Fair warning: If you do not love the TV show Parks and Recreation as much as I do, then this post is not going to make much sense.

Galentine's Day Cookies

Let’s start at the beginning. I know it’s a meme and whatever, but I truly believe Leslie Knope is my spirit animal. Like, sometimes I feel that I’m the museum education version of Leslie Knope. Like Leslie with parks, I absolutely love what I do and usually can’t comprehend why everyone in the world wouldn’t love museums and art history as much as I do. I love binders and organization and categorizing everything. I’m an unabashed feminist (thank you, nine years of all-girls education), more than a bit of a perfectionist, and definitely a talker and a share-er. I also happen to think Galentine’s Day is the best idea EVER.

Galentine's Day Cookies

If you don’t know what Galentine’s Day is, here are some GIFs.

A huge reason why I love Parks and Rec is obviously the character of Leslie, but a huge part of why I (and most folks) love Leslie is because of Amy Poehler. I loved her in the TV show, but it was when I found out about her organization Smart Girls at the Party that I realized how ridiculously amazing she is. Smart Girls at the Party is a website and video series about inspiring young girls (and boys) to accept themselves. They feature women in the world who are unabashedly doing amazing things. It is absolutely great. (They were behind the #AskHerMore hashtag that made a big splash at the Golden Globes this year.)

Galentine's Day Cookies

Then she published her book, Yes Please, and my adoration was cemented. It’s such a hilarious, empowering book. Go read it if you haven’t already! What does “yes please” mean? In Amy’s words: “I love saying ‘yes’ and I love saying ‘please’. Saying ‘yes’ doesn’t mean I don’t know how to say no, and saying ‘please’ doesn’t mean I am waiting for permission. ‘Yes please’ sounds powerful and concise. It’s a response and a request. It is not about being a good girl; it is about being a real woman.” (And don’t worry, if you’re a dude you will love the book, and Parks and Rec, too. I guarantee it.)

Galentine's Day Cookies

So, in honor of my love for Parks and Rec, Leslie Knope, and of course Amy Poehler, here are some Galentine’s Day cookies with three of my favorite quotes: Treat Yo Self, I love you and I like you (warning: link is a major spoiler), and Yes Please!

Galentine's Day Cookies

Oops, before I end this post I should probably talk about what these cookies taste like, huh? Well, in true Leslie Knope style, I’m not gonna be humble. These are the ideal, perfect sugar cookies. They aren’t crispy but rather a little bit chewy, super buttery, and I added a little cinnamon for some spice. The royal icing is sweet and balances out the butter. These are absolutely one of the best recipes I’ve ever made.

Galentine's Day Cookies

So: Happy Galentine’s Day to all of you! May your February be filled with waffles, friends, and work you’re passionate about, and lots of friends and family you love.

Galentine's Day Cookies

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Snappy Gingerbread Cookies

I decided to bake Christmas cookies rather than Netflix away the day! (If you’re curious, though, I’m currently watching Gilmore Girls for the umpteenth time and Black Mirror, two shows which, truly, could not be more different).

Snappy Gingerbread Cookies

Honestly, though, they were just an excuse to dance around my apartment all day while singing along to the Michael Buble holiday album over and over and over. And over.

Snappy Gingerbread Cookies

I love baking and blogging, but sometimes when you really think about the whole process, it’s kind of weird. I mean, arranging food and setting up shots is one thing if you’re a professional food stylist, but I have to admit I felt a little silly stacking cookies next to Christmas baubles in front of my sad little fake Christmas tree… But at least the photos look decent!

Snappy Gingerbread Cookies

I’m heading home for the holidays and although I’ll be baking a bunch, I probably won’t have my fancy camera with me (plus the light in my parents’ house is pretty bad), so there won’t be any new posts for a while. But, if you’re nebby, you can follow me on Instagram to see all my baking adventures in Pittsburgh!

Snappy Gingerbread Cookies

Happy holidays!

Snappy Gingerbread Cookies

(Sorry folks, I know it’s overdone, but I just couldn’t resist ending the post with some Christmas tree bokeh.)

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I’m in baking redux mode.

Cream Scones

Last time, my favorite molasses cookies — this week, my favorite scone recipe.

Cream Scones

Not much to say here. It’s a gray, cold, rainy day in Milwaukee–perfect for Netflix (I’m rewatching Sherlock at the moment, in case you’re curious), coffee, tidying your apartment, and of course, baking!

Cream Scones

(And also seeing the new Hunger Games movie. What can I say, you can’t stay inside ALL day.)

Cream Scones

These scones are tried-and-true. Unless you’re a purist like me, you can add countless toppings or flavors to this recipe (nuts, dried fruit, extracts, spices…). I often make them with pearl sugar on top for texture, but this time I made a quick icing. It does need something sweet on top.

Cream Scones

Butter is an essential part of a good scone recipe, so splurge on the good European stuff–I like Kerrygold. It’s a bit more malleable, which means you can knead it into the batter easily without overworking it. You want chunks of butter in your scone dough, so that when they bake, the bits of butter melt and leave it flaky and light.

Cream Scones

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Molasses Spice Cookies

Confession: These might be my favorite cookies of all time.

Molasses Spice Cookies

Second confession: This is basically just a rebake of a recipe that’s already on this blog (sans my beloved pearl sugar, which I’m running low on).

