Friday, August 1, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 12

Now that the school year is starting up again, I'm struggling to schedule some consistent times during which I can go to PT, so in the next few weeks, I'll be therapist hopping.
This week I worked with both Stephanie and Brian. I know I've mentioned it before, but while I feel somewhat like I'm being disloyal to Stephanie when I have to work with another therapist, I really like working with Brian as well. They're both really effective but have some different approaches, so my hope is that this will help keep me from getting into a "rut" of doing "the same old thing" over and over each day. That's especially vital to me right now, as I've just started realizing that my hip isn't in a constant state of pain or discomfort.
Therapy works, y'all!
Of course, I can't do every exercise each day, so just going in to the rehab center will continue to strengthen my hip with activities like the Sproing, which I used again this week.

Thanks to Morgan for taking these pictures of me being ridiculous on the Sproing.


I felt like those little kids who are attached to the backpack-leash.
After we changed things up last week, I woke up on Saturday and couldn't believe how sore I was.
But it was my thigh muscles - NOT MY HIP - that was sore.
This is what we call progress, kids.
In fact, Stephanie was thrilled to hear that my discomfort manifested in muscle soreness instead of "the usual" hip achiness. It was really only this week, then, that I've realized that my hip isn't in a constant state of pain/discomfort; while I do feel it if I sit for too long, it comes and goes much more than it did when I first started PT a few months ago.
I'm starting to see the light - do I dare start thinking about scheduling races?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Strawberry Colada Ice Cream for Ice Cream Tuesday

Since I've been unable to run, my physical activity has dropped off significantly.
I still walk Zooey fairly regularly, and I am working to do my PT exercises as much as possible. But all of this together still doesn't burn as many calories as my normal running routine.
It was only a matter of time, then, when Lack of Movement plus No Change in Caloric Intake took a toll on the waistline and the self esteem.
In an attempt to do what I can to alter the part of that equation of which I am in control, I've decided to focus efforts on lowering my refined sugar, grain, and dairy intake (the dairy reduction was more to combat headaches and migraines than anything else) as well as pay careful attention to the actual amount of food I put on my plate at each meal.
Of course, reducing one's sugar and dairy intake means reducing one's ice cream intake, and sometimes, a girl just wants her dessert.


Now, the great thing about ice cream, other than the way it tastes, is that its the fat content that gives ice cream that smooth texture. Coconut milk, which has the creamy texture that I was looking for, is also high in good fats, too, so it's a perfectly good substitute, and because the fat doesn't need to be cooked in the same way that a custard-based (read: with eggs) ice cream does, making a dairy-free ice cream was quite a simple process that only required a few ingredients.
And then, of course, fruit, because I still wanted to feel virtuous even when indulging.


Strawberry Colada Ice Cream
(dairy-free, paleo-friendly, vegan)

For the ice cream base:
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 4-6 Tbsp agave nectar (to taste)*
  • 2 large strawberries (or 4 small to medium sized ones) - this is just for color
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp vodka (optional - this will help the ice cream from setting up too hard)
For the mix-ins:
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup pineapple, chopped (if you use canned pineapple, you can use the crushed variety; just be sure to drain it completely)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, divided (or less - you really only need to lightly coat the pan)
  • 2 tsp agave nectar, divided (optional, if you want your mix-ins a little sweeter)
Combine coconut cream, coconut milk, agave, strawberries, and vanilla in blender, and puree until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh sieve (optional), and refrigerate overnight. I recommend using a quart jar in order to utilize vertical space.
Heat 1 tsp each coconut oil and agave a 6-inch sauté pan over medium heat; add strawberries and cook until caramelized. Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate overnight. Repeat this for the pineapple (you could do them together, but I wanted to keep the color of the pineapple).
Churn the ice cream base according to your ice cream maker's directions. When the mixture is just about at soft serve consistency, add the strawberries and pineapple, and continue to churn until the fruit is well distributed.
Transfer mixture to a freezer-safe container; press plastic wrap down onto the surface of the ice cream, and cover with lid. Freeze for at least four hours before enjoying.

