235. So Simple: Asian Grilled Tofu

So SImple: Asian Grilled Tofu | Ann Ning Learning How

I had a request to help my sister’s family introduce more tofu into the regular meal rotation.  I kept on forgetting, but on the way home from P&S’s wedding I commandeered Timmy’s phone and did some recipe scouting and found a yummy-sounding one that turned out to be very simple, too.  The marinade is pretty intuitive to the Asian palate, but it was helpful to have an actual recipe to work with so I could replicate the results a week later and eventually share it with you.  I made some changes based on ingredient availability.  I made noodles for the first time since I got sick last week (with zucchini for me), and my sister said I looked at her like she had 2 heads when she told me she had no white pepper.  But don’t worry – you don’t need any white pepper for this.

Asian Grilled Tofu
Based on Relish.com’s “Asian Sesame Grilled Tofu Steaks” by S. Petusevsky

  • 2 tablespoons tamari (this is my new gluten-free soy sauce alternative; if you have soy sauce, use it!)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce with garlic
  • 1 block of firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch-thick “steaks” the long way

Pour the sauce over the tofu and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight.  Reserve some of the sauce for dipping or topping the cooked tofu.  Cook these on the grill or on a grill pan until you get some nice grill lines.

210. So Simple: Paleo English Muffins [Grain/Dairy Free], Almond or Coconut Flour

So Simple: Paleo English Muffins | Almond or Coconut, Single Serving, Microwave | Ann Ning Learning How

I love English Muffins…or any kind of muffin, really.  But at present I’m most interested in grain-free breakfast items that are not borderline desserts.  Ask me tomorrow, though, and I might very well be back on the giant muffin train – but for now I’ll point you in the direction of 2 options:  (1) Almond flour (recipe by Fitcupcaker)  and (2) Coconut flour (recipe from Grain Free Groupie).  The choice is up to you!

Paleo English Muffin (Almond Flour, Single Serving, Microwave) | Ann Ning Learning How

I used TJ’s just almond meal (I don’t think it’s the blanched variety many people recommend) – that’s why it’s speckled.  But I like the speckles 🙂

So Simple:  Paleo English Muffin (Coconut Flour, Single Serving, Microwave) | Ann Ning Learning How

I smeared my muffin with chocolate-hazelnut spread (“nutella”) I made in the Vitamix.  Yummy for my tummy!  The drink is an iced latte with no-strain hazelnut milk.  I love how the coffee just sits on top of the ice and the bottom layer is still milky white.  My colleague, C, had a coffee-drink calendar at her desk (2011) and I used to study the different drink pictures every month.  I was never able to achieve this striated effect except now, accidentally.
Both options are single-serving microwave recipes, so if you are anti-microwave, sorry – this ain’t for you.  But if you are not opposed to microwave usage these are great grain-free breakfast options that come together fast.

Another microwave, grain/dairy free option:

And if you didn’t click on the milk link…

201. So Simple: Banana Date & Nut Bars [Grain Free, NSA, inspired by Elana’s Pantry]

So Simple:  Banana Date & Nut Squares | inspired by Elana's Pantry| Grain-Dairy Free, No Sugar Added | Ann Ning Learning How

Date and nut cake is S’s (OT6) favorite baked good.  When I left The Place I brought her a date and nut loaf Mommy had helped me to prepare.  Now, more than a year later, I am sufficiently recovered to do it all on my own since I just toss everything into my Vitamix.  I pureed everything and then just roughly blended in the dates and nuts at the end.  I don’t have grapeseed oil so I used your favorite, and mine, coconut.  Also, I omitted the agave and just tossed in a banana, so there is no sweetener except fruit in my version.  The banana scented bars are fantastic – I froze the bulk of mine and enjoy them straight from the freezer – the texture is soft enough to allow this.  If you like banana bread, you’ll LOVE these.  If you do not like bananas I will likely be trying some non-banana alternatives in the future, so stay tuned.

The Recipe:  Date Walnut Bars from Elana’s Pantry

My Changes:

  • Sub coconut oil for grapeseed oil
  • Sub a banana for agave
  • Blend everything in your blender – wet ingredients first, blend.  Add dry, blend more.  At the end, add dates and walnuts – pulse lightly so they get chopped but are not pureed.

