(Healthy) Almond Bundt Cake with Maple Pecan “Glaze”

"Healthy" Almond Bundt Cake

I thought I’d give up processed sugar for Lent.

I haven’t though. Instead, I’ve failed miserably.

So miserably in fact, that I gave up giving it up.

I might try blaming my gender and the various cravings we suffer on a monthly basis, but no. I don’t think that’s fair.

I might try blaming the fact that I’ve had an insane ear infection for the last 4 days and chocolate helps ease the pain. . . ?


I have fantastic intentions to weed white sugar and high fructose corn syrup out of my life, I truly still do.

And I will, eventually. Just not as long as I’m a woman with an ear infection. Or. . . a woman.


Whatever. I’m a fair weather natural sugar-er (or hopefully some day a  NO sugar-er. (Lord, help me.)).

One day I will be a full-timer, just don’t rush me.

For now, I do things like this: Almond Bundt Cake made with real almonds and whole wheat flour, then sweetened with real maple syrup. And you know what? It works very well, indeed.

Not a single complaint from the kiddos. In fact, they were happily surprised at how tasty this cake turned out – and it leaned far enough into healthy territory that I didn’t feel one iota guilty packing it in lunches or passing out slices after school.

I toted several slices with me to our weekly art morning at the shelter, timid about what the reviews would be simply because the flavors are not the usual. Almond, pecan and coconut (in the “glaze”), faint maple, only mildly sweet, whole-wheaty, and decidedly NOT processed – all rare luxuries in a homeless persons’ diet simply because of affordability. I wasn’t sure they’d enjoy it because it would just be too weird.

Those girls proved me so very wrong. They loved it all the way gone.

It’s a fantastic segue into natural sugar territory – a (cake)bridge with delicate crumb and soft chew to get us where we’re eventually headed: Candy-free Land.

(Healthy) Almond Bundt Cake with Maple Pecan “Glaze”

Yield: 16-20

This cake is mildly sweet and delightful without any glaze at all (think pound cake!). If you wish to sweeten it up though - the pecan maple topping is a great option. It has strong coconut tones to it - which is quite pleasing as long as you enjoy coconut. The glaze is not really a glaze but more of a spread. I found it more appealing to keep it in its own little jar and let people spread as they pleased. We had a split house - some preferred glaze, some did not. Either way - enjoy!


    For the cake:
  • butter - for coating the pan
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal, plus one tablespoon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup full fat sour cream, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • for the "glaze":
  • 3/4 cup raw pecans
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2-3 tablespoons solid coconut oil (divided)
  • 1/4 cup water (or more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • pinch of salt


For the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Coat the bundt pan well with butter, then dust with flour. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix white flour, whole wheat flour, almond meal, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the eggs, maple syrup, and sour cream. Slowly add in slightly cooled butter, mixing as your pour. Fold in extracts. Add the dry ingredients into the wet in three parts, incorporating well after each addition. Pour batter into bundt pan and bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes, then turn the temp down to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until batter is set and golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For the Glaze:

Add pecans, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, water, extracts, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to blend, then puree until a smooth texture is achieved. Add more oil or water as needed. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Cake by Sara|Home is Where The Cookies Are, glaze minimally adapted from Detoxinista


Christmas Butter Cookies

Christmas Butter CookiesEvery year we make these cookies.

Every year I think about posting them.

Every year we get so busy, I can’t possibly post another thing.

But, I confess – my recipe box is coming apart. It’s overflowing with wrinkled and stained folded papers, scraps with scribbles, and magazine tear-outs (from the old days before Pinterest and Clipix).

The box is such a mess that, whenever I shuffle through for my tried-and-true recipes, a layer of nagging fear creeps into each search. I worry I might not be able to find the exact recipe I’m looking for, that – by simple power of magical mystical mess – the one I want might have disappeared; and for that reason, I’m posting the recipe this year. So I can have it at the click of button, and you can too.

I don’t do anything to change this one, but I’m sure the people at Land O’Lakes don’t mind the free advertising.

It’s a solid recipe, and you’ll need plenty of their butter to pull it off well.

I apologize in advance for my haphazard frosting recipe. I don’t measure anything, really. I go by sight and taste, but I’ll give you loose guidelines, and hopefully that’s good enough.

And if we don’t touch base before then – have a very Merry Christmas, my friends!