*NERD ALERT - A (not very) brief word about agave nectar: For a few years, agave nectar was seen as a "natural" alternative to sugar, being lower on the glycemic index, and as such, considered a better and even safer choice for diabetics and others who were concerned about sugar intake. However, for various scientific reasons that I won't go into here except to say that the large amount of fructose in it makes you want to eat more, even when full, agave nectar has been proven to not be a "healthier" option. I used it in this recipe because of its more neutral flavor (compared to honey or maple syrup). If the full amount suggested above (less than 7 Tbsp) is used, each serving of the finished ice cream will contain under 1 Tbsp of agave nectar, which in terms of sugar intake is slightly under the RDA for an adult (1 Tbsp has about 21 g of sugar; the RDA is 25 grams).


Today's post brings a close to a month of Ice Cream Tuesday posts for National Ice Cream Month. I hope you enjoyed reading the posts and recipes as much as I enjoyed eating them. In case you missed any, here they are:
And don't forget to check out some of the other wonderful bloggers who have participated in Ice Cream Tuesday this month; we've all had so much fun:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Physical Therapy - Weeks 9, 10, & 11

YOU GUYS! I RAN THIS WEEK!

More on that in a second, but I couldn't wait to tell you.

Technically this should be Week 12, but since we were in Michigan for a full week and I did exactly one day of exercises while we were there, I'm not counting it.

Since I've been back, though, things have been progressing nicely. I've graduated to some higher level exercises on the table, and we've taken a few off the rotation for good (although Stephanie told me that I can continue to do them at home). I also started with floor ladder exercises to help with coordination when I'm in motion but not necessarily forward motion.

This week has been pretty exciting.

I ran. Did I mention that before?

OK, so it was only for two and a half minutes, in thirty-second increments, with thirty seconds of walking in between. And it was on the Sproing.

Regardless: I ran this week. And I am filled with joy.

I've also started swimming. Which is funny (both funny ha-ha and funny strange) because I've said a few times that I'd NEVER swim or consider a triathlon. I'm using the "not being able to run or cycle does strange things to a person" excuse. Not Moving can cause a person to become certifiably insane, I'm pretty sure.

So now I have swim "class" on Fridays for six weeks.

I even bought goggles.
Last week: panic. Like, OMG I am going to drown panic. Thankfully, though, the coach was really patient with me and gave me some great suggestions on 1) Not Panicking and 2) getting my breathing timing down better.

This week: since I had PT today, I spent the hour doing pulls in order to keep my legs from getting fatigued. It took A Lot of thought, sand sometimes I struggled to put keep what my legs, arms, and breath needed to do all together.

I'm not sure how much swimming will play into my training as I become stronger and am able to run and cycle again, but I am happy that I'm able to open my eyes under water (yes, even with goggles that has often freaked me out) and time my breathing more accurately. Adding swimming to the rotation will help alleviate the pressure on my hip, so I really hope that I decide I like it enough to buy a pass to the pool. For now, it is absolutely what I need. One hour in the pool, and I'm happily exhausted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not Princess Stephanie's Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream for Ice Cream Tuesday

HRH, like many young girls her age, loves Olivia the Pig.
We have all of the original book series by Ian Falconer as well as a few of the Nickelodeon series DVDs and the books from those series.
In fact, for her first Halloween, HRH wore an Olivia costume. She hated everything about it.
One of her favorite Nickelodeon episodes/books is "Princess for a Day, in which Olivia and Princess Stephanie of Poshtonia switch places; hilarity, naturally, ensues.


The complicating incident in this plot takes place in the local ice cream parlor, where both Olivia and Princess Stephanie enjoy some cherry chocolate chunk ice cream. Every time she reads the book or watches the episode, HRH has asked for us to make cherry chocolate chunk ice cream.
Except for the part where she's not a huge fan of cherries, this is a great idea.
So, I simply switched the main and supporting flavors, and now, she can't get enough.
Neither can I.


Imagined when making my dark chocolate orange concoction earlier this month, this ice cream combines dark chocolate, cherry puree, and chunks of both chocolate and cherries to make a rich and delicious treat that princesses and non-princesses alike will enjoy.