Oh yeah – so I realized that when I told you about the PB Zucchini Brownies from fastpaleo last week I failed to mention two important ingredients:  1) Peanut Butter and 2) Zucchini.  Oops, my bad.  I wrote about them in the body of the text but when it came time to detail my veganized recipe I forgot.  I don’t proofread much bc of my vision issues, so these things happen.  xoxo.  Welcome to my world.  So if you’re going to reference the recipe, make sure to look at my updated post (click on the picture below) and not the email you got if you’re a subscriber (thank you!)  PS.  If you ever notice any gaffes like this, please do let me know – you’re not going to hurt my feelings.  The new Floppy Me needs your help to be accurate.

196.  So Simple:  PB Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free, Vegan]

196. So Simple: PB Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free, Vegan]

196. So Simple: PB Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free, Vegan]

So Simple:  PB Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free, Vegan] from fastpaleo.com || Ann Ning Learning How

These brownies are originally from fastpaleo.com, shared by a user named michelerock. Thanks, Michele! I simplified the recipe for my “kitchen cruiser” (I often “cruise” like a baby using the furniture when I’m in the kitchen) convenience, and made them vegan for kicks. Except for the chocolate chips – I don’t know what’s in mine. If you’re a real vegan you probably already know what kind of chocolate chips to use. It’s time to break ’em out – this recipe is a winner.

VINDICATION. It happened yesterday at around 7pm. Someone Googled “Kate & Leopold, JJ offers Kate bean.” I love the fact that the search did not concern the film’s cultural commentary subtext but focused on the “Edamame?” incident that completely grossed me out. In case you missed reading this post, it’s worth it for the edamame reference, but even if you have no recollection of a movie called Kate & Leopold I like this post because the obscure pop culture reference morphs into some devotional thoughts on being out of options. Ever been there? Between a rock and a hard place?

Okay, enough gloating over my search engine referrals. On to today’s offering – grain free peanut butter zucchini brownies! I made them vegan by making flax eggs. Do you know how to make a flax egg? Here’s a helpful tutorial: How to make a flax egg (the RIGHT way). I confess I do not grind my own flax seeds so I’m already throwing caution to the wind and doing it the WRONG way. But I’m trying to use up some ground flax seed in my fridge and figured this was a good way to do it, plus I’m trying to experiment with flax eggs for the (semi) vegans in my life, and the best part is that when you bake vegan style you can taste the batter with reckless abandon having bypassed the raw egg dilemma. Win-win, really.

The only other changes I made included replacing the 1/3 cup of raw honey with a squirt of agave. (I don’t think strict vegans eat honey, anyway.) I only used a dash of cinnamon in place of the spices, and perhaps most significantly, I did not grate my zucchinis – I just chunked 2 8-9 inch zucchinis and threw everything into my trusty Vitamix. There was some concern that my method would be too watery and wouldn’t bake well, but grating things scared me in my old life, too, so I figured I’d take my chances. Some reviewers said they had to bake their brownies for an hour, but mine were done in 25 minutes. They were moist and fudgy, and since I love peanut butter, I was thrilled with the flavor. I couldn’t tell there was any zucchini in there, and the lack of flour of any kind was a bonus.

So these were super easy for me – since I just pulverized everything in my blender. I highly recommend that you go make them now: Zucchini Brownies from FastPaleo.com

…okay, I think I changed the recipe enough to show the recipe here.

Peanut Butter Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free and Vegan]

Based on fastpaleo’s recipe by michelerock

Preheat oven to 350, grease a 9×9 or similar sized pan

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 8-9 inch zucchini, cut into chunks
  • squirt of agave (or a spoonful, depending on the container)
  • 1 flax egg
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup vegan-friendly chocolate chips

Blend everything in your blender, except the chocolate chips – fold these in at the end. Pour into your greased baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350.

