very into the long fridge life: two weeks! I can’t wait to make frosting or cheesecake with it. It is my dream to try to replicate the blueberry cheesecake from Timeless Coffee in Oakland! It is also crucial I get some more of Sophie’s Kitchen Smoked Lox, ASAP! 

04/17/2014

Victoria Vegan Pasta Sauces: The Vegan Alfredo-Lover’s Dream!  »

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The lovely family over at Victoria Vegan recently sent me a variety of their pasta sauces for review, and so review them I happily will!

imageThey sent me their Arugula Pesto Alfredo, Artichoke Alfredo, Vodka sauce, Roasted Bell Pepper Alfredo and Original Alfredo to try. I invited my sister over for the fun, as pasta is her favorite food. We called it our “Marinara Tasting Party”, though our party was dominated mostly by Alfredo sauces! 

imageClockwise from top left: My plate, my sister’s plate, sautéed spinach with vegan bac’un bits and my niece Audrey enjoying the Original Alfredo sauce with pasta! I made my sister and I the garlic bread and spinach (veganized), because those were staples on pasta night when we were growing up. 

I had tried the Roasted Bell Pepper sauce a little while ago, so I already knew I was a fan of this brand! It was exciting to be able to sample so many varieties, and though I really enjoyed them all, my personal favorite was the Arugula Pesto. The Artichoke Alfredo definitely came in at a close second. They were so interesting and full of flavor; I thought the creaminess of the Alfredo complimented both the Arugula Pesto and Artichoke so well! My sister’s favorite was the Vodka sauce, so I sent her home with it. (She’s always open to trying vegan food, and it feels like such a victory when we find things she likes.) Audrey just had her 18 month check-up earlier that day, in which she was given the okay to finally introduce nuts in her diet. That was a good thing because Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces are cashew based (it’s more of a fruit, I know, but you can never be too careful with nut allergies)! The sauces are also non-GMO and gluten-free! REJOICE! Sometimes they are soy-free as well, but be sure to check the labels on that.

After my sister left, I had four open, full jars of sauce to figure out what to do with! Things got creative over here. I had some jumbo shells I was waiting to do something special with, and having the Arugula Pesto sauce was the perfect reason to finally make them! 

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I filled my shells with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, onions and kale. I also added pinches of nutritional yeast, bac’un bits and salt. I was quite pleased with the results! 

By this time I was getting tired of eating pasta, and was racking my brain for something fun to make. I thought fried mac and cheese sounded good, but not quite what I was in the mood for. So instead, inspired by this recipe, I fashioned baskets out of phyllo dough. It’s not as hard as it sounds, I swear! I made mac’n cheese with sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach, again with a pinch of bac’un bits and nooch. I used the Orginal Alfredo for these, but any of the white sauces would be perfection! [Ed. note: DAMN GIRL GIMME THAT!] 

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Phyllo dough is not impossible or overly intimidating to work with, I swear! My mom’s secret is to keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out, but with a dry towel instead of a wet one. I greased a muffin tin, and then stuffed one folded sheet of dough into each hole. I then filled the dough with a spoonful or two of mac’n cheese, brushed the edges of the dough with olive oil and baked it at 350 until the edges were lightly browned. EASY, SEE? 

All in all, I am a big fan of Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces! If you see the Arugula Pesto, I’m telling you, pick it up! You can’t go wrong with any of the varieties and seriously, don’t be afraid to dress them up a little when you make them! I don’t live near a Whole Foods right now, but I was daydreaming combining any of the sauces with these ravioli (I can almost taste it!). 

Read more about the Victoria Fine Foods family here! Victoria Vegan products are sold at a variety of establishments, including SproutsRainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and Vegan Essentials.

Full Disclosure: Victoria Fine Foods sent me these jars of sauces, free of charge, to review. All opinions stated above are solely my own. 

04/07/2014

Cookbook Review: Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon!   »

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Another day, another fantastic cookbook for review! Today we are featuring The Oh She Glows Cookbook, by Angela Liddon. This cookbook is based off  the popular vegan cooking blog of the same name, which you may have visited and even cooked from yourself!

First of all, this cookbook is gorgeous! There are 100 recipes featured, with each recipe given it’s own page of text and full-page, color photograph! I love this, as sometimes I find myself making recipes that aren’t turning out, and I have no idea how they’re supposed to look, which can lead to confusion and frustration in the kitchen. That’s why I love making recipes from blog posts so much! 75 of the recipes in Angela’s cookbook are new, while 25 of them are from her most popular blog posts, just updated. Her recipes are made with “real, whole-foods ingredients,” packed with vegetables and few processed foods. Each recipe is also classified regarding food sensitivities and allergies, so gluten-free, soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free and nut-free labels abound! 