Not Princess Stephanie's Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream
Inspired by this recipe from Scoop Adventures

For the syrup:
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cherry juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt 
  • 1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
For the ice cream base:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp cherry extract
For the cherries:
  • 2 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cherry vodka (you could use regular vodka if you want)
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
Additional mix-in:
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or your favorite chocolate chunks (optional)
Combine cocoa powder, sugar, cherry juice, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for five minutes, and then whisk to combine fully. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together ice cream base ingredients, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until boiling. Boil for ten seconds, and then immediately strain through a fine mesh strainer into the chocolate mixture. Whisk to combine fully.
Cool over an ice bath (I use a larger bowl filled with ice water) until mixture registers about 50°, and then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to cool overnight. If you don't have a ton of horizontal room in your fridge for the bowl, use two quart jars (this makes a little over one quart).
Macerate the cherries in the sugar and vodka in a covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight.
Once the ice cream mixture is completely cooled, add to your ice cream maker and churn according to directions.
When ice cream is just about at soft serve consistency, drain the cherries and add them, along with the chocolate chips/chunks, to the ice cream maker. Churn until well mixed, and then transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Press plastic wrap down on top of the mixture, cover with the lid, and freeze for at least 4-6 hours before enjoying as you watch your favorite Olivia episode.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For the Love of Dog: Ice Cream Tuesday Edition

I had planned a lengthy post that would highlight why I love my dog so dang much, but between work and school, with ballet camp for HRH and a migraine sandwiched in there somewhere, I'm just gonna post some cute but less than stellar quality pics of the world's greatest black and tan coonhound and boil it down to this: your dog wants to celebrate Ice Cream Month, too, and here's one way you can spoil your pup without spoiling her tummy.

"Can I just eat it already, Momma?"
"Om nom nom"
She heard Husband open the door, so she picked it up and ran so she wouldn't have to share.
Made with 99% lactose-free kefir, this is appropriate for those dogs whose tummies don't do well with wheat, which is in the popular commercial brand of doggie ice cream (or those other ingredients that you can't pronounce that you don't want to give your pup, either).

Cool-Yer-Paws Doggie Ice Cream
  • 1 large-ish sweet potato, roasted and skin removed (give your dog the skin to snack on)
  • 1 overly ripe banana
  • 32 ounces full-fat plain kefir, preferably organic
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or, as we call it in Arizona, "room temperature")*
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate until chilled through. Churn according to your ice cream maker's directions. Upon soft serve consistency, spoon into 1/4-cup containers and freeze until firm.

I suppose you don't need to churn it, but I wanted to give Zooey ice cream and not just a kefir-sicle, so the churning added in some air to the mixture. It has nothing to do with me maybe being a crazy dog lady.
As you can tell by the photos above, Zooey had no problem with the ice cream, unless you count having to wait for it while I took a photo.

*Coconut oil turns solid below 76°, but it doesn't fully freeze; when it's mixed with the other ingredients, it helps to keep ice crystals from forming in this ice cream so that your dog doesn't have to lick her tongue raw trying to enjoy her treat. This might sound like a lot of oil, but because even full-fat kefir doesn't have nearly the fat content that cream does, this will further help the consistency of the ice cream. The oil can help keep your dog's coat nice and shiny (it's great for itchy dogs), and the sweet potato will help keep everything moving in the right direction, if you catch my drift, while the banana makes sure it doesn't move too quickly.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mr. Pineapple Brown Sugar Ice Cream with Beer Caramelized Pineapples for Ice Cream Tuesday

A few weeks ago, when I was about to churn my chocolate orange ice cream for last week's Ice Cream Tuesday post, my ice cream maker died. I had just poured my mixture into the pre-frozen base and turned it on, and it made The Most Horrible Machine Dying Sound.
And then it stopped.
And I was left with a mixture that had already started to freeze to the ice cream base and no real good way to get it OUT before having to start over.
It was panic at the disco over here.
Of course, Zooey tried to help, so that was fun. Dogs and chocolate go together so well, you know.
Thankfully, I only managed to lose about half a pint as I madly poured and scraped the mixture back out of the ice cream maker and into the quart jars from whence they came.
And then, once I cleaned that remaining half pint of mixture off the counter top, the cabinets, the floor, and me, I sat down and thought, "Crap. What do I do NOW?"
Certainly I could have made this without an ice cream maker, but after posting about this little adventure on my personal Facebook page, some close friends texted me and said I could borrow theirs for a while. They even pre-chilled the base so I could get back to where I was before Disaster struck.
So naturally, I've gone mad with power and am making All the Ice Creams.


This ice cream is a nod to a local summer favorite: San Tan Brewing Company's Mr. Pineapple wheat beer. This seasonal brew is immensely popular round these parts, and people celebrate its tapping each year like it's a national holiday (it should probably be a state holiday, at the very least). The subtle sweetness that the pineapple adds to the beer is a perfect partner to the brown sugar, and when you add in pineapples caramelized in that same beer, you have a winning combination that just might make you forget that it's 110° already.
It's worth a shot, at least.


Mr. Pineapple Brown Sugar Ice Cream With Beer Caramelized Pineapples
Ratios inspired by Jenni Fields's Pastry Chef Online Maple Buttermilk Pecan Ice Cream

  • 2 cups San Tan Brewing Company's Mr. Pineapple Wheat Beer (or other wheat beer with pineapple or other tropical fruit to it)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I use Real Salt)
  • 14 ounces brown sugar (you could probably reduce this to about 10-12 ounces)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups whole milk, chilled
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • Beer caramelized pineapples*

Combine the beer, cream, half and half, salt,  brown sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
Boil for ten seconds, and then immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.
Add the whole milk, which you can just bring right out of the fridge when you need it. Whisk to combine completely.
Cool over an ice bath (I use a larger bowl filled with ice water), and then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to cool overnight. To save valuable horizontal space, I recommend using two quart jars.
Once completely cooled, add to your ice cream maker and churn according to directions. In the last few minutes of churning, mix in the caramelized pineapples.
Once the ice cream has reached soft serve consistency, pour mixture into freezer safe container. Press plastic wrap onto top of mixture (don't worry; it won't freeze to it), and fasten lid before moving to the freezer. Freeze for at least four hours before enjoying.
Just a note: this makes two full quarts, so you may need to pour some out for your homies before churning; otherwise, when you add the pineapple, the ice cream will spill out of the dasher. Or, I suppose you could do this in multiple batches. It's up to you.

*To make the beer caramelized pineapples, follow this recipe from The Beeroness; I used more Mr. Pineapple instead of the saison she recommended, and it.was.amazing. Just make sure that you chill the pineapples before mixing in to the ice cream, or else they will warm the mixture up too much, and you'll be churning for a bit longer than you plan.


Common sense warning: Even though the beer is cooked and the alcohol levels thus reduced, this ice cream still contains some levels of alcohol, so it's probably not the best choice to give your kids. Which is perfectly fine; you work hard to raise those kids, and you deserve to have an ice cream all to yourself for once. Get the kids a non-boozy flavor and enjoy responsibly.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dark Chocolate Orange Ice Cream for Ice Cream Tuesday: Scoop Adventures Edition

Well, we had our last double digit day for the foreseeable future a few weeks ago, so if you need me, I will be stuffing myself into the kiddie pool I bought for HRH and Zooey to share and washing down an iced tea that may or may not be of the "adult" persuasion.
Oh, and pants are pretty much optional until October.


So naturally I jumped at the chance to make MOAR ICE CREAM when Jenni, our fearless leader and ice cream wrangler over at Pastry Chef Online, asked if anyone wanted to join the reindeer games for a special Ice Cream Tuesday to celebrate the publication of Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States: Make the Real Recipes from the Greatest Ice Cream Parlors in the Country, by Lyndsay Clendaniel. Lyndsay also writes the blog Scoop Adventures, and she's a certified ice cream devotee. Her new book highlights fifty amazing - and local - ice cream shops from around the country. 