Fun fact: If you’re British you might prefer the term “courgette” to “zucchini”


186. So Simple: Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars [from delighted momma]

So Simple:  Coconut CC Bars || via Delighted Momma || Ann Ning Learning How

I was craving cookies on Saturday so I mixed these up really quickly and put them in the toaster oven and voila!  They were done before lunchtime.  Yes, I wanted cookies right after eating breakfast.  Being me, I chose to press the dough into a pan to make bars, although Delighted Momma’s original recipe is for cookies.  Very good looking cookies, I might add.  Scooping cookies out is doable for me, but fitting an appropriate baking tray into the toaster oven isn’t, so I opted for bars.  I also only had 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut on hand instead of the full 1/2 and the taste was still fabulous.  I only added a squirt of agave instead of the 3 TB of raw honey and the taste was plenty sweet for me.  Side note:   The chocolate chip and coconut combination is like a Mounds bar – score!

I’m still trying to use up the little bag of coconut flour that Mommy bought, and these were so good that I might have to start buying coconut flour in earnest.  The good part is that most recipes only use a little bit of it, so a little goes a long way because it’s really absorbent.  How do I know?  Elana says so.  These cookies/bars call for a full cup, but I might decrease it next time, especially if I add the full amount of coconut.  I already added some splashes of almond milk to help me mix this time, and I think the batter’s texture might benefit from some more moisture, but we’ll see.  As it was, I was very happy with the results.  So happy, in fact, that it was a good thing that RSKL came to visit, because I gave the majority of the bars to her (my GF friend), otherwise they would have all ended up in my tummy!

If you prefer no-holds barred baking:

34.  (Tough) Cookie Monster

34. (Tough) Cookie Monster

Did you catch my update on my ENT appointment yesterday?

Ed had a great time at the ENT's office...

Ed had a great time at the ENT’s office…

182. So Simple: Cake Batter Ice Cream [from Chocolate Covered Katie]

So Simple:  Cake Batter Ice Cream from CCK || Ann Ning Learning How


I love Cake Batter flavored anything.  Sadly, so many of the recipes I see require you to add some cake mix powder from a box, and I’d rather not do that.  This combination of vanilla extract, a little almond essence and some coconut made me happy and able to resist the “real” Party Cake ice cream in the fridge.  This is basically frozen milk (mine’s unsweetened vanilla almond) pulverized in the Vitamix.  It’s not as creamy as full fat ice cream, and I ate it on a hot day so it looked a little melty, but overall, I really enjoyed it.  I didn’t have any coconut extract, so I just added a spoon or two of desiccated coconut.  I’m sure this boosted the overall calorie count, but my almond milk is 40 calories per cup so I figured there was room to spare, and it was delicious!  The hardest part about this is having the forethought to make the ice cream base and freeze it before hand.  I used an ice cube tray and it was easy peasy.  Making the base itself is a snap – it’s the remembering to do so a few hours before you want to eat it that’s difficult.  So here’s the recipe.  Go make it now.  Chocolate Covered Katie’s Cake Batter Ice Cream

177. So Simple: Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken [by GoodCookery]

So Simple:  GoodCookery's Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken || Ann Ning Learning How

A while ago I asked people for help regarding how I could cook given my limitations.  K came up with a recipe tutorial on “Slow Cooker Rosemary Chicken” and sent me the video (click on the link).  I gather that “GoodCookery” (that’s their Youtube user name) makes videos regularly, and the rest of the family gets in on the action!  I just watched G make grain-free, GF, chocolate pudding cake in adorable red mini loaf pans.  And I saw another one with G making kimchee!!  Oooh.  Seriously – you can just browse through the videos and see if anything appeals to you.

I got all excited when I saw K’s Chicken Recipe bc it looked easy to do, and the tutorial itself includes both verbal instructions, and big-print text scrolling on screen with the ingredient list – perfect for someone like me.  So I asked Mommy to help me go shopping for the ingredients, we went to Trader Joe’s, got the goods, and then I got sick.  :(.  So Mommy ended up putting everything in the Crockpot.  Happily, K made sure there was no chopping or anything, so you really just have to dump everything in.  At that point, though, doing so was not feasible for me.

I have enjoyed the dish for several days as I’m getting better, though – it’s mild but hearty, and feels nourishing – just what I need right now.  We did forego the rosemary from the original, though.  I’m not sure what Mommy replaced it with, but it was good.

Thanks again, K!

