Two years ago, today, our lives changed forever. My husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world. I can’t believe it has already been two years! It seems like yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital; our little peanut of 6 lbs and 1 oz. Where did the time go? The past two years have been awesome, to say the least! We have thoroughly enjoyed our new roles as parents, even during the sleepless nights when he was first born or the occasional tantrums, now. The silliness, full-belly laughs, smiles, hugs, cuddles, holding his little hands in ours, tickles, conversations, play time, story time and most importantly, watching Keenan grow and develop have been the rewards of being parents. We love each and every moment that we spend with him, and we look forward to many more to come! Happy Birthday to my Sweet Pea, Keenan!
For his birthday festivities, we started the day off with one of Keenan’s favorite breakfasts of waffles spread with peanut butter and honey (except it was with the blueberry honey Grandma gave him for his birthday), along with fresh blueberries and strawberries. After breakfast, we met my parents at Sacramento’s Railroad Museum to show Keenan real “Choo Choo Trains” for the first time, followed by a picnic lunch. Keenan was fascinated by the trains! He kept asking to see more by saying, “More Choo Choo Trains!” He was so mesmerized by all of the trains, that he didn’t want to leave when it was time for lunch!
For lunch, my mom made her famous fried chicken (a family tradition anytime we have a picnic) and beer bread and I made my Grandma Rose’s Artichoke Torta and fruit salad (made with Keenan’s favorite fruits: blueberries, strawberries, banana and peaches). For dessert, we enjoyed Peanut-Butter Swirl Brownies! I put two candles on Keenan’s piece and we sang “Happy Birthday” to him. It was funny, he seemed a little apprehensive about blowing out the candles, but after we helped him blow them out, he devoured his brownie! After dessert, Keenan opened his gifts, which included a Firefighter hat from my parents (and he immediately wanted to wear it).
Once we were all done and got to our car, Keenan fell asleep before we were even out of the parking lot, with his Firefighter hat still on! To make it more comfortable for him, I reached back to take off his hat, which scared him, so he abruptly woke-up and screamed, “Ahh!” We laughed SO hard!! Fortunately, he dropped right back asleep. But, as soon as we got home, as I was transferring him to his crib, he woke-up and didn’t want to go back to sleep. So, it was play time, pretending to be a Firefighter, wearing his new Firefighter hat, along with his boots and jacket (that Nonna bought him a few weeks ago) with his new backpack (that Grandma and Grandpa gave him for his birthday). We read the Firefighter story with all his gear on and he didn’t want the story to end. He wanted to keep reading and reading it!
Keenan was so set on being a “Firefighter” this afternoon that he didn’t want to take his gear off and get dressed to head to the gym. It was like pulling teeth to get him to take everything off. Finally, with a promise that he could wear all of his “Firefigther gear” tomorrow, he agreed to get dressed, so we could go to CrossFit. Today’s workout wasn’t too bad, but still challenging. We did 5 sets of 2 reps of power complexes (power clean, hanging squat clean followed by a squat clean) for the skill. For the WOD, it was 5 rounds of 5 deadlifts (185 lbs for women and 275 lbs for men) and 10 burpees for time. I finished in 4 minutes and 25 seconds, doing the RX women weight! Whohoo!
For dinner tonight, we are having swiss chard, sauteed with a red bell pepper, onion, sun dried tomatoes and Italian sausages, sprinkled with feta cheese. It should be good! Night, night!
If you are interested in the recipes for Artichoke Torta and Peanut-butter Swirl Brownies, here you go:
Grandma Rose’s Artichoke Torta (a very special food in my family that my Grandma would only make for special occasions, i.e. birthdays or holidays):
3 packages frozen artichoke hearts
1 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup dried parsley
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a 9X13″ glass dish by greasing with olive oil.
2. Boil artichoke hearts, drain and cool.
3. Beat eggs in large mixer. Meanwhile, place onion in food processor and pulse, until finely chopped.
4. Add onion to eggs, along with the rest of the ingredients (except for the artichoke hearts).
5. Place artichoke hearts in food processor and pulse, until roughly chopped.
6. Add artichoke hearts to the rest of the ingredients and mix in mixer on medium speed for a few minutes (until well blended/mixed).
7. Pour mixture into prepared 9X13″ glass dish. Place dabs of butter into each corner and one in the middle.
8. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool, cut into squares and enjoy for an appetizer or side dish cold or warm!
Peanut-Butter Swirl Brownies by Martha Stewart (makes 9 large squares): *I followed the recipe exactly. It was probably one of the first times, in a long time, that I didn’t substitute any of the ingredients to make the recipe healthier. Since the brownies were for Keenan’s birthday, I thought I would make the “real deal” (which my husband was excited about!).
For the Batter:
– 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
– 2 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely choppe
– 4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
– 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 3 large eggs
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Filling:
– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
– 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter lining (not overhang).
2. Make batter: Put butter and chocolates in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
3. Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir until well incorporated.
4. Make filling: Stir together butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.
5. Pour one-third of batter into prepared pan; spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop dollops of peanut butter filling (about 1 tablespoon each) on top of batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. Drizzle remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop dollops of remaining filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers.
6. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.