IceCreamTuesday

Fellow fans of ice cream can now get this book; you can order directly from Amazon by clicking the picture of it above. If you so choose, you can also locate a local bookstore here and order it that way.
BUT!!!!! You can also enter to win a copy of the book! The details are below, so keep reading! Excitement and exclamation points abound!
In choosing what ice cream to make, I needed to make sure that someone else in the family would eat it; once pants are back in fashion in the Philistine house in the fall, I do need to be able to fit into them, after all. Since HRH wasn't a fan of the horchata ice cream, I looked for a recipe with chocolate so that she, too, could enjoy the fruits of my labor (since she didn't actually want to participate in the "labor" portion of the exercise). Thankfully, I found this fabulous chocolate and orange dream of a recipe, and I knew I had to make it. While oranges are no longer in season, citrus is just A Part of Life in Arizona, so we usually have zest and juice of some sort in the freezer, although I did nab a fresh orange at the store to make the ice cream (right now all we have is lemon and grapefruit juices).


This ice cream is deliciously chocolatey, but the orange juice makes it refreshing at the same time. It's perfect for the kids as well as any adult ice cream love in the house. Even Husband, who eschews ice cream in favor of sorbet, said the flavor was great; he still only had one spoonful, though, so HRH and I had to power through it ourselves. It was rough.

Dark Chocolate Orange Ice Cream
gently adapted from this recipe at Scoop Adventures

For the syrup:
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Special Dark)
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet (70%) chocolate, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp salt (I use Real Salt)
For the ice cream base:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey (orange blossom is a great addition here)
Combine cocoa powder, coffee, sugar, zest, and juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let the mixture stand five minutes, then whisk to combine fully. Whisk in the cream cheese and salt until smooth; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch until it makes a slurry.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and honey and cook over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return to the heat and boil until the mixture coats the back of a spoon; this should only take a minute or so.
Pour the cream mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking to combine.
Chill completely before churning; I recommend using two quart jars to save room in the refrigerator.
Strain through a fine sieve and pour into your ice cream maker. Churn according to your ice cream maker's directions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, check out Lyndsay's post on making ice cream without an ice cream maker.
Once the ice cream has reached soft serve consistency, pour mixture into freezer safe container. Press plastic wrap onto top of mixture (don't worry; it won't freeze to it), and fasten lid before moving to the freezer. Freeze for at least four hours before enjoying.


Now for the exciting part - the giveaway!!!! I don't normally do giveaways, since my blog is small, I had started to be more of a running blogger than a food-ing blogger, but I felt it was my duty as an ice cream lover to share this opportunity.
Here is what you have to do:
  1. Follow Scoop Adventures on Twitter (@scoopmuse); leave a comment, with your Twitter handle, telling me that you have done so.
  2. For an extra entry, leave a separate comment telling me what your favorite summer frozen treat is. Are you an ice cream sandwich person, or do you go for frozen fruit bars? Did you chase down the ice cream truck as a kid, or did you always have Otter Pops in the freezer?
The fine print: Entrants must be residents of the US or Canada who are at least 18 years of age. Twitter profiles must be public; I must be able to verify that entrants are following Scoop Adventures. This giveaway is open through 11:59 PM, Pacific Daylight Time, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. The winner will be selected by random drawing and notified by email; once the email is sent, the winner will have 48 hours to respond. If, at that time, no response has been received, a new winner will be drawn and be subject to the same parameters.

Make sure that you check out some more of Lyndsay's recipes, as made (and adapted) by these fellow frozen treat fanatics. You'll also increase your changes to win the book by entering their giveaways, too. Then go make some ice cream yourself. Feel free to wear pants if you'd prefer.
Full disclosure: As compensation for being a part of this special Ice Cream Tuesday, I received a copy of Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States: Make the Real Recipes from the Greatest Ice Cream Parlors in the Country. While I did not use a recipe from the book for this posting, I did modify one from Lyndsay's blog. I will not receive any compensation if you choose to purchase this book through the links given above. All opinions are my own.