Sous Chef

There is undoubtedly a yin yang-type vibe going on when it comes to having your house on the market. It’s über clean, which is exactly awesome. And when you have to repaint your walls, a process I like to call “borifying”, it appears less like your own home and thus easier to say goodbye to, when the time comes.

At the same time, it makes having company, which is one of our favorite things in the world, a little bit trying. It makes cooking in your kitchen, the one that got you loving cooking in the first place, even more daunting. What it doesn’t do is stop us from doing either one of the above – we embrace the challenge, our guests embrace the challenge, and we charge ahead.

It helps when you have an organized sous chef at your disposal – just ask my friend, Caroline. One of my favorite sisters-in-law and her two girls managed to squeeze in a trip to the Windy City prior to our inevitable, not to mention fast approaching, departure, and while we braved the cold a few times, we also managed to find plenty to do indoors as well.

In the event that you’re a little slow to catch on today, one of them involved cooking. And while I didn’t have anything fancy planned since cooking for kids isn’t my specialty and kids don’t seem to like fancy food but rather things like plain chicken and rice, it ended up not being the finished product that was so awesome this time – it was all the help along the way.

Our dinner consisted of a recipe similar to this gem, but sans recipe and preparation, and with cheese stuffed into the middle, along with soup that reminded me of this recipe, but with some sweet potatoes tossed alongside the squash. A salad finished, or rather started the meal off. As far as the adults were concerned, it was a good meal thrown together in a couple of hours, mostly courtesy of my sous chef, Lee Ann, who I have yet to figure out how to permanently steal from her mother.

We decided our meal was only lacking in one small item: dessert. A quick hand-off of cleaning duties and a few page-turns later we were set, once I managed to find a recipe that wouldn’t involve a grocery store run (this part was actually pretty easy, since a stranded family of 10 could survive on our kitchen inventory for weeks).

Not only can this newly acquired (or rather, soon to be kidnapped) sous chef of mine successfully bread chicken with the skill of a Southern housewife, but she’s also more organized than a high school librarian – a quality of utmost importance in chef-world. She labeled each item in her mise en place, her ordered by step mise en place, including (how cute is this!) “needs 2 b melted” on the stick of butter. She (almost) read all of the instructions before starting to bake, and we only forgot to read the step that said “let chill overnight”, which we decided wasn’t going to happen, and it worked out just fine.

I realize now that my goal in life (aside from the B&B in Napa) is to procreate. Not just procreate any ol’ kid, but one that will measure flour and peanut butter with me, and one that will wear my apron (or her/his own, I reckon) and read my cookbooks. One that will carefully plate our peanut butter cookies and serve them to guests with a smile on her face. One that will insist on changing a recipe no matter how good it is the way it’s written because really, what kind of cookie isn’t better with chocolate chips?!

Yep, that’s the plan – one day. For now though, I’m going to settle for kidnapping.

Peanut Butter ‘Surprise’ Cookies
Adapted, barely, from Ready for Dessert; makes 30

time commitment: 1 hour + 2 hours chilling the dough (we skipped this part…)

printable version

my niece decided that 1 cup of peanut butter just wasn’t enough for dessert, so we found some chocolate chips in the pantry and added those. it was her decision to change the name to “peanut butter surprise” given this new ingredient. you could definitely leave them out, but why not toss ’em in?!

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 c sugar, plus more for coating cookies
1/2 c light brown sugar
1 c creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

in a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. set aside.

using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugars, and peanut butter in a large bowl, on medium speed until smooth. beat in the egg. add flour mixture and mix until dough comes together. knead in the chocolate chips, if using.

cover dough and refrigerate for 2 hours, if possible. remove and let come to room temperature.

preheat oven to 350 F and position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silpat, and pour a little sugar in a small bowl.

roll pieces of dough into 1-inch balls and roll them into the sugar. place on baking sheet and repeat to fill. flatten cookies with a fork, making a cross-hatch shape. if dough comes apart a little, just squeeze it back together – no biggie.

bake until cookies begin to brown around the edges but still look raw – about 10 minutes. remove and let cool on sheets, then on wire rack.

3 thoughts on “Sous Chef

  1. Debby says:

    You’re awesome, Heather! We had such a good time…happy memories. You can borrow LeeAnn any ‘ol time, tho getting her to the west coast poses a slight problem…I’d have to come with!

  2. I know this little sous chef! Had I know she was so good, I’d have had her at my house to help with my Christmas Cookie baking! I’ll snag her next Christmas! LOL!

  3. debby – we had a great time too! i don’t see any problem with you accompanying her to the west coast; in fact, start planning that trip and maybe next time it’ll be the 4 of ya! xoxo

    blondy – uh oh! i may have put Lee Ann to work! she seemed to really enjoy herself in the kitchen :).

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