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Planning and Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter CookiesToday we’ve got cookies and sisters on our hands. You may remember me talking about Zoe, my youngest sister, and the weekend she graduated. But I’m not sure that I’ve talked a whole lot about Rachael. She’s the middle sister in our family and loves to cook and eat as much as I do (see proof below).

rachaelActually, she’s a far better cook than I am. She’s one of those intuitive kitchen people who just wings it without a recipe. Confidently. And it all turns out just fine. There’s another  area where Rachael and I differ in the kitchen: she’s a planner, menu-writer, and list maker. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love a good list. But I’m not the kind of person who maps out what I’ll prepare and eat for the week, makes a shopping list, and lets that list dictate what I buy at the grocery store.

rachael's listsRachael’s shopping list and menu plan

I’m in awe of this. Truly in awe. So much so that I keep having clarifying phone calls with Rachael:

“But what if you see something there that isn’t on your list? You don’t buy it?” I ask.
“Nope.”
“Really?! But I never know what I’ll feel like eating until I get to the store–don’t you like checking out all the new products and produce and seeing what looks good?” I ask.
“Um, that’s why you spend way more than I do at the grocery store,” Rachael insists.
“So seriously? You make a list and don’t buy anything that’s not on it?”
“Nope.”

This is seriously a revelation for me. Now I understand being busy and having a family and needing to do a bit more planning and footwork, but neither Rachael nor I have kids of our own yet.  I guess it’s just a different way of thinking and approaching meals. I tend to let my mood, how my day’s going, and what I’ll be up to later that evening dictate what I’ll eat for dinner. I always love learning about the different ways people approach the same task or routine–the simple act of preparing dinner. I just know that Rachael’s approach makes me sweat just thinking about it, and my approach (last minute runs to the grocery store, eating later than most) probably makes her sweat. The way she does it is something, I joked with her, that I aspire to do when I grow up someday. Until then, as Rachael assures me, I’m just spending far too much money at the grocery store. She’s probably right.

peanut butter cookie ingredientsThe one thing she did advise me to do as a way to start small is to begin looking at my pantry more and seeing what ingredients I can use before buying bags of new groceries. I told her if I did that I could probably get away with not going to the grocery store for six months given all of the dried beans, pastas, soups, and nuts I have on hand. But truthfully, I was a little inspired. And it seemed like a good challenge. What could I make this very second without hitting up the store using only what I had on hand? I stared into the cupboards and saw (surprise, surprise) a lot of baking ingredients and a new jar of peanut butter: Peanut butter cookies! I know, I know, it’s not dinner. But it’s a darn hearty snack and that’s got to count for something.

Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

If you follow me on twitter, you can attest to the peanut butter cookie chatter this week, and how one batch led to another batch and then two more after that. I’ve become obsessed with finding the perfect peanut butter cookie. I’m not quite sure why–mainly because the recipes I kept trying were almost right but not quite. And I wanted to make them perfect. Because what’s more depressing than a bad peanut butter cookie? After trying Gourmet’s flourless recipe, a recipe from a local bakery here in Marin, and the Magnolia Bakery’s recipe, I’ve adapted Baked Bakery’s peanut butter cookie and it’s darn near perfect: not too crumbly and not too cakey–the perfect combination of chewy edges and a super soft center. I can’t wait for you to try it and tell me what you think, list or no list. Plan or no plan.

Chunky Peanut Butter Cookie
The Baked cookbook is one my favorites for its creativity and innovative, American-style desserts. In their original recipe for peanut butter cookies, the guys at Baked call for milk chocolate chunks. I thought I’d just do a more traditional cookie here–and ended up adding peanut chunks (and a little less salt) instead.
Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup unsalted, peanut halves

Directions:
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium-size bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. The dough should look like and fluffy. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until just incorporated.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the peanut halves. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least three hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, gently press so it flattens just a little. Then take a fork and gently imprint so each cookie will have those traditional markings. Don’t press too hard or press the cookie too flat!

Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the tops of each cookie just barely begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes. Use a spatula to move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes:18-20 cookies
Storage: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

  1. Posted September 15, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Yum! Glad you found the perfect recipe :) I’ll have to try this one next time I make some. Got to love a good peanut butter cookie.
    Also, I’m a planner when it comes to shopping but there is no way I could plan meals day to day – life gets in the way FAR too much!

  2. Posted September 15, 2010 at 7:47 am

    You’ve done it! Good Lord they sound so good. As always, beautiful pics. Love your sister’s lists! :)

  3. Posted September 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

    I am definitely a use what I have in the cupboard kind of person, but I’m also not great at planning ahead for what I will make all week. Sometimes I can do it and then sometimes I spend all the grocery money on one big meal or cooking project. There should be some sort of organizational program to help non-planners get better at it (although the ability to be spontaneous and not need every exact thing is great, too).