Christmas Butter Cookies

Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 36 cookies

These cookies are delicious with or without frosting. If you do without frosting, decorate them by sprinkling with colorful sugars before you slide them into the oven. The recipe also doubles well. Just divide it into 6 parts before the refrigeration step.


    For the cookie dough
  • 1 Cup Land O' Lakes butter, softened. (I use room temp, and I always their salted butter for this recipe)
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice (fresh squeezed or bottled both work)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • For the icing:
  • 2- 5 Cups powdered sugar (depending on how much icing you want)
  • 1/2 Cup to 1 1/4 Cups heavy cream
  • 1-2 Tablespoons powdered egg white (if you have them)
  • OR 1/2 - 1 egg white (only use egg whites from pasturized eggs here - and do so at your own risk. We've never had a problem with anyone getting sick from an uncooked egg - but you know, it could happen.)
  • 1/2 - 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A dash of salt
  • Water for thinning, if necessary.


For the cookies:

Combine 1 cup softened butter, sugar and egg in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add orange juice and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed until well mixed.

Divide dough into thirds. Shape each third into a ball; flatten slightly. Wrap each in plastic food wrap; refrigerate 2-3 hours or until firm.

Heat oven to 400°F.

Roll out dough, one-third at a time, on lightly floured surface (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness(We like them better cut thicker, and cooked until edges are just barely browned). Cut with 3-inch cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

For the frosting:

Add desired amount of powdered sugar to a medium bowl. (adjust amounts of next four ingredients according to how much powdered sugar you're using). Whisk in salt, vanilla, egg white, and about a quarter cup of heavy cream for every 1 cup of powdered sugar. Continue to thin with more cream or water until reaching the desired consistency. Cover bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap until ready to use.


These cookies are delicious with or without frosting. If you do without frosting, decorate them by sprinkling with colorful sugars before you slide them into the oven. The recipe also doubles well. Just divide it into 6 parts before the refrigeration step. Cookies from Land O'Lakes, Best Ever Butter Cookies, loose frosting recipe from Sara|Home is Where The Cookies Are


Almond Poppy Seed Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

Let me tell you a few things:

1. I’m sitting here in my black (velour? maybe fake velvet. . . ) sweat pants circa 2001 aka, pregnancy numero tres. What can I say? I have a hard time letting go of faves.

2. Oreos now makes MEGA STUF cookies. What?! Continue reading

Snickerdoodle Cupcake Cookies


Snickerdoodle cupcake cookies, bite size cookies in cupcake form, filled with delicious spiced buttercream frosting.Urgh.

I keep writing, deleting. Writing, deleting.



I just can’t seem to pull something together.

Mostly, I think, it’s because there is an ongoing skirmish simmering low inside me.

It’s all about Christmas, and no matter how much I want to ignore it, I can’t deny that there are two sides to this story – and they both are hunting down prime real estate in my heart. Continue reading

Almost Vegan Chocolate Cake (with black beans and avocado. . . oh, and tofu.)

Okay, wha?

I can hear you all.

And I can see your noses all scrunched up like you all want NOTHING to do with this cake.

But don’t be fooled!

Well, don’t be fooled in either direction. I can’t claim it’s “healthy” because there’s no lying about the sugar content, BUT it’s got some healthy stuff in it – and not a lot of fat.

But also, don’t be fooled that it’s a pile of yucky grossness either, because it’s certainly not.

And, well, it’s not a knock-your-socks off-dang!-this-is-the-best-freakin-cake-i’ve-ever-eaten chocolate cake either.

But I will tell you what it IS:

  • It is a cake that requires a tall glass of milk, or a steaming cup of coffee as a dining partner, because it might stick to the roof of your mouth, or your teeth – which is perfectly fine by me.
  • It is an unusual textural combination between a cake, a bread, and a brownie.
  • It is chewy, thick, and dense – therefore a small slice is rightly satisfying.
  • The frosting is rich and flavorful.
  • It is a cake that calls your name from the other room when you’re vegged out on the couch at 10pm watching TV and your stomach starts to growl.
  • It’s “earthy”, as my middle guy put it. . . . Am I rubbing off on them?
  • “It’s good for having all that weird stuff in it” – as all the boys put it.

Continue reading

Orange Cream (and White Bean) Bundt Cake

Six weeks ago, I spied these cookies on Cookies and Cups.

Two weeks ago, I let my little guy down.

I wasn’t where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be.

My heart broke; he didn’t seem to mind.