Before we get to the food, I want to add that everything I made turned out as beautiful as the pictures featured*, which the author deserves credit for, for creating easy-to-follow recipes with vibrant ingredients. This is definitely a book for those looking to add some “cleaner” recipes to their repertoire! 

The first two recipes I made were the Eat Your Greens Detox Soup and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fingerling Potatoes and Rosemary. imageIt was a lot of green in one sitting, but my bod needed it! The soup was maybe not something I would serve guests, but make for myself when I’ve had a long weekend or late night out. It just felt good to eat it. And how can one go wrong with roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes with fresh rosemary? The answer: you can’t! The potatoes were approved by my 18 month old niece, Audrey, which is one of the highest forms of praise in this household. She is demanding more as I type! 

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Next up I made the Marinated Italian Mushrooms because Bradleys love marinated mushrooms. I have always bought them at the store, not realizing how easy they are to make! The homemade version is delicious, and will be a staple now in my home for years to come! 

When I was flipping through Oh She Glows, deciding what to make, I came across the Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich, and it was a done deal. I am a huge fan of adding Vegenaise to anything and calling it a salad. Liddon’s version did not disappoint; I was blown away by how flavorful and colorful it was! Disclaimer: I did not add the pickles it called for because I do not swing that way. imageI slathered this salad on sliced sourdough bread, because any respectable sandwich comes on sourdough when you grow up in the Bay Area. 

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Last but very certainly not least, I made the Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole. Talk about a sight and taste sensation! This guacamole is beautiful. There is a bit of prep involved, to chop all the fruits, but it is SO WORTH IT. One doesn’t even need chips for this, it’s great by the spoonful! 

I recommend this cookbook because it stays true to it’s word: “Vegan Recipes to Glow From the Inside Out.” The recipes I made, at least, made me feel good. They weren’t particularly tricky to make, they were just a little time consuming, as anything chock full of vegetables will be. There are so many more recipes within these pages I can’t wait to make, including her Summertime Cherry-Basil Bruschetta (Megan Rascal told me she loves bruschetta! Maybe I can finally lure her back to California for a visit by making it [Megan Rascal note: YEP SOUNDS PROBABLE BRUSCHETTA FOR LIFE]) and the Roasted Beet Salad with Hazelnuts, Thyme and Balsamic Reduction! 

Full Disclosure: I was sent this cookbook free from the publishing company for review, however, all of the opinions stated above are my own. 

*Well, my food may have turned out beautifully in real life, but I’m no food photographer! Angela Liddon not only created all of her recipes, she also shot all the food within the pages herself! 

04/04/2014

Cookbook review: Mayim’s Vegan Table!   »

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I just received Mayim Bialik’s debut vegan cookbook, Mayim’s Vegan Table, and I absolutely love it. I have had so much fun making the recipes out of this book. They are easy to follow with super accessible ingredients. I got the feeling this book is catered towards people who are new at veganism or feeding picky, young eaters, but I think anyone can enjoy it! While it can be exciting to make challenging recipes with multiple, unusual ingredients, most of the time I want to make quick meals that are big on flavor. In that respect, Mayim’s cookbook definitely delivers! Like, WHOA! 

The first recipe I made was the creamed cornbread, which is pictured above. I never would have thought of using creamed corn. It added a texture to the cornbread that was both soft and incredibly moist! This recipe did call for quite a bit of maple syrup, which I could see some people very much enjoying, but I would definitely cut down on that next time, maybe even adding some jalapeños. But don’t take that as me criticizing: I very much like having recipes in my repertoire that are delicious in their original form, but can also be easily tweaked to suit my own palate!

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The next recipe I made were the brussels sprouts chips. I meant to share these with my dad, but I ended up eating them all in one sitting. Oops! Peeling the layers of brussels sprouts is not much fun, but the result is so spectacular that I don’t mind doing it again! I hadn’t had roasted brussels sprouts chips since I last went to Social Brewery and Kitchen, so this was quite the treat.

imageMayim’s cheese sauce shows up in a few different places in her book, so I decided to give it a whirl, on it’s own. I used Daiya mozzarella, and in place of wheat flour, I substituted rice flour. I was curious if this recipe could hold up gluten-free. Good news: it does! I think many gluten-free substitutes, such as flour, breadcrumbs and pasta, can be used in the same ration without compromising the taste in her recipes. That is just another reason I am loving this book!  

imageI baked the cheese sauce atop enchiladas (my own recipe, not the ones featured in the book). I was very pleased with the consistency of this sauce freshly made as well as baked in the oven! I could see using this sauce not only on the enchiladas and mac’n cheese in the book, but also with burgers and chili cheese dogs! 

Next up, I made the soft pretzels. These were an Instagram favorite, but I have to admit, I already knew that would be the case! image
I knew I had to make the pretzels, both for myself and because if I’m going to do a review, pretzels are going to be the hit. I am super with-it, when it comes to food trends! My first thought was “Oh no, working with bread dough is so tedious.”, but I should have known better! Mayim’s recipe couldn’t have been easier or faster to make. One thing: the recipe says it makes eight, but then only has you form four pretzels. I only made four and they were huge! So next time I will make eight. I brought two over to my sister and her husband, who are both particular about food. They LOVED THESE PRETZELS, and keep demanding more! So, don’t just take it from me that they are incredible. 

imageThe very last recipe I made were the baked zucchini chips! They were fantastic and I ate them all in one sitting. Four zucchini have never disappeared so quickly! I didn’t have any vegan parmesan, and even though the recipe said that ingredient was optional, I wanted a cheesy taste. I diced up some Daiya mozzarella instead, and I thought it worked pretty well. Of course, I then had to dip them in Sriracha, because, what else? 

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So, that’s that! There are so many more recipes I can’t wait to make, including her Matzo ball soup and falafel! The cookbook contains more than 100 recipes, with appetizer, bread, sauce, breakfast, entree and dessert sections. There is also a sweet introduction, leading up to nutritional information for vegans and a few how-tos. If you are in the market for a new cookbook, I think Mayim’s Vegan Table is definitely worth checking out! 

Full Disclosure: The publishing company sent me this book free for review, however, all of the opinions stated in this post are mine. 

04/02/2014

Keepin’ It Kind’s Tofu Chèvre recipe is a vegan cheesy grand-slam!  »

imageChèvre, olive oil, balsamic reduction*, fresh chopped tomatoes and julienned basil on toasted slices of sourdough baguette. 

I am quite the vegan cheese connoisseur, and by that I mean I enjoy all of it**, especially the most expensive varieties! Right now, however, I am living in a place where the only vegan food I can trust comes from my own kitchen, fancy cheese included. There’s no Kite Hill for miles in these parts. I can’t complain too much though, as the olive oil and wine produced here are pretty fab!

Last week I wanted to treat myself, with as little work and ingredients as possible. Fortunately for me, I had bookmarked Keepin’ It Kind’s tofu chèvre, saving the recipe for a rainy day! Just kidding, I live in SoCal now, which means it was most definitely not raining the morning I made this! It was however, reigning Breaking Amish on Netfilx in my kitchen all day, that’s for sure! Man, I loved watching those four Amish and one Mennonite, making their way through the big apple. Oh, how I miss city life!

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Alright, enough TV talk (we can use Twitter for that), let’s get to the cheese. I was stoked at just how easy this recipe was to follow, and that the results following were spectacular! I did change it a little, because tahini is not something I ever have on hand, nor was I willing to buy it for a half tablespoon. I substituted a little more miso (which means I should’ve cut back on the salt) and lemon. When this baby came out of the oven it took everything I had not to just eat it by the spoonful. By the time it cooled I had only about half a log left, which I used to make the most delectable bruschetta of my life! 

imageChèvre, olive oil, balsamic reduction, avocado and julienned basil. 

I can’t recommend this recipe enough, as it’s both scrumptious and elegant! I’m making it for every party I host or attend in the future, because the world needs to know about this vegan cheese! My fave part was that not only did I make an artisanal cheese at home, it was a fraction of the cost of most vegan items on the market. I can’t wait to make this pesto and chèvre grilled cheese sammie and then this pizza! Who’s coming for dinner? I heard a rumor that Kristy Turner, of Keepin’ It Kind, may be working on a cookbook and so you better believe I’ll be ordering online from the seat I’m in right now first in line for that hard copy!

*You don’t have bother looking up a recipe for balsamic reduction, unless you like things exact. I simmered about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar for approximately 20 minutes. It hardens as it cools, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem syrupy enough when it’s warm. Don’t use a whole bottle of vinegar for a glaze you’ll use twice. Or do whatever you want, it’s your fridge space! 

**Never the FYH vegan cheddar though. NEVER THE CHEDDAR.

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