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La Petite Maison Verte

La Petite Maison Verte: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is there ever a wrong season for pumpkin cake?

I thought it might be a bad idea to bake a pumpkin cake in the spring time.  I was wrong, so very wrong.  I would eat this cake any time of the year.

I told B I wanted to send him to work with a bundt cake (as you can imagine, I really had to twist his arm to agree to that).  Sometimes a girl just feels like baking and a bundt cake would be perfect because it feeds a lot of people (all the marines he works with), travels easily (I have a round cake-carrier) and you don't have to worry about spending lots of time decorating it to get the perfect finished look.  It's just a casual, simple dessert.  

I gave him a few options to choose from and surprisingly he picked the pumpkin bundt.  I say surprisingly because it's March and I usually think of pumpkin as being a fall or winter flavor.  But we had a few cans of pumpkin puree in the cupboard (I hoarded about 4 or 5 cans last holiday season because I had heard there was a shortage) so all I had to do was look for the perfect recipe.  Well, I will save you the trouble of looking for the perfect pumpkin bundt recipe because I found it.  Moist and tender crumb, a sweet and buttery streusel layer and the perfect amount of spice.  

Enjoy.  Any time of the year.

Pumpkin Bundt with Brown Sugar Streusel Swirl
Adapted from Libby's website


1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons butter


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 large eggs, room temp
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
8 oz or 1 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt (I used Fage)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prep 12-cup Bundt pan:  spray with non-stick cooking spray and flour pan, tipping to coat all sides.
2. Make streusel by cutting the butter into the spices and brown sugar.  Set aside.
3. For the cake:  Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
4. Cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes with the paddle attachment).
5. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl.
6. Add pumpkin, greek yogurt and vanilla.
7. With mixer on low, add in flour mixture until just combined.
8. Spoon half batter into pan.
9. Top with streusel mixture being careful not to let the streusel touch the sides of the pan.
10. Top with the rest of the batter.
11. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes (depending on your oven) until toothpick or skewer comes out clean. 
12. Cool for 30 minutes in pan, then depan and cool completely.
13. Before cake is completely cool make your glaze - whisk powdered sugar and milk together.  Drizzle over slightly warm cake.

The glaze hardens slightly once fully cool.  The cake will be moist for days and days.  

Please excuse the AWFUL picture!  It was pouring rain the day I made the cake so there was NO natural light in the kitchen.  You can see the yummy streusel layer running through the center of the cake.  

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Smoothie Love

I've been lovin' me some smoothies lately. Often after a workout, it's just the boost I need to get me to my next meal.

This particularly gorgeous-hued purple one was a berry smoothie: fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries we had in the freezer, plus some plain non-fat yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, vanilla protein powder and a few ice cubes.

Some other favorite flavor combinations:
  • strawberry-banana: substitute fresh or frozen banana chunks instead of blueberries
  • chocolate-peanut butter banana: add 1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter and use chocolate-flavored protein
  • blackberry-canteloupe: chunks of fresh canteloupe and frozen unsweetened blackberries
The sky's the limit. What's your favorite way to make a smoothie?

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oil-Free Apple Pie Muffin Tops

Whew that's a mouthful! But let me tell you they are SOO good! Immensely satisfying in flavor and texture and they leave you feeling energized and healthy.

One thing I LOVE about these is the versatility! Don't have honey? Use agave nectar or maple syrup! No walnuts on hand? Substitute pecans or almonds. Not vegan?? Use an egg in place of the "flax egg". No ripe bananas in the fruit basket? Use pureed pumpkin or unsweetened apple sauce. I could keep going....but I'll spare you this time.

Just do yourself and your family a favor and make these. Today.

Oil-Free Apple Pie Muffin Tops
Recipe adapted from OhSheGlows (one of my favorite blogs!)

Apple Pie Mixture

  • 2 apples, peeled (1 chopped, 1 grated) - I used one Fuji and one Golden Delicious
  • 1/4 cup honey (or substitute agave nectar or maple syrup)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt (optional)
Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 + 1/4 cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg (1/8th tsp)

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water), mixed together
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (you could substitute the same volume of mashed ripe banana)


1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Set aside. Mix your flax egg together (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water) in a bowl and set aside.

2. Peel two apples. Take 1 apple and finely grate it. Now take the other peeled apple and chop it into 1 inch pieces. Add both to pot along with 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup or agave nectar) and 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. Stir. Cook over medium-low heat while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, for about 5-10 minutes. Watch closely and reduce heat as necessary so you don’t burn it.

3. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients: vanilla extract, almond milk, pumpkin puree (or banana), and gelled up flax egg. Whisk well.

4. When apple mixture has cooked and softened for about 5-10 minutes, add it to the wet ingredients and stir well. Now pour the wet mixture onto the dry mixture and stir well. It will take a bit of elbow grease to get the mixture fully mixed, but not to worry.

5. Scoop 2 tbsp or a bit more for each Muffin top, leaving about 1.5-2 inches between each. Do not press the mixture flat. Bake for 14 minutes at 350F or until slightly golden in colour, but still soft. Please note that these cookies should be soft and do not get crisp or firm. They have the texture of a muffin.

6. Cool on pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Makes about 20 Muffin Tops.

Nutrition Information: (per muffin top) Calories: 92, Fat: 2.7 g, Dietary Fiber 2.4 g, Sugar 7 g, Protein 2.3 g. Enjoy. Guilt-FREE.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm back! And I really mean it this time.

So after another two month hiatus from blogging I am finally feeling rejuvenated, inspired and ready to get back to this very important part of my life. I consider blogging to be therapy for me - it gives me a creative outlet to express how I'm feeling. It also allows me to experiment with and share recipes, practice my photography and interact with other bloggers.

I knew working full-time would be difficult. I knew I would have less time for the things I love. I didn't realize that I would lose a part of myself and enter a sleep-deprived, stressful, sad state of being. I didn't realize it would negatively affect my body, my health, my relationships with friends and family. I didn't realize I would miss cooking, baking, photography, blogging so much.

I can finally say with relief that I am no longer working full-time. As of today my schedule has decreased to less than 30 hours per week and in the next few weeks I will transition to a further-reduced schedule of about 20 hours per week which includes having Friday off. My new schedule will allow me the time during the week to take care of my fitness goals, my creative needs and importantly, take better care of Hudson and B.

I am very lucky to have the opportunity to reduce my schedule. And I plan on embracing the change with joy and optimism. I am ready to begin this new chapter.