Monday, December 8, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Daniel Tiger's mother puts me to shame. If you have ever seen the adorable television show Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It has been Matthew's favorite PBS program for three years running now and it is a great place for me to pick up a few parenting tips from Daniel Tiger's Mother.

Daniel Tiger is a typical preschooler. He likes to play with his friends and baby sister, but like a lot of preschoolers he also tends to throw temper tantrums, get frustrated, be picky about food, etc. For example, on the episode we watched today, Daniel kept trying to play in an organized fashion, but his baby sister kept crawling around and knocking his toys over. It made him SO MAD! But, his Mother quickly intercedes by calmly soothing him and teaching him a little song to sing when his baby sister gets in the way: "When a baby makes things different, find a way to make things fun!!!" She's basically the tiger form of Maria Von Trapp - she always has a song with a lesson to help Daniel through some of life's biggest challenges for a preschooler.

As I said at the beginning of this post, Mother Tiger puts me to shame. If Daniel (aka Matthew) had come whining to me about the baby knocking his toys over for the thritieth time, I probably would have barked: "She's a baby. She gets into my stuff too!! Go play somewhere else! Deal with it!"

Ironically, I was speaking with a Priest the other day about how frustrated I get with my kids and his advice was to try putting my lessons/requests/orders to music and see if they respond better to that. He also suggested that when I start to get mad or frustrated with them, to put on a favorite CD or something and to try to sing along with it as a way to both soothe my temper and distract the kids. Just a few days into this experiment...and wouldn't you know it does really work better! Matthew especially responds well to this. For example, I asked him to go upstairs and make his bed. He crosses his arms across his chest and says, very defiantly: "I don't want to!" So, feeling rather silly, I started to sing: "When we wake up, we make our beds so it's all ready at night for our sleepy heads." And as I began singing my silly, ridiculous lyrics, a smile started to creep up on the edge of his mouth and he turned to go upstairs where he made his bed and did a pretty good job.

And remember that time of day that I dread? The time of day where dinner needs to be made, the kids are tired and needy, and it's pitch black outside even though it's only 5:00 pm? That's when I make sure the Christmas music is blasting from our stereo. It really keeps our moods up until Paul comes home!

Emma has been sick with a cold recently.
She's turned into a couch potato - curling up and watching Winnie-the-Pooh.

Most of the time, the songs do not work when trying to entice my kids to finish their meals. But bribing them with cookies certainly does the trick! I made these Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies as a treat for Matthew's preschool class. The parents take turns bringing the snack in each week and I had forgotten that it was our turn. Luckily, I had everything I needed to make these and the kids seem to love them. They could most definitely win an award for "Ugliest Cookie Ever" but don't let their looks deceive you - they are pretty tasty and chewy (albeit not actually "pretty")! The taste is reminiscent of granola which means they must be healthy. In fact, I fed them to my kids for breakfast this morning (but I'm not asking you to emulate me). Actually, I bet they would be fantastic broken into pieces and served on top of some frozen yogurt along with a healthy dose of chocolate syrup. Also, if scooped and baked to make larger cookies, they would be great for ice cream sandwiches! I've got about 100 of these in a Tupperware - we have to eat them somehow!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
adapted very slightly from Dorie Greenspan

3 cups old fashioned oats or quick-cooking oats (NOT instant)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter - smooth or chunky!
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, spices and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Mix in the chips.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto the baking sheets. I flattened them a little bit with the back of a spatula.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Lift the cookies onto cooling racks with a wide metal spatula - they'll firm as they cool.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.


  1. I've never tried the recipes with the chocolate kiss in the middle of a peanut butter cookie - do you think it would work with this dough?
    Happy singing!!

    1. Hi Tori! If you omit the chocolate chips, I think it would work just fine! Let me know!

  2. I am a singer and my kids had to put up with my vocalises when they were growing up. I used to make up stories and then belt them out operatic style. I think it's a win/win situation. If you have a pleasant voice, the kids are amused by that and respond positively. For those who cannot carry a tune or have an abrasvie voice, the kids might respond even more quickly to get them to stop. When you sing a high note, it's really a controlled scream; so that's very therapeutic for any parent.

    1. I think you are 100% correct! Kids love music naturally. Also, you're right about how singing a high note is basically a controlled scream - and usually if I sustain a high note for my kids, they laugh at me and I end up laughing right along with them. Unlike you, I am not a singer and have never been blessed with a great voice...but I still like to sing to the kids!

  3. Oh that Daniel Tiger's Mom. We watched a few episodes on Netflix when Luke and I were sick and then I had their little "grown-ups come back" song stuck in my heads for many nights when I couldn't sleep. But good to know it works in real life!

    1. I always have "You gotta try new things because they might taste goo-oood!" playing around in my head during mealtimes. Maybe it's because it takes so much effort to get Matthew to try something new. Luckily, he's actually been doing better lately!