Wait…is it Friday already?

The weeks continue to whiz by here. We’re enjoying this gorgeous fall weather and some of our favorite foods (baked squash, applesauce, pumpkin pie) while running in between this and that. This weekend is jammed with one of our big volunteer events of the year:

Frosting Ingredients

From 9 p.m. to Midnight tonight Greg and I will be setting up for the Minnesota Walk Now for Autism Speaks at the Mall of America. This is our 4th year participating in the walk. Together he and I have raised nearly $1000 for autism research and advocacy through this event.
Then tomorrow morning we’ll be back at the Mall by 6 a.m. to help set up the Lovaas Institute booth at the walk. I don’t typically talk about my full-time job here (mostly because food is how I de-stress and unwind) but given the chance to share about a cause that’s important to me, I say why not.
Autism Speaks Walk T-Shirt
Some back story…2013 will be my 5th year with the Lovaas Institute – Midwest.  We provide early intensive behavioral intervention (yeah, it’s a mouthful–better known as EIBIT) for young children with autism. Our program is comprehensive, meaning no two days of work are the same for me. We teach language, social and life skills using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Some things that make our treatment unique: everything we do is research-driven and data-based; we’re an in-home provider and spend lots of time working 1:1 with parents; and our outcomes are some of the best in the field including transitioning many of our clients independently into general education classrooms by the first grade.
Pumpkin Maple Cake
I started with the company in 2008 as an intern at the University of Minnesota. I’ve been hooked ever since. The families are tremendously brave and teach me tons about kindness and celebrating the simple things. By the end of this year I will be transitioning to the Clinical Supervisor role, providing clinical oversight to more clients, families and staff. It’s going to be a big change and a big challenge. But I feel very blessed to be one of the few people who get to use my skills and talents to make someone else’s life better every day (and get paid for it!)
Pumpkin Maple Cake
Wait a second you say…What does this have to do with the delicious pumpkin maple cake you keep seeing? 
Sorry. Not much.
Cake Dry Ingredients
But it’s worth knowing that autism is the second most common developmental disorder in the United States. On average, the families we work with spend more than $50,000 per year on services and medical costs associated with caring for their child. I’ve heard stories of second mortgages and cross country moves. You wouldn’t believe the mess of an insurance system we’ve got right now! Now multiply that by the 1 in 88 children impacted by autism today. We’re getting closer and closer to all families receiving the services they deserve, but there’s still work to be done.
Pumpkin Maple Cake
So in honor of the great work we’ve done so far and celebration of the good things to come, we’re having pumpkin maple cake. It’s one of those “pour everything in the pan and make the house smell amazing” cakes. It was supposed to look like this:
Maple Pumpkin Stack Cake from Cooks Country

Maple Pumpkin Stack Cake from Cooks Country

But let’s be honest. When the $*^% am I going to have time for that right now? Thankfully with some tweaks to the recipe, it fits in a bundt pan just fine (and tastes just as good too!)
Enjoy your weekend and take some time for cake!
Pumpkin Maple Cake

Pumpkin Maple Cake 

Ingredients

For the cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

For the frosting:
2 tablespoons half and half
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Instructions
1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Adjust oven rack to the middle level. Prepare a Bundt pan with non-stick spray.

2. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat sugar, butter and eggs together with an electric mixer on high until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add pumpkin puree and continue to beat until no chunks remain.  Add in dry ingredients 1/4 cup at a time until just combined. Do not overbeat.

3. Spread evenly in Bundt pan. Tap pan on counter firmly 1 or 2 times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire baking rack for 1 hour. Gently flip out of pan onto baking rack and allow to cool completely.

4. For the frosting: After cake has cooled, beat frosting ingredients together until smooth. Using the back of a wooden spoon, drizzle evenly over the top of the cake. Top with chopped walnuts if desired.

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