Sometimes those things happen. I will probably remember it forever, he might never remember it.

But it was what it was, and it called for fixing.

So I surprised him, picked him up early from school, and told him he could pick what we did for the next few hours while the Babes napped – including a pre-nap lunch at the restaurant of his choice.

And be still my heart, you know what he picked? No burgers and fries, no eating out. Just home.

And you know what he chose to do?

Bake. Continue reading

Cupcake Cones and Magical Buttercream Frosting

OK, I know this isn’t a new invention, so just consider it a memory jogger – “Hey! Remember these??”

I know they’ve been around for decades, because my mom made them for us at some point during our childhood.

No, they definitely aren’t new to the Birthday scene, but people always seem to be taken with them and comment on how cute they are. It also  never really fails that a stranger will ask how I made them.

They aren’t difficult at all, which is one of the reasons I keep going back to them, and at a party they’re wonderful, because they are so easy to hand out and easy for the kids to manipulate.

I’m not afraid to use cake mix from a box when there is so much going on that just the thought of concocting a cake from scratch makes me feel like I’m teetering on the edge of loosing my sanity. So these were made from our favorite yellow cake box mix.

It’s super moist. Hint, hint.

Just follow the directions on the box as though you are making cupcakes, but instead of using cupcake papers, use ice cream cones. Stop filling each cone about an inch from the very top of the cone or when they bake you’ll end up with overflow – like I did. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just looks like melting ice cream.

Stick with the theme, right?

Then bake them according to the cupcake directions. (I just lined mine up on a baking sheet and VERY carefully place them in the oven). I’m sure there is a better way, but I was too lazy to figure it out.

I’m sort of wondering if you can create a shallow layer of dry beans to nestle the bottom of each cone into so they won’t tip or shift around, but I haven’t tested it, so I don’t know if you have to adjust cooking time for something like that.

Once they are baked, slowly and carefully pull them out of the oven and let them cool completely, then frost them.

Now this. THIS is the part I’ve been waiting to tell you.

The frosting.

This is my fall-back, use-all-the-time frosting. It never disappoints me. It’s pretty much perfect.

When I made Valentines cupcakes for my middle guy to take to school last week, he came home and told me this:

Mom, {Sally} said that {Bobby} said, “MMMMMM!!! These cupcakes are SO MAGICAL that I feel like I got run over by a UNICORN!!”.

Compliments just don’t get much better than that. I can tell their teacher’s writing prompts are working too, if her students can come up with quality analogies on the fly like that.

Thank you, Bobby.

This recipe is, from here on out, known as Magical Unicorn Buttercream Frosting. It was passed on to me almost a decade ago by my dearest Southern Belle friend in Georgia. . . it was the very first frosting I ever learned how to make from scratch, and there really is a secret to its perfection.

I bet you’ll never guess.


Magical Unicorn Buttercream Frosting


1/2 Cup Shortening
!/2 Cup Parkay, at room temperature (YES, Parkay. This is the secret, and yes, it makes a huge difference.)
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
4 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons water

Add shortening and Parkay to medium bowl and beat on medium speed with and electric mixer for about 30 seconds. Add in Vanilla, beat until blended in. Gradually add in powdered sugar. As frosting begins to thicken, gradually add in water. Continue to beat for several minutes until frosting is smooth and creamy.

This frosting will turn out beautifully light, fluffy, smooth, and creamy – all at the same time. Of course you can substitute real butter for the Parkay, but I urge you to try it this way first. I really didn’t think it would make much of a difference, but my friend warned me that nothing else quite compares, and it’s true. In fact, my five-year old pointed it out to me once when I made it with butter. It wasn’t the same, and it wasn’t as good. . . why mess with a good thing?

Source: Sara, via my beautiful Southern Belle friend, T.W. 😉

Oh! and a quick tip – if you are transporting these, you can use a gift box or other cardboard box turned upside down and pierced with x’s. Then poke the inner corners of the x’s in, and you have a little hole for the cone.

And one more quick tip, if you have these frosted and ready to go, but on the tray and not in the carrier yet, and you keep thinking to yourself, “Don’t move them around too much. Don’t move them around too much. Don’t move. . . ”

You get it, right? If you’re thinking that, then DON’T MOVE THEM AROUND TOO MUCH! Or you might just bump the tray, and they might just topple over and your beautiful frosting tops might just get squished.

Just guessing.