Molasses Spice Cookies

I know it’s kind of bad food-blogger-practice to re-do a recipe… but I just LOVE these cookies.

Molasses Spice Cookies

In fact, I love them so much that even though I actually very rarely ever bake the same recipe twice…

Molasses Spice Cookies

…I bake these at least three or four times a year (and that’s a lot when you have a food blog and feel like you need to create new content on the regular).

Molasses Spice Cookies

So forgive me, blog world, for repeating a recipe, but I’m just keeping it real. Let the record show: these cookies are so good I’ve baked, and now blogged, them more than once.

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Maple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Sometimes, you just have to make cupcakes, even if you have no good reason to.

Maple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

It might begin with one of your friends sending you a recipe for an “autumnal birthday cake.”

Maple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

I tried for a few weeks to come up with an excuse to bake this cake, then finally threw caution to the wind, bought a ridiculous amount of maple syrup (1 1/2 cups, for the record, is a RIDICULOUS amount of maple syrup), and went for it.

Maple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

I didn’t feel like making cakes (and I got my cupcake tin back, in case you were on the edge of your seat from my previous post), so cupcakes it was!

Maple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

This recipe makes a great cake with a lot of maple flavor–1 1/2 cups of maple syrup will do that, I suppose (can you tell I’m completely flabbergasted that this recipe used ONE AND A HALF CUPS of maple syrup? because I am). I’m not keen on meringue frosting since I don’t like eggs, so I swapped that out for an incredible whipped cinnamon frosting from Sweetapolita, one of my favorite cake blogs.

Maple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

The overall effect is basically a brunch cupcake. They taste exactly like pancakes with cinnamon butter. For that reason, I deeply believe these would be dynamite with bacon sprinkled on top. Sadly, I am currently a reluctant vegetarian, so alas, no bacon for me.

Maple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Happily, I ended up making these just in time for a friend’s birthday! It all comes full circle in this blog (recall: we began with “autumnal birthday cake”). Sometimes procrastinating on baker-blogging gets you places in the end, folks. That’s your lesson for today–now go bake these, put bacon on top, and have yourself a brunch snack.

Maple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

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It is officially autumn.

Autumn Spice Snickerdoodles

I’m living in giant sweaters and boots, and just got a new coat.

Autumn Spice Snickerdoodles

I painted my nails red this weekend and settled in for a Gilmore Girls marathon (that burgundy pre-Instagram filter on the opening credits just instantly puts you in the fall mood).

Autumn Spice Snickerdoodles

And I’ve had my favorite Christmas-y smelling candle lit all weekend.

Autumn Spice Snickerdoodles

So obviously this weekend when I settled in for some baking, I knew I needed cinnamon and browned butter involved, and it seemed the logical next step to throw in some other winter/autumn spices: cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger. They are crisp on the outside and cakey on the inside–the perfect snickerdoodle.

Autumn Spice Snickerdoodles

The real reason I baked was because I have a friend coming over for a visit, but even though I normally have pretty good self-control over leaving my baking be after a taste test, I just cannot stop eating these things. (Cleverly, I made them bite-size so even though I’ve had at least half a dozen already, it looks like I’ve barely made a dent. Pro baking tip from me to you!)

Autumn Spice Snickerdoodles

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Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

I’ve had Britain on the mind lately.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know this is not an unusual occurrence.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

I’m a big fan of all things British: Scones. English chocolate. Harry Potter. Sherlock. Downton Abbey (see above) and other, real English country estates. Free art museums with glorious collections. And of course, the accent. (Does anyone else sometimes get the strong urge to just start speaking in a British accent to random people? Or their cats? … Just me? Okay, then.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

My current British obsession combines nearly all of the things above: THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF. Oh yes. (Minus Harry, Sherlock, and the National Gallery–can’t win ‘em all. Although, maybe they’ll have to create cakes inspired by works of art for the season finale, and Benedict Cumberbatch will cameo as a guest judge for some inexplicable reason… hey, a girl can dream.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

The Great British Bake Off is seriously awesome. A reality show where the contestants are not only incredibly talented non-professional bakers but also all actually care about each other? Dry and witty comedienne hosts? Decidedly pro-UK interludes with food historians? A judge named, I am not kidding you, MARY BERRY!? TV does not get better than this, people. Especially when you’re a baker yourself and occasionally realize you know more than the contestants (case in point: kouign-amann, best pastry ever–how had NONE of them ever heard of it before!?).

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

So what does GBBO, as the Brits call/hashtag it, have to do with this coffee cake? (Coffee cake is not exactly British, after all.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

Toffee! That’s how I’m bringing this full circle. (Yeah, it’s a stretch, because turns out what we in the US refer to as “English toffee” is not really anything like what toffee is in the UK. Whatever, just go with it, I really just wanted an excuse to talk about the Great British Bake Off.) I’m not the biggest fan of toffee–it’s definitely more of an English confection than American–but when you douse it in brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon, it is definitely OK by me.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

One of my curator pals, a fellow baker, recently told me about this recipe and I had to give it a try once she described it. And I am so glad I did. I adapted it a bit on the go (adding toffee bits and cinnamon to the batter itself) and it is pretty amazing.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

If you want to make your own British connection, you can always sub your side of coffee for tea. In the meantime, I’ll be spending my Sunday catching up on past GBBO seasons with this coffee cake at my side.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

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