Planning and Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies
Today 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.

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

Chunky Peanut Butter Cookie

  • Yield: 18-20 cookies
  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Cook time: 10 mins
  • Total time: 20 mins

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

Instructions

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. Storage: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Comments

  1. Angharad

    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. Stephanie

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

  3. Anna

    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. Maddie

    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. Nicole

    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. kickpleat

    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. Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen

    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. shannalee

    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. Anne Zimmerman

    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

    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. tracy

    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. Dana

    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

    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

    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. Janet

    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

    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

    @Tracy: Im a Gemini....

  18. Barbara Bakes

    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

    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

    great site and fun to follow...ツ

    nananono212

  21. Andrea

    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

    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. Danielle

    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. A Canadian Foodie

    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. Wizzythestick

    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. Joy

    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. Adriana from Baking Powders

    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

    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. Judy

    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. Felipe Gravley

    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. Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies

    [...] 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 [...]

  32. bracteate

    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?

    1. megang

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

Join the Discussion

Winter Soups and Stews

Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili

Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili

If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.

Read More
5 Tips For Cooking with a Baby + Power Greens Soup

5 Tips For Cooking with a Baby + Power Greens Soup

Last weekend it was so windy – apocalyptically stormy, you could say – that our tent at the farmers market was uprooted by gusts of wind that were not messing around. I wasn't there, but apparently despite being heavily weighted down and with four customers holding onto each corner, it quite literally blew down the block. Sam, from across town, was reporting trees falling on every block and traffic lights out across the city. The next morning on a walk with Oliver around Green Lake, we were met with that same biting wind and ended up retreating for a hot chocolate instead. 'Tis the season in Seattle: we all get a little giddy and ahead of ourselves when we spot the cherry blossoms and daffodils, and I always trick myself into thinking that with the start of daylight savings time,  summer must be right around the corner. In truth, before we had Oliver, we'd often travel somewhere sunny for a little mood boost around this time of year. When I moved from California, many friends – other (empathetic) 'expats' now living in the Pacific Northwest – recommended this: if you know what's good for you, they'd all say, go find the sun in February or March, and we would follow that advice faaaaaithfully. But with a baby, this just isn't where our priorities are this year, and I've found myself relying on other antics like buying out of season strawberries, drinking white wine with dinner, buying a new pair of sandals that likely will not see the light of day for the next two months, and making big, colorful pots of feel good, springy soup. Let's not kid ourselves: Cherry blossoms or not, Seattle's no Palm Springs when it gets down to bathing in the sunlight. But if you step outside onto your little porch, smell the honeysuckle blooming, take notice of the longer, lighter days and think about how you simply can't wait to see your baby crawling around on the sand when it's warm enough to stroll down to the beach, it starts looking better in its own light. 

Read More
Minestrone Verde with White Beans and Pesto

Minestrone Verde with White Beans and Pesto

We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine).  Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).

Read More
Simple Cooking: Pasta and Chickpea Soup

Simple Cooking: Pasta and Chickpea Soup

One of the things I wanted to accomplish before really returning to work in earnest was to print some of our honeymoon photos and get them into an album. This project has taken far longer than expected as I find myself daydreaming about the craggy streets of Naples and meeting up with our friends Mataio and Jessica for a late night slice of pizza which we ate sitting on the sidewalk before embarking on an aimless but wonderful stroll of the city. There are photos of our balcony by the sea, most with tanned limbs, sandy sandals and a Campari and soda gracing the periphery of the frame. There was the little grocery store up the hill from our apartment on the Amalfi Coast that had the sweetest, tiniest strawberries and the best yogurt in little glass jars. Tomatoes drying in the sun, Aperol spritzes and salty peanuts before dinner at the bar across from the church square where all the neighborhood kids played kickball. As I sit here typing this now, photos remain scattered on my desk and it's likely they may not make it into the proper slots in the album anytime soon. Of course, they have me dreaming of sunshine and long days with little agenda, but they also have me thinking about the simplicity of our meals in Italy and how truly easy it was to eat well. Coincidentally, a few days ago Rachel Roddy's lusty new cookbook (can we call it lusty?!), My Kitchen in Rome, arrived at our doorstep. Clearly it was time to set the photos aside and get into the kitchen. 

Read More
Returning Home

Returning Home

And suddenly, it's fall. I find that realization always comes not so much with the dates on the calendar as it does the leaves on the ground, the first crank of the heat in the morning, the dusky light on the way home from an evening run. Because we were gone on the train for nearly a week, I feel like fall happened here in Seattle during that very time. I left town eating tomatoes and corn and returned to find squashes and pumpkins in the market. It was that quick. And so, it only seemed fitting that I make this soup, one that has graced the fall table of each and every apartment (and now house) I've ever lived. In fact, I'm surprised that I hadn't yet made it for you here, and delighted to share it with you today. 

Read More