Jack turned two at the exact time as our plane left the ground, carrying us to San Francisco. I can't help but feel wrapped in nostalgia with all the moments that filled the days that surrounded Jack's birth...I wonder if all those vivid memories will ever be forgotten? I really hope not... Jack enjoyed several days of festivities. We started Jack's birthday celebration at school on Friday morning. We had a special story time in which he requested that I read his friends and teachers one of our favorite books, The Happy Day. Seriously, every child should have their own copy of this book...it's really wonderful. All of the animals are hibernating and suddenly they begin to awaken sniffing the air. Following their noses, they find a yellow flower growing in the snow, they all laugh and dance at the magical discovery! After story time, we had a special birthday song (both in Hebrew and English) and game, then hugs from all of Jack's friends followed by maple leaf cookies and juice boxes.
Friday night, I made a birthday dinner for Jack...he chose the menu. My heart swelled to the point of popping right out of my chest at the realization that I have such a foodie babe! Salad: Rustic tomato and mozzarella with basil Entree: Pasta with olives piquant, Tuscan bread with olive oil for dipping (recipe below) Dessert: Banana chocolate chip cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (recipe below) and vanilla bean ice cream
Then, we flew off to San Francisco and enjoyed a wonderful weekend in the sunshine! We spent Saturday on Stanford's beautiful campus having delicious outdoor lunch with friends at The Cool Cafe at Cantor Art Museum, running around on the green lawn, and looking at the Rodin sculptures in the garden.
On Sunday, we made a quick jaunt into the city to visit some friends at the beach area of Crissy Field.
A very special thank you to Jennifer and Alan for making our wedding excursion possible! Jack still talks about you both...I think the Sprinkles cupcake outing was a real treat!
Olives Piquant adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers
Mince 1 1/2 cups of assorted pitted olives in a food processor (I like to use a combination of green olives stuffed with garlic and black olives so the texture, colors, and flavors are different)...only mince until finely chopped, not pasty. In a skillet on low heat, cook 4 cloves of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned. Add the chopped olives and cook, stirring constantly, just until olives are heated through. Remove from the heat. Stir the olive mixture into cooked pasta, you may want to use a bit of the pasta cooking water to give the pasta a bit of moisture, it's up to you. I often forget to reserve the liquid and it's always turns out yummy! At the table, top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Banana chocolate chip cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting Adapted from Not Without Salt
For the cake: Whisk together 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.
Cream 1 stick of softened butter and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar in a large bowl by hand with a wooden spoon until pale and fluffy. You can also do this, likely with more ease, with a mixer at high speed, but I made these while Jack napped and I wouldn't dare wake the birthday boy! Using a whisk, beat in 1 large egg until combined.
In a small bowl combine 2 ripe bananas and the seeds from half a vanilla bean. (To remove the seeds, carefully slice the bean in half using a sharp paring knife, then scrape out all the seeds using the knife.). Add 1/4 cup of sour cream to the bananas and vanilla bean, then combine this mixture with the butter mixture. Next, carefully add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Now, stir in about 1 cup of dark chocolate chips.
I don't usually use cupcake liners, but I had some super cute Halloween ones on hand, so I used them this time. If you are not using liners, be sure to grease your cupcake tins well. Bake in the middle of your oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the cupcake pan for 10 minutes then move to a rack to completely cool before frosting.
This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. For the frosting: Combine 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of sour cream, 1 stick of softened butter, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, beans from 1/2 of a vanilla bean, and 1 cup powdered sugar; using a mixer beat until smooth. To avoid lumps make sure the butter and cream cheese are very soft.
A note: Don't thrown your vanilla bean pod away. I put it in a glass jar with some sugar and the vanillaness has scented the sugar, making it so tasty in my daily cup(s) of vanilla and cinnamon hot tea. David has used it to make cinnamon and sugar toast, also quite delicious!