  4. Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:00 am

    I hope cookies and family-time give you a nice respite from the loneliness you talked about in your last post. Warm baked goods never fail me on the warm, fuzzy feeling front! :)

    And as for this Baked recipe — oh my gosh. So. Good. My cookies turned out thinner and flatter than I would’ve liked, but the texture and flavor was spot-on.

  5. Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Those cookies look fantastic! Nothing like a good peanut butter cookie. Some weeks I make dinner lists, sometimes I don’t, but I really should do it every time. My grocery lists are pretty organized, but I do tend to stray :)

  6. Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I love the Gourmet cookie, but would love to try the best cookie. I’m a list-maker, but I stray for sure. And I eat way too late in the evening often, yet I also love eating out of my pantry. Good job on these cookies!

  7. Posted September 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I’m so not the organized grocery shopper. How am I supposed to know what I want to eat three days from now?! I’m a huge fan of the baked cookbook. Those boys can bake. And these peanut butter cookies look amazing.

  8. Posted September 15, 2010 at 9:21 am

    So the recipe doesn’t even use peanut butter? It’s just the peanuts you added that give it the PB flavor (or did I miss it? sometimes I do!)? I love it! Must make soon.

    PS – I am soooo with you on the style of shopping, as well as the inspiration from your sister. Oh, to be a better planner!

  9. Posted September 15, 2010 at 9:59 am

    There must be unadulterated pb in there somewhere?! My favorite pb style cookie is made with almond butter. A whole different beast, I know.

  10. Abbie
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Look yummy, but I’m a little confused… The indredients list does not have peanut butter, but the directions say to add it with the vanilla? Help- want to make these this weekend!

  11. Posted September 15, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I just baked these too! ARE WE BRAIN TWINS OR WHAT?!!

    You aren’t a list maker?? Girl! What kind of Capricorn are you? What’s your sister’s sign?

  12. Posted September 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I shop just like you do!

    I have an aunt, who is Martha Stuart organized and plans her year (YEAR!?!?!) of meals and shopping, so that all she needs to do on Saturday is find the list of things to buy and get off to the store.

    She’s a little extreme, I don’t know that many people who could plan that far in advance. Planning probably does save a lot of money though, and having a plan for the week probably saves a lot of “Oh no, I need peppers for this.”-runs to the store.

    but what happens if you don’t want to eat your planned soup on Tuesday? What if you’re hungry for panini? There needs to be leeway in life too, I think.

  13. Brenda
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Ummm- always looking for a good peanut butter cookie recipe too……I don’t see the amount of peanut butter in the ingredient list but I see it in the method that you add peanut butter and vanilla……..did it get forgotten on the ing. list???? If so – how much?

  14. megang
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Urgh! So sorry everyone. I forgot the peanut butter quantity in the original recipe (that’s what happens when you blog late at night!). It’s fixed now. Very sorry for any confusion.

  15. Posted September 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I could use some inspiration from your sister myself! I’m the worst shopper – I make tentative lists but then buy whatever else looks good, often several times a week. Living on top of a market doesn’t help. I spent waaaay too much on groceries. I could probably make a zillion meals out of what I have in my cabinet right now, but… I don’t wanna! I want whatever sounds good that day! Sigh. I should work on that. ;)

    Oh, peanut butter cookies. I haven’t had one in ages, and that must be remedied. These look great!

  16. Rachael
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    The lists and menu making aren’t an arduous thing for me. Let’s romanticize this a bit:
    Picture me on Sunday morning, still in my jammies and curled up with my coffee, my dog and a notebook. I usually turn on bad reality TV, or a sitcom, and just list everything I’ve been wanting to try. I include at least one ‘tried and true’ meal every week, but usually just look through magazines, blogs and seasonal food guides to get ideas. The listing and planning can take 10 minutes or 3 hours….whatever mood I’m in.
    IT’S ENJOYABLE PEOPLE!
    And lets not forget that I am human too, and I have cravings too. Nothing is set in stone……it’s merely a guide :) And I look forward to waking up and seeing what’s on the menu.

    I am so glad you’ve figured out ‘The Great PB Cookie Debacle of 2010′. I’ve been in the nesting mood lately- which, for someone with no kids, primarily includes cleaning and baking. I can’t wait to try these out….they MUST be the best peanut butter cookies ever!

  17. Rachael
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    @Tracy: Im a Gemini….

  18. Posted September 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I’ll have to give these a try. I’m always on the look out for a great PB cookie. We like to roll ours in raw sugar.

    My shopping method is kind of in the middle between you too. I like to make a menu plan for the week, but often I don’t feel like eating the planned meal, so I make something from one of the other days. Although I rarely stick strictly to a list at the grocery store.

  19. Zoe
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Love the family posts!! Now time to send a batch my way :) And loving the photos of Rachael’s lists…makes me want to visit for a home cooked meal! But late night freezer fiends (me most definitely included) would likely find troubles writing down every weekly pint…love you!

  20. Barbara Nosker
    Posted September 16, 2010 at 1:49 am

    great site and fun to follow…ツ

    nananono212

  21. Posted September 16, 2010 at 2:35 am

    I’m a planner.

    Also, I’m doing the same thing you’ve been doing with peanut butter cookies, but with pumpkin cookies. Except I’m making low fat ones because I feel that pumpkin lends itself to that and it could be a good idea for the holidays. AND since there aren’t a lot of recipes out there, I’ve been sort of making up the recipe myself and it’s been quite a learning experience. However, Im currently obsessed with peanut butter so I might have to take a break from pumpkin and give these cookies a try.

  22. Jonathan
    Posted September 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Okay, I think this explains why I go to the grocery store, drop 100 bucks, come home and don’t have any meals for the week. But man do I have lots of chips and salsa.

  23. Posted September 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Oh yay – for both your sister’s approach to grocery shopping and peanut butter cookies! I am relieved to read that people like Rachael exist, because I’m exactly the same. I plan our menus for the week every Sunday when we hit the Farmers’ Market, and for a long time I thought it was rather OCD of me to do that. To be honest, I’d love to be inspired by whatever I see and create a menu out of that, but it just doesn’t work for me. I need order :p

    And thanks for all the hard work on this cookie recipe – I still have jars of ketchup to trade *wink*wink*

  24. Posted September 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for doing all that research! I do the same thing, often – but probably not to the extent that you did this time. I have 6 kitchens in my cooking class at school. Sometimes I will have 3 kitchens do one recipe and three to another. I would love to have 6 kitchens do 6 different recipes,but that would be kind of pointless research as these are kids and I can have all 6 kitchens do the same recipe and get 6 completely different products. It is always fun for them to figure out which they like best and what was done differently in each group. MOre importantly for the teacher, that they learn to read and follow the recipe they are doing first! I don’t like the chunky ones. But I sure love peanut butter cookies – with milk.
    YUMMMM
    Valerie
    I

  25. Posted September 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Wish I had your sister’s discipline. I plan meals for the weeks and make a list but I always end up seeing a new product that I just have to try. She is right though it is better to plan around what you already have in your pantry.

  26. Posted September 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I’m a list maker, but my grocery is really just a guideline. I always end up with other things, as attested by the bulging pantry. I’m afraid to get in there and see what all the things I have. I know I have 6 tubs of glucose. Haha!

    You know where I tried a PB flourless recipe? From a jar’s recipe! And it was divine! I love the pecans in the baked recipe. I’ll have to try it…as soon as my gingersnaps are gone. Too many cookies for me the past week!

  27. Posted September 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    those look amazingly delicious! my friend adds oats, banana chunks and pumpkin seeds to her peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, worth a try, they are really good cookies, i’m sure these ones are as well

  28. Pamela Lopez
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I too have been searching for my childhood memorie of that perfect peanut butter cookie my mom use to make. The recipes I have tried don’t taste like peanut butter at all. Good luck and I will keep checking in. Pam,Rocklin,Ca.

  29. Posted September 21, 2010 at 2:12 am

    I’m in awe too. I think it takes great discipline to make a list and stick to it. however, i do make the exception when i’m in no mood for crowds. I have a list of things i need, i shoot in, and i ricochet out. if i’m shopping on a breezy weekday, oh boy, i rack up numbers faster than a granny at a casino.

  30. Posted August 11, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Couldn?t be created any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will ahead this article to him. Pretty sure he will possess a excellent study. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Posted December 1, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I don’t drop many responses, but i did a few searching and wound up here Planning and Peanut Butter Cookies | A Sweet Spoonful. And I do have some questions for you if you tend not to mind. Is it just me or does it look like a few of these remarks appear like they are written by brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are posting at other online sites, I would like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list of the complete urls of your community pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  32. megang
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Hi, there-
    If you go to “Megan Writes Elsewhere” you can learn more about where to find my other writing. Thanks so much, m

One Trackback

  1. By Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies on May 29, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    [...] because I figured I would know the right cookie by how it looked. This lovely recipe from A Sweet Spoonful caught my eye. It looked exactly like a Hannaford cookie, minus the Reese’s Pieces. So I [...]

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