Also of interest:


176. So Simple: Raw Salted Caramel Dip [from the Detoxinista]

So Simple: Detoxinista's Salted Caramel Dip || Ann Ning Learning How

This was so easy to make.  I saw it at Detoxinista.com and asked Mommy to buy some dates at Costco.  I settled on the bag of pitted ones since the Medjools had pits, plus they were more expensive, so I was glad to have a whole bag of sweet pitted fruit for fewer dollars, eveb if some opine that Medjools are superior.  Now although there is no sugar added in this recipe, it is plenty sweet, and the texture is very dippy.  It’s not exactly like caramel, but I wasn’t expecting that.  I wasn’t making this so I could make candy apples, but I found this to be a wonderful dip for granny smiths (or any other variety of apple you have around), and as a special treat – pretzels (to play up the saltiness).  And to make sure I used up the stuff I couldn’t scrape out from the bottom of my Vitamix, I made my first Apple Pie Smoothie – it was SO good. (Instead of adding dates I just used whatever was in the blender.)

Here’s the  recipe:  Detoxinista’s Salted Caramel Dip.

Apple Pie Smoothie || Ann Ning Learning How

172. So Simple: Ribbon Wreath Plate

So Simple"  Ribbon Wreath Plate from SimplySouthern.com || Ann Ning Learning How

In keeping with the “So Simple” series, this project is easy peasy.  It’s also amazingly useful.  I tried this idea from SimplySouthern.com – you just weave a ribbon through holes you’ve punched in the edge of a paper plate, and then you can bring it to a potluck or to the office, etc. – and you don’t need to keep track of it and bring it home.  It’s pretty and has some personality, but it’s disposable – and that’s the beauty of this.  It presents well if you’re taking food to an event, and it’s convenient – you just have to enjoy the party, and you can forget about the plate.

I used a pretty square plate with a mint/silver pattern because I live with Mommy so that was what was in the pantry.  But Lauren (SimplySouthern.com) used a plain white round plate with red ribbon and the contrasting colors had an easy, high-impact effect.  She also suggested that you can use different types of ribbon to coordinate with the holiday as appropriate.

So the next time you’re toting cookies etc. anywhere, here are the instructions.

Wondering what to put on your plate?

If you like chocolate:

If you like mint: (Grasshopper Cookies)

167. So Simple: DIY Microwave Popcorn

So Simple:  DIY Microwave Popcorn || Ann Ning Learning How

Let’s have movie night!!

I’ve been saying that for more than a month, but life keeps getting in the way.  I really just want to sit on the sofa with a huge bowl of popcorn and watch a movie that makes me laugh.  But our nights keep on being occupied by more useful activities, and/or I keep on falling asleep too early to actually have a movie night.

So I recently changed tactics and announced that a matinee would be forthcoming.  I would like to watch Audrey Hepburn eat gelato in Roman Holiday on Netflix, but keep on falling asleep or having to go to Therapy or something, so this hasn’t worked out either.  If you had a movie night or matinee, would you stream something from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu etc. or Redbox it?  Right now it’s wonderful not to have to leave the house so streaming is ideal.  Mmm…gelato.  Sorry.  Distracted.

What really attracts me to movie night/matinee is the big bowl of popcorn I would insist on.  I recently tried this DIY microwave popcorn from ALifeUnprocessed.com.  Seriously, click on the link and try it.  You don’t even have to get a pot out.  Although I must say that there’s something amazingly satisfying in the process of popping corn on the stove that adds value to the experience, but sometimes you just want to eat some popcorn fast – and the DIY microwave version is the way to go.

I used a giant Pyrex measuring cup since it’s easier for me to grasp things with a handle.  It also lets steam out nicely, although you can also use any old bowl with any old plate and since they are likely not a perfect fit, steam gets out anyway.  As opposed to the bags you get at the store, you control the toppings for your popcorn here.  I’m a big fan of butter and salt, or olive oil and salt.  But a few weeks ago, Mrs. B (Ruth’s Mom) got me hooked on coconut oil and salt.  I generally melt the coconut oil  with some of N’s (Soy) butter in the microwave, pour it over the popcorn and then salt it.  You can use regular butter, of course – we just keep soy butter around for Ezra and I like it, so I use it.

We will not be watching Finding Nemo.

If you’d like to pop corn